Will Facebook Beat Google for Mobile Ad Dollars?

Once Facebook realized that it was a large publisher of user-generated content rather than merely a directory for college students, it set about figuring out how to win on all sides of the advertising business rather than be content merely to sell ads on its own  site. In the past several months, with the release of both Audience Network, its mobile ad network, and Atlas, it’s targeting platform, Facebook is demonstrating how serious it is about winning at the advertising game. Facebook ads, which used to be quite affordable, have risen 123% in price this year.

While few will remember the short-lived Beacon ads that infuriated users in the early days, no one can escape the current presence of ads in the newsfeed (although astute users are able to tell the social network which ads they don’t want to see). But the company is well aware that too many ads in a user’s feed will make the service less valuable users rather than more. So how to maximize advertising revenues without angering your users?  One way is to raise your ad prices, as the site has already done. But another way is to roll out a mobile ad network, targeting app downloads and installs.

And that’s just what Facebook did about six months ago when Facebook launched Audience Network, testing the hypothesis that a mobile network could increase ad revenues without losing users.

We assume that experiment was successful, because the mobile ad network has been expanded and is now open to the public.

Facebook had to have a way to capitalize on the growth of mobile and its mobile ad network became a way for Facebook to grow its share of mobile ad dollars, which are projected by eMarketer to reach one quarter of all digital ad spending in 2014. While Facebook already has a respectable percentage of mobile dollars, Google still has the lion’s share — 47% of all mobile ad dollars go to Google. And Google, too, has its own mobile network –AdMob.

We suspect that Facebook and Google will be battling it out over digital ad dollars for the next several years. It won’t be easy to dislodge Google from its catbird seat, but as search advertising slowly shifts to mobile, Facebook has a pretty reasonable chance.


Better Targeting Without Cookies

Amidst all the fuss about cookies and whether advertisers would survive  with new regulations surrounding the use of third party cookies, Facebook has developed a demand-side platform that can target customers totally without cookies.  Not only that, but this platform can target a customer on or off Facebook, on mobile or desktop, and on any device.  Facebook will release the platform, which is called  Atlas,  at NYC Advertising Week.

The targeting is done through Facebook’s own data. For instance, if a customer buys something in a brick and mortar store and gives an email address, if that address is in any way associated with a Facebook account, that purchase can be used  can be used by Facebook to help assign the customer to the right categories for contextual ads. Bidders for advertising on RTB platforms and exchanges  now have a flexible tool with which they can set their parameters according to how valuable a customer could be to them. For other media companies besides Facebook and Google, this would also be a blessing.

Atlas is a step away from cookies, but it might be a step to something much more invasive, and we’ve heard that Google is also working on something like this. While Facebook had revenues last quarter of $2.3 billion, Google had closer to $14 billion, and Facebook would love to catch up.  Because we’ve been in this business a long time, we know that questions will be raised about privacy, mostly by people who remember growing up in an era where we actually had some. It is thought that younger people who have grown up with Facebook and other social networks that harvest personal data will have fewer concerns about the lengths to which advertisers will go to find their customers. We already see this as consumers get up in arms regularly about data breaches, but do not unplug from networks or sites that harvest personal data.

Consumers do say that they wouldn’t mind trading their information for truly contextual ads, since what’s happening right now is — according to anecdotal evidence, decidedly lacking. Who hasn’t bought a pair of shoes online from Zappo’s and been followed all over the web by ads for the shoes you just bought or some just like them?  Retargeting is first generation context. What if instead you were targeted


ZEDO Technology Platform Proves its Worth

As the CEO of such a fast growing company as ZEDO has become, I’m not hands on with our technical team on a daily basis. ZEDO VPs of Engineering Arleif Braganza and Nitesh Naik lead the architecture of the platform its operation. Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a technical presentation the team made to a group of industry experts.
Normally we keep the details of our technology confidential. However in this rare case we decided to explain everything about the platform, including how it is architected and how it handles 100 bn – 150 bn monthly requests from practically every country in the world as well as hundreds of billions of monthly real time bidding (RTB) requests.
These experts were highly technical themselves and they had a big team in the room. They posed difficult questions and had a healthy skepticism about whether our platform was scalable, reliable and able to handle all the features and ad serving needs of the industry.
I was amazed to hear one at a time all the details of the ZEDO platform. Everything in our platform was shown to be beautifully thought out, built with the very latest technology and way beyond the expectations of even this group, who are themselves very cutting edge. When they were told how design concepts like statelessness were combined with some clever engineering to produce a resilient and scalable system without blowing operation cost through the roof, Arleif told them that all ad serving was stateless they didn’t believe it. When he explained how it works they were blown away. This happened again and again. When they learnt he explained how, if our data centres went down, that ads would keep serving they were impressed. And again when he explained how we use in-memory databases to keep each ad server independent from all the others. At every question the team showed that we understood all the challenge of the contemporary ad serving environment, had designed for it, and had a perfect solution. Overall our team showed that ZEDO operates one of the very best platforms in the entire online ad industry. I confidently suspect it may be the very best.
I am very proud of our technology platform and more important of the team that builds it.

ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – September 2014

Device Targeting

Users can now target ads to a specific device when trafficking ads. An option for “Device Targeting” is now available under “Targeting”.  A creative targeted to a specific Device will serve only on that Device. All major manufacturers/models are supported by this feature. If a creative is not targeted to any specific device than it will serve on all device.

Targeting by Device Manufacturer/Model

Apart from device, a user can target various devices based on different categories. At any given point of time, a user can target multiple manufacturers and categories.

Targeting by Device Category

Reach Report by Creative

Apart from existing campaign reach report a user can now pull a reach report by creative. The creative reach report is available along with all the existing parameters and can be pulled by month, week or day. Creative reach report will show creative wise reach. It will help to analyze how effective the reach of a creative was.

Shifts in Viewing: Video Consumption Up, TV Down

How appropriate that Nielsen’s new Cross-Platform Report is called “Shifts in Viewing.” You would have to be insensate not to know that people are consuming  more digital video. We know it because our video content publishers are seeing rapid upticks in traffic. In summary, the report says that although TV viewing has declined, most sharply among young people, not only has digital video viewing gone up, but the total time people spend interacting with has increased. Therefore, as Nielsen says charitably, we should not look at this shift as a game with winners and losers, but instead as an opportunity for everybody. Opportunity indeed. This must be what newspapers were told when news moved online twenty years ago. I’m not sure the opportunity here is for TV stations as much as it is for advertisers, who now have a solid new channel, mobile video, through which to reach those customers who have disconnected from TV. And according to Experian Marketing Services, that number is now 7.6 million households — up 44% in the past four years. But not having TV reception doesn’t faze them. fact, year over year among the younger 18-34 demo media consumption has grown four percent overall, two percent among Hispanics, eight percent among Blacks, and ten percent among Asians.  That’s because the young are looking at TV-like programming on their phones and tablets..  Nielsen says, “We are seeing year over year overall growth in digital use of sixteen percent among persons 18-34 with fifty-three percent growth in digital video viewing. ” But the truth is that not only the young are increasing the amount of video they consume online. Fast growth is also reflected in the 35-49 group, and the 50-64 demographic is surprisingly the fastest growing group of digital video consumers. Digital video consumption in this group  increaed 60%. TV viewing is down in every age group. And we look for that trend to continue, because this report shows that the highest increase in number of hours spent consuming video are spent on either time-shifted TV or mobile phones. Once the time-shift pattern was established, it became only a matter of time before video shifted online, and especially to the smart phone. As a culture, we’ve made a shift and we won’t be going back. Indeed, as phone screens get bigger, we expect video viewing on mobile phones to increase even faster.


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Copyright 2014 ZEDO, Inc.