Twitter is best to reach large audiences and react in real time; Google+ is best to leverage video stories and Facebook to maintain an ongoing conversation and two-way interaction. Tumblr, in many ways, is the best canvas to tell a story.
Last week I met with Jonah Goodhart. Jonah is an online advertising pioneer (Colonize), investor (Right Media) and founder/CEO (Moat). This was the first time we met, and we hit it off. His company Moat is up to some really interesting things with respect to measurement and analytics.
One thing Jonah and I have in common is that we share a vision and focus for helping brands navigate digital. We also have similar industry backgrounds. A decade-plus ago, we were both helping advertisers in a media buying capacity when online, and display advertising in particular, was dominated by direct response.
As we reminisced about those days and how creative was such a focus (largely to drive high click-thru rates), Jonah raised a good point. Given how users interact digitally, a marketer only has a short amount of time to get noticed. This is why early banner ads, designed for the click, were very offer- focused (and at times flashy).
As much as digital has changed over the past ten years, this aspect of it has not. As a marketer, you only have a short time – approximately one second – to have your message noticed by the user and make an impact. I think that we should think about time (and units of time) as a native digital concept.
Picture how you navigate a site after clicking a link to an article. The site loads, you begin to scroll and within a second, you will have noticed an ad and/or engaged with it, or ignored it and kept going with your reading. Time is everything, whether you are looking for a click, an engagement or to influence a user from a brand standpoint.
What are the implications of time and how can we optimize for it?
It underscores the importance of good creative. Understanding that you have a second or less to be noticed, it’s crucial to have creative that makes an immediate impact. It means giving the user the good stuff up front… or giving them a reason to want to see more, whether that is a longer ad experience, a click, or an engagement. It means clear messaging and calls to action.
It means that page delivery and design is important. A page should render quickly to avoid user abandonment. Think about the homepage of Google – Larry and Sergey understood this early on. They resisted early pressure to add display ads and other content to the main search page so as to be as user-friendly as possible, thus creating the opportunity for maximum revenue on the search results page. Google notwithstanding, a site page should not be cluttered. Featured content and advertising should be up front with a minimum of scrolling (cluttered pages are unfortunately the rule, rather than the exception, today). The page should be configured to give advertisers’ messages the opportunity to be viewed, via impressions that are viewable by the user for that crucial one second of time.
Frequency becomes a factor as well, as in measuring and understanding the optimal level of depending on campaign goals. This is an area that is very under-researched, but also highly individual. Credit goes to Ari Paparo for pointing this out. His belief is that because of the immediacy of digital, more frequency than is standard these days is likely best (by the way, check out the Twitter debate that exploded when I teased out this topic on Saturday morning).
The concept of time to digital marketing is fundamental and significant. I’d love to see more conversation and research around it. The more we understand this, the better job we will be able to do for marketers.
If agencies are purely middlemen, they deserve to be cut out. Clients should pay for value and leadership from agencies.
Gary Vaynerchuk had a good, short video blog last week elaborating on his frustration with a recent mobile advertising experience: namely, receiving a “roadblock” ad from Samsung prior to landing on ESPN.com. Check it out here (warning, language).
Gary is a smart guy and I think he articulated some of the challenges of mobile advertising well from the user perspective. Most notably that mobile is a different medium than any other and for many, is an intensely personal experience.
Mobile display advertising simply must get figured out by this industry. At the pace mobile web is growing, it represents not only an incremental opportunity but a threat as it takes share from the PC-based Web. Mobile revenue lags time spent with the medium for a variety of reasons; one being that the advertising units themselves are not compelling. It seems mobile ads are either tiny (and thus easily ignored by users and not very valuable for marketers), or fairly intrusive such as the one Gary received. It’s a dilemma: how can advertisers stand out on mobile?
I had a good exchange on Twitter with Gary and Adam Kmiec (head of digital for Campbell’s Soup Company) and a couple of others weighed in as well. You can see it here. Consensus of this group was that a more customized and native approach is the best solution. This is not surprising. Besides search, native units are clearly what are working on mobile today based on the momentum of Facebook and Twitter.
So, is that it: is a custom, native approach the future of mobile display advertising? If so, what does that mean for ad exchanges, which are built for standardization and scale? Or smaller publishers, who may not be on the radar for native advertising experiences? Is there a display unit that has not been invented yet, one that can help advertisers stand out while preserving the user experience?
Clearly there are more questions than answers when it comes to mobile advertising, at least today.
This is something that I have been thinking about since Twitter launched Vine. I would love some feedback on this thesis.
Are shorter online video ads native to the Web, and are they going to be the norm in the near future?
YouTube seems to be doing well with its :05 video ad format, after which it allows the user to skip or continue on to watch it. This creates a user-friendly ad experience that matches the clip-based nature of YouTube while still most likely most likely improving brand lift. It also potentially delivers a much more engaged and qualified user who decides to watch the entire message.*
In addition, some video advertising technology vendors are providing brands the ability to allow users to “watch the full video”, after a standard ad time. Somewhat consistent with the YouTube model.
Vine limits users to :06. I think that Vine will be huge, for the same reason that TV is huge and online video can’t grow fast enough: sight, sound and motion beats the alternative every time Brands are already experimenting vine for creating neat video ads. Check out Wheat Thins and GE. These videos are native to Twitter and its experience, easy to produce, distribute and share.
When online video first started, brands used their :30 TV spots because they had nothing else. Today, you generally only see :30s in full episode player (FEP) experiences. :15s are the norm, but perhaps they are even too long for the consumer Web and (importantly) mobile Web experience. Maybe :05s and :06s are the online equivalent of the TV :30.
Starting a company requires, amongst other things: an idea, the guts to go out into the world and create something around that idea, the passion to attract a team to work on that idea, the leadership to bring out the best in them and a business model to make it real.
Scaling a company requires, amongst other things: a business model that is appealing to a much larger customer base, the systems and processes to support that larger customer base and activity, professional management in all functional areas, a focus on people, culture, performance and retention, and the leadership to bring out the best in a much larger base of people time and time again (no matter what the business challenge and economic climate).
There is a lot of information out there on starting a company and a lot of press coverage devoted to startups. And that’s a great thing. Startups are the engine of growth and innovation. There is much less on what it takes to get from $10,000,000 to $100,000,000, growing from 10 to 200+ employees, managing that growth successfully, integrating acquisitions, and everything that it takes to scale a businesses. It’s understandable since the number of companies that get there is small.
Having been a part of both starting and scaling, I can tell you there’s a common driver. Can you find it?