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.

Google takes 50% of all mobile advertising revenue

It’s scary to think but of the $8.8 billion spent per year on mobile advertising Google makes around half of this amount. What this means is that in total Google receives over one third of all revenues spent on digital advertising world wide. This is all according to a report by Emarketer and the estimation is that Google have tripled their mobile advertising in 2012 from 2011.

mobile internet advertising revenues worldwide

As shown in the table above, 2013 looks to be another bumper year with mobile almost doubling in value, a trend we’ve seen for the past two years. Other winners include the likes of Facebook that will be seeing a $2 billion revenue from mobile meaning a total of 12,5% of the marketing budget goes to Facebook.

mobile ad revenue share worldwide by company

It’s also interesting to expand the view to the online advertising industry as a whole. Google still dominates here with a staggering $33 billion a year. Facebook, the second place takes home a “mere” $5 billion of the total online revenue pie. Third and fourth are Yahoo and Microsoft respectively and together they add up to Facebook’s revenues.

net digital advertising revenues globally

It’s heartening to see such massive growth in the digital industry and even more accelerated growth in mobile. Services such as Twitter have grown their revenue over 100% year on year since 2011, an unparalleled increase in any industry. Most excitingly if you look at the table above the “Other” section makes over $61 billion, an absolutely massive opportunity for anyone.

Are Google keywords less effective than they should be?

A recent report from eBay has proposed the fact that Google advertising is less effective for longer term users of the internet than previously thought. The research report presents results from a series of large-scale field experiments done at eBay that are designed to detect the causal effectiveness of paid search advertisements.

The high level results show that brand-keyword ads have no short-term benefits, and that returns from all other keywords are a fraction of conventional estimates. The report found that new and infrequent users are positively influenced by ads but that existing loyal users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by paid search account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative. This suggests companies are wasting their money targeting ads at existing customers.

The logic of the Google research is interesting:

“[In the absence of paid search links] consumers simply substitute to organic search links [the results Google’s search algorithm brings back without companies having to pay],” said the report.

“The results show that almost all of the forgone click traffic and attributed sales were immediately captured by natural search,” the auction site found. Removal of these advertisements simply raised the prominence of the eBay natural search result.

However, one needs to consider that if users are clicking the top result whether there is an advert or an organic result it would be easy for a competitor to swoop in on your ad traffic if you decided to stop search engine marketing.

The report does discuss substitution to other channels and implications for advertising decisions in large firms and you can download the rest of the report here.

Youtube viewership continues to skyrocket

We can’t help but notice that almost every Youtube video we watch lately has a pre-roll advert playing. Obviously advertisers are catching on to the platform but how big is Youtube really?


Canadian pop star has the third most watched channel with a mere 79 videos racking up a massive 3.6 billion views according to SocialBakers.

According to Youtube themselves:

  1. More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  2. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  3. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  4. 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  5. YouTube is localised in 53 countries and across 61 languages
  6. In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth
  7. Millions of subscriptions happen each day. Subscriptions allow you to connect with someone you’re interested in — whether it’s a friend, or the NBA — and keep up with their activity on the site

How is Youtube growing in South Africa?

In South Africa the medium continues to grow and grow.

The number of video uploads rose 30%, said Jared Molko, their partnership manager at Google South Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of views rose 90% last year and video uploads grew 40% from the previous year, with South Africa leading the region with the most playbacks. “From discovering global pop sensations to reinventing the classroom, the YouTube community is transforming entertainment and shaping the culture of our times,” said Mr Molko. “It’s great to see South Africans playing an active role in this.”

Luke Mckend, Google South Africa country manager, said spending by the top 100 global advertisers on the video site rose more than 50% compared with the previous year.

“It has the power to directly target customers, a factor that is invaluable to any organisation,” he said. “In addition, on average, spending on YouTube was approximately 2.4 times more efficient than the equivalent television spend.”

Video advertising has massive potential and could become the new 30-second TV advert of the internet. For now though, your audience is on there, make the platform part of your campaign.

What does this mean to publishers in South Africa

With the huge explosion in Youtube’s popularity it has become very clear that there is potential for publishers to reap rewards. Investing some time and effort into creating videos for the channel you can greatly boost your affiliate marketing website. It has been said a thousand times, but it pays to be where your customers are. They are on the video sharing site and they are on social media sites. Go there!

50% of mobile search equate to some form of conversion

Google and Nielsen have recently released the results of their “Mobile Search Moments” report where they looked at why and when people use smartphones and what sort of results one gets from those searches. High level: when consumers search for things on their mobiles more than half usually intend to buy it.

Participants in the study were asked to log their mobile searches over a two week period in Q4 2012, which resulted in more than 6,000 mobile searches being recorded, and then follow-ups were conducted by Nielsen to see what actions resulted from these searches.

There are many interesting findings from the report but perhaps the biggest takeaway is that more than half of the searches that resulted in a conversion – whether this was going into a store, calling a business or making a purchase – happened in just 1 hour, showing that mobile is possibly the most critical channel for search marketers and business owners.

Of the searches conducted by participants, three out of four triggered actions, which ranged from additional research (36%) to a website visit (25%) to a store visit (17%) to a purchase (17%) to a phone call (7%).

mobile search drives valuable outcomes for business

And, on average each mobile search triggered at least two of the above actions, although product and shopping searches were more likely to have higher numbers of outcomes.

Conversions also happened quickly after a search, with 55% occurring within just one hour of the original search.

mobile search drives online and offline actions
one mobile search leads to almost two actions on average

Many people would assume that mobile searches are done on the go, like on a bus or train when a desktop is not readily available, but it seems the exact opposite is true.

findings about mobile search

Almost 8 out of 10 mobile searches happen at work or home when a desktop could be easily accessed. According to the report, the reason for this is that consumers find mobile search quick and easy. In fact, 81% said that they were driven to mobile search because of the speed and convenience of it.

It’s not surprising that Google is pushing mobile advertising but, whether they are skewing the results slightly for their benefit or not, the truth is that mobile does provide certain conversion benefits over desktop search. For the rest of the results from the study download or view the presentation here.

To what extent will this impact the affiliate marketing space?

Any publisher who is running affiliate marketing campaigns will be affected. As the volume of search moves more and more to mobile device, so does the importance of websites that work on smartphones. Responsive design is no longer a nice extra, but a necessity.

Publishers that don’t respond to these changes in user behavior will just simply be left behind. Getting left behind will hurt your pocket directly. The lead generation efforts you put in or your attempts to make sales online will drop steadily as consumers move to mobile. The sooner you adapt to the mobile world, the better. Affiliate marketing has a huge role to play in generating income for publishers, but publishers also need to adapt to their consumers.

What the new Facebook phone means for ad data?

With the announcement last week of the upcoming Facebook phone and the ability to turn your Android device into a Facebook phone and make your device “people first”; (details here) the conversation about the phone took an inevitable turn to a discussion about mobile advertising and how this was Facebook’s attempt to muscle in on the mobile ad market.


Facebook Home won’t come with ads when it launches April 12 … don’t get too comfortable though. When asked about advertising, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted saying “there are no ads in this yet. I’m sure at some point there will be.”

Where exactly will Facebook Home run ads? On the Cover Feed, according to early reports. The Cover Feed, to jump start your memory, is the full blown picture and status feed that takes up the entire screen once you’ve installed Facebook Home. So if photos are a core feature on Facebook Home, you can expect that likewise full ads will probably be swipe-able and take up the entire home screen. Of course there are many ways to be creative with advertising on Cover Feed, which Facebook is likely quite aware of already.

This is scary and exciting at the same time.

Robin Grant, global managing director of We Are Social, said cover feeds “could offer an opportunity for News Feed advertising at a premium over Facebook’s existing offering.”

Additionally, he said that “Facebook Home could be the holy grail of mobile advertising. Aside from mobile operators, no other company is able to keep track of a consumer’s location at all times—which, privacy settings permitting, Facebook could now do with Home. And the new in-build chat heads and notifications features provide a potential mechanism to allow location-based ads to appear in a relatively unobtrusive way—something mobile operators [can’t offer]. If Facebook can use this to deliver location relevant and timely commercial messages to consumers, it will effectively give Facebook a license to print money, their long sought-after equivalent of Google’s AdWords.”

For us this seems like a step in the right direction for mobile advertising. Current networks such as Google’s Admob allow you to target a specific game, say for example, Angry Birds and you can make assumptions on the type of person playing that game however you can’t really know who is using a device. With Facebook eventually pushing advertising on their mobile platform they’ll know where you are, what you do and how often and this actually means better adverts rather than the traditional “spray and pray” assumptions. If anything, this is going to help the industry grow.

Could you browser be damaging the online advertising industry?

With cookies being the way advertisers have always tracked users movements through the internet it’s critical that the users browser plays ball and provides access to these cookies. US ‘do not track’ privacy legislation requires browser companies to give users the ability to ‘opt out’ of data tracking. Microsoft recently went further by making ‘opt in’ the default setting on its latest browser, but does this kill online advertising as we know it?

That means unless people change Internet Explorer 10 browser settings, third-party cookies – the main way industry targets ads – are rejected. At least in theory. The onus is on third parties to honour the consumer’s choice.

Now Mozilla, funded largely by Google, will go further still. It looks set to ban third-party cookie tracking, with a beta browser due within weeks. The fear in adland is that the rest of the major providers, including Google and Apple, may follow suit.

What this means is that ad servers will become less useful with increased wastage and the problem of less relevant adverts and increased ad blindness.

The interesting issue is how Google is using Mozilla as a test case for its own browser Chrome, which does not automatically activate “do not track” but does provide the option.  Since browser firms are also content producers and publishers, “do not track” could these publishers to command their own price for online advertising.

Whether Mozilla’s approach becomes the common one is unknown. “[But] the companies that are least affected by cookie legislation are those with large, logged-on userbases,” Mindshare chief digital officer Ciaran Norris said. “Legislators should consider the impact on local businesses.” Industry had a key role in educating both legislators and consumers, he added.

What the IAB’s director says about this online advertising issue

The IAB’s director of regulatory affairs, Samantha Yorke, agreed. Transparency and choice were key, she said. Web users need to understand why cookies are useful to them – such as enabling free access to content – and not a threat to individual privacy. However, she said uncertainty would not be diminished until ‘do not track’ was properly defined.

Not holding her breath for a definition, Yorke was under no doubt that moves to block third-party cookies would have “a profound effect on the digital economy”. The ability to collate analytical data would be “severely compromised”, she said.

One also needs to consider the issue of publisher with paywalled content that use cookies to provide free content up until a certain number of reads.

What this does point out is that advertisers need a better way to track users online journey in order to provide options for targeting and retargeting of users. Ironically this lack of targeting and increased CPM costs might lead to increased revenue in the digital industry!

It’s Google vs Amazon as the retailer grows its mobile ad network

The gloves are off as Amazon is leveraging their Kindle devices into building a mobile ad network. The network is a direct shot at Google and Android’s advertising dollars. Mobile advertising remains a huge growth area as the majority of the world’s next 2 billion Internet users will experience the Internet for the first time on a mobile device.

While mobile ad networks are a dime a dozen Amazon has something that most other competing networks don’t: troves of data on the millions of consumers who buy goods off its site. This wealth of information mean seamless calls-to-action embedded in ads that can get users immediately clicking through to buy products.

amazon vs google mobile ad networks

As this is just a beta there are limitation. For now, Amazon’s mobile ads API will only work with U.S. users and apps and games on the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and other Android phones and tablets. If a developer does use the API, they have to make sure that their apps are also available for download on Amazon’s app store.

Features are fairly standard for mobile ad providers: the network has two types of ads: static clickthrough banners and then banners that can expand to include rich media like video. They have calls to action that usually involve opening an in-app or native browser. There’s room for basic geo-targeting with using latitude and longitude coordinates if a user has chosen to share them with an app. Publishers can also blacklist certain advertisers they don’t want or think are appropriate for their users.

The numbers are looking good. According to the release by Amazon app developers are enjoying the benefits of the service. James Farrier, founder of list-making app Simple-List Free, claimed a 200 percent revenue lift after hopping from “another major ad network” to Amazon. And Anatoly Lubarsky, founder of mobile game developer X2line, received a 300 percent eCPM increase and twice as much revenue for its Baby Adopter app after switching to Amazon. However that app may be a unique example since Lubarsky said a majority of its users are on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet.

Whether the Amazon device network is large enough still remains to be seen but considering the loss leading approach of selling the Kindle device at a discount we can imagine there must be millions out in the wild and more competition is only better for developers and advertisers alike.

Facebook purchases Microsoft’s Atlas ad server

With Google’s dominance of the online advertising market the likes of Facebook need any technological advantage in order to compete.

Facebook and Microsoft have indeed announced plans for the acquisition of Microsoft’s Atlas ad server to Facebook. The rumors have been flowing for a few months now and with Facebook wanting to bolster its advertising prowess, this acquisition isn’t too crazy.

Facebook logo

Microsoft acquired Atlas Solutions back in 2007 as part of its purchase of aQuantive for $6 billion. Microsoft was apparently interested in offloading the property, and Facebook was interested in buying it. Atlas Solutions offers a suite of tools for marketers to serve, track, and measure digital ad campaigns. It delivers billions of impressions every day across multiple channels.

For them this makes perfect sense will help advertisers keep track of their ads on the social network, as well as what sort of returns they are getting with them. Facebook says that marketers have been struggling to understand how their efforts across different channels complement and strengthen each other. This results in marketers adopting siloed marketing strategies for each channel, leading to poor and inconsistent end-user experiences.

They plan to improve Atlas’s capabilities and they want to enhance the current tools available to advertisers on both desktop and mobile. Facebook’s end goal is to make Atlas the most effective, intuitive, and powerful ad serving, management and measurement platform in the industry.

Both Facebook and Microsoft want to remain competitive against Google’s dominance in the ad-space. Microsoft is, in a sense, offloading the responsibility to Facebook, which will be better able to capitalize on advertising opportunities with its own network. E-marketer projects that Facebook will bring in nearly $2.7 billion in display advertising in 2013, as compared to Google’s $3.2 billion.

We eagerly await a response from Google!

Online advertising set to reach a total value of $400 billion in the next 5 years

Despite online advertising being a $100 billion a year industry it’s still a drop in the ocean compared to the traditional advertising industry that brings in a cool $800 billion per year.

Of course the balance of power is rapidly changing with estimations that by 2018 online advertising will account for 50% of all advertising budget spends.

For this change to happen something powerful needs to come along for advertisers to take notice. Google Chief  Business Officer Nikesh Arora believes that something is Internet-connected televisions, or smart TVs, an area in which Google Inc has not been wildly successful to date. However, he argues that in the coming years, smart TVs will go from “nice-to-have” to “must-have” in the minds of consumers, forcing marketers to allocate more ad dollars online.

Online advertising trends indicate a huge rise

Arora has a vested interest in this with  YouTube shaping up to be a huge winner here as Google continues to transform the site into becoming more desirable for users and advertisers alike. Through the use of channels, Google is hoping it will improve the experience by connecting users directly with content, aligning more closely with the traditional TV experience.

Not only are YouTube channels more convenient for users to connect with relevant content, the value preposition for Google is tremendous. According to YouTube head Salar Kamangar, packaging a video within a niche-specific channel has the potential to bring 10 times more in advertising spending per 1,000 users than if it were stand-alone. The justification here is that marketers have better odds of targeting their intended audience.

Technology will continue to play a deeper role in how the world consumes media. As more content continues to be consumed online, advertising dollars are likely to follow suit and inviting the potential for targeted advertising. Arora reckons that if a user just purchased a car, they wouldn’t want to see an advertisement for a new car. Eliminating this waste creates more value for marketers while simultaneously improving the user experience.

We’re hoping to see a world where contextual advertising really works and advertisers get smarter targeting and even better returns than they currently.