Curns’ Ad Links for 27 August 2010

Curns’ ad links is a collection of links about the digital advertising industry; generally focussed on the display advertising market with an emphasis on the technology to deliver great advertising experiences.

Curns’ Ad Links for 26 August 2010

Curns’ ad links is a collection of links about the digital advertising industry; generally focussed on the display advertising market with an emphasis on the technology to deliver great advertising experiences.

Curns’ Ad Links for 24 August 2010

Curns’ ad links is a collection of links about the digital advertising industry; generally focussed on the display advertising market with an emphasis on the technology to deliver great advertising experiences.

Last Week In Digital Advertising #3

Increasingly people are watching time-shifted television and this was highlighted this week as ComScore reported 84.9% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video, and the notable shift was away from video clips to full length programming. For the advertising business, CommScore reported “Americans viewed nearly 3.6 billion video ads in July, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at 783 million”. Yes, Hulu is showing more than 3 times as many video ads than YouTube. And in the UK where’s our equivalent? I think we killed the Kangaroo, don’t you?

I have to admit to being a fan of Grandma’s House, the new Simon Amstell comedy vehicle currently airing on Mondays on BBC2. It appears to polarise views, but I’ve enjoyed watching it alongside the Twitter-chat. Apart from the comedy genius, the other thing that I notice about the show is that it’s about the only programme I’m watching as it’s broadcast on television. Increasingly people are watching time-shifted television and this was highlighted this week as ComScore reported 84.9% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video, and the notable shift was away from video clips to full length programming. For the advertising business, CommScore reported “Americans viewed nearly 3.6 billion video ads in July, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at 783 million”. Yes, Hulu – the channel aggregator, is – as Strategy Eye put it – showing more than three times as many video ads than YouTube. And in the UK where’s our equivalent? I think we killed the Kangaroo, don’t you?

If we weren’t busy enough trying to digest all the statistics that are floating around at the moment then Oftcom jumped in to offer us more. They released their seventh annual Communication Market report. I haven’t read the other six, who did? To be honest, I haven’t read this one either but I don’t let that worry me as everybody else has reported on it. Handily, the report goes on to put some UK context to my time-shifted TV comments in the previous paragraph, “The proportion of time-shifted television viewing has more than tripled since 2006, from 1.7 per cent to 5.9 per cent” while Thinkbroadband took a look at the UK on-demand marketplace:

Catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player grew by a third to include 31% of Internet users in Q1 2010. The most prominent growth is unsurprisingly in the 15-24 age group and men consume 34% of catch-up TV in comparison to women at 29%

Timed to perfection, Mel Carson, of Microsoft Advertising, pointed us to a story from the US showing that traditional television audiences are ageing:  “broadcasters’ audience has aged at twice the rate of the general population during the past two decades”, which suggested the younger catch-up demographic is not just a UK phenomenon. So, how do we address advertising in the on-demand world? Who’s innovating with new ad formats? I’m not seeing a lot; everybody seems remarkably comfortable with transferring the existing television models.

Not so in mobile, huh? Opinion appears terribly divided but Apple is out to shake up the market. And let’s face it, why not? We all knew the potential but the lack of a decent platform to kick-start it all (both in terms of consumer devices and the ad platform) meant growth was slow. Last week I reported on some positive signs for the platform, but then came the opposite views. If I was cynical I’d say The Wall Street Journal doesn’t like any form of digital advertising. But no, we’ll just assume they believe the iAd had a bumpy start. Greg Sterling looked at both sides and concluded that Apple’s platform “will result in better more creatively engaging ads for all”.  Indeed. Apple will ensure standards and that will facilitate innovation. Which is why I was sad to read New Media age worrying about the impact on agencies under the headline “iAd will complicate mobile ad planning“. Give the platform a break.

As web usage via a phone rockets in the UK we’d better have an engaging advertising experience and quickly. iAd maybe the route to that. And with Quattro Wireless moving to focus only on iAd, all the better. Now, if only those retailers would catch up and allow us to buy via our phones …

For the mobile advertising industry, location will be an increasingly important factor. Which is why this week’s launch of Facebook Places is going to be interesting to watch when it hits the UK. By now we can predict the privacy stories that will make the pages of our newspapers, but unlike some of the pieces on ad tracking I think there is a case for ensuring people know what it means for them and that means the industry is ensuring proper disclosure of how location is both used and distributed. The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss wrote an interesting piece titled “Does technology pose a threat to our private life?” in which Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg suggests,

You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly

Christian Payne’s car crash anecdote in that piece shows the power of the connected world where more is shared. But privacy discussions will continue until there is some clarity, even Disney has been dragged into it. I believe I’ve been highlighting some of the sillier arguments in these weekly writings but I am getting frustrated with the discussion being positioned as privacy vs. technology companies, particularly when it comes to advertising.  Let’s face it, it’s the advertisers and agencies who want to use the data and the tech companies who are the facilitators – although I agree it’s the tech companies that need to ensure disclosure.

That Ofcom report said we’re all now multi-tasking, but I know we’ve got things to do, so I’d like to end with positive market signs. Record internet advertising spends have been seen in Australia, with revenues passing A$2bn. Last week we noted Facebook’s predicted revenues, this week eMarketer found “6.7% of all US online ad spending to go toward social networks this year”. And, as the social networks grow, we find new digital advertising markets we never knew about. If you’re not watching Grandma’s House, live or time-shifted, perhaps you’re playing FarmVille. That’s the new daytime TV, apparently.

I’ll be back next week after I’ve helped my friends build a storage shed in FrontierVille and worked out who has collected 148 Shovels on FarmVille. In the meantime, news at it happens is @curns on Twitter, the most interesting of those links (and some of the ones that don’t make the feed) are collected in the About Advertising links, the Digital Advertising Daily is experimental but updated each day, and Last Week In Digital Advertising can be emailed to you. No excuse not to catch-up next week, have you?

Curns’ Ad Links for 19 August 2010

Today: more numbers that mobile is growing; Facebook places launch and more on digital privacy – collected for your ease and enjoyment.

Curns’ Ad Links For 18 August 2010

Today’s collection of a few links to news stories about the digital advertising business. Updated occasionally, these are generally the stories I didn’t tweet about during the day.

Last Week In Digital Advertising #2

So, where did we leave off? Well, it really does seem like a the conversation was broken mid-stream as we find ourselves more-or-less at the same point we finished on. There remains considerable discussion around the Wall Street Journal’s ‘investigations’ into advertising tracking. ClickZ asked, perhaps a little hysterically, if this was the end of behavioural targeting and challenged everybody – including consumers – to be aware and modify behaviours where necessary. Sage advice.

One week in, and I’m already moving things around – but you don’t want to know about that, do you? It’s just to confuse you a little. I’m taking my cue from Inception: create something that everybody thinks they understand and then throw in the curve ball.  Suffice to say the ‘product’ guy in me was thinking that my little review of the week is best located somewhere that allowed me to do more than just write this weekly missive which is why it’s moved here.  I have no idea what the ‘do more’ bit actually is – so you’ll have to hang around (or, I imagine, you could ask Mystic Meg).

So, where did we leave off?  Well, it really does seem like a the conversation was broken mid-stream as we find ourselves more-or-less at the same point we finished on. There remains considerable discussion around the Wall Street Journal’s ‘investigations’ into advertising tracking. As @exchangewire asked, “When is this hysteria going to cease”? Here they are, asking it. ClickZ asked, perhaps a little hysterically (but only in a journalistic sense, you understand) if this was the end of behavioural targeting and challenged everybody – including consumers – to be aware and modify behaviours where necessary. Sage advice.

USA Today claimed in what,  sadly, will not be the last of the cookie puns, “these ‘cookies’ aren’t tasty; you’re left hungry for privacy” but at least published an opinion piece, in which Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the US Interactive Advertising Bureau, asked people not to fall for the “wild debate” about websites using “tracking tools” to “spy” on people. And he has a point. A quick hop across to a site called Web Design Resources and you’ll find a piece suggesting digital advertisers “invented advertising technology that would scour through the cookies on your personal machine”.  Such language is neither an accurate portrayal of what’s happening nor helpful in explaining exactly what is going on, so the challenge is to move on from this kind of language to better education.

The Wall Street Journal, of course, printed other opinions too. Jim Harper published an interesting counter-argument, reminding those who need such reminders that cookie debates have been running for, more-or-less, as long as the web has been a major route to media consumption and it was considered an advertising channel. He tried to put some of the extremes of the ‘the cookie monster is coming’ argument into perspective:

“Surreptitious” use of cookies is one of the weaker complaints. Cookies have been integral to Web browsing since the beginning, and their privacy consequences have been a subject of public discussion for over a decade. Cookies are a surreptitious threat to privacy the way smoking is a surreptitious threat to health. If you don’t know about it, you haven’t been paying attention.

He even ventured as far as to suggest that we need to consider the trade off: think about what you get back from allowing cookies to be set but I am not seeing much mainstream media pick up on this. Now, where is all this going? New Media Age, quoted a TNS survey which is may be helpful (although I suspect not) in suggesting 65% of people see targeted ads as an abuse of their privacy, even though 64% welcome more relevant ads. Go figure how we’ll make that work. It’s all in the asking, huh? Obviously, much more discussion – and a lot of work – to come.  And as Tech firms come out to be clear that their data is anonymous, non-personal information, perhaps Bizo Blog, quoted on an AdMosters forum, said it best, “there are no monsters hiding under the bed”.

What else did we learn last week? How about the – not so shocking – information that “Canadians spend more time on the Internet than they do watching TV, listening to the radio or reading newspapers” yet advertisers are not allocating budgets to reflect that? Still, digital ad revenues in Canada got to $1.82B in 2009. Which, if reporting is to believed, is only marginally ahead of predictions for Facebook’s advertising revenues this year (at $1.3B). And yes, I am well aware those two stories are – probably – quoting different versions of the dollar, but it’s a much nicer segue to leave it like that. Facebook is, according to unnamed sources quoted by Net Imperative (in turn, quoting unnamed sources in the New York Times – gee, I can see how these rumours start), planning a strategic alliance with AOL, whose revenue, from subscriptions and advertising, in 2009 was four-times that of the predicted Facebook revenue (at $4.2B) but heading full pace off the end of that pier.

The enormous rise of Facebook was, amongst others, a reason ClickZ posed the question “Social: The Next Frontier of Behavioral Targeting?”. Really, as I noted on Twitter, you do not need the question mark there. Yes, it won’t come as a shock to anybody.

In other snippets, I thought it worth noting BrightRoll’s launch a self-service ad exchange for trading video inventory, as an indicator that online video will need the same sophisticated optimisation, trading and data tools as more ‘traditional’ formats have today. And need them quickly. eMarketer reported that almost 59% of US adults had watched full length TV shows online, “reflecting a shift in the content mix from short user-generated clips to full-length professional content”.

Not much mention of mobile this week, although ClickZ (who must get an award for being my favourite source of news this week), reported that, as mobile advertising becomes something agencies use more and more,  “companies in the space are continuing to attract investment” and cited Apple’s iAd as giving a boost to the market. My little 3 tweets we learnt about iAd (1, 2, 3) was sourced for an LA Times article on the topic but I think those tweets said it all and don’t need repeating.

So, did we reach the end of the week more informed or more confused? I’d love to extend Scott Portugal’s “confused sea condition” metaphor and ramble on about lifeboats and the like. But I can’t extend it any more than I did in a tweet on Friday – so I, sort of, blew that. His article was about ad technologies and how to survive changing market conditions and is worth a read (no Mae West needed). One thing I did want to follow-up on was a report suggesting that “One cannot be confident whether the findings of most IAE [internet ad effectiveness] studies are right or wrong” which is, perhaps, something to think about.

Now, why not comment and follow all this week’s industry news at @curns or even send me your ideas for digital advertising news? Go on, you know you want to.

Last Week In Digital Advertising

The Wall Street Journal’s piece entitled “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets” influenced much comment around the web throughout the week. There’s a great deal of validity to the piece but, as with many articles about digital privacy, I think, by grouping many of the different tracking stories together without the space for full explanation simply serves to scare more than inform.

Apologies for the uninspiring title of this first entry. What can I say, inspiration has left me and run off into the night. Still, it’s probably going to be the only post with images so look at the pretty pictures and ignore the banality of the title. Unless the title becomes a regular feature, in which case I should note, somewhere, that last week began on 2nd August 2010 (Yes, my week starts on a Monday. Hey, I’m nothing but a traditionalist in that sense).

The aim behind this space is to allow a little more commentary on links that I posted via Twitter. 140 characters is great at making you think of ways not to use ‘text speak’ but not a great amount of space to say why you think something is important. And that’s the point of this place – to try to add some context around why I considered last week’s work-related tweets important. Fortunately, I decided not to attempt to justify the personal ones in my tweet feed and, as this week didn’t have a Grand Prix, of the Formula One variety, I don’t have to justify my opinions on that either.

I started the week by moving into a new office (hence the pictures) and being the subject of a press release. I’m only linking to the version without a picture (misplaced vanity?) but I’m incredibly excited to be at aiMatch, I think what’s coming will appeal to many of the biggest digital publishers. However, that’s not the purpose of writing here but, if you’re interested, check us out. And, for clarity, anything I comment herein is my view, I don’t pretend to be representing the views of any of my colleagues (who I know are capable of talking for themselves).

Oh, and the drawing of the rabbit in the hat: there’s a little more information on that on the original Flickr picture (although I am very impressed, I don’t own stock in the company so the review is true!).

But onto the main business of the day. What stories did I link to that need a little explanation about why I considered them important. Well, although I didn’t mention it directly, The Wall Street Journal’s piece entitled “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets” influenced much comment around the web throughout the week. There’s a great deal of validity to the piece but, as with many articles about digital privacy, I think, by grouping many of the different tracking stories together without the space for full explanation simply serves to scare more than inform. On Friday, I did link to George Simpson’s amusing rebuttal on MediaPost which attempted to point out the WSJ’s apparent hypocrisy as they, according to George, happily say they’ll link the personal data they store to online data they collect along with their “64 third party partners”.  Privacy is something that this industry does take very seriously and I’m all for a more informed discussion because, as I have pointed out before, data is going to be increasingly important in the digital advertising ecosystem to get relevant advertising in front of people. Finally, on this topic, I linked to a video interview the very same WSJ did with Sir Martin Sorrell where he addressed this issue and it was good to hear that, he too, believes hidden tracking to be a problem and that transparency is a good thing.

If reports are to be believed then, according to netimperative, audience targeting – which is what most of the data is used for –  is now the “cornerstone of most online ad campaigns, helping to boost revenue for both branding and direct response” so I handily linked (thank me later) to their 4 steps to avoid behavioural targeting pitfalls. The quoted survey (as @exchangewire pointed out) was based on US figures but, to me, the useful nugget was the confirmation of the higher publisher returns for properly managed audience targeting.

At the start of the week I also linked to the Financial Times’ opinion of digital advertising tracking and note that their editorial acknowledges the advantages of targeted advertising,

There is nothing wrong in principle with advertisers using data about people based on their browsing habits. Such information enables them to place more relevant adverts – ones that are more likely to be of interest – on the sites that people visit. If executed correctly, that can benefit not only publishers but their customers (link)

Sadly, most of the FT’s piece is behind their paywall so I didn’t get to the meat. I hope the extract reflects the content. In the aforementioned WSJ interview, Sir Martin also discussed paywalls, something many digital publishers are paying close attention to, and stated a belief that the ability for advertising to finance media, as has been done in the past, is going away because of industry fragmentation. Nothing new there but timely as Rupert Murdoch was reported to have said that the paywall model was going well (“encouraging” was the word he used, as reported in New Media Age on Friday).

There has been much encouraging news of late about increased ad spend. This week it was the turn of the Irish to announce that in 2009 online advertising in Ireland approached the €100m threshold. To shamelessly steal the other headlines from the IAB’s piece, the online ad sector achieved 10% of Irish ad spend 2009 and 75% of study participants predict growth or strong growth for 2010. There’s much more than those headlines in the original article. I like good industry news, so enjoyed quoting Businessweek’s interview with Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, that, on Facebook, “some advertisers have increased spending by as much as 20-fold or more”. Pretty impressive numbers, huh?

It won’t come as a revelation to hear that much ad spend, for the sake of an easy link I’m guessing in Ireland and on Facebook  as everywhere else, is shifting to mobile.Commsdealer reported that ad agencies are increasingly going mobile with TV losing ground quickly and telecoms.com noted “that competition in the mobile advertising space is getting heated, with Amobee on Wednesday announcing a major European deal with publishing house Gruner and Jahr”. As an industry we have been saying for the last ten years that ‘this is the year of mobile advertising’ but we may be at a tipping point, partly thanks to the popularity of the iPhone. Friday saw the news that UK iPhone users would total 6.4m this year or, to see it another way, the number of iPhones in UK will grow 200% during 2010. One Friday tweet said that I thought Dave Morgan was bold to suggest that mobile’s personal nature, scale, ease of use and great person-to-person-to-place connectivity would lead to location based services devastating local media. I have a feeling his prediction that 25% of their revenue base will be lost by 2014 may not be far wrong. As another of my tweets said this week, “4Sq may (or may not) be a fad right now but localisation & geo-awareness isn’t”. Still, to add some balance The Wall Street Journal (very popular this week, I’ll admit), suggested that some advertisers were still a little skittish about using cellphones for advertising and so were turning more and more to “immersive—and possibly intrusive—mobile ads”.  More at Newest Cellphone Ads Crave Entire Screen.

Now, why not follow all this week’s industry news at @curns or even send me your ideas for digital advertising news.