How to tell if your Native ads are successful

It is important to know that your native ads are successful

If you’ve been to a site such as Buzzfeed or Quartz recently you know all about Native Advertising. We’ve spoken about the topic a few times before but in a nutshell Native Ads is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. One form of native advertising, publisher-produced brand content, is similar in concept to a traditional advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article.

We’re big fans of the concept but recently questions have arisen about the effectiveness of Native Ads and whether there’s a decent return for advertisers beyond just the “cool factor”. There’s one major problem: if Native Advertising is the newest method of online advertising, what is the newest method of measurement?

Forbes, for example, is starting to give advertisers in its Brand Voice platform two new dashboards to provide better metrics. One will provide statistics for brand content, like top posts, pageviews, total visitors, repeat visitors. Basically, publisher metrics. The other is a social dashboard, providing data about how well content does on social networks from social actions to social referrals.

Other publishers running similar types of sponsored content are reporting to brands similar metrics, which are more akin to publishing measures than the typical brand measures like clicks, impressions, and lifts in consideration and purchase intent. Your average marketing manager is not used to gauging success in pageviews and shares.

BuzzFeed, perhaps the poster-child for the native ad movement, has been offering brands and agency publishing metrics for a while as a way to educate and soothe nerves. It gives them pageviews, top referrers, top search terms and viral views from its dashboard.

So far, so similar.

The American Online Publishers Association have done some interesting research on the matter with the following useful takeouts:

Measurement Metrics
Measurement Metrics
Marketing Goals
Marketing Goals

The future is bright for Native Advertising; we’re still waiting for a brave brand to do something in South Africa!

Unsurprisingly social media spending increases

Certain things in life are fairly inevitable: death, taxes and that advertisers are spending more money on social media adverts. It’s simple, users are using social networks and it’s an easy way to get your product in their face. So inevitably social media spending on ads are rising.

A recent STRATA research report shows that most advertisers are using Facebook to connect with their customers and potential customers. YouTube and Twitter came in next, at 55% and 53%, respectively. An additional 35% 0f respondents said they were likely to use LinkedIn for social campaigns, and 25% each cited Google+ and Pinterest.

While brands have a choice between using free social products and paid placements on the networks, more than twice as many respondents (25%) saw paid social media as offering greater return on investment (ROI) than free social media (11%). Still, it’s important to bear in mind, 19% said they saw no ROI from social media.

Does more social media spending mean more opportunities for affiliates?

Brand promotions led as the most common type of ad placed on Facebook, used by 62% of respondents, twenty percentage points ahead of company announcements, which came in second. Just over one-third of respondents said they used social ads announcing services, and nearly as many said they ran social ads on products.

In total, paid ads still aren’t overtaking ad budgets, but they are beginning to make a dent in the total. While 58% said social media accounted for 5% or less or clients’ ad budgets, another 42% spent between 6% and 25% of ad budgets on social. No respondents spent more than one-quarter of ad budgets on paid social posts.

The critical issue to consider here isn’t that social media budgets are expanding, this is fairly obvious. What we need to consider is that marketers shouldn’t use social media in isolation. There are many businesses trying their hand at social media marketing and it is increasing every day. This covers lead generation efforts to subscriptions and everything in between. As social media spending is still a growing industry there are still loads of opportunities for the savvy internet marketer.

The trick is to split your budgets along multiple mediums such as the OfferForge ad network as well as CPC, CPM and CPA style campaigns. You’ll easily get the hang of which medium works best for you.

Contact us today to get the best advice on how to segment and budget your digital marketing campaigns.

Twitter files for an IPO

News out of America last week were that Twitter is filing an IPO in order to be listed on the stock exchange. The long expected process comes a year after the Facebook IPO that many called a failure despite the share trading $20 per share higher than the launch.

The company is looking to raise no less than $1 billion but could list anywhere up to $15 billion. Small change compared to Facebook but still a substantial amount.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chairman, holds 4.9% of the company’s stock, Evan Williams, the former CEO and fellow co-founder, holds 12%. Dick Costolo, CEO, holds 1.6%.

Twitter had 218.3 million monthly active users as of 30 June, an increase of 44% from the 151.4 million a year previously. However it warned that growth will slow. “We anticipate that our user growth rate will slow over time as the size of our user base increases,” the company said in its announcement.

Twitter’s revenues increased by 198% to $316.9m in 2012, according to the filing. But the company posted a $79.4m loss for the year and lost $128.3m in 2011. The company has been spending large sums in order to build up its service and said it intends to carry on spending after it has raised the new money.

We did learn some other interesting pieces of information about Twitter:

  1. In the six months that ended June 30, 2013, advertising revenue increased by 119 percent compared to the six months that ended the same time last year. The increase was primarily attributable to a 79 percent increase in timeline views in the six months running up to June 30, 2013, the company said, as well as increased demand from advertisers. That said, its revenue growth appears to be slowing, relatively speaking. In 2012, advertising revenue increased by 247 percent compared to 2011.
  2. In the three months that ended June 30, 2013, Twitter said more than 65 percent of its advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices. Three-quarters of its monthly active users accessed the service from mobile devices, it said, including mobile phones and tablets.
  3. Twitter generates some revenues by licensing access to its data but that’s nominal, it says. A full 85 percent of its revenues come from selling promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends.

When the stock does launch it will most likely be under “TWTR” although currently there is no time frame for the launch.

This might open new doors for online marketers the world over as the brand grows from strength to strength. There are many ways to make money online through Twitter and it is time for everyone to step up their game!

The performance metrics of video advertising

When and how does video advertising work?

It only takes a cursory glance at Youtube to see that almost every video these days has either a pre-roll or banner advert. The question many marketers are asking: how successful are these types of adverts when users are also busy viewing a video. The big question is: When does video advertising work?

Recent research shows the obvious; web video is massive.  According to Cisco Systems, US internet video traffic in 2012 averaged 4.6 exabytes per month, and by 2017, that figure will nearly quadruple to 17.1 exabytes per month.

For a marketer there are two considerations: length of video adverts and size of banners surrounding the adverts.

As for performance based on the length of a video ad, there was considerable variation and lack of a clear trend line. Completion rates were lowest for video ads that lasted between 30 to 60 seconds (77%), but ads that ran for 30 seconds or less saw an 84% completion rate, the second-highest of any video ad length measured, indicating that short ads do not necessarily equal low completion rates. The absolute highest completion rate went to ads that were between 30 and 60 minutes.

US video advertising rates

It seems surprising that people would watch a 60 minute advert until completion and it seems even weirder that 84% of people would watch a 30-second advert to completion. Based on some anecdotal research (a quick poll around the office) there was hardly anyone that has actually watched a pre-roll advert. So where does that leave you with lead generation and marketing efforts as a whole?

The other consideration: size of banners is also important. Research has shown the obvious: bigger is better. When users are distracted by video, a larger advert is critical.

performance metrics of video ads

Ads in the medium to large range were also the most common video ads, accounted for 77.4% of served impressions, indicating that marketers know these sizes are strongest.

While we’re on the topic here are 7 ways to increase your video ad engagement:

How tablets have changed the landscape of publishing

Ever since the launch of the first iPad in 2010 the media landscape has been very, very rapidly changing. We’ve seen everyone from Samsung to Amazon releasing Android tablets and Microsoft have moved heavily into the market with their Surface tablets and Windows RT, an operating system built specifically for mobile devices.

Tablets have had a profound effect on publishers with many having to change their approach to delivering content to make it more tablet friendly.

eMarketer have an amazing interview with Paul Smurl of the New York Times on the topic of tablets vs smartphones and how they’ve affected readership and publishing.

eMarketer: Is tablet use affecting smartphone usage?

Paul Smurl: Both are growing so dramatically that it’s hard to say one is cannibalizing the other. We’re finding that desktop usage is not growing as fast as it once was. However, we are not seeing what appears to be a stripping away of usage from smartphone devices by tablets. They’re both growing at really accelerated rates.

eMarketer: How does the value of consumers who use both a smartphone and tablet to access your content compare with those who access it through one device, such as a desktop?

Smurl: The more engaged users are, the more valuable they obviously are from an advertising perspective. And the more engaged they are, the more likely they are to encounter the pay gate and, ultimately, become a subscriber. So those users who are committed and loyal to us across platforms, using multiple devices and apps, are much more valuable, from both an advertising and a subscription perspective.

eMarketer: What’s the difference in usage between your smartphone and tablet users?

Smurl: The usage is heavier in the morning, especially for news content because users are trying to get the news before they head out the door. And, they’re going to take their smartphone on the commute, but not their tablet. In the evening, the usage is a little lighter because people are catching up on the news and what happened and getting some perspective, but they’re using their tablets more, at least in the evening, as an entertainment or second-screen device.

“I would love to see us do more coverage around major events, … whether it’s the Oscars, the US Open, fashion shows or the Olympics. … The TV experience is so flat, noninteractive and unsocial.”

eMarketer: Where do you see second-screen experiences heading in the coming years?

Smurl: I like what we’ve done with the Oscars, where we’ve got a ballot dashboard and have live video coverage on the red carpet as the show is airing. I would love to see us do more coverage around major events like that, whether it’s the Oscars, the US Open, fashion shows or the Olympics. I think we have a real role to play in rounding out that experience for people—because the TV experience is so flat, noninteractive and unsocial.

Especially if you’re watching it on television and want to just tune out the commercials filling in those interstices during your viewing—just making the experience more fun, interactive and social. I think publishers have a real competitive edge there.

eMarketer: Will tablet usage continue to increase?

Smurl: It just keeps growing. People are replacing their laptop or desktop at home with tablets, and that trend is just going to continue. As a publisher, it’s really hard to build for all of the different screen sizes and do a really high-quality job in customizing the experience to each device. I’m hoping we get a little more standardization on that front.

eMarketer: You recently brought standardized rich media ads to your iPad app. Can you talk about that effort?

Smurl: There’s no surprise that it’s historically been difficult to integrate, develop for and create stable rich media ads in an app environment. So a lot of publishers have struggled with that, and advertisers have been pushing for more stability and more options.

The platform enables us to do things we hadn’t been able to do before. Previously, users were pulled away from the reading experience and plopped into the iTunes store—it was more jarring. Now the platform, in addition to enabling that stuff within advertising units, also creates a much more stable back-end experience.

eMarketer: Is fragmentation still a big issue for marketers?

Smurl: Yes, it’s a big issue for marketers, for publishers, even for consumers in terms of deciding what product to buy. We struggle with this ourselves—trying to make sense of all of that and putting it in context for consumers is challenging. No question about it.

You sort of toggle between the very straightforward Netflix approach, which is one flat price for all access. You compare that against consumers’ stated desire to have more control over exactly what product they have and on what device. There’s a little bit of pull in both directions. On one hand, you’ve got the “one bundle, one price” group of customers who just want all-access.

On the other hand, you’ve got segments of customers who feel like it’s a waste of money if they’re subscribing to something they never use, so they want a little more choice. That’s a constant tension, and it plays out in making marketing and communicating those options more difficult.

We basically only read on tablets these days so we can totally identify with this. All in all tablets have been a major boon for publishers worldwide.

Using a promoted tweet to complain about customer service

Getting the attention of customer service departments
We’ve seen social media become a major forum for customer complaints and grievances and while it’s a great place to get turn a negative experience into something positive, customer service departments face a huge challenge.

Recently we’ve seen a darker side of online whining when a British Airways passenger bought a promoted tweet in order to get his message across. When his airline lost his father’s luggage, Hasan Syed took to Twitter to complain.

But instead of griping to his friends and one or two followers about British Airways, the businessman paid to have his tweet promoted – sending it to the top of BA’s Twitter feed and the feeds of related companies across the world.

Under his handle @HVSVN, Mr Syed’s promoted tweet read: ‘Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.’

twitter complaint about customer service

This sort of malice doesn’t come cheap. According to this Business Insider article the 50,000 odd promoted tweets cost Mr Hasan around $1000; ironically probably more than his luggage cost.

On another advertising platform, this could have been done on the cheap meaning an even wider spread of the word. It’s interesting that British Airways only responded six hours later to the promoted tweet, after massive sites such as Mashable picked up on the trend and reported on it.

This raises the question on how companies are going to have to start having 24/7 customer services and maybe they need to train up call centre reps to respond to messages on Facebook and Twitter.

In this particular case, the tweet appears to have been successful.

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.

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.

A look at the Cannes Cyber Lions winners

Whether you work as a publishers, advertiser or agency, a little bit of creative inspiration is a great way to help your own work. Last week we saw the Cannes advertising festival where the worlds greatest advertising creatives got together to celebrate their year of work. In 1998, the Cyber Lions were introduced to celebrate digital work. This year the Gran Prix winners included Intel and Oreo with Pereira & O’Dell and DraftFCB being the respective agencies.

Intel + Toshiba 

According to the agency both Intel and Toshiba were the client and since Intel wanted to refresh “Intel Inside,” Toshiba wanted to feature the Ultrabook it made sense.

The campaign had 70million views, 26million interactions, 97% approval on Youtube and led to a 66% lift in brand perception for Intel, a 40% for Toshiba. The campaign led to a 300% sales increase.

You can also see the social media work done on Facebook here.

Oreo Daily Twist

Born in 1912, OREO was turning 100. Having always spoken to families in a traditional way, the brand had developed a traditional image.

Now, how to use a centennial anniversary to actually rejuvenate OREO? Celebrating the culture of the day, every day.

The campaign created 100 ads in 100 days. Each morning they identified trending news stories, gave them a playful OREO twist, and pushed a brand-new ad to their social networks.

oreo 1st flight around the world ad

The results were staggering: 433 million Facebook views with +280% increase in Shares, creating 231 million media impressions and making OREO the brand with the highest buzz increase in 2012 (+49%). A full list of the images created can be found on Pinterest.

For a full list of winners and even more inspiration click for the full list on the Cannes Cyber Lion page.

Is there power in social media for local publishers?

There definitely is. These numbers are astounding and they might look out of reach. There is however huge scope in the South African marketing for those willing to take their digital marketing to a new level. The number of views on Youtube and interactions on Facebook keep growing with every passing month. If you are keen to give your digital marketing efforts a boost, you should invest the time in studying social media campaigns and creating your own top content.

Should publishers be moving towards sponsored content?

Can sponsored content be sustainable

Sponsored content is the new sexy topic on the lips of publishers. Once a publisher gets enough traction they can move from a pure advertising model into one where content is paid for by advertisers.

Internationally, sites such as Buzzfeed, Quartz and big traditional publishers such as Forbes. The content is tagged as sponsored but still keeps the tone and style of the website. The economics of sponsored are interesting, especially due to the fact that the “product” is in its infancy.

Buzzfeed, the poster child for sponsored content online, doesn’t put an article up for less than $5,000 however the average spend is between $50,000 and $100,000 for between two to five articles on the site. Interestingly Buzzfeed gets their in-house content team to write the content; an interesting spin on the business model of keeping writers on your payroll to only write content for your own brand.

publishers moving to sponsored content like this

Buzzfeed works heavily on a type of articles known as “listicles” it’s a perfect mix for an advertiser. As we can see above, Purina gets their product associated with fun content that users would be interested in viewing anyway.

Another great example is that of Quartz, a recently newly launched site that focuses on business content. Quartz uses a scrolling layout where the newest content starts at the top. Peppered between editorial content is sponsored content by advertisers such as Boeing and Cadillac. The content is all business related, making it relevant to the reader but still heavily focused on the advertisers product. A perfect example is the Boeing article on the future of safety in flight. While pricing is less transparent than Buzzfeed the content is often created by the client rather than Quartz themselves. This could be indicative of the type of client using Quartz or the size of the editorial team.

The Huffington Post is also a big proponent of sponsored content and charge $40,000 per item of content. In addition they add enough to promotion to ensure around twenty million impressions of the content. Due to the variety of content on the site there is no limitation in types of content so we tend to see information ranging from text posts to infographics and slideshows galore.

The trick with sponsored content is very similar to that normal advertising purchases: keep the content relevant. At the moment it’s the wild west where publishers are scrambling to understand what the market wants. Within the next year sponsored content won’t be a crazy idea and become part of a publishers advertising mix.

What does this mean for affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketers will struggle to afford paying these types of prices to give their content a boost. If you however are in the fortunate position to have loads of traffic on your website, you will be able to make more money online. It offers you the chance to boost your income over and above your affiliate marketing efforts.

The scramble for digital real estate is becoming more and more intense. If you have quality content with a fair amount of traffic, you can turn your website into a cash-cow