What the experts will say at AIMIA – take two

A year after he predicted what the experts would say at AIMIA’s digital advertising event Julian Peterson has another crack ahead of today’s event.

Doesn’t time fly? Reading last year’s article predicting what the experts would say at the AIMIA conference I’m struck by how little has actually changed in the past 12 months, so it will be interesting to hear what the experts have to say this year.

In the meantime I’ll try and predict their predictions for the near future of digital advertising:

Julian Peterson


1. Cookie wars

Advertisers have moved way ahead of publishers in terms of technology including re-targeting.

Some publishers remain unaware that ads they show or plugins they use for sharing or advertising are dropping cookies so that the advertiser can track or network can sell their audience to someone else straight after they leave the site. Publishers might wake up to this leakage which some can’t see but which is costing them.

Which leaves everyone in a tricky position because…

2. “You might also like” … the age of the plug-in

It’s so much easier (and often more commercially expedient) to plug in someone else’s technology than to write your own. In August last year News Corp’s global CEO Robert Thomson declared: “Third parties are no longer invited to the party.” Then in December News Corp Australia added Outbrain’s recommendation unit to some of their sites.

Everyone’s using third party plug-ins and have you ever seen so many vying for space on publisher sites? There’s Google, Outbrain, AdBlade, dianomi (who I work for), Teads, etc. We’ll see more competition than ever to mine the “gold below the fold”, and take a clip.

3. Facebook and the look-a-like audience

In December Facebook dropped the bomb that brands would have to pay a lot more to reach their fans, as AdAge put it “In other words, the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.”

Oh how we laughed at those who’d spent so much chasing likes rather than signing up users to their own platform. Thank you Facebook! Advertisers stopped laughing when they realised that boosting posts to add reach was like crack – the users were still there, they just had to spend to get their content in front of them! Fuck you Facebook!

Despite the occasional issue Facebook remain in a hugely powerful position for the coming year because whilst boosting posts brands discovered look-a-like audience targeting has never been so easy and so cheap. Publishers reveal the age, location and interests of their audience but through Facebook they can be targeted according to all relevant criteria and at scale for about $0.20 CPC. Sorry, did you say $10k for an ad? Er no, I can get 50,000 clicks for that.

But seeing as you now have to pay to reach your fans why on earth do you still have a ‘Like us on Facebook’ poster or button? Logically these should start to disappear. Like!

4. Google

Google’s had a shock from Rubicon and other RTB platforms with a lot of brand $ going their way instead of Google’s. Expect a fight back by AdExchange.

Through their development of Glass and Now, Google are preparing for the minimal web – spoken search and gestures. This will cement their position in the world of plugins – no way will you be able to catch up with Google Custom Search on programming the understanding of the spoken word. And this brings another challenge for publishers…

5. Print $$$ > Digital $$ > Mobile $> Spoken ?

How will you sell ads on a site when no one even sees the site?

Just as publishers get used to the drop in income from print, to digital and to mobile, now comes something even trickier. What will be the standard ad format in the minimal web? 15-second ads before each answer? Goodbye user!

6. Back to Google

My sinister prediction for late 2014 or 2015: in December 2013 Google bought Boston Dynamics who make robots for DARPA and the US military so inevitably you will soon see the first time that a Google-bot actually kills someone rather than just indexes their site. Hopefully it’s someone evil. #Cyberdyne

7. Transparency (and more Google)

Many ad budgets have not yet moved to digital – some don’t understand and some don’t trust it.

Why don’t they trust it? Because, we hear, only 50% of digital banner ads are actually viewed by a human and it seems odd that in 2014 Google could make headlines by introducing a scheme that would only charge advertisers for ads actually seen by a human.

We’ll wait to see if others follow suit. *Shuffle shuffle cough*

8. “You might also like” … 31 ways to excite your reader with native content & stock photography!

As predicted last year, bland content marketing grew unabated and this looks set to continue.

Perhaps Facebook did users a favour restricting brand’s reach? “10 ways to…” will continue to be the lazy format of choice for bland content marketing headed with bland stock photography. In fact, there may be a boom for photographers as demand for bland stock photography surges to keep up with so many listicles.

The dirty secret of much of this content marketing is that no one is actually reading it. Many hoped that Google would pick up on it and their search rankings would improve. This led Google’s Matt Cutts to announce in October 2013 “I wouldn’t assume that just because you have a large number of indexed pages that you automatically get a high-ranking. That’s not the case.”

So for 2014, I’m hoping for really well produced content marketing not just same-old with “In association with [brand]” at the top.

And now over to the experts…


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