Predictions for 2017 from performance and affiliate marketing experts

Performance marketing is a living, breathing, ever-changing thing, as anyone in the industry can tell you. Keeping up with the latest trends is an absolute must in order to stay at the top of the game, for advertisers and networks alike. To discover what’s hot now, you need look no further than HasOffers’ recent Performance and Mobile Marketing Meetup, the first of its kind held in mid-November on the rooftop of London’s Shoreditch House.

With the fire burning and the TUNE and tonics handed out, the crowd of over 60 people turned its attention towards the main event; discussing the way everyone could mutually benefit and, ultimately, build a stronger market. Major topics of conversation included how to use data to make a business stand out, looking beyond the (mobile) install, re-engagement, re-targeting, and capitalising on that mobile moment by using the right native, video, and content-led ad.

Emcee Stephanie Emmanouel of SomoGlobal started the night’s panel of local performance and affiliate experts Ami Spencer (VoucherCloud), James Little (TopCashBack), and Max Pepe (Mozoo/Surikate).

The evolution of affiliate marketing

Stephanie’s first question asked how affiliate marketing has shaped the evolution of business. Ami, an early employee of her company who has tracked many changes throughout the years, had an insightful response:

“Similar to most digital industries, we’ve seen a great deal of change within affiliate marketing over the past few years, and as a business we have had to adapt to this. Taking a more creative and content-led approach to working with clients has allowed us to grow brand partnerships and deliver more engaging campaigns across all of our channels, especially mobile. As we [Vouchercloud] continue to support brands’ mobile strategies, we are starting to see more budget allocated to the channel…whether this is using location-based data to drive mobile engagement or target customers more relevantly. At Vouchercloud we see mobile as an important channel to focus on in 2017.”

Ami’s response was a strong one, explaining that using targeted and up-to-date messaging in the right moment drives engaged users, which in turn leads to increased budgets.

Capturing those (mobile) moments

Another topic the panel discussed regarded “mobile moments,” the point when a user gets on a device and decides to execute the purchase of a product or service. More specifically, they discussed how customer expectations on mobile are evolving faster than advertisers can develop best marketing practices, agreeing that this makes designing a successful advertising campaign more challenging than ever.

James Little shared that he believes the best way to capture the customer at the right time is with content, coupled with the right technology, data, and not too many KPIs.

We tend to agree with James since most successful campaigns we’ve seen this year from European clients are those who are proactive, have anticipated their users’ needs, and have included personalised content around that user’s events. These clients then use data to measure, analyse, and optimise in real-time to iterate and duplicate “look-alike moments,” using their own intellectual property (IP), or what HasOffers call secret sauce.

Adding value

The more value you add for an advertiser the more likely they are to work with you instead of another network. Being more transparent and teaching how to better optimize is a win for all involved parties.

Max Pepe gave the audience an excellent perspective on how best to solve the problem of which advertising campaigns are driving tangible results and how he believes these results should be measured (other than using rulers and inches.) He quoted his CEO’s recent comments.

“Let’s take out the laziness in the industry by reducing the amount of produced non-targeted advertising content. How many times have you found yourself interrupted by an interstitial that takes up the whole screen, even before you’ve had the chance to begin reading your article? To prevent the situation getting worse, we must take the opinions of users, using technology to gather this feedback, with other key data to continuously improve our campaigns. My question is: when are we going to see more responsible advertising [on an industry level]?”

Pepe’s company Mozoo truly knows how to use marketing to capture those moments and get users converting to consumers for both the advertiser and the publisher. His position allows him to achieve a three-way win.

The key to success

What we learned from all of our panelists is that affiliate marketing isn’t dying, it’s evolving. This evolution is naturally developing from the advertisers who build their marketing strategies to focus more on performance and business objectives than anything else. When companies proactively search for answers by balancing their interaction between data, KPIs, technology, and messaging, they find success. It’s these elements that worked in 2016 and will continue to see success in 2017.

How to Measure the Success of Mobile Video Ads

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With developments and demands on the rise, video is becoming an increasingly popular format for advertisements and is poised to take over the more traditional static format.

Static ads still currently dominate ad placements, but one in four media professionals believe video adverts will become “the norm” in the digital ad-format world. Recent ExchangeWire research supports this perspective, reporting that video is predicted to become the standard within the next two years.

With most consumers viewing videos on their mobile phones, what should advertisers and traffic partners be using as key metrics to measure success?

Start by understanding how people consume video

“World-wide, consumers are devouring nearly 20 minutes a day of videos on mobile devices compared to 16 minutes on fixed devices — smart TV and desktop devices,” according to a Zenith Optimedia study.

Users are consuming more video than ever, especially on mobile. In 2020, video will drive around 80% of the total global internet traffic. Advertisers want to produce more videos, while publishers want to provide more video formats and inventory.

An IAB report proves this, too. Average video ad spend has nearly doubled in the last three years to over $10 million, taking an anticipated 57% of total digital advertising budget in 2016.

This is being driven by social networks such as Facebook, SnapChat and even Pinterest, as their users soak up and engage more than ever with “live videos” and “stories.” With other technological advances such as 4G and 5G together and cheaper mobile data plans, help these social platforms overtake the likes of YouTube to battle it out to become our preferred mobile video platform.

As businessman Richard Branson has famously said, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

The measurement challenge

This growth doesn’t come without its challenges. According to IAS, top challenges for mobile video are measurement, budget and ROI. This makes we wonder why viewability and engagement are being used for measurement.

Advertisers may be getting their measurement education from publishers that have a bias towards their own platforms. I believe the industry needs to look beyond impressions, viewability, engagement or clicks and ask one simple question, “What’s our objective for this ad campaign?”

Creating an objective and using it to measurement the effectiveness, with KPIs/goals along the way, will put advertisers and traffic partners in a much stronger position to warrant the success of; the traffic partner, the publisher and the campaign itself.

Becoming invincible: an objective-based approach

The Arsenal Football Club became known as “The Invincibles” in 2004, after completing an entire season undefeated. Video is well on its way to becoming the invincible format, especially as marketers allocate larger amounts of their ad-spend to video.

Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2016-2021) of 17.2% resulting in a market volume of US $7,463 million in 2021, according to Statista. UK alone will have a market volume of $2,533 million in 2021.

Especially with all the opportunities for innovation arising from 360-degree videos, location-based videos and virtual reality videos (which I’m looking forward to).

With an objective-based thinking approach for a mobile video ad campaigns, along with the right key performance indicators, we will see mobile video ads become “The Invincible” format in the advertising world.

Should European Advertisers and Publishers Be Worried About Mobile Ad Blockers?

Mobile-Ads

With the adoption of mobile devices growing twice as fast as the global population, 2/3 of the world population will own a mobile device in only 4 years. In 2020, more people will have mobile phones (5.5B) than electricity (5.3B), running water (3.5B), and cars (2.8B) – how crazy! How has this affected advertisers’ ability to market to users in this on-the-go mobile world?

By 2020, 70% of the world’s population will use mobile devices.

Consumers are savvy

Consumers now have the ability to block advertisers from tracking their online habits and even serving them ads.

TUNE’s mobile economist, John Koetsier, surveyed almost 1,000 smartphone owners in the U.K. He found that ad blocking installs are growing rapidly, with downloads spiking 3x in the last three months of 2015.

What TUNE found was that consumers are happy to spend money on gaming apps they enjoy but they don’t want to spend their hard-earned wages on paid content. Consumers are willing to pay to avoid mobile app ads, but the amount they’re willing to give is significantly less than the revenue publishers make with ads — less than 9%.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.51.14 AMOnly 21% of consumers would pay to block ads

Worldwide mobile ad blocking installs grew three times in the last quarter of 2015. TUNE research suggests a little chunk of every age group is blocking ads. Teens are least likely to block ads, while women tend to block ads less than men. On average 28.6% of men report having installed more ad blocking apps, compared to 22% of women. In the U.K., 27% of people admitted they’ve installed ad blockers on their smartphones. The typical user to install an ad blocker would be a middle aged male, on their Android in the U.K.

Industry commentary on ad blocking

“Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers…” Three U.K.’s CMO Tom Malleschitz told Three.

I agree with Malleschitz and find ad blocking comes about from badly placed or untargeted ads. Others call it laziness, bad sources of traffic, or shoestring budget advertising. The more unengaging, badly-sized, or cheap-looking ads people see, the more tired they become of them. Ad networks, agencies, and traffic partners should be seeing this as opportunities.

I believe investing more time getting direct relationships with advertisers, and less with middlemen, brokering deals from other networks, the more traffic partners can understand their client’s target audience. This will result in ad networks creating more targeted and exciting ad types consumers will engage with. In turn, this will lead to less users installing or using ad blockers. At the end of the day, consumers don’t want to pay for content.

In TechCrunch, AOL CMO Allie Kline expressed that it’s still early for the ad tech industry to grapple with the mobile’s rapid growth.

“ … while I think it’s absolutely an issue we need to address and spend time on, I also think we need to give it the time to do that. We need to be really careful about the thoughtfulness and investment we make to right-size how we fund content,” Kline said.

I’m not sure I agree with Kline here. I think this creates an opportunity for traffic partners (networks, agencies, and publishers), to come up with ways to market content to mobile users in a way that they don’t hate. It’s something advertisers will never have time to address and so traffic partners need to step up and create these solutions.

The price of ads

Are you as a content reader aware that ads fund free content? Less than half of British adults are aware that ads fund free content. Only 44% of British adults online are aware that most websites are free thanks to advertising revenue, according to an IAB report. Men (52%) are more likely to be aware of this than women (36%), and 18-24 year olds (59%) more so than people over 55 (36%). TUNE’s research study found that nearly 80% of UK consumers wouldn’t want to pay for content.

Google’s Benjamin Faes, MD, media & Platforms, argued at MWC that ad blockers risk the free content ecosystem and blocking all ads is “diminishing” the overall experience. He also pointed out that four of the top 10 videos on YouTube in 2005 were ads.

Final thoughts

I don’t think there is anything to worry about for European publishers and advertisers about ad blockers, but I do think there need to be advances in ad types and better targeted ads. Traffic partners can put an end to the intrusive unengaging ads. They can do this by creating new ad types, use more sophisticated technologies to track and collect as much data as they can from ad performance to then better target their users, using this big data collected in more real-time, using programmatic solutions with more relevant and delightful creatives.

Ad Blocking in UK: Here to Stay or Gone Tomorrow?

With Europeans often regarded as being more sensitive to information privacy, are United Kingdom consumers any more likely than their American counterparts to install ad blocker software on their mobile phones? According to TUNE research, the answer is yes, but just by a tad.

U.K. smartphone users are about as likely — or unlikely — to use ad blockers to shut down mobile adverts as Westerners, according to a TUNE survey that included 1,000 U.K. consumers. While 23.9 percent of Americans report using ad blockers on their smartphones, only 26.8 percent of those surveyed in the U.K. said they had used ad blockers. That leaves about 73 percent of U.K. respondents reporting they haven’t installed an ad-blocker or weren’t sure if they had.

A Shifting Trend?

The trend may be shifting in the direction of greater use by U.K. smartphone owners.

Installation of ad-blockers is growing in popularity. Twelve percent of respondents had installed an ad blocker more than a year ago, and 3 percent in the last six-to-nine months. But then, in just the first quarter of 2016, there was a three-fold spike in the number of people installing an ad blocker app or browser. The installs are coming disproportionately from males, with 62 percent of those favoring ad-blockers being men using an Android device.

Males were more like to have installed the mobile app/software generally on their smartphone, which interestingly correlated with our U.S. survey results too.

An Age Issue?

Banks, insurance companies and other brands targeting seniors with their online ads might want to rethink their strategies. The 65+ age group reigned victorious for having installed more ad blockers than any other age group we surveyed, with a third reporting installing ad blockers.  What’s interesting is that out of those who said yes, about 20 percent had installed them a over a year ago. With the topic trending in late 2015, installs were on the rise again, with more people installed an ad blocker within the first quarter of 2016 than they were the prior 6 months.

People age 25-54 (split into two categories, 25-34 and 45-54) reported installing ad-blockers equally, at 30 percent saying they had. Interestly, 54 percent of men across both age groups said they hadn’t installed, with only 27 percent saying yes they had (others not being sure).

Younger demographic-audiences appear to be more tolerant of ads, if ad-blockers are any indication. Only 10 percent of 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds in the U.K. said they had installed an ad blocker. U.K. teens aged 13-17 were least likely to install an ad blocker at only 4 percent.

What Now?

While ad-blocking is clearly on the rise, and predicted to continue to increase in popularity, U.K. advertisers should not panic just yet.

Why? When asked if they would pay to block ads, nearly 80 percent of U.K. consumers said they would pay nothing. Almost 7 percent said they would pay less than $1/year, and less than 5 percent said they’d pay $1/day. This is obviously not enough for publishers to make a living from their site, nor maintain their sites with fresh, new content and employees wages.

If publishers did look to charge for their content, then according to the research, they should zero in on 35-44 year olds, as they said (28.26%) they would spend $1/day on blocking mobile ads during their nearly three hours a day on mobile with over 80 percent of that being in apps. I don’t think publishers need worry about that, as I think once the consumers understood more about the business models behind most of these ad-blocking companies, then they would be less inclined to install them.

“The business model of ad-blocking is a pretty unsavory one,” Simon Fox, CEO of Trinity Mirror (a subsidiary of Daily Mirror) told The Guardian. “They offer software for free (to consumers) and then come to us and say ‘your site’s OK, so if you pay us we will ensure ads on your sites get through.’ There is something extremely unhealthy about this business model.”

The Power of Facebook Advertising

A lot of demand for this so I thought I’d post for those asking:

The Social Gaming developers are facing tough challenges when it comes to mobile success due to competition for driving high quality and engaged gamers. Come hear Josh Swerdlow talk about the power of Facebook mobile advertising and the story of how Facebook PMD Bidalgo led the mobile marketing launch of Pacific Interactive’s first mobile app House of Fun, which put them against the top developers to become one of the largest independent social casino developers in the world.

 

 

 

Finding Velocity and Quality: Customer Acquisition for Social and Mobile Games

Here’s the video from one of my first speaking sessions at CasualConnect in 2013.

In the past, game developers thought of customer acquisition in fairly abstract terms. In 2013, customer acquisition isn’t abstract at all, and developers need to understand how it works. Josh Swerdlow, Director of Business Development for Bidalgo, breaks down the metrics, tools, and techniques you need to look beyond the install to measure quality, as well as quantity, of your incoming players.

 

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Everyone Has a Work Christmas Party Story… What’s Yours?

One out of every 10 people has an embarrassing Christmas story from work parties—here’s mine. In the U.K. it’s all about Christmas parties: drinking, eating, drinking, socialising, drinking, best dance moves, and drinking a little more. I remember my first ever Christmas work party. My company at the time hired out the Connaught Rooms, London, for all 200 people. beautiful dinner followed by a party while free drinks flowing the entire night. There was no stopping my fellow first year colleagues and I with the shots, especially having come straight from Uni; tequila, followed by vodka, washed down with a Jägerbomb, followed by a round of sambuca, washing them down with whiskey and coke. I’m totally drunk so instead of staying around and making a fool of myself I make an executive decision to go home. I got home and collapse on my bed.

That night I had the most intense dream about how I was talking to my boss at the Christmas party and he just coming out with line after line of compliments: “Josh, you’re doing such an amazing job … Josh, you’ve really hit the ground running … Josh, keep up the good work and you’ll be taking my job in no time”. Next thing you know he takes out his handkerchief (Hanky to the Yanks) and I’m questioning why. He’s says, “You’re crying,” I reply I’m not—why would I cry to my boss? I’m thinking this is a strange dream. I run out of the party, sit in a bus stop and fall asleep. I miss the busses and wake up a few later and then get a taxi home. Waking up I think about the crazy dream. I realize I still have my clothes on from the night before so I before I get changed I empty my pockets to check I have my phone and wallet and what do I find … only my boss’s handkerchief!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!