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Online Ads: Proving ROI To Be Job 1 for CMOs in 2013

Published 2 years, 1 month ago

CEO Mark Hughes of C3 Metrics (a media analytics platform) predicts that as of 2013, marketing officers will be far more accountable to financial officers for digital ad return on investment (ROI). He detailed why in a Business Insider column.

The standards of ad verification will change as of 2013, and for the better. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in February released the final version of its “Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification,” in cooperation with the Media Rating Council (MRC). The advantage to advertisers and marketers is truth in numbers: IAB is promising that with a common set of standards, “companies engaged in the verification of interactive advertising campaigns can themselves be audited against a common, transparent standard.”

What will be required of chief marketing officers (CMOs)?

First, they will need to recalculate ad ROI. The ROI of display ads is about to change. The until-now accepted definition of an impression is the “server request” (when a consumer logs onto any website), but the ads do not fully load, 12% of the time. So, writes Hughes, “Advertisers still pay for ads never reaching a consumer’s page.” He expects CMOs to account for and pay for only fully-loaded impressions.

Secondly, the definition of a “viewable ad” will tighten. This is owed to the new standards defined by the IAB, along with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). According to those organizations and C3’s own data, 68% of all display ads are never seen by consumers—they are not even viewable for one second, which IAB recommends as a standard. If it becomes a standard, then advertisers will not pay for unviewed impressions; cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs) will rise 50 to 70%; and advertisers can expect stronger ROI.

Finally, CMOs can expect more scrutiny concerning advertising expenses, as they fall under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). As the IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) defines it, “Expenditure on an intangible item shall be recognized as an expense when it is incurred." The CMO will be held accountable to prove that an ad runs, else, expenses are out of line with services or advertising, and a company risks violating GAAP. “CFOs generally don’t like to be caught by surprise, and they don’t like violating GAAP,” opines Hughes.

Facebook Ads: Think “Fun,” as Movies Excite and Banking Bores

Published 2 years, 1 month ago

Facebook ads offer a strong value proposition, provided the brand is a fun one. Ads for movies and consumer electronics achieve astounding clickthrough rates (CTRs) and low cost-per-clicks (CPCs), reports eMarketer. The story is quite different for banking services, the lowest in engagement in 10 categories with the highest cost-per-click (CPC).

The CTRs and CPCs of Facebook campaigns by industry reveal that the platform is cost-effective in some, but not all industries. Facebook ad-solutions provider AdParlor analyzed more than 1,000 ad campaigns purchased through the company for the four-month period of September 2011 through February 2012. Industries typically perceived as more exciting—movies, electronics, automotives—garnered a higher average daily CTR. Ads for movies and entertainment (the #1 position out of 10 categories) outperformed ads for banking services (#10) nearly five-fold.

With that low engagement, merchant and banking services had the highest cost-per-click at $1.24 and a low average clickthrough rate of 2.52% (roughly a 25% improvement on direct mail).
Social media marketing company SocialBakers found much the same results. The company analyzed engagement on Facebook pages of companies worldwide between December and January, tallying the number of “likes” and comments the page received and divided the number by total fans.Airlines and automobiles saw the highest engagement rates, with 0.33% and 0.36%.

Interestingly—and as much as fans may seek engagement—some of these industries stink at response. SocialBakers found that automobile companies routinely ignore their fans, exhibiting only a 9.56% response rate. Airlines lead response rates at 44.66%, as they have come to use social media as a customer service portal.

Research: Advertisers, Agencies Migrate to Aggregated Media and Emerging Channels

Published 2 years, 1 month ago

ValueClick, Inc., an Internet advertising network, has announced results from its “2012 ValueClick Media Advertiser Survey.” This annual survey tracks the perceptions, thoughts and actions of agencies and brand marketers, including their views on advertising budgets, reasons for selecting media partners and digital marketing trends. Nearly 300 digital marketers and agency professionals participated in the survey, conducted in December 2011—71% of respondents from agencies, 26% being direct buyers.

ValueClick found that in the category of stationary display advertising, aggregated media–such as networks, demand-side platforms (DSPs), exchanges and trading desks–are stabilizing or increasing their footprint, apparently at the expense of portal buys. Still, while DSPs, exchanges, and trading desks are gaining momentum, 19-31% of media buyers do not plan to spend in those channels in 2012. In addition, video and mobile marketing are experiencing a surge, with only 7-10% of marketers not planning to spend in these channels in 2012 (down from 13% and 15%, respectively, in 2011).

Other findings:

  • The number of buyers planning on decreasing spending in networks dropped by over 50%, while those planning to spend the same or increase on networks grew from 72% to 83%. A mere 3% of buyers do not plan on spending on networks.
  • DSPs appear to be stabilizing, with the percentage of buyers who plan to keep the spend the same as last year equating to 30%, vs. 23% in last year’s survey, while those planning to increase their spending decreased to 17% from 20% over the same time period.
  • Those buyers planning to not spend at all with portals jumped over 38% - from 13% to 18% - and the percentage keeping the same spend or increasing declined from 53% to 45%. A mere 9% of buyers expect to increase their spend with portals.

Targeting Techniques Even Out

Compared to prior years, 2012 will bring a relative impartiality to various targeting techniques. For the first time in the seven years that ValueClick Media’s Annual Advertiser Survey has been completed, the top four preferred targeting techniques (audience-based, demographic, contextual and retargeting) are within a mere six percentage points of each other. Advertisers value any method of reaching the audience, but the one-time king of demographics is now simply part of the pack as contextual and retargeting methodologies have improved, and proved their worth.

Performance Takes on Greater Emphasis

Perhaps related to the leveling out of targeting preferences, the importance of tangible results dwarfs all other criteria buyers use to select media partners. While buyers surveyed in past years regularly ranked performance as the most important consideration, never before has the gap between performance and any other consideration been this wide. In a particularly surprising finding, the importance of transparency dropped by just over 50% compared to last year’s survey.

So buyers are spending less time policing their partners, than policing the results of the partnerships.


Upfront Digital: Android Apps Triple | Facebooks Analytics Acquisition | Valpak Upgrades Apps

Published 2 years, 1 month ago
  • An enthusiastic blog post from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Google Senior VP of Mobile and Digital Content Andy Rubin enthused “If you walk around the Android stand., it’s also evident that our hardware partners are thriving. There are 100+ devices on display at the conveyor belt bar…just a small portion of the 800+ Android devices that have launched to date.” Rubin recalled announcing 150,000 apps in the Android market at last year’s MWC, and claims the number has tripled to more than 450,000 apps today with more than one billion app doawnloads per month. “Think about the astonishing number of songs Shazam’ed, places Qype’ed and foursquare mayorships!”
  • Buddy Media, which claims to be the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world's top ten global advertisers, has announced the acquisition of Brighter Option, a London-based Facebook Ads API partner providing innovative social ad management software. Buddy Media believes it is now “the only company to combine social publishing, applications, analytics, commerce and paid advertising in a unified software suite.” Buddy Media spent six months shopping among 20 Facebook advertising technology partners, and concluded that Brighter Option had the most scalable technology, team and business model. Last quarter, Brighter Option’s social ad management software managed more than 92.5 billion impressions for more than 291 advertisers in 42 countries. 
  • MediaMorph, which provides technology for cross-platform media tracking, audience measurement and analytics, has raised $8 million in funding from Motorola Mobility and from London-based Smedvig Capital, reports Multichannel News. This investment round brings MediaMorph to a total of $11 million raised to date. MediaMorph clients include Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, E! Networks, Starz, HBO, A&E Television Network and Cablevision Systems. In addition to media usage research, the startup provides rights and royalty management services.
  • Coupon company Valpak has redesigned its iPhone and Android apps, and has launched its first-ever iPad tablet app, reports DMNews. Valpak is best known for its thick envelopes stuffed with coupons for local businesses (e.g., pizzerias, dentists, pool builders and cleaners). The company first launched its iPhone app in 2009, and last March, launched a location-based digital coupon service. The company says it was prompted to upgrade old apps and launch the new iPad app in response to increasing tabloid downloads, and a tripling in app downloads over the past 13 months.
  • MTV has launched “Under The Thumb” in Europe, a new social TV app, reports TechCrunch. MTV partnered with digital agency AKQA to create the app, which MTV and Viacom call a “world first” in alowing users to watch MTV on mobile devices, share the content, then watch on-demand programs simultaneously with those (remote) friends. It has launched in Europe prior to migrating to the U.S., and will be free and ad funded.

Research: Social Media + Online Ads = Higher Purchase Intent

Published 2 years, 2 months ago

It is no secret that the combination of paid media (in advertising) and earned media (news stories, social media) boost brand awareness and favorability. But as eMarketer reports, the combination also raises order sizes and revenue per click.

Analytics and attribution solution provider ClearSaleing conducted a study of consumer exposure to a combination of paid, owned and earned media. The study revealed that when consumers are exposed to social media on top of other online ad formats and marketing channels (e.g., search engine ads, email direct and display ads), the average revenue per order for U.S. advertisers was $280.71—considerably more than the average $135.37 average for all digital channels.

ClearSaleing observed that consumers use social media and comparison shopping engines for larger purchases (e.g., major appliances) , which could contribute to the higher average revenue per order. Also true, ClearSaleing tracked display interactions by view-through activity versus by impressions alone, which lends credibility to display ads as having significant influence upon consumers.

IAB Releases Conduct Guidelines for Digital Ad Measurement

Published 2 years, 2 months ago

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released the final version of its “Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification,” in cooperation with the Media Rating Council (MRC). The advantage to advertisers and marketers is truth in numbers: IAB is promising that with a common set of standards, “companies engaged in the verification of interactive advertising campaigns can themselves be audited against a common, transparent standard.”

The participants in creating the guildelines include both buy- and sell-side heavyweights such as the New York Times, NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting, Yahoo!, Google, and verification services like AdXpose and Telemetry.

In an executive summary of the guidelines, IAB claimed as one of its goals to “reduce the chaos that has surrounded ad verification practice since its inception,” and to improve the trust between both buy- and sell-side industry organizations. “While ad verification in principle is valuable to the digital advertising industry, the lack of accountability created tension between the publishers and marketers.” said Steve Sullivan, Vice President, Advertising Technology for IAB. The Bureau “developed these guidelines to introduce a level of consistency into campaign assessments commensurate the industry's standards for impression measurement.”

The guidelines provide a detailed set of common methods and practices for verification of online advertising, useful to verification vendors and users of verification services (both buyers and sellers). They include mobile, e-mail or lead generation campaigns of all types and address a wide range of topics, including:

  • Ad-serving prevention (“ad blocking”) carries larger implications to the buyer and/or seller because the intended ad serving transaction is interrupted. The guidelines recommend that ad blocking may be used in instances where the relevant domain or page-level URL is already on a blocking list, for competitive separation and fraud prevention. Ad blocking should only be built into ad serving systems, so decisions are made pre-serve.
  • Nested iFrames are often recognized as legitimate technology, but because of browser operational/security considerations, there is limited visibility into the legitimacy of iFrames filled with content from outside the parent domain. For that reason, the guidelines recommend ad verification vendors have procedures to classify and report whether advertising served into iFrames from other domains has been appropriately executed. In addition, the general nature of the verification tools used to view iFrame content should be disclosed. Moreover, it is recommended that the industry minimize the use of nested iFrames.
  • Geo-targeting IP-based processes can vary in quality based on the geo-targeting vendor used. The guidelines recommend geo-targeting vendors subject their processes to independent auditing and that natural differences in geo targeting accuracy between vendors be taken into account.

“Consistent and transparent conduct of ad verification is vital for deepening confidence in the industry and driving the advancement of digital advertising,” said George Ivie, Executive Director and CEO of the MRC. “We believe the issuance of these guidelines represent a major step toward achieving these goals.”

IAB has made the guidelines available on its website.

Upfront Digital: “Parade” Ad-Supported App | Google+ Favors Male Students | TWC Streams on PCs, Macs

Published 2 years, 2 months ago
  • Parade (that slim magazine that comes with Saturday and Sunday newspapers) has gone digital with an ad-supported mobile app, “Celebrity Parade.” Min Online sees this as a good move, as “Most magazines seem distracted [by] the big shiny object, the tablet,” while ignoring the smart phone. Parade developed the app with Zumobi, which is behind apps for MSNBC, Motor Trend and Good Housekeeping, among other brands.
  • NBA Digital (a partnership between Turner Sports and the NBA) will deliver multiplatform coverage of NBA All-Star 2012 through the league’s portfolio of television, online, digital and social platforms, highlighted by the first ever “ Social Spotlight” that will feature the best fan tweets, photos and videos throughout All-Star in one convenient and easy place to view on During NBA All-Star, NBA TV will deliver fans more than 95 hours of dedicated All-Star programming including interviews with LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and many other NBA All-Star participants, and an exclusive live presentation of NBA Commissioner David Stern’s All-Star press conference on Saturday, February Feb. 25.
  • Time Warner Cable (TWC) is beta-testing a live TV streaming service (called TWC TV) for PCs and Mac computers, reports Multichannel News. This builds on its original iPad version. The 100+ channel line-up includes no Viacom networks, as TWC and Viacom have yet to hammer out an agreement. TWC TV provides seven days of searchable TV listings, a "Watch on TV" button to change channels on set-top boxex, DVR management features and parental controls, among other features. 
  • In online ad targeting 2/3 of google+ users are men, says BizReports. compiled a profile of google+ users from a number of sources (including Google’s official blog). Top 10 brands include H&M, Samsung, Pepsi and Toyota. The #1 occupation for a Google+ user? Student, at 20.01%. The second highest is “software engineers,” at just 2.65%. The remaining occupations all fall under 2% of share.
  • Still hesitant about video ads? Mobile video traffic comprised 52% of wireless data usage by the end of 2011, according to Cisco Systems, as reported in Multichannel News. Cisco expects video traffic to soar 25 fold through 2016 and account for more than 70% of total mobile traffic. Global mobile data traffic grew 2.3-fold in 2011, and will increase 18-fold over the next five years to hit 10.8 Exabytes (10.8 billion Gigabytes)/month by 2016.
  • Another forecast from Cisco Systems: There will be more than 10 billion Internet-connected devices in 2016, exceeding the projected world population of 7.3 billion people, according to a BizReport story. This is behind that 18-fold rise in mobile data traffic. Cisco’s VP of Product and Solutions Marketing Suraj Shetty told BizReports that by 2016, “60% of mobile users—three billion people worldwide—will belong to the 'Gigabyte Club,'” generating more than a gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month.


comScore’s “2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus”: Ad Buyers, Planners Face Increased Accountability

Published 2 years, 2 months ago

comScore has released its 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report. This annual report examines how the prevailing trends in social media, search, online video, digital advertising, mobile and e-commerce defining the current marketplace and what these trends mean for the year ahead.

“It’s no secret that the online advertising industry has long held the promise of being the most measureable of all media,” writes comScore. Sill, the complex online advertising ecosystem makes validation of delivery difficult. In preparation for this year’s Focus report, comScore conducted a U.S.-based Charter Study in December 2011 involving 12 national brands, 3,000 placements, 381,000 site domains and 1.7 billion ad impressions.

One of the big stories—display ads, which reached 4.8 trillion impressions in 2011, and with powerful targeting capabilities that “deliver more value for advertisers and publishers alike.” comScore expects display ads to be a strong second player to search ads. The leading U.S. publisher of display ads in 2011 was Facebook with more than 1.3 trillion impressions (27.9 percent market share)—thus, one in four online display ads—and Yahoo! Sites second at 529 billion impressions. 

So behavioral targeting counts for more on the Internet than demographics in significance. Fully 73% of impressions clocked in the Charter Study were targeted based on behavioral attributes, not simply age, gender or household income. But, of the audience-targeted placements evaluated in the study, delivery ranged from 14- 96%, suggesting flaws in cookie-based audience targeting and substantiating a need for validation.

Across all charter campaigns measured, 69% of ad impressions were classified as being in-view. The remaining 31% were delivered but never seen by a consumer, a likely result of a consumer scrolling past the ad before it loaded or a consumer never scrolling the ad into view. In-view percentages varied by site and ranged from 7% to 91%. 

Where, then, to place those ads? comScore reports these findings as well:

  • Social Networking (chiefly on Facebook) accounted for 16.6% of online minutes at the end of 2011 and is on track to surpass portals as the most engaging online activity in 2012. Facebook continues to lead as the driving force behind this shift in consumer behavior, accounting for the largest share of online minutes across the entire web in 2011.
  • Google maintains a strong lead in the U.S. search market, but Bing had a strong upward trajectory in 2011. Bing closed out the year by surpassing Yahoo! for the #2 position among core search engines for the first time in its history, bolstered in part by its social search partnership with Facebook implemented in early 2011.
  • Online video is changing the ecosystem. It saw impressive gains in 2011, signaling a behavioral shift in how Americans are consuming video content. More than 100 million Americans watched online video content on an average day to close out 2011, representing a 43% increase versus a year ago.
  • Smartphones and tablets are fueling the “digital omnivore.” In 2011, the majority of all mobile phone owners consumed mobile media on their device, marking an important milestone in the evolution of mobile from primarily a communication device to also a content consumption tool. At the end of the year, more than 8% of digital traffic was consumed beyond the “classic web” via devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Nielsen Reports: How Americans Spend Media Time and Money

Published 2 years, 2 months ago

Americans are spending 33+ hours per week watching video, and across numerous screens, according to the just-issued Nielsen Cross Platform Report. That is a lot of media time, but where to buy ad time? It depends who you are attempting to reach. Older viewers watch the most television. Young viewers are watching less, but as The New York Times describes it, "Youths are watching, but less often on TV." 

Nielsen reported data for Q3 2010 and Q3 2011, year-over-year (YOY), and as Nielsen describes it, “changes are afoot” as consumers seek the options that make the most sense for them (usually depending upon their comfort with the Internet, or household income).

Younger viewers are spending less time watching TV, at 120.56 minutes per month, while those over 55 watch the most at 195.10 minutes per month. But the total viewer time is more even, taking into account mobile media and online. The upshot, says TechCrunch, is that “the issue isn’t as simple as switching from one medium to another,” for example, from TV to TV-over-Internet. Rather, with a “plethora of new TV consumption choices,” the mix is inconsistent, even among viewers in the same household.

Three quarters (75.3%) surveyed pay for broadband Internet, up from 70.9% in 2011. Fully 90.4% pay for cable, telco-provided TV or satellite. Also, homes with both paid TV and broadband increased 5.5% since last year.

The number of homes subscribing to wired cable decreased 4.1% over the past 12 months, while telco-provided and satellite TV increased by 21.1% and 2.1%.

Although they comprise less than 5% of TV households, homes with both broadband Internet and broadcast TV are on the rise, having grown 22.8% over the last year. In those households, viewers stream twice as much video content as do the average households, and watch half as much broadcast TV.

Among other findings for Q3 2011, YOY:

  • Households watching time-shifted TV increased by 65.9% YOY
  • Mobile video viewing increased by 205.7% increase in users
  • TV over Internet increased by 21.7%
  • Asian wired cable subscribers declined from nearly 66% to 51%
  • 12% of Asians opt for telco delivery, up 3% YOY
  • Hispanic homes are more likely to be broadcast only at 15%, or satellite connected at 34%, than any other ethnic demographic.


Upfront Digital: Super Bowl Internet Dip | Google’s Groupon Answer | eReader Malaise

Published 2 years, 2 months ago
  • Internet usage in the U.S. dipped about 20% during the Sunday night Super Bowl broadcast, reports Multichannel News. That compared with an average Sunday, and despite the "Social Super Bowl" hype. NBC’s online video feed of the game took 6.2% of all downstream broadband traffic at 9 p.m.
  • Google Offers, the Internet giant’s answer to Groupon, has just launched in its 40th major city. With this week’s launch in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Omaha, Neb., plus ten cities in the two weeks prior (including Boston and Washington, DC), Google Offers has aggressively expanded in just six months. As WebProNews describes, Groupon turned down an acquisition offer from Google.
  • Barclays Capital is guessing that an Apple HDTV, priced at $1,500, could quickly take 5% of the HDTV market—bringing with it the accompanying Apple ad platform. As MobileMarketingWatch describes, the Apple TV would be less of a television, than a delivery vehicle for gaming, video, content delivery and apps, all of which presumably will be funded in part by iAds.
  • The Washington Post yesterday launched free iPhone and apps for its Facebook-powered Social Reader app, reports the Poynter Institute. With the apps, users have “mobile-optimized access” to articles that participating Facebook friends have read, not just from the Post but from more than 30 participating publications. The Post claims 11 million people are using the app on
  • Digital magazine publishers may see a plateau on eReaders, eMarketer forecasts, and based on stats from Verso Advertising and Burst Media. While almost 16% of U.S. Internet users surveyed in December, 2011, owned an eReader, those who plan to buy one is declining. The good news—for marketers anyway—is that eReaders are losing ground to tablet computers, with their larger screens and higher processing capacity. Tablets are expected to see double-digit growth, reaching 89.5 million users in 2014. However the eReader/tablet horserace ends, the mobile ad opportunity is still a powerful one.