Have we reached ‘Peak Technology’

Original article in Campaign HERE

Cannes is fast approaching, so it makes sense about now for us discuss creativity and technology and how it works together to power our advertising future.

I wonder, though, whether the changes in advertising we have experienced over the past 12 months are going to have as much impact upon the event as the new need to register to walk into a hotel or get on a yacht.

This past year has been quite traumatic for the advertising community; the ongoing onslaught against programmatic, the questions about digital vs offline, and circular debates about which media channel is most influential.

These would all be the standard issues for an average year, until ANA-gate, which kicked off a huge surge of self analysis across the industry.

Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard weighed in more recently and delivered the biggest mic drop – basically calling out the whole digital industry. And of course it did not end there.

Too many unfulfilled promises and uncovered secrets in terms of the micro-targeting, data offerings, media properties that are unsuitable, and not enough human eyeballs.

Enter stage left – The Times – and so the we hit rock bottom. Technology, data, programmatic, privacy, fraud, all in the spotlight.

It has felt like an endless stream of negativity, but what has it changed and how can we expect Cannes to reflect it?

The initial outcomes of all this introspection have been a drift towards a rejuvenation of interest in more traditional channels. TV, premium publishers and “safe” environments are having a renaissance, as advertisers worry about where their ads are appearing.

It feels to me that we have reached “peak technology” within advertising. Too many unfulfilled promises and uncovered secrets in terms of the micro-targeting, data offerings, media properties that are unsuitable, and not enough human eyeballs.

Now we see the need to have a reset – a fresh approach to how we connect with consumers.

It has felt like an endless stream of negativity, but what has it changed and how can we expect Cannes to reflect it?

Now, I’m not suggesting we are going to see an “anti-tech brigade” per se, but we will see a surge of realism… a step back.

In advertising we adore the creation of a powerpoint presentation. Yet we are all familiar with the feeling you get when you get lost in the weeds and eventually you have to say, “what are we trying to communicate?”

I feel that’s the same with our whole industry. I have worked in digital from the start, and we have done exactly that – we started to tell a story, a good one, but it got more and more convoluted.

We allowed other people to insert slides that were “really important” – adserving, retargeting, audiences, data, programmatic – until we are all staring at a mess of charts on the inside of a meeting room glass wall.

We are now looking to go back to basics. What are we trying to communicate?

Well, I suspect Cannes is going to be the echo chamber. Woe betide anyone who starts wanging on about data without substance, to my mind, I believe the industry is getting to the point where, if you don’t own that data, if it does not come from a reputable registration, you should keep quiet.

Stop paying for videos the moment they start playing. Take down the spend going to programmatic Adnets that won’t tell you where your ads appear. And let’s show our ads to humans.

Geo data, segments, match rates and most recently viewability numbers that only talk about desktop and not mobile, your time is up.

We are about to take a step back and look at that wall and rip up all those superfluous slides, get back to basics and start again.

Here is how it will look:

  • Everything begins with a great campaign idea. It begins with a strong hook, a smart idea, a utility that people want, a price people need.
  • It will be followed by some easy questions – did they see my ad? Did they see all of my ad?
  • Did they see my ad for the whole ad or majority of it?
  • Was my ad seen by a human?
  • Was my ad on a property that I would be comfortable with in terms of content?
  • Do I know where my ads were served?
  • Did my ads deliver some ROI?

Anyone remember taking this for granted 15 years ago? Well those properties exist today and there is lots of room for them.

What Cannes I hope will show is that advertisers need to pull down those slides that don’t fit that narrative.

Advertisers have to cut that budget that is being wasted and reinvest into premium publishers. Spend to your heart’s content with digital but make it quality – so stop persuading yourself that scrolling video is viewable and three seconds is good enough.

Stop paying for videos the moment they start playing. Take down the spend going to programmatic Adnets that won’t tell you where your ads appear. And let’s show our ads to humans.

I believe that advertisers could slash half their digital budget and reinvest in the publishers that deserve it – those that deliver audience, quality environments and humans. Our industry has been planning and buying based on muscle memory, and that has to end.

I have worked for 20 years in agency and a few months at Spotify. I am proud of what we are doing as a business and I want to challenge the industry to hit these standards. It is possible. And yes, Spotify does hit those standards, but so do others.

Let’s take the blinkers off, rip off those slides that add nothing to the narrative, and ask the biggest players in town to shape up, and to leave room for them and the other premium publishers.

Let’s cut the dross, and I hope Cannes will shine a light on quality and cast a shadow over the kind of behaviours that will finish our industry and ruin the presentation
Read more at http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/reached-peak-technology-its-time-reset-digital-media/1436267#XA4X1cD4BcGXQ3jx.99

BertozziBytesize: Why do TV and ‘Digital’ have to argue all the time?

DONT START…I added quotation marks around digital because I know that Tess Alps would be all over it in a second, but I had to describe it as something and there lies the issue for many. Old ways of describing a world moving at a 1000mph are not sitting comfortably at the moment. In the last week or so I have been witnessing the never ending battle of TV vs Digital. The first was during IAB Engage and the second was the Video Ad News conference. Mainly played out on Twitter, noone wins, it normally involves bright people and Nigel Walley and I always wonder what it would be like to have all these people in a room together, working together.

At the heart of the issues lies the definition of what constitutes digital, TV, mobile and how should we talk about them and report them. Those who follow Twitter feeds on the topic will see it is something that appears to have little end in sight. Now I know we are all eating from the same trough, advertiser money, but surely we can work more effectively together and create some strategies that bring all sides together to recognise the benefits of both.

It strikes me that we have a synergistic relationship going on where one supports the other. TV has a history of making brands famous and creating a rapid rise in a brand’s recognition, digital has helped socialise TV and delivers the ROI through websites and follow up digital activity (in addition to instore) but it is vital that we work together to create more studies and more work to prove out these different theories and at an industry level, not just advertiser or agency case studies.

Digital has taken a battering over measurement and quality in recent times and indeed this should and I believe is a wake up call for many in the industry, TV on the other hand is perhaps guilty of resting on some laurels in terms of what it has achieved rather than making sure it is future proofing itself. An amazing amount of progress has been made in the last 2 or 3 years and its great to see but there is a lot more to go. An example of adaptation is where TV may use different tech to deliver ads but can still report back in similar TV metrics and not dive into digital ones, likewise video networks and supply sources have to find a way to include themselves in the GRP discussion rather than bang the table saying, ‘they are right about measurement.’ Todays moderator in an opening address was fast to try and encourage the audience to agree that TV measurement was wrong, we have always known it, but at least it was consistently wrong.’ Controversial. Especially given the current digital malaise. TV measurement is solid if at times a little limited but not wrong.

I would be excited to see TV progress in the way that Sky have started to go, taking incremental steps forward in targeting and reporting and I believe we will rapidly arrive at an offering that combines a good quotient of TV and Digital (there I go again, all TV is digital) benefits. Sky is in the driving seat right now so don’t be surprised to see the channel broadcasters cutting deals with Sky to be able to use Adsmart and IQ like targeting in the future. One area I will be interested in is to see how they embrace the data discussion as regards advertisers and their DMPs. It is still early days but the use of DMPs is moving at pace and becoming more and more sophisticated. As advertisers explore ways to use their first party data against media properties and media buying, perhaps TV has an opportunity to work with them collaboratively and not create another walled garden.

Of course Sky can become the next walled garden and on some levels I would not blame them, but they are in competition with Google and Facebook who most definitely are walled gardens. They  are unlikely to change, Facebook has 350+ billion dollar reasons why it cant be bothered to, BUT ITV and C4 could go a different route and help advertisers invest in their properties and demonstrate sales through integrations with DMPs.

Its not often I sit on the fence or become a middle man, but I believe that we could all learn something from each other and one is not better than the other. The biggest crime is that we don’t admit failings and don’t admit that we could learn from one another. As more TV becomes localised, one important lesson to learn from digital is to not let standards drop on creative. TV advertising on the whole is of the highest standards but as a more local offering creeps in with Sky openly encouraging local businesses to come into the TV market place, we are in danger of having a US experience with men standing outside their local garages offering this weeks best deals. TV must keep creative of the highest standards.

We need to keep going back to understanding people, and as we know, people don’t differentiate these channels in the way our industry does, they instinctively just know what they want from each of them. We could all learn from that too and get on with working out how best to engage them and not annoy them.

CES : My review of the 2014 show – Just because you can, does not mean you should



This article was first published on The Drum link here



The annual pilgramage to CES this year created quite an impression. The big themes were relentless connectivity and tracking, the concept of the Internet of Everything from Cisco, basically the intersection of humans, objects and technology and finally wearable technology.

These themes provided us with huge opportunity and some not inconsiderable challenges as humans, businesses and marketeers. This year felt a little like companies were connecting things just because they could; objects were transmitting data, even though they did not know what to do with it. As a marketeer you were left scratching your head, knowing that somewhere in all this incredible innovation there was opportunity, but just did not know where to start.

Even as a self proclaimed tech enthusiast I was still overwhelmed by the range of companies that want you to invest from both a money and time perspective in their ecosystems. Although the end result could sometimes be fantastic, such as the house you could entirely control from your phone, the lack of cross system interoperability leaves you wondering if we will be able to cope with the plethora of apps needed to manage all this and whether it will be safe, especially as regards the connected home.

So all that said, I wanted to have a look at some of those big themes and try to eek out the challenges and opportunities for us all whether as a connected consumer or a business trying to benefit from it.

Technology designed for simplicity, creating complexity
CES looks to the future, identifies innovation and on that basis we should embrace all it has to offer us. At the same time it leaves the head spinning, trying to understand how to manage the plethora of ecosystems. Even as things stand we are all coping with the battle of the operating systems, more and more we are being encouraged to package our lives into Apple,Android or Microsoft. Just looking at the art of watching TV we are provided endless choice on how and where to watch content. Roku, Netflix, smart TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast and on and on, but after a few days here you realise that there is more to come, a lot more.

The connected home has allowed companies such as LG, Samsung, ADT, DISH and others to offer the ability to hook up your whole house all the devices talking together. The problem is none of these systems are talking to each other, they are building closed systems. Yes it is incredibly clever but this has to work for us and has to have an element of open source wiring so we can consolidate different streams of data and functionality. Interestingly, companies such as Cisco and Intel may hold the key as they create smaller, faster chips that can go in multiple devices they may help us join the dots a little and perhaps find ways of at least consolidating data into a single dashboard. Apart from complexity of devices and systems there is also a cost perspective, how many different 200 pound devices and systems can we sustain?

Just because you can does not always mean you should. It feels at CES that the technology is coming first and the consumer second in some regards. Let’s take the amazing 4K televisions with this year’s big twist – the introduction of curved screens. People were left a little cold by curved sceens, an innovation that lacked a real consumer demand and required a change in our approach to viewing. The suggestion from excitable sales people was that even on an 80-inch TV you need to sit close to it to enjoy it. That fails on a number of levels – not least big TVs go in big rooms and you dont want to be crowded around a TV like you are warming yourself around a fire. Secondly, I don’t want my kids sat on top of a massive screen. The other relatively important area is that none of the broadcasters have any content that is delivered in 4k. Instead of enhancing, sometimes the viewing experience is diminished – even on good old HD we still don’t have all content delivered in this fashion, so pretty as they were, I would not rush out and buy one.

Similarly with features such as iBeacon from Apple – the idea that you can be fired messages from retailers and merchants as you browse stores sounds great but first you have to download an app from that retailer to be able to receive the messages. I for one do not want 50 Apps on my phone dedicated to retailers, as well as one for the Samsung fridge, cooker, the one for my BMW i3 outside and another for my ADT home security set up. Some how we need to link this together and make it user friendly and applicable.

We need guardians of our data
Data is a word that comes with a very wide remit, but one thing is for sure, we are creating it at a horrifying rate. Wearable technology, the smart home, the Internet of Everything, means this is both a positive and a negative for us all to consider. Imagine sensors on your body or clothes sending data to your health provider, your home consumption data being linked directly to retail stores, home utilities controlling themselves based on weather data, traffic data giving you immediate ways to avoid the latest gridlock. The opportunities are endless. Individuals become nodes on the internet transmitting data constantly to the internet. Much as we focus on the devices, let’s not forget we are being tracked. We will be tracked in every way possible and we have to make our peace with that.

The best example of this was ‘Mother’, an object that sits at home and comes with many small sensors called cookies. You place these cookies anywhere you want to understand what is happening around your home – how often and long are you brushing your teeth, footfall through the door, how much coffee are you drinking… the list is endless. Those cookies then relay all this data back to Mother for you to analyse it. As with many things at CES, there seems to be a lack of clarity on exactly how this will all help, tracking for tracking sake. But at the end what we are doing is passing incredible amounts of data to third party companies. This data is becoming ever more intimate and needs to be carefully controlled. The most important area is the ability to decide what happens to that data – many of the devices do not allow you the opportunity to influence what is happening with it as it gets passed to the company servers. One commentator at CES also pointed out the fact that even among family members or flatmates there should be the ability to have more ownership of your information and set it apart from that of others in the family or home, again something not possible right now.

As with all Wi-Fi data services the final consideration is the ability of hackers and tech thieves to access sensitive data from your life, or indeed in the case of the connected home, be able to easily hack into your ecosystem. These are all solvable issues and should in no way slow progress but as individuals we need to take control and encourage these companies we are entrusting our lives with to help us do that.

Marketing will become evermore native
As I toured the conference floor and we explored all these opportunities I was with a number of advertisers who were expressing their clear concern about how this was going to impact them. We already talk a lot about story telling and content. The proliferation of personal devices and tracking technologies means that each one of these companies – whether it is LG, BMW, Samsung – are all going to want to create their own ways of allowing advertisers to engage with people.

Native advertising is a hot topic but will become increasingly relevant, bringing complexity to marketing and advertising as they have to work across a multitude of different ecosystems and platforms. We already mentioned the iBeacon technology; how will BMW or Audi want to deliver messaging in car to their passengers? The upside for large advertisers is that the more forward thinking may have an opportunity to work directly with tech partners higher up the food chain and scope how they can be integrated closely into this development. But all that requires time, people, cost and the old methods of advertising will become evermore distant, increasing pressure on wholesale reinvention.

The tight rope they will need to walk will be avoiding too much disruption or even intrusion in the consumer’s experience. Tempting as it will be to use the incredible amounts of data available, people will be wary of that and given the intimacy of some of this data will expect it to be treated with respect.

CES is not about advertising but we are reaching a crossroads where marketing and technology will need to work closely together. It currently resides a firm second to technological advancement from a utilitarian perspective. It does however promise much for marketeers as long as they realise more than ever they will need to deliver value. Value can come in many guises, but if you want me to download your app then I need something for that because there will be significant competition.

Mobility technology reaches the car
The big standout this year was the rise of technology in the car. A flurry of launches at CES shows that this event is becoming very popular for car manufacturuers. There seems to be two directions manufacturers are moving in: the open platform based on Android or Apple where your car and phones are linked or proprietory technologies in the cars such as Audi that will turn your car into an intelligent hub. The car becomes the brain, it is able to make decisions based on commands and external data. As an example you could look up directions in the house and send them to the car, the car automatically plots that route using latest data and finds you an optimum route. Perhaps you are heading to a meeting and the car realises you are going to be late so it emails your meeting organiser with your current telemetry showing where you are and how far to go with an ETA.

Since your journey will now be forever linked to the wider net, showing you relevant ads, perhaps for the next coffee house, petrol station or relevant shops to you based on previous journeys will be common place. Cars will also become social – with linkages between you and your friends as we see with recommendations – if you travel to a new town for example your friends recommendations can be presented to you – or even their route for getting there. The opportunities are endless and we will see the car completing the triangle between you, your home and your car.

The final frontier is of course the self-driving car. All we have seen in this space has been the Google work but then up pops Audi and explains they have a self driving car up to 40mph, legal in Nevada. When did that happen? Well it has and even more than that it can find you a parking space, park it for you and if you want you can programme it to avoid red lights by adjusting its speed based on the traffic light data base that it has connected. As we mentioned earlier though that comes with limitations, not least you may find yourself driving very slowly as it seeks to avoid the next red light. I would suggest this is not for driving fans.

Some of this connectivity will be useful though as you can start your car from the comfort of your own home and in winter make sure the windows are defrosted and the seats nice and warm as well as wider beenfits, I can see that being a winner for sure and with some clear upsides for advertisers.

An incredible array of innovation, fantastic product explosion, and an inevitable and unstoppable march towards the Internet of Everything. As marketeers we will have to develop an incredibly open mind to reaching consumers. We will look to these companies to be guardians of our data using the highest level of integrity. As humans we are going to be linked inexoribly to the cloud and as Cisco say ‘be nodes’ of the Internet through our connected homes, cars and objects. There is so much to work out, but the future is exciting and we should embrace it.

We will laugh when we tell our kids we had to watch Ads!

ImageWe will laugh at the idea of having to sit through an Ad we didn’t want to watch in years to come. The likes of CBS, who recently downgraded an award to DISH for their Hopper product (a product that allows the viewer to skip Ads) by influencing the CNET panel, will need to change their views and fast.

 Perhaps people have not noticed but the beginning of the end for being forced to sit through Ads is already underway. Google is building a business on the back of skippable Ads. It is a mere skip and a jump before that model is rolled out to TV. It’s not just Google though. We have all got used to fast forwarding through Ads on our PVR’s. There are companies like DISH, with their Hopper product, making it a central offering.  Even online Apps usually have a premium or Ad subsidised version. Other companies, for example SpotXchange, have rolled out account based solutions where users can pay to skip ads. The concept of not watching Ads you do not want to watch is entering our ecosystem like water pouring through a leaking dam. No matter how you try and plug the leak, the tide is turning and before we know it the idea of forced Ad viewing will be a thing of the past.

 Consumer opinion eventually is paramount. This is not about not watching ads, it is about watching ads that are relevant and entertaining. As viewers get used to skipping ads and companies offer that as an option in a new medium, like TV, consumers will turn there first. The DISH example in the US will be an interesting one to follow. When PVR’s were first launched, the whole industry was very nervous about them and the implications. But we coped. Google’s skippable Ads is a fantastic model for them with incredible CPM’s on ads that are watched through to the end. It works for them. Advertisers also like the idea of paying for real user viewership. The challenge therefore is for advertising to improve (please no more perfume Ads following the same old, superficial format) and for the delivery mechanism to improve.

 This is all fine for online, but TV? No way! Well in case anyone had missed it, TV is changing. The mechanisms through which we watch TV are changing and the way content is being consumed and distributed is changing. Addressable advertising across multiple devices is already under way in Alpha and Beta tests. Ads will become adserved which will allow better targeting and if targeting improves, the response will be better and consumers will appreciate the relevance. If we can do this well then who is to say that the Google business model will not suddenly look attractive to broadcasters?

 Importantly we will question this idea of ‘extra value’ in TV, which is code for wastage as opposed to actually buying the audience we want. An Audience On Demand offering could quickly be applicable in TV. So if we can combine adserving technology, with proper targeting and importantly measurement (let’s not get in to that today!) and sprinkle some consumer boredom with relevant advertising, we are well underway to a world where we tell our Children that; ‘yes they made us sit through five pre-roll ads before we were allowed to see the programme we wanted to watch’ – ‘and at a time dictated by them’! A crazy notion.

Blog also ran on Digiday – http://www.digiday.com/agencies/skippable-ads-are-a-good-thing/

We have reached a new level of self harm in digital measurement

ImageAh the Ads are on – cup of tea anyone?

Digital media will eat itself then be sick all down us. Viewability is the latest craze to hit those who must have historically worked offline with frustrated metrics and now want to take it out on digital. When I moved to digital in 2000 we beat our chest with just how much we could measure. We could measure every time an Ad was shown! Every time someone clicked on it! Every time someone bought something! On and on it went, glory times. Until we realised that just because we could measure it, it was not necessarily a good thing.

Digital tracking issues started with no reach and frequency metrics! Everyone has been scrabbling to replicate the TV world. I am often asked how we measure brand metrics – well we can look at certain key numbers like engagement etc but ultimately if you want to track brand engagement then measure it with a survey, just like you do on every TV campaign. As we have evolved so have our measurement approaches but we are entering a new era of self harm. Viewability.

I am not even going to get into the fact that the tech is ill tested and nascent and needs some really thorough analysis. Or that the measurement can be carried out by any number of different companies each with a different way of tracking, so no consistency whatsoever. No lets look at what we are doing to the industry vs the offline world.

Could someone explain to me how marketeers (and / or agencies) are starting to nail digital on something like viewability and yet TV and Press are sat laughing at our complete stupidity. The TV market has it sorted. They came up with a plan 40 years ago, they got everyone to buy into it. Ratings, indexes, context, reach, frequency and a brand survey. Nuff said everyone liked it, pretty simple – lets not dig too much further or upset the nice little market place we have going. Otherwise how can you explain that in digital there are people clamouring to only pay for viewable impressions when a multi billion pound TV marketplace trades off people leaving the room, making tea, talking, texting on Twitter when the Ads come on. Press? Lets not go there.

If we are not careful in this digital business of ours we are going to measure ourselves into the ground. In TV the metrics are broad and deliver against some key criteria that they plan against, the industry has made it simple for advertisers to spend money and not question the fact that a 20,000 person panel in the US powers $65b TV market . Viewability is a classic example where we are setting a bar so high vs the other the channels because we can. For those who are challenging the industry from an advertiser perspective – should then turn the spot light on their other media expenditures. I would ask that we take some time to establish some very clear guidelines and transitions and not go in like a bull in a china shop just so we can show off at the next pitch. Lets do things right, for the good of the industry, not just the next sell.

The Superbowl still captivates a nation, a UK perspective..and the TV ads

Marco Bertozzi:14.02.2010
Having been in the US for the first time whilst Superbowl was on, I was struck by what an immense event it is. On the night there were 100 million viewers in the US! Those numbers are mind boggling and even more impressive that they were the highest viewing figures for the game ever.

Who says TV is dead? So how does the Superbowl weekend play out? I always had a simplistic view of the advertising around the event. I imagined a few great Ads in the centre break and then some discussion over how much each Ad cost and whether or not was it any good. I was completely wrong, on all the channels in the run up to the game there was almost as much discussion about the Ads as the game itself. In fact studies showed that watching the Ads was the best bit for many viewers. As an example the web was white hot with rumours about the Google Ad, with many even tweeting that hell must has frozen over for them to take a break in Superbowl.

Once in the game my idea of a ‘centre break’ was naive there were about five plus centre breaks each crammed with ads, some of which were good others less so. What struck me was the lack of an epic. There was no Honda Cog full length or a Tango Classic, just attempts at funny ads. I was sat in a bar when the favorite Dorito Ad came on (the one with the electrocuting dog collar) and the place erupted with laughter, success for Dorito on that one!

Here is a selection of the best:

Post game and on into the next days everyone talked about the ads, amazing coverage, they polled them, they critiqued them, ranked them, it was prime time news. The Internet viral effect was and still is massive, the more people talk about them, the more people go and search online, this is TV and online working together brilliantly. You can see why advertisers go for this, the exposure is enormous, there is simply nothing like this in the UK.

On balance I think it is slightly over the top but you do get dragged into the occasion, it’s also the biggest test of the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity, woe betide anyone who made a dog of an Ad because that fact was repeated over and over again, would be great to see the sales of an advertiser who produced a bad Ad for Superbowl.

Are these the 10 best Ads of the decade?

Marco Bertozzi: 02.12.09
These ads have been suggested as the 10 best Ads of the decade in the Guardian, the Ads are brilliant and I wanted to have them all on one place and spread the question to others. Have a look at the Ads and comment as to which you think stand out as winners. I also leave us asking what the best digital ads would be?

Number 1: John West Salmon

Number 2: Levi’s Odyssey

Number 3: Honda Cog – a favourite?

Number 4:The John Smith Ads with Peter Kay

Number 5:Sony Bravia bouncing balls

Number 6: Rhythm of life Guiness

Number 7: Cadbury’s Gorilla Ad

Number 8: Skodia Fabia Original cake car

Number 9: PG Tips ‘The Return’

Number 10: T-Mobile Ad

Great Ads, great seeing them all together, I wonder how we would do identifying the best online Ads of the naughties – any suggestions?