Another End of Year List …

December 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Like just about everybody with a voice and a soapbox I am going to wade into 2013 nostalgia and present my top 10.   Sorry not movies, music, epic fails etc . just the 10 things I think had the most resounding impact on the online advertising space – and will have influence in 2014.   So in no particular order ….

  • Programmatic buying – 2013 was the year more and more brands accept programmatic buying as a viable compliment to their high impact programs.  Programmatic emerged from the “black box” to become a true component of a broader advertising effort and helped many advertisers create efficiencies by streamlining the partners they work with.
  • Content curation/distribution – We live by the mantra content is king and 2013 was the year brands realized that being a walled garden of content was, really, of little value.  Brands rushed to curate good quality content of their own or user-generated – and more importantly recognized that it is served best when distributed and shared to the masses.
  • Native advertising – along with “twerking” perhaps the most over used phrase in 2013.   Native advertising when done well is a beautiful thing – when done poorly seems like nothing more than a shrill plea for attention.  I think 2013 was the infancy/toddler years for this concept and 2014 will be its adolescence – which could mean more angst as brands learn to strike a delicate balance of engaging with consumers without seeming needy and pandering.  Stay tuned ….
  • Mobile – there are somewhere over 3bn smartphones in use on earth, almost double the number of PCs ….what more needs to be said
  • Blur … TV, video, beyond the screen – 2013 was not the year of video.  It was something much more as consumers found a whole new array of short and long form video content available, and a widening of choices for when, where and how to consumer it.  Also 2013 was the year in which content producers turned to the web in full force to keep the conversation and story going and providing fans with immersive experiences well after a season has ended.
  • Vine – it’s amazing what can be accomplished in 6 seconds.   Vine captures perfectly the immediate payoff viewers expect from content – got 6 seconds and here it is.  Brands are getting on the bandwagon and successfully using vine to partner with influencers, curate content and even create TV spots.
  • Moms – the consumer power this group has makes a brand manager’s knees quiver.  We talk a lot about the impact of youth on marketing, but think for a moment on how brands have shifted their marketing plans and spend to engage moms – its staggering and is impacting across the board how they market to nearly all adult demographic segments.
  • Cross-platform programs – 2013 was the year when savvy marketers went all-in with programs that took advantage of the unique characteristics and distribution power of multiple platforms.  We’ve seen this with social being affixed to nearly all programs, but the scope of programs today tying together in a cohesive package social, display, live events, influencer marketing, video, content curation etc… is staggering.
  • Traffic quality – kudos to marketers for demanding accountability and transparency.  Kudos to the supply partners who stepped-up and delivered on their promises.   We are in a very young industry and the pains we suffer at times are normal – when we have an environment of trust and verification we will all succeed.
  • Data – I’m not talking about NSA type data.  I’m talking about the deep, rich data we are getting about the impact and reach of campaigns – across platforms.   The data is providing us with a much clearer view of the effectiveness of a campaign – making optimization easier, inventory acquisition more efficient and ultimately our clients more successful.
  • Washington – OK so I said no epic fails, but any list not mentioning how the gridlock in Washington impacted marketers, agencies and consumers would be shortsighted.   The seeming inability of Washington to move beyond partisan bickering and the shutdown of the US government cast a pall over consumer sentiment and threw a wrench into many marketers Q4 planning.

The coming year will be a good one for the industry – all signs point to a recovering economy and hopefully a recovered consumer.   Year in and year out I am amazed by the kinetic pace at which our industry changes, adapts and evolves.   I expect a year from today I’ll be in much the same reflective mood and again be amazed at the strides the industry has made over the previous 365 days – and happy I am still here.

Spending Season 2013

November 5, 2013 § 7 Comments

Halloween is in the rear view mirror—and all eyes are on the upcoming holiday season.

If there ever was one, this is the year for mobile. According to our latest Online Insights study, where we surveyed 993 US online adults about how and when they plan to shop for the holidays, nearly one-half of consumers will use a smartphone to shop this year. That figure is up 51% from our 2012 study. Two-fifths will use a tablet for holiday shopping—a 190% increase over last year!

Considering Hanukkah starts before Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday falls in December for the first time since 2008, the respondents to our survey are ready to hit the malls and shop online. In fact, of respondents of who specified when they would shop for holiday gifts, a plurality (44%) says they will start shopping after Thanksgiving. And that means marketers and retailers have distinct opportunities NOW to pinpoint and engage their target consumers.

Remember though—engagement is the key! Presenting captivating creative that allows shoppers to research and compare offerings, find a location where they can purchase products and grab coupons or sales promotion codes should be paramount.

Grab the full “Spending Season 2013” Online Insights here (PDF), and check out our Spending Season 2013 infographic below.


There’s a Big Audience for Online Video

November 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Our recent Online Insights study turned up some interesting facts on how much and what types of online video is being consumed. Check out our findings below. And check out the full report here.

Give Me a Break

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Summer is in the air at Burst—and it’s not just because Memorial Day weekend is upon us.

We’ve just released our third consecutive summer-themed Online Insights covering travel and vacation plans. Earlier this month, more than 3,700 online respondents told us of their plans for the summer season. We learned some interesting things.

One-half of all respondents say they’re taking a vacation or personal trip this summer, and 30.7% say they’ll be taking more time off this year versus last. One-third of travelers taking more vacations/trips this year plan to do so because they “just need a break,” and women more so than men feel this way: 39.9% versus 31.4%. The gender divide manifests itself most clearly in the 35-44 years segment, where a majority of women (54.5%) this age cites “a break” as a reason for vacationing more, compared to just 30.0% of men.

Other reasons vacationers are taking more trips this summer include having more time to take off (26.3%), stronger personal/family finances (19.0%) and the need to make up for not taking enough time last year (15.0%).

Conversely, of respondents who are taking fewer vacations this year, economic reasons (44.1%), personal/family finances (34.5%) and busy schedules (27.9%) top this list. Interestingly, men outpace women (35.2% versus 16.0%) with feeling “too busy” this summer.

But everybody deserves a break, right?

One-third of all respondents plan to take a “staycation” this summer—a vacation where they stay at home rather than travel. Interestingly, 50.4% of respondents who say they are not planning to take a vacation or personal trip this summer do say they will take a “staycation.”

Saving money (43.7%) is the leading reason for “staycations” among all respondents—but other reasons include catching up on house/home projects (25.6%), family activities/obligations (17.8%) and plans to visit local attractions or engage in local activities (16.1%).

One-half of all respondents also say gas prices will impact their summer vacation plans to some extent. The traditional family vacation may be one victim of fuel prices, as 34.9% of respondents with three or more people in the household (i.e., families with children at home) say the cost of gas will definitely impact their plans, versus 26.5% of households with one or two people.

Be sure to check out Online Insights and grab your copy of the full report. Here’s to a happy and healthy summer!

A Pulitzer Goes to ProPublica, the First Ever Digital Only Award

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

MediaBistro’s FishbowlNY had this to say about the Pulitzer given to ProPublica for the series by Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger on the role played by banks and hedge funds in the – still reverberating – financial crisis. It says it all.

“While all the Pulitzer winners deserve recognition, FishbowlNY wanted to highlight, which won the first Pulitzer awarded for a series that didn’t originate in print. Read that sentence again, because this is huge news.”

Quite huge, and it comes only two years after Pulitzer’s rules changed to allow entries from digital only participants.

Congratulations ProPublica, Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger,

Bill Cosby on Advertising: “Make the Program Interrupt the Commercial”

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Ad Age, Rance Crain interviews Bill Cosby, who will be the first-ever winner of the American Advertising Federation’s President’s Award for lifetime contributions to advertising in a ceremony at the annual Advertising Hall of Fame confab March 30th.

Explaining his approach to endorsing products such as White Owl cigars, Ford, Coca-Cola and (best of all) Jell-O Pudding, Bill Cosby said:

“I want to make the program interrupt the commercial.”

Anyone looking for a ticket to the Advertising Hall of Fame awards as a recipient in some age hence has Cosby’s manifesto to go by. There is also this, per Rance Crain’s report:

“Mr. Cosby professed he doesn’t know what makes a good commercial. “It’s like a room full of people looking at page one of calculus. How do you know who’s going to understand? And they might be laughing, but what was the product? You’ve got to entertain no matter what, but people have to remember what was being advertised.”

Media Ascending

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

We were discussing Content Ascending in this space a few weeks ago. How about Media Ascending? This was essentially the point of David Carr’s column in the New York Times describing the evolving mission of Google from Technology Company to Media Company. “In essence,” he wrote, “Google, which cracked the code on the Web advertising model, has come to realize that if content becomes just a commodity, then advertising will follow suit.”

Indeed, the stakes are very high for advertisers in this regard, where the separation between soap-the-brand and soap-the-commodity is wafer thin. Content and creativity are the only things keeping the affects of advertising from being overwhelmed by price and promotion. Commoditize content and the burden upon creative to make the case for brands will exceed advertising’s ability to create compelling messages. It is just too hard to produce great creative – which is why so much advertising depends on the ability to intrude on consumers with the volume up.

…But, as to Media Ascending:

The pattern was pointed out in an iMedia column long ago: every new media revolution starts with technical innovation, followed by rapid adoption, a dominant technology culture and then, finally, a media proposition grounded in content. Most recently, of course, it was television and radio. Once their respective boxes had been packed and shipped and switched on in the parlors of America, manufacturers saw the need for content to keep their enterprises growing. They built networks, as David Carr describes:

“RCA commercialized a spectacular invention called radio, but by the mid-1920s the company realized its new wonder needed great content, so it bought and merged several radio stations to form a media company called NBC. Later, RCA did the same trick with another catchy invention: television.”

Today, RCA’s legacy is NBC. And nobody – nobody – sits at home marveling at the fact that the picture on their tube is bouncing off a satellite over the equator. There is, instead, only, ever, one question on their minds: what’s on?

It is a media question.

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