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Mobile Fix - October 2

Some thought last weeks Fix was a little gloomy, with all the bad news about digital advertising; So today we’re looking at the opportunity afforded by the perfect storm of ad blocking, fraud and the perceived ineffectiveness.
 
Advertisings’ Trinity
 
The three key players in all advertising are inextricably connected;
 
Creators of content prefer advertising as a way of being rewarded for their success
 
Brands need advertising to make potential customers aware (and remind) of their products
 
People find advertising useful, as it can drive discovery. And as we saw with the 60thanniversary of ITV people really like some ads. And some of these ads are really effective – we worked on Howard from the Halifax and that creating huge value for the brand as well as entertaining half the population.
 
So how do we get past the mess we are in now and make this business tool deliver for all three parties? Some suggestions;
 
Lets buy MPUs rather than banners.  These nice square ish ads sit in the stream as the user scrolls down and if you use a responsive ad, many sites and apps allows expansion so you fill the width of the screen.
 
And lets make the messages simpler – learn from the power of an Instagram picture or a GIF rather than trying to cram loads of info into too small a space. And say no to those who want you to run the 15/30second video that was designed for TV.
 
Lets work to the highest standards when it comes to viewability – and that includes being rigorous in stamping out fraud and bots
 
How do we speed the whole process up? The tech is slowing down the experience for users. Nasdaq is much faster than ad tech – but their transaction is somewhat simpler than ours. So how do we simplify? Should we track less? Is it really a good idea to build the ad message on the fly – could it be quicker if we have pre created clusters of ads to select from based on the data?
 
What about good old fashioned context – could some smart thinking on who uses a particular site or app - and what users are likely to be doing - be useful? Once upon a time brands would make the reasonable assumption that someone reading about Golf was a good prospect for a luxury car. And that some one accumulating smurfberries in a game wasn’t likely to be that interested in downloading a fitness app. Clearly the data adds refinement to this judgement, but have we become too beholden to that data. Is a Guardian reader on eBay or Yahoo Mail really just as valuable as one reading the Guardian mobile site?
 
Is it finally time for VRM? – where users manage their own data. Could we see a new class of apps that are ad regulators – use the app to show what you products and services you do want to see ads for – and maybe a slice of the value could be donated to your favourite charity. It’s possible to target people who have called a car dealer in the last month – how valuable is a user who declares they are looking for a new SUV?
 
And why aren’t we producing many more executions? Dozens of ads that leverage the data the tech gives us, suit the context and avoid the users seeing the same ad time and time again. This is an area where we see huge opportunity - watch this space.
 
We always end Fix with that Charlie Mingus quote –
 
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity"   Charles Mingus.
 
We have made ad tech too complicated and we need to simplify. Our salon on Programmatic is just a couple of weeks away and we’re going to be looking at these issues. If you are involved in digital advertising, we think you have to be there – people from Amazon, Asos, Bacardi, Thomson, House of Fraser, ISBA, Balderton and Google are already signed up
 
Another quote from around the same time as the Mingus one;
 
“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem” – Eldridge Cleaver
 
Come along and help us solve the problems. Get more details – and your ticket - here.
 
(We are experimenting with sharing our thinking elsewhere and published this piece on Medium – if you enjoyed it please recommend it over there – thanks)
 
More good news
 
There is an industry view on who is delivering quality mobile inventory making it easier to avoid fraud etc
 
Google now offers a similar tool to Facebooks (and Twitters) custom audiences. By hashing your CRM database with Google they can identify people from email addresses so you can target them. Great potential to deliver a message that recognizes your relationship with your brand – but again you need lots of messages to be really relevant and useful.
 
Infectious – who are speaking at our event – can use geo demographic data in Programmatic campaigns as they use CACI Acorn data – as do a number of agencies
 
Brands who previously couldn’t promote brands with limited distribution can now target online people in the catchment areas of stores that stock their product
 
New tools from Apple will allow us to ditch the click and use peeping and popping as better ways to deliver richer messages. Imagine you press on the MPU ad on your iphone and a video plays or you can read more details on the product. Then stop pressing, the video disappears and you go back to reading about the football. Or pop open the destination site if you want to buy or register.
 
All this and much more is possible right now. Not all of it is new but it’s all underused. We have great tools that enable us to make advertising that is better for the users, more effective for the advertiser and more profitable for the content creator or publisher. There is a lot of talent in the business. But we need to devote more time and effort.
 
With that, the new tools and the talent we can bring the magic back. What are we waiting for?
 
The backstory
 
The new Goldman Sachs report New Ads on the Block got lots of press with its prediction that advertising is going to be fundamentally restructured by Apple, Google and Facebook. Fix readers sort of know that – and we would throw Amazon into the mix too.
 
Having now read the report it’s a good summary of where the industry is and where it looks to be going. And it suggests agencies are going to change too;
 
The value over time shifts from media buying to data enablement similar to the evolution of companies like Blue Kai.
 
Advertiser trade union ISBA share the findings of some of their research – best summarized as Agencies face an uncertain future;
 
Advertisers are now actively exploring in-boarding services they have previously outsourced, especially those closest to the customer interface like social and crm.
They also continue to rate creative agencies' contribution to/of big ideas, but are now widely questioning their role beyond that. Media agencies' role in implementing legacy media remains unquestioned, but their role beyond that is in serious question and subject to frequent challenge.
 
And this article from Asia supports that, saying Agencies are no longer king of the creative hill.
 
We have been approached by other Investment Banks wanting to understand the changing ad environment and what that may mean for the ad holding companies. The man behind the Luma landscapes, which detail how complicated this market, thinks the holding company is fragile
 
One more quote;
 
"The notion that traditional creative is king needs to change. The business has changed. Wake up," 
 
So who said that? Martin Sorrell. We live in interesting times.
 
Glass half full?
Reimagining the way advertising works means this sharing of the ad dollar is up for grabs. Consolidation could mean significant changes – if you can combine some of these stages and offer the same or better service at a lower price that would seem a sound strategy.
The winner, already?
It’s hard to dispute the argument that a brand really just needs to get Facebook right. With huge reach, and immunity to ad blocking, their hoovering up of adspend looks likely to continue. We termed them the ITV of digital a couple of years ago and they are now moving into TV style Rating Points. A great example of making things simple.
They have quite a few new advertising features that smart brands will quickly start testing. We think that getting the most out of Facebook is a good way to get competitive advantage as many brands are still just doing the basics.
The Age of Facebook has only just begun.
Quick Reads
One industry that gets advertising right is the Fashion business. Block the ads from Vogue and everyone loses. The current MuiMui campaign by Steven Meisel is genius – the perfect mix of art and commerce. And no creative agency involved.
They are also really good at branded content too – the latest MuiMui film has over 1 million views on YouTube and their previous videos have done just as well. Hermes also do this well with lots of videos.
So it begins. Shine - the AdBlocking firm with the best PR people - have finally got a client. Digicel is working with them and have started blocking ads in Jamaica. Few of the markets they operate in have very sophisticated advertising markets and it's likely the customer base will be motivated by the ability to save on their data. We should now see what the issues are with tech and regulators. Lots of people will be watching this and we expect other MNOs to follow if Digicel get away with this. It does highlight another facet of Net Neutrality.
Two interesting new apps. We mentioned Face It from Baidu a few weeks ago but we still think it’s the next big thing – just as soon as they launch a English language version. Everyone we know who has tried it has become obsessed with it – and it shows how video will be transformed by tech. This video is a good introduction. Have a play and tell us what you think.
And Sup from a friend adds a new dimension to social with the ability to know when your friends are close by. Foursquare tried to do this in its early days and Snapchat Nearby uses a similar idea to encourage adding friends.
When considering the future of journalism the FT is a great guinea pig. This NewYorker piece on them is a good read.
Getting curation right is key for many sectors as the burgeoning of choice is making discovery hard. Spotify seem to be getting it right
Whilst Apps dominate peoples time on mobile, the reach of the mobile web is still really big, so mobile web traffic is twice the size of that of Apps. Getting stuck in an Apps vs Web argument is missing the point. Both do different things really well and a business needs to get both right.
Finally it’s worth remembering that the web and mobile are very efficient machines for selling stuff. The new report from Criteo shows that in the US the top retailers are seeing almost half their sales on mobile. Well worth studying. As is the report from retail app specialists POQ – their platform is used by some of the UKs top retailers. Their study shows what features are driving engagement and revenues.
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