The Transformation of Display Advertising

Not that long ago, Bill Cameron introduced the world to “the growing phenomenon that is the Internet.” While absurd to think about today, the introduction of the Internet and the simplification of connectivity was groundbreaking and not as well received as one would expect.

While many industries took the slow route on their journey to accepting Internet as a way of life, advertisers were some of the first to recognize the increased advertising space the Internet brought them.

The Early Days: Banners Ads

In 1993, Global Network Navigator (GNN), a project company of O’Reilly Media, realized that they could work directly with similar companies in order to promote products on their site for money – and so they became the first commercial publisher to offer display advertising in the form of direct partnerships.

Soon after offering the first advertisement to a local law firm, companies recognized that there was a new form of advertising in the making, and quickly jumped the direct partnership bandwagon, however it was HotWired which really changed the world of display advertising as we know it.

On October 27th, 1994, HotWired ran a delightfully cheese clickable ad with the simple words “Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will” on it and forever changed digital advertising. By setting aside dedicate space on their sites as commercial space and developing a new model based on clicks, HotWired effectively introduced the CTR model to advertisers – a move which quickly proved to be extremely profitable thanks to their reported 44% click through rate (Just a little perspective – today marketers consider anything in the double digits a unicorn).

The Growth Spurt: Ad Networks

After recognizing the potential to reach millions of users in the form of digital advertising, the idea that there should be a solution connecting the website owners with space to sell to the companies with products or services to advertise came up – and so ad networks were introduced.

In 1996, DoubleClick unveiled the first platform that did more than connect space sellers and buyers – it had the ability to track banner click through rates and impressions, giving key insight into their effectiveness while helping companies earn revenue and understand consumer behavior better. Beyond offering reporting capabilities and tracking banners, DoubleClick showed the world that advertisements are not as permanent in the new digital age. If formerly advertisers had to commit to a single campaign and run it on print ads and television, with DoubleClick, they could easily customize campaigns and change ads almost instantly, reducing wasted funds and improving segmentation and effectiveness of their campaigns.

The Rise of Google

Two guys by the names of Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded a little thing called Google in 1998, competing with the likes of AltaVista and Yahoo in the search engine space. Around that same time, Bill Gross invented the PPC model of advertising on his site GoTo.com. Recognizing that PPC was a way to monetize search engines and not just commercial sites, Google quickly sought a way to monetize their search engine and shortly after launching introduced AdWords.

Initially AdWords only offered CPM advertising, leaving them in the dust in terms of revenue when compared to GoTo (which became Overture when Yahoo purchased it for a whopping $1.63 billion). When Google revamped AdWords in 2002, they took a page from Bill Gross’ playbook and offered PPC advertising, as we know it today. Page and Brin understood that clicks played a part, but relevance to the search was what drove customer experience – suddenly companies had to pay big money to appear first, but they also had to be relevant to what the consumer was searching.

This simple understanding that consumers drive demand and not the other way around is what drives digital advertising today (and makes Google the undisputed search engine king and advertising conglomerate it is today).

The Social Media Revolution

In 2004 Facebook was launched as a platform to connect college students, yet the social network quickly took off as a platform extending beyond the confines of higher education. Just two years after foundation, on August 22nd 2006, Facebook announced the launch of their advertising module – a move that would have a profound impact on social media marketing and digital advertising as a whole.

Within a year Facebook developed the algorithms to enhance hyper segmentation based on the vast data it was able to accumulate on users, and from that point on, the only digital advertising that matters is the one that meets your exact target audience. By taking the “relevancy” criteria Google integrated with their PPC network, Facebook taught consumers and digital advertisers alike that consumers should only be shown target ads based on their specific likes and behavioral patterns. Other social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and even Google+ quickly fell in line, quickly catapaulting the impact of social media on the world of digital advertising.

Where will digital advertising go?

 As consumers are increasingly aware of display advertisements and competition heightened by availability and easy access, companies have to improve their creative campaigns and digital strategy in order to appeal to consumers and gain the coveted clicks and conversions. To do this, many digital advertisers are turning to competitive analysis tools (such as our very own AdClarity) to gain valuable insight about competitors and leverage the results similar companies achieved in order to improve ROI and maximize customer conversion.

In the future, digital advertisers will have to continually focus on the competition while trying to balance the ever-so-delicate line between content and advertisement, as consumers want more and more relevant content that feels less and less like an advertisement.

Same Product, Different Campaign: How Brands Adapt to Suit Different Mediums

Today’s world is centered around globalization and easy communication which transcends locational boundaries which once seemed out of reach. We are in touch with markets not only in our direct local communities, but nationwide and even worldwide. The biggest factor that allowed for this growth was the advancement of the internet and the technology platforms which support it. We have entered an age where everything is available behind a screen, and there are so many screens to choose from, from mobile to tablet to desktop!

With the sharing of ideas across the world, we’ve also had to reform the way we market to reach both our local and faraway communities. In marketing, the next big thing has therefore become adaptive marketing, an approach which allows marketers to adjust their campaigns and marketing activities to fit the needs and interests of their customers as best as possible. This means adapting not only their products, but also the marketing platforms and channels to adapt to different mediums customers might use to access their products and sales marketing advertisements.

Desktop Campaigns

The desktop is the original internet platform, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t adapt to the times! In order to keep up with marketing trends in desktop campaigns, it is important that your desktop campaigns fit aesthetic trends and keep up with the visuals that pushing boundaries.

Mobile Campaigns

Mobile has taken over. It is not just the future; it is the present! In order to stay relevant for a growing mobile market, it is essential that your brand has a mobile strategy so that it can target mobile audiences. While mobile sites are sufficient, it is highly recommended to turn to a responsive site which can translate between mobile and desktop. Wanna be a top player in the field in terms of accessibility and innovation? Consider designing a mobile app for your brand!

Video Campaigns

Thanks to the incredible increase in accessibility to ways to produce high-quality videos, more and more brands are turning to video content to reach an audience that is already so responsive to visual advertising. Video campaigns can increase ROI and engage audiences in a way that makes them visualize themselves with the product. This will lead to increased loyalty and brand engagement!

Tablet Campaigns

Tablets hold a funny spot in the market – they’re not quite desktop, not quite mobile. But with the increase in interest in tablets from kindles to iPads, it is important that brands include tablet users in their marketing strategies. Consider layouts and aesthetics of your (responsive) sites and ways the larger screen can benefit the mobile platform. Possibilities are endless!

How Digital Media is Impacting the Elections

Once upon a time, presidential campaigning was simple in terms of advertising. In order to communicate their platform and views on various issues and gain the vote of the public, candidates would rely on more traditional means of marketing. This included posters, informational leaflets, live speaking events, and with the introduction of the television as an American household staple, televised debates. When digital marketing was introduced to campaigning, election marketing changed to fit the wants and needs of an increasingly technologically aware public. While we could see right away the effects of digital media on the election process, just how far does this influence go?

America’s first introduction to the profound effects of digital marketing on election campaigning came with the 2008 presidential elections. During that election, we saw direct tangible correlations between digital campaign spending and viewer response with the dichotomous approaches of Obama on the one hand, with $47M spending, and Romney on the other hand, with $4.7M campaign spending. During that time, social media was at its peak for campaign marketing, serving as a platform to reach out to the increasingly large demographic of social media users.

While social media still plays a significant role in campaign marketing for the current 2016 elections, digital marketing has evolved greatly to include more sophisticated approaches to viewer and voter response. Of the $11 million projected spend during this election cycle, approximately 10% of that budget is projected for digital advertising alone, evidencing an all-time high for election focus on digital media.

Social media still plays a big role in branding for candidates, whom have shown a heavy presence on networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Snapchat to disseminate content and gain support. This has opened doors for candidates to target voters directly rather than micro-target demographic groups by way of advertising targeted to specific niche issues. Even the platforms themselves have opened up new marketing tools for candidates, such as Facebook, for instance, which, new to this election cycle, made it possible for candidates to upload voter databases and link registered voter emails to specific Facebook user accounts so that candidates can communicate with those voters directly via the social platform.

While social media still has a presence, however, there is a notable decrease in focus on social media by candidates than in last election. Now, in addition to social media, candidates are placing heavy focus on more traditional display advertising, namely native ads. Native advertising is paid content made to blend in effectively on websites. It is seen as a good way by which to cut through the clutter of digital media and reach a larger demographic of people in a non-obtrusive way. The increased benefit of native advertising and other display advertising for the election campaign marketing is, above all, the trackability of these methods and the programmatic software developed to distribute these advertisements with ease. By creating interactive display advertisements with integration of retargeting links and landing page campaigns, candidates can track the online response of their voters. In some cases, this even means insight into population areas with large support through location tracking.

The increased spending on digital media during the 2016 elections evidences the tangible results and effectiveness of digital media marketing. Whether we see the election end with a Clinton or a Trump victory, we will be able to utilize data on their digital marketing campaigns and how they correlated to the ultimate victor. With the speedy growth of the digital marketing world, we can’t wait to see what all of these developments will bring to the table during the 2020 elections!

 

 

How Does Winter Weather Impact Online Advertising

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day…

That’s usually how the saying goes…and for the most part, it’s how we all feel! That is, unless you’re a digital marketer!

In the past few decades, digital marketing and advertising has developed impressive strategic approaches to tackle competitor marketing and ensure a successful marketing strategy and campaign for any online platform. From programmatic advertising to more traditional calendar-based tips and tricks, competitive advertising has grown to track and respond to market trends and buyer needs.

Weather has always been one of those factors that are considered most random and beyond our control. While we certainly can’t control the weather, however, the development of digital marketing and advertising have allowed us to use even weather to our advantage!

Several studies have been carried out to investigate the connection between weather and sales. Overall, the results point to certain trends that can benefit any programmatic platform. In short, there is a distinct correlation between weather patterns that digital marketers would do well to notice. While warm, sunny weather is beneficial for in-store sales, restaurants, durable goods, and other habitual services, colder rainy days are beneficial for online shopping, specifically within clothing, home and furniture, and wholesale retailers. The difference between online sales during clear and cloudy days can jump as high as even a 10-12% increase!

While the deviations are small enough to leave room for debate, the pattern makes perfect sense. It points to the tendency for people to spend more time browsing and buying non-habitual products or sales during days where outdoor activity and shopping trips are less accessible due to the weather. For example, if you are on the lookout for a bookshelf, a sunny day might make you more likely to take a trip to several furniture stores, while a rainy day might make you more likely to snuggle up in the comfort of your home and search for a bookshelf that meets your needs online, either for reference or purchase.

The implications this has for digital marketers are simple: rainy days and colder weather are good times to release digital banners advertisements to potential customer and consumer bases. In this case, it is especially advantageous for targeted marketing using location-based information. So next time you see a rainy day forecast, resist the urge to fall into a rainy day laze and get jumping on that marketing train!

Desktop Isn’t Dead! Reasons Why Desktop Advertising is Still Important in a Mobile-First World

As of late, one of the most noticeable trends in digital marketing is the shift in focus from desktop to mobile. Advertising trends have adapted to an increasingly tech-savvy world by responding to the increase of mobile reliance and the subsequent change in consumer habits. While in the beginning, companies strove to have mobile-friendly platforms, the trend has now shifted from “mobile-friendly” to “mobile first.” But does the rise of mobile necessarily mean the death of the desktop?

It is hard to ignore the importance of mobile marketing today. Mobile usage is higher than ever and it has unprecedented advantages for marketing, from hyper-targeting through consumer data to the instantaneous, universal outreach it allows through the accessibility it invites. However, while this is all true, it is important to recognize that desktop is still important as ever in a well-rounded successful marketing strategy.

Desktop Usage Remains Constant

Mobile usage is certainly on the rise, and it is certainly true that more people today use their mobile device as their go-to medium than ever before. However, an increase in mobile usage did not correlate with a decrease in desktop usage. In fact, despite the increase in mobile usage, desktop usage has remained pretty constant!

Cross-Platform Approaches Are Best

Any company hoping to expand their customer base and better their marketing strategies would do well to take a cross-platform approach. This approach relies on the understanding that consumers often switch between devices in interacting with a company. For example, a user might find a company through mobile hyper-targeting, yet once they do they are likely to visit the company website from both a mobile and desktop platform. When a company takes a marketing approach to ensure seamless transition between platforms, it allows a customer to trust the reliability of the company as a whole. A responsive website, for example, allows companies to use one shared website for both mobile and desktop viewing with this very goal in mind – an ideal situation! All in all, a cohesive experience is key.

Desktop Optimizes Screen Display

Mobile marketing, as savvy and relevant as it is, has a distinct disadvantage of limited screen space for displaying digital marketing. As a whole, the space limitations can be overcome with desktop. This not only allows companies to express their company vision more in-detail on a desktop platform, but it allows for a new aesthetic for mobile versus desktop platforms within one company.

New Users Lean Towards Desktop  Advertising Use

While e-commerce is increasingly adapting to mobile platforms, it is still true that companies are often more approachable for new users through desktop than mobile. For example, customer profile information is easier to complete on desktop than mobile. While mobile is better for discovering new websites and maintaining customer loyalty, desktop remains a better experience for new customers looking to fully explore and understand a new company.

Certain Settings Depend on Desktop

Desktop, while traditional, maintains its’ air of professionalism. Office settings, for example, depend on desktop systems to create a work atmosphere (this would be a little more difficult to attain through a mobile-only platform). As a whole, it seems like desktop is still being used for academic or business oriented use, while desktop is seen as “extra time” or “on the go” internet surfing time.

ROI Thrives with Desktop

Of all the reasons to keep desktop marketing as a top concern, the most important is its’ benefits regarding ROI. When it comes down to it, Return on Investment (ROI) on ads on desktop still wins over that on mobile sites. While mobile ROI is improving, mobile still has a lot of growth to achieve in performance measure in order to reach a similar tipping point in ROI as that achieved on desktop.

Programmatic Advertising and your Marketing Budget

Programmatic advertising is the fastest growing industry in marketing these days, with over two thirds of all display advertising spending being allocated to programmatic advertising technology.  This increased reliance on programmatic advertising is on an upwards climb (in fact, the 2016 spending estimate of $22.10 billion is a 39.7% increase from 2015!) and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon – so what does this mean for advertisers and marketers looking to plan ahead for 2017?

For starters, it means that companies that do not use programmatic advertising in order to optimize campaigns, improve ROI and hyper target potential customers will have to start using programmatic tools if they want to stay relevant in 2017.  With the world shifting towards programmatic advertising, companies that do not automate media buying will risk being left behind and having ineffective campaigns.

A rise in the use of programmatic advertising also means that even smaller companies without big advertising teams can now compete with the big brands thanks to automated tools – so the competition is going to get harder!

That means that in addition to spending more money on the programmatic ad buys, companies will have to ensure their campaigns are that much more appealing in order to stand out and gain traction. To do that, companies will have to invest even more in copy writing, graphic design and development of high quality converting campaigns.

The main advantage of programmatic advertising is the clear shift in the direction of ROI-focused advertising. If up until now advertising campaigns were focused on awareness, the ability to optimize campaigns and reach a more relevant audience thanks to programmatic tools means that companies will be shifting their focus back to what matters – results and ROI.  Since programmatic advertising includes the ability to monitor ROI accurately, it has altered the way budgets are managed in order to put the focus back on gaining a return on investments.

As programmatic advertising tools improve and technology advances, programmatic advertising will continue to rise in popularity and as a result, bite a bigger chunk of digital advertising budgets in years to come – the good news is that programmatic tools tend to deliver better ‘bang for their buck’ making it money well spent!

Customer Retention Advertising V.S Acquisition Advertising in the Online Retail World

The retail industry has been drastically altered with the introduction of digital advertising. Today, the retail digital advertising industry is the largest spender by far, with an estimated ad spend exceeding $15 billion in the U.S alone for 2016.

Since advertisers today compete in a much more highly saturated space, they are constantly re-imagining campaigns and coming up with creative ideas to convert customers.  The difference today is that advertisers need to think about conversion as the start of a long journey a customer takes with a brand.

Each time a consumer makes an online purchase the brand needs to care not only about the acquisition process, but how they can increase brand loyalty and awareness in order to increase the lifetime customer value.  While it is easy for advertisers to get lured in by the appeal of high conversion rates for acquisition, the true test of time for a brand is in their ability to use advertising to increase retention and overall consumer purchases in the long term.

What this means for advertisers is that they need to spend more time building a brand and educating the market of the brand value than they have in the past. Today, a single purchase on a website has less value from a brands perspective than a loyal customer who constantly comes back to their brand.  For advertisers, this directly translates into more emphasis on retention adverting rather than first time acquisition, and an increased reliance on customer loyalty programs.

What can be done to increase lifetime customer loyalty? For starters, focus your marketing strategy on long term advertising that is brand focused and not product centric. It is important to ensure that all long term advertising campaigns are monitored and tracked. In doing so, it will be possible to integrate customer loyalty programs that reward repeat consumers and upsell products.  Companies that want to take things further, should also consider integrating a native application in order to increase purchases.

Ultimately, the sky is the limit – the important thing to remember is that acquisition is no longer the king – set your sights on retention for long-term success as an advertiser and as a company.

Why You Care about Competitor Campaigns

You know the saying “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”? Well, in business its ‘tell me what your competitors are doing and I’ll tell you how to do it better.”

Before online marketing soared in popularity, marketers relied on television and newspapers and chance to understand what their competitors were doing and examine the market in which they were operating. Today, powerful tools (such as our very own AdClarity) have been created in order to help marketers understand their competitors and examine their campaigns.

So why do those tools matter?

Examining competitor campaigns is a fundamental step for companies looking to expand their audience and improve the efficiency of their campaigns. Keeping up with competitor campaigns does more than remind you who they are  – it can help marketers improve their own campaigns.

By examining successful and failed campaigns of competitors, marketers can understand the CTA’s that drove consumers to act as well as asses if the campaign released was relevant to the audience at the time and places where it was released.  Examining higher converting campaigns can also help marketers determine a publication strategy and decide which publishing channels to chose over others.

For example, if your key competitor spends ¾ of their budget on a certain publisher consistently, you can assume that publisher is working and should consider shifting your budget to that publisher. If, on the other hand, a visually appealing and enticing offer was pulled quickly from another mediator, one can determine that the target audience did not respond to that message.

Validate What you Have and Work on What You Don’t

Understanding your competitor campaigns can help you understand whether your content is in line with what your consumers are expecting, and also help you recognize what content or campaigns you are missing in order to compete on the same level as your competition.

If for example your competitors have campaigns with a particular message or targeting a particular niche audience and you do not, examine if that offer is worthwhile and perhaps consider creating one to use on future campaigns.

Overall, understanding competitor campaigns can help marketers gain additional insight into the space they are working in as well as learn from the mistakes of others (and thus reduce ROI by not making those mistakes yourself).

Examining competitor campaigns is also a great way to get inspiration for future campaigns that will crush competition and help establish your company as the benchmark for your industry.

 

The Programmatic Revolution: How Programmatic Made the World Flat

 

When digital advertising first appeared, the media buying and selling ecosystem was very different than the one we witness today. I’m not just talking about the tedious and manual processes that had to take place in order for inventory to be bought and sold; I’m not dismissing these issues at all as these were catalysts for the change that occurred. Rather, I’m approaching the environment through a more…let’s say socio-economic perspective.

Let me start off with an historical analogy.

The year is 1789. We’re in France. The economy is a mess and King Louis XVI keeps making all the wrong moves.

oh louis

There is a huge disparity between the nobility class and everyone else; and everyone else is not happy about the privileges that they are not entitled to. So a revolution to overthrow the monarchy is in order. And it works! And a long history where only the nobles had a voice and everyone else didn’t collapsed. And things became much more equal.

There’s a point to that story.

You see, when we talk about the traditional days of digital advertising, we’re looking at a world which was very similar to that of France before 1789. A place where the selected few publishers were the ones with all the power and the rest…forgotten about. And these selected publishers, known as premium publishers, were all advertisers cared about.

And at that time, this frame of mind made sense. The customer wasn’t king yet and consumer behavior and retargeting wasn’t in the picture. So of course advertisers would always prefer to buy on premium sites. And because of this, the majority of all ad spend was going to the premium publishers. No one had any interest in working with the middle or long-tailed sites. But this all changed with programmatic.

Viva la revolución

To be honest, I don’t know which prompted what first. Was it the introduction of programmatic that gave brands the ability to access their audience virtually anywhere? Or had the power already shifted from brands to consumers, so the media buying and selling industry had to adjust quickly to keep up with the changes?

Regardless, it is indisputable that programmatic and the power of the consumer went hand in hand.

sweetart

And as this power shift from brands to consumers occurred, brands began to also shift their perspective from a publisher dominating world to a consumer one. Because at the end of the day, brands realized that it really didn’t matter how good their placement was on the most premium site if the right people weren’t seeing it. All they cared about was reaching the right person at the right place at the right time… and publishers couldn’t provide this.

The outcomes

Because advertisers cared more about where their users were actually surfing the web than the status of a publisher, middle and long-tailed publishers began to rise in importance; of course, with the help of programmatic.

Through retargeting and automated targeting methods, advertisers could now target their users on any site, no matter where it stood on the totem pole. Suddenly, publishers that were being ignored would be flooded with bid requests due to the consumer’s presence on their site. And the number of publishers that advertisers were working with grew tremendously.

For the first time in digital advertising, the disparities between the big and medium-small publishers are decreasing. This is absolutely phenomenal and could only bring benefits to the ecosystem.

 

 

Transparency in Programmatic – Do we need it?

Programmatic buying: you’ve heard the term, you know its trendy, but you don’t know what it is, and you certainly don’t know why it needs to be (even though you know transparency is always important).

We’re here to help you understand programmatic buying and the importance of transparency when automating media buys.

Programmatic buying is simply the shift companies are taking from manually managing media buys to automating the whole process.

As automation tools are integrated into media buys, companies are able to optimize campaigns immediately and without human involvement, based solely on aggregated data that is analyzed and optimized based on the real time results. Programmatic buying is heavily based on tracking cookies, making the mobile world slightly unfazed by this trend due to tracking limitations on mobile

If you’re thinking about the Faceook Ads API or the Google Display Network, you’re on the right track. These tools, and many others, let companies enjoy automated optimization with the belief that the multi-sourced data signaling by the programmatic buying tool will save the company money in the long run.

According to eMarketer, programmatic buying accounts for $14.88 billion of the total money spend on digital advertising (approximately $58.6 billion) and based on the fact that an increase of almost 50% was seen from 2014 to 2015, experts anticipate the reliance on programmatic advertising to increase in 2016.

So why is transparency important?

While programmatic buying enables advertisers to hypertarget their audience based on additional information collected about them, the dependency on automated processes has led many to have a false sense of trust. Advertisers as a result are often forced to pay higher CPM rates due to the inflated inventory value by the publisher and the unknown fees tacked on.

This means an advertiser could purchase ad space with a quoted value of $8 CPM without knowledge of how this valuation was achieved or, what the publisher’s value of the CPM is or, even worse, without knowing what intermediary commissions and fees the publishers bundled into the CPM price

Creating a more transparent bidding process for programmatic buying involves true transparency on where the advertisements will be placed (direct URL’s), who the intended audience is, how valuation is achieved and what commission is added on to the overall media buying fee.

How to gain this transparency    

Using digital ad intelligence solutions such as AdClarity will help you gain the transparency you need to optimize your digital advertising strategies. For example, AdClarity can give you an overview of the digital advertising trends within any industry you are interested in. Additionally, it can provide you with the most granular details for each individual campaign, including its deployment chain of ad platforms, creatives, total impressions, total ad spend, and more.

About AdClarity

AdClarity is an Ad Intelligence tool which provides online marketers with actionable insights about their competitors’ advertising activities. Driven by big data and proprietary behavioral content discovery technology, AdClarity unveils brands’ campaigns, ad creatives, impressions, and spend data across multiple channels, including Display, Mobile Web, Mobile Apps and Video. Data is collected across 20 geographies and covers over 50M URLs daily while discovering over 40K new campaigns every day. The AdClarity product suite is used by over 7,000 media and advertising professionals globally in Fortune 500 Brands, Agencies, Ad Networks, and Publishers.

Get a LIVE DEMO of AdClarity.