VivaKi and DoubleClick Video Interview: Search to display re-marketing

An interview with Geoff Smith and Myself on the successful learnings of the world first work we carried out earlier in 2013, where we took search signals and used them to re-market against through display.

All facilitated with DBM and DS3.

2012 Watching change and the future

A couple of thoughts for 2012 and beyond.

There will be many predictions for 2012, these are less predictions as thoughts on what I see around me right now and discussions being had. That is why I have referred to this as ‘watching change’ rather than predicting it. As usual with me its tech heavy but not exclusively an inspired by some recent people I have met lately, more of that for another post.

What do I think we will see changing in 2012?
1. The rise of campaigns targeted against connected TVs, there is so much movement in this space and it is happening so quickly, I believe more advertisers will be looking to agencies to deliver more targeted advertising on the TV through connected TVs and set top boxes. Video advertising shown on streamed content on TVs will also increase significantly in 2012. What I find most interesting in this space is that as with mobile there is a lot of talk but I can see things moving faster than anyone predicts. If you look at the Xbox alone, they have more ‘set top boxes’ than Sky, that makes them the most connected organisation in the UK in regards the TV.

2. From an agency perspective the silos of search, exchange trading and buying on APIs will be broken down as we start to use Data Management, targeting and buying across all three of them to drive campaign results. We will all get smarter about talking data as a planning mechanism rather than a list of sites to represent targeting. Where we can combine audience targeting with context and highly dynamic creatives we will hit the bullseye. This process is already well underway but see this accelerate in the next 12 months.

Where do I see the greatest opportunity for improvement?
A. The greatest room for improvement will be in video as we move from a disparate, highly admin intensive channel that is still managing to scale rapidly to a more platform, third party adserved, data driven opportunity for clients. Video has the opportunity to explode in terms of volumes, the use of buying platforms and third party adserving will make that possible and produce better results for advertisers and a more efficient delivery from an agency perspective. I hope AODv achieves this on behalf of the agencies.

Video revenues could increase significantly with this last impetus, it is a shame that it is being held back by some major broadcasters hell bent on protecting the old models and the ‘it has always been like this approach.’ We know how successful these people have been in the past, so I think they should move to a bigger and better learning model.

What tech/device will completely transform the way you do business?
Connected TVs, already have become more and more prevalent in shops, the connected TV will bring the social TV experience to the living room that is currently produced by the highly reported two device usage people employ now ie PC on Twitter whilst watching TV. The connected TV and to set top boxes such as Xbox will allow users to genuinely multi task and enjoy a more social experience. On top of that they will of course also be able to access new content that will pull more influence from the linear TV schedule

What technology has transformed us in the last two years?
Life changing is pretty strong but the ability to work in the cloud would be up there, whether its docs in Dropbox or my iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and Airport Express all linked up wireless at home with no need for synching etc. The principle that the devices no longer need to be mega storage devices is a huge shift and the always on, access anywhere approach to tech is an amazing shift.

What do I think we can’t live without now that will be obsolete next year?
The death of the desktop, its all tablets and laptops and as working conditions become more and more mobile the desktop becomes more and more out of date. Of course that wont be next year but as a trend I believe we are starting to see the PC desk top being eroded, as companies no longer want to invest in more and more office space, instead opting for work from home or hot desking lap tops and tablets become the primary device.

What will change specifically in media?

Our organisations are becoming more and more global by nature, the pitches, the advertisers the media properties we spend with and so the nature of new business requires a more joined up and well round global group to answer these challenges. If you don’t do it well you will lose those big international advertisers, more and more focus will go on how we weave our different agency properties together in a meaniful way that gives clients the maximum amount of insights and services with the minimum amount of disruption.

What do we need most to see greater success in 2012?
We are in a transition period where media owners, Ad Nets and Portals are all trying to plan for the future but manage their old business at the same time. As an industry we need to give companies 12 months to allow that change to happen even if it upsets shareholders and the bean counters. Many organisations will take a hit in terms of ad revenues they receive for direct response campaigns direct from agencies and have not seen it returned through the new approaches such as AOD. It does not mean its wrong, it’s just difficult to manage but they have to so they can reshape for the future.

Mobile needs tracking and ad serving badly! Mobile usage is huge, it brings online to offline and offline to online. The world of the web is social, personal, local and mobile and the smart phone ticks all those boxes and yet we can’t seem to bring the advertisers to spend the revenues. This remains what seems an eternal challenge to master.

Hard work being a technology company at the moment

I would not want to be in this space at the moment. It is fiercely competitive and every man and his dog has a new angle on targeting, tracking, bidding and the like. Digital has always been like that, a constant stream of questions from clients, planners and other agencies along the line of – ‘you heard of x company, apparently amazing, can you have a look at it for me?’ Being on the inside of a technology company must feel like that at the moment, especially big ones like Google and Microsoft.

The energy at the moment is focused on biddable media whether that be ad exchanges, search of Facebook API and therefore companies have come along like Marin and Kenshoo to challenge the elite. They are new and shiny and fast and they produce product roadmaps about 6 months ahead of the slightly larger more sluggish rivals.

Teams in Doubleclick now are constantly being asked about what can be integrated into their systems like DART search, it’s a fair question because the market is moving so quickly the agencies are having to adapt rapidly and therefore they need their suppliers to do the same. Deep integrations that are hard to move is not a good enough reason to stay with a supplier. It’s not however as simple as doing the usual Google bashing or Atlas bashing, I have some sympathy for them. When they change one thing it has to deliver against all their other systems and make sure that nothing falls over. With great volumes and large customer bases comes a big responsibility to not mess up. Some start up with 5 clients can afford to mess about a bit and change things as it pleases with little or no impact, Google can’t do that.

I would like to see what happened if an agency said to one of these new companies – OK I will move all our spend to you, we want 24.7 customer service, technical support, migration in weeks, nothing to go wrong, we want to check all your contracts and privacy set ups and all the rest. Simply, they would not cope. So on that basis I think we have to understand that there are many pretenders to the crown but they could not all make it and its easy to bash the big boys.

Nevertheless it must be hard work right now and I don’t envy them. Sometimes things just do not work, today we saw the end of Google Wave. Of course we did, it was a nightmare. A small part of me does think though that those resources could be redirected into services that meet the real needs of customers rather than so many experiments. How is Buzz doing?

Outside of that particular field there are so many companies selling data, targeting and tracking. They all want a piece of our client’s websites, they all want a test, it is a minefield out there and sorting the wheat from the chaf for agency digital planners is extremely hard and often hard for the companies to differentiate themselves. I have not seen so many new companies selling their wares since 2000, they wont all make it and as agencies we need to somehow back the right horses..

Google is a mirror on society..very scary search suggestions

Marco Bertozzi:12.05.2010

Have you had a good look at the search suggestions on Google? Well I thought I would do 5 searches to see what comes up and see what the populus is searching for day to day, holy shit its worrying! Here was what I typed in..

Where do I…
How do I…
Who do I..
When do I..
What do I..

Only when I had done this did I realise that if the suggestions reflect what people are searching for then we are in trouble! So what did I learn? Well first of all we worry about a few key things in life..our Blackberrys and iPhones, sex, tax, life in general and Facebook.

There are a myriad of people out there with some fundamental life decisions to be made. Now I am all for starting with a broad search but I particularly like these two; ‘Where do I begin’ and ‘What do I want to do with my life’ fantastic questions! These people have focus issues and or are high as kites and probably sitting in student digs somewhere looking for a short cut. You might think they are in trouble but there is a group of people who have some of the worst issues imaginable.. ‘Where do I find Chuck Norris’ now thats not your average question but seemingly one many are getting their heads around. Politics in the last few weeks has been a hot topic so I would not be surprised if Nick Clegg was one of many searchers against ‘who do I vote for?’ or perhaps Gordon was a number of those asking ‘who do I inform when I move house?’

Life, sex and babies comes up a lot as you might imagine. The second or third suggestion down when you search ‘What do I’ is repeatable for this blog, take a look yourself, it’s not your average question!

There are whole life stages covered in there too. Some of the top suggestions in response to those questions above included:

1. What do I get my girlfriend for Valentine
2. When do I ovulate
3. How do I know if I am pregnant
4. When do I have my first scan
5. When do I stop paying child maintenance
6. When do I retire

People are clearly turning to the web for the big questions, I imagine they start big and work their way through to the important detail questions such as the oft searched ‘where do the Inuits live!’ Christ it goes on and on, weird and wonderful questions that Google is shining back at us…

The state of Facebook is now very much revealed by these searches with most of the ‘How do I‘ search suggestions being around FB. Mainly ‘how do I close my account’ Much has been made of the FB situation, interesting to see how that goes but I think Google is reflecting a little of the sentiment of the population at the moment.

Finally and probably the best reflection of society is the ‘Who do I’ section. A true reflection of our obsession with celebrity with ‘who do I look like’ how is Google going to tell you that? Where does it start? Such a weird question and I think expecting more of Google than one should do, probably easier to answer the question ‘where do I begin!’ Which celebrity do I look like? Who do I share my birthday with? It seems a constant need to associate with celebrity, it’s a sign of the times I am afraid.

So what do I conclude? I conclude that the world’s population has gone mad! What else can I take out of it? Probably best not to dig too deep!

Hearst to buy iCrossing. Good for Hearst, bad for icrossing (apart from managers)

Marco Bertozzi 20.04.10
I understand why they would. What a great short cut to getting loads of digital knowledge into a business that has been slow to embrace digital, like all media companies they resisted moving from their traditional and core ad models until they could wait no longer. Magazines have been particularly bad at this in the main and have always been playing catch up to some extent.

Read the PR coverage here

Now as the agency world starts to move into Ad exchanges, putting the decision as to what is valuable inventory or not back in their hands and social media and search becomes more and more complicated Hearst has decided that they should buy a big digital independent agency, nice work. It’s a good move for them and it’s an even better move for those who have substantial shares in iCrossing but for the rest of the people there I am not sure what it means for them.

The history of media companies buying agencies is not great and rarely ends well for the people in the agencies, you become second class citizens to the brands you serve. How independent are you exactly? Will iCrossing start to be a digital department of the media group with regular schedule lines being Hearst properties? What about if you just become an internal department of the company, like an IT help desk to answer questions, solve ongoing problems the brands have in digitising. I am sure they will do a great SEO job on Hearst and perhaps provide a search strategy, Hearst still needs to create decent sites with decent content.

I am not sure I like the sound of it, I am possibly not seeing all the facts but if Hearst spends 375m on the agency, they are not going to let it live happily, bumbling along on its own, there will be some significant impact on the staff there.

Ad exchange development mirrors that of paid search

Marco Bertozzi: 08:03:2010
The battle for the ‘ad exchange’ dollar is hotting up. It reminds me of how things were with search. It crept up on people / media agencies and before they knew it the specialists were doing well and making good money and winning pitch after pitch in the specialist area.

As it went on we debated whether search was specialist or should be just another channel forming part of an everyday media plan and finally we ended up with a couple of serious search independent players and the main agency groups pretty much on top of things and integrating and coordinating search into wider marketing plans.

Here we go again! Anyone who went through that must be getting a sense of Deja Vu. Everyone is talking about Ad Exchanges and DSP’s, the specialists are springing up and making hay and claiming they are the only ones who know how to do it. The debates rage around best practice and who has the biggest and best capability, its an incredibly similar scenario – does anyone else feel it?

The big difference this time is the agency groups to a greater or lesser extent saw it coming and started to gear up for it, as you can imagine I am biased in that area as to who has done it best to date but in a way that’s irrelevant, the point is the people in the know in agencies are all working towards this revolution. It will be a revolution, it is the next phase in media communications and those that ignore this will be looking as silly as those that thought search was a fad. This transition is moving so quickly though and only the brave will really make the most of this wave.

I am enjoying being part of this new wave of communications and trading and have been so impressed by the work that has gone on, this is exciting stuff and it is just going to explode.

Real time search, SEO and PPC just got complicated!

Marco Bertozzi 13.12.09
Well lets start with what Google says about its new search results, here is a video summing up the possibilities:

The summary of that provides these services:

• Ability to filter real-time results to only show updates from particular sources, such as Twitter, Friendfeed and others on new “Latest results” page;

• Latest results and new search options optimized for iPhone and Android devices “when you need them on the go, be it a quick glance at changing information like ski conditions or opening night chatter about a new movie — right when you’re in line to buy tickets”;

• “Hot topics” on Google Trends will now show most common topics being published to web in real-time.

SO what does that mean for advertisers and individuals?

There are two ways of looking at Real Time search. One is from the individual’s perspective and the other from an agency/advertiser’s.

An individual really just had the power put into their hands, an unbelievable position of prominence on the world’s most viewed ad placement. If you are unhappy you can make your point immediately. If you are raging at the latest piece of news, if a mouse just ran across your hotel room, whatever happens to you, you tweet or FB and its up and visible to all. It’s unbelievable, really.

Those tweeters and bloggers are now in a position to generate massive traffic for their sites or profiles, this will be the best thing ever for egomaniacs. It will of course also be amazingly useful. You are in a traffic jam and need to know what the hold up is, how is the weather in Balham right now, its all there, it will be so useful day-to-day. Of course its all there at the moment if you search on Twitter but I think this move will bring that knowledge to a far wider audience.

Part 2 however is much harder. If you are an advertiser and happily investing in PPC campaigns when suddenly your ad is now alongside someone who is destroying your brand or service, then you are going to have to come up with an active strategy. Areas such as Hotels, restaurants etc may have a nightmare if people do Tweet negatively about them while they are trying to buy ads encouraging them to book.

As an advertiser this will mean you have to consider a few actions;

1. Redouble your efforts to make sure your brand advertising is clear, eye-catching and able to draw people away before they start to soak up all the real-time results below which may not all be positive.

2. Advertisers will now be fighting over the top slots more fiercely so be prepared to invest further into the PPC budgets. You will not want your text ad half way down the page while some FF or Twitter updates are above you giving you what for!

3. If the reports are correct that only 26% of the top 500 superbrands seriously invest in Twitter then perhaps this move will spark them into action as they will need to have their own content in the real-time results as well as those of the users / customers / consumers. Thats probably a good thing as it will make more advertisers deal with social media, something that so many are still behind on.

Search systems which may only optimise a few times a day are also going to appear slow in comparision to these kind of results, at the moment as people monitor their search ROI it may be optimised infrequently, this will need to be accelerated. Bad real-time feeds may be ruining your PPC and you should know about it and react. It will make search a lot more labour intensive as if it needed to be anymore complicated.

So what do I think overall. Great for the individual, very useful, very informative. For the advertiser, well its going to need a lot more work and thought both in SEO, PPC and social strategies.

Thank the lord, Google homepage now fades in.

Marco Bertozzi: 08.12.09
Bing is out there telling the world that they are reinventing search and we must all Bing. I can’t put my finger on it but the ads somehow dont seem right to me, is it because I am used to finding a search engine without being told about it? I guess Ask did a lot of advertising, but then I never used that site either.

But thats not why I am writing, Bing actually does do some very interesting things and I think has moved things on a bit, so it seems a little irrelevant that Google is now touting its fading in homepage, it made me think when I first saw it that they were having problems loading the page! I dont see it, even from a design perspective it fades in as soon as you do anything which is normally immediately, not sure how many people sit back and admire the page for too long, so what’s the point? I want to see some major improvements at Google that really create some buzz, maybe real time search will do that, although I will be interested to see how much babble that pulls up.

That said, can I ever see myself defaulting to Bing, not really, thats one habit that I would need rehab to get over.