Last Week In Digital Advertising #3

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?

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