Native Ads Pull!

Native v. Banner

The value of native ads – content ads the nestle into websites natural look and feel – is worth the extra effort required to make them integrate into the natural structure and style of the ad carrier. Data from a consumer survey by Sharethrough and IPG Media Lab used eye-tracking technology to measure user attention.  The data in our table shows pretty strong positive results in favor of native ads.  Consumers were far more likely to view a native ad than a standard banner and natives had the effect of increasing purchase intent and brand affinity.  Thirty-two percent “would share the [natural] content with a friend” as opposed to only 19% who said they’d share a banner.  Source: Sharethrough

Ride the Wave

Market Timing

An analysis by Singular sets a marker for advertisers.  It compares the timing of marketing effort in key app categories against actual consumer activity.  The result demonstrates that brands are often out-of-sync with the consumers they are trying to influence and they are often spending more money for that influence.  Example: Productivity apps seem to be spending more acquisition money from July through November though consumers are focused on productivity apps in February.  Sometimes advertisers are off a little, other times they are off by a lot.

“Ultimately, what’s clear is that macro trends like seasonal holidays drive consumer behavior, but marketers often try to drive trends instead of riding them.”  Source: VentureBeat

AI: For Better or Worse


AI marketing is the future.  But that future both scares us and tantalizes us.  On one hand we hear of malevolent AI data manipulation that targets us to send ads for products in which we have no interest.  We see it as an intrusion into our digital life when we get email ad for a product you have already purchased.  It’s annoying.

By contrast, when the Netflix ‘loading…” message goes away and you are served choices that reflect your viewing habits, it’s a good thing.  Salesforce did a study that found “76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.”

One view is that content personalization means we will never see ideas or products that we would benefit from seeing even if it isn’t something we might choose.  Does the positive side of AI content manipulation keep us in our silos the way our choices of news channels does? Is that a good thing?  Source: Forbes

Notes on the Brand Safety Mine Field

IAB Bakers Dozen

An IAB white paper outlines thirteen topics with which advertisers might want to avoid association.  At the website level the list is relatively easy to avoid.  Sites that promote hate speech, terrorism or pornography can be put on a blacklist. Easy enough.  The problem occurs when a legitimate site like The New York Times is covering those subjects as news. The broad blacklist strategy would eliminate a legitimate news operation.  Hence the complication.

The strategy has to be a more refined blacklist – whitelist combination to keep in the legitimate whilst keeping out the other. To better manage your brand’s safety, you’ll have to get contextual.  The context within the site is as important as the overall site, which requires inclusion of an extensive keyword or topic blacklist – whitelist strategy.  Source: MemeBurn

Challenges to Bringing Programmatic In-House

In-house Tram

To build an in-house agency a widget company will have to commit to entering a new business – advertising.  That commitment includes recruiting and training advertising talent from management to buyers to analysts.  Next the company will need to connect with a demand-side-platform, which comes at a price – 10-15% of the spend if you use a self-serve provider or as much a $20,000, if you license a bidder. Once the data begins to amass a data management platform will be required. It’s cost will scale in relation to the amount of data collected.  And its functionality will require supplementary data from second- and third-party sources.   More money.  Then there is the ad stack, the cost of running an auction and the associated tech fees. Soon it’s real money.  Still want to bring it inside?

Note that with all this talk about the costs of bringing programmatic buying in-house there are in-housers who claim to have shifted lots of budget from agency costs to advertising spend. So there.  One final question for the would-be in-houser; is the internal team building, ongoing training and detail management of the technology worth the savings rather than sticking to your knitting?  Source: Digiday

Digital Advertising Insights from Academia

Pre-Roll Ad

In an academic study, with a name too long and too academic to include here, revealed that users were less offended by pre-roll ads than they were by interstitial, in-stream ads.  Interstitials “elicited a strong negative emotional response,” which cannot be good for either advertisers or publishers.

By comparison, pre-roll ads, which do not interrupt the flow of content “elicited more favorable emotional and motivational responses compared with in-stream placement vehicles and participants watched them longer.”  The other thing we know from separate research is that pre-roll prior to video content is least offensive for users when held to six seconds.


A tip from the authors, “Users likely will not click opt-in advertisement units unless there is an explicit incentive to do so in return for their time. Incentivized advertisements drive high effectiveness.”  Lessons to live by.  Source: WARC

In-App Games Central to Digital’s Ad Future

In-App Games

Driven by a shared belief among both agencies and brands that in-app advertising “can improve campaign return on investment by an average of 41 percent,” it is expected that budgets will make a significant swing in the in-app direction.  A category of interest for both agencies and brands is in-app games. These data show the underlying reasons: Scale, reach and user engagement are driving a strong commitment in the category.

Overall, in-app ad budgets are expected to grow by more than 25% over the next five years and games will be a significant contributor to that growth.  Source: VentureBeat; Sapio Research

AI in the Field

AI in the field

We are seeing an increasing set of stories that speak of early AI adaptors such as Microsoft, GAP, The Associated Press and Yahoo and even one inveterate novelist who is using it to suggest language for his coming book.  Advertisers are using it to personalize ads to a demographic and to test phrases for impact while other content creators are using it to generate blogs and specific content like sports reports.

These functions are baby steps. The novelist, for example, is not using it to write his novel, but rather to push through writer’s block. The author starts a sentence, then lets AI finish the sentence.  He reports that sometimes it opens interesting approaches he would have never considered.  The ad writers are using it to make changes on the margins, to adjust a stock pitch to speak to a specific audience.  More to come.  Source: Business Insider

Four Keys for Successful Marketing to Chinese Travelers

Chinese Tourist

Chinese travel to the West is an ever growing business.  How to attract this large, affluent vacation migration is a challenge.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Partner with a digital ad company well connected in China, one with access to the biggest Chinese ad networks.
  2. Identify the market segments you are trying to reach – educated, affluent , business people in the case of travelers – and then find them where to live on China’s digital spectrum.  That’s why you need a locally connected partner.
  3. Remember that marketing performance metrics go both ways.  Watching only sales results like ROI is not enough.  Understanding how many prospects dumped out of the cart is as important.  Reducing the number of dropouts is as important as increasing sales.
  4. Chinese travelers have different needs.  First timers will want to visit the iconic locations – Hollywood and its studios, New York City and it Empire State building.  By comparison folks on their second or third trip will want to new experiences – cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans or Boston.


Finding the In-House Agency Balance

Bringin the Agency In-House

A recent survey of 412 client-side marketers by the Association of National Advertisers revealed the forceful move toward in-house agencies by brands.  Adding to the obvious growth over the last five years is that more than a third of the brands not yet in-house are considering it.  Companies such as Intel, Progressive, SoulCycle, Ford, JC Penny, Uber and Verizon have, at least in part, internalized some agency functions.

But as Luis Montero, president of The Community points out, “There’s a lot of push and pull. [Companies] bring creative in-house, then they push it back out to agencies again. It feels like it isn’t strategic as much as it is cost-conscious.”  That’s because each company has got to find its own balance between control and cost.  Some marketing functions are better left to an outsider who brings the brand a fresh perspective or who brings a special skill set that isn’t worth developing in-house.   Most companies are too small to justify an in-house, multifaceted, technologically capable marketing team, which leads to the push and pull. Source: AdAge