The growth of automated media buying

Digital marketing media buying on auto-pilot

Real-time bidding (RTB) is a new method of selling and buying online display advertising in real time one ad impression at a time. Also sometimes referred to as programmatic buying/selling this is the future of media buying online.

eMarketers latest forecast of US ad spending predicts marketers will spend $3.34 billion this year on real-time-bidded ads, up 73.9% from last year. Previously, in June, eMarketer forecast RTB spending would reach $3.32 billion, for growth of 72.7%. eMarketer has similarly revised upward growth rates and total dollars spent on RTB for future years. eMarketer now expects US advertisers to spend $8.69 billion on RTB ads by 2017, up from $8.51 billion previously forecast.

On the desktop, programmatic or automated buying of display ads has already made huge inroads. Its advocates say that it has led to a more transparent and efficient digital ad market. But it is in mobile where programmatic buying may make the most difference. That’s because smartphones are advertising platforms that we carry in our pockets, and with RTB that means marketers can reach us in real-time, and target potential customers according to location and context.

There are some great benefits in media buying for publishers:

  1. It could help solve the CPM problem: The glut of ad inventory as global audiences rush into mobile has dragged on mobile display ad CPMs (CPMs refers to the cost per thousand impressions). That means publishers can’t monetize their mobile audiences effectively via ads. Advocates of programmatic — or automated buying and selling — say it can deliver the scale and efficiency needed to effectively match buyers and sellers and boost CPMs.
  2. Leveraging location data via real-time bidding (RTB): RTB is a style of programmatic buying in which digital advertising opportunities are auctioned off in real-time. The auctions take place in milliseconds as advertisers bid on the right to show you an ad immediately after you open an app or click to a new web page. On mobile, RTB could be extremely powerful because consumers take their devices everywhere — to the mall, the car dealership, Starbucks, etc. “You have a source of media that’s with someone constantly,” says Jamie Singer, director of client services at Everyscreen Media, a platform for mobile RTB that was recently acquired by Media6Degrees. “You’re working in real-time, and getting information based on location.”
  3. Helping to reach the holy grail of mobile advertising — controls and efficiencies: Believers in RTB and programmatic for mobile say they are making giant strides in perfecting their technologies, so they’ll have the ability to leverage consumer data on mobile and track users as they do on PCs (while still being sensitive to privacy concerns). That will include location, contextual, and demographic data layered on top of real-time ad requests.
  4. Some publishers already achieve higher CPMs with RTB than they do with traditional ad networks: As a result, RTB is seeing wider adoption across the mobile ad ecosystem, and positive momentum on both sides of the equation. The sell-side is providing more premium inventory, and larger publishers. And the buy-side is seeing more demand for RTB from advertisers and agencies. Of course, RTB and programmatic are contributing to hyper-efficient markets where ad prices tend to be low. The key is for RTB to bring scale to premium mobile ad marketplaces, bring in scale-focused brands, and lift all boats that way.

Get hold of us at OfferForge for us to help you optimise your advertising costs.

Your digital marketing mix should be focused on reaching your customers in a number of ways and display plays an important part. It allows for the creation of brand awareness on the channels that customers frequent.

Common mistakes in mobile publishing

Avoiding the pitfalls of mobile publishing

Mobile publishing is still fairly new if you consider how smartphone’s have only really been around for such a short time. If we consider the move from mobile sites to responsive design it’s even newer.

The issue is expanded even further with the introduction of tablets where users are more comfortable with long form media. Here’s an example of three common mistakes from three major sites:

No mobile site

The Daily Mail traffics in OUTRAGE. It should save some of that for its mobile experience. The publisher crows that almost half the traffic its online arm receives now comes from non-desktop devices, but it still doesn’t bother to offer users a mobile-optimized Web experience. Hit the site from an iOS device and be prepared to luxuriate in the awful. First, you’ll be prompted to download an app. It seems as though the Mail wants to punish those who decline, since you’re in pinch-and-zoom land without it. Given that the publication shouts about the amount of social traffic it receives, you’d think it would try harder to ensure those users are greeted with a site that makes them want to stick around.

No app when promised

Walter White would not be pleased, at least not coming in with his phone. AMC has gone to great lengths to produce second-screen experiences for popular shows on its network like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” The “Breaking Bad” site currently advertises the fact that those experiences are now available on Android and iPhone, but good luck finding them. Once again, for mobile users, it’s a case of having to pinch and scroll their way around the site in order to read any of the content. So much for a seamless co-viewing experience.

App download interstitials

Many webmasters promote their site’s apps to their web visitors. There are many implementations to do this, some of which may cause indexing issues of smartphone-optimized content and others that may be too disruptive to the visitor’s usage of the site.

Based on these various considerations, Google recommends using a simple banner to promote your app inline with the page’s content.

These are three simple rules for mobile pages that you shouldn’t ever get wrong. As a publisher, if you’re getting a lot of mobile traffic then get mobile friendly quickly!

Source (Google, Digiday)

Not everything on mobile revolves around apps

Mobile phones have become the most often used tool for researching products and services. The importance therefore of ensuring that your digital marketing efforts involve a great responsive website can’t be overlooked.

Your success in generating leads from your site might very well depend on the ease of use for mobile visitors. There has a been a definite increase month on month in terms of the traffic from mobile devices to all of our sites. In some instances it has become more than 50% of the traffic.

The mobile friendliness of your site therefore will also impact your success more and more as consumers move over to mobile devices.

Are your customers “showrooming”?

Unless you’re very smart you’re currently asking yourself: what on earth is “showrooming”? Basically it’s when a client comes into your physical store to see your products in the real world, all while using their mobile phone to find a cheaper supplier.

JiWire’s Mobile Audience Insights Report for Q2 2013, there has been a 25% increase in the use of mobiles in retail stores, which has significant implications for retailers.


As can be seen above most users are comparing prices of clothing, a logical choice since they need to check sizing in-store.

Is this all doom and gloom for retailers or can they actually provide a useful service by offering wi-fi in stores?

Comparison shopping: (a.k.a. showrooming)

If your customers are comparison shopping online and using your store as a place for sizing then the simple solution is to compete on price. While we understand there is an inherently higher cost for bricks and mortar stores most of the time HGH the shipping of an online store can help equate pricing. However, humans love instant gratification so will turn to buying in a store unless there is a massive price difference.

Provide coupons:

Help your customers looking for a product by taking advantage of the hyper local aspect of their mobile phone. If they’re looking for a certain product and you know they’re in an area close to your store (that supplies said product) then provide coupons in order to stimulate purchase.


Again, using the GPS in a phone you can easily work out where a user is. If they’re searching for a product close to your stores you can assume they need to find a product. Point them in a direction to a review you can easily convert them into buying your product spontaneously.

If you’re still not convinced then take a look at the picture below to see the latest results of how customers are showrooming:


This then poses the challenge for you to hook in your customers with your affiliate marketing efforts. Not getting the sales, when you see you are getting the visitors can get very disheartening. Your digital marketing efforts should however go into making your mobile site drive the customers through to completed sales. Your affiliate commissions depend on you!

How does your online measurement measure up?

Online measurement is crucial!

We hear time and time again how a major benefit of digital marketing is the ability to measure. From a return on investment perspective you can learn exactly how much money is put into a campaign and how much you get out in terms of actual revenue or traffic. The great advantage after all with the digital world is that online measurement is easy and accurate.

As good as this theory of measurement is, most companies don’t really care. We’re still living in a world where ad spend is not measured correctly or at all and a Facebook campaign that increases “likes” is considered a success.

According to an Econsultancy study of over 900 companies there is a major lack of understanding and budget for measurement.


Company respondents focused on a lack of multiple factors: consistency, strategy, time, investment in people. Others wrote about siloed departments and teams, and too much data noise.

For those that do measure their results there’s still a distinct disconnect between actual ads served and those viewed. A new measurement is aiming towards checking for whether ads are viewed as opposed to just served.

Viewability needs to be the starting point for campaign assessment – clicks, engagement, interaction rates and all other metrics can only be properly considered once it’s understood how many people saw the ads.

digital marketing is lost without online measurement

It’s an interesting move and requires that half an ad’s pixels must be in view for at least a second.

Whatever metric you use it’s important to consider measurement. If budget is an issue, petition for more money to prove the value of your initial investment! If understanding is a problem then give us a call at OfferForge and we’ll help you understand how your campaign performed and where we can make it even better.

Where online measurement becomes critical in affiliate marketing

As an affiliate marketer you will be generating an income from lead generation campaigns and cost per sale campaigns. It is therefore crucial that you are able to measure a number of metrics that will enable you to see if your efforts are a success or not.

The great news is that many tools are free and thy can give you quick insights into the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts. The easiest place to start would definitely be to use Google Analytics. You should do yourself a favor and watch a few Youtube videos on how to set up goals. Once set up they will give you great insights into the conversion rates on specific pages.

Through the online measurement metrics that are built in in Google Analytics you can learn loads about your website. It is definitely the easiest tool to use if you want to uncover new opportunities on your site.

Mobile usage of Facebook and Twitter keep growing

No turning back: mobile usage is taking over

When Facebook first listed of the stock exchange their share price took a pounding due to a general lack of mobile strategy. Things have changed and Facebook has massively embraced mobile adverts. Mobile usage is growing massively in developed nations and Africa is already way ahead of the pack.

In the US, a primarily “desktop first” market the growth of mobile is massive. eMarketer did a study recently on how mobile social media usage is growing:

US mobile phone twitter users and penetration

As we can see from the stats above the growth of mobile Twitter users is going to increase around five million users a year. If you take a look at the red line on the graph you can see total mobile phone social network users. The number as a percentage doesn’t change for the simple reason that there is such a massive growth in total mobile users.

The stats for Twitter pale in comparison to Mobile Facebook usage. In the US just shy of 100 million Americans will access their Facebook account via mobile phone at least monthly. Nearly all mobile social network users will use Facebook via mobile. The overall mobile Facebook population will increase by more than 50% between this year and 2017. In 2013, 99% of all people will access Facebook on their mobile.

US mobile usage stats: mobile phone facebook users and penetration

Local social media stats are completely skewed towards mobile. Here’s some stats from South Africa according to World Wide Worx on mobile usage:

  1. South Africa’s Twitter user base doubled this year, and Facebook is near saturation for connected SA consumers.
  2. Instagram use has shot up, closely tied to Twitter as consumers share photos across the platforms.
  3. Social bookmarking site use has plummeted, including Delicious, Digg, Friendfeed and StumbleUpon.
  4. LinkedIn remains on a slow but steady growth curve in SA, with 20% growth from 2012.
  5. Google Plus uptake has flattened in South Africa – at approximately 500,000 active users.
  6. Executives buy into social: lack of management understanding is a much smaller barrier to entry in 2013.
  7. Largest barrier to social media brand success remains effective time management of the channels.
  8. 58% of major SA brands are now utilising Youtube as a marketing and communications medium.
  9. Of SA’s biggest brands surveyed, 92% post at least once a week to their social profiles.
  10. 53% of social channels managed by marketing team; only 16% of brands outsource it to 3rd parties. The remaining 31% is handled by a mix of PR teams, individuals and other tactics. “It’s generally viewed as too strategic to outsource, or that 3rd parties [are] too remote to resolve customer issues,”.

If you aren’t pushing heavily into mobile you’re in for a long next few years. The largest shift in traffic in the digital space is to mobile usage and it is snowballing! There are countless opportunities for affiliate marketing professionals in the mobile market. More and more time is also being sent on social media using purely mobile devices.

The challenge to everyone in the digital marketing space is embracing this change and working with it. If you want to make sure that your lead generation campaigns are yielding proper returns, you need to go where your consumers are.

Consumers are constantly being bombarded with different forms of media. They have however all but cut out traditional advertising mediums (print, television ads, radio ads and billboards). Every owner of a smartphone spends a lot of time browsing and interacting with content on their mobile phones. The key to your future success with any lead generation campaigns, cost per sale campaigns and any affiliate marketing in general will probably rely heavily on how well you embrace mobile.

How publishers can adapt to responsive design

There’s a huge amount of talk these days about responsive design: the ability of a website to adapt to any device without having to swap to a specific mobile or desktop version of the site. For a great example direct your browser to and resize your window to see how the site adapts to show different amounts of content depending on the size of the screen.

The problem with responsive design is that it requires you to create currently three different versions of the site: mobile, tablet and desktop. This is an adjustment for most web devs although it’s an important step for publishers to take. The reason for this is simple: many readers are adopting mobile phones and tablets as their primary consumption devices for online content.

There are some great case studies for responsive design and the excellent results they provide. O’Neill clothing adapted their online store to a responsive layout and the following occurred:

The redesign achieved some fairly spectacular results on iPhone/iPod:

  • Conversions increased by 65.71%.
  • Transactions went up 112.5%.
  • Revenue increased by 101.25%.

Similarly, on Android devices:

  • Conversions shot up by 407.32%.
  • Transactions increased by 333.33%.
  • Revenue increased by a whopping 591.42%.

As we know as M-Commerce becomes popular responsive is critical however publishers are also seeing excellent results. Here’s what happened when made the change:

  1. Mobile and tablet traffic has gone from 15% of the site traffic pre-redesign to now almost 25%. The bulk of that was the migration of people who were using the old WAP site migrating to the new site.
  2. Pages per visit (PPV), across mobile, tablet and desktop are up “considerably” – for example, mobile PPV increased 23%.
  3. On the homepage, unique visits increased 15%, and time spent went up 7.5%, with the mobile bounce rate decreasing by 26%.

In addition you don’t have to worry about maintaining two different versions of your site and having to install software to decide what device is arriving at your site and direct them to the requisite version.

Responsive design isn’t just an interesting idea for publishers, it’s a non negotiable. For early adopters there is huge room for affiliate marketing success. Your digital marketing efforts will definitely fall flat if you don’t make the move. Even if you are a little late to the party, you will definitely still benefit from improving your sites to be fully responsive.

Global advertising trends with the Nielsen “Global Ad View”

The genius minds behind research house Nielsen have released their latest “Global Ad View” report on advertising and we’ve decided to take a look at some of the interesting results.

To start off with we’re seeing MASSIVE growth in digital marketing:

massive growth in digital marketing

Television remained the dominant media type in terms of advertising investment in the first quarter of 2013 with a 59% share of media spend share and 3.5% growth globally.


Online display advertising, though measured in a smaller subset of countries, grew a significant 26.3% for the first quarter. Display internet ad growth was particularly impressive in the Asia-Pacific (33.2%) and Latin America (48.2%). Internet even bucked the trend in Europe, boasting growth of 10.4%.

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), the long-standing most valuable player in sector growth, showed no signs of slowing down, boasting a 6.1 percent increase for the quarter. Latin America led this increase with a 22.2 percent bump. The drink subsector drove the global growth, which experienced a 9.7 percent increase. Spending also grew in cosmetics and toiletries, gaining 5.6 percent for the period. The spirits category within the drink subsector performed particularly well, experiencing an increase in spending of 36 percent for the quarter.

Financial and automotive are two sectors suffering, primarily due to the ongoing economic situation in the Western world. Advertising spend declined in these sectors by 2.9 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. The commercial vehicles category within the auto sector saw the biggest drop—23%, while advertising in investment and savings and card services each fell 14% in the financial sector.

SIDENOTE: What this means for the affiliate programs on offer at is that there is huge money to be made online. If you gear up to drive both sales and lead generation through your website and social media assets, you can ensure an ever growing income over the next few years.

increase in advertising spend

“We see trends continuing in media, with less-steep ad spend increases in TV and very slight declines in print, making way for growth in the digital space. Although these changes in traditional media are slight, it’s worth noting how the placement of ad dollars is shifting over time,” said Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions for Nielsen. “We’ll continue to monitor these shifts in media spending and the impact for marketers in the short and long term.”

Download the full report here.

This reports just underlines the importance of digital marketing channels in driving success for companies. It offers many opportunities for digital entrepreneurs to really benefit from this growing trend. A golden rule of marketing is to be where your customers are. More and more of your customers are moving to the digital world.

Frankly the more conventional channels are losing their luster and effectiveness at an incredible rate. Competition in many sectors keep increasing and as a result accurate, effective and efficient marketing efforts are crucial not only for success, but for survival.

Are you obsessed with Facebook likes?

An obsession with Facebook likes isn’t healthy

We recently spent some time with a large client discussing social media strategy and noticed how there is still a massive focus on the amount of total Facebook likes of their page.

Of course it’s important to have a high level of likes and Twitter followers but this tends to lead to a massive issue with click fraud and the buying of followers. We’re seeing the growth of “click farms”:

  1. Brand engages social media agency (although no self-respecting social media I know would do this) which promises to craft a social media campaign that will rocket the brand’s social fan base.
  2. Social media agency decides that the most profitable way to do this work is to pay a click farm to provide fake likes.
  3. The click farm employs technological solutions, and people (who really need the money) to create thousands of fake profiles and generate even more fake likes, views and even comments.

As you can see it’s often companies posing as legitimate agencies that are guilty of such dubious behaviour. However, these sort of agencies only thrive in a landscape where a company is desperate for likes.

Other metrics on a Facebook page are vastly more useful than pure Facebook likes. For example you can see your contents reach and engagement easily. This information is vastly more useful in understanding your customers than an endorsement from a fake account in Lahore.

The big problem is that many brands still measure their success on social media by the number of likes or followers they have. Not by engagement, shares, and ultimately sales (none of which a fake click is going to get you). And while brands measure by likes, agencies will be tempted to buy them. Instead of buying fans, here are some tips to grow your base organically:

  1. Encourage people to take the first step. Give people a reason to ‘like’ your page, or view your video. Maybe there’s a competition, or a promise of exclusive content. Perhaps the selling point is being a member of an elite community.
  2. Encourage them to hang around and engage. Don’t limit exclusive offers to new fans. It’s not enough for someone to simple ‘like’ a page; they need to want to keep going back.
  3. Create compelling content. It sounds so obvious but really focusing on appropriate brand content works, whether it’s witty, visually appealing or just brightens someone’s day – sticky content works.
  4. Provide a strong set of community guidelines, or house rules, for fans to follow and enforce them. Moderate content to provide the safest and most welcoming environment you can. People won’t comment on a page if they think they’ll be laying themselves open to abuse or ridicule or if it’s peppered with spam.
  5. Use a community manager who’s already a brand advocate. If it’s a game brand, it helps if the person running the page knows the culture, and understands what people mean when they say they’re having trouble collecting enough Bells to pay off Tom Nook.
  6. Be ethical. It’s one thing to ask fans to behave in a respectful manner, but if they discovered that your brand had brought thousands of ‘likes’, if they started to wonder if the Harry Smith they were responding to was a real fan, or a fake, why would they have any reason to trust the brand?

Keep it real, listen to your customers and use social media to grow your business.

You will see far greater value when you look at the interaction rates you get from your customers. The Facebook likes can be as deceiving as high visitor numbers to a site. It is flattering, but not always an indicator of digital marketing success. By getting interaction from your customers (comments and shares) you are far more likely to enhance your brand’s reputation. This is also the stepping stone to generating leads or sales from your social media efforts.