Cutting through the hype

Digital marketing is in a constant state of flux; the next wave of techniques and technologies appear before you’ve even had time to evaluate the last. So, to help you keep your strategy out in front, we’ve asked new media age’s experts in display, mobile, search and social media to cutthrough the jargon and pick out the crucial developments for success…


What you need to be doing in mobile

Ronan Shields

Keep up with the platforms
Global smartphone sales will hit 468m this year, says research firm Gartner, with shipments of Android-based devices (180m) set to almost double smartphone shipments (91m). Microsoft’s share of the smartphone market is set to remain in single digits this year according to the research firm. However, its tie-up with Nokia is predicted to boost its share of the smartphone market to 20% by 2015. Nokia has now ditched the Symbian platform in favour of Windows Phone OS, so forwardthinking marketers will bear this in mind when planning their mobile strategies.

Remember social is mobile
At the tail end of last year Facebook revealed that it had 250m monthly mobile users, half its entire user base. And you can be pretty sure that figure has increased significantly since then. With Facebook also introducing services such as Facebook Deals, which lets brands issue vouchers in return for users checking in at venues, marketers finally have a mass-market platform that ties in both social and location. It’s a resource that’s just waiting to be tapped.

Consider search and mobile together
As in the online world, mobile advertising spend is dominated by search. The most recent IAB Mobile Ad Spend study revealed that search accounted for 66% of all money spent on mobile advertising in 2010. That’s up from 52% the previous year. This rise has been driven by the increase in smartphone shipments and consumers beginning to use their mobile phones while watching TV, for instance. Such ’dual screening’ or ’multi-screening’ is something to take into account when devising future TV campaigns.

Don’t forget the tablets
Apple has singlehandedly injected life into the tablet market with the launch of its iPad. Tablet devices had been around for some time but Apple’s impeccably high standards showed the rest of the market what could be done. Rivals have since launched similar devices, blurring the definition of what is and what is not a mobile, and giving advertisers a platform to launch interactive campaigns that hammer home their message.

Don’t ignore SMS
Let’s not forget that a SMS campaign has an addressable audience of 100% of mobile users prior to smartphone usage becoming truly ubiquitous. A recent Starbucks promotion issuing vouchers via SMS achieved a recall rate of 93%. With location-based SMS marketing servicessuch as O2 Media’s ’You Are Here’, brands are starting to see response rates of 20-30%, making it an attractive option.

View Point

Matt Isaacs, founding partner, Essence

Striving for excellence, regardless of channel, is as important as ever. But in the case of digital, excellence has the potential to reach further; to strive for perfection. As the medium evolves and we collectively learn to see beyond the advertiser perspective, the potential of this data-rich digital environment when encountered from a user-journey-led view is unrivaled. And it’s true integration that will be the key.

Today, the route to real, usable and profitable insight is joined-up (and clean, comprehensive and accurate) data and informed, hypothesis-driven analytics. Analysis for analysis sake is worthless. Smart analytics is all about having a view on what you are looking for before you start and using objective, hypothesis-driven approaches to test these theories.

Imagine a world where good old insight and planning skills are crashed together with creativity, technology, commerce, media management and heavy duty analytics; would the traditional agency models work in this world?

That world is already here – it’s the digital world – and the answer to the question is unclear. What is clear is that we cannot escape the need for these elements to come together, for individuals from different disciplines to find new ways of working together to deliver new solutions.

Untangling how consumer interactions drive value will become a key to success for advertisers. The data and analytical techniques are available, including path to conversion, attribution, control/exposed Trulift studies and display frequency to conversion. Advertisers must embrace these techniques to understand the interaction between search, display, social and mobile.

We’re now in a position to provide a platform on which advertisers can execute, test and enhance intelligent and innovative digital activities; and a platform that, perhaps for the first time, truly delivers an understanding of the value to brands of these new approaches. So, as we look ahead to a world where the historically most powerful advertising medium of all – television (or at least the advertising delivered through this medium) – will increasingly be consumed online, these techniques will take on even greater significance. For me, there has never been a more exciting time to be in marketing.

What you need to be doing in social media


Charlotte McEleny

The level of attention a brand will have to give to customer service on social media channels will entirely depend on the type of business. But opening yourself up on a communication channel means you need to have the structure in place to be able to answer customers about all aspects of your business. In the same way all inbound emails or calls in call centers are logged and managed, messages via social media should be taken with the same weight. This doesn’t mean the person who manages the Facebook, Twitter or community presence needs to have all the answers, but the process of knowing who to go to needs to be established. Having this in place also means brands can then apply bigger marketing strategies to social media because they have the process to deal with any fall out.

Social media is not one single marketing channel and its effect reaches far beyond the marketing department. This means any activity you do should be tied to the wider business. Setting out objectives will help to gauge which parts of the business it will also tie into. From a marketing point of view, social media can be a great binding tool between integrated campaigns and provide a great platform for engagement around your brand during big campaign activity.


Monitoring is important for customer service and spotting issues, but by setting out objectives and measuring accordingly you’ll have a better picture of the ROI, while also tapping into a constant stream of information from consumers about how your brand is being viewed in real time. In the past this has not been easy, but many brands are now using social media management tools such as Conversocial, Buddy Media and Syncapse. Most companies also have people in place to help brands make the most out of the data and insight.

Some brands are lucky enough to have a fan base and a brand proposition that attracts thousands of people to their page, but most aren’t. Paid is not a dirty word in social media, particularly when well targeted and relevant to both the audience and the purpose of the brand. Great examples of this are brands such as O2, Starbucks or Domino’s which often use paid ads, particularly within Facebook, to drive people to the page using ads that feel contextually social. This also comes back to integrating with the wider activity – tying in social media from the start, instead of at the end will ensure that getting people to ’like’ during a campaign will seem natural.

What you need to be doing display


Gina Lovett

Real-time bidding – automated display trading – can be done either through a display engine marketer (DEM) trading desk that offers a managed service or an automated demand-side platform (DSP). DEMs handle budget, allocate, implement and optimise campaigns, often working alongside a media agency’s own display activity.

Media agencies, too, are offering dynamic buying services, either licensing demand-side platforms, or buying DSP technologies and integrating them into their services. Sky, one of the UK’s largest display advertisers, is testing a number of DSP and DEM providers, working out which one will suit it best. The broadcaster expects up to 50% of its online display ad spend will be through real-time bidding in the next two years.

Retargeting – or serving an ad to a consumer as a reminder that they previously browsed a particular website or product – is seeing up to a 400% increase in the volume of sales for some merchant clients, according to retargeting specialist Criteo. But when it comes to retargeting, serving ads based on user behaviour doesn’t always give the full picture. There are instances where this could be sensitive; think about ads for champagne deals being served to minors who share a computer with their parents. The Internet Advertising Bureau and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising have guidelines on what constitutes best practice in this case.

The next trend set to take hold in display, underpinned by data, is dynamic creative optimisation, or being able to tailor visual messages to users depending on their relationship with a brand. What’s the point in gathering masses of data, pursuing and retargeting users ripe for a sale, if the ad content is unimaginative or downright annoying? As a result, more creative formats, allowing for video, rich media and branded content with attention to typographic detail, visual accessibility, image and scale are also driving a renaissance in display advertising.

Social graphs and social data, mapping out a user’s popularity, social influence and usefulness in brand advocacy are starting to attract the interest of CRM specialists, with agencies developing tools for brands to optimise direct communications with established customers, based on their social standing and behaviour. Emerging ad networks like RadiumOne and, on the other hand, are planning to put like/share buttons across display ads within their networks, integrating social data with video and optimising media on how influential users are.

In the midst of all this data-driven display activity is another long-held objective: to more fairly assess performance of online channels and apportion reward accordingly, also known as attribution modelling. According to advertising body ISBA’s annual Digital Action Group survey, measurement, in particular attribution, is a top priority for brands this year as they look to reward online channels more accurately. Key to all of this will be finding the value of an impression, and how it compares in different environments from Facebook to premium online newspapers, with brand KPIs such as trust, value for money, awareness and consideration starting to be mapped out using new ’brand’ metrics from ’visibility’ to ’visual impact’ and ’time in view’.

What you need to be doing in search

Will Cooper

The most recent IAB/PwC online ad spend report showed £2.35bn was spent on search in the UK last year, representing 57% of total online spend. While the total figure had slipped from 61% in 2009, it far outweighs any other format, and its growth rate was still a healthy 8%. Search is a proven model, with accurate reporting that allows brands to know exactly how well their campaigns are running, far more than any other format online. Until that changes, search will be top.

Approximately 90% (roughly £2bn) of UK search spend goes in to one company – Google. Its paid search platform, AdWords, continues to bring in new, small businesses every day through its self-service offering. Coupled with a powerful reporting tool, Google Analytics, and payment platform, Google Checkout, it can provide brands with a full picture of a customer’s buying cycle.

Microsoft and Yahoo! have joined forces to gain market share from Google under the Search Alliance banner, with hopes of making their search engines more attractive to users and advertisers. Microsoft’s Bing, which has steadily increased its own market share over the past three years, will power Yahoo!’s search, with the latter servicing ad sales for premium. Roll-out in the UK is on hold until 2012 after Yahoo! identified some problems with Microsoft’s platform, but both are desperate to demonstrate to advertisers that search is not just about one company.

One of the big trends of 2010 was Facebook starting to take direct response ad spend from search. The company opened up its API, allowing agencies – and most significantly search agencies – to create dynamic ad platforms that could serve multiple ads across Facebook in real-time, with the quality of reporting at the levels of search. More than ever, brands are able to see exactly how well search-style, direct response advertising works on the largest social media site. With Facebook starting to become a mini web in itself, its threat to Google, and opportunity for advertisers, has never been more apparent.

Mobile has long been touted as the next big thing for search, and now it’s truly delivering. According to search agency Latitude, mobile costs per click are 37% cheaper on average than desktop rates, with around one in 15 paid search clicks coming from mobile in the first quarter of 2011. Search agencies are also looking at web-connected TVs and consoles, with clickable ads served directly to the TV screen. The next year will see YouView finally launch in the UK, but Google TV could be the real game changer.


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