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Social Media Insider Summit

08/20/2014 - 08/23/2014 LAKE TAHOE CA

iMedia Agency Summit (Malaysia)

08/25/2014 - 08/27/2014 Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

The 6th annual Mobile World

08/28/2014 Seoul

iMedia Brand Summit (Australia)

09/01/2014 - 09/03/2014 Gold Coast Australia

iMedia Brand Summit (India)

09/03/2014 - 09/05/2014 Adao Waddo, Salcette India

Data+: Analyze, Predict, Monetize

09/07/2014 - 09/09/2014 Phoenix AZ

iMedia Brand Summit: Marketing in an Always-On World

09/07/2014 - 09/10/2014 Coronado CA

Content Marketing World

09/08/2014 - 09/11/2014 Cleveland OH

Video Insider Summit

09/14/2014 - 09/17/2014 Montauk NY

Ad Age Digital Conference San Francisco

09/16/2014 San Francisco CA


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A buyer’s view on native advertising and transparency


Attitudes toward native advertising in its various forms continue to divide the industry. Some view it as publishing’s savior while others see it as the final nail in journalism’s coffin.

Nick Cohen is managing partner and head of content at MediaCom U.K. and oversees content-led campaigns for its clients, some of which include GlaxoSmithKline, Volkswagen and Procter & Gamble. Cohen gave Digiday his view on the native advertising debate, how it’s being managed, and he told us what he made of that now-infamous John Oliver skit lambasting the tactic.

What did you make of John Oliver’s critique of native advertising?

I thought it was very funny. He very astutely highlighted the shoddy end of it. It’s easy for people in advertising to lose a sense of perspective. It’s right that we constantly question things.

What’s your take on native?
Personally, I think the term “native advertising” has been a bit unhelpful. It confuses more than it illuminates. We don’t really actively go out to clients and say, “You should be doing native advertising.” We just talk about content and how it can be used effectively to meet their business objectives.

Which campaigns have you been impressed by recently?
There was a nice example from MediaCom, which I don’t take credit for, where Audi and the Telegraph filmed a race to Le Mans. It’s great content and one of those where it makes sense for the publisher and for the brand: It’s not a square peg for a round hole.

All brands need to be thinking about how they can use content — be it on their website and social channels, through their physical distribution channels or through sponsored content with an external media brand. And there are ways of doing it well, and there’s ways of doing it badly. Focus on doing something everybody would be proud of.

Some publishers draw on journalists to help write ads, others have a completely separate studio and some let brands publish through a self-service model. What are the most typical approaches to sponsored content you’re seeing?
It’s mostly a studio model which we see, where it’s sales people involved in the process of pitching. I think for most publishers there’s still a separation between the sales and those on the editorial side, though as part of a commercial piece of work publishers might commission someone who also writes on the editorial side. For the likes of the Guardian and The Telegraph, who are very active in this space, I’d say the separate-studio model prevails. The likes of BuzzFeed, who we’ve been doing work with recently, use a separate team for commercial content too. AOL and the Huffington Post say that divide needs to evolve, but I think there is a realization that you do need to maintain a separation between the two things.

How overtly should advertorial be labeled as advertising?
If you’re reading a commissioned by-lined piece and it’s written by someone who is CEO of company X, you’d see that and understand that someone’s coming from a particular perspective and is coming from their specialist, informed opinion, rather than offering a completely unbiased perspective. As long as it’s properly labeled and transparent, I don’t think there’s a problem with it.

We always advise our clients that there’s a shared interest between the brand and the publisher, and those are typically around three areas of transparency, relevancy and quality. In terms of transparency, if you’re creating content that’s similar to other work produced by a publisher, you want it to be clearly labeled so it doesn’t look like you’re being underhanded. There’s also the need to abide by the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines, which has been pretty clear about this stuff. It’s not in the brand’s or the publishers’ interest to mislead people.

The content has to be relevant to the brand and something they’re legitimately able to talk about. It’s got to be relevant to the audience, and it has to be relevant to the publisher’s agenda. The last point is quality: making sure anything produced by a brand is as good a quality as what would be produced for that site anyway.

Have some publishers gone outside their comfort zone when it comes to posting commercial content on social channels?
If for whatever reason a publisher feels like they shouldn’t promote something, there are plenty of other ways of doing that through content-amplification services. It’s about having a really clear, honest discussion with the advertiser. If a publisher feels bad about doing something, they shouldn’t do it. Be clear with the client and the agency, and don’t do something you’re not completely comfortable with when it comes to branded content.

How LinkedIn hopes to become a gold mine of customers


LinkedIn was started as a social network for job seekers. It’s grown into a site where professionals build their networks, making connections that can help in their current positions and that might help in reaching career goals.

Now LinkedIn wants to become something more. In July it announced plans toacquire Bizo, a business-to-business marketing platform. It turns out, LinkedIn thinks it can build a $1 billion business out of B2B marketing, according to a leaked document that Business Insider posted. The document lays out LinkedIn’s vision to get into the marketing business, and how Bizo fits into what LinkedIn has already started.

The biggest change will be that LinkedIn plans to do more beyond its own Web site. LinkedIn already has some programs for businesses, like selling sponsored posts in users’ LinkedIn feeds. But LinkedIn’s programs so far are all centered around the LinkedIn site.

Bizo’s platform lets marketers show ads to targeted people on a network of thousands of websites, including business publications. Customers also get tools that let them track their web visitors through a Bizo ad to find out if they buy something or if a certain kind of visitor clicks on certain pages.

The leaked document shows that LinkedIn plans to continue offering the advertising service and will integrate it with its sponsored posts offering, so that businesses will be able to display sponsored posts on LinkedIn to people who have visited their Web site. It will also add mobile advertising capabilities to Bizo, which doesn’t already offer that. Plus, LinkedIn business customers will get the better tracking capabilities from Bizo.

“We believe we have unique assets that enable us to build a winning and highly differentiated solution,” the document reads. “Specifically, our key differentiators are best-in-class data, quality audience, and context, the professional graph, which powers account-based marketing and sales intelligence, and our publishing platform and media products.”

LinkedIn said it had no comment about the document.

On paper, the idea isn’t bad. LinkedIn has built a large network — it claims about 300 million users — most of whom are business people. When they turn to the site, it’s probably with business in mind — they’re not going to LinkedIn to be amused or look at pictures of their friends’ kids, as they might with Facebook. With Bizo, LinkedIn can offer businesses a connection to LinkedIn people who have also visited their Web sites.

But LinkedIn will have some work to do to change its image from one that hosts a bunch of job seekers to one that serves up potential customers. Would businesses like Lenovo and Zendesk, who are current Bizo customers, think of LinkedIn as a go-to vendor for B2B marketing? If LinkedIn hadn’t made the Bizo acquisition, probably not.

According to the leaked document, LinkedIn thinks it can reach $1 billion by 2017 with this new line of business. The company is hoping to launch integrated products by the first quarter 2015. Between now and then, it will have to work hard to show potential customers why they should think of LinkedIn in a new light.


Global adspend back to pre-crisis levels


Next year global advertising expenditure will finally surpass the peak seen before the global financial crisis, although this recovery is patchy with some markets remaining well below the 2007 level, a new study has said.

In its This Year, Next Year report, GroupM, the media management investment operation of WPP, forecast that global adspend would increase 4.5% in 2014 to reach $534bn, and 5.0% in 2015 to hit $560bn.

This progress is not spread evenly, however, as just 17 markets will account for 93% of expected ad growth this year. The US leads the way with an expected additional $162bn of spending, followed by China, adding $76bn. Other countries contributing include Nigeria, Kenya and Vietnam.

Of China, report editor Adam Smith observed that the consumer economy was continuing to grow. “This, plus intensive digitisation of advertising, keeps China ad investment rising at or near double-digits, with no large print legacy to correct,” he said.

The Western Europe outlook, however, was less bright. In the eurozone area, which accounts for 73% of the regional economy, adspend was still 20% below the 2007 peak; amongst those countries hardest hit by the crisis – Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal – it was 47% below the peak.

The report noted that Western Europe also had the world’s most print-heavy advertising, although the downward trajectory of adspend in this medium was slowing from double digits to single digits.

And, according to Smith, Western Europe is also the most-digitised ad region in the world, “though this may finally be maturing to judge by digital ad investment growth slowing from double- to high-single digits in 2014 and 2015″.

In Asia, GroupM warned that the political and economic challenges being faced in several countries – and it highlighted Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam – meant that ad growth in the Southeast Asia region would slip from double-digit growth to mid-single.

The fastest-growing markets were expected to include India, Brazil and Russia, although GroupM warned that its Russia forecast – already reduced from 10% to 6% – was dependent on the situation in Ukraine remaining stable.

Programmatic Moves Further Toward Premium Future


It’s no secret programmatic buying is quickly expanding throughout the digital ad ecosystem—and beyond. A June 2014 survey by AOL Platforms found that 84% of US ad execs surveyed used programmatic to purchase display ads, while six in 10 used the technology to buy mobile ads. Programmatic video was nearly as popular.

177919 Programmatic Moves Further Toward Premium Future

And spend is going up across many channels. Respondents indicated they planned to increase programmatic spending on display, video and mobile ads the most in the next six months. And while 8% of respondents said they were buying TV ads programmatically already, 12% said they intended to up spending in this area in the coming months.

Publishers, as well as brand advertisers and agencies, reported a number of significant benefits of programmatic technology. Tops on the brand/agency side was economic efficiency, cited by more than three-quarters of respondents, while two in three found the targeting beneficial. Organizational efficiency came in third at 57%. On the publisher side, the top three were the same, but more tightly grouped and with targeting slightly ahead.

177920 Programmatic Moves Further Toward Premium Future

There are challenges too—and big ones. Transparency was a problem for 72% of brand executives and nearly as many agency executives, while most publishers did not see it as an issue. All three segments surveyed agreed inventory quality was a challenge.

Allie Kline, CMO of AOL Platforms, pointed up the overall speed with which programmatic technology has been adopted by publishers and advertisers alike across a number of platforms, as well as its transformational potential in the digital ecosystem.

But more will be required from parties on both sides of the equation to take programmatic to the next level. “It’s about making sure there’s a relationship beyond just dumping inventory onto a platform,” she told eMarketer—key to making brand and agency concerns about transparency less problematic.

She also noted that programmatic should be looked at as a technology that could “match the right brand with the right publisher,” not just a tool for getting the best possible bids on inventory.

Video publishers look beyond ad revenue with YouTube strategies


For CollegeHumor, YouTube is no laughing matter, even if it doesn’t produce much direct revenue from ads.

With over 7.6 million subscribers, CollegeHumor has crafted a YouTube strategy that isn’t relying on making money directly on ads. Instead, it uses what is the world’s second-largest search engine to test content’s virality and distribute brand content for advertisers.

CollegeHumor can post a video to YouTube and know immediately whether it will go viral, according to CEO and co-founder Ricky Van Veen. YouTube acts, in effect, like a giant, global focus group.

“With such a big subscriber base, we get a very early sense of what the reaction to the video will be,” said Van Veen. “If it’s a hit (say, the Adam Ruins Everything videos), we can make a decision right away to put more similar videos into production and blast the link out to all our partners.”

In that sense, the immediate reception or popularity of any given video on YouTube helps inform subsequent production and marketing decisions at CollegeHumor.

But the biggest perk surfaces during CollegeHumor’s sales meetings. When the site pitches brand-sponsored content to clients like American Eagle, it promises those videos will reach its huge YouTube audience as well as its own site visitors.

“YouTube used to be just a nice add-on to our website, now it’s a big strategic piece of the whole brand’s digital presence,” Van Veen told Digiday.

Many digital publishers, from the older companies like the New York Times to startups like Vox Media, have embraced a hybrid video strategy. They host videos on custom players, or use software from vendors like Ooyala and Brightcove, to serve their own, more profitable video ads.

That’s CollegeHumor’s approach. It hosts videos on its proprietary player first, keeping all the ad revenue generated by each video view. After a few weeks of exclusivity, CollegeHumor will post that content on YouTube, maximizing its reach.

Even though YouTube owns a fifth of the U.S. digital video market, the constant deluge of content (100 new hours of video every minute) depresses ad rates and leaves all but the titans of YouTube with a tiny slice of the total ad spend. Publishers aren’t keen on YouTube’s revenue split, either — the company keeps 45 percent of ad revenue for itself — but YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki firmly refuses to reconsider the rates.

“I don’t see [the revenue split] changing, so it then just becomes a ‘what you make of it’ situation,” said Van Veen. “That means having YouTube be a part of an overall package for an advertiser.”

YouTube ads do generate a bit of cash for CollegeHumor. While Van Veen declined to disclose exact figures, he said ads sold on the channel have eclipsed CollegeHumor’s video production budget for the past six months. But CollegeHumor isn’t making the next Avatar movie; most of its videos are low-budget sketches shot in the office. And Van Veen makes clear that YouTube ad revenue is not the main draw.

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Facebook Launches Cross-Device Reporting


Being able to track campaign performance across devices has become increasingly crucial to advertisers as consumer attention shifts from desktop to mobile screens. To that end, Facebook on Wednesday rolled out cross-device reporting for ads, allowing marketers to see how people are moving among devices and across mobile apps and the Web.

“Facebook already offers targeting, delivery and conversion measurement across devices. With the new cross-device report, advertisers are now able to view the devices on which people see ads and the devices on which conversions subsequently occur,” stated a Facebook blog post today.

As an example, the company said an advertiser can view the number of customers who clicked an ad on an iPhone, but then later converted on desktop, or the number of people who saw an ad on desktop, and later converted on an Android tablet.

In a recent analysis conducted between May 15 and July 24, Facebook found that among people who viewed a mobile Facebook ad in the U.S., nearly a third (32%) eventually clicked on the same ad on the desktop within 28 days. The conversion rate was lower over shorter periods of time. So within a week of seeing a mobile ad, 22% converted on the desktop, and after a day, 11%.

The cross-device reporting relies on data from Facebook’s conversion pixel, a piece of tracking code used in conjunction with the social network’s software development kit (SDK), to get reports on which device someone saw an ad and eventually converted. The overall aim is to go beyond last-click attribution to see how different devices and app actions influenced a click.

To see cross-device conversions for campaigns, advertisers can go to the Facebook Ad Reports page, click Edit Columns and select Cross-Device on the left-hand menu.

Content Can’t Be King Without Context


The mantra for the digital age is “content is king.”  But without context, content is a king without a crown. Context is the surrounding environment adding relevance and meaning to content. Unless content is placed in the right context, with consideration to the reader’s intent, it will be worthless.

Before advertising started to turn to third-party advertising networks and audience re-targeting, the relationship between content and context was clearer. Certain publications targeted specific audiences, and advertising could be placed where it made the most sense while reaching what was assumed to be the right audience. Think Norwegian Cruise Lines being advertised in Condé Nast Traveler, for instance.

Now that digital display is focusing more on audience targeting, advertisers seem to be hitting the right audience, but unfortunately, often at completely the wrong moment.

The finesse is in serving content that is not just fine-tuned for the specific audience but also to the context of the surrounding content the audience is viewing. After all, a site visitor might not be interested in deals on cruises when she is looking for advice on a snapped Achilles tendon. The user is in a completely different frame of mind.

Another classic example of advertising being placed out of context is when premium brands unknowingly place their ads on sites that are anything but premium themselves. Think Swiss Bank advertising on Uncle Tony’s summer fun blog.

Re-targeting can also provoke a stalking sensation, which should be another wake-up call for the industry. I booked, paid for and took a trip to New Zealand two months ago. Despite how much I enjoyed it, I am unlikely to need another hotel there any time soon. Please stop showing me ads if they are no longer relevant!

Making context integral to content

In this framework, context is the measure of matching a user’s profile with relevant content in the right environment. As targeted advertising and programmatic buying become de facto in ad sales, systems need to become more sophisticated and more human. Brands need to move beyond targeting people based solely on who they are, and shift toward targeting based on what that individual is doing right now.

Content (advertising or otherwise) needs to be responsive to the total environment in which it is served. Digital advertising and content recommendations precisely targeted to the right users are complex processes, but emerging technologies manage the complexity and source insight from existing and real-time behavioral and contextual data.

Reconnecting the disconnect

While media buying becomes more programmatic – focusing largely on cookie-based, isolated information about a user – emerging tools enable publishers to target not only the right users, but the right users while they are in the right frame of mind. Publishers are at last in a position to offer efficiency, targeting accuracy, and effectiveness based on an understanding of a user’s intent at a given moment. These systems are built specifically to create great contextual user experiences: ensuring that the mighty “content” king is never left without his “context” crown again.

Publishers try crazy idea: fewer ads, higher pricing


If you think you’re seeing fewer ads while browsing publisher sites, it’s not your imagination.

With recent redesigns, several publishers have trimmed the ad inventory on their sites. WhenThe Chicago Tribune relaunched last week, designers reduced the number of ads on article pages to five from nine to 11. Hearst Magazines’ sites have been reducing the number of standard units in favor of high-impact ones and native ads that run in the editorial stream. USA Today halved the number of ads on its site when it relaunched two years ago.

It may seem crazy for publishers to turn their back on any ads, given the state of the online publishing market (the rise of automated buying has eroded ad rates, native advertising is on the rise but hard to scale, and brands and agencies are demanding proof their ads were viewed).

But in place of standard, low CPM ads, publishers are introducing more high-impact units that they can charge more for because they’re more eye-catching, giving them a better chance of being seen, and give the advertiser a more creative palate, more exclusivity and bigger share of voice on the page.

“We’re trying to use our advertisers to use a lot of the tools we use editorially, and it so happens that that leads to a cleaner, better visual experience,” Todd Haskell, svp and chief revenue officer, Hearst Magazines Digital Media said. “What we are trying to do is get rid of the clutter on the page — the random tiles — in favor of creating these experiences that are in the feed.”

USA Today publisher Larry Kramer said he couldn’t break out revenue for the site since it’s bundled with other digital properties. But, he said, “it is growing significantly, and the newer, larger units, are a significant part of that growth and retain significantly higher CPMs. And, as predicted, the CPMs for the most generic and traditional inventory have been challenged. So much of our overall growth in digital advertising revenue has had to come from the increase in high-impact ads.”

Flighty readers are driving this, too. Publishers can’t count on homepage traffic like they once could, so once they’ve gotten people to their site, they want to deliver as pleasing a reading experience as possible, one that’s not junked up by ads.

Bill Adee, evp of digital for Tribune Publishing, said one of the Chicago Tribune’s goals is to increase consumer revenue, and “it’s hard to make the argument if your page looks like Nascar paint job to ask for digital subscriptions.”

Most premium magazine publishers are adjusting their ad inventory accordingly, said Steve Goldberg, managing director at Empirical Media Advisors. His typical client now gets around 60 percent of its revenue from high-impact units, up from around 35 percent. The remaining standard ads are typically bonused or sold at a very low rate, which helps the brand extend its message to the rest of the site. With high-impact ad units commanding 10 times what a standard display unit does, it’s easy for a publisher to replace the lost revenue, he said.

“Publishers have realized conclusively that they do better with brands that want high impact,” Goldberg said. “It goes hand in hand with the concept of a differentiated site. You’re trying to differentiate from the long tail and the aggregators.”

There are some risks, though. Having the site be a top notch experience becomes even more important, lest the plethora of high-impact ads turn off the reader. Publishers need to know the revenue implications before dropping all their standard ads, said Eric Franchi, co-founder of ad network Undertone. “Standard units have a place and generally are an important part of the publisher’s revenue mix. But should you have eight of them on a page? Probably not.”

And publishers wanting to charge a premium should be prepared to justify it to advertisers with metrics from, say, a brand lift or engagement study, said Audrey Siegel, managing partner at Assembly. “Without proof points, I don’t think this will fly. Or at least, not very far.”

Digital value erosion tests brands


Brands are effectively leaving billions of dollars “on the table” as they struggle to master the demands of the new digital marketing ecosystem, according to a leading executive.

Bob Liodice, president/ceo of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), discussed this topic while speaking at the organisation’s 2014 Digital & Social Media Conference.

Technology, he asserted has “given us so much” as an industry, but has simultaneously created a welter of issues that urgently need to be addressed.

“We’re leaving money on the table. And that pile of money that we’re leaving on the table is growing even worse,” said Liodice. (For more, including results of an ANA/Forrester study, read Warc’s exclusive report: ANA tracks dollar drain in marketing technology.)

“If we don’t arrest this value erosion, it’s going to undercut all of the gains that we’ve made.”

Attempts to place a dollar value on the losses being accrued vary, but some initial estimates peg this total as falling between $7.5bn and $15bn. “Billions and billions of dollars are not necessarily working on our behalf,” said Liodice.

The challenges facing brands are manifold, and range from ad-supported piracy to advertising clutter and non-viewable ads.

Sellers, content creators, associations, buyers and exchanges have also contributed to making the trading environment very complex to navigate.

Among the main results is a profound lack of transparency about where advertising expenditure is ultimately directed, and a large number of intermediaries siphoning off funds during the digital marketing process.

“Like no other time before, marketers are genuinely concerned that their dollars are not necessarily getting to be placed as media,” said Liodice.

“And they don’t totally get what’s going on out there, because the world is exploding, particularly within the media supply chain.”

Twitter touts ‘objective-based campaigns’ to advertisers


The social network is introducing the model through four ad formats that brands will pay for if a user takes the desired action as a result.

This means brands can choose to pay based on tweet engagements, web site clicks and app installs, as well as gaining followers. For example, app installs or app engagement campaigns will only be charged on a cost-per-app-click basis. Targeting options are also provided to ensure tweets reach users at the right moment, the company added.

Twitter will suggest the appropriate ad format to advertisers using the self-serve tool.

The company said the launch aims to encourage brands to think harder about campaign objectives in order to lift performance to “the next level”.

“Let’s say you’re a camera retailer, and you want to drive more visitors to the summer promotion on your web site. You can create a website clicks or conversions campaign and then promote a tweet with a website link or website card our recommended ad format that is specifically designed to drive website traffic,” the company said in a video (see above).

Twitter said the tool delivered positive results during initial tests earlier this year and is currently offering the service to small and medium-sized companies ahead of a wider invitation-only rollout. The business has said in the past the majority of self-service buying on the network comes from smaller companies.

The launch aims to refresh the company’s pricing model, which previously only let ad buyers pay for Promoted Tweets when they were clicked, replied, retweeted or favourited. It is the latest in a pipeline of products from Twitter as it looks to lift ad revenues and address criticisms from some observers that user engagement and growth is stalling.

An upcoming tool will make it easier to create ads on the platform, allowing brands to crop images and more easily customise photos. Earlier this week, it launched its “Flock to Unlock” tool via a tie-up around Puma’s “Forever Faster” global campaign.

Twitter says it sees the “hundreds of millions” of visitors logged-out of its platform as the next key revenue generator for its nascent advertising offering and is exploring ways to monetise the audience.