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Apple gets in the ad game with Quattro purchase

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In what’s being heralded as the next step for the iPhone App Store, Apple made the move yesterday to build advertising into their offering. This evens the playing field between them and Google, who made their fortune in advertising and are just now unveiling their first hardware device, the Nexus One phone.

An ad platform allows Apple to continue reaping value from the 40 million iPhones they’ve sold so far.

What could one do with, say, a platform of 150 million users? (We’re about to find out.)

New York Times: Apple Buys Quattro, An Ad Firm

"…mobile ad spending is expected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2013, as smartphones and other small mobile computing devices become increasingly popular. Seventeen percent of adult cellphone subscribers in the United States have smartphones, up from 11 percent a year ago."

January 7, 2010 - 4 years ago

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The Future of Advertising is Social

Ad publishers on major web platforms are expanding the standard display advertising format to include social actions that leverage the user’s contextual experience.

The newest example is Google’s click-to-call functionality, which will allow users of selected smart phones to call businesses directly from a Google ad. And Facebook’s social ads already offer advertisers three alternatives to the standard click: event RSVP, gift giving, and becoming a fan.

Contextual advertising features are available to more than the major platforms. Sites like Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube – all thriving, user-driven communities – could integrate their own social actions into advertising. Larger platforms like Google and Facebook will bear out this experiment.

Adding social actions to advertising increases potential affinity between brands and consumers by:

  • providing a smoother user experience
  • presenting brands on a human level
  • offering consumers a sense of control

We’ll discuss how the features of contextual advertising accomplish this in future posts.

January 12, 2010 - 4 years ago

Posted In TrendsInsights

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The Future of Advertising is Social (Part 2)

In our previous post we discussed how major online platforms are expanding the format of the display ad.

How would a platform add social actions to the advertisements they carry? Ideally, they’d start by building in features the community already uses to share, vote, or communicate. Examples:

  • Faves and Likes
  • Thumbs up/thumbs down
  • Replies
  • Comments
  • Share
  • Retweet

Adding social actions to advertising increases affinity between brands and consumers:

Social actions in ads present brands on a human level, bringing the user and the brand closer together. Allowing replies and comments on an ad links individual consumers with a real business representative.

Don’t underestimate the power of this personal connection. When a customer talks back to a brand and gets a real response, like they do when they talk to @comcastcares or @BofA_help, the brand feels more accessible. At Bubble Fusion we’ve repeatedly experienced the benefit of connecting directly with our customers, and we’ll share those experiences in a future post.

Social actions in ads provide a smoother user experience. They enable actions that users are used to taking in other parts of the site and keep the user in context. Ultimately, the ad feels like part of the platform and is more likely to be welcomed by the user.

Finally, social actions in ads offer consumers a sense of control. Voting features such as Facebook’s “Like” button or an “X” that makes the ad disappear imparts a sense of power over the ads themselves. Even if users can’t fully turn off the ads, feeling validated and listened to strengthens the user’s connection to the platform and gives the advertiser feedback on their campaign.

January 14, 2010 - 4 years ago

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Apple. Google. Hajime!

Mobile advertising is heating up. Actually, it’s already hot. Two big players: Apple and Google are positioning themselves to dominate this new(est) frontier.

"They’re gearing up for the ultimate fight." — Chris Cunningham via Businessweek

How will this competition evolve mobile advertising? If the solution is to just port banners and text ads to devices: meh. Whatever. The added context of platform/device are cop-outs. Location-awareness is definitely interesting. Done well, mobile advertising can benefit everyone: the advertiser, the publisher, AND the consumer.

January 15, 2010 - 4 years ago

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Google to Offer Virtual Billboard Space (in Street View)

This is what happens when you live in the future:

Google Plans to Upgrade Old Billboards in Street View

Google can sell ad space online that looks like ad space in real life. They possess the ability to monetize every road on earth.

January 19, 2010 - 4 years ago

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Ads Are Conversations: Giving Consumers Control over the Ads They See

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Last week, a coalition of advertising industry organizations announced the privacy “i”: a symbol that will ride on ads that have been targeted to the viewer. The symbol is expected to appear wherever ads are targeted. Clicking on the “i” symbol will lead you to information about why you were targeted for the ad.

Google and Yahoo already share this kind of targeting information, except that they show you your overall ad profile, not how they matched you to a specific ad.

Your Google ad preferences
Your Yahoo! ad preferences

If that was your first time seeing your ad profile, chances are the experience was surprisingly ordinary. Has Google decided you’re interested in air travel and jobs? It’s hard to get angry about that. Taking the mystery out of such things is good for all parties.

However, there’s something important about configurable ad preferences. Allowing users to indicate what kinds of ads they’d prefer to see (even if ultimately they’d prefer to see no ads at all) is a first step in bringing brands and consumers closer together.

Imagine that ads are conversations between brands and consumers, not just one-way messages. Consumers’ ad profiles make them visible to brands that match their interests. In that context, the brand’s ad feels less like an unwanted interruption and more like an invitation to connect. Increasingly, platforms are building functionality for consumers to respond to brands directly instead of being mediated by a website (such as Google’s click-to-call functionality).

Platforms that were built around communication are well-positioned for this change in the industry. Facebook has made strides around integrating social actions into advertising. The biggest opportunity, though, lies in Twitter, which was built for conversations.

Twitter is ideally suited for a brand that wants to show a message to millions of users and get an instantaneous response. With the addition of consumer-influenced targeting, brands that choose to advertise on Twitter have a better chance for engaging customers than they do in most other mass-marketing contexts.

February 1, 2010 - 4 years ago

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Apple Bars App Developers from Using Location to Target Ads

Apple has announced that it will reject applications using location primarily for ad targeting. Yesterday, Apple posted an update to its “News and Announcements” Dev Center about Apple CoreLocation technology:

If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.

Both Craig Hockenberry (inventor of Twitterific) and Gizmodo opine that this is a preliminary move to make space for Apple’s own answer to mobile advertising, which is plausible given Apple’s recent acquisition of Quattro for $275 million.

Location is extremely valuable data with regard to ad targeting, but it’s not the only valuable data. If you’re walking down a street with two restaurants and a shoe store, you could reasonably be served an ad for dinner specials and shoe repair. But if you’ve just eaten and you’re wearing new shoes, those ads aren’t relevant.

The only ad that could beat ads solely targeted on location is one that’s also relevant to your interests. Based on the results we’ve seen at 140 Proof, combining persona targeting with location targeting is a much more successful approach. The fact that Twitter ads are social too is a huge win for brands. (This isn’t to say that Apple wouldn’t target ads based on personas, since Apple is in the best position to do so. It’s conceivable that they have access to rich mines of behavior and purchase data on all their iPhone and App Store customers.) So knowing only where you are isn’t quite as useful as also knowing who you are.

Major platforms are fighting hard to claim and keep the lead in the mobile ad space. For more details on that, try the Business Week article “Apple vs. Google.”

February 4, 2010 - 4 years ago

Posted In TrendsTechnology

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Building the Ad Team: Twitter Seeks “Monetization” Engineers

Twitter’s newly-minted engineering blog features a list of job postings, including three new listings for “Monetization” engineers. Cue speculative gossip among those of us interested in how Twitter will monetize its huge platform and make good on promises of the “fascinating,” “non-traditional” advertising program Twitter’s COO Dick Costolo announced in November 2009.

A selection of skills the Monetization team must possess:

  • Experience in developing front-end advertiser applications
  • Ability to implement statistical tools for improving relevance and yield
  • Experience in mining and displaying data from a real time database

The job listings don’t reveal how exactly Twitter’s own advertising system might work or how large the team might be. All they do reveal is that Twitter is ready to get cracking on the next phase.

(That said, if you’re interested working on an advertising platform for Twitter, you should join us. We’ve built it already.)

February 5, 2010 - 4 years ago

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