Amazon, The Disrupter

Amazon in Ad Space

Amazon is reportedly building the infrastructure to make a move into the ad space occupied by the twin towers Google and Facebook. And Amazon has a couple great advantages.  First, they have the money and patients to sustain a long play.  Second, they have first party consumer data that no other company can offer.  They know what consumers are searching for, what they are buying, how much they are paying and where they are.  Match that!

“Amazon’s pitch to brands and agencies is that it is able to create a ‘total wallet’.”

Projections by eMarketer expect that by 2020 Amazon begins to change the vector.  It makes some inroads while Google and Facebook begin to lose a little of their dominance. For other companies this growth might be too slow, but for the Big A, it’s not a problem.  Source:

The Case for In-App Messages

Retention Lift


Push notifications are the standard, but its second cousin, the in-app message, may be the more effective form of communication.  Research by Localytics suggests that in-app messaging can deliver a significant improvement in retention lift particularly when used smartly in the right app category.  Entertainment, social networking, photography and educational apps deliver the most bang for the intrusion buck, but all categories provide some lift.

The trick is to create messages that accomplish two things: “streamline the app experience” and “direct users on how to gain value from the app.”  If you sustain the messages, research says you’ll see a 40% retention lift in months one and three and a slamming rate of 75% in the second month.  Source: Business 2 Community

Agencies Find a Way Around a Programmatic World

Agenccy Work Around

Much of the focus in digital advertising over the last couple years has been around programmatic buying and the fallout from its emergence and rapid growth. With it has come the positive – media plan efficiency – and some negative – fraud, brand safety, need for transparency, etc.  The negative has motivated a move by some brands and publishers to bring programmatic buying in-house, which leaves agencies out in the cold.

Zach Rosenberg argues in MediaPost for agencies to “not let automation kill the art form that makes our industry great.”  He continues, “There is nothing more effective than using media to amplify creative messaging and to emotionally connect with audiences; both fundamental tenets of communications planning. Let’s also not forget the importance of contextual relevance.”

Creativity is the essence of agency work.  If agencies are going to remain relevant in the programmatic era, creativity must to be applied to the understanding and use of data with the same diligence it is for the messaging.  Source: MediaPost

Where Roads Diverge

Forked Road

In-app mobile advertising is making its move.  Just as with all digital advertising that has preceded it; mobile presents special issues for buy-siders.  Even some of biggest of them have yet to reckon with the differences between display and mobile.

The first shocking reality is that cookies don’t work in mobile targeting.  An initial strategy to overcome the issue has been to develop a white-list of apps and migrate it to private marketplaces, away from unstructured open exchanges. Still there’s a problem.  White-lists are not sophisticated enough for targeting.  Audience-based app categorization is the ultimate answer.

On the technical side there’s the issue of rendering, particularly with video ads.  Low render rates mean wasted supply that is not seeing a timed-out video roll.  Here, programmatic exchanges have a responsibility to check for creative compatibility.

Survey Reveals Keys to Success in China

Cross-Border Shopping Reasons


This graph provides a revealing look at motivations driving Chinese consumer lust for foreign products. They view foreign products as higher quality, more authentic and less expensive.  For marketers wanting to reach China’s vast consumer market, these are the keys to success.  Play to these deeply held desires if you wish to win.  Source: China Skinny

Looking into the Future

Top Tech Trends


A gathering of Silicon Valley venture capitalists suggests why gazing into a crystal ball is tricky. Best example: forty percent of those at the gathering are making a reasonable bet on decentralization of data as a coming trend while the same percentage see that “the new space stack will open extraterrestrial commerce.” Really? Are we betting on commerce with Martians or with moon colonies or with space stations? Other predictions shift between the reasonable and the downright odd. Robotics go mainstream = reasonable. The all-seeing eye = odd.  Source: CNBC

Managing Brand Strategies in a Distrusting World


In a world where media in general is distrusted and privacy issues challenge digital media in particular, brand safety requires that strategies need to be in place as defensive counter weights to the trend. Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer’s co-founder, has some ideas…


  • Move to safer practices – a quality verses quantity approach
  • Bring programmatic ad buys in-house
  • Shift buying to premium publishers
  • Use direct buys instead of RTB
  • Use Private exchanges instead of public exchanges
  • Establish white-listed sites and blacklist others
  • Switch from third-party data to first-party data – own your customer
  • Gather personal user data incrementally from direct customers rather than going for the big hit – slow and steady retains trust

Source: eMarketer

One Intense Loyalty Building Strategy


Winning the customer loyalty battle has three elements according to The Exchange Lab’s VP, North American Operations & Business Intelligence, Edward Lee. It all begins with data…big data that requires big databases. Customer info should come from as many sources as can be gathered. Customers can be matched into groups and subgroups – even fuzzy matching helps. Use these data to parse customers by where they are, both digitally (mobile or not) and physically (geo), or where they are by lifestyle – are their searches about kids or about Beyonce? Once identified, the game is just beginning because the customer needs to be tracked over time, changes in behavior have to be noted and responded to with speed so that messages are always speaking to the customer in their time and space.  Source: CampaignUS

For Mobile: Keep it Relevant, Entertaining and Short

Preferences in Mobile Ads

Successful mobile ads answer three big questions. Is the ad entertaining? Is the ad too long? Is the ad relevant? All the other results from this research provide some detail, but fit into one of these three buckets. The challenge for marketers is to build mobile ads for the medium and how consumers use it. Since all effective ads are entertaining and relevant, going to a video with a mobile ad in front of it limits ideal length to six seconds. The key is transmitting an entertaining message before the annoyance factor kicks in.

Reflecting on these data, Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence Solutions and Strategy at Magna Global gives advice, “Mobile demands its own customized ad formats, rather than simply repurposed versions of existing assets that were developed and optimized for other platforms.”  Source: AdWeek

The Third Way


A thoughtful article in AdWeek challenges the in-house / out-of-house back and forth that’s rolling through media currently.

  • Example 1: The trend to bring media in-house to save money may be misguided if costs are lowered, but returns come in even lower. ROI audits are required. And the added in-house headcount has to be considered.
  • Example 2: Reducing costs by eliminating non-working costs like ad verification, brand safety and fraud prevention will have consequences if your company does not have very sophisticated internal tracking technologies.
  • Example 3: There is an argument that says outside agencies don’t know our business; therefore it makes sense to bring our media in-house. The counter is that outsiders bring a broad view and best practices that an in-house view may lack.

There is a third way. It argues that ‘brands should own the technical contracts to better ensure transparency, but should put the headcount and best practice harvesting at an agency.”  Remember, the healthiest dogs tend to be mutts not pure breds. Maybe the best balance in modern media is a mutt.  Source: AdWeek