It’s not been a great week for digital advertising. Facebook got a lot of headlines for the story they has been miscounting video views. Whilst they didn’t over charge anyone the way the data is presented could mislead people into thinking their videos were more successful than they actually were.
Over in Japan Dentsu have been over charging a large number of their clients for digital ads. A number of US clients have announced they are to “audit” their agencies and all this, added to concerns over ad blocking and viewability etc, makes some question their digital spend. As does the story that P&G were to scale back the targeting they do on Facebook.
This sort of issue isn’t actually restricted to new media companies. A while back Media Luminary (and Fix friend) Mike Yershon set up a business auditing TV spend spot by spot. Even longer ago some guy up north made a good living setting up a business that drove round and took pictures to show whether posters were actually were they should be. Even in those analogue days, mistakes were made and sometimes the Agency benefited and sometimes the media owner did. These issues are being conflated with the lack of trust between brands and their media agencies.
It’s not helped by a lack of consistency – for example in video a view means very different things according to which platform you are using. And the IAB saying that 1 second constitutes a view is nonsense.
As ever those brands that treat their ads as an investment are less likely to suffer than those that look at it as just spend.
But the traditional media Taliban seize on these stories as more proof that the new digital opportunities eating their lunch, are not what they seem. Ever hopeful of taking us all back to the good old days before this new fangled stuff came along and complicated things.
It will be no surprise that we take a glass half full approach. We see many people taking the time and putting in the effort to get digital right and reaping the benefits. Whether your metric is sales, brand uplift, store visits or even clicks it is possible to make a digital budget accountable. The data isn’t perfect and you sometimes need to make a judgement but this stuff works – at scale - and it’s possible to work out how the various levers work. Quite hard to do with old media.
Facebook Scale and Targeting ?
With Advertising Week in New York there was a strong presence from Facebook and in a Town Hall with P&G and General Motors the scale of Facebook was celebrated - a Super Bowl every day – as Sheryl Sandberg says. P&G said the headline about their strategy change was technically accurate but a little misleading and reminded everyone that their mass market products need significant volumes of buyers. But they plan to keep spending on Facebook.
We think the beauty of Facebook is the ability to blend scale with precision targeting. The answer isn’t to narrow your audience down too far. It’s to use the targeting to make the message relevant to the various segments.
But eliminating wastage must still be key. We don’t buy the idea that wastage is still valuable and the constant Mercedes Benz riff (if the first time you see an ad for a Mercedes is when you can afford one, it’s too late) is just wrong. Creating desire for a car comes from lots of places other than ads. And showing a 15 year old an ad for a Diesel Estate isn’t going to do you any good – but them seeing the hero in a Blockbuster driving a Gullwing might. And Janis Jopln wasn’t inspired to write Lord Won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz by an ad. She was writing songs with Booby Womack and he drove to her house in the Hollywood Hills in his 1970 600 Series Mercedes
A new study from Adobe says that people like personalized ads – well 78% do - but only 28% think they are tailored correctly. Facebook is seen to be doing the best job. This underlines the potential for Programmatic Creative to be used at a a scale and the work we are doing with our friends at Cablato is starting to show what can be done. With Facebook claiming 4 million advertisers, smarter technology is needed as the vast majority of brands using both Facebook and Google aren’t using an Agency.
Facebook has been focused on moving away from social metrics in favor of business metrics. So while likes, shares and comments might have been important earlier on, the company is now more focused on driving sales and traffic.
Google were also at Advertising Week and shared some interesting new innovations. Like Facebook they have a big emphasis on ways of tracking ad effect – brand lift, store visits and cross device. They are switching away from cookies and towards sign in to track users across devices.
Following the slightly downbeat view on Bots last week we can balance it with some more optimistic views. The guys at Betaworks are all other this opportunity and this view from a former Agency creative who now works there is interesting, as he make the distinction between sales and service bots. Their weather Bot Poncho is a great example of what can be done. As is the YourMD bot from Fix friends in London. They get a mention in this summary of the recent Botcamp run by Betaworks. Some good stuff in here – discovery of Bots is a fascinating challenge for example.
Adjacent to bots is ML and we are starting to see an ecology grow to help systems learn. Machines need raw material to see what connections exist and them ML can work. Benedict Evans makes the good point that eBay has back issues of magazines that could be great fodder for nearly any topic. Vogue for Fashion and NME for music…
In the US you can now get Machine Learning as a service – a sort of AWS. And Google have just made a dataset of 8 million YouTube videos available. We know that smart developers and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of these moves to create new services and products. This and the Bot space are going to keep evolving.
Another hot area is Live video. The Boz video was Live on Facebook. Periscope have a new service for their VIPs as they seek to retain their disciples rather than risk losing them to another platform. The Meerkat team have bounced back with HouseParty and seem to be getting early traction. And Twitter are redefining Live with the way their new TV tools blend Live TV – like the NFL game and the Presidential Debate - with Tweets.
Lots still happening in Music. We think there is good learning to be had from an industry that has seen its business model change completely due to digital.
As Soundcloud move into a subscription service it looks like Spotify are going to buy them. The push into personalised playlists has been very good for Spotify and bringing in all that fresh music from Soundcloud strengthens that hand.
An interview with Apple Musics’ Jimmy Iovine suggests they remain fcused on Exclusives as a marketing tool, even though the labels hate them. This power struggle will be worth watching. And with Tidal losing money, Apple may be the best option for anyone wanting to profit from an exclusive. Or does Iovine use some Apple small change to curry favour with JayZ and the rest of the Tidal posse through an acquisition?
But it is not a two horse race just yet. Amazon aren’t going away and YouTube just made their intention clear with the hire of music industry veteran Lyor Cohen. Having being involved in the early days of HipHop he then ran Def Jam and Warner Brothers. This profile is good background reading. And as a close friend of JayZ maybe Google ends up buying Tidal?
Latest forecasts suggest digital in the UK will keep growing – and Google and Facebook take an increasing share. And Amazon will pass $1 billion in ad revenue this year. We believe they have the potential to grow even faster – over half of shoppers now go to Amazon first when searching for product. Brands need to refocus their search strategy to include both Amazon and Bing, which has more and more presence across the iPhone.
In a fascinating keynote at the ATS conference the other week Julie Langley from Results International put smiles back on the faces of the AdTech elite who always make ATS a great event. Talking up the sector and the recent M&A, Julie made the point that deals were now being driven by many new entrants; Martech, the Chinese in particular.
She mentioned that the Consultancies were increasingly focused on the ad space but were not – yet – writing cheques. They are seen as very credible in digital by their clients and are building out the services they offer.
The new Deloitte Mobile study is out and good reading – no doubt builds their profile in the digital space. And they now have a partnership with Apple to develop apps for corporates. This sounds quite similar to the deal last year between IBM and Apple and this piece looks at how that collaboration is working.
Consultancy PWC has a view on the marketers dilemma driven by digital and this quote is very telling;
..marketing service players must shift to focus more on content and intellectual property development, evolve from a services supplier to a strategic business advisor, and accelerate marketers’ ability to move from experimentation to scale across as much of their customers’ marketing and media mix as is feasible.
Could PWC, IBM, Deloiite or Accenture do that as well as or better than WPP? In her keynote Julie does some futurology and suggests Accenture could end up as the biggest media buyer. With Programmatic forecast to keep growing and a handful of players poised to dominate the sell side, why couldn’t the market shift to people with a stronger pedigree in both tech and data? The People we know at the big Consultancies believe they have a real opportunity
Finally in our workshops we always talk about digital disruption and we have looked at many industries. It is clear it comes to everyone eventually. So we should not be surprised to see it’s making life difficult for Spys too
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