2015’s AdTech Consolidation Forecasts Further Changes

EARLY DRAFT : 2015 and The Year Ahead

Those paying attention in 2015 saw a continuation of the acquisitions and consolidations of major ad tech players, though at a much more tempered pace.

The long term impact of this activity is that advertisers now have fewer choices offering arguably a more complete end-to-end marketing solution that encompasses the full cycle of cross channel marketing (planning / modeling / targeting-execution / measurement-attribution).

As advertisers continue to move towards building customized in-house ad tech stacks, their ability to support these built-in-house solutions with services provided in part by third party service provider solutions is diminishing.   Where an advertiser used to be able to “plug and play” numerous solutions into their in-house solution, those choices are now limited.

On the flip side, for advertisers without the means nor desire to build their own solutions, this shift offers a less confusing landscape with single source providers addressing all of their advertising needs.

Agencies face a different challenge, as the growth of options and commoditization of services puts pressure on their role as gatekeepers to media execution.

None of these changes will result in a binary switch from one methodology to another.  They rather point towards a continued slow evolution of the industry in the coming year, as we continue to “figure it out”.

Source: AdExchanger

FTC Issue Guidelines for Native Advertising

Well, the FTC has (finally) issued its guidelines on Native Advertising. The FTC defines Native Advertising as “content that bears a similarity to the news, feature articles, product reviews, entertainment, and other material that surrounds it online.”  The popularity of Native Advertising has exploded amongst publishers, in response to plummeting click through rates with traditional advertising (think banner ads).  At least for now, Native Advertising offers publishers a way to recover lost ad revenue.

Though this additional revenue doesn’t come at a price;  the FTC has expressed concern that some Native Advertising is confusing to consumers.

The IAB has also published guidelines for publishers – a playbook of sorts.  Publishers would be wise to read both the FTC’s and the IAB’s guidelines, as they differ in some cases.

Is Advertising Moving Too Fast for Consumers?

The advertising industry is in fast pursuit of what many marketers feel is the holy grail of measuring advertising effectiveness; the ability to develop models, target users, and then measure the effectiveness (at a 1:1 level) – across all media channels.

The technological advances the advertising industry is making towards making this a reality is impressive, even by the fast-paced standards of ad tech.  But they might be happening too quickly, as consumers are just starting to understand the implications of end-to-end campaign management on their privacy.

As the FTC and others weigh in on this issue, expect it to become a more common topic in the months to come.

Source : AdExchanger

Zappos offers $100 Gift Card for Charitable Donations

Did you receive a “less than desirable” gift this holiday season?  Well, if you have fast fingers you can trade it in for a $100 Zappos gift certificate.  You’ll need to be one of the first 500 callers between 11 AM – 11 PM (Eastern time) to qualify to the “Happy Returns” promotion.

If you’re one of the lucky few, just send your gift, in its original packaging, back to Zappos.  Zappos will donate your gift to a charity of their choice.  Simple!

And if you’re truly feeling charitable, you can always donate the $100 gift card to charity too, along with your hand-me-down present.

Source: AdWeek

 

 

Work (And Bandwidth) Expands To Fill …

There is an old saying that goes “work expands to fill the time allotted”, … or something like that.  I really was never very good at sayings. But it means that if you have an hour to do something, it’ll take you an hour.  (it’s true … have you ever been on a conference call scheduled for an hour that didn’t take just about an hour?).

The same principal which covers our human bandwidth applies to digital bandwidth.  Look back to Bill Gates.  I know, I know, an evil word – he first version of does was only 4KB.  For the non technical, your cell phone has more than 1,000 times more memory.  Now programs can easily be as large as 4 GB – simply because our systems can support it.

The FCC recently announced that it is considering opening unused airwaves for public wi-fi (dubbed “Super Wi-FI”).

Perhaps instead of expanding bandwidth, we should look to ways to optimize the bandwidth that we have.  Utilizing hybrid peer to peer technology, which delivers the efficiencies of peer to peer technology with the stability of traditional CDN content delivery (I know, more geek speak … it’s like a Toyota Prius delivering your movies online).  Forcing ourselves to be more efficient will fuel just as many technological advancements as expanding our capacity.  Especially when we have plenty of unused fiber capacity (dark fiber).

Building An Online Community

It seems that everyone these days is trying to building an online community to advance their online marketing efforts.  With advances in technology over the past few years, the process of supporting an online community is easier than ever.  But the greatest challenge still lies in building and maintaining an online community.

Over the past year and a half I’ve been involved in building an online community –  we’ve grown it substantially,  bringing over 3 million people together every month.   How did we do it?  That’s worthy of a book, not a blog.

But allow me to share some of the key rules that you should follow when building your online community:

  • Deliver Value – Online communities are all about sharing between members.  It isn’t a one-to-many relationship.  It is a many-to-many relationship.  And how do you get your members to contribute?  Simple.  Deliver value.  Make it in their best interest to contribute.
  • Be Unique – Technology has made it simple for ANYONE to create an online community, in minutes.  While there are pros and cons to using these turn key solutions, they represent competition none-the-less.  You need to step outside that noise.  Be unique !
  • Create a Platform – You want your community to attract not only end users, but also other companies as well.  You achieve this by becoming a platform. Offer APIs that “hook” into your backend, allowing others to use your community to support their marketing efforts.
  • Make It Social – The keyword in Online Community is Community.  And communities live and die on the social interaction of its members.
  • Be Specific – Focus focus focus.  You can’t be everything to everyone, and neither can your Online Community.
  • Be Open – Trying to control your Online Community is a recipe for disaster.  You need to allow it to grow naturally, and foster that growth.
  • Be Honest – And above all, be honest.  Be transparent.  Be true.

When Cost Isn’t An Issue, Focus On Quality

Just a few years ago delivering content on the Internet was expensive.  REALLY expensive.  So a lot of companies made significant business decisions to reduce the cost of delivering content.

This seemed like the perfect storm, because content just kept getting bigger (movies files are larger, as the quality has improved. eg: HD versus normal ) , and more content was being delivered online.  Through basic supply versus demand one could reasonably assume that the cost to deliver content was only going to go up.

But alas, it hasn’t.  In fact, the cost to deliver content has dropped significantly.  So what have content delivery companies done?  They’ve changed their messaging.  Instead of cost, they focus on quality.  On improved user experience.  On higher touch points within the download experience.

There is an old that roughly says “if you’re moving in the wrong direction, at least you’re moving” – or something to that effect.  The message being that it is better to be moving, than just standing still.  You can always adapt and overcome, transition, and change direction …. just keep the momentum going.

The worst thing you can do is to stop.

The Risks Of Tying Yourself To Rising Tech Giants

A recent study found that the vast majority of Twitter users actually use third party applications to manage their Twitter activity (“tweets”, etc.).

Clearly, providing an open platform with  Application Programming Interfaces (API) or a Software Development Kits (SDK) has helped Twitter quickly gain critical mass.  Instead of becoming a tool, it becomes a platform upon which other tools and services operate.

Though for all of these companies who have built their business on the Twitter platform, there is a fundamental problem.  What happens when Twitter goes down ?  Don’t think it can happen ?  Think again – it has in the past, and it might again in the future.  Worse yet, what happens when Twitter dissolves entirely ?  Doubting that possibility too ?  It certainly wouldn’t be the first social network to die away.

As we know, today’s revolutionary is tomorrow’s dictator.  It only took 16 years for Apple to go from the perception of being an underdog to hyper controlling corporate behemoth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=017uJzbZY80]

Here’s an interesting article about Apple’s latest image issues (this time with the iPhone 4)

Smart software execs know better than to put all of their eggs into one basket.  Rather than tie to one platform, tie to several.  And continue to grow the integration offering.  Keeping your ear to the ground with regards to your customers needs, wants, and habits will help you stay one step ahead of not only your competition, but every evolving technology as well.