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High Impact Formats Are Engaging

This is going to be another confusing year for publishers, as the advertising trend shifts to programmatic buying. In most cases, we think this shift is a good thing, because it will simplify and automate many outmoded and inaccurate processes.  We were among the first to launch an automated platform for advertisers, and now we encourage our partners to use as many ad networks as they can in order to best monetize their sites.

But what happens to eCPMs in this process?  They could, conceivably fall further, or at best  stay the same. For example, the New York Times paywall, while is has created an overall increase in revenues and a more stable subscriber base for the Times, has not raised their eCPMs.

This is complicated, because we have to start from the premise that eCPMs are still the right way to charge for online advertising, and it’s becoming more and more obvious they are poor pricing tools. But we have nothing else for the moment, so assuming we’re still going to charge by CPMs, how do we get them higher?

One way is by trying out innovative formats that generate more viewable impressions. ZEDO believes, and we can back this up with metrics from both Nielsen and Comscore, that what’s important is that an ad  gets viewed, or in our language,  is not a simple display ad, but a high impact format. 2013 will be the year of viewable impressions, a movement championed by the IAB and many other industry thought leaders.

We were far out front of this movement with our InView Slider, which boasts 99% viewability month after month for the publishers  who use it. And the Slider isn’t sold through anonymous network; it is often sold through direct sales, commanding far higher eCPMS.

Now, we’re not saying the eCPM is an effective measurement for online advertising, and we are participating in efforts to come up with a better pricing model, especially for tablets and mobile, but right now it’s the only model the industry has, and we’re stuck with it. So we’re committed to offering formats whose higher viewability and impact make advertisers  willing to pay more for them.

A good example of this is our full-screen video, in which an ad expands to fill the screen and audio begins when a viewer mouses over it, or our expandable  mouse-rollover ads. These ads command higher prices, because they get more attention.

Some of these formats are so innovative that they’re not even on our site yet, but are only available to our customers and partners by scheduling a demo. I know every ad tech company says they will increase ROI, but how many of them have been around long enough to back their claims with numbers? As one of the veterans and thought leaders in the industry, we would like to re-introduce ourselves to you through our high impact formats and viewable impressions, as well as our standard ad server offerings.

During the past year, we’ve developed more than half a dozen  of these high impact formats that generate better viewability metrics. Along with the Inview Slider, many others have tested at 99% in view.  Our full screen video ads generate consistently higher eCPMs and engagement numbers, and when we show them to new prospects they often cause the people we’re meeting with to call the president or the GM into the meeting immediately. That’s how impressive they are.

The second way is by selling these innovative formats directly instead of putting them out with the remnant inventory. We’re a fully-featured ad server for direct sales, but you can sell these formats directly even if you’re not using us as an ad server.

In fact, many of our newest and best technologies are independent of our ad server, so if you already use an ad server and it’s not us, no worries. You can still benefit from the higher prices you will get from our cool new formats. And so far, I think we’re the only people who have them; we’re not seeing them around just yet, except from our own publisher partners.

 

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Programmatic v. Direct? It’s Not Either/Or

Like you, we at ZEDO read all the trades every day, and we’re always amused by the constant hyperbole: programmatic buying, or RTB , is destroying premium placements. Branded content, or native ads, are the only salvation for publishers. Media buying based on personal relationships has gone away. Only ads in social streams really draw response.  You’ve seen all these arguments.

As usual, some of them are partly true, and much of  them are not. It’s never an either/or situation for either brands or publishers. The fact of the matter is that many different kinds of ad buying should and do co-exist. First of all, not every ad is a performance ad. Many brands simply want their advertising to provide “brand lift,” and others just want constant top of mind awareness. After all, we don’t buy a new car every day, but when we do each manufacturer wants us to think of its brand as the most highly rated, the most cost-efficient, the safest. For that, they will use high impact to create awareness and also use RTB to buy retargeting to interested users for weeks following the high impact.

Brand lift ads are the most suitable for direct selling at premium CPMs. They sell especially well if they are interactive, contain video that can be expanded to full screen by the viewer, slide on and off the page only when the viewer is present, or shuffle among several ads in the same space.

Our publisher partners have given us the research to prove these points. While we do serve ads globally , run an exchange,   and provide the tools for self-service selling, the publishers who reap the highest revenues are the ones that combine programmatic with premium: they reserve some of their inventory for direct sales at higher CPMs.

We have to remember that algorithms can accomplish a lot, but not everything. We are still in a period of transition, and as we continue to generate better and better data about our customers, we’ll know more about which placements can and should be premium. At the same time, brands are learning more about their customers, and will know what’s the most valuable place for them to be seen. Context will also be important here.

None of this is happening over night, and to discount the revenue possibilities of direct selling is to write off money well before its time.

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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Inview Slider Ad Format Gains Acceptance

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Advertising generates the money publishers need to continue offering readers information. Since most online content is free, advertising revenue helps publishers afford to create and publish information. Television programming has commercials for the same reason. In print and in broadcast, consumers tolerate ads, and in some cases actually admire them for their creativity. On the Internet, however, that hasn’t been the case.

As the advertising technology partner to many publishers for the past decade, we’ve borne the brunt of consumers’ anger and intolerance toward advertising. We keep listening, and trying to come up with better solutions. What can we do to help our publisher partners generate revenue without annoying their readers?

Banner ads alone cannot support quality publishing. Since the supply of banner ad space is high, their rates have come down significantly, which forces publishers to look at innovative means of generating online advertising revenue without disturbing readers unduly. But readers let publishers know loud and clear that popups weren’t the answer. Nor, of course, do readers want anything installed on their computers. We listen. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be the largest independent advertising technology player worldwide.

The pressure from readers keeps us innovating. Now we think we have something truly “great” in the InView Sliders. The InView Slider ads, because they are unobtrusive, bridge the gap between insufficient high quality advertising space available and the publishers’ revenue requirements. They help make up the revenue gap, and protect free content produced by quality writers.

The InView Slider glides across your field of vision without obstructing much content, then allows itself to be viewed, and then quietly retreats. It’s a “friendly” form of advertising.

If you are seeing InView Sliders from ZEDO, it’s because you visited a website that uses our ad delivery technology to generate revenue. It means you have helped a publisher provide unrestricted access to the content you want to read, without sacrificing your privacy and security. We are getting great feedback about the new format. For the first time ever we have received an email from a newspaper to say that she loves the format and the ads she sees “sidling up to her”.

To provide as much content as possible to as many people as possible, publishers use advertising to keep the cost of access low or free. It’s the time-honored way of doing business for newspapers, magazines, and now online websites. This great innovation in advertising from ZEDO allows consumers to get more great content for free. And it allows advertisers to tell consumers about their great new products in a fun friendly way.
Welcome the new InView Sliders from ZEDO.

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