Stratospheric Levels Of Hype

Thomas Husson

If you are in the mobile industry and you've never heard of Foursquare, there is something wrong with the way you keep up to date on new trends. Indeed, Foursquare is one of the most hyped social location services, enabling users to "check-in" to locations in the real world from pubs, bars and restaurants (through to any conceivable location) - sharing them with updates on social sites like Twitter or Facebook, wrapping points and benefiting from potential discounts. Foursquare recently announced it had passed the 1M users mark. The rate of growth is indeed quite strong, bearing in mind the company had just 170,000 users at the end of 2009. According to TechCrunch, Yahoo! was rumored to have made an offer above $80M to acquire the start-up! I am not a financial analyst, but let's say $100M for just 1M users seems high at first sight. So what makes it so valuable and why is foursquare being perceived as the new Twitter? Here are a few thoughts:

- First of all, foursquare is not the only one in town but is probably the one with the most active PR team. It struck some interesting deals with Metro newspapers, with TV channel Bravo, with Vodafone in the UK (on-deck and via SMS promotion) and more recently with even the Financial Times, if we believe business insiders. What makes it quite successful is its entertainment-centric approach. It is quite addictive as it is primarily an interactive game. There are others (not only Gowalla) such as MyTown (a sort of a real-world monopoly), which passed the 2 million active users mark a few days ago!

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Efficient Frontier Announces Integrated Search And Display Platform

Shar VanBoskirk

Efficient Frontier announced last week its official entry into display advertising with a platform that integrates biddable display with search marketing, real-time bidding capabilities, and the Efficient Frontier trademark portfolio approach to optimization that uses predictive modeling to forecast performance outcomes.

I think this certainly indicates further momentum into the world of biddable display media, and eventually biddable media in all formats. See more about Forrester's thoughts on dynamic media buying and what it will mean for media buying on and offline in the report, Demystifying the DSP

I think the platform from Efficient Frontier addresses a much needed combination -- that of paid search and biddable display media. But I also think that this platform, competing ones -- like those developed by Vivaki -- and demand-side platforms are in “version 1.” Not a bad place to be at the early stage of an emerging opportunity. But I do expect that all of these tools will refine over the next two years. I think they will continue to add data sources, more inventory, additional and easier to use functionality, better metrics, and better reporting. But v.2 will develop only after advertisers begin testing dynamic media buying and can show technology players what additional depth and breadth they need.   

Behavioral Marketers Will Be Responsible For Data Disclosures

Shar VanBoskirk

Frank Gertsenberger, VP of Product Marketing for Audience Science wrapped up day one with an excellent update on privacy concerns and expected changes due to FTC and congressional work on behavioral advertising policy. 

The concern is that even though data is being collected anonymously, when enough anonymous data points are collected, is an individual still anonymous?

Four entities are running concurrently to tackle this challenge:

  1. The FTC began investigating data practices about two years ago and determined that the risk with behavioral marketing is that consumers are not aware of what data is being collected; current privacy policies are insufficient at explaining how consumer data is employed with behavioral marketing.
  2. Congress – A subcommittee was convened last year to quantify the value of behavioral marketing in order to determine its value in the online economy.  Through studies supported by the NAI (the network advertising initiative), Congress now understands this and is outlining a policy outlining what the baseline protections should be for consumers.
  3. NAI– A membership organization which now represents more than 80% of all online ad spend, and created studies focused on answering Congress' need to value behavioral marketing.  Also helps audit member sites to aid compliance efforts.
  4. The Associations – This is a collection of online advertising associations like the DMA (direct marketing association), the IAB (interactive advertising bureau) and the ANA (association of national advertisers).  This group is taking a pass at developing requirements for providing enhanced notice to consumers.

What this means for advertisers and publishers:

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Publishers Create Ad Solutions; Still Don't Talk Tech

Shar VanBoskirk

The second session of AudienceScience Summit this afternoon is a panel moderated by Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer of Mediabrands.  Panelists include Dave Dickman, SVP of Digital Media Sales from Warner Bros. Television and Barbara Healy, VP of Online and Mobile Fulfillment at Tribune.

 The theme of the panel was intended to address how these publishers manage their audience assets.  But really the primary message I took away was that publishers are focusing on solution sells -- finding ways to sell more high margin offerings -- whatever these happen to be.  I was expecting to hear more specifics about how they are working with publisher optimization solutions, or data management offerings.  But it sounded instead that it was any and all efforts to create unique ad solutions, rather than just impressions.

Two points heard, one good, one bad:

1) Warner Bros talked about an alternative way to think about creative, empowering creatives to build original programming that airs on the Web and allows users to provide input into the plot and production that the program takes.  This approach garnered premium sponsorship (from J&J) and helped creative resources feel a part of (and not irrelevant to) emerging media.

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Publishers Talk About Audience Targeting With AudienceScience

Shar VanBoskirk

Coming to you live from the AudienceScience Targeting Summit in Las Vegas, a three day event for publishers and advertising talking about changes in display media and the value of targeting for both sides of the online advertising ecosystem: buyers and sellers.  My presentation was part of the publisher day (Day one is for publishers, day two for both publishers and advertisers, and day three for advertisers alone) and spoke to the findings of a custom study I worked on for Audience Science earlier this year.  The conclusions I shared today are:

  • Online advertising has significant growth in store
  • Audience and behavioral targeting will grow further advertiser investment in display media
  • And yet, advertisers still second guess display advertising value because it is so hard to take full advantage of (I walked through a laundry list of challenges online advertisers face like media proliferation, measurement challenges, $$ shifting downstream from branding to more direct sales channels, operations inefficiencies and limited staff)
  • So publishers must be ready to help create more automated, more dynamic, more data driven advertiser solutions to help advertisers overcome the challenges with using display today.

Mobile Advertising: Apple, Google, And The Mobile Operators

Thomas Husson

Following its acquisition of Quattro Wireless for $275,000,000, Apple has just announced the launch of iAd, its mobile advertising platform (see my colleague’s take here). Adding the $750,000,000 that Google is ready to invest in AdMob (the deal is still under FCC scrutiny), the two most disruptive new mobile entrants have invested more than $1 billion — a clear signal that mobile advertising has long-term potential. The main difference between Google and Apple is that Apple is only just entering the advertising business, while Google’s entire business model simply IS advertising. However, that potential has yet to be realized. Does that mean stakeholders can generate significant revenues in the short term and that operators will be bypassed once again? I have read in various places some strange comments suggesting that Google’s mobile ad revenue share with mobile operators would be a way to finance network evolution. Just compare the cost of a base station and the significant investment required to finance 4G with absolute mobile advertising revenues and you’ll quickly figure out for yourself that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. This is more of an online advertising discussion around the Net neutrality debate (remember France Telecom’s CEO warning that he was not “building freeways for Californian cars”!) but it will crop up later for mobile.

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Who's leading mobile innovation?

Thomas Husson

Conventional wisdom in the mobile industry is that Japan and South Korea are the most advanced mobile markets worldwide while US is lagging behind and Europe somewhere in the middle. This is less and less true.

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How CAN SPAM Matters For Transactional Messages

Shar VanBoskirk

Marketers must follow the FTC’s CAN-SPAM guidelines as they apply to transactional messages; however, transactional emails are frequently embedded with promotional content. We’ve found that retailers can, on average, generate an additional $2.9 million annually by including promotions in their transactional communications. When content gets mixed in together, we often hear clients asking: where is the line drawn between promotional and transactional messages?

While there is no silver bullet for determining the difference between each message type, there are some guidelines that can help you determine whether or not the message will be subject to the CAN-SPAM Act. The FTC places a great deal of weight on the subject line of a message, so if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a transactional message, it’s a transactional message for CAN-SPAM purposes.  Additionally, the content of the message matters.  If the majority of the message is commercial, or the bulk of the transactional part of the message doesn’t appear at the beginning of the message, CAN-SPAM considers the message a commercial one.

Regardless of message type, there are a few best practices to keep in mind to comply with CAN-SPAM (and maintain a good sender reputation).

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Categories:

Liberty, equality and mobility

Thomas Husson

I find it quite amazing to see the societal impact of mobile phones. 

They have changed the way we communicate and live. There is a drastic change in the way children and parents communicate, in our individual relationships with time and location and in so many other parts of our daily lives. There are interesting books and theses about this topic. I recently came across an interesting view point from Russell Buckley about the "Unintended Consequences and the Success of Blackberry in the Middle East", which is further proof of how disruptive mobile can be. As communication and creation/media tools, mobile phones offer new ways to upload and access information (remember the riots in Iran). As such, governments have to monitor and anticipate this impact. 

Beyond this, public authorities can make the most of mobile services. Many local councils, regional and national governments, and transport authorities are launching mobile initiatives, creating new value-added services for citizens, and trying to use mobile to connect with the least connected. They need to anticipate the arrival of NFC technology and make the most of more mature mobile ecosystems. They should balance their mobile investments with the constant need to avoid discriminating against particular groups of citizens and to allocate funds to projects with critical mass. Governments in particular can play a key role in stimulating ideas for new services and in backing and funding the most relevant initiatives.

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Integrating Social Media Into B2B Marketing Strategies: A (Final) Webinar With Harte-Hanks

Laura Ramos

Four years ago, I waved good-bye to my Pharma industry research and began writing about B2B marketing best practices, as part of Forrester's marketing and strategy research group headed up by Elana Anderson. Harte-Hanks sponsored my first Webinar in this new role -- called "Improving the Maturity of your Lead Management Process" -- and Elana and I teamed up to present the webcast that aired on June 7, 2006. At that time, my research on lead management best practices was only beginning and social media was an emerging concept that Charlene Li had just started to explore in Forrester's seminal research, the "Social Computing" report. A lot has changed since then.

Through an amazing coincidence, my life as one of Forrester's top B2B marketing analysts begins and ends with Harte-Hanks. Tomorrow, March 30, I will broadcast my last Webinar with Forrester and I am so very pleased to do so with folks at Harte-Hanks who helped me launch this journey.

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