U.S. Internet ad revenue rose 19% to $27.5 billion in the first six months of 2015 compared with the first half of 2014, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report released Wednesday. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report, prepared by PwC U.S., found that revenue in the second quarter of 2015 rose 22.5% to $14.3 billion compared with the year-ago quarter. It reflects 8.5% growth from the first quarter of 2015. Search revenue in the first half of 2015 reached double digits on slower growth -- rising 11% to surpass $10 billion, compared with the $9 billion in revenue during the first half of 2014. Lead generation as well as classified and directories, also slowed -- 4% vs. 3%, and 6% and 5%, respectively. Independent studies from agencies like RKG Merkle also saw an increase in search. Google U.S. paid-search spending rose 18% year on year (YoY) in Q3 2015, up from 12% in the previous quarter. Click growth improved to 13%, following a 1% decline in Q2. The cost per click (CPC) rose 5% YoY. Smartphones produced 27% of paid-search clicks in Q3 in the U.S., up from 20% a year earlier. Tablet click share fell to 16%, from 18% a year earlier. Phones and tablets combined for 32% of search spending, according to RKG Merkle. The IAB report also notes that mobile revenue rose 54% to $8.2 billion in the first half of 2015. The media now represents 30% of the revenue generated by the entire Internet advertising marketplace, up from 23% at HY 2014 Digital video, a component of display-related advertising, reached $2 billion in the first half of 2015, a 35% year-over-year jump from $1.5 billion in the first half of 2014. Social media revenue, advertising delivered on social platforms -- including social networking, and social gaming Web sites and apps -- rose 51% to $4.4 billion in HY 2015, compared with a year-ago. Retail at 22%, financial services at 13% and automotive at 13 continue to account for nearly half of advertising revenue. Display-related advertising revenue in the first half of 2015 rose 5% to $6.8 billion, compared with the first half of 2014, accounting for 25% of digital advertising revenue overall.
WPP and open cloud platform provider Acquia are expanding their relationship with a new global partnership, the companies said Wednesday. The new partnership brings together WPP’s existing Acquia partners -- including Globant, Hogarth, Mirum, POSSIBLE, Rockfish, VML and Wunderman -- under the umbrella of the WPP-Acquia Alliance. The Alliance becomes the world’s largest Acquia "Certified Partner" and its members will draw on Acquia software, training, collaborate on new business pitches, and share project resources. Acquia provides an open cloud platform for building, delivering and optimizing digital experiences. More than 4,000 organizations--including Intuit, Warner Music Group and Stanford University--rely on the Acquia Platform to unify content, community and commerce. The company harnesses the open source content management system Drupal, which was created by Acquia founder and CTO Dries Buytaert. The Acquia Platform provides a multi-site management solution, support, and environment for developing and maintaining Drupal sites. Under the agreement, WPP agencies will provide creative, UX and development resources to Acquia clients, while Acquia will provide its open cloud platform to the WPP-Acquia Alliance to deliver projects. The WPP-Acquia Alliance is part of WPP’s Technology Partnership Program, an initiative led by Chief Digital Officer and Chief Strategy Officer Scott Spirit. “The growth of the ‘API [application programming interface] economy’ is changing marketing, and clients require the ability to integrate existing technologies, data sources and media into a central platform,” said Spirit. WPP is committed to working closely with technology leaders, and the creation of the WPP-Acquia Alliance gives us an open source digital experience practice at a time when the market is growing rapidly.” Added Tom Erickson, CEO Acquia: “The combined WPP-Acquia team, and the disruptive business they’re building, will deliver transformative outcomes to those organizations that are thinking ahead to a mobile-first, browserless world.”
Space-Time Insight announced a new version of its real-time visual analytics software suite, SI Suite 6.0. The situational intelligence solutions company says the suite now provides real-time analytics for the Internet of Things. Steve Ehrlich, SVP of marketing and product management at Space-Time Insight, stated that the flood of data from the Internet of Things makes it difficult for organizations to make accurate and timely decisions. Ehrlich said the SI Suite 6.0 addresses those challenges, by revealing “the what, where, when, why and how of every asset and situation, bridging organizational silos, and focusing business initiatives on the issues that matter.” The SI suite uses Spark Streaming, an extension from Apache of the core Spark API that integrates real-time data from different event streams, to process the volumes of high-speed data for IoT and operational systems, giving organizations more time to act on time-critical events. Key features of the new suite include an ability to rapidly transform data into visual analytics applications. The software allows users to select data from sources, apply the analytics model and choose a visual presentation format, facilitating collaboration between developers, data scientists, business analysts and business users. Space-Time Insight’s SI Suite 6.0 also features advanced analytics paired with data presentation formats, such as maps, charts and diagrams.
Zignal Labs’ infusion of $15 million in funding will help expand its products, sales and engineering operations. Zignal Labs CEO Josh Ginsberg said the company’s sales growth was enormous in the past year, so an increased sales presence presents a great opportunity. As for product innovation, he said the company is always looking for ways to “tell the story of massive amounts of data out there so customers can make decisions in split seconds.” He added that Zignal Labs is doing much more with data science, including ways to use data to deliver insights to customers, who can then make decisions and spend efficiently. “If you can’t measure it, it’s really difficult to spend on it,” Ginsberg said. With two product launches in the past two months, the company is growing its tool set. Last month, Zignal Labs announced Zignal Command Center, which provides “access to visualize, analyze, share and make informed decisions based on data and insights beautifully displayed in real time,” per the company. On Oct. 5, the company introduced Zignal Newsroom, a media monitoring tool. Ginsberg said we can expect new types of data visualizations and data science algorithms that enable customers to do their jobs more efficiently. The company will continue to offer insights to media buyers, advertisers and other clients. “We’re the only company that has all social-media mentions, traditional media mentions and television mentions coming in real time,” he claims. The San Francisco-based company, which helps clients monitor online conversations relevant to them or about them, received funding from existing investors Andy Ballard of Figtree Partners; Mitch Cohen of Ross Investment Associates; and Jim Hornthal, co-founder and chairman of Zignal Labs.
SpotX and Moat have partnered to provide a viewability targeting feature that allows buyers to select a minimum viewability threshold for their ad buys. SpotX, the video inventory management platform, and independent ad analytics company, Moat, worked together on the feature to measure viewability and performance metrics across inventory sold through its platform. The new check-box viewability targeting feature is a response to market needs, Kelly McMahon, VP of demand at SpotX, told Real-Time Daily. For example, if buyers want at least 70% of their ads in a campaign to meet the MRC’s viewability requirement, they can select 70% in the system, and it will ensure this based on historical data, per McMahon. The addition of Moat’s analytics to the SpotX platform will allow publishers to understand how their campaigns are selling and optimize yield from their video inventory, making SpotX the first video platform to offer this type of feature for publishers to manage viewability directly from within its platform’s ad server. Publishers will be able to set specific viewability targets across devices for the campaigns they traffic on behalf of buyers, McMahon said. “Buyers are becoming more savvy and demanding greater effectiveness from their buys, causing them to tighten the screws on viewability,” she added. McMahon noted that as quarter three of 2015 got underway, SpotX noticed an immediate shift in buying behavior. The viewability demands of buyers are also rapidly increasing. “This sudden shift is forcing publishers to direct resources towards improving viewability scores or face the threat of unsold inventory,” she said.
As Google and Facebook jockey to become the frontrunner in display ad targeting, results from the Adobe Digital Index (ADI) third-quarter report released Wednesday show the two in a tight race for dominance. Google display advertising click-through rates rose 25% year-over-year. Facebook's CTRs rose 35% YoY, and cost per click fell by 2%. It seems that finding the perfect targeting combination continues to become a struggle for Google. Data from the ADI third-quarter report suggests Customer Match shows Google under pressure to better leverage targeting data that improves performance. As part of ADI's Q3 2015 analysis, it looked at consumer activity on branded sites from third-quarter 2014-third-quarter 2015. It analyzed more than 900 billion digital ad impressions from search and social platforms such as Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and Yandex, as well as more than 23 billion referred social visits from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Google's search advertising business seems to be a little bit more in control, according to Joe Martin, senior analyst at Adobe Digital Index. Marketers in North America spent the most in search marketing during the quarter. All regions are rising, but North America sees the most uptick, he says. Martin attributes North America's growth to the relative strength of the U.S. economy. "We’re seeing a lot of global economic downturns in Asia, Europe, and even the U.S.," he says. "Advertising dollars are shifting to North America from other regions." Bing outpaces Google in paid-search spend across all regions for the acceptation of North America. Marketers spent 17% more with Bing globally vs. Google with 11%. Google still dominate in search optimization efficiency with CTRs up 16% YoY vs. Bing’s 7% Google also still holds the majority of global market share at 71%. Bing follows with 21%, and Yahoo and others hold 8%. Smartphone paid-search CPC growth came in flat for the quarter YoY, while CTR show signs of recovery. Smartphone CPCs were 30% less compared with desktop CPCs in Q3, but smartphone CTR is balancing out YoY, up 9%. An interesting note, smartphone referral traffic continues to shift to social. Smartphone traffic from social networks rose 100% YoY, while desktop and tablet traffic from smartphones only rose 12% and 9%, respectively.
Sailthru has announced Personalization Engine, a new cross-channel marketing product that coordinates customer experiences cross-platform. The new product adds online and mobile marketing to Sailthru’s email personalization platform. Sailthru also offers content recommendations, based off historical customer data, so email marketers can now align multichannel data and real-time action into their marketing campaigns. Examples include creating individualized discounts for customers or recommending specific products based on past engagement and/or predicted purchase behaviors. In the “the age of Amazon you better be ready to deliver a seamless experience," says Stephen Dove, SVP of product and alliances at Sailthru. Dove says email personalization is more important than ever before with the introduction of wearable technology. He predicts that unsubscribes and opt-outs will rise in tandem with wearable popularity. The “annoyance factor of pinging a customer repeatedly on their wrist,” says Dove, will impact ROI -- especially when compared to push notifications or the traditional desktop inbox. The wearable technology market is predicted to grow at a compound annual rate of 35% over the next five years, according to a recent BI Intelligence report. They estimate smartwatch shipments will increase even faster, and predict an annual growth of 41%. The solution for email marketers may lie in engaging with customers on an individual level, says Dove. The challenge, however, is that many marketers haven’t fully embraced Big Data as the solution. “To one email marketer, personalization means using a customer name in the subject line and greeting of an email. To another, it means using a fully dynamic email template where all content is populated using algorithmic-decisioning,” says Dove. Modern personalization, he says, should be defined as the ability to coordinate personalized messages across all channels, contiguously, and in real-time. Dove cites a recent Gartner Research report that says brands that fully invest in modern personalization outsell their competitors by 20%. “Modern personalization is proven to increase response, conversion and customer lifetime value,” says Dove. “You can’t just insert a name into a subject line and expect to get there.” The company expects initial testing results and metrics from Beta customers in the next three to four weeks.
Hats off to City AM, which has today confronted Firefox users who have downloaded ad-blocking software with blurry text instead of quality journalism. It has become the first major UK publication to block the ad blockers, and deserves a huge round of applause for its pioneering stance. Now, I know honourable mentions need to go to Axel Springer for its work with Bild.de and Conde Nast, plus I've also read that The Guardian has started trialling gentle reminders to ad blockers that they are threatening free content. However, I'm all for action on this issue -- or at least, if you have a nice "disable your ad blocker to view this article," you have to actually go through with a threat to block the blockers. The cold, hard reality of ad blocking is that every piece of research has shown it is more prevalent with men and with younger people -- making Millennial males the most likely culprits. The research also just about always shows ad blockers know what they are doing. They completely understand the link between free content and advertising, yet they still opt for the free ride option. Regular readers of MAD London will know how much this gets my proverbial goat. It should anger everyone in publishing. Sure, sites need to get their act together by not offering overly intrusive advertising and ensure that ads do not contain malware because these are the two main excuses given by ad blockers for their behaviour. However, tell me this. City AM claims that one in five of those using Firefox to access its site use ad-blocking technology. Do these tens of thousands of weekly users really think the advertising is over the top and will infect their computer, or are they simply looking for a free ride where articles load a bit quicker and the editorial looks more streamlined without ad units vying for their attention around the content? I know which of the two I'm convinced is more likely. I'll mention once again my complete surprise that free and subscription-based sites don't offer an ad-free model so users can choose a premium level of service without the ads. It just seems to make so much sense to me that I'm bemused it's not on offer because then ad blockers really don't have a leg to stand on. There's an alternative to having ads that funds quality content -- take it or leave it. So make no mistake -- ad blockers know exactly what they're doing because the most prevalent blockers are Millennial males who have grown up with free content being supported by advertising. The only option is to offer an ad free subscription or freeze them out altogether with no wimpy message to play nicely. They need to be told they are the digital equivalent of shop lifters and the only way they're going to get quality content is to pay for ad-free services (when they're offered) or disable their ad blocker. For taking a firm stance, the media industry should be applauding City AM loudly and following in their footsteps.
Programmatic sale of video advertising today is structured in a way that encourages a highly problematic form of "arbitrage." Here is how it works: In display advertising, when you win an RTB auction, you commit to paying a price for that impression. That's because display was built on a simple premise: You put in a bid for an ad for $3, and if you win it, then you pay for it. The only notion of “changing your mind” would be through a "passback tag," which allows publishers to receive network or remnant tags to fill inventory when their primary ad network doesn't have an ad to serve that meets the floor CPM. Passback tags in display were not efficient and often led to both a loss of impressions and an increased page load time with 9-12 server redirects for every ad call. Rather than doing away with display's passback inefficiencies in video, it has become the standard. What most people do not realize is that "winning" a video auction does not necessarily lead to paying for an impression. In video auctions, it is common practice that a buyer will bid a certain amount, but will then report an "error" in playing the ad, thus not paying for it. There may have been an initial justification for these reported "errors" as part of the verification of inventory quality. However, this practice has led to a risk-free arbitrage whereby the ad network ‘buys’ the impression and then tries to re-auction it with a higher floor in another SSP. (Note: This scenario is certainly possible in display, but in display you at least commit to a CPM.) For video, without the guaranteed CPM, this is the outcome of the current "passback" setup: • Ridiculously long load time for remnant tags. By that, I mean an average of 15-20 seconds. (Yes, no milli- hiding in that number…) • Loss of impressions as users abandon the page (no one will wait that long to show a 15- to-30-second ad) or even just the ad server giving up and skipping the ad placement • Loss of revenue. Let me explain that last point, as it is not trivial. In July, our optimization engine blocked the top 7 bidders (by revenue) using our platform. As a result, overall publisher revenue increased by 35%. How could that be? Two simple reasons: 1. While those buyers would bid $10, their error rate was 97%+, meaning their effective “Pay CPM” was $0.30 or less. A buyer with a mere $6 CPM but under 10% error rate will provide a $5.4 “Pay CPM”. It became a pretty easy decision to let the optimization engine block the top CPM bid partners once we analyzed the actual pay CPM rather than the bid CPM. But one could still argue -- why don’t we try the $10 buyer, and if they “passback” (nice way of saying ‘timeout on reselling it’), and then just go to that $6 buyer. Well, this brings us to... 2. A "buyer" that fails to actually buy the ad takes a very long time (close to a minute) to "not" buy it. Standard timeouts in leading SSPs today are around 10 seconds per ad, each with 5-7 attempts. That is a full minute in most such cases of waiting. So either the publisher/platform does the responsible thing of timing out the ad call and letting the user watch the content they wanted to watch (essentially) ad-free, or the user leaves the page (frustrated). But even if the user stays on the page reading other parts of the page, and the publisher tries another ad -- the performance is not the same. Showing an ad in the first few seconds of the page-load performs significantly better as it is more likely to capture the user’s attention. With all of the waiting in the current constellation, by the time the “good” advertiser is actually reached, the impression is "weak and tired" and publishers are pushed to reduce the price and value of their content. I know that SSPs are struggling to deal with this phenomenon. Publishers need to look at the optimization process and find ways to pre-load ads and better understand the real "Pay CPM" on a page by page, impression by impression level if programmatic is to provide true value to video advertisers.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising channels will get a bigger piece of the ad spend during the next 12 months -- more so than advertisers expected. Three-quarters of U.S. marketers participating in Hanapin Marketing's The State of PPC annual survey say they plan to increase the amount spent in mobile PPC advertising during the next 12 months, with nearly as many -- 74% -- increasing the amount spent in Google AdWords. Some 67% say they will give Facebook more, followed by Bing Ads at 60%; and display advertising at 50%. The study looks at where advertising will spend their budgets and how they expect to target consumers with relevant ads. Hanapin Marketing's annual survey of the pay per click (PPC) advertising study -- The State of PPC -- found that 90% of advertisers say text ads are still the most proven ads for their business. Many advertisers didn't expect to increase budgets this year, but did. Last year only 10% of paid-search experts projected the amount they spent in 2015 would increase, but more than 70% of respondents report increases to their actual budgets. When asked how advertisers feel about today's PPC market and their success in terms of campaigns, 78% say they feel "really good"; 20%, "fair"; and 2% "poor." Of the marketers surveyed, 41% will spend less than $1 million this year, 16% will spend between $1 million and $2.5 million this year, with 43% will spend more than $2.5 million. Last year only 20% of respondents spending more than $1 million annually on paid search, but this year 59% admit to spending more than that amount. The survey found a slight difference in opinions on what has been and will become important in pay-per-click advertising for agencies and the brands they serve. Most agree social advertising and conversion rate optimization are the two most important aspects heading into 2016. Some 75% say they will focus on conversion rate optimization, followed by 74%, social advertising; 61% automation software; 60%, specialized targeting; 54%, mobile location; 52%, data management; 43%, social commerce; 42%, new ad network; and 34%, programmatic. During the next year, Hanapin expects to see a surge in agencies recommending that clients take advantage of specialized targeting, pointing specifically to the use of mobile location as intent.
Programmatic TV spending is expected to top $10 billion by 2019, up from $69 million in 2014. Across the country, agencies cite ambitious plans to grow their programmatic TV business. It’s all pretty impressive — but hold on. Our industry may not realize these projections unless we also realize the imperative of continual education and training for the people on both sides of the programmatic TV transaction. What’s driving the push toward programmatic TV is advertisers’ desire to buy video across all screens: They want to reach viewers on every platform, and they need access to linear TV inventory to do that. Also, the metrics of digital video are appealing to advertisers, and many would like to see a similar approach in the traditional TV space. I’m not the first person to write about the need to understand the new language of programmatic TV. In recent months we’ve seen a plethora of new players in the space – DSPs, SSPs, DMPs, and agency alliances -- and yet, does the growth in actual transactions correlate with the growth of providers ready to service those transactions? Right now, programmatic accounts for well over half of all digital-video transactions, but programmatic TV remains a single-digit percentage of linear TV transactions, according to various sources. I’d submit this very gradual rollout is due not so much to uncertainty regarding the benefits of programmatic technology to linear TV, but to misperceptions and insufficient understanding of how it works. If buyers and sellers can master the language and mechanics of programmatic TV, they can capture the potential ROI on their investment of time. We’re still in the early stages of ushering “traditional TV” experts into the digital worlds of automated transactions and actionable metrics, and the digital millennial generation into the engaging medium of linear TV and its unique power to build brands. Many TV media buyers as well as sellers still speak the language of age/gender demographic CPMs and units rather than audience-based, “strategic target” impressions. While agencies are getting more sophisticated about the evolving metrics, real challenges remain in understanding and managing the aggregation of inventory, automation and true audience-based targeting. If I were to offer two important elements for programmatic TV buyers, sellers and technology partners to consider as they develop their strategic growth plans, they are: Train your sales teams before they go out to pitch programmatic TV to agencies. The currency for programmatic is based more on audiences and impressions and less on programs, spots and gross ratings points. In fact, the best programmatic platforms succeed by finding audiences and impressions in places that typical media planners haven’t been looking for. Develop industry best practices and publish FAQs. Needless to say, treat these as “living” documents, scalable to reflect new release features and data. Share them with your agencies – help to educate the industry, not just your sales teams.The rewards for investment in education and training could be transformational. If your sales teams are well versed, they’ll be able to better demonstrate value to your advertisers. We know that programmatic TV means more effective and efficient reach for marketers; it helps produce “found money” for cable and broadcast sellers and operators, and has proven to be wildly successful for clients (for an example, see "For Programmatic TV Buying, Small Can Be an Advantage"). Ensuring optimal success will take a concerted effort in industrywide education and training, across party lines.