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Social Media Data: The Benefits of Friends

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

The real money in social media might not reside in the ads that sit on Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, but in the data produced by users’ frantic friending and sharing.

The rationale is simple. Internet users are now spending 22 percent of their time in social media, and Internet activity leaves behind a trail of data: what people like, what they share, and who is connected to whom with similar tastes. For publishers and application makers, licensing all that social data is a no-brainer — found money for what is in essence a waste product of their services. For advertisers, social data is a potential boon: a way to find likely customers based on their sharing and communication habits.

Facebook, the obvious key player in the social data game, is currently taking a backseat to scrappier startups, both to avoid overstepping privacy sensitivities and to focus on other growth areas. That’s left an opportunity for new companies like Media6Degrees, 33Across and RadiumOne, which are licensing large amounts of data from instant-messaging clients, sharing applications and blog services in order to piece together customized social networks for ad campaigns. For instance: A campaign for Nike based on social media data will show relevant ads to people connected to Nike customers, on the supposition they’re likely to have similar tastes.

“It’s your real social graph, not people you went to high school with 20 years ago,” said Eric Wheeler, CEO of 33Across.

Other companies are collecting data directly in order to target ads outside social media sites.
ShareThis, which has content-sharing buttons on over 1 million Web sites, collects as much as a terabyte of social data every day. Earlier this year, it took the search terms from skin care brand Mederma — stretch marks, dry skin, scar tissue and others — and identified people who had viewed related content, shared it or received it. ShareThis then built an audience segment of 12 million with the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. Frequent sharers were seven times more likely to view a Mederma coupon than the less-specified audience of previous campaigns.

ShareThis CEO Tim Schigel said that such methods could help crack the code on brand advertising online. While current Web-targeting methods are geared to direct response, social characteristics are more suited for awareness and consideration — the critical backbone of brand advertising budgets locked up in TV. “There’s a huge potential that’s not tapped,” he said.

Still, collecting social data is a tricky business. One social data outfit, Rapleaf, was rocked after a Wall Street Journal story questioned its tactics in collecting user information. As for Facebook, if and when it does enter the data-mining market — which several industry observers have predicted it will do, as the site marches toward an inevitable IPO — it will need to be careful because of its history of igniting concerns over privacy.

“The really big question is whether anyone but Facebook can make a big business out of it,” said Terry Kawaja, CEO of investment banking firm Luma Partners.

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Ignoring Internet Banner Ads

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

It wasn’t a banner day for Internet banner ads when an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll asked consumers to cite the kind of advertising they’re most likely to ignore (see the chart).

Search-engine advertising also didn’t fare very well in the poll, which was conducted last month.

Despite having come of age with the Internet, the survey’s 18-34-year-olds were about as likely as their elders to pick banner ads as the genre they ignore the most (42 percent made that choice). Likewise, 21 percent of the 18-34s said search-engine ads are the genre they’re likeliest to ignore.

The biggest variation by age cohort came with respect to TV advertising.

While advertisers might think of the 55-plusers as a comparatively docile TV audience, that age group had the highest proportion of respondents picking TV ads as the kind they ignore the most. Twenty percent of the 55-plusers made that choice, vs. 9 percent of the 18-34s, 13 percent of the 35-44s and 14 percent of the 45-54s.

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Google’s fortune tellers herald the golden age of display advertising

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Google’s fortune tellers herald the golden age of display advertising

By Mike Shields


The online display market will be a $50 billion business. Half of online ads will feature video, and 75 percent will contain some sort of social element. And the majority of banner ads will be delivered to mobile devices over PCs.
Those were just some of the seven bold predictions about display advertising for the year 2015 made by Google executives during the final keynote session of the 2010 IAB Mixx conference on Tuesday in New York, part of Advertising Week. Neal Mohan (left), Google’s vp of product management, and Barry Salzman (right), the company’s managing director for media and platforms, took attendees through a future where banners—to use their words—will be both smart and sexy.
“The static ad banner will become a thing of the past,” said Salzman. “The golden age of display is right before us.”

To prove their point, the pair demonstrated some of the capabilities of banner ads that Google will soon make available to advertisers. For example, at one point, the pair showcased an oversized banner ad that featured live footage of their address on a 10-second delay. Another futuristic display unit showed a live Twitter stream from the event.
Such rich media ads—which essentially can house the same amount of content and visual imagery as the average Web site—will make up half the display ads in 2015, up from just 6 percent today, the two executives said.

Similarly, half of such ads will feature video that advertisers will pay for on a cost-per-view basis, they said—which should help attract more brand advertisers to the medium.
Google has already been offering advertisers the ability to pay only for ads that users actually view (rather than skip) on YouTube. The company is looking to take that concept a step further with the rollout of two new YouTube ad placements under the moniker True View.
One such placement is strikingly similar to the Ad Selector ad unit that was popularized by Hulu and later identified by Starcom USA’s The Pool research project as the preferred unit for monetizing long-form video. Via the new unit, users can select from among four different video ads to watch prior to streaming content (this new unit raises questions about whether YouTube is still planning to participate in The Pool project).
In addition, YouTube is introducing a True View In Stream ad, through which Google serves a video ad based on a user’s previous activities on the site. If a user skips the ad—which is allowable after about five seconds—the advertiser does not pay. According to Google executives, this will result in fewer ads being delivered, but a higher ad premium.
Outside of YouTube, Mohan and Salzman were more bullish on display ads that feature video, since that’s where the majority of inventory exists at the moment. And naturally, the two execs believe buyers will buy much of that video/display inventory via exchanges. According to Mohan, in 2010, the number of transactions on Google exchange has tripled over last year.
Based on that momentum, by 2015, the executives predicted that half of online display ads will be purchased on an audience basis in real time.
Beyond predicting a revitalization of the much-maligned display ad space, Google used Tuesday’s session to wow the crowd with several applications of the Google Goggles product, which works with cameras built into smartphones (such as the Droid, which uses Google’s Android software). During one demonstration, which officials emphasized was still experimental, a phone was used to snap a picture of a print ad for a Ford Mustang. Nearly instantly, the Mustang featured in the ad appeared on the smartphone as a 3D image that a user could manipulate to explore.

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Cinema Chain Screens Two Shops

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Cinema chain AMC Entertainment has selected Omnicom Group’s Signal to Noise and sister shop Rapp to handle digital chores and direct marketing duties, respectively, after separate reviews, the company has confirmed.

AMC Entertainment said it spends about $9 million annually on ads.

The assignments were previously handled on a project basis without AOR assignments, according to a client representative. Contenders could not be immediately determined.

Stephen Colanero, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of AMC, said the agencies “represent innovative thinking and expertise, especially given the constant change in consumer behavior with the adoption of digital technology.”

Commenting on the win, Jordan Warren, president and chief executive officer of Signal to Noise, said that AMC “recognizes that digital technology can fundamentally change the guest experience and their relationship with” the theater chain. “We look forward to helping AMC do just that,” he added.

Tracey Brown, managing director, Rapp Dallas, said, “Creating deeper, more meaningful relationships with their guests is about reaching them on an emotional level, well before they enter the theater and beyond. Innovation and creativity combined with our data and today’s technology will be the winning ticket.”

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Looking Online to Verify Word-of-Mouth Recommendation

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Looking Online to Verify Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

July 26, 2010

– Mark Dolliver, Adweek

Word of mouth is all well and good, but a new Cone Inc. report indicates that consumers don’t take it as gospel when deciding on purchases. With all due respect to Uncle So-and-so’s opinion about what they should buy, people are looking online for information to support or rebut such advice.

Eighty-one percent of respondents to Cone’s polling (fielded online last month) agreed with the statement, “After getting a recommendation about a product or service I may want to purchase, I go online to do additional research about that product or service before deciding whether to purchase it.”

Finding such information helps seal the deal: 77 percent agreed they’re more likely to buy things “when I can find additional recommendations about them online.” As the chart indicates, the tendency to seek online confirmation or refutation of a recommendation is not confined to big-ticket purchases but extends to something as minor as a meal out or a movie.

Contrary to what you might guess, good news is more potent than bad in shaping purchase decisions for items that have been recommended to a consumer. Sixty-eight percent said “negative information” they’ve found online has led them to “change your mind about purchasing a product or service recommended to you.” But even more, 80 percent, said “positive information” found online has “reinforced your decision” to buy a recommended product or service.

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