Digitas Sees Mobile on Margins, Widgets At Forefront

by , Sep 26, 2007, 6:00 AM
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Because of its present inability to scale, mobile will remain on the margins of Digitas' media planning strategies, according to its vice president and media director Jordan Bitterman.

"It doesn't have the scale," Bitterman said during a breakout session on Tuesday afternoon. "Our marketers are looking for scale."

Earlier this year, on the heels of its $1.3 billion acquisition of Digitas, Publicis announced plans to accelerate its position in digital media and interactive marketing services, with the goal of deriving 25% of its total company revenues from digital interactive and mobile marketing services by 2010.

Conversely, Bitterman said he and his peers at Digitas can't get enough of widgets.

"With widgets, we've had some good experiences," he added. "We're seeing click-through rates of 10%, and engagement beyond that click is also very high."

Emerging as a viable ad channel, over 81 million consumers in North America--or a full 40.3%--were exposed to Web widgets in April, according to a widget tracking service recently launched by comScore.

What's more, comScore's Widget Metrix service is only tracking widgets--mainly photo- and video-streaming players--that can be embedded on Web pages like blogs and social networking pages, rather than desktop widgets. (Notably, YouTube's video players are not being tracked by comScore.)

In April, photo-sharing widget maker Slide was the top widget provider, with a worldwide reach of more than 117 million unique viewers, or 13.8% of the total worldwide Internet audience.

Today, Slide has some 134 million unique viewers worldwide--and about half of them are in the United States, according to Sonya Chawla, senior director of advertising at Slide.

And while business models are still an afterthought for some widget makers, many are looking toward bright futures as ad networks--a goal the new third-party user-measurement will help facilitate. Slide still does all of its ad serving through DoubleClick.

For Slide, what already looks like a bright future will get even brighter once it figures out how to properly measure the real value of advertising via widgets. For that, said Chawla, Slide needs to start accurately measuring engagement, purchase intent, and the brand lift a widget experience offers.

During Tuesday's breakout session, "Metrics For Emerging Technologies," Bitterman said Digitas isn't doing a whole lot of measuring across emerging mediums and its various Web experiments.

"We're constantly trying new things, so it makes it difficult to measure," he said. "Overall, we try to turn [each campaign] into a study on its own."

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