August 2011 Archives
Last month the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence launched a new working group focused on identifying, discussing, and (where possible) solving mobile ad operations issues. Tackling the challenges of online ad ops has been one of the IAB’s core priorities over the years—and an area of some of our most important accomplishments. We hope that we can leverage that long experience to help the mobile interactive industry tackle its unique challenges at an accelerated rate.
Working closely with both the Mobile Center and the IAB Ad Ops Council, the Mobile Ad Ops Working Group will help us keep pace with the fast-changing mobile world. I thought the first conversation was great. It uncovered a number of issues that I was aware of, but also some that I’d not really considered. Here is a brief review of some of the topics keeping the mobile ad ops community up at night.
- Mobile ad serving. I’ve been hearing a lot about the problems that exist around mobile ad serving, particularly mobile rich media and video ads. The IAB’s Mobile Rich-media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID) is an effort to simplify life for creators of mobile rich media ads. We need to investigate further the state of mobile video serving, including the applicability of the IAB’s existing Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) and Video Player Ad Interface Definitions (VPAID) specs.
- Discrepancies. A longstanding thorn in the side of interactive advertising, discrepancies are a big problem in mobile impression counting and other measurement as well. The IAB/MMA/MRC guidelines for mobile web ad measurement should help by providing common principles for how to count impressions, but it’s clearly an area where more work is needed. Our group will also explore leveraging the IAB’s Impression Exchange Solution (IES) to help advance the mobile front of the war on discrepancies.
- HTML5. Many in the industry think HTML5 is going to be sort of a savior, a standard that will make content development much easier across the fragmented landscape of mobile devices. Online ad sellers need to set expectations about how much of a panacea HTML5 will or can be. We can help educate buyers about the when and how of HTML5, too. At the same time, some in the industry are beginning to think about how much HTML5 is going to change not just the mobile web, but the PC web as well.
- Testing and Validation Challenges. The testing and validation process is always going to be a difficult challenge in mobile—with thousands of devices all potentially behaving slightly differently from one another, it will never be simple. Establishing some best practices around testing and validation, and providing a forum for sharing insights, both came up as helpful steps.
- Geotargeting. It turns out that when you don’t have access to a handset’s GPS or other location data, geotargeting is problematic, with issues similar to the early days of the web: proxy server locations throw off automated technologies for geotargeting.
- Educating Agencies. Members of the working group see a strong need for a one-stop place the agency community can go for mobile education in laymen’s terms. They find themselves explaining even basic things, like the MMA ad sizes, and the lack of support for Flash on Apple devices. At the same time there’s a perception that agencies want jump straight to creating the most sophisticated “crazy shaking pouring-the-beer-type” ads.
- Communicating With Phone Developers/Manufacturers. The other common refrain from the ad ops group was the need for a better dialog with device makers. This is a big challenge, since some of them famously don’t listen to outsiders much.
Of course, some of these challenges are easier to address than others. But all are important, and I’m looking forward to working with our mobile ad ops group, the IAB Ad Ops Council, and the larger community of IAB Mobile Center and Mobile Committee members to develop a game plan and to start to tackle them.
About the Author
Joe Laszlo is Deputy Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.
At Lotame, we’ve spent a lot of time and resources working to provide consumers with meaningful choice when it comes to their data usage in connection with Lotame’s services. And more generally, we have dedicated the lion’s share of our industry-wide collaboration over the past two years to this objective. So, as we motor along on the journey towards an even more data-driven digital future, we need to ask the age-old travel question in relation to our meaningful choice goal: Are we there yet?
In response, I would say “yes” and “not yet.” On the “yes” side, notwithstanding the often sensationalized press stories, steady barrage of advocate criticism, and periodic industry hand-wringing, there are now a plethora of privacy management tools available to consumers willing to invest in evaluating and acting on their choices. The industry has successfully rolled out a sophisticated enhanced notice platform, which is increasingly appearing on display ads around the Internet. This is no small feat given the industry-wide coordination and technical mechanics required to provide granular notice and choice options on a dynamic, standardized basis. In addition to this industry program, several other players in the marketplace offer consumer choice tools ranging from emerging Do-Not-Track options embedded within browsers to a gaggle of new consumer data management services. So if you (as a consumer) want to implement constraints around how your online data is collected, used, and shared, you have the tools available.
On the “not yet” side, we still have a way to go with the self-regulatory program. We need to effectuate much broader adoption and initiate real enforcement actions against companies who don’t comply. A recent study of top websites found that only 11% of ads served by third parties contained the enhanced notice “Ad Choices” icon. Even if industry players debate the methodology of the study, we’ve got to quickly increase that number to demonstrate that the self- regulatory program can be a comprehensive choice solution for consumers. We also need to keep extending the self-regulatory program to apply to all major ad types, including video, rich media, and mobile ads. Of equal importance to the self-regulatory program, we need our industry groups (not just outside “researchers” and advocates) to surface and curtail the atypical, on-the-edge practices that don’t align with industry standard—recent controversies over flash cookies, supercookies, and history-sniffing come to mind—so that consumers, advocates and regulators don’t feel like we are playing a privacy shell game.
Can we get there? I continue to believe we can, led by the new and growing breed of companies offering privacy management tools to both consumers and businesses. As part of getting there, all of us as consumers will also need to accept some responsibility for using the tools available to us and for acknowledging the trade-offs involved when our data is used to improve and subsidize the services from which we benefit. Is new legislation necessary? I don’t think so. I have serious concerns about the unintended consequences that will follow from any government effort to legislate choice mechanisms or further standards. New legislation will shackle a very dynamic and productive industry to backwards-looking technology and standards, putting the brakes on one of the few high-growth sectors in our economy. Imposing regulated restraints on data flow will also serve to artificially lock in an insurmountable lead for the biggest digital players who already sit on mountains of data (think search and social networking) which will ultimately be a disservice to consumers. What about reining in the “edge” practices that keep surfacing? As I said, we as an industry need to take the lead in ferreting these out. And regulators can already act on unfair or deceptive practices that don’t reflect broader industry standards. (I am intrigued by the recent comments from White House official Danny Weitzner about a new approach to implement “privacy law without regulation” which wouldn’t impose additional burdens on businesses with responsible privacy practices, but will need to see more details to understand whether this new approach changes my assessment above.)
Anyone who’s taken a long car trip with kids knows you don’t answer the “Are we there yet?” question just once. In this case, the same dynamic applies. We’ll need to keep asking and answering that question as it relates to meaningful choice and by doing so, we’ll continue to find ways to improve how we educate and empower consumers.
About the Author
Continue the discussion on this IAB Ad Ops blog series on Twitter by adding #MeaningfulChoice to your tweets.
On August 1st, Endre Somogyi became the general manager of IAB Hungary, and its first full-time employee. Endre took some time before his new role to talk with us about his vision for this new era and about what the smaller markets can teach the big players. He also shared some insights from the innovative CEE initiative, a comprehensive exploration of the online landscape of Central and Eastern Europe.
In August of this year, you became the general manager of IAB Hungary.
Yes. I was appointed to be the general manager of IAB Hungary. I’ll be the first full-time employee for the organization. But at this moment, I am a board member and a volunteer. We have to inform our membership properly; we have to change our bylaws so that I can become the first paid employee.
I was also elected to the IAB Europe board in Barcelona, as a representative of the smaller, “tier three” countries. There are four tiers within IAB Europe: the tier four members are associate members who cannot vote. The tier three countries are smaller, less developed markets, for instance Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Austria, and Slovenia. The tier two countries are countries like Spain, France, Belgium, and Norway that may be smaller markets but are strong ones. And tier one, at the moment, is the UK and Germany, the biggest markets by ad spend volume in Europe. I believe that I was elected because of the CEE efforts along with Jaroslaw (Sobolewski, of IAB Poland.)
(Endre Somogyi, General Manager, IAB Hungary)
What are the primary objectives of the CEE efforts?
The main motivation is to have this geographical area covered with IABs, even in the really small, new markets like the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Bosnia and Herzegovina is now in the process of establishing an IAB. They aren’t huge markets in terms of ad spend at the moment, but we believe that IABs are important because they help markets to develop in a normal way. At this point it’s very basic stuff—the kinds of things the U.S. markets were dealing with ten years ago. We want to go in and implement IAB U.S. and IAB Europe guidelines, and in that way strengthen the whole area.
The other, more selfish reason is to create a good information network and to extract all possible value from the network. We’re small IABs—most offices have one or two employees, primarily part-time and volunteer. So we need to be able to localize the experience and research of IAB U.S. and the other more developed markets, markets that are able to create educational programs, for example, and generate really complex market research. We want to use this knowledge—with those markets’ permission, of course—to push these smaller markets forward. That’s why we are organizing meetings and best practice exchanges—to gather content and know-how from the network in order to implement it on a local level.
Does CEE have a website?
Not really. I don’t know how many people you know from this part of the world, but I would say that we are a bit less formal in this sense. We go, we meet, and we’re not sending around CEE business cards or websites, but the real value is that we are friends. We’re friends on Facebook and LinkedIn and exchanging documents on Basecamp, so that if I have questions I can contact someone that I know personally. The response rate is very high—we always help each other out. The problem with more formalized systems is that they need to be maintained, and in my experience, that’s impossible without at least one dedicated person. It doesn’t work on its own. I believe that that’s part of your task, to encourage this exchange of information on a global level. Especially for the smaller IABs, it’s vital.
What’s happening within IAB Hungary that might be interesting or useful to the global IAB community?
Well, we’re a small, primarily volunteer organization, but our value is that we color a white spot on the map. In Barcelona, we talked a lot about creating a global ad spend study. I think it’s of great value to the whole network if you can pull relevant data from all of the small markets.
We’re proud of the fact that IAB Hungary was founded at the end of 2008 and now covers 92-94% of the online advertising market. We are a full-spectrum IAB: we have advertisers, tech companies, media, research, agencies. Basically we cover the whole interactive system. We’re also very proud that our working groups are very popular among our members. We have 65 members and eight working groups, with something like 60 or 70% participation rate in each group. We have groups on video, targeting, display, social, search, education, mobile, and we are going to have an expenditure group as well. They’re really great forums here within the market.
You mentioned that, as a small volunteer-based organization, IAB Hungary’s not able to produce a lot of research. Do you think that that will change once you become its first full-time employee?
Absolutely. That’s the goal. When we asked people to apply for the position of general manager of IAB Hungary, the intent was to grow the organization. Eventually we’d like to have three or four people working full-time on the betterment of the Hungarian online advertising market: creating events, becoming active in education, becoming more active in legislative processes, and promoting the industry as much as possible by developing clear and self-explanatory numbers for the market. We are fighting the same issues in that way, I suppose, that you are in the U.S. in that we have many numbers on the Internet, and it’s very complicated. So if we have a chance to talk again at the end of next year, IAB Hungary should be significantly different.
Do you have a first initiative in mind for when you become the GM?
What we really desperately need is to have someone visiting each and every member of IAB Hungary. That’s what I want to do first in August: visit all the members and map their needs and requirements.
What has been the major change or development that you’ve seen in the Hungarian market since IAB Hungary was founded in 2008?
Well, we experienced the financial crisis, so the big change is that we’re seeing growth. From 2008-2009 our market had 7% growth, and in 2009 we saw a 15.9% growth. And the share of the online market is now 16%.
Can you think of any challenges that you’ve faced in terms of market growth and development that are specific to Hungary?
The big challenge here is that we speak a very special language, and we’re a country of 10 million people. Our size is a challenge, for sure. And of course, handling the global players is always a challenge. For instance, we have a local social networking site, but now Facebook is taking over. So that’s an interesting challenge: adapting and cooperating and competing with these big global players.
And of course, as part of the European Union, we are dealing with legislation imposed by Brussels. We’re now fighting the cookie opt-in, opt-out issue. Along with IAB Europe’s initiative, here at the local level we are trying to push the local government to adopt the same values that they’re promoting in Brussels, in order to allow the industry to utilize cookie technologies and analytics.
So do you think that privacy a big issue in Hungary at this point?
Yes. Providing clear numbers to markets is an issue, privacy is an issue, and global players’ presence is an issue. I really think that these are the three main issues facing our market.
Have you found that your members are interested and active in mobile advertising?
Yes, we have a mobile work group that is gathering information. They want to publish materials on promoting advertising in that area. In our AdEx we’ve measured mobile ad spending—it’s not that significant at the moment, but we have a huge mobile penetration, around 100%, so there’s potential. But in terms of advertising we’re a bit behind.
Why do you think that is?
I think advertisers don’t know how to deal with it, how to use it to their advantage and create profit. Our mobile working group is having their second gathering in two weeks, and their main topic is how to measure mobile and discussing what kind of tools we have in the Hungarian market. And then, of course, the other part of our job is to educate advertisers about how to use these new tools more efficiently. We still have loads of text, SMS campaigns, even though people are using smart phones quite a lot.
You mentioned that there was a big dip in market growth in 2008-2009, and large relative increase in growth the following year. What do you think was IAB Hungary’s biggest accomplishment in 2010?
I think it’s been lobbying legislation, so that the regulators of Hungary don’t make it impossible to work within our market. Another major accomplishment was to create a new AdEx methodology, so that the numbers are more sophisticated.
We started our first education modules at IBS, a licensee of Oxford University. The modules are within a master’s in marketing management. It’s a pilot program in which IAB members are giving lectures, and a colleague from the board created the syllabus and course materials. They’ve been really successful.
And of course, the CEE study was done by Gemius with IAB Europe, and we were present at all of the big Hungarian events and, through my CEE activities, at most of the regional events. I may sound a bit selfish here, but I think that the CEE workshops were a big accomplishment for IAB Hungary, along with IAB Poland. I can’t say what the investment return is in these cases but I believe that having a great family around is a great value. You can share information with and invite speakers to come to events and send your members to other countries where you know the cream of the industry. I think it’s a great accomplishment, and that we are a leader in the region.
Is there anything that you are hearing consistently from your members in terms of what they want or need from IAB Hungary? What are the pressing issues for your members?
I would say it’s educating the market. Those of us who are putting effort into the IAB are following the trends in the U.S., the U.K. and the most developed markets, and then we come home to the Hungarian market, it’s a bit depressing. We’re thinking to ourselves, “There are sophisticated targeting methods! There are advanced ad serving features! Why aren’t you agencies and advertisers using them?” I think that’s the most frustrating issue for those of us involved in the online advertising industry. The market and the spenders are not aware of what can be done with interactive tools, and I believe that, in our market, the key thing to do is to educate and to promote. We want to say “Here are best practices, here are case studies, here’s the technology. Go! Don’t be afraid!”
And of course, like the bigger markets, getting brand money online is a big challenge as well. Helping brand advertisers to understand online advertising. We need to invest a bit more in the future.
Does IAB Hungary have events outside of professional development events at the moment?
What is that you hope to gain from this global exchange? What do you hope to teach others about Hungary and its market?
For me it’s absolutely the knowledge exchange. We recently had a chance to meet colleagues from Brazil, from Puerto Rico, from Vietnam, all kinds of places that are at a similar level as our market, and they had so many creative ideas and concepts that we can use. And I believe that we have some experience, some research and work from IBS that we can share, so I truly believe in this. I hope that we get to know everyone in the network eventually, and that this can be a motivating experience for me and for all of the IAB colleagues. I think it’s wonderful that if I have an issue or a challenge, I have many people of whom I can ask an opinion, and for me that’s the most important goal: to know the people that are doing the same thing as us and to form a community.
About the Author
Thirty-seven years ago I was fresh out of college and had started my own residential renovation and construction company. The Internet may have existed back in 1974 in some crude form, but I didn’t see it for another twenty-one years just after I transitioned from day-to-day construction work to that of a syndicated newspaper columnist helping consumers discover the best products and techniques for their homes.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve witnessed the golden age of the print industry and its subsequent demise. The growth and speed of solving problems that the Internet offers was too much for an industry dependent on dead trees. That is, after all, one of the most basic reasons anyone uses the Internet - to solve a problem.
But many manufacturers and service providers have been dragging their feet with respect to directly investing in this fledgling industry that’s now really only fifteen years old with respect to actual commercial use of the Internet. For decades and decades manufacturers of products made massive investments in the print industry. This revenue source allowed them to staff up and be ready to get news out about products and innovations.
Ad networks have grown tremendously in the past decade allowing advertisers to reach consumers, but the ad buyers have overlooked websites that carry all the water. Very little direct ad buys have been made that allow website owners to grow and flourish.
Just two months ago I was at a press event hosted by DeWALT Tools in Baltimore, Maryland. One of their top product managers said to me as the event was coming to a close, “Tim, you probably realize that we’re depending more and more on websites like AsktheBuilder.com to get the word out to consumers.” After a brief back and forth in the conversation, I exclaimed, “Wow, I don’t know if that’s a wise thing to do as the ecosystem you’re depending on is very fragile and only one or two of my peer websites have more than one person producing content. Many websites are run by owners that only do it part time.”
The shock on the face of this businessman was profound. He told me he had never given any thought to the business end of content creation websites like mine. As I waited for my airplane, I decided that many other manufacturers were in the same boat. They really had no clue as to how rapidly the transition from print to Internet was happening. In addition, I felt these people on the other side of the fence had no idea about the underlying infrastructure of the content websites. Little did they know these publications are not really ready to handle the entire information load that is being aimed at them.
The numbers of press releases that have come my way have increased well over 300 percent in the past few months. It’s only going to get worse. Yet, I don’t have the resources to hire two, three or four full-time people to handle this load.
To process and share this information, content websites in every vertical need to staff up. There are thousands of qualified writers and other content creators that are the detritus of the catering print industry. These people need jobs. Websites like AsktheBuilder.com are only too happy to hire them. But one needs resources to do this.
The conversation with the DeWALT product manager was the seed from which the position paper I published just a week ago grew. This whitepaper details the paradigm shift that’s just recently happened and how websites have so much more to offer than traditional print.
The best part is that all this can be offered to manufacturers for less than they used to invest in the print industry. It’s a new day for consumers, manufacturers and those independent third-party websites that provide a great resource to consumers by honestly telling them the truth about products. At the end of the day, that’s really what consumers want - they want the Easy Button. They just want to be told the truth as to what works and what the best value is for their dollar.
As soon as manufacturers start directly investing in great content websites, they’ll get the word out in minutes and hours not days and weeks as happened in the past with the print industry.
About the Author
Tim Carter is a member of the IAB Long Tail Alliance, and also recently participated in its recent Washington Fly-In. He can be reached on Twitter at @AskTheBuilder and through his website AskTheBuilder.com.
Droves of data on mobile advertising and local search, particularly from IAB, BIA/Kelsey and comScore, have hit the newswire in recent weeks and months. And, based on what has been shown, we can all agree that mobile technology is quickly emerging among consumers as the next generation of local search. Equivalently, mobile is becoming, for businesses, an increasingly important avenue for being discovered and considered during purchase selection. As mobile technology continues to progress, more businesses will side with mobile as a “marketing must-have,” rather than a “nice-to-have,” especially considering the lead-generating potential that mobile has for calls, clicks and patron visits.
But with the surge in mobile technology, we have simultaneously created a beast that cannot be tamed. By that, I am referring to consumer expectations. And when expectations go unfulfilled, they can become that snowball rolling down a snowy hill.
How Mobile Is Fueling False Expectations
When it comes to mobile, consumers are riding the wave of technological advancement, ultimately establishing false expectations. They expect, they demand rather, that technology will be up to par with what they are used to on their desktops and laptops—same speeds, same connections, same functionality—only better. They simply want the same experiences delivered to their mobile devices. “Why not?” they ask. “How difficult can it be?” Only it’s not so simple.
As marketers, we hear the mobile consumer’s cry for immediacy and relevance. Naturally, we want to deliver, especially when we look at it from this angle: Smart-phone adoption and mobile-Internet usage are both rising. That means more consumers have access to mobile technology to satisfy their on-the-go lifestyles. Being outside their homes, mobile users are active searchers and highly qualified purchasers looking to fulfill their immediate needs. They tend to take action quickly, given the timely nature of their searches. They are ready to call stores, willing to show up in person, prepared to consume now or in the next hour. And they expect their mobile experiences to mirror what they’d be able to accomplish at home on their desktops. And if those expectations go unfulfilled, you can expect the dissatisfaction to be broadcast from peer to peer (that’s the snowball rolling down the hill).
But when you think about it, mobile technology is still in its infancy, yet it is already packing a hefty, business-sized punch. So how do you balance a relatively new medium with consumer expectations?
Do It Yourself?
Recently, more companies have begun began offering do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. Such out-of-the box solutions are really templates that businesses can use to set up mobile landing pages. Even more, coding experience is not required. Seems simple enough, right? A win-win? A mobile page as easy as 1-2-3?
Careful. There are a few glaring issues with DIY products. Like the “traditional” Internet, having a mobile-Web presence just to have one isn’t good enough.
We understand that mobile sites and landing pages which best summarize our business information and social data (e.g., ratings and reviews) will lead consumers to take action faster. But that’s a loaded sentence because mobile experiences are nowhere similar to those on traditional Web pages. To cater to a highly demanding consumer group that has high expectations and low patience:
- Load times must be short.
- On-site content must be optimized for the mobile Web and the small screen.
- Understand that more clicks equal less toleration.
- Mobile-share functionality must be incorporated to facilitate the viral nature of the Web.
- Mobile videos must be converted.
- Proper instrumentation of the site must be established to track user behavior as it pertains to clicks, calls and directions, all of which enable accurate analytics.
- Site development, including URL, must satisfy the plethora of mobile platforms and devices.
And the list goes on.
I expect widespread adoption of DIY solutions to be minimal, at least at the outset. In the past, small and medium businesses have embraced DIY solutions with some hesitance. While mobile is very important to discoverability and lead generation, it will take some time before businesses dive in. So much has changed in the marketplace in the past few decades, from the Internet to social and mobile media, that businesses are faced with the constant struggle of keeping pace in an ever-evolving landscape. Budgets must be reallocated. Time is an issue, especially if marketing is handled internally. Resourcing and staffing are major hurdles that small and medium businesses must overcome.
As a result, I suspect that most businesses will look for mobile offerings that are more comprehensive. So instead of being charged with everything that comes with a new medium, from staying abreast to full-out implementation, businesses can go to mobile-advertising companies for their all-in-one solutions. In other words, mobile distribution will be part of a larger package, including optimization, a mobile site, mobile listings, mobile apps and mobile display.
Furthermore, such programs typically come with custom dashboard reporting, dedicated account managers, constant optimization and ongoing compatibility updates to keep a business’s mobile presence up to date with the latest devices. The latter should be an attractive feature considering that the mobile marketplace is experiencing fragmentation today, as evidenced by the growing number of devices that all seemingly operate on their own terms. Until more industry standards are established, this option sounds like a much-better alternative for small and medium businesses.
Naturally, the topic of price arises. To make such programs appealing to already-budget-strained businesses, mobile-advertising companies are making drastic changes to their pricing models. Many have lowered their start-up costs, while others have adopted performance-based programs based on lead generation. Such models hold mobile marketers accountable for their products’ performance, while business owners can feel better about “testing” mobile with little financial risk.
Considering lead impact, mobile is something that should be taken seriously. But mobile is changing rapidly. And given the short period of time during which to reach mobile consumers before they grow dissatisfied with a brand’s mobile presence, mobile marketing should be left to those who have the time, knowledge and resources to stay ahead of the curve.
Doing so will help businesses get their feet wet before diving in, while simultaneously meeting the rising expectations of mobile consumers. Turning mobile over to the experts also creates more opportunities to test and target, providing greater returns on investments and clearer glimpses into mobile consumers’ purchase patterns. And through the larger mobile distribution that mobile-advertising companies provide, small- to medium-sized businesses can reach a vast mobile audience with a single touch point.
About the Author
President of Products and Technology, xAD
Chi-Chao Chang is charged with all facets of xAD’s product management and technology development, including overall strategy, identification of new customer segments and advancement of a vibrant local-mobile marketplace. Prior to xAD, Chang served Yahoo! and Microsoft.
He currently holds five patents, has filed over 15 applications and has published more than 25 technical articles. Possessing a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University, Chang is a regular speaker for Search Engine Strategies, Search Marketing Expo and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, where he also serves on its Search Committee.