Archive for July, 2008

IAB Social Media and UGC case study

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2008 by southborough


Web 3.0 by Google

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2008 by southborough

Online Promotions Heat Up Travel Sites

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2008 by southborough

iPhone Specific Ad Networks Launch

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2008 by southborough

Veoh launches behavioural targeting

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2008 by southborough
Veoh Launches Behavioral Targeting Technology
by Mark Walsh, Monday, Jul 14, 2008 7:00 AM ET
Veoh screengrabVeoh Networks today unveils a new behavioral targeting system that lets marketers match video and display ads with specific audiences based on their viewing habits. 


Still in beta, the technology draws on data collected on its users’ video watching, searching, browsing and other activities on to deliver targeted ads according to nine overall audience categories.

These interest-based segments encompass: action-minded; auto enthusiasts; digital youth; family-focused; information seekers; pop culturalists; socially conscious; sci-fi and anime fans; and upwardly mobile.

Within those broad groupings, marketers would be able to define a target audience even more narrowly depending on campaign goals.

“With more than a billion video views every quarter, Veoh is in the unique position to observe viewer behaviors and patterns across various forms and sources of content at an unprecedented scale,” said Veoh CEO Steve Mitgang, in a statement.

That means, for instance, if an advertiser wants to target tech and gaming fans, Veoh says it can deliver that audience both when they’re watching related videos as well as other types of programming. Similarly, a marketer could focus on fans of a particular show by serving ads to that audience across various forms and lengths of content.

Veoh offers both professional and user-generated video, though more recently it has emphasized the former through syndication deals with the likes of Disney-ABC Networks, CBS, and Hulu, the NBC-Fox joint venture.

User-generated material, which sparked the online video boom, has proven a tougher sell to advertisers because of its uneven quality and more unpredictable content. With estimated ad revenue of $200 million this year, YouTube will fall short of parent Google’s expectations, according to a Wall Street Journal story last week.

The article suggested the company has cut back on clips it would sell ads against so as not to sell them against any copyright-infringing videos.

With its new targeting system, Veoh hopes to encourage advertisers to run campaigns that target the same audiences across both professional and user-contributed video. “Where behavioral targeting can play a very large role is in monetizing the long tail of content,” said Jarvis Mak, director of research and insights at Media Contacts, the interactive agency of Havas Digital.

As video sites look for new ways to boost ad sales, he envisions behavioral targeting being more widespread in video advertising a year from now. “BT is all about adding a layer to increase those CPMs, but could also be sold on a CPA (cost per action) basis,” Mak said.

Behavioral targeting has generated growing controversy as the practice has become more prevalent in other types of Web advertising. Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to consider whether new laws are required to protect Web users’ privacy.

A Veoh spokesperson said the company’s targeting system is based on aggregate user data and involves no sharing of personally identifiable information.

Veoh will charge a premium for behaviorally targeted campaigns but declined to provide pricing details. The technology will apply to a range of formats including pre- and post-roll ads, overlays and standard display units.

The majority of Veoh advertisers have already begun testing the system, which so far had led to twice the click-through rate of standard ads, according to Veoh. Brand advertisers on the site include Sony Pictures, Outback Steakhouse, TV Guide, Intel and the Mini Cooper.

With a fresh infusion of $30 million in venture financing last month, Veoh has raised a total of $69.5 million to date from backers including Intel Capital, Adobe Systems, Shelter Capital and Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company.

But with the additional funding to take on YouTube and competitors comes growing pressure to develop a profitable business model.

In a report on YouTube competitors released in June, JupiterResearch grouped Veoh with Metacafe and the video sites of Yahoo, AOL and MSN as “Fast followers”–well-funded video sites competing for second place to YouTube by replicating key functions such as fast uploading, video tagging, and ratings.

While Veoh says it has 28 million users globally based on its internal logs, comScore estimated its U.S.-based traffic in May at 4.3 million. Category leader YouTube had an audience of 66 million.

Truth About Video Online

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2008 by southborough

There is no doubt that online video advertising holds a great deal of promise. It’s immersive, rich and potentially highly engaging. Traditional brand advertisers innately understand online video with its parallels to television advertising. Coupled with the possibility of interaction and sophisticated targeting capabilities, it entices advertisers with the tantalizing promise of the 30-second spot — only better.

A 2007 eMarketer report, Video Advertising Online: Spending and Audience, projects that the online video audience will hit a mass-market benchmark this year as more than 50 percent of the U.S, population will watch video online. eMarketer also projects that 2008 will see $1.35 billion spent in online video advertising in the U.S., which is expected to grow to $4.3 billion by 2011.

Yet, the promise of online video advertising recalls the heady days of the early digital advertising industry. There is a great deal of hype, propagated by publishers over-promising on the abilities of the media vehicle. Advertiser exuberance and heightened expectations are predictable but will inevitably result in disappointment as online video advertising proves much more difficult to execute and deliver than anticipated.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about online video advertising and examine the realities.

Myths 1-2: Pre-roll vs. in-stream; commoditized vendors

Myth #1: Pre-roll is more effective than in-stream ads.
Reality: The truth is, it’s simply too early to declare any one video format the “winner.” Certainly, pre-roll is hard for audiences to ignore and impossible to skip. Yet some video vendors claim they’ve seen pre-roll abandonment rates as high as 70 percent on some videos. Others have found pre-roll to be much more effective than in-video ads because the audience is already accustomed to the format through television. There is clearly a need for more research, as well as metrics to define effectiveness.

Another possibility is allowing consumers to control the advertising they see, as well as the format, as Hulu is now doing. During certain shows, viewers are able to choose which commercial they want to watch. Additionally, consumers can also decide what format they prefer — do I want to watch a two-minute ad (usually a film preview) before a show or movie with no other commercial interruptions, or do I want to watch the more traditional 15-second or 30-second spots intermittently throughout the show?

Clearly, allowing consumers to choose their advertising and maintain more control over the experience should gain traction as video advertising increases.

Myth #2: All video vendors are the same — it’s a commoditized business.
Unfortunately, not all vendors are created equally. The excitement of running an online video campaign is quickly diminished as marketers face the unpleasant reality: many vendors can’t deliver a consistent stream quality or bit rate yet. Thus innovative video buys are quickly rendered ineffective when actually executed.

The best way to avoid problems with the stream quality is to request maximum streaming specs before a buy is negotiated. Most vendors have set caps and ranges for different placements, so an advertiser or agency should be able to negotiate stream quality upfront, rather than discover post-buy that the execution is compromised by low bit rates.

Myths 3-4: Easy to track; should use TV metrics

Myth #3: Online video is easy to track, evaluate and optimize.
Reality: While the IAB has made great strides in determining online video ad guidelines, there are still no standards for format, delivery or reporting. While many video ad units are clickable, there is also a segment that is not, particularly for pre-roll ads. As a result, advertisers need to deliver adjacent ads that provide an opportunity for interaction, typically a flash or GIF unit. Often, these two ads, though part of the same campaign, are delivered by different servers — one for the video ads and one for the adjacent units. While DoubleClick and other companies claim to offer centralized serving products for video, the technology has not quite caught up to the need.

So, while an advertiser can create a single video ad unit to run across multiple vendors, there is still no standardized reporting. Even the most rudimentary tracking and reporting is extremely difficult — and central serving, rather than simplifying the process, exacerbates the problem due to very wide discrepancies in reporting impressions. Thus, while inventory is sold and video advertising is hyped, the reporting technology and trackability lags behind advertiser adoption.

When an advertiser uses multiple video vendors, the problems are compounded since each uses a different reporting platform. The fact that some offer clickable pre-roll units while others don’t makes it extremely difficult to create benchmarks for performance across the entire campaign. Agencies complain that providing a basic campaign post-mortem requires too much work and, given the manpower required, is difficult to justify. 

Myth #4: Online video advertising should use the same branding metrics used for television.
Reality: Traditional branding metrics only tell a small piece of the story. Online branding is not just a measure of awareness and affinity. Advertisers are blessed (and quite frankly, cursed) with the ability to track a great deal more in their units than impressions and clicks. Marketers should use engagement and ad interaction to not just evaluate direct response, but also measure branding. Site-side behavior post-impression should also be used as a measure. Site-side behavior can be used to deduce branding — metrics such as usage intensity of visit, repeat sessions, page views, frequency and time spent. These should be used to quantify the brand impact of an ad.

Myths 5-6: On par with old media; TV better than web

Myth #5: Quality content is king, and old media is finally on even footing.
How many times have we heard this myth and yet, time and time again, are proven wrong? Great branded content behind a walled garden reduces its value dramatically. The belief that people will continue to switch platforms and follow the content simply isn’t true. YouTube still trounces the sites of traditional media companies that offer “exclusive” content. Old media remains extremely proprietary about content, but still hasn’t found a way to legislate, litigate or propangandize the problem away. In all likelihood, they never will and will eventually need to recognize that consumers control content online.

YouTube allows democratically-created channels, creates communities and draws in users for extended viewing sessions (via related content, response videos, etc). No other video vendor has been successful at offering those features, though many have tried to replicate them. Content owners need to realize they don’t own the audience anymore. Additionally, there is a huge world of new content for which there is no offline analogue — it’s distinct from TV. There is a huge supply of user generated content that is generating its own demand. Rather than reject this type of content, advertisers need to embrace it.

Myth #6: TV offers a better broadcast environment and higher quality than the internet.
While TV is certainly moving towards high definition, online is also moving quickly down that path. There is already HD content available online, including video games and movies. Most computers that have a 1280×720 or higher display resolution are already capable of displaying HD content. Nielsen estimates that broadband penetration will surpass 90 percent this summer. For the typical internet user and TV viewer, the quality difference won’t be that significant. Additionally, the internet obviously offers more interactivity than television — compensating for the slight disadvantage the internet has in broadcast quality. Marketers promoting products that tend to be more immersive, such as movies, video games or automotive, should use the highest quality video formats available (and expect to pay a premium, natch).

Myths 7-8: Repurposed spots are ok; no way to integrate

Myth #7: Using my 30-second television spot on the web will work just as well.
As one executive at a popular video-sharing network remarked, a straight transfer of a TV ad to the web is the “path to hell.” Viewers expect more from their online video advertising. The current advertising marketplace is highly disruptive. In this environment, marketers cannot be complacent. If they are, it won’t be long before more agile competitors that are creating better interactive experiences outmaneuver them. Some advertisers are using their B-roll to create internet-specific ads, which is a good start but marketers need to offer a much more engaging experience than a 30-second spot has typically offered.

Myth #8: Integration between video advertising on TV and the internet is too difficult. 
While advertisers should not take their 30-second spot wholesale from TV and deploy it online, they also shouldn’t create standalone spots for the internet that are distinct from the overall campaign. They certainly should be taking advantage of the interactivity offered by online video. As content owners are slowly discovering, the internet offers consumers the opportunity to engage in ancillary content, and the ability to drive users back and forth between platforms. Advertisers should buy advertising as integrated campaigns as media companies create more complementary content for their offline properties. Content companies and television networks are finally realizing their audience can be found in multiple places — online, watching TV, browsing video content on their mobile devices. There is an opportunity for agencies to play a strong role as intermediaries as they broker integrated campaigns to bring brands into interactive broadcasting environments.

Social Media and Branding

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2008 by southborough

It’s not any different than it ever was before. Achieving word-of-mouth means making a brand culturally relevant — which requires finding out where your brand intersects with people’s lives, and how you can increase the meaning of your brand to those people. Whether it’s a niche audience or a mass market, how does your brand and its image add value? Trying to understand how people will behave toward your brand in social media is no different from trying to understand how people will behave toward your brand in the real world.

In the end, social media is nothing more than a mirror of people’s real-world behavior (albeit amplified and with extreme ADD). If you’re taking steps to make your brand relevant to people in the real world (which I sure hope you are), then it’s not that big of a leap to figuring out how to make your brand relevant to people in a social media context. Social media should be a valuable tool for helping you answer that billion-dollar question of what will make your brand relevant to people, as well as the platform spreading your brand’s message as you achieve greater relevance. It’s listening and talking, instead of just talking.

Agencies certainly have the talent to listen. Some of the best and brightest are hungry to take on the challenge of building the iconic brands that shape our lives, and would love the opportunity to feed back the voice of the people they are talking to. But the current brand-agency relationship isn’t set up for this task – and, more importantly, isn’t compensated for it. Are agencies set up to have a conversation for your brand, or has a mandate to only be the brand’s mouthpiece crippled agencies from truly activating your brand in social media?

It’s this question that has led many to wonder if brands should be handling the activation of social media in-house. It is a valid point. If it’s true that brands’ participation in social media means much more than simply buying media and blasting the “big idea,” can agencies fill this role?

I believe not only that agencies can, but that they must. Because unless agencies participate in social media, their role as stewards of brands will eventually end — and their greatest fear, a future where their services are nothing more than a commoditized function performed by Google and Microsoft, (, will come true. If your function can be performed by a computer, it will be. Fighting this, rather than focusing on the areas that cannot be done even by the mighty Google’s algorithms, is a losing battle. The future of agencies lies in more than knowing how to get in front of the right people, but also in knowing how to talk and listen to those people to shape a brand and its message.

I wanted to leave you with the following distinction. In one of my favorite conversations over the past couple of weeks, Henry Jenkins, co-founder of MIT Comparative Media Studies, says the following in a piece pointing out why Barack Obama is better built for social media: “Campaigns are very much top down organizations focused on short term results — let’s get this person elected president — while movements are constructed bottom-up with more long-term goals — let’s reshape the American political landscape.” This is the difference between a social media “campaign” for your brand, and a social media movement for your brand. Social media was built for the second. Which is your agency building for you?