Tag Archive: advertising


drawbridge-logo-1

Drawbridge, an ad targeting startup backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, is expanding its offerings today with a new feature allowing mobile advertisers to reach consumers with retargeted ads, regardless of whether they’re using an app or on the mobile web.

Founder and CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan said that while ad retargeting (i.e., ads targeted based on your past visits and activity) is possible within apps, things get trickier when you try to cross the boundary between apps and websites: “It’s literally two devices on the same device, separated by an iron wire.” (I question her question use of “literally”, but I think you get the point.) App developers can also try to reengage their users through alerts and notifications, but users can always turn those off.

In order to solve that problem, Drawbridge is “piggybacking” on its core technology. That technology examines user activity to help advertisers identify when multiple devices are likely being used by the same person. That allows advertisers to use data collected on the desktop to target ads on mobile. The company’s two products launched last fall include PC-to-mobile retargeting and mobile app marketing. The mobile-to-mobile retargeting is intended to fill out the mobile marketing product, Sivaramakrishnan said.

Drawbridge has already run test campaigns with e-commerce companies, who were either trying to bring old customers back to the site or to convince current customers to buy more. Sivaramakrishnan said that in a campaign targeting lapsed users, the client reached 100 percent return on ad spend within three weeks. Another campaign targeted active users and reached 100 percent ROAS within a single day.

Advertisers will have a chance to test this out for themselves, Sivaramakrishnan said, because the new capabilities include an A/B testing framework. So advertisers can run part of their campaign with Drawbridge’s retargeting and part of their campaign without it and see which ads perform better.

Earlier this year, Drawbridge announced that it was partnering with TRUSTe to allow mobile consumers to opt out of its targeting. Since then, Sivaramakrishnan said that some users have indeed opt out, but that the rates haven’t been “heavy”.

Whether that will really move ratings, I think we don’t know.

– Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, talking about plans for the “See It” program it is launching next month with Twitter, which is supposed to promote live TV viewing. On an earnings call this morning, Roberts described the program as an experiment, but said he feels optimistic about it.

Jimmy Pitaro

Jimmy Pitaro

Earlier today, Disney said what is likely not much of a shock to anyone – that it was handing over the reins of its interactive division to one of its two co-presidents, Jimmy Pitaro.

That means John Pleasants, who was the other co-president and was located in Silicon Valley, is leaving the kingdom, merging the games and media units under one leader in Los Angeles. Pleasants, as happens in these kinds of things, will be a strategic consultant to Disney Interactive.

The reorganization of the unit comes three years after Pitaro, a former Yahoo media exec, and Pleasants, who came to Disney via its acquisition of Playdom, were paired. Disney Interactive recently reported its second quarterly profit of $16 million on sales of $396 million, in what has been an uphill effort over the past decade for the entertainment giant.

Under the regime of former CEO Michael Eisner – many digital moons ago and which I covered since I am so dang old – Disney bought search engine Infoseek and tried to create a portal called Go.com. That failed, and was one of many efforts to define the media company’s Web goals. More recently, in 2008, Disney gathered most of its Internet properties under Steve Wadsworth.

Then came the pairing of Pitaro and Pleasants. And now, just Pitaro.

Disney said it “will move forward with a singular strategy for driving revenue and advertising across key platforms and franchises,” such as Disney Infinity – a big Pleasants project – and Club Penguin.

Twitter

As part of its continued effort to evolve and broaden its advertising capabilities, Twitter is now touting itself as a platform for effective direct response advertising. The microblogging platform wants advertisers to use Twitter to generate leads, drive app downloads, collect consumers’ email addresses and induce incoming calls from customers, all with the click of a cursor or the tap of a finger. “We’ve always been strong in terms of upper-funnel, brand-oriented goals; engagement, awareness and capturing events and moments,” said Richard Alfonsi, Twitter’s vp of global online sales. “Direct response is thinking about the lower-funnel conversion-oriented goals.” As part of its direct response push, Twitter is beta-testing a “click-to-call” button, which would allow mobile users to engage with a Twitter ad by calling the advertiser directly, Alfonsi said.

Read the full story at DigiDay.

omnicom publicis

Today Publicis and Omnicom, two of the “big five” global advertising and marketing agencies, announced a “merger of equals”, in which the two will combine to create the world’s biggest agency, with some $22.7 billion in annual revenues and a market capitalization of $35.1 billion. The pair say that the new Publicis Omnicom Group initially will be jointly run by the two existing CEOs, John Wren from Omnicom and Maurice Levy from Publicis, and headquartered both in New York and Paris, with a holding company HQ in the Netherlands.

The companies will trade publicly as ONC (currently Omnicom’s symbol) on both the NYSE and Euronext.

The confirmation – after reports of the deal swirled earlier this week – was delivered today in a press conference on a hot Sunday summer afternoon in Paris – a slightly oxymoronic setting for a megadeal.

“For many years, we have had great respect for one another as well as for the companies we each lead. This respect has grown in the past few months as we have worked to make this combination a reality. We look forward to co-leading the combined company and are excited about what our people can achieve together for our clients and our shareholders,” the co-CEOs said together.

If Google is the world’s biggest digital advertising network, the merger of these two will create an advertising megacorp that will be the world’s biggest provider of advertising to feed that machine. It will be twice the size of its nearest rival, WPP. While there are two other agencies in addition to these, Interpublic and Havas, they are significantly smaller. This will lead, inevitably, to antitrust scrutinty from regulators. Today, the companies, both already global operators, noted that they will need regulatory approval in 41-46 countries.

“We are not expecting anything that would prevent us from going forward,” Wren said at the press conference (according to Reuters). “We are confident that we will get regulatory approvals,” Levy also noted.

It may also spur more merger activities among other players.

Without a doubt, the history of the ad industry has been one of ongoing consolidation, and in that regard this seems like a logical and inevitable step. Some of the agencies that were once rivals and will now coexist under one owner will include BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB, Leo Burnett, Razorfish, Publicis Worldwide, Fleishman-Hillard, DigitasLBi, Ketchum, StarcomMediaVest, OMD, BBH, Interbrand and ZenithOptimedia, with clients covering some of the world’s biggest buyers of advertising, including mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T, drinks companies like Coca-Cola, financial services companies like Visa, and many more. The companies say they will have “efficiences” of $500 million as a result of the deal; whether that will lead to layoffs or closures has yet to be announced.

But while this plays to type in some regards, the world of advertising and marketing is also up against growth of other disruptive forces, for example the change in consumer habits brought about by the internet. That has taken the rug out from some of the more traditional formats for advertising, such as print media, and pushed more spend towards digital formats like the internet and mobile advertising.

These are still relatively smaller players in the wider advertising ecosystem: worldwide there will be about $519 billion spent in marketing and advertising this year across all mediums. But if you break out a newer area like mobile advertising, it’s expected to be just under $9 billion this year globally, according to the IAB.

Still, the smart money sees the writing on the wall. TV advertising dominates today, Nielsen noted earlier this week, but it has grown by just 3.5% so far this year while Internet has gone up by 26.3%. The IAB estimated that mobile will go up by 83% this year.

Publicis and Omnicom’s rival WPP projects that by 2018, 40% of ad spend that it oversees will come from digital. That is driving a number of acquisitions and investments, but it is also fuelling the rise of a new kind of advertising company focused around advertising technology (ad tech) to better measure, leverage and distribute ads in these new mediums. The rise of digital media is also dovetailing with the growth of advertising and digital opportunities in emerging markets like China, South America, India and so on.

All of this plays strongly into the technology and startup ecosystem, both in terms of the companies that are growing up around these innovations, but also because such a large part of the tech world is built around the consumer internet, and much of the consumer internet is built on free, ad-based models. Consolidation of players like Omnicom and Publicis speaks to a growing desire to better scale and consolidate on the kinds of returns at can be made from newer platforms like the internet.

A lot of companies aspire to have a mobile strategy, and then there are companies, like Trulia, that already have the beginnings of one.

peteflint trulia

Pete Flint, CEO of the San Francisco-based online real estate company, told AllThingsD that traffic from mobile had increased 120 percent in the fourth quarter year over year. “Mobile is an enormous opportunity for us,” he said. “At some point in the future, we expect it to generate a majority of our revenue.”

Today, the company’s stock hit a new high, closing at $29 a share, following yesterday’s release of its fourth-quarter results.

In that quarter, the company lost $1.6 million, or six cents a share, on revenue of $20.6 million. Excluding some items, Trulia would have lost three cents. Analysts were expecting the company to lose two cents a share on revenue of $19.1 million.

Flint said the average revenue per advertiser grew in the fourth quarter because of mobile and an overall increase in prices. Trulia agents are buying ads on its apps separate from the Web because that is where they are seeing the best results — and because of that, Trulia is charging more for mobile. ”Consumers are absolutely out-and-about using the apps to browse and to connect with an agent to purchase a property,” he said.

One data point backing this up is that in 82 of the top 100 U.S. cities, he said, there are more leads being sent via mobile devices to real estate professionals than through the website.

In September, Trulia went public, pricing its shares at $17 apiece to raise roughly $85 million. Flint said in hindsight, mobile was also a big factor in the success of the offering.

“As we look back, investor concern last year was for companies to execute on mobile and to have a proven track record, and we are uniquely positioned to execute on mobile,” he said.

Trulia’s closest competitor, Zillow, reported its fourth-quarter results today, and also credited mobile for some of its growth. The Seattle-based company, which makes money from charging real-estate agents subscription fees and from advertising, said in December that more than half of its visits occurred on mobile devices, with that traffic spiking to 60 percent on weekends.

Zillow reported a profit of $500,000, or two cents a share, on revenue of $34.3 million. Analysts were expecting the company to break even on revenue of $31.5 million. The company’s stock surged in after-hours trading, jumping 7 percent, or $2.88 a share, to close at $41.85.

The market values Zillow at roughly $1.3 billion, about double Trulia’s current market cap.

costolohall1

Twitter’s ad business is still a work in progress, but here’s one positive sign: Prices for the company’s “promoted trends” have been steadily rising, and are now at the $200,000 a day mark in the U.S..

Twitter’s newest price hike went into effect earlier this year, and represents a 33 percent increase over the $150,000 rate the company was asking for in 2012. And it’s up 150 percent from the $80,000 a day it was getting for the ads back when it launched them in 2010.

The promoted trend lets an advertiser insert its own message atop the “trends” list on Twitter.com home pages and on Twitter apps; Twitter sells a single message a day, per territory. Except when it doesn’t: Today, for instance, there’s no promoted trend on the site.

Twitter started selling promoted trends after it launched its “Promoted Tweet” ads, which CEO Dick Costolo describes as the company’s “atomic unit” of its ad strategy.

But while advertisers are still trying to get their heads around paid Twitter messages — they’re not really banner ads, and they’re not really Google-like search ads — promoted trends have been a hit from the get-go. That’s because it’s the closest thing the company has to a conventional display ad: If you buy one, you’ve got a very good chance that everyone who uses Twitter that day will see it.

So at the very least, the price hike should encourage Twitter and its investors, which are gearing up the company for an eventual IPO.

Samsung used to spend a lot of money making fun of the iPhone and its fans – just like Apple used to do with Microsoft. And people really liked those ads.

But now the guy who pushed that campaign has gone over to Google. And Samsung’s new spot doesn’t even bother to tease the competition. Here’s the company’s Apple-less Super Bowl spot (remember, you no longer have to wait to see the game if you want to watch the ads):

Peter Kafka Patented Snap Judgement Review: Bob Odenkirk, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd are all awesome. But they’re more awesome when they’re not doing this stuff for a sponsor.

Over the weekend we saw how much mobile impacted holiday shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. Today, Deloitte is publishing figures that show this is more than a U.S. trend. In the UK, 3.5 billion ($5.6 billion) of holiday sales will “influenced” by smartphones. That figure so far outstrips actual mobile commerce — that is, purchases made by mobile devices. Deloitte predicts that 330 million ($529 million) of sales will be made directly through smartphones, and a further 500 million ($801 million) through tablets — that works out to potentially tripling the value of sales on mobile devices made a year ago.

As a point of comparison, the UK is even more influenced by smartphones than consumers across the pond. In the U.S., Deloitte predicts that smartphones will influence 5.1% of total holiday retail store sales, compared to 10% in the UK. Still the U.S. figures are considerably higher. That 5.1% works out to $36 billion of sales, or nearly 7 times more than in the UK.

Deloitte’s not the only one to chart online activity. Over the last few days, comScore noted that Black Friday e-commerce sales in the U.S. topped $1 billion for the first time ever this year; that same day, top e-commerce platforms PayPal and eBay saw mobile transactions up by 193% and 153% respectively. On Thanksgiving, IBM noted that e-commerce in the U.S. was up nearly 18% on last year, with mobile up 28.5%, with 15.4% of consumers buying things on mobile devices. ComScore overall believes that e-commerce will ring in $42 billion of sales this holiday season in the U.S. alone.

Back in the UK, Deloitte’s prediction that tablets will overtake smartphones for mobile commerce makes sense. For now, mobile payment services at the point of sale still are not mainstream, and when it comes to browsing and other parts of user experience, tablets tend to be significantly more consumer-friendly.

But smartphones will continue to be the more influential device, Deloitte says. “The influence of smartphones far outweighs the value of direct sales made through them,” Deloitte writes, “with consumers using their device to research prices, store Christmas shopping lists, engage with friends and family using social media.” It predicts that by 2016 mobile will influence 18% of sales annually, working out to 43bn ($69 billion).

Mobile, and e-commerce in general, look like they are also offsetting declines in more traditional channels, which has been affected by consumer confidence and inflation. Deloitte predicts not only that smartphones will give in-store sales a lift of 10% in December, but that online sales will go up by 17%, in contrast to total Christmas retail sales increasing by just 1% this year.

Deloitte believes that within that figure, general merchandise sales may be flat or even slightly down, as consumers shift their smaller budgets to food to “save the Christmas dinner,” in the words of Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte. The bright spots, he says, will be with those retailers that combine good products, strong brands, customer service and the right mix of online, mobile and offline offerings.

In a U.S. consumer survey, Deloitte found that consumers using smartphones tended to be power buyers in general. It found that smartphone owners spent 72% more on holiday shopping than others, with 68% of those smartphone users planning to use their devices to shop.

Part of this could be because smartphones have so many apps and mobile websites catering to the shopping experience, but affluence may play a role, too: smartphone use is ballooning, but it’s still more likely that those who can afford fancy devices and expensive monthly mobile plans are also the same people who have bigger budgets for gifts and other holiday paraphernalia.

Google’s ad business generated some $11.5 billion last quarter. This quarter should be even better, because everyone spends tons of money selling stuff online during the holidays.

So Google is the last company that needs to engage in holiday promotions to goose sales, right?

Maybe not. Here’s an email Google’s AdWords unit sent me earlier in the week, promising to give me up to two months of free advertising — up to $250 total — if I signed up for “AdWords Express” by Dec. 16, and spent money on it this month. If I did, I would get ad credits in January.

And just to be sure I didn’t miss out on the sale, Google sent me another email an hour and five minutes later. Same offer, slightly different language at the top: “We hope you’ve been having a restful holiday season. Recently, we sent you a message inviting you to try AdWords Express and wanted to remind you that it’s not too late to sign up and get our special holiday offer …”

AdWords Express is a dumbed-down/simplified version of the core AdWords system that still accounts for the vast majority of Google’s revenue and profits.

An AdWords lite seems like a smart thing for Google to promote to small businesses (or people it thinks might run one, like me), since figuring out how to use regular AdWords can still stump lots of people.

This isn’t the first time Google has pushed AdWords Express hard. Earlier this year it even paid people to pick up the phone and cold-call prospective clients. Now it’s selling the ads as a sort of Christmas stocking-stuffer.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Kiselev Andrey Valerevich)

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