Making ads better
It’s too easy to be gloomy about digital advertising, so we thought we would look through our preferred lens this week – the half full glass.
Lots of smart people are doing things that make ads better. Google are working on speeding up the ad delivery – ad tech plumbing is still relatively slow compared to that used in Financial Services so we have the potential to dramatically improve latency. This move is part of the Google AMP project which we see getting good traction. So hopefully these changes will improve the ad performance on lots of publishers.
AMP is being embraced for its core benefits but also as it seems to give your SEO a boost; Google knows mobile consumers are impatient and hence rewards the fastest content with the most prominence in search results. And as Facebook start to do the same we should see more use of AMP.
We continue to seek out adtech companies that are moving the peanut forward and Mporium make the most of speed. They identify event triggers and can consequently change paid search and social in real time –before fat fingers respond to the event. One good example is being able to change betting odds in Google search results as goals are scored.
A related area where we spend a lot of time is looking at data as the trigger for changing messaging. Photospire are able to change the elements of a video in response to various data sources – CRM, Social and even inputs to chatbots.
Deloitte have an interesting piece looking at how Cannes saw the blending of data and creative this year – with some sensible tips. We see Contextual Video as a no brainer – why wouldn’t you reflect what you know about the context, in the message?
Increasingly digital marketing is being measured against brand metrics and these tools are starting to help creative development. A Kellog study showed that viewability is a (unsurprisingly) significant factor in success but likability is the most powerful one. Again that’s unsurprising, but it highlights the opportunity for getting really good creative people familiar with the possibilities of these new tools and techniques.
One fascinating point from this research is that longer viewing - 16 seconds or more – actually performed worse than the shorter views – because people viewing more were perhaps distracted in some way.
WPP & Transparency
And it has turned out to be quite prescient. WPP results this week were poor and the share price has been hit. A key issue is transparency. When no one - including your customers - really understand how you make money that’s always going to be a problem, eventually.
The consultancies are benefiting from this, as clients look for another point of view. A key aspect of the problem is highlighted with a French start up finding hundreds of reputable brands advertising on questionable sites. And when they help the brands by pointing this out…
“We contacted about 400 brands, says Pierre-Albert Ruquier, marketing director and co-founder of Storyzy. Reaction varies. Some clearly don’t care and don’t even bother to respond. The biggest advertisers usually refer us to their media buying partners. We talk to most of them, even though we are often received coldly. Weirdly enough, we are also sent to large to consulting firms that advise big clients on brand safety issues. The vast majority of advertisers don’t know where their ads land. Or choose to ignore it. That's why when they refer us to their media buying agency these won’t budge. The reason is that almost all campaigns are ROI-based, a field dominated by behavioral targeting and retargeting.”
But with our glass half full lens, it doesn’t need to be this way.
The great adtech tools and plumbing can all work on good content and in an open and transparent way. Go back and watch Mad Men and that model can still - sort of - work. Don Draper would love all the tools and techniques available.
Blending deep domain knowledge of the digital world with a real understanding of how people think and how businesses work is a powerful concoction. Stir into that real creativity and you can solve big problems for businesses. That’s what ad agencies should be doing.
Delivering value like that makes you valuable.
When you focus on GAFA, the old adage of your enemies enemy is your friend keeps coming back.
As Amazon keep entering new sectors and steamrollering incumbents ( tickets now in the US after a trial in the UK) we are seeing some interesting partnerships. Walmart and Google are partnering to offer a sort of Alexa shopping experience on the Google Home device. It’s a nice idea but seems limited – even though Costco and Target are also available through the device. The New York Times goes into more background.
To counter Alexa, this needs some big plays – what do the economics lookl ike for giving a Home away to Walmarts best customers? The price of both the Alexa and Home has dropped recently and £99 is the going rate. But could this be balanced by the ability to drive more revenue on both Walmart spend and other Google products like YouTube Red?
Possibly. But no-one understands the lifetime value of online shoppers better than Amazon, so their response would be inevitable.
For Google it’s an important move too – they don’t have much of a play in ecommerce and we all know how shopping search is starting to shift to Amazon. As Voice search grows Alexa could be a powerful tool for Amazon to accelerate the shift away from Google.
Hard to imagine that Amazon haven’t already won.
Snap & Facebook
Dig into the detail and it’s probably more favourable – the data is based on monthly users and behaviours like Streaks drive daily use of Snap. The FT suggest Snap pushes the fact they have slightly more daily 13-24 users than Facebook.
One often overlooked competitor for teenage time is iMessage – this piece goes onto great detail to prove both its size and versatility. As a platform it has interesting potential – could Apple evolve it into the successor to Ping? Or is it more likely Snap and others look at the behaviours and try and tempt the users to their platform with better / different versions of messaging?
It’s clear that Snap have a much better understanding of this demographic than most – evidenced by their product development, which should maintain their growth.
Facebook are stepping their efforts to drive new product with the architect of their ad growth moving over to lead their hardware team. As well as Oculus this includes a video chat device. And apparently AR glasses. We think they also need to have something like Chromecast or the Amazon Firestick so they can facilitate the showing of their video product on peoples TVs.
From the people who brought you the Cookie notice
In a couple of client conversations this week the question of GDPR has come up yet it’s hard to get much insight into how it is going to be handled. There is lots of poor content marketing as people try and build prospects lists of the back of thin white papers.
John Batelle gets the topline issue of value exchange here but I wonder if US firms really get the fundamental change that is coming. The IABs Rothenberg is worried about the aspects that everyone has to be able to access cntnet – but that’s not the real problem.
Look at what a mess the Cookie notice made – a pointless pop up on just about every site warning us that cookies are being used
Imagine the same finesse around a box explaining what data is being used. For GAFA its not too bad – you are seeing this ad because Google has lots of data from seeing what you do in Google.
Imagine then; you are seeing this ad because Criteo has seen you abandoned a cart on John Lewis site and data from Krux on your age and from Experian on your household income makes us think the ad will be useful.
I would love to be proved wrong and if you have seen examples of how the industry are going to deal with this, please share.
Hollywood studios have an interesting new strategy to smash the traditional windows that have dictated when movies get onto different formats and distributions. Originally designed to protect Movie theatres, this windowing originally meant DVD releases waited around 6 months and TV was a year or longer depending on channel. With the rise in home cinema and the big investments many have made in big screen TVs etc there is clearly a demand for earlier digital release. Hollywood is looking at as little as 2 weeks, but charging a premium price - probably around $30-$50.
This is another threat to good old fashioned telly as the time for new movies has to come from somewhere and linear TV has shown itself to be the most vulnerable.
This would also seem to be a good response to the power of Netflix, who have always ignored theatre releases whilst Amazon uses them as marketing. If nothing else it’s a good way for Disney to launch their own streaming service.
Back to the enemies enemy tip, Google & Apple are under scrutiny again. We have covered the $3 billion bill Google pay for being the default search engine on the iPhone a number of times. Having successfully replaced Google Maps with their still inferior alternative and dropped the automatic installation of YouTube, the only Google now baked into the iPhone is Google search. Wall Street firm Bernstein see pros and cons for both sides but we only see upside for Google. To be the dominant player in Mobile search Google need this deal and, were Bing to replace them, it would catapult them back into contention for big search budgets. Despite being a significant player in mobile through Siri etc surprisingly few brands take Bing seriously. I am sure Microsoft would love to steal this deal and does Apple really feel comfortable with Google having such a detailed view of what their customers do online?
Our thoughts last week on the addictive quality of smartphones and the possible swing back to a more sensible use resonated with a few people. And this new FT article makes a similar point too; Why a dumb phone is a smart move
It was this thinking that drove all the hype around the revival of the Nokia 3310 – which was shortlived. A friend said he had tried putting his sim into an old dumb phone at the weekends but missed Instagram. Others felt they needed Spotify, but nothing else.
One of the features of the new Android operating system Oreo is making it easier to turn off notifications – which is a start. Could the next killer app be an app that lets you kill apps, at least temporarily?
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