Last Week In Digital Advertising #10

Our spin doctor is still in the house so, lest somebody say something about this being a good day to bury news, let’s start with the biggest news. Google’s reported fourth-quarter profit surged 29% to $2.54 billion. Yikes, that’s a lot of money. Somewhat overshadowed by news late on Thursday evening that Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, is taking over the reins from long-time chief Eric Schmidt.  I wonder if there are more changes afoot?

So, that’s an opening totally fitting with last week’s four pillars of digital advertising news which bodes well for the rest of this week’s review, doesn’t it?  Having started with Spend Watch, why not continue in that mode. As they say in television, cue titles ..

Spend Watch

I’ve not done a Facebook revenue prediction this year. It seems like everybody has one on a reasonably regular basis so why not me? Thus, deep breath, Facebook is expected to make over£2.5 billion ($4 billion) from advertising in 2011, it has been estimated by eMarketer and reported on by the IAB. Compare that to the numbers reported in Advertising Age that the social network took in $1.86 billion in worldwide advertising revenue for 2010 (which was still a 151% increase over the company’s estimated 2009 advertising revenue). Pretty impressive numbers, although, of course, somebody had to find the flaw. Those numbers were “not as impressive as Google’s growth in its pre-IPO days” according to SFGate.

Elsewhere, ad-spending hit a record high in Malaysia; social gaming to top $1 billion in 2011 and advertising is expected to make up for 20% of game developers’ revenues next year, according to another eMarketer report (quoted by Coast Digital) and a Winterberry Group report at MarketingProfs says, “Within digital, social media ad spend is expected to increase more than 35%”. A healthy growth report from our spin doctor then.

The Bedford Report, er, reported that “ZenithOptimedia … expects China overtaking Germany as the world’s third-largest ad market behind the United States and Japan” and

China has achieved double digit internet growth rate since 2006 and currently housed 420 million Internet users. There are also 755 million mobile subscribers in China, making it the world’s largest mobile market.

Such a big market for advertisers. And, I don’t often quote data from an advertiser’s perspective but last week I saw that Cadbury’s had reported between £2 and £3 in sales for every £1 it spent on internet advertising – which seems like some more pretty decent numbers to me, spin doctor or not.

Video

Crossing the line from Spend Watch to Video we read, via RapidTV, that in France, video advertising passed from €12 million to €30 million in turnover over one year. While back in the UK, the IAB released new 2011 best practice guidelines for video and called for a “mature” approach to video ads.  As the money flows into online video advertising we’re seeing the technology around the delivery gain traction. This week, for example, Rocket Fuel Inc. announced Video Booster which, apparently, allows “brands to engage audiences and reach campaign objectives with unparalleled precision and efficiency”. How long before bidding on video ads becomes mainstream?

Real Time

Kendall Allen at Advertising Age wrote this week that “Our industry is ecstatic over bidded media” and questioning if it’s quite as big as we think. I had believed that a lot of the real-time buzz was from the buy-side of the business but Kendall notes buyers are , “still waiting for this holy grail of audience intelligence at scale”. Perhaps helping us get a little nearer audiences at scale, Adobe announced the inquisitional of leading data management platform, Demdex.

The new world of real-time buying and selling of media was covered, last week, in a piece at Marketing Week entitled, “New era dawns for display advertising” which is worth of read.  Of particular interest to those in the digital display business is a comment from former American Express head of digital acquisition Matthew Turner,

“We’re now looking at digital display as an ’always on’ channel, rather than as [intermittent] campaign activity,” explains Turner. “We have historically run digital display on a campaign basis, but we’re now at a point where we’ve got such a level of high-quality inventory through exchanges that we’re able to think about display as a way of always building awareness or running direct response, similar to the way in which we treat search.”

Is that something we should be considering for the future? Will the idea of advertising campaigns disappear? Perhaps our vision of the right message to the right person at the right time means that brands need to be constantly in-market. How else can the be assured of being at the right time?

Privacy

The last of our pillars this week is privacy. ClickZ reported on “Mixed Messages on Future of Privacy Law in 2011″ for US citizens while The Wall Street Journal noted “EU’s Push on Internet Cookies Fizzles Out” which suggested that Europe was generally in favour of industry self-regulation and quoted the EU document saying

[it's not necessary] to obtain consent for each individual operation of gaining access to or storing of information on a user’s terminal, if the initial information and consent covered such further use.

Elsewhere, Better Advertising (sorry, Evidon) are working with Collective (they call themselves “the leader in understanding and delivering audiences”) “to power ad notice for more than 28 premium publishers and advertising networks” using  Collective’s media management platform. More notice should be a good thing, right?

Friday saw my Twitter feed tell me that The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page comes out against US “Do Not Track” proposals. Of course they were the news organisation to highlight some of the issues around online ad tracking so it would be fascinating to read what they say in an opinion piece. It’s behind a pay-wall so if you have a subscription read it (http://on.wsj.com/fU6qbW) and let me know in the comments.

Now, away from my pillars what else did we learn last week? For starters, “Almost a quarter of Irish consumers are ‘strongly negative’ towards online advertising” [Belfast Telegraph]; TGI’s James McCombe noted that,  from a marketing point of view, mobile Twitterers are an attractive target in their own right [MediaTel]; Bonnier announced that it was  developing next-generation ad formats for tablet magazines in a move said to “addresses a fundamental need in the industry: all-new advertising for all-new advertising platforms” [SFGate] and, back to where we started with news from Google, and Mashable’s exclusive report that the search giant is preparing to launch Google Offers – a Groupon-style daily deals offering. Interesting to me as I was going to add ‘Coupons’ or deals to our four digital advertising news pillars but wondered if they would/could  sustain the hype for a year.  Well, let’s see if they make any news next week when I’ll kick myself for not putting them up there.

Last Week In Digital Advertising #9

At the starting blocks of 2011 and I can already see the trends emerging for the topics that will be the mainstay of Last Week In Digital Advertising for the next twelve months. Should I just give up now? Regardless, here we go for the first view of the new year and, periodically, I’ll check-in with this list to see if we’re talking about other things. And yes, I am well aware that this isn’t dissimilar in concept to my already published 2011 Digital Advertising Predictions but it is based on what the recent buzz has been and continues with my idea of a news review.

Privacy

Clearly, one of the most significant things we’ll be talking about all year is privacy and, quite rightly too. Despite the fact that direct mail has been tracking our lifestyle choices and lifestages for years, doing it in real-time via a computer appears much more intrusive and, as an industry, we have to clearer about what we are doing. Spanfeller Media Group CEO Jim Spanfeller was asked by AdExchanger what he saw at the heart of the consumer debate about privacy:

I think the bigger issue is that people want control. They want control over their experiences. And so I agree. I think there are people, lots of people, who will give up data about themselves willingly in return for something.

And control seems to be a key theme of the privacy story this week. eMarketer quotes a survey by PreferenceCentral which found that “the more people know about behavioral targeting, the less willing they are to receive free content in exchange for relevant ads” but principal analyst David Hallerman wonders if, “people really view behavioral targeting as an invasion of privacy, or do they dislike it because they have no control over how marketers are using their personal data?” Publishers, unlike most marketers, have first party relationships with consumers and, Jonathan Mendez argues, there is an implicit understanding that this data is going to be used to make the user’s experience better. That’s a good position for publishers as long as the data is treated with care.

Kevin Lee at ClickZ writes under the headline “If Tracking Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Tracking” and suggests that ads should have more space devoted to explaining what data the ad used in the hope that consumers will “leave well enough alone and prefer targeted ads to untargeted ads”. Of course we have an embryonic system to show such information in the form of the Better Advertising initiatives who, this week, became Evidon. The name chosen to “evoke a connection with the word “evident,” which expresses our commitment to bringing clarity to the online community”. Their blog has more. Clear? Well, Mozilla’s aiming to making it all clearer with their alpha release of privacy icons which they are proposing are adopted to let users know how data is used. I like the idea.

Interesting to see The Wall Street Journal run a piece on how Google is trying to square using all their data with the privacy implications of that use. An interesting piece but amusing to see an article on privacy based on a leaked, internal, confidential document. Not sure I see the public interest value in raising privacy flags on a bunch of ideas that aren’t products but, nonetheless, interesting reading.

Video

Video is at a crucial turning point, so says Jill Druschke in AdWeek and I suspect we’re right. It is one of the things to watch on my Horoscope for 2011. And, while I think cross-media comparison of ad-spend has some holes and should be read with caution, it is worth noting that online video represents only 7% of the entire ad market. Things are moving, though. New Media Age reported that “video ad network WebTV Enterprise saw ad revenues triple last year” with a 244% rise in video ad revenue in 2010 compared to the previous year and seems be a decent indicator for that sector of the ad business.

MediaTel noted that worldwide PVR sales are expected to hit the 50 million mark in 2014 but will, eventually, be overtaken by internet-enabled television sets. Around 350 million connected TVs are expected to be sold worldwide by 2015, according to Parks Associates (source: MediaTel). Adding a note of caution into the discussion, however, news that a new content distribution network built by BT will ensure greater bandwidth for users wanting to watch online video without disruption, even during peak online usage times (source: MediaTel). If such initiatives lead to a 2-tier web will consumers pay for it or head straight back to broadcast? An interesting one to watch.

Another note of caution was injected into the video discussion by Netimpreative, who note that “Online video rentals ‘failed to live up to hype’ in 2010″ quoting Screen Digest’s figures that, in the US, network-delivered rentals and sales via the Internet and subscription TV systems accounted for $2.3 billion, representing 12.2% of the total market. At this stage, is 12% that bad?

Real Time

We’re moving to a more automated world, that’s for sure. How far we go is still to be seen but publishers everywhere are being encouraged to look at real-time trading systems. Eric Picard’s “Why publishers are afraid of real-time bidding” has some interesting things to say about data leakage and pricing while Jonathan Mendez suggests that real-time systems can make data pricing “more automated and more intelligent” (yes, second quote but it’s a good piece).

There is still some way to go. According to eMarketer, “Less a third of US publishers (31%) offered media buyers the possibility of real-time bidding on their ad inventory in 2010″ but that will grow this year and it’s time for publishers to look at real-time systems in more detail. At ClickZ, Rob Beeler asks “What can a publisher – and more specifically, ad operations – do to ensure that RTB will help grow the business?”

Spend Watch

We can’t resist any little change in the revenue forecast numbers and I know I’ll be quoting lots of articles that predict even tiny changes in spend throughout the year. This last week or so we had a nice crop. New Media Age ran with “Display overtakes search in 2011 ad spend growth predictions” Advertising Age ran with “Local Advertisers Finally Join Ad Recovery” as in the third quarter of 2010, smaller US advertisers increased spending 8.1%, compared with a 9.1% hike in the top 1,000. The Economist told us that global spending on advertising will grow by 4.5% in 2011, led by online advertising which will increase by 16%.

In the land of mobile game advertising, Juniper Research discovered marketers spent $87 million worldwide advertising on mobile games in 2010. By 2015, the amount will be 10 times greater, at nearly $900 million (quoted at Miki Devic’s posterous blog). And talking mobile, I was surprised to see that only 12% of the UK population have mobile internet access, according to The British Population Survey and quoted by Netimperative.

Those will be four of the big news sectors I’ll be following in the coming weeks but what else did we learn this week? The Internet is now the main national and international news source for people ages 18 to 29 in the US says Pew Research (quoted at Mashable); SNL Kagan told us the number of location-based services users nearly tripled in 2010, reaching 33.2 million (via eMarketer); Internet Retailer reported that this Christmas shopping-related Google searches from mobile devices are up 230% and, of course, we heard again and again about the unstoppable rise of Facebook.

I’m already watching to see if any of these trends make next week’s news.

Last Week in Digital Advertising #8

Ho Ho Ho. I come with festive cheer and another Last Week in Digital Advertising. What’s that? You’d forgotten that I do this occasionally? Well, you and me both but Santa & I got a little tipsy yesterday (you did know he comes round every Boxing Day for a sherry, didn’t you?) and he hinted I ought to remind myself how to type. So. here goes.

We started last week in digital advertising with the news that AOL had been buying again, this time it’s Pictela, who turn out ‘high definition ads’ and, apparently,  strengthens AOL’s ad picth. Ads have to get more engaging and interactive so this could be a good move for AOL but I am not convinced by some of the examples yet and, really, they need to leap out of the standard sizes (expanding doesn’t cut it in my humble …).

A Digital Advertising Tipping Point (or Two)

Now the word tipping point has been over-used a little bit this week. eMarketer gained a reasonable amount of coverage for their ‘US online advertising overtakes print‘ research. All advertising in the US is up 3% while online spending up over 10%. Good news for the digital advertising industry but, the future of advertising (like almost all media) is cross-platform and I am not sure it’s that sensible to compare. When brands are available in many places and media owners will be selling cross-media, it just doesn’t really matter. Still, I pulled a cracker in celebration.

And talking of cross-platform I am hoping that 2011 is the year television ads get more relevant and interactive. In an age when the amount of time U.S. households spent watching TV and using the Internet is equal at 13 hours per week (according to a recent survey from Forrester Research) surely we are at the convergence point we all talked about so much in recent years.  In the UK, I am banking on the YouView platform to launch with the hope that we can start to see some innovations in advertising on that large screen.  In the US The Wall Street Journal reported that DirecTV will be rolling out ‘addressable ads’ in the autumn of next year. A spokesperson for Starcom Media Vest (SMG) called it ‘A Tipping Point’. Oh, that phrase again.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for DirectTV said,

“This partnership with SMG will create a whole new revenue stream for DIRECTV and ensure that our viewers are being served up with ads that are relevant to their lifestyles.”

The elephant (or, at this time of year, is it reindeer?) in the articles is that ‘more relevant’ advertising means better targeted using consumer information of some sort (declared or inferred, I don’t care) and the hope has to be that all the firms working in this space have worked out their privacy policies, have learnt how to communicate them and provide easy access to options for viewers.

Cloak Your Online Activities

And, as with almost every week, privacy was (still) in the industry news (I feel I could write about that each week alone). This week, Mozilla’s chief executive Gary Kovacs was also at a tipping point, ‘I fundamentally believe that the balance is tipped too far’ he said, in relation to online user tracking as he announced that Firefox will help you cloak your online activities. Honestly, don’t you think that headline sounds almost as sinister as the trackers are being portrayed to be?

I can’t knock Firefox for attempting to provide tools for users to manage their online preferences but I do hope that they also make a play to explain the fact that most tracking is anonymous, doesn’t know who or where you are, isn’t going to result in somebody knocking on your door and is – trying – to help advertisers serve relevant ads to you. I am not sure it’s likely, the sentence,

“You can’t tell me the delivery of a piece of content is going to be that much better if you know everything about my life; it’s all about moderation.” [source]

suggested that nuances of the argument aren’t going to be made. It’s the ‘everything about my life’ phrase that, I think, is an exaggeration too far. Shame really.

And it is those little details that are often omitted in the discussion; little details that could impact a lot of publishers (in the most general sense of that word). Reuters have a great piece noting that today’s ‘free’ Internet is powered by ‘data collection and advertising’.   Bloomberg Businessweek told us that if the US ‘Do Not Track’ ideas are adopted then ads would get dumber (but they won’t disappear) and $8 billion could be removed from publisher’s coffers. That’s $8 billion not to spend on original and creative content. AdExcahnger has an interesting look at the US policy (‘Coming to a Website Near You: More Irrelevant Advertisements‘) and points out that the industry has spent two years refining policies and creating opt-outs and the like. There is much work to do but I hope that in 2011 we can actually have a sensible discussion that isn’t based around expose articles and sinister headlines. Am I living in a Christmas fairytale land to think that might happen? I’ll ask the elves.

Pay Attention

Of course the industry needs to get its act together. Another Wall Street Journal story reported how smartphones are regularly transmitting data to third-parties for advertising and some of this seems to be without the proper notifications to users. I think some of the most sensible advice on this topic was this sentence: ‘The most important thing a user can do is pay attention to the information each app is requesting’ and we should all learn to make such information clearer to people using our products.

The mobile apps guys had better get their privacy information in order if they are to benefit from the growing mobile market for advertising. Berg Insight reported that ‘mobile advertising expenditure will correspond to 15.7% of the total digital advertising market or 3.4% of the total global ad spend for all media’ in 2015. It’s a growing mince-pie indeed.

If mobile has a growing future for advertising, it appears in-game doesn’t. At least EA Games noted this week that ‘in-game advertising in decline, microtransactions the way forward’. That will be a space to watch. I have always maintained that advertising can’t pay for everything in this world and, sometimes, people (users, our customers) are prepared to pay up-front for things. Perhaps this is an example of a market where advertising won’t be seen as so important moving forward. Is it a tipping point too?

Of course, games, TV and mobile are all be valid places for display advertising. But, the rest of the browser-based web shouldn’t be forgotten. ClickZ ran a headline this week saying, ‘The Future Belongs to Google’ and looks how well placed they are in the display advertising space. That’ll be one to watch, huh?

Now, I’m off to enjoy the rest of the bank holiday. I don’t imagine there’ll be much news this week but on Friday I am going to try and look back at my digital advertising predictions for 2010 and see how I got on. Although they were pretty safe, they might not have been too far off the mark!

Last Week in Digital Advertising #7

Take a deep breath and breathe.

How do you begin this issue of “Last Week In Digital Advertising”? It’s actually pretty hard as we’ve been on the wrong end of the fire-hose of industry announcements, news and comment through almost every channel imaginable thanks to New York’s Advertising Week. It’s an event where everybody seems to announce something.  It would have been perfectly possible to spend the entire week reading comment about the event and not doing much else.  This week I learnt that Twitter generates 12 terabytes of data. AdWeek, I imagine, produces many times that. Still, it was probably worse if you were actually there, right?

There was a follow-up on my mention last week of BIA/Kelsey’s research claiming that one in four local ad dollars would be spent with digital – across all digital channels – in the not too distant future. mocoNews.net reported that by 2014, U.S. mobile local ad revenues will have grown to $2.02 billion in 2014 from $213 million in 2009 (sourced from that same report). So is ‘local mobile’ where the money is?  The AOP reported 60% of publishers agree that more local and ‘niche’ digital content is crucial (AOP Content & Trends Census 2010) to their success, so I guess we should stand by for launches of such content soon.

Fortunately, makers of Blackberry apps, even the local ones, can now monetise their apps nice and easily through the newly announced BlackBerry Application Platform which aims to aggregate ads from mobile networks to maximise the revenue. Looks like a very nice yield management tool for mobile app makers, don’t you think? We all know mobile is going to be big. eMarketer put that into perspective last week, reporting a ComScore report (albeit from June)  suggesting smartphone ownership across the big western European countries had grown 41% between 2009 and 2010, to 60.8 million subscribers.

About 15 million of those users were in the UK, where smartphone ownership leaped 70% between 2009 and 2010, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK) reported. Further, the IAB calculated that mobile access accounted for about a quarter of time spent online by UK web users in mid-2010. (Full Steam Ahead for UK Mobile Marketing)

Publishers are reacting to this, with that AOP census also reporting, “Year on year, 65% of publishers expect to increase their mobile content, whilst content delivered via apps will increase for 91% of publishers”. All of which might be helping drive Apple’s share of the mobile ad market, which Bloomberg Businessweek reported, will end the year at 21%of the market,

If much of that mobile advertising market is to be location-based then it’s reassuring for us in the business to read that the “Ad industry acts now to safeguard location marketing” as New Media Age ran with this week. It’s really the same story I’ve been noting week-in week-out here: tell users what you are doing and given them ways to opt-out. That doesn’t have to stop you explaining the advantages of sharing data. I know, you know this.

And so to New York where Google predicted “mobile is going be the number one screen through which users engage with advertisers’ digital brands” That’s just one of the seven predictions that Google’s Neal Mohan and Barry Salzman are widely reported to have said at IAB’s MIXX. You can, of course, get it from the horse’s mouth on the Google Blog.  Publishers will be happy to hear their prediction that the digital advertising business will grow to be a $50 billion industry in five years. Are those US-only numbers? Context people! It’s everything in a global business like we’re in.

Another of G’s predictions included the suggestion that 50% of campaigns will eventually include video. Video will be bought on a cost-per-view basis that Google’s been suggesting means that “the user will choose whether to watch the ad or not, and the advertiser will only pay if the user watches”. I get the bit about the advertiser only paying if the user watches the ad but I wonder if the ‘choose to view an ad’ is sustainable. I wonder what the broadcasters think? To be fair, it could be “choose to view one of a selection of advertisements” so it makes a little more sense. If you saw their presentation at Advertising Week, drop me a note for clarity.

So much video advertising is going to have an impact on broadcast television, surely.  I was pointed to an article at Lucid Commerce last week that’s looking at this from the broadcast standpoint.  Does television loose when a consumer takes some kind of action online because that action gets attributed to an online campaign (of course, the assumption here is that there is online activity running). The piece starts of with the assertion, “In general, online advertising systems are unaware of the offline advertising that is going on around them” and I think this is, generally, true but is – hopefully – built into the resulting research analysis.  It is why I was quite interested to read a piece on MediaPost that began, “Electronic Arts (EA) plans to unveil Thursday a cross-platform reporting dashboard” but then disappointed to see it only covered online, console, mobile, email and social. I had thought they’d solved the true cross-platform conundrum. To be fair, many companies are trying to solve the cross-platform problem and I am sure somebody will get there, eventually.

Understanding how often somebody sees a message from a brand across all channels is important to enable us to really understand the impact of any marketing message, so any multi-platform reporting is to be welcomed. Direct Marketing News ran a piece titled, “Why finding the optimal ad frequency is difficult” that made it clear there was plenty of work to do on that front. I’ve been listening to Spoitfy while writing this piece and, really, there’s a high frequency to some ads there that – for some reason – seems much more annoying than high frequency rotations on broadcast radio. As an aside, I discovered last week that the IAB has a Digital Audio Committee that’s probably looking at this kind of thing as I type. I hope so.

Back Google’s crystal ball. I think many of the predictions were sensible and reflective of what we are all seeing in the industry. However, the concept that by 2015 75% of ads on the web will have some kind of social element is something that’s going to take some thinking about yet. I am not disagreeing but to achieve that will take a step-shift in the use of so-called social media within all advertising. That, in turn, is something quite difficult to envisage for 2015.

Talking social, I really think we’re too early to truly understand the role it plays in marketing & advertising. There are lots of possibilities but we need more data and not the kind of reporting that suggests the impact of social is small (“Twitter’s Impact On News Traffic Is Tiny”) without any true context. Yes, I commented on that story on the site, but it’s actually not unusual. Since I began writing “Last Week In Digital Advertising” I’m reading an increasing number of industry articles that don’t have any context in their reporting. Now, I understand sometimes this is the tease to get you to buy a research company’s report but I think the reportage needs a little more rigour.

At Ad:tech London there was some discussion from the publisher side about ‘data leakage’ (which is far too complex to explain in a trivial column like this so I could mis-characterise the whole things a data theft and let people moan back at me). Good to see, then, that in New York PubMatic announced a tool allowing websites “to determine not only how many tracking tools the site itself is installing, but also how many tracking tools are being installed by advertisers without the website’s knowledge”. I’ll be watching that one with interest.

With all this tracking, as we’ve been reading for weeks, there’s a constant stream of data being collected, analysed and stored somewhere. This caused Eric Porres at iMedia Connection to ask “Is audience data more valuable than advertising inventory?” Certainly, the data could be the most valuable asset for a lot of publishers, agencies and advertisers.

OK, to end, some digital advertising facts and figures we learnt this week.  Nice to hear that by 2014 nearly 42% of online ad dollars in the U.S. will be spent on branding, compared to just 35.7% today (“Branding Grows as Online Ad Objective” via Reuters) but it doesn’t seem like big growth to me. Also in the ‘good numbers category, I saw that, through Real Time Bidding systems you can see “click-through rates improving by up to 135%, conversion rates up 150% and cost per action up 145%” (“Real Time Bidding: The Sleeper Ad Technology Growth Story” via Marketing Vox) while retargeted display ads gave a 1,046% lift in searches on brand terms within four weeks after exposure (“Retargeting Used by Marketers for Cost-Effective Brand Lift” via eMarketer). In the UK, 38.4 million folks accessed the internet during August, according to the latest data from UKOM (“UKOM Data Report: August 2010” via MediaTel Newsline) which means there’s a lot of people out there so see this ad stuff!

And so we get to the end of another week. Lots of stories not covered here, lots of companies not mentioned. Still if you fancy trying to understand the business then there’s an updated version of the digital advertising technology landscape diagram. You can get it here. And then spend a week trying to work out how it really does all fit together before coming back to read next week’s review of  this week’s advertising news.

Last Week In Digital Advertising #6

Ah, I know what you’re thinking. Somehow we missed each other last week. But I was on holiday in a place that was, blissfully, somewhat disconnected for me. Still, the last week was frantic. Back from a break and straight to Ad:tech at Olympia: it’s the trade show to connect the London digital advertising industry. It is, apparently, where ‘the online marketing and advertising community will gather together’ to reveal the latest trends and market figures, share best practices and address industry challenges. The main challenge I learnt: buy more comfortable shoes! And for those heading to this New York’s Advertising Week, remember your ‘phone charger.

As I didn’t do the paid-for conference I didn’t get to see the good folks from Twitter talk. There was much buzz about that but surprisingly light Twitter talk on the official #adtechuk hastag. I think it needed promoting a little better. But, of course, there was a social media buzz last week helped along nicely by Google telling us ‘Social recommendations can revolutionise online advertising‘. If you see my Twitter feed then you’ll know I am a big social media fan and I do think ‘social’ can change advertising but putting Twitter feeds into ads may not be the way (I know, it wasn’t the only thing they suggested).

eConsultancy is reporting some IAB research that tells us ‘Publishers get the short end of the stick with ad-supported content‘ and suggests publishers would do well to both look at their ad-revenues and cost structures. I don’t think any publisher needs telling this. It’s been true for many years that publishers are struggling with ways to properly monetise digital content. Nonetheless, I was surprised by the paragraph,

According to the IABUK’s study, “if those services that are currently provided for free were to be charged for (at a level that generates the same amount of revenue as ad-supported services), 40% of current users could stop using the internet.”

Really? Stop using the internet or just those services which have decided to charge? The devil, as always, is in the detail and that’s perhaps one to look at in more depth another week. Staying with the publisher business, in a tweet from the Ad Trading Summit, Improve Digital’s @janneke_improve reported “Large publishers will win unless niche publisher are able to monetise audience which makes a lot of sense to me.

Of course all publishers are looking at how their future digital advertising may play out. I would argue that putting a price on the right content may well work for some print publishers. There are lots of examples where it is working and scarcity will always be paid for. Didn’t Sky Sports show us the way?

As an aside, I wonder what Sky make of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, TalkTalk, BT, Arqiva, Channel 5 joint venture for on-demand television services being branded YouView. Personally, I think it’s a really smart name but I can imagine some trademark lawyers had much fun (and decent bonuses) clearing it. The partners in the venture were, no doubt, intrigued to read research from Dynamic Logic telling us that ‘TV commercials repurposed as online ads perform less well on many metrics than videos especially developed for the online space’. I wonder how many created-for-television ads are run by those companies on their sites versus copy created especially for an online audience? I’d wager there’s more research on this to come as the survey also suggested television copy performed better under some circumstances. How are creative and planning-shops to use this do you think?

In other news, is the EU really cracking down on targeted advertising or are they making some sensible privacy suggestions? As we have noted before, privacy is key and I’m sure we, as an industry, can achieve the right balance. Perhaps noises-off (from Brussels) will get the industry there a little more quickly. The EU is also reported as having suggested that the use of Flash cookies for some purposes as illegal under European law. Clarity on this matter is, surely, a good thing and I’d be interested in seeing a proper ruling, if anybody has one.

This week, privacy was cited as a reason some people are choosing not to opt-in to SMS/MMS advertising. Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau and the Direct Marketing Association found, ‘64% of those surveyed did not want to opt-in to SMS or MMS because they thought they may have to share personal details’. The research also noted that 75% of respondents said, ‘they would be happy to opt-in to such services, given the right incentive, such as attractive offers, money off vouchers or priority service from a brand’. I wonder how good the offers would have to be to get that many people opting-in to more than a minimum of brand communications this way? Surely, just a few become intrusive very quickly.

Now, we’ve talked about Borrell Associates research numbers many times over previous weeks, noting in particular their research suggesting a bumper cash bonanza ($16 billion in 2011) for local (digital) advertising. Well research firm BIA/Kelsey thinks that is a little conservative. They suggest that local online already has 15% of a $133 billion local market (predicted 2010 numbers). eMarketer reports, ‘By 2014, BIA/Kelsey expects nearly one in four local ad dollars to be spent on digital’ which is pretty impressive, don’t you think?

As with other editions of ‘Last Week In Digital Advertising‘, this week’s scan of the digital advertising news shows that the industry has come a long way but also has a long way to go. It’s not surprising to have heard a number of suppliers at last week’s ad:tech conference bemoan the technical confusion arising from our industry: which technologies should be adopted and what can they do for their businesses? At least one mainstream publisher suggested there were simply too many technologies around and there wasn’t enough time to evaluate them all. We did hear that a data-driven display market is inevitable (so, you’re sunk if you don’t have your privacy in order) and brand safety is paramount (to both advertisers and publishers, who don’t want the wrong advertisers compromising their content).

As with any other modern business, it seems transparency is the key.

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.

Last Week In Digital Advertising #4

Did you miss me? Go on say you did.

Last week was a bank holiday in the UK and we skipped ‘Last Week in Digital Advertising’ which just means that we should have more things to talk about this week.  If you’re outside the UK and you’re interested then I should say that bank holidays are really just public holidays with a fancy name. Originally they really were holidays observed by the Bank of England but are now much extended. And, as many of you think we take too many here in Britain (we have 8 of them), I’ll point out that we used to take more than 30. Of course I would have to have been alive in 1830 to get that many. Which I wasn’t! Amusingly, one of Britain’s newest banks doesn’t close on half of the bank holidays, so we probably should rename them.

Banks are, of course, a nice place to store some of that new digital revenue reported by The Rubicon Project (Digital Ad Spend Grows 47% In The First Half Of Year) or next year’s bumper cash bonanza for local advertising (Local online advertising market set to top $16 billion in 2011) that was covered by John Cook’s Venture Blog, which, in turn, was quoting a bullish Borrell Associates report.

As somebody who works with the technology of digital advertising, it never ceases to amaze me when I see comments that suggest targeting is the next big thing online. Targeting – of all sorts and in many guises – has been possible for years (although clearly very disguised, as nobody seemed to know it was there). I’m never sure if it’s the publishers who thought it was too complex a-sell or the buyers who thought it too complex to plan but it’s been possible for a very long time.

Meanwhile, run-of-site display advertising is expected to drop by nearly 14 percent on a national and local level. “This early online format has simply been overshadowed by newer, more productive ad formats, and competition has pushed display unit prices down,” the report said. [quoted here]

Of course, it’s easy news copy and it’s hard to argue accuracy when so many people have been using ‘run-of’ advertising very successfully. Michael Nutley, in his Marketing Week column, repeated concerns among some brands and media owners that traditional media agencies aren’t taking full advantage of the complexities of the digital world.  So, if it’s true that “They’re not buying mass anymore; they’re buying niche,” as ClickZ reports Borrell saying, then I think it’s great for digital.

Blackberry maker, RIM, will have to dig deep into its bank account if stories suggesting it’s about to pay $500 million dollars for a mobile advertising company are true.  Readers will notice that mobile keeps cropping up because it’s either a genuine hot topic or, perhaps, we just continue to think it’s ‘hot’ because we all know there’s something in it. As if to underscore mobile computing is key, eMarketer surveyed a bunch of people (see, that’s the analyst in me) and found that 18-29 years old (the so-called Millennials) “were more than twice as likely to label cell phones a necessity” when compared against an older audience (their figures:59% vs. 29%).

Mobile marketing business AdFonic suggests the mobile ad industry needs to ensure that it’s matching the rest of online with transparency in advertising reporting (Transparency is key driver of mobile ad spend) – which is certainly true in a cross platform world. As an industry, transparency in what we deliver is important but, as always, there are challenges. The ad-operations forum at Admonsters noted that “[c]ounting discrepancies in impressions, page-views, and other visitor data impact every online tracking company, publisher, and marketer” which shows why we continue to have challenges building and integrating smart digital ad technologies.

There’s a lot to be covered when looking back at the last two weeks in the digital advertising world so let’s do some quick stats. Foursquare, the fashionable location-based check-in service, is now at 3 million users. TechCrunch thinks it will be a 4 million soon. I wondered, on Twitter, if we’re approaching a location advertising tipping point (don’t you love how social media allows you to reference yourself?).  Microsoft knows mobile is valuable and is reportedly digging into it’s bank account to spend $1billion promoting Windows Phone 7.  Keeping with a running theme in this column, NewTeeVee reports that almost half of all people in their survey (which was, reassuringly, global in nature and conducted in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, Spain, Germany, Taiwan and China) watch online television content every week (although does go on to note the continued strength of linear television). The continued popularity of online television services may be a reason why the UK’s Channel Five rejoined the internet-connected television consortium that is Project Canvas.

Buzzword of the fortnight goes to ‘engagement’ which has become an oft-quoted, never-defined advertising measurement metric. It was reported that Twitter’s promoted-tweets advertising concept increased engagement by 50% (if engagement was measured by clicking and re-tweeting: so the click metric then?).  For P&G, however, “engagement included watching an embedded video, playing a game or signing up for a newsletter”. In that previously mentioned Michael Nutley column we see that it’s a measurement that’s causing some concern amongst publishers and eConsultancy has a nice piece examining the engagement concept and trying to determine what it really means.

That seems like a lot for this week, doesn’t it? And I haven’t even ventured into the latest stories surrounding the privacy implications of digital advertising (Ad Firm Sued for Allegedly Re-Creating Deleted Cookies). Oh look how I squeezed that in. If only I was paying myself something for clever segues. I’d have a reason to visit the bank now. It is, after all, open today.

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?

Last Week In Digital Advertising #2

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

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.