Will Native Advertising Be A Tragedy Of The Commons?

Ryan Skinner

One thing can be said definitively about native advertising: It is poorly understood.

  • It’s advertising, but shouldn’t act like it (even though it should definitely be labeled as such).
  • It’s like advertorials, but also far more than that – just as media sites are more than web newspapers.
  • The media world loves it and loathes it. Bob Garfield famously compared it to islands of bird poo at an FTC workshop in December. But most publishers are ramping up their native advertising.
  • Readers say they have been misled by it, though millennial-friendly media titles like BuzzFeed, Mashable and Gawker are doing more and more of it.
  • Lastly, when a committee of the best and brightest in native advertising sat down together to define it, they settled on six different types, or categories.
Read more

Marketing 2014: Driven By Insights, Striving For Personalization, Breaking Media Boundaries

Melissa Parrish

December 26th at my house was probably a lot like it was at yours: We ate leftovers; we binge-watched shows we’d missed earlier this year; and we played with toys. Not kids’ toys—tech toys. The one we played with most is also the one I spent the most time researching before I bought it: the 3D printer. 

Between printing demo pieces and whistles, I checked out my favorite sites to see if any new stories had been posted over the holiday. One of them appears to have implemented a cookie-based content targeting strategy, as both its tech and design sections were packed with headlines about 3D printing. I was pleased to see this attempt at relevance, but it failed in my case. Why? Because it was too one-dimensional. 

By just looking at my recent cookies, an automated system could conclude that I’m interested in 3D printing in the abstract. But in fact, I was just trying to learn everything I could in order to make the most informed purchase. If the targeting strategy had taken into consideration the timing of those cookies (I only ever dug into the topic between Thanksgiving and the second week of Dec), my affinity data from Facebook and other social networks, and my long-standing content habits, I would probably have ended up with headlines related to smartphones, tablets, and wearables: things I’m more interested in now that my Christmas shopping is done. 3D printing headlines may have seemed more relevant, but they didn't get a single click from me.

Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight V: A time for branded data, surveys, reports and playbooks

Ryan Skinner

What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly* round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)

IAB publishes content marketing primer
Set up simultaneously with its native advertising task force (see below), the IAB’s content marketing task force has produced a content marketing primer. It is by no means sexy or compelling for content marketing practitioners, but it does give them a succinct, 6-page tool to explain the basics of content marketing (as well as a tacit endorsement from the IAB) for stakeholders.

IAB drops native advertising playbook same day as FTC workshop

Read more

Robot as a platform - Google upgrade their hardware ambitions

Anthony Mullen

Some exotica for the end of the year: Yesterday I did an interview with the French publication Nouvel Observateur on Google's recent robotics acquisition Boston Dynamics. Google has been acquiring robotics companies hand over fist during 2013, and it's quite a reveal of how they are planning for the Google of tomorrow - something of interest to almost every brand. Here is my short take: 

1. Why did Google decide to invest in robotics?

Read more

Get Ready For The Next Stage Of Online Video Advertising

Luca Paderni

Guest post by James McDavid

Today we’re publishing two reports exploring the current state of online video advertising, one focused on US and Canada and a second on Europe. This is a piece of research Forrester has conducted periodically over the past five years, allowing us to map the growth of the medium as it has risen to become a major component of the marketing plans for many brands, and this long-term perspective has allowed us to identify both the good practices and the bad habits that have taken root in the practice.

Amongst the positive elements are:

  • Many publishers now take great care to ensure that video content on their site is presented in an uncluttered fashion. This is allowing marketers who’ve bought in-stream ads access to consumers without having to compete against a barrage of banners on the same page.
  • Publishers in the US are leading the way here in delivering ‘clean’ viewing experiences – The New York Times and USA Today are good examples of how to present video in a way that benefits both advertisers and consumers.
  • The adoption of interactive ad formats has also gathered pace, bringing new and engaging approaches to in-stream video ads and facilitating a break from a ‘TV-lite’ medium toward something with its own creative boundaries to play with.
Read more

LeWeb: The Next 10 Years

Thomas Husson

What do all of these players have in common?

Most of them are US startups initially backed by venture capital (VC). Some of them are now worth more than $1 billion; others are planning for an IPO; and a couple of them have been acquired for a lot of money while generating little (if any) revenue. Most originated in social media, in the collaborative economy, and pretty much all of them depend on mobile as a significant and growing part of their business. They represent the typical attendees at the LeWeb conference in Paris, looking to become the next Facebook or Amazon in the next 10 years. Some other smaller and less well-known startups competing in LeWeb's startup competition this year may join this list: http://paris.leweb.co/programme/startup-competition

In fact, what they really have in common is that they are all digital disruptors leveraging digital platforms to create new experiences on top of connected devices. They are taking advantage of open development tools and free infrastructure resources to overhaul products, invert category economics, and redefine customer relationships. They are more agile than traditional companies. As my colleague James L. McQuivey stated recently, digital disruption requires an organizational fix if you don’t want your company to be disrupted.

Read more

Why WeChat Is Not A Good Marketing Tool — Yet

Xiaofeng Wang

WeChat (Weixin in Chinese), the hottest mobile social app in China, now has more than 600 million users. Because WeChat dominates mobile Internet usage, marketers are putting high expectations on its marketing potential. However, WeChat is not a good marketing tool yet for most brands, as it has several limitations:

  • WeChat has core features of privacy and one-to-one communications. User behavior on WeChat is very different from on Weibo. The information that users share on WeChat is private and can be seen only by personally approved friends; as a result, WeChat is used more as a communication tool for friends to keep in contact. Users are less likely to repost brands’ information massively, as marketers expect them to do on Weibo.
  • Branded accounts have restrictions in sending messages. There are two types of public accounts — service accounts and subscription accounts — that marketers can use to send one-to-many messages to their WeChat followers, but each type has restrictions. A service account has custom-menu functionality that works almost as a mini-site embedded in the WeChat platform, but it allows only one message per month. A subscription account allows, at most, two messages per day, but with less advanced functionalities. In addition, all subscription accounts are folded together, so it's hard for users to notice new messages.
Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight IV: Some content marketing insecurity

Ryan Skinner

What's happening (that's important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous "Fortnights", go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week? Send me a mail.)

Stealing content is in fact a crime
Blogger Mark Schaefer caught Verizon brazenly stealing his content (reprinting in full with no attribution, compensation or permission). It’s one of only instances of content theft he’s seen. Go ahead and curate content, but – by all means – attribute the source and don’t plagiarize it.

Content distribution space gets reaffirmation
OneSpot announced a recent $5+ million funding round to fund its mission to help businesses with a real, and common, problem: Getting their content in front of prospective customers. This is just the latest harbinger of a growing market for content distribution. Watch this space.

B2B buyers actually have emotions

Read more

Are Your Social Marketing Efforts Competitive In China?

Xiaofeng Wang

Too often, marketers wonder whether their social marketing efforts are keeping pace with those of their peers. Marketers in China are no exception. My most recent report, Benchmarking Social Marketing Efforts In China, will help them find the answer and optimize their social marketing strategies.

Overall, marketers in China show lots of faith in social media. Thirteen of 22 marketers we surveyed say they will increase their social media budget more than 25% in 2013 compared with 2012, and seven of them will increase it more than 50%.

However, they report only moderate satisfaction — on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), we found an average satisfaction rating of 3.4 with the social tactics they are using and an average rating of 3.27 with social platforms. Based on these adoption and satisfaction ratings, we have categorized the social tactics and platforms that marketers use in China into four groups:

  • Essential: high adoption and satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as branded social profiles and Sina Weibo, are marketers’ ideal choices.
  • Promising: low adoption but high satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as Douban and reviews on companies’ own websites, are emerging, and their marketing value is not yet proven, but satisfaction among marketers now using them bodes well.
  • Overvalued: high adoption but low satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as Renren, while widely used, fall short of marketers’ expectations.
Read more

Rise of the Content Distribution Space

Ryan Skinner

This morning’s announcement by OneSpot – a company that helps marketers place their content in front of relevant buyers through display advertising – of series A financing to the tune of $5.3 million may pale next to recent multibillion IPOs and valuations, but it says a lot about a new space opening up: content distribution.

While OneSpot and Resonance HQ (which offers a similar service) drive content engagement through banner ads, native advertising or sponsored content puts branded content straight into digital publishers’ editorial mix (often with “sponsored by” or “sponsor content” next to it). Vendors like Outbrain, Taboola, AdBlade, Sharethrough, LinkSmart, Nativo, Media Voice and AdsNative are vying for a $2 billion per year native advertising market that’s growing by as much as 20% year on year.

Add to this the plays by Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that allow marketers to purchase visibility for their content in certain users’ timelines. For both Facebook and twitter, this is their only source of revenue for a growing proportion of mobile users, and it looks like Wall Street may be rewarding them for this mobile-driven success.

Read more