New ad formats
We all now know how big mobile is and the WARC news that it is now the second biggest ad medium in many markets should not be a surprise. But it still a huge opportunity, as so much of that spend just isn’t as effective as it could be. Ad formats are a significant part of this
With news that Buzzfeed are laying off staff as their ad revenue stalls, the promise of native hasn’t quite delivered. One issue is that, done properly, native ads don’t travel well - they fit the original partner but even if they can be used elsewhere, they don’t really fit anywhere else. It is one of the downsides of having media owners handling creative rather than a smart agency.
If you take our view that adapting creative to fit each platform is a media investment rather than a production one, you can get round this and make the most of the opportunity. By this we mean that the best way to make the media budget effective is to have the right creative.
Desktop thinking often means that assets are repurposed from desktop and run everywhere - which explains the ubiquity of banners.
Most product innovation around ads has come from Snap - although the real success these formats has been on other platforms. YouTube is the latest to reinterpret Stories with Reel and it’s likely that - with their huge audience - it will be a big success, as was the Instagram reinterpretation.
But Evan Spiegal has come out fighting. In a good article he has shared his thoughts on the problems with social and described how Snap plans to solve these issues. Separating social and media has some merit and his thoughts on human curation as a balance to algorithms also makes good sense. Here the new redesign is explained and it looks interesting - but the acid test is what your average teen thinks. No doubt their many media partners will like the more accessible feel, but they are there because of the huge reach of teens
Last night I spoke at the EagleEye event on Personalisation in Retail - sharing the platform with Diageo, Google and some of the Eagle Eye team; including the guys who invented data driven loyalty with the Tesco Clubcard.
There is so much happening in retail and the audience covered many sectors - but the main thing is getting some experimentation underway. Some things - like facial recognition in malls - are probably not worth focus right now. But emulating the many direct to consumer startups up that have built their business with precision targeted ads on facebook, deserves attention.This is a must read piece on how new brands are making this work. Business of Fashion go a little deeper into this, looking at how brands like Warby Parker market themselves compared with Heritage brands
But you don’t need to be a new brand or retailer to act in this way. Anyone can learn from this modern marketing. Our NY colleagues have great experience of a similar strategy, using Facebook as new TV for a new CPG brand.
One thing talked about at the event was how the Amazon / Whole Foods deal spurred people into action. Google talked about getting more conversations going and a new deal for Ocado with French retailer Groupe Casino demonstrates there is a long way to go in this battle. One thing i noticed this week was that Tesco now stock Whole Foods peanut butter - is that an Amazon initiative?
The key tenet of the evening is that success comes from really understanding your customer. Something that great retailers have always done and possibly something that comes harder to a tech firm. But data and the smart use of Machine Learning has the potential to redefine what customer service looks like and how retail works. How long before firms anticipate your needs and send you things unprompted - giving you the option of returning what you don’t wand and charging you for what you choose to keep?
When a media business owner launches a hedge fund to buy Crypto currency you have to wonder if we are getting into a bubble. The Norwegian guy who bought 5000 bitcoin for $27 would be now sitting on $55m had he not sold some. In the last couple of weeks people with no real interest in tech have been asking me about Bitcoin; there is a huge amount of hype and it ending in tears seems pretty likely.
Wondering whether we are seeing new business models or froth brings us to consider bicycles. Over my time in Hackney the main danger of being mugged has been replaced by the problems of gentrification - which artisan coffee shop should we favour today and isn’t avocado on sourdough toast actually ruining in the planet? Now there is a new danger; yellow Ofo bikes littering the pavement.
The Chinese bike wars have come to London and despite running up huge losses over there, they are spending heavily over here. In China there are all sorts of wild and wonderful ideas on how they will make money and with funding by BAT they are war a proxy war between the big players. But here the business model is more of a mystery. Still, if what is essentially a classified listing of takeways can make the FTSE 100, who knows where a free bike service might end up.
Despite the best efforts of the industry, bad actors are perpetuating the problems the ad business face with brand safety and fraud.
At the exuberant YouTube Brandcast event last week, the Google MD was updating the audience on all the new measures they have underway to combat extremist and unacceptable content. Within a few hours a new story on disturbing content, and comments, aimed at children had triggered another round of brands pulling their budgets. The FT talks of algorithms that seduce children and the way kids are watching YouTube - without any adult supervision.There are ways to exercise more control - such as using the YouTube kids app - but this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Many years ago we had to build a list of unacceptable words for a Teletext project (where users could send messages on their TV sets) so we could code out any bad language. The first phase was good fun as people would just shout out when they thought of a new word to be banned - the office was like a Tourettes convention for weeks. With a comprehensive list in place we then spent months dealing with people finding subtle misspellings that still conveyed the meaning of the words.
Google have that same issue now, with comments across millions of videos and in every language under the sun. In real time.
Appnexus have a rallying call around how we might minimise ad fraud, which makes good sense. But it needs people to turn their back on questionable sources of inventory and that hasn’t really happened yet, as people still chase bargains. But AppNexus have backed up with words with actions including a useful tool to validate ad.txt so helping publishers minimise mistakes - which they saw in 45% of implementations.
With the white smoke from the EU Data gurus chimney imminent, we should soon understand how GDPR is going to play out for consumers user experience. Once this is known the industry has just a few months to find satisfactory solutions.
There is quite a lot going on already with people anticipating likely scenarios and many looking to build new ways of operating that protect and or enhance their status. This cheatsheet is a good read of how what key players are doing. It is worth noting that many of the bg holding company agencies that are so vocal in calling for an end to walled gardens are building their proprietary data pools which will be essentially their own walled gardens.
We are advising all clients to think carefully about how they can build up their own 1st party data and better think through how they earn consent from their customers.
TV & Attention
I enjoyed a fascinating half day hosted by Google this week, where a bunch of smart people from across the industry discussed how video and attention should be measured. The Johnny Nash classic More Questions than Answers came to mind.
The debate did lead to some progress but there is more to be done. As part of the session Advertising Research Don Robert Heath spoke about the academic thinking around attention. If you haven’t read his latest book Seducing the Subconscious I recommend it.
Everyone now knows the current TV measurement is inadequate - as a NBC exec said this week “We have a problem. You know it, I know it, we all know it. The GroupM paper on video from a couple of weeks ago covers this too.
On a related topic an FT piece thinks TV has 10 years to respond to the tech threat. We think things are changing much quicker than that. Their forecast of on demand at 20% of daily viewing by 2026 seems very conservative.
Ever since Ford hired an ex Burberry and Apple marketer as Chief Brand Officer we have wondered what effect that might have. Looks like we now know - Ford have hired cool NY agency Laundry Service for one of their brands, instead of their incumbent WPP.
In a good interview with the head of Digital Transformation at L’Oreal, she nails it;
That’s what we do.
What’s cooking at The Media Kitchen
As well as speaking at the EagleEye event and attending the Google workshop this week we worked on a pitch with a sister MDC agency. And lots of creds and conversations about clients issues with legacy agencies that do siloed Digital Marketing.
If you find the topics we cover in Fix resonate with you we should be talking. Whatever your marketing stack I feel sure we could probably add value. Lets discuss.
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