Ad tracking, AdTech and Advertising
We have talked of the consolidation in adtech and how there is some doubt over how many players can survive – let alone prosper. But there are some success stories and news that French Based retargeting specialist Criteo is preparing for a $800m IPO shows there is some gold left in the sector.
But the confluence of adtech with big data may not be as powerful as people suggest. One big issue is that the data isn’t as robust as it might be – when people test the data they find that what is held isn’t accurate; people without kids are tagged as parents, people who can’t drive are told their car insurance is due for renewal and married people pegged as single. One agency estimates that gender is wrong in around a third of cases.
Even if we can get the right data for targeting, the ability to track is being eroded through a (small) number of people deleting cookies and imminent changes to browsers that will automate the Do Not Track feature in Internet Explorer (maybe in Mozilla Firefox too) and emasculate cookies.
As Mozilla explain more about their thinking, Google seem poised to shake up the market by ditching cookies all together. They are developing a new tool called ADid that will give users more control over their privacy and advertisers and ad networks would need to agree to respect the users preferences.
This fits quite nicely with the VRM model we have focused on in the last few weeks, but we will have to wait and see how far it goes. We can expect some resistance to any initiative that puts Google at the centre of the eco system, but as the biggest player in digital they probably have the power to make this happen.
Any innovation in digital has to be welcomed and like their TrueView product on YouTube ADid has the potential to work for both users and advertisers – people see less ads aren’t relevant and advertisers only pay for ads people have ‘chosen’ to see. As cookies are so problematic in mobile this is especially useful.
And of course Google prosper as they can charge a higher price for higher quality attention.
By having people able to correct their own data – as is possible already with Google Ad Settings – they should minimize problems with inaccurate data.
The only question is whether media buyers can be weaned off buying really cheap remnant inventory and onto quality. We have heard many say they can buy cheap crap and still get better results than by paying more for quality. Maybe the next challenge is to get better success metrics – when less than one in a thousand people click on ad, measuring clicks alone probably isn’t that useful.
Finally on privacy, this article suggests people aren’t that worried about privacy online.
In preparation for a workshop we were doing the other day for the nice people at the AAR, we wanted to show the audience how useful some of the free online tools were for agency people. Pulling a screen grab of Google Trends we saw that the hottest search was for iOS7 as people tried to find what time it would be available.
That demand translated into the Apple servers almost crashing as millions of people downloaded the new software. Whilst it has been slow for many people, the general reaction seems to be good – and we expect that, as people become familiar with it, there will be positive feedback.
The slightly odd thing is that some of the most popular apps have yet to launch a new version that makes the most of iOS7. We have been advising all our clients that this new version – with a very different look – means that the apps look and feel should be evolved even if the new capabilities are not used straight away. The strong design aesthetic of the entire Apple environment means civilians expect apps to look and perform to the same standard as Apple own content and services – and we’re amazed how many people fail at this.
Here some of the bigger app players explain what they have done for the update.
Grammar of the Medium
As the new look of Apple rolls out the importance of great user experience is becoming better understood. Whether in apps or the mobile web we are seeing the grammar of the medium being established.
Constant navigation at the top, with search always visible and the menu at the side, best practice is slowly being defined and users are starting to expect a broadly familiar layout.
On the desktop web people have been trained to expect navigation to be at the top of the page and the basket in the top right hand corner. They know that clicking the logo – usually in the top left corner – will take them to the home page and that the dull stuff like T&Cs will be hidden at the bottom of the page.
But we are still seeing new, smart approaches emerge and it will be a while before the grammar of mobile is totally set. For example we think the new floating bottom bar on Facebook will be copied.
And this article is a good round up of clever tricks to improve the user experience.
After a period where startups rejected marketing as unnecessary if the product was right, there has been a realisation that a better mousetrap just isn’t enough. But most have rightly rejected the kneejerk dotcom approach of traditional advertising and focused on a smarter way – labeled as growth hacking.
This topic is a little hyped but the methodology is sound – make sure your product resonates with users and then look for granular ways of building the user base, through product innovations and encouraging users to help you find more users.
It’s worth reading the classic case study on AirBnB to get a better idea – their big break came from enabling their property owners to easily list their place on CraigsList. One of the best known growth hackers is Ryan Holiday and his ebook is worth reading too.
Another interesting read is about how Easter Eggs are used to delight users and drive word of mouth – with some good examples.
All of this is close to the myth of viral marketing, but there is more and more scientific thinking around how viral can be encouraged. We mentioned the Unruly study last week and now we have found that the US military have looked at the science of sharing too.
What is advertising anyway?
In our workshop for the AAR we were looking at how tech is reinventing advertising and we got into a debate with the audience – 40 people from a range of agencies – on what clients want from agencies and who is going to lead who. But it became clear that the definition of advertising – and the language we use – probably isn’t fit for purpose any more.
So an article from the IAB US CEO Randall Rothenberg is quite timely; The Definition of Advertising has never been more unclear.
Now, there is no machine or even consensus on the basic definition of advertising. And that is the source of both opportunity and crisis.
Digital technologies have put the very definition of advertising and marketing up for grabs. Now, when a marketer asks for a new campaign, the response from the team is literally a question mark. “What kind of campaign?” “Which agencies should we ask for guidance?” “What do all these technology companies do?” “Is anyone right?” “Is everyone right?” “How do we measure success?” Every campaign, if it can even be called that, begins with a blank slate. There are just too many ways it could go.
In the workshop we didn’t reach any real conclusions but we are convinced that anyone can seize the opportunity of this new digital/ mobile/social age – but if agencies don’t take the initiative, the tech firms will.
As some the major players on YouTube content get more investment there is some smart thinking about how these new video companies can use YouTube to build an audience for their own sites – and make better margins.
As well as trying to solve the problems of the advertising industry Google are looking at solving some of the big problems facing the human race – staring with ageing. Their new investment hopes to extend the human life span.
Are Tesco trying to build their own vertical stack? – with their own tablet rumoured.
If you are as interested as we are in how mobile redefines retail, you will enjoy this Robert Peston programme. Not much new for readers of Fix, but it’s interesting to see how engaged Philip Green etc is.
Facebook aren’t too worried about being seen as cool - they see themselves as like electricity - a ubiquitous utility.
Finally….The next big thing is probably going to be Line – a messaging app from Asia with 230m users.
They have already changed the mobile/social world with their invention of stickers – now on Facebook, Path and probably coming to your favourite app soon. This is a good look at the Stickers phenomemen.