Agency Creatives: The Ball’s In Your Court for Better Mobile Ads

At last week’s ComScore State of the Internet Webinar, the internet research firm presented data indicating mobile users would surpass desktop users in 2014. So why hasn’t the mobile advertising problem been solved? In fact, why do some tech pundits think that mobile advertising revenues will NEVER materialize, and are only “a mirage’?

We think it’s because most publishers have not applied real creativity to mobile advertising. They’ve been content to take the same performance-based ads they used on the desktop–the ones that they can only sell at low CPMs and the same ones that don’t perform well for brands–and move them to a smaller screen.

This won’t cut it. It’s what drives Jean Louis Gassee to say

Now we have advertising on smartphones, and we’ve fallen into a comfortable, predictable rut: “It’s just like Web advertising on the PC, shrunk to fit.” We see the same methods, the same designs, the same business models, wedged onto a smaller screen.

Mobile needs new formats and new creativity. Throughout the past year, we at ZEDO have created new formats that we refer to as “high impact”: they are the inView, the InView Shuffle Ad, and on-page video. These formats test out as providing 99% viewable impressions, no matter where they are on the page. They’re designed to be viewed on tablets, and even on smartphones. Best of all they don’t require more work from the advertiser – infact they require little or no work from the advertiser. We just take standard “made for TV” commercials and run them on our high impact formats.

These few formats themselves are already starting to become compelling. One TV station website in Maryland sells them at $20 CPMs. Theor sales team loves to be able to show online video ads in a great way so that  the advertising works as well as TV advertising-  or maybe better.

Now it’s time for advertisers to take a good look at these mobile formats and run their best TV ads on them. It does, after all, take a marriage of innovative form and great content to create a compelling ad. While some agencies are already doing this in per-roll video advertising campaigns, these new formats are a great opportunity for most brands and agencies to do what they still love to do best — run some great television advertising that is memorable and effective and has huge reach everyday.

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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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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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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Neilsen Study Reveals Mobile Video Growth

The Neilsen Corporation released its quarterly report about TV viewing, and as we can already guess, it’s going down on traditional TV sets. This doesn’t mean Americans don’t watch video, however. They watch more of it than ever, and more and more on mobile. Smartphones are the new portable TVs.

As a result, ZEDO is offering several innovative formats to run real 30 second TV spots on the web.Here are some highlights.

o   After several years of consistent year-over-year growth, traditional TV viewing declined one half of one percent or roughly 46 minutes per month. This may be the result of leveling off after a period of sustained growth, weather and economic factors or of other viewing options.

o   As more homes adopt DVRs and transition to timeshifted viewing, timeshifted TV growth has offset the bulk of live TV declines. Other potential factors include time spent using game consoles, tablets and other emerging devices. The average American watches nearly five hours of video each day, 98 percent of which they watch on a traditional TV set.

o   Although this ratio is less than it was just a few years ago, and continues to change, the fact remains that Americans are not turning off. They are shifting to new technologies and devices that make it easier for them to watch the content they want whenever and wherever is optimal for them

o   As of February 2012, smartphones now represent half of all mobile phones in the U.S3. With improving screens, Internet connectivity and the advantage of being “the best screen available” while on the go, smartphones are increasingly becoming portable TVs.

o   33.5 million mobile phone owners now watch video on their phones—an increase of 35.7 percent since last year. While mobile phones won’t replace other screens anytime soon, they are part of the ever-increasing number of ways in which consumers can and will consume content when and where they want.

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How to Ease Your Ad Operations Pain

As we travel around the world launching the new InView ad formats at conferences from Washington DC to San Francisco and Sydney to Singapore, we hear many of the same complaints from our publisher customers and prospects: it’s really difficult to handle ad operations.

First, most of them have staffing headaches. It’s difficult for them to find qualified resources, to train them internally, and then to retain the best performers for a sustained time period.  Because the industry is young, many of the people they already had on staff aren’t really comfortable or familiar with new ad tech offerings.

More problematic is the inefficient team structure that comes from the unpredictable nature of  the ad operations workload.  Most companies find themselves either over-staffed or under-staffed, and we hear this from the largest and the smallest publishers we service. And even from those we don’t service yet.

Once again, because of the nascency of the industry, most publishers lack specialized ad ops workflow and processes. Sales people are constantly looking for execution status, inventory availability or someone with the ability to troubleshoot if something goes wrong; often, they can’t get that in a timely manner.

And ad operations is predominantly a facilitator, not a net revenue generator for the business, so, management usually categorizes it as a cost center rather than value addition, and is reluctant to spend scarce resources on improving it, and that leads to the lack of extended coverage and service : what do you do when you need your ad ops team at 6pm on a Friday evening?

At worst, there’s a lack of accountability, even though errors made in the Ad Operations execution cost the company actual dollars that no one wants to lose. Ad Operations need to to be accountable for the quality and efficiency of its work, and that’s difficult to achieve if you are short-staffed or experiencing constant churn. The nightmare of every ad ops director is the launch of a new product, which is only slightly more painful than the vagaries of increased workload during the holiday season, unexpected turnover, or someone on staff who gets married or takes a long vacation.

We started to see this a long time ago, and developed a suite of outsourced ad ops services that can take all this off the backs of our customers. Some of the benefits they see include

– Decreased cost structure

– Increased coverage and service

– Increased accountability

– Decreased staff headaches (no retention problems)

– Increased Scalability and efficiency

As online advertising becomes a larger and larger portion of a publisher’s revenue, and as it moves to more sophisticated formats on multiple platforms, outsourcing ad ops to someone like us who is staffed to handle it sounds better and better to the people we know.

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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)

Comscore, Google Analytics Give Advertisers Better Information

Google has made updates to Google Analytics that will make it easier to use and more useful to

Image representing Google Analytics as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

marketers. Google’s 2012 updates come on the heels of Comscore’s announcement about its vCE (Validated Campaign Effectiveness) platform, and they work together to help publishers maximize revenue and advertisers make better buys.

Here’s what the Google Analytics blog says:

Vanity counters, such as friend counts and reshares, will be augmented with bottom line metrics like conversions and purchases, allowing marketers to measure true social ROI of each campaign and compare the effectiveness with other channels. With additional visibility into off-site activity, enhanced campaign tracking and referral analytics, 2012 is the year that social analytics comes to life.

With real time data feeding into remarketing, ad content optimization, and real time bidding systems, advertisers are closer than ever to finding the right customer with the right ad at the right time. As these real time systems converge, there’s huge potential to integrate analytics to pull in deeper and richer information about user intent.

What does this mean to publishers? It will mean advertisers will be able to buy more judiciously, show the right ads to the right visitors, and your CPMs will probably go up. Our goal is to make Internet advertising as effective as TV advertising. There’s no logical reason this should not be the case.

Online advertising has never been able to prove itself, except in isolated cases, until recently. By isolated cases, I mean targeted sites that know their customers and sell directly. Leo laPorte, founder of TWIT.tv, an online podcast network, says his shows have become costly for advertisers ($85) because they’ve been demonstrated to move product. This, of course, is what advertisers really want. Performance.

So don’t fear measurement. Embrace it, and begin to tune your content accordingly. At ZEDO, we are re-doing our own site, and we are also doing extensive research and development into how ads can be made most visible. Our partnership with AdXPose, now Comscore, has already paid big dividends for us; preliminary results on our InView Slider ad show that it is actually seen 99% of the time it is served.

We have more research to do over longer periods of time before we can make too much noise about this, but it looks very promising for both publishers and advertisers.

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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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ZEDO MOVING TO LARGER QUARTERS, LAUNCHES NEW SERVICES

ZEDO, the leading advertising technology partner for publishers, has announced the roll-out of several new services and its expansion of its US arm into a new San Francisco Headquarters.

ZEDO’s new services, launched in 2011, include rich media, ad operations, the inView Slider format for monetizing below the fold inventory, and ZINC Exchange, a premium  exchange launched in India last summer and coming out of US beta in Q1.

Publishers interested in beta testing the new exchange can sign up at http://www.zincx.com.

Eleven-year-old ZEDO, which was launched before the dot-com bubble and has grown in both India, Russia and the US, now has 250 employees worldwide.

As a result of its growth, ZEDO will be moving out of the offices on 2nd Street in San Francisco that it has occupied for most of its existence. Starting January 3, ZEDO’a new address will be 850 Montgomery Street, Suite 150, San Francisco CA 94113. The phone number will remain the same, 415.348.1975.

ZEDO is constantly trying to find new ways to help its partners. Having navigated the rough waters of print to digital with more than a thousand customers, we now have the honor of helping them grow their revenue in the new environment. We look forward to releasing even more new products in 2012.

Watch ZEDO in 2012 here, and on twitter at www.twitter.com/ZEDOinc