Far from being a cliché, digital ads are becoming an important asset in the advertising mix and keen to not miss out on the business opportunity are the technology kings.
A stream of new opportunities are being presented by these household names, and at an advertising networking event I popped along to at Microsoft HQ yesterday (19 September), almost all of media-land and even ad execs admitted they were enchanted by the new found possibilities being opened up by the big brands.
Innovation is bolstering creative fuel – to the point where media agencies and ad agencies are now fighting over who owns the concept, who negotiates the seeding and who takes responsibility for the metrics’ scrutiny.
Clearly, a trance effect is occurring between these household names and brands. A major example of this is the news that Diageo and Facebook are to run “co-created experiments” to explore “the full capability of the platform”. The alcohol giant’s CMO Andy Fennell admits that his staff have had to be trained in “Facebook bootcamps” – something the media agencies have been keen to jump on.
The move comes just a week after rival Twitter announced that Promoted Tweets will be visible in the timeline of people who don’t follow a brand. A small group of US based companies will be running ads, including AMC Theatres, American Express, Disney, HP, Lionsgate, Pepsi, Xbox and Yahoo!.
Meanwhile, Google is investing in outdoor advertising trials. The company has lured in key advertisers – French Connection, L’Oréal Garnier, Sony Music and Samsung via outdoor ad agency CBS Outdoor – to experiment with its Google Goggles tool enabling to allow users with the Goggle app on their iPhone or Android device to access extra content online by taking a picture of the campaign – a sure signal that they are ready to battle Apple’s iAd moves, which are continuing to make waves.
And Microsoft is not missing out. Its Windows 8 system unveiled last week promises to be “much more efficient and user intuitive”. Advertisers tell me it will make it a lot more interesting to use the company’s consumer-facing operations such as MSN and the Internet Explore browser.
Reach is an important sales point for the company. According to Microsoft, the MSN site has over 27 million UK unique users a month in the UK alone – more than BBC.co.uk and Sky Online – a 61% reach across the UK’s internet audience.
Opportunities like this are intent on offering unrivalled breadth of opportunity for innovation advertisers in the UK.
As one media planner put it to me: “The relevancy and opportunity is enormous in this technology. Through it, we can reach out messages to Microsoft’s vast audience in a highly topical way and at the same time, help with business targets in a more efficient way than we can currently.”
Another told me that a recent boom in hiring of creative technologists means they will be more equipped towards “using the latest web standards and new technologies like a HTML5 canvas and audio tags to serve up rich content in an intuitive fashion.”
Yet, Microsoft will have to tackle its rivals from the social networking and search worlds. As I travelled back from Reading I couldn’t help but notice, for example, that Yahoo! had taken over Paddington tube station to promote its FA Premiership highlights service, and it has announced that it is gearing up to launch an HTML 5-based system called Livestand for magazine publishers wanting to cut the costs of getting onto iPad and Android apps.
In a further sign that these brands will take a major share in advertising, PHD has predicted that in five years time, the Cloud will store all of our music and videos, most TVs will be connected to the internet, fitted with Ultra-HD technology.
Whilst last week’s RTS conference may have cast doubt on the future of IPTV as an advertising driver, it is clear that technology is enabling consumers to instantaneously connect with friends and harness their collective wisdom to make better decisions. This sudden boom in innovation from the technology kings is just the beginning.
Agencies are getting excited and clients are coming around, but the real question is just how long before these internet trends create a real stir in the ongoing creativity debate.