Japan’s Mobile Market Leads US

Japan is currently one of the three largest markets for smartphone apps, and according to a report published by analytics firm App Annie, Japan has overtaken the US as the world’s largest mobile app market.  Japanese smartphone and tablet owners spent 10% more than their U.S counterparts in the iOS App Store and Google Play in October 2013.

As in America, the Japanese mobile phone market is moving swiftly from feature phones to smartphones. This move will have great implications for mobile online advertising, because Japan will have the same tension between the mobile web and apps.

Japan has always had a large installed base of feature phone users, but the number of smartphone buyers nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014.  Smartphone ownership rates are about evenly split between males and females, with about 45.4% of the males and 46.7% of females owning a smartphone. By this year smart phone ownership should reach 50% of the population, and by 2018 that will rise to 61%.

Unsurprisingly, younger people were significantly more likely to have smart phones, with more than 75%  of internet users 15-19 owning one, and more than 70% of those between 20-29. As people upgrade their feature phones, they seem to be moving to iPhones; 56.4% of users named the iPhone as their preferred smartphone brand.

Mobile ad market revenues also jumped in 2014. In Japan, 44% of mobile phone owners click on ads they receive on their phones. In 2013, mobile advertising was worth over $1 billion in Japan alone, and by 2017 that number is expected to double.

Over 60% of mobile ad spending was on paid search ads used by real estate, education, travel, and financial companies. 30% was from display advertising used by app developers, e-books, travel, and real estate agencies, and 10% is from app developers incentivizing users to install their apps.

Japan’s mobile shoppers love marketplace promotions:

  • Rakuten Market (楽天市場), the mobile app of Japan’s largest e-commerce website, found itself among Google Play’s top 10 apps by downloads
  • Rakuten Market’s app downloads appeared to spike around July 5-8. This might tie into Rakuten’s aggressive “Shopping Marathon” promotion held that weekend
  • Different from Amazon’s “daily low price” strategy to attract and retain shoppers, Rakuten Market designed its “Rakuten Super Points” rewards program to do so
  • Rakuten frequently runs promotions by giving extra bonus points to specific customer segments, merchandise categories and time periods.

And they are serious about dating. Dating services YYC and Pairs (????) found their apps among the top 10 on iOS by revenue, with YYC also finishing at #8 on Google Play by revenue. Both YYC and Pairs allow free registration, but monetize users’ actions, such as  profile views and user-to-user messages with their in-app currency.

Originally a web service, YYC has 14 years of history with 7 million
registered members; Conversely, Pairs is a relatively new app built
on Facebook with 1.3 million current active users. Both apps are further developing their security and privacy mechanisms, and Pairs has started expanding to other East Asian markets, leveraging cultural carry-over.


ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – April 2015

URL Pattern Targeting

Knowing where their ads run is very CRITICAL for marketers. Recently we have seen players like Appnexus being very strict on what URL they send to buyers. Also sometimes campaign calls for a specific whitelist or a blacklist.

ZINC Adsales told us that they wanted to serve some ads only on certain domains and URLs but ZINC operations team was helpless as groups of publishers were using single tag.

One of our Network customer wanted to block a few domains for his advertisers and at the same time reduce operations work by using single tag.

We have a solution for all the above problems! URL Pattern Targeting. Live now.

Read: http://kb.zedo.com/url-pattern-targeting/

Activity cookie on secure channel

Till now we only supported acitivity logging on non secure channels. It appears that secure protocol is getting popular as many websites are going secure.

Customers using secure channels will be able to use behavioural targeting using activity cookie now.

Emails from white labeled domain

Users of the While labeled systems will now recieve emails from the white labeled domains.

UI changes

  • Video file limit increased to 20MB for VAST
  • Title for companion ads in the UI

Fixed second price calculation in PMP

We are now using method used by the industry to calculate second price auction when PMP deals are part of the bidding response.

Yahoo’s Mobile Growth Signals Marketers’ Shifting Priorities

We just finished reading Nicholas Carlson’s book on Marissa Mayer and Yahoo, and  we think it’s a must read for anyone in the media business.  Set aside the politics, the boardroom battles and the glamorous Vogue photo shoots and you have a picture of a tremendously talented and hardworking CEO who during the past two years has revolutionized the Yahoo product with a strong focus on mobile. If you haven’t visited Yahoo’s various media sites in a while — especially news, weather, and tech — you will find them totally transformed from the old Yahoo. They have the thoroughly modern, easily navigable look of a Flipboard or  Circa, and the mobile versions have even won design awards from Apple.  It’s easy to see that Mayer has taken seriously the need to design data-driven user experiences that can attract younger readers.

Tumblr, too, continues to do well.

And yet, Yahoo’s revenues did not grow in 2014.  Does this mean betting the farm on mobile was wrong? Here’s Mayer putting the best spin on things in the 2014 earnings release:

“I’m pleased to report that our performance in Q4 and in 2014 continues to show stability in our core business,” said Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. “Our mobile strategy and focus has transformed Yahoo and yielded significant results. In Q4, we saw $254 millionin mobile revenue, up 23% quarter-over-quarter. Across all of 2014, we saw gross mobile revenue of $1.26 billion and GAAP mobile revenue of $768 million. Our investment businesses – mobile, video, native, and social – collectively delivered more than $1.1 billion in GAAP revenue, up 95% year-over-year. These growth drivers have really focused our investments and energy on the future of digital advertising.”

The future of digital advertising. Mobile. In those words lie the answer to why Yahoo isn’t doing so well presently, and why it will do better in the future. And also in those words is a lesson for all other media execs who have yet to make big strategic bets on mobile.

Because Mayer was a tech exec and not a media exec, she focused on mobile from almost the moment she arrived at Yahoo. She knew that was where consumers were headed, and she wanted to get there first to beat them there. But for the same reason — because her background is in tech and not in media — she underestimated how slowly the advertising community would move its budgets to mobile. As a result, she landed Yahoo squarely on mobile just in time to meet her users but a couple of years before marketers realized the need for a mobile strategy and the bigger need to shift budgets.

Mayer might have been too early to mobile, but if you look at the paragraph above you’ll see how quickly the mobile business is growing. Either this year or next it will overtake the traditional Yahoo display business. And then it’s our opinion she will be considered a success in her transformation of a company everyone thought was out of the major leagues.

How is your mobile user experience?




Publishers Re-Designing to Take Mobile Seriously

Publishers who have traditionally felt themselves to be the curators and packagers of news are now re-thinking their roles yet again as consumers switch to mobile. In the days of print, there were one or two deadlines a day, usually morning and evening, at which time a new “package” of news was edited, printed, and distributed. The first switch to digital took those two aggregation points in the day and moved them online. Later, the “home page” emerged, updated more often but still considered the first place a reader would land.  More recently, social media and recommendation engines killed that arrangement as readers came from Google, Facebook and Twitter. And now, mobile has changed things yet again.

Premium publishers are redesigning their sites with less emphasis on the traditional home page and more on the way consumers on mobile “pull” news to themselves — on demand and in context. “Publishers have learned that the smaller smartphone screen has to be treated much differently than the screen of a personal computer. They also are grasping that allowing the consumer to select his or her news preferences has to be a priority,”  writes Michael Barris of Mobile Marketer.  “The big lesson here is that people try to access content where they want to, not where publishers want them to. Utilizing approaches like responsive design—sites that flex to the form factor of the device accessing it—allows organizations to create content once and distribute in as many places as possible.”

For traditional publishers, this has been difficult, as they also have to deal with legacy audiences. The New York Times, for example, has redesigned its site to a long scroll containing all the former sections of the print newspaper on one page to be available to mobile viewers. It has also placed video on the front page,  although not typically “above the fold.”  There are four ad spaces on the home page, all small. The Guardian home page has only a single ad, proving that the publisher feels the editorial experience of a clean home page will be more conducive to getting a reader to click on an internal page. CNN.com, also optimized for mobile, has but a single ad on the landing page.

Why has this changed? Because the “front page” is not how the audience on mobile comes to the publisher. More likely, a visitor will come through an app like Nuzzel, which aggregates all the news your friends are sharing into a simple package of headlines. You, as the visitor, pay very little attention to where the news came from as you click on the headline from the Nuzzel app. That headline leads you to the NYTimes, but not to the site as a whole — only to the article you want to read. On that page are the best advertising opportunities.

This represents a sea change in the way advertising is valued, and also in what advertising will likely work. Ad formats and placements are being swiftly revalued for mobile advertisers, and this along with the growth of native advertising is making for yet another bumpy year in the publishing business.


For Publishers, Sharing Data with Users Promotes Engagement

Consumers are beginning to believe they’re being stalked by marketers. That good news is that targeting has become good enough for people to notice it. The bad news is that it isn’t yet good enough for them to enjoy it. Really good targeting would only deliver ads when and where they are useful. This is the Holy Grail of marketing. Until we get there, more data transparency would fill the gap, because it would explain to consumers why they have been chosen to receive a certain specific campaign. This is a valuable lesson for publishers to learn: giving customers back their data will help them become more engaged with your site.

In a recent Venture Beat article,  the Brent Dykes of Adobe points out that when the music site Pandora shared with him what his behavior was in the past month, it encouraged him to listen to the service again:

I recently caught a small glimpse of the data loop’s potential when I received an interesting email from Pandora Radio. I’m an avid user of their online music service, and they regularly send me various promotional emails. Often these emails feature different artists or upgrade offers, but the one that caught my attention was a monthly email that shared three simple data points:

  1. How many songs I had listened to the previous month (214)
  2. How many songs I had given a thumbs-up rating (6)
  3. What my favorite music channel was (Thievery Corporation)

Besides these three insights, there were no fancy charts, just a question — “What will you do this month?” — and a prominent “Listen Now” button.

LinkedIn offers a similar services that tells people how many users have looked at their profiles. Knowing someone looks at your profile motivates you to keep it up-to-date, and to return to LinkedIn. Facebook offers similar information about the organic reach of its pages — a stat that angers people who now realize they have to pay for advertising, but allows Facebook to monetize more effectively.

Because, you see, businesses have been getting analytics for a long time. It doesn’t seem fair that consumers should not get equal treatment. The only time we, as individuals, customarily receive analytics is when we’ve read the last of the ten free monthly articles on the New York Times, for example. And those serve the publisher, not the consumer. Why wouldn’t I rather know that I’ve read fifteen articles on business and nothing on world events, or vice versa?  If I had that information, perhaps I’d double down, or alter my habits? Either way, I deserve to know, and if I change my pattern when it is called to my attention, that just gives the publisher a more rounded vision of who I am and how I use the site. Ultimately, it makes the targeting more precise, and strengthens my relationship with the company.

…data is an unlimited resource that will only expand with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). As data becomes more pervasive, a healthy data loop with brands will be expected and rewarded by increasingly data-savvy consumers. It’s no longer just about how your company can extract valuable insights from your customer data, but how the data can create value for your customers. It’s time to start planning how your firm can embrace the bi-directional sharing of information and master the emerging data loop.

In an effort to deliver better data to our publisher partners that they can share with their visitors, we have strengthened our reporting tools recently, and we’ve updated our internal dashboard interface.



New Net Neutrality Rules Regulate Mobile Internet

The year-long discussion of net neutrality that has just passed drew amazing interest from carriers, large and small publishers, advertisers, and– surprisingly– ordinary internet users.

Congress could not have imagined when it enacted the APA almost seventy years ago that the day would come when nearly 4 million Americans would exercise their right to comment on a proposed rulemaking. But that is what has happened in this proceeding and it is a good thing

Framed in many different ways by people looking at the issue from various perspectives, the issue has never been truly understood in all its subtleties.

Thus victory was proclaimed when the FCC voted to get involved and treat the internet as a public utility, guaranteeing that pay-to-pay for faster broadband was not going to be a common business practice. Almost everybody thought the good guys had won.

today we adopt carefully-tailored rules that would prevent specific practices we know are harmful to Internet openness— blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—as well as a strong standard of conduct designed to prevent the deployment of new practices that would harm Internet openness

At least until yesterday, when the FCC actually released a 400-page document telling what the rules really governed. And lo, those who read it there was one big surprise: the regulation of the mobile internet  for the first time.

Indeed, mobile broadband is becoming an increasingly important pathway to the Internet independent of any fixed broadband connections consumers may have, given that mobile broadband is not a full substitute for fixed broadband connections. 8 And consumers must be protected, for example from mobile commercial practices masquerading as “reasonable network management.”

Here is a list of the three big regulations you will need to know about.

No blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

No throttling: Broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

No paid prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

How the carriers approach the mobile internet in a newly-regulated environment will also affect advertising revenues down the line, because the more access consumers have to affordable mobile data plans, the more time they will spend with online publishers. There will be lawsuits — many of them — and these regulations are likely to be tested in the Supreme Court.




OTA Comments on Proposed Data Breach Notification Legislation

As a member of The Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a global non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust and promote innovation, we take seriously the issue of online trust. There are now several federal data breach notification proposals wending their way through the legislature. OTA, because it represents over 100 other organizations, feels compelled to weigh in.

Here are  six key points and provisions  OTA believes are important considerations for an effective and balanced federal data breach notification law.

First, any federal data breach notification law must preempt the existing 47 state laws imposing a myriad of data breach notification obligations. State breach laws are a complex web of varied timing and notification requirements, and are a difficult mish-mash for an inter-state business to navigate during the challenge of responding to a data breach incident.

Second, any federal data breach notification law must contain a safe harbor from regulator penalties for those businesses or organizations that can demonstrate a commitment to the adoption of best security and privacy practices, provided they have been independently verified. While it is important to recognize there is no perfect security, OTA’s analysis of data shows that more than 90% of breaches that occurred in 2014 could have been prevented by adoption of best practices. A safe harbor for independently verified adoption of best practices would strongly encourage businesses to adopt best practices when they are most needed – in advance of a breach.

Third, any federal data breach notification law must contain a State right of enforcement. Similar to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), a state right of enforcement not only permits a state to protect its own citizens, but also allows states to complement the overburdened federal regulators by pursuing those companies and organizations that fail to live up to their data breach obligations.

Fourth, any federal data breach notification law must contain an appropriate coverage of personal information triggering notification. This is critical to ensure consumers are notified in a timely manner and for those breaches they need to know about, and are not over notified. If notifications become commonplace, consumers will get lost in the noise and likely not take appropriate action. Thus, the definition of what’s data is covered must be balanced and appropriate, must include paper records, and due to the common reuse of passwords by consumers across their numerous accounts – must include coverage for email/username address and password. A user’s email address and password are essentially the keys to their online kingdom, permitting access to social and financial websites, either directly or through a master account password reset.

Fifth, timely notice is critical to not only consumers, but also to regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies. Businesses should be required to notify the FTC, FCC or other primary regulatory within seventy-two hours after discovering a breach involving covered data.

Sixth, any data breach legislation must permit businesses to share investigative forensics reports and related data with any law enforcement agencies investigating a breach. This sharing should not constitute a breach under the legislation nor impact any privilege or protections belonging to a business. Sharing forensic reports and data as soon as possible concerning a breach and attempted breach can be invaluable to help protect others and bring attackers to justice, and should be encouraged through appropriate protections in any data breach legislation.

We will be following this legislation through our active membership in OTA.

IAB Leadership Summit Reveals Industry Challenges

Digital advertising has come of age. Online advertising is now the second highest segment of advertising (at least in the US) and we in the industry no longer have to convince media buyers to send budgets online.
However, now we have to prove that those online budgets bring benefits. In a significant move, the IAB announced at its annual leadership meeting that it will now allow ad tech companies as full voting members, acknowledging the importance of data as well as inventory to the industry.
Despite the growth and wholesale acceptance of online advertising, the industry still faces some challenges: consumer consumption habits are changing faster than the industry can figure them out, brands are challenged to keep up, and marketers, agencies and publishers all find their costs increasing because of audience fragmentation and growing demands for customization. The “mass” has gone out of mass media, and with it the economies of scale. In this new environment, publishers have a hard time affording to produce the kind of journalism a free society needs.
Several critical questions remain to be answered by the industry.
1) Should viewable impressions be the new currency?
The viewable impression has technical and measurement challenges that prevent 100% viewability from being a standard in 2015. We’re in a transition period on the path for 100% viewability, but until measurement technology improves to the point where different measuring companies can come within 10% of one another, we don’t have a good metric. The industry is working toward a digital GRP, but I’m not sure GRPs are all they’re cracked up to be.
2) Will native advertising stick?
On every new platform, ads begin as an awkward accompaniment and only later begin to fit better into the new content and context. That’s where native advertising is now. Native ads represent a fundamental turning point in advertising, but they are an addition to, not a replacement for, traditional ads. If you think of ads as falling into three categories, from pure branding to the presentation of information, to the bare performance ad, native ads should come in the middle of the funnel. We sorely need some standards as to how to present native ads without alienating consumers.
3)What kind of advertising works on mobile? The simple answer is “no one knows.” Yet. Right now, mobile ia the frontier, and most brands can’t create, plan, buy, and measure mobile ads. As a result, most mobile ads tend to be performance ads, which is how all digital advertising started.  After we get our arms around the bottom of the funnel, we’ll start to move up toward the top with brand ads and informative ads. One thing we can already see; digital video will be one of the fastest growing segments of advertising and most of it will be consumed on devices.
4) Is programmatic good for everybody? Programmatic is just the automation of the selling and buying process, and right now too many different ad stacks are being used, which makes the process  seem muddled and  slower. But this year there will be an industrywide push for open RTB standards, and for a common, non technical vocabulary that we can all understand and agree on. Then programmatic will be good for everybody.
5) Who will finally address the issues of fraud?
Last year was the year in which ad fraud came to the attention of everyone, whether inside or outside our industry. The viewability issues raised the initial question of fraud, but now the prevalence of data reveals the percentage of clicks and views that come from bots as well as the incidences of malware served to unsuspecting site visitors. Neither publishers nor advertisers can afford to ignore fraud anymore. IAB has thus formed the Trustworthy Accountability Group, a monitoring body to get the bad, immature and incompetent actors out of the supply chain. All marketers who place tags on a page are under warning.
6)And finally, how can we close the skills gap in the industry as well as increase diversity?
Ad sales, operations, and media content creation are all knowledge-based and require continuously learning employees.  IAB is pushing for some sort of certification for ad industry employees, and of course for an education program to go with it.

Notifications: What the Apple Watch Will Mean for Publishers

It’s difficult to ignore the media hype around the upcoming release of the Apple Watch.Like most Apple products, the watch has engendered high expectations as to both its potential pricing and to what the Apple Watch will do that other smart watches already on the market do not. At the end of the day, the Apple Watch will not be much of a plus for publishers, and we’d better hope that it won’t be a negative.

Unlike the smart phone and tablet, which have proven to be a boon to publishers like Buzzfeed who know how to reach readers and viewers on the go,  the Watch won’t be appropriate for reading text or watching video.  In fact, at least in this iteration it will be more like an extension of your smartphone but with much less functionality.

And that’s where both the problems and the possibilities come in for publishers. The possibilities lie in the ability to notify consumers more easily about things they may be interested in. No longer will someone have to take his phone out of his pocket (or her purse) to learn about breaking news, nearby sales, or fast moves in the financial markets. The watch, in addition to being a step tracker, will also enable notification streams from any phone app that permits them. So far, it could be a net gain for publishers who know how to write clever headlines or headlines with urgency.

But here’s the problem: a constant stream of notifications, unless they are important, can drive users to turn off notifications entirely rather than be buzzed by non-stop interruptions. It’s not much more polite to keep looking at your watch during a meeting or a lunch than it is to get out your Phone to read notifications. The flood of notifications to the wrist could drive away potential visitors to a publisher site or a story, especially if your notifications get lumped into a category with trivial information and the watch owner throws out your baby with the bath water. The notification space could potentially become very competitive as every app developer vies for the watch owner’s attention. The news business will have to make on-the-fly decisions about how often to disturb people with information that may be important, and will have to swallow its pride and write even more “click-bait”ish headlines.

If we were Apple, we’d force developers making applications for the Apple Watch to cap the number of notifications any single app can send, so if a user chooses to receive notifications from a dozen different apps she’s not getting five an hour from each. This is a challenge, and we’re guessing it will take a while to solve. Writing notifications for the watch will be much like writing headlines for news stories and should be done with consideration for what the wearer of the watch really needs to see. It may come down to whose notifications are the most necessary.

Most tech industry analysts have agreed that Apple probably won’t be able do much more with its watch than most previous marketers of smart watches have been able to do, largely because of limited screen real estate, battery life constraints, and privacy issues.  Some of the functionality of any smart device is dependent on sensors, and the watch is also dependent on the state of sensor technology. Moreover, there has already been an announcement that at least in its early versions some of the health apps Apple planned for the Watch probably can’t be on it due to regulatory issues.

So whether the watch is successful will depend largely on the quality of the notification streams. And publishers, that’s your responsibility.


Changing Trends in High Impact Advertising

Everybody  is jumping into the digital rat race to grab a slice of the advertising pie. But with display advertising still doing nothing truly high impact, all big brand advertisers still prefer TV. Sometimes they choose social (Facebook) advertising medium but often they don’t run advertising on the Internet at all.

Those who have been in the online advertising industry for more than a decade all agree that brand advertisers in India don’t believe much in Internet advertising. Therefore it is time Internet advertising companies improve this by developing new innovate advertising opportunities – that have high impact and are as good as TV advertising.

A good example of a new high impact digital advertising opportunity is the Full Screen TV Ad on the web, where the TV Commercial spreads across the screen. It looks just like a TVC on the TV. It not only grabs the users’ attention but the ad performance is also very high, the reason why it is called high impact advertising.

The CTR of standard banners is officially 0.09% in India (or maybe lower). However, full screen TV Ads on the web are better value for money. If numbers speak volumes than it would only be fair to compare the Impressions, Clicks and CTR between standard banner ads and running Full Screen TV Commercials on the web.

Advertisers like this and are increasingly running campaigns on this path-breaking innovation which guarantees high impact, complete engagement, branding and higher viewability. More and more TV advertisers are looking at online advertising to widen their reach. High impact ad formats have opened up a gamut of supply for the advertisers and agencies, who are advertising primarily on TV. Advertisers see this as the right time to reach India and make a higher impact with their existing, often award winning TV Commercials.