Last Week In Digital Advertising #5

Last week’s Last Week felt a little like a bumper edition because there seemed so much I didn’t have space to mention. One item stands out and deserves a mention. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) extended its existing self-regulatory rules for digital media to cover advertisers’ own websites and advertiser controlled marketing communications in other non-paid for space, say the UK IAB. That should be welcome news to marketers because a few rules are good boundaries, aren’t they? The move got a lot of coverage but it struck me there was little mention of the fact that ASA already has a remit in the digital space and I would have been interested to understand what they had discovered as they’ve been following a digital path.

Rules are good but, perhaps to contradict myself a little bit, I can’t help but agree with Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, who, in the light of the Federal Trade Commission’s discussions around privacy regulation, is quoted on internet.com saying,

“I’m really worried because it’s so important when we enter a new technological era to realize that there will be mistakes,” O’Reilly said. “It really worries me when we see this rush to criminalize mistakes as we are starting to enter a new world that we don’t fully understand.”

So, somewhere we’re looking to find a balance. I was particularly impressed on Friday by a post of the Ghostery blog being particularly open about their privacy policies and why they’d like us all to opt-in to a data collection exercise, “Ghostery is free to use, but it’s not free to maintain and make better. We’d really like you to participate in GhostRank, because it’s safe for you” and they go on to explain their data collection policies. The main point: collecting the data supports this free tool. Ghostery, if you don’t know, is a nice little browser plug in that tells you what tracking pixels, beacons and other such things are on any given web site. It’s very useful and I’m more than happy to send them some data in return.

I’m not sure I’d heard of Borrell Associates until last week (when I quoted their report that predicted a rise in online display targeting) but they continued to get coverage for their work this week. I noticed brand-e.biz picked up on the video aspect of their report, noting that the “streaming video format is expected to continue its dramatic growth, increasing more than 60% to $5.6 billion next year”.

Video is, of course, a popular digital advertising topic. It’s rapidly evolving and we’re seeing good adoption from those of us watching to those buying & selling the space. My new favourite website name, newteevee, quoting ComScore, reported that 1.4B minutes of live online video was watched (in the US) in July. That’s an impressive 600% growth, which Business Insider happily charts for us. Meanwhile in the UK, the IAB reports that almost 50% of the media buyers polled in a recent survey stated they planned to spend more money on Video On Demand over the next six months.

Broadcast Engineering, a journal don’t tend to follow, reported, “The number of U.S. households with broadband service that watch full-length online video on the TV will reach 57 million by 2014, according to a new report from researcher In-Stat” which, if the trend is followed this side of the pond, is great news for Yahoo!, who – according to reports – plan to launch their Connected TV product in Europe at the beginning on 2011.

YouTube rolled out some new targeting features (basically a set of restrictions on age or page URL that will go some way towards helping brands feel safer advertising on the platform) and, by a happy coincidence, that TippEx bear ad (viewed on YouTube) went viral and managed to show that online/digital video ads can be so much more than running your TV spot. I liked it although I am not sure how it would stand up to repeat viewing.

Hearing that newspaper ad revenues have slumped isn’t really a surprise to anybody. In my opinion, a Newspaper Association of America report (quoted by Reuters) saying that newspaper “online revenue rose nearly 14% to about $744 million in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago” can only be a good sign. If newspapers can, eventually, see a way through with digital advertising what will that mean for pay-walls? I read reports of a crack in a pay-wall on Friday. Is there more to come on that?

Borrell got another mention, over at MarketingVox, in an article that also hinted at the “commoditization of display advertising”. I think there is a real risk of that, but innovation remains great in the digital display business which should hold off any commoditization for a while at least. Picking up on the targeting theme that I had things to say about last week, MarketingVox noted that is was the technology – which of course, powers the targeting – that can drive display’s growth. I’m not sure it’s the most innovative thing I’ve seen, after all page-peels and interstitials have been around for a while, but I do like Undertone Networks’ PageGrabber format that they announced this week. Of course it’s not all going to be technology and big formats that get brands online. Zach Coelius, CEO of Triggit has a good piece on how to bring brand dollars online. Reassuringly, display ads are still worth buying (if you do it right) according to Mashable (The Future of Ad Agencies and Social Media).

In the section that’s never before been titled ‘stuff we didn’t know last week’, we discovered that women “deliver a 23% higher click-through rate than men, but after clicking, men follow through with an action” (Bizo via MarketingVox); 78% of millennial internet users engage with social media compared to less than 45% of their parents’ generation (Harris via eMarketer) and, a local UK stat, more than 30 million UK individuals now go online every day (ONS via eMarketer) but three-fifths of people 65 and older have never gone online. As part of a feature on Google advertising their own display business, we were told Google’s display network consists of over 1 million partner sites (New York Times). They may just need to grow that number as another chart-of-the-day told us that time spent on Facebook was greater than time spent on Google sites in the U.S. in August for the first time in history. That figure was helped on, no doubt, by news that older users have been rapidly adopting social media (Pew Internet & American Life Project via Adotas). Facebook’s growth would be appear to be unstoppable for now.

Finally, back to privacy. Ars Technica reported on another cookie type that’s not cleared by standard browser settings; this one utilising HTML5’s local storage options while, also on a privacy theme, Adotas ran an interesting piece on retargeting which did summarise part of the story they told with, “What actually seemed to creep her out was that Internet display advertising was effective”. Eric Picard, on iMedia Connection might have summed it up best with, “when we make them [consumers] feel like someone is watching over their shoulders as they do things online, make no mistake — they resent it.” And therein is, perhaps, a lesson for us all. Effective advertising is likely to get attention and that means we’d better be doing it properly.

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