A widely discussed article in Wired last summer posited the idea that the web is dead. The argument, which, on closer inspection appeared based on semantics, predicted that consumers would experience the web via peer-to-peer networks like Facebookand, increasingly, apps, in the future.
If that proves to be the case, a dead web may be good for advertising.
The reason? Aside from search, advertising on the web has been tricky. Consumers generally don’t click on banner ads — especially not on Facebook — and tend to view ads as an intrusion on their web-browsing experience. In contrast, a recent report by Appssavvy (admittedly not a disinterested observer) found that in-app ads perform 11.4 times better than standard banner ads, which means they are almost as effective as search.
That said, app publishers have been working on tweaking the “appvertising” model to make it more effective. Below is an overview of what seems to be working.
1. Become Part of the Game
Advertising in games is nothing new, but the the old model revolved mostly around product placement. But, as is the case with the TV and movie version of product placement, advertisers learned that having a Coke can in the background of a scene isn’t likely to sell many Cokes, but having a character drink it in a key moment — especially when the character is really thirsty and that Coke looks so good — is another story. When it comes to in-app games, the thirst-quenching Coke’s equivalent is having a brand pop up in a way that enhances the game experience.
For instance, last year, Microsoft ran a program with Appssavvy for Windows 7 in nqmoco’s GodFinger All-Stars. In that game, players control their own planet. The aim is to expand the planet and earn money, among other things, to get to the next level. So, Appssavvy, working with Universal McCann, brought a Windows Cloud into the game. Players could visit the Cloud the same way they’d visit their friends’ planets and earn in-game currency for doing so. If they wanted to, they could also click through a mobile landing page and learn more about Windows 7. “It leveraged activity [users] were already doing,” says Michael Burke, co-founder of Appssavvy. “They don’t mind the advertising.” Well, at least an impressively large minority didn’t — during the six-week promotion, 10% of the game’s players visited the Windows Cloud for a total of 6.1 million visits.
Another approach is to forget about blending into the game and instead ask players to sit through an ad in exchange for virtual game currency. That’s the premise behind SocialVibe. In a recent campaign, for instance, SocialVibe gave away currency for Zynga’s various games if users visited The Big Game Tournament, which pitted characters from FarmVille, YoVille, FrontierVille and others in a football game sponsored by Kia. The effort had the highest time-spent-per-user of any SocialVibe game to date — 170 seconds.
Does bribing consumers to watch a commercial really work though? Clearly, some investors think so — SocialVibe just got a $20 million infusion of cash from Norwest Venture Partners last month. And a new company, Kiip, has a twist on this idea. Instead of virtual currency, they get real prizes. For example, if a player reaches a new height record in Doodle Jump, a Kiip notification will let the player know they’ve won a prize. Then a user can enter his email address to redeem the prize. Kiip has a roster of brand partners including Dr Pepper, Carl’s Jr., Popchips and GNC.
3. Make Better Ads
Not everyone thinks you have to twist consumers’ arms to get them to look at ads. Many believe that the rise of apps — especially among mobile users — will usher in a new era of more engaging advertising. Chief among the proponents of this belief is Apple’s Steve Jobs, who introduced Apple’s iAd platform in April 2010 as “mobile ads with emotion.” For Apple, though, the platform hasn’t been entirely successful. The company recently cut the entry price for an iAd in half to $500,000 and has reportedly had trouble selling the ads.
But Garrick Schmitt, managing director of experience and platform at Razorfish, says that rich media ads within apps perform much better than standard display ads — though he declines to get specific. Apple, he says, is just reacting to competition. Ads that Razorfish creates on behalf of clients like Best Buy and Westin Hotels are meant to offer more utility — you might say they’re more app-like — than the typical banner ad.
The Future of Search Series is supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo, the leading search, social and display conference. From November 14-18, get five days of education, inspiration and conversations with marketing experts from the digital space. Register with MASH20 to save 20%.
Many recent years have been touted as “The Year of Mobile,” but 2011 might just live up to the hype. For the first time, consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web, and mobile devices are edging out PCs and laptops in sales.
Yet mobile advertising is expected to hit just $1.1 billion in the U.S. this year, with mobile search accounting for $295.1 million, according to eMarketer. That compares to $31.3 billion on U.S. online spending and $14.4 billion for web search advertising.
Clearly, despite widespread use, marketers and the search giants haven’t yet cracked the code on mobile search advertising, which is shaping up to be a bit different than the traditional kind. Therein lies the opportunity — people who are grabbing their phones to search something are likely one step closer to buying a product or service than someone at home on their PC.
Google which long ago passed Yahooin search advertising, now has overtaken the company in display ads as well, according to IDC.
Google claimed the number-one spot in U.S. display advertising in the first quarter, with 14.7% of the market ($396 million), up from 13.3% in Q4 2010. Yahoo’s hold on the market declined from 13.6% to 12.3%, or $330 million, in that same period.
Facebook, meanwhile, had 8.8% of the display market, or $238 million. Karsten Weide, IDC vice president and the author of the report, says he expects Facebook‘s share to overtake Yahoo’s in the third or fourth quarter.
Weide says the latest numbers reflect Google’s strength rather than Yahoo’s weakness. “They have a huge search network,” Weide says, “And anything you offer based on that is likely to work well.”
Google got into the display ad arena in earnest in September 2009, after its acquisition of DoubleClick. Since then, the business has grown rapidly and is now estimated to be worth $2.5 billion a year, including YouTube.
Other findings of the IDC report:
- Global online ad spending grew 14.3% to $18.2 billion in the first quarter.
- U.S. spending was up 14.2% to $8.1 billion.
- For the ninth quarter in a row, display is growing faster than search advertising. Display’s share is now at 33.3% vs. 29% two years ago.
- Google’s share of search advertising rose to 59.6% (vs. 59.1% in Q4 2010). Microsoft’s share was 7.9%. Yahoo’s was 7%.
Just like the IAB’s first-quarter online advertising estimates, released on Thursday, IDC’s reports shows quarterly ad revenues at a new record.
A bug in Facebook’s code briefly gave users access to other users’ Facebook photos — including those of Mark Zuckerberg — without permission Tuesday.
Members of a body building forum first spotted the bug, which appeared in a new feature that allowed people to report multiple instances of inappropriate content simultaneously. If you reported a photo for reasons of “nudity or pornography,” you were given the option to “take action by selecting additional photos to include with your report”. You were then shown additional recent photos from the same profile to flag if inappropriate. Unfortunately, photos were shown regardless of their owners’ photo privacy settings.
Facebook has since removed the feature from its site.
“This was the result of one of our recent code pushes and was live for a limited period of time,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Upon discovering the bug, we immediately disabled the system, and will only return functionality once we can confirm the bug has been fixed.”
Private photos can no longer be accessed via the bug, but it was live long enough to beget a blog filled with photos of Mark Zuckerberg that were supposedly obtained this way. Some of the photos on the blog are publicly visible on Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile, while many are not. The non-public photos on the blog include pictures of Zuckerberg making sushi, and one where he is holding a rooster. None of them is particularly scandalous.
The bug’s exposure comes at a time when Facebook is particularly sensitive to privacy concerns. Just last week the social network, which is preparing for a reported $100 Billion IPO, agreed to settle with the FTC over charges that it had deceived users about privacy.
Jack Dorsey is doing pretty well at the entrepreneurial game, given that he’s Executive Chairman at Twitter, CEO of mobile card payments startup Square and, well, a founder of both companies. But have you ever wondered what it would be like juggling two of the tech industry’s fastest growing companies at once? Here’s how he does it.
As CNN reports today, Dorsey has a minute-by-minute plan for pulling everything together, and by his own admission, it requires a great deal of discipline to work a 16-hour day, as he noted during a talk yesterday at the Techonomy conference in Arizona.
Rather than spreading himself thinly across all aspects of both businesses, he zones in on one key area of corporate development, pushing everything else out of sight and, well, out of mind. Here’s what his weekly calendar looks like:
Monday: Management meetings and “running the company” work
Tuesday: Product development
Wednesday: Marketing, communications and growth
Thursday: Developers and partnerships
Friday: The company and its culture
Whilst weekends are a little slower for Dorsey (he hikes on Saturdays), it’s interesting to note that his Monday-Friday routine is applicable to BOTH companies – after 8 hours at Twitter, he literally walks 2 blocks to put in another 8 hour shift at Square.
“There’s interruptions all the time, but I can quickly deal with an interruption and know ‘it’s Tuesday, I have product meetings, I have to focus on product stuff,’” said Dorsey. “It sets a good cadence for the company.”
Creating mobile user experiences that delight users forces us to rethink a lot of what we have taken for granted so far with desktop design. It is complicated in part by mobile-specific considerations that go hand in hand with small screens, wide variations in device features, constraints in usage and connectivity, and the hard-to-identify-but-ever-changing mobile context.
- Prioritize and present core features from other channels that have especial relevance in a mobile environment. For an airline, this includes flight statuses and flight check-ins. For cosmetic chain Sephora, it includes supporting in-store shopping via easy access to product reviews on mobile devices.
- Offer relevant mobile-only functionality (like barcode scanning and image recognition), and enhance functionality using the capabilities of mobile devices where possible to engage and delight users. Old Navy’s app serves up surprise games or savings when users snap the logo in a store.
- Ensure that fundamental features and content are optimized for mobile. For example, make sure the store locator shows the nearest stores based on the device’s location, and make the phone numbers click-to-call.
- Include features that are relevant to the business category. For retail websites and apps, this would include product search, order status and shopping cart.
- Offer key capabilities across all channels. Users who sign in should see their personalized settings, irrespective of the device or channel being used. If certain functionality is not offered on mobile, then direct users to the appropriate channel, as TripIt does to set up a personal network
Content credit to SmashingMagazine