Do You Have a Tablet Strategy?

ZEDO‘s tablet strategy, long part of our product road map, has very quickly progressed to the forefront of our offerings, along with our high impact formats and measurable viewable impressions. We think TV advertising is moving online faster than anyone would have predicted, and the impetus for this is the startling success of the iPad.

… one in four Americans used a tablet device in the first quarter of 2012. In April, 16.5 percent of mobile phone subscribers used a tablet, representing an increase of 11.8 percentage points in the past year.

What’s more, tablet users are three times more likely than a smartphone user to view a video, ComScore says. Ten percent of tablet users watch video on their device daily. More than half of tablet users watched video and TV content on their device in April 2012, compared to just 20 percent of the smartphone audience. The larger screen sizes make tablets more favorable to video. In fact, of those viewing video at least once a month, 26.7 percent paid to watch content, highlighting a big opportunity for publishers.

Many companies believe that a separate tablet strategy isn’t necessary, since all mobile strategy can be lumped together. Not so. The smartphone small screen, and the on-the-go experience do not lend themselves to watching longer form video content that can be monetized by advertising. In addition, most smartphone users don’t browse the web unless they are looking for something specific.

Tablet readers, on the contrary, are defined by their content consumption. Whether the tablet is the only screen they’re watching, or one of several (younger people sometimes watch TV with a tablet in front of them and a smartphone beside them on the couch), tablet consumers are prepared to spend watching video, and video ads, too.

Because we started as an ad server, we know how to serve video ads, and we’ve got a high impact in-page video format that is delivers 99.9% viewable impressions. Currently, that high impact video format is selling directly at $20 CPM –a sign of advertisers’ belief in the format’s effectiveness.

As one would suppose, tablet users skewed older than smartphone users, and in a higher income category. This is not surprising, given the fact that tablets are expensive, while smartphones are nearly always subsidized by the carrier.

Nearly three in five tablet users reside in households with income of $75,000-plus, compared to one in every two smartphone users. This is an obvious opportunity for the high-end luxury-goods sector.

We have been saying for a while now that online advertising can be every bit as good as TV advertising. Now, we’re beginning to see the evidence manifest.

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More than Hype: Mobile is Coming Quickly

Mobile advertising, in the words of people who know it best, is still all hat no cattle. Most publishers don’t have the technical capability to create ads that brands will feel are worthy of them, and thus advertisers give more lip service than budget to mobile advertising.  Advertisers have to know that the new mobile formats can guarantee viewable impressions.But it’s easy to make the change to mobile with good creative and new formats.

Our advertisers want executions that inspire — while we often have to settle for the basics. To be successful in mobile advertising today on the brand side, it takes a bit of imagination. Unfortunately, the big ideas are often held back by brand restrictions and lack of technological investment.

We saw this coming, and that’s why we have spent the last year developing high impact formats that are optimized for tablets and mobile. We think the tablet will be the mobile device of choice for consuming content, although the phone will certainly play a big role in countries where it’s the only electronic device the consumer owns.

High impact formats that produce real, quantifiable viewable impressions are where the puck is going, and we are already waiting there with our InView suite. Publishers can trust us to produce ads brands will find worthy of them, and that’s why we are now reaching out to the advertising side of the industry to show them what we have. We think it will take publishers and advertisers working together to make the shift to mobile worthwhile.

This has to be done quickly, because the consumer is already shifting. This will be the year in which mobile sales outstrip PC sales, and we can see from our publisher clients that content consumption on mobile devices in the evenings and on weekends is growing monthly.

In this same article, the mobile executive points out that to be successful, companies will have to invest ahead of the curve. Mobile is in the hype cycle now, but it will move into broad adoption almost before we know it, because the consumer has already shifted.

The leaders of this upcoming communication revolution will be brave enough to take a short term dip in revenue in order to adapt to a dramatic change in consumer behavior. There will always be a place for desktop computing, but cloud-enabled wireless devices are clearly fast on their way to becoming the dominant choice for consumers.  Faster than any technological shift in our history.

As a technology leader, we DID invest ahead of the curve. Publishers who want to try out the new technologies are brand safe with us.

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A Year of Expansion Ahead: Paul Prior Joins ZEDO as President

The future of advertising is mobile. 2012 is the year when mobiled device sales will replace PCs. The mobile future isn’t conventional display ads, where effectiveness declines every year; rather,  it is creative messaging delivered through equally creative new formats. In-page video will play a large part here, as well as display ads that only appear when a viewer scrolling down on a mobile device, reaches the appropriate content. We have always thought digital advertising could and should be as effective as TV advertising, and have spent years developing the technology to make it so.

 

The conversation around viewable impressions is just beginning, and fortunately ZEDO is positioned to be viewable impressions’  major player. Our early partnership with AdxPose, now comScore, made us the first to test the comScore VCE platform and certify that the viewable impressions percentage for our inView ad format suite is 99%. We have more experience under our belts than anyone else.

 

We are good at measuring the effectiveness of the ads we serve (and even those we don’t). We’re much more than an ad server now, although that was our roots. We offer high impact formats, private exchanges, and specific formats we invented for tablet advertising. For example, we now offer full screen video ads on the desktop, and we will soon have those available on tablets.

 

But the advertising industry hardly knows us, because we’ve been a partner to publishers for the last decade, and we’re headquartered in San Francisco. To give the ad industry greater exposure to us, we have hired  Paul Prior, formerly of Acceleration, to assume the role of President of Zedo and to expand our New York office.

 

ZEDO’s vision is to be the leading global platform for premium digital publishers — to connect them directly to brand advertisers and their agencies who want proven high impact, high reach placements with quality audiences. We are now  offering our private exchange platform technology to advertising agency holding companies.

 

Paul’s presence in New York will take us to the next level. We welcome him, and we predict a year of great growth and change under his leadership.

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ZEDO is Known for Viewable Impressions

The conversation about viewable impressions is just beginning. We now know that we can reliably serve ads, because we have been doing that ourselves since 1999. But more and more, advertisers want to know that their ads are seen, rather than just served.

More often than not, you hear ordinary people, the ones advertisers are trying to reach, say “I don’t even see the ads when I go to a site. I just scroll past them.” This becomes increasingly true as mobile devices become the primary ways by which people read. The classic banner ads produce disappointing returns.

Our customers, often major publishers, began to ask us more and more often for ways they could prove the ads on their sites were actually seen, especially since the are paying by impression. And the inability to prove that ads are being seen has dragged down the CPM, and this the revenue, for publishers.

About six months ago, we decided to come up with a solution for them called “InView Formats.” These ads are designed to display in such a way that the user has to see them. These ad formats perform beyond our wildest expectations– it consistently delivers 99% viewable impressions. They are beginning to excite the market.

We are not just measuring what is viewable and what is but we are innovating formats and placements that ensure that Internet ads are 100% viewable or viewed by users.

How do we prove our success? We partner with comScore, whose AdXPose product measures constantly. And as the advertising industry moves toward buying only viewable impressions, and the dollars spent move this way – we have seen RFPs that say they only want to buy viewable impressions, we have a core technology product that creates only viewable impressions. This is ahead of the market, it is exciting and it makes Internet advertising better for the publishers and the advertisers.

ComScore is recognized as the most reliable measurement tool in the industry; in fact, many complain that it is too conservative in its measurements. But with 99% viewable impressions, we can’t complain.

We are now testing even more innovations some of which include video, to see if we get as good viewable impression results. We’re all over viewable impressions, so we will let you know here, in the blog! It’s a very exciting time at ZEDO. If you need viewable impressions as an advertiser or a publisher – call us. We have the technology.

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Good Advertising Should Seem Like Content

“Advertising is at its best when it brings you back to a place and time – remember how you felt the first time you saw the grandmother from Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” or Coke’s “Mean Joe Green”.  Unfortunately, too often we treat advertising like a mass production line: commoditizing it and diluting it to the point that it no longer matters and becomes white noise.”

This quote from Larry Allen in Business Insider hits the nail right on the head for me. For a long time, I’ve thought digital advertising can be as impactful as TV advertising. But right now, it’s sold incorrectly and executed without true creativity, almost as if creative were an afterthought. The advertising of my youth, known for its cleverness and excitement, has faded into the vanilla digital banner, or the slow-loading flash ad.

Of course these kinds of ads don’t work. Ads, Allen says, should be like music: pleasant to listen to and evocative of emotions. Brands are dissatisfied with the current data-driven state of digital advertising,, because they want engagement. Publishers are losing revenue. How do we fix that? With new formats that make advertising compelling again, with effectiveness that can truly be measured.

According to DoubleVerify, which monitors brand exposure, most impressions are not viewable.

— Only 54 percent of impressions matched IAB viewability parameters,

which state that an ad must be at least 50 percent viewable on the

screen for at least one second to be considered “viewable”.

— For a major advertiser, the highest brand exposure duration for a

campaign was 95 seconds while for another advertiser it was only 18

seconds.

— For duration of more than one second, the highest performing media

seller had a viewability rate of 83 percent while the lowest was 28

percent.

— The top performing media sellers had average viewability of 75 percent

while the low performing had average viewability of 40 percent.

— For all media sellers, the average ad viewability rates declined with

time as follows:

— One second or more: 54 percent

— Three seconds or more: 43 percent

— Five seconds or more: 36 percent

— 10 seconds or more: 27 percent

— 30 seconds or more: 12 percent

Media sellers using our high impact formats can demonstrate 99% viewable impressions.

How do we fix this? We need new and better technology for publishers. ZEDO has this technology and it has been adopted by hundreds of sites across the US. Publishers using our high impact formats get 99% viewable impressions. And  brand advertisers notice that and call our publishers. One agency has put out an RFP strictly for viewable impressions..

And with these the new highly viewable ZEDO formats that users actually see, especially ones that include video, creative directors can finally take their great TV ads and show them to hundreds of millions of target consumers on the web. Bring back the good old days of “Mad Men,” when fun creative that everyone viewed made the day.


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The Shift to Mobile: Faster Than Ever

The enormous popularity of Apple’s iPad and the spread of smart phones throughout the world have caused an accelerated shift to mobile. We all knew it was coming, but we may have underestimated how quickly. In the future, we can see the disappearance of the desktop machine almost completely, and the dominance of simpler internet-enabled devices.


Although many in the industry feel otherwise, we believe that tablets will become the biggest, most dominant way to access the web. Yes, smartphones will be important for casual and convenience purposes, but we are less bullish on smart phones as Internet access devices. We’re even less bullish on them for advertising, since no one has yet figured out how customers “on the go” will feel about receiving advertising to their phones.


On the tablet, we believe that the browser will emerge as the “super app,” the one that gets most volume and the one we need to support above all others. Eventually, the app economy will give way to HTML5, because it’s too difficult to develop different apps for all the smart phone and tablet variations coming on to the market. Android, especially, drive app developers to distraction.
We believe that advertisers will benefit from new ad formats on tablet browsers because:


1.  The way people use tablets and other mobile devices is different from the way they used desktop PCs.People on tablets are often moving from room to room, or watching TV at the same time. “Generation C,” the connected generation, spends its time with three screens at once: the TV, the phone, and the computer. And users of tablets consume more content on mobile devices than they produce, so different types of ads will work for them.


2.  We also know that tablet browsers are technically different from traditional browsers, because they shrink the site to the screen size, and allow users to zoom in. As users zoom in many ads are no longer in-view, which will make traditional display ads less effective.


We are therefore developing new formats for the tablet browser. We have prototyped 2 so far:
1.  A version of the 160×600 or 728×90 InView. We will be testing this to prevent it getting too big as a user zooms in
2.  A bigger ad, probably a 300×600 or 300×800, that shows on page load, rather thanon scroll. This format will be for big brand advertisers.


We’re at the point where we need to finish the prototype for this second ad and test publisher interest. If you would like to become a beta tester, please let us know!





Video Advertising: More Effective, More Challenging

It won’t be long before video ads will be the most important form of advertising online, gradually replacing banners for marketers who want real engagement and results. EMarketer has had some interesting articles on the way in-page video ads perform as compared to the performance of banner ads. Not surprisingly, the differences are dramatic.

We have noticed this at at ZEDO for a long time, and we’re developing new formats for in-page video, and measuring the effectiveness of our Inview ad formats through our partnership with comScore.  We’ve gotten the numbers to 99% in view for the slider, and now we’re working to guarantee that our video ads are brand safe, which is more important with video than with banner ads, because video is more fully integrated into content and also more engaging.

Marketers will usually consider the content of a given website upon which they place a banner ad, but less frequently will they consider the context – the actual nature of the text, videos, and/or pictures against which the ad is juxtaposed. This is because most people will create a natural disconnect between a banner ad and a piece of text.

But video is far more integrated, and a video advertisement can often bleed directly into the hosting video itself.

EMarketer’s articles say that while the standard banner may be increasingly seen as an underperforming  format, other newer formats, such as takeover and video ads will help advertisers get  higher engagement. When MediaMind compared dwell rate and average dwell duration for polite banners to several more interactive formats, such as homepage takeovers, interactivity and creativity won out. A homepage takeover lifted dwell rates 32% over those for a polite banner, and lifted average dwell duration 67%.

Another article talks about dwell and duration rates for Rich Media ads with and without video. Of course, they’re higher with video.

Dwell rate measures the percentage of rich media impressions users intentionally engaged with by touch, interaction or click. Dwell duration is the length of time the user remains exposed to an ad after first engaging with it. To further ensure the validity of the dwell rate measure, all interactions lasting less than 1 second were removed.
The fact that the new iPads come equipped with 4GLTE and have extremely fast download speeds opens the flood gates for rich media advertising, especially video. In the near future, there will be news networks that will stream all day, as Al Jazeera does now. There are also specialty networks, like TWiT, that livestream online tech news.
The core reason for my going into this business has always been my believe that online advertising can be as effective as TV. It will be.

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New Ad Technologies Work Connect Readers to Advertisers

Every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded that the goal of a newspaper, although it may seem to be just delivering news to readers, is also to deliver readers to advertisers. Traditionally, content in newspapers has been subsidized by ad revenue, and for the past decade the way advertisers connect to their readers has been shifting — first from print to online, and now from search to display, and from “one price fits all” to real time auctions.

One of the newest trends, the rise of Real Time Bidding (RTB) in which inventory from publishers is sold by auction in real time, has begun to change how readers are delivered.

A user heads to a page on a publisher’s website, causing it to start loading. In the same instant the publisher sends out a ‘bid request’ to thousands of potential advertisers saying, “We’ve got this user who is 30, male and based in New Jersey, US, and in the past has searched for return air tickets to London, visiting a page on our site. How much are you willing to bid for being the only ad on this page?”

Within about 100 milliseconds the publisher ad server (like ZEDO) gets bids from different advertisers, which it then analyses to figure out the highest bidder. The winner is alerted by the publisher and allowed to place its ad on the page.

The remarkable thing about this entire process is how fast and how often it takes place. The entire series of to-and-fro communication between publisher and advertisers takes place in 300-500 milliseconds, causing no visible delay to the user.

The process is repeated for every ad on the page, and it connects the “right” reader with the “right” (targeted) ad.

In the US, IDC estimates that real time advertising will grow at a compounded rate of 71 per cent in the US until 2015 and end up being 27 per cent of the overall online ad spending. In Europe, growth is expected to be even faster — above 100% annually.

The prices that publishers receive from these auctions are not yet very exciting. But they will grow. The gating factor is how willing publishers are to spend on new technology. We think the publishers will realize that there’s more to online advertising than the old standard 3 ad sizes, and will begin to monetize their sites with innovative formats like our InView Formats, TVAds OnPage, and other eye-catchers. That inventory is more effective and in short supply. Therefore the auction will generate higher prices for publishers.

Related articles:
ZEDO’s New InView Slider Runs on Any Ad Server (zedo.com)
Internet Ads Can (and Will) be As Effective as TV (zedo.com)
Publishers: Now You Can Monetize Below the Fold (zedo.com)

Monitoring Digital Ads for Effectiveness

Larry Allen, a Business Insider contributor, recently wrote that we need a new way to define ad impressions. In his article, he correctly points out that the old definition of an ad impression is obsolete:

“Today we have a different challenge: there are many new types of ad formats with a variety of ways to measure and, more importantly, publishers have evolved by creating websites that look more like blog rolls or scrolls of pages. These changes are rendering the old technical definition of an ad impression obsolete.”

That’s correct. Readers who would only look at the top of the page two years ago will zoom through a seemingly infinitely long page today — if there’s content they want to see.

Where we at ZEDO differ from Larry is in what we think of the new method put forth by IAB, 4As and ANA: we embrace it. We think it’s right. He says

“The IAB, and other similar organizations (4As and the ANA), have put forth a plan to promote a new measure that would only count viewable impressions. This effort serves to improve the quality and performance of online advertising and protect the advertiser from paying for unseen ads.

In theory, this change sounds great, but it may have unexpected repercussions – some good, and some bad, depending on your position. Marketers may initially like the idea of more control, as they will only pay for impressions that are in view to the consumer. Publishers will enjoy the increased pricing options on viewable placements and rewards for highly engaging content. Even ad networks and exchanges would benefit from eliminating the question of quality and creating more opportunities to fill branding campaigns.”

So where is the problem?  Allen thinks it lies in the fact that new rules might not take into consideration account time view. He also worries that without engaging content, inventory could drop;  and he sees a new need for monitoring whether an ad is actually in view. We already measure all this.

We have been testing  new measurement techniques with our InView ad formats and many of our publisher partners. The publishers have found that the slider is in view 99% of the time. They also find it gives them a new revenue source.“We decided to work with ZEDO because its products  enable us to offer our customers more creative solutions through monetizing a new segment of our inventory.” says Sandy Lohr, Vice President of Sales for Advance Internet. “We share ZEDO’s vision to improve online advertising for brand advertisers.”

Since we are already using Comscore‘s monitoring technology, we can immediately fill that new need for monitoring. We are already doing it.


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In 2012, Publishers Must Question Everything About Their Businesses

Neither the form nor the function of a newspaper has changed much in the last hundred years, even with the advent of  digital media,  but that cannot continue. More than even the internet itself, the advent of mobile devices will drive change to both the product and the business model for online publishers. This will probably be a year of  much new product development in publishing.

Unlike in the past, when the newsroom and the publisher existed on two sides of a Chinese wall, today a publisher and his or her editorial organization must collaborate on product development. The reporters or content providers are not separate from the business side anymore, and everyone involved with a content site must understand how both the product and the business model work. The surviving publishers will be the ones who build new institutions that work within the new economics of online content.

Those economics are quite different than the old models, in which multiple revenue streams sustained newspapers.. Micro payments will not be the salvation of newspapers, nor will pay walls — except in the case of extremely high value content such as that of the Wall Street Journal. Investigative reporting and covering local politics, the favorite beats of reporters, never did support newspapers.

Then how does a publisher meet the future? Not merely by tweaking the advertising model, but by tweaking the content model as well

In this new world, old brands must differentiate themselves and create a stronger sense of value the reader in order to be valuable advertising platforms. At present, niche product-focused properties are winning the big ad dollars.  Even the most traditional publishers have to start sections that are of more interest to advertisers, although the advertisers will still have the preference for niche sites. The cover everything model of the traditional newspaper (gardening to gossip) may no longer make sense. Nor may long-form journalism in some: 75% of readers abandon long form articles before getting to the end. (My information on this comes from Richard Gingras, the Head of News Product at Google).

The battle for eyeballs is now waged on the users’ terms. Publishers must make use of data to understand their audiences and where they come from, which is in a constant state of flux: direct traffic to home pages is declining, down from 45% to 25% between 2009 and 2011. Search grew from 22% of traffic in 2009 to 33% in 2011, and social, which hardly registered as a referral source in 2009, sent 15% of traffic to publishers in 2011. And that will only increase. (These numbers are from Richard Gingras, Head of Product for Google and former CEO of Salon.com.)

The medium defines the message and its form, and thus the form of newspapers needs to be rethought completely. The atomic unit of content is now the story, not the site.  Newspapers don’t have  editions anymore. Now, articles, posts, facts, related docs, reader contributions, discussion, databases, relevant to the same story should be together on the same page. And instead of one-off efforts, good stories should use data to create persistent resources. The constant updating of stories brings users back to the site. And that’s how you sell advertising: against the story, not the site.

Publishers must design to leverage today’s technology and audience flows. In fact, the atomic unit of content was never the site itself, although most publishers came online thinking of themselves as portals.

What does that say about advertising above and below the fold? We believe that whether the ad is in view outweighs where it appears.

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