Tag Archives: digital advertising

Blocking The Ad-Blocking

Ad Blocking is nothing more than someone saying your advertising sucks.

Sharon Napier, Partners & Napier

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans

Ad-blockers are changing the digital advertising landscape drastically. Already quarter of Internet users in US are using ad-blockers and about 50% more is considering to start using them.  If digital advertisers are left with audience who is just incapable of using the ad-blockers, it does not sound like particularly lucrative target audience. We already know that people who are clicking banner ads are not necessarily the sharpest pencils on the drawer. Already in 2011, it was 279.64 more likely that you would climb Mt. Everest and reach the summit than to click a banner ad.

Facebook has started to force ads even if you are using ad blockers in desktop. Publishers are testing different ways to battle ad-blocking. But essentially it will a game of cat and mouse. People have already made their statement: majority of them don´t want to see your spammy ads.

So if you can´t beat em, join em:

  1. Brands should do their own ad-blockers

Maybe Amazon could this. Instead of getting non-relevant harasment, you would get personalized recommendations based on the content you are watching. Essentially Google ad network could already provide some of this level, but many of the advertisers are still quite lazy to utilize all the possibilities. New cognitive ads from Watson could provide interesting alternatives to changing the adspace from intrusion to utility.

It could be also strong statement from brands doing constantly good advertising. For example I would rather see Nike ads all the time than majority of other brands (see D&AD Ad Browser filter)

There are already some ad-blockers who are selling ad space (which sounds a little contradicting, but what the heck). The logic is that you replace the annoying and ugly ads with acceptable and beautiful ads.

  1. Reverse ad-blocker

This could be an interesting art project.

When we are flooded with fake news, actually the ads are only thing we can rely on. So I don´t actually want to block the ads, I want to block the horrible content I waste my time on. Think about it if you could block all the Facebook updates, irrelevant Whatsapp messages and biased online commentary. You would only see the good old marketing communications aimed to make you buy more instead of fake news messing with your head.

Blocking is a part of good defense, but great blockers keep the ball on court.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Vertical Videos Are Here To Stay

“It’s not necessarily that vertical is better, it’s just that it’s how cellphones are commonly viewed.”
– Shaun McBride, Snapchat celebrity

Human behavior is interesting. You would assume turning your phone to watch a video on optimal size would not be too hard task, but it is. Based on my anthropologic research on trains in Singapore practically everyone is looking videos having the phone on vertical position. Mobile phones are designed to be used vertically and we spend already 30% of our screen time in vertically oriented devices. It is just natural that majority of videos are watched on vertical position as well.

How brands should address the rise of the vertical video?

1. Start native vertical video production
We will see a rise of vertical-first video production. Snapchat has already been advocating the brands to start create video content vertically. In Snapchat vertical videos are more effective, portrait videos have up to 9x more completed views than landscape ones. Will this create some kind of new way of video storytelling? That remains to be seen, because we have not yet realized all the possibilities of vertical video. Could the story be different from horizontal and vertical point-of-view?

Portrait is definitely not the best format for longer-form content as our eyes are aligned horizontally, but majority of the content consumed on smartphones is already short-form. There are certain apps like Vervid, which are designed to bridge the gap or more traditional horizontal video production and the snapchat generation. When YouTube and Facebook will introduce vertical video ad units, it really starts to make sense to start creating vertical-first content.

2. Enhance your horizontal videos to fit the vertical ad formats
More interim solution would be to create horizontal content, but utilize the blank spaces to showcase display ads or maybe offer promotions. This works especially when you have horizontal asset, no money for vertical-first production but still want to engage audience in Snapchat. Here is a demo of that approach:

94% of website visits in smartphones starts in portrait mode, so it only makes sense that brands take advantage of vertical video. Changing behavior is hard, tapping into existing behavior is easier and usually much more lucrative as well. Popularity of portrait video is another example on how you cannot separate the technologic shifts and media behavior from your creative thinking.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Make Your YouTube Pre-Rolls Kick Ass

Sometimes media is the message.

Lately there has been one media, which has had a sudden surge of messages: both skippable and non-skippable.

YouTube pre-rolls.

Despite annoying the hell out of users and not really making money, brand advertisers love YouTube pre-rolls. They are the new TV ads. Unfortunately that familiarity often translates to laziness. When there is lack of understanding of digital possibilities, YouTube pre-roll seems like a silver bullet. It feels easy, cosy and ticks all the right boxes (visual storytelling, digital, reach, etc.)

1. Don´t use your TV ads as a pre-roll.
There is an exception to this rule, though. If you have done genuinely funny, entertaining and effective TV ad, which works also in digital format and drives the message home in the first 5 seconds you can skip this part.
Yep, I thought so.
Although it feels tempting and easy solution, dumping your TV ad to YouTube hardly cuts the mustard.
Majority of TV ads are 30 seconds. The media buying behavior is the main reason for the duration. 30 seconds is not magical duration to tell a story. Especially in YouTube, where people watch content ranging from fraction of seconds to multiple hours.
TV ads are more passive format, as you cannot skip them as reaching for the remote is more tasking than moving your cursor on screen. You can be more boring and long-winded in TV ads and still make them work. You don´t have that luxury with YouTube pre-rolls. At its most minimum level, at least make YouTube edit of that TV ad.

2. Understand why people are watching YouTube videos
When you buy that pre-roll, you are, by default, annoying users. They want to watch some idiot eating Naga Morich, not hear about your latest anti-dandruft shampoo. You are not engaging with audience, you are interrupting them. So embrace that fact. Little contextual acknowledgement (Burger King Anti Pre-Roll) or even reward for watching the whole video (EAT: Don´t Skip Your Breakfast) will go a long way.

3. People will likely skip your ad. Make those 5 seconds count.
Depending on the source, over 94% or as little as 70% skip the pre-rolls. Nevertheless of the actual number, you can safely assume that your pre-roll is more likely to be skipped than seen or shared.
Therefore the most important part of a good story is the beginning. You have to catch the attention immediately. Like saying that you electrocute a dog if you skip the ad:

Even after this threat, only 26% watched the video in its full glory. Either there are more latent dog-haters around or people just skip the ads based on the habit. Hardest task is to make people stay and watch the first 5 seconds. After that the consumer is already committed to your content and can just hang on:

4. Don´t Sweat The Length (but make it as short as possible)
Generally non-skippable YouTube ads should be shorter than that and skippable ones could even be significantly longer. So take your time as long as your start is hard-hitting. After first five seconds everything is easier.
Only caveat is that it might be quite overkill to force user to watch 30s pre-roll when she is watching 10s video. Smart marketer would have lots of different versions of the YouTube pre-roll to suit different context (like Burger King Pre-Roll) or different lengths. The following ad from Volkswagen would work brilliantly with shorter-form video:

Doing multiple versions is more expensive from production perspective, but increased investment would also result in increased effectiveness.

 5. If you don´t have anything interesting to say or show, you are not interesting
YouTube pre-roll has certain limitations and opportunities, which are good to keep in mind. At the end of the day, it is still about good marketing communications. Great story is a great story whether it is 5 seconds or 5 hours. And on the other hand: If it looks like shit and smells like shit, you don´t need to really taste it to verify that it is shit.
If you are doing the latter, you should be ashamed of yourself. No matter what the medium. And if you are being clever and having fun with the medium you can actually expand the interest from 5 seconds to 1 minute:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: