Events

We did it! Coull at Do It Day

We did it! Coull at Do It Day

The Drum’s ‘Do It Day’ is all about using marketing to destigmatise mental health. Many people from agencies, technology companies and publishers gathered their creative ideas to produce six different advertising campaigns for six different charities. Amongst those people were Coull’s Product Manager Ben Sonnex and Coull’s Marketing Executive, Naomi Sandercock.

Naomi and her group were working with the YoungMinds charity, a charity that aims to help raise awareness of mental health among young children. Their campaign ‘Take20’ encourages parents to take 20 minutes a week to do an activity with their children. This time can be used to talk to their child about how they’re feeling, whilst doing something that they both enjoy. Whatever the activity, having regular conversations about difficult topics in a relaxed space can help parents to provide reassurance and support from a young age.

They launched the campaign by taking their own advice and taking 20 minutes to have a football game in Regent’s Park and inviting members of the public to do the same and ‘take20’. The campaign has caught the attention of the media and has already been covered by Huffington PostThe Metro and The Sunday Mirror (being printed this week).

Naomi said: “It’s been such a great experience, our group and everyone from Youngminds have worked together so well and now we have something really amazing to show for it. It feels really good to give my time and skills for such a great cause, I really hope this campaign lives on and spreads the important message: it’s time to make time.”

The Mix was the charity that Ben and his group created a campaign for. The Mix aim to provide mental health support for under 25s. A study by The Mix found that three in four under 25s believe they are misrepresented in the news media Based on this research, the campaign ‘In The Mix’, set out to disrupt the negative news agenda by creating a different 6 o’clock news bulletin, produced with young people, for young people.

YouTube stars, Niki and Sammy, presented the show and made appearances on Sky News on the lead up to the 6pm bulletin. Not only this, the team did a Kiss FM takeover for an hour on Launch Day and called in favours to secure advertising space on huge outdoor billboards in London. They promoted their first bulletin with a mysterious message: ‘Done with Fake News? Something Real is Coming…16/11/17 – 6pm’.

This campaign was voted the winning Do It Day campaign by the judges and will now provide a lasting legacy for The Mix with fortnightly ‘In The Mix’ shows.

Ben said: “I feel privileged to have contributed to the winning ‘In the Mix’ campaign and super proud to have been a part of The Drum’s Do it Day. What all the teams achieved in just over 5 weeks was quite incredible and experiencing first hand the challenges Coull’s agency partners tackle day-by-day was inspiring. I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to support an amazing charity and work with a very talented group of people, some of whom went above and beyond to make ‘In the Mix’ a success.”

You can read about all of the Do It Day campaigns here.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
5 things Dmexco 2017 taught me

5 things Dmexco 2017 taught me

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Dmexco may not be in Mexico… but you will still have a great time.
Left to right: Elle (UniLad), Me – Naomi (Coull), Jordan (UniLad), Dan (Coull)
 

Dmexco, not ‘Dmexico’. It’s not actually related to the sunny beaches of Mexico at all, I found out earlier this year (to my dismay). Swap sand with the streets of Cologne. Replace palm trees with hundreds of exhibitors. Change up the sunshine for the unpredictable, autumnal weather of Cologne. Keep about the same levels of alcohol… and you have Dmexco.

Though, I quickly realised Dmexco (The Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference) would not disappoint. It’s one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in the world, it hosts over 40,000 visitors and more than 500 top speakers impart their knowledge. As a first timer to the conference, here are the 5 things I learnt from Dmexco 2017…

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Koelnmesse, the venue for Dmexco
  1. The digital advertising industry is much bigger than you think

It’s easy to forget the sheer size of the online marketing world until you step into Koelnmesse, the colossal trade fair hall. The halls are packed full to the brim with marketing experts and bright and bold booths trying to lure you in. Over 40,000 people attended the event this year…and that’s only a small percentage of the whole industry!

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VEVO presenting the talk ‘TV’s tipping point: The Convergence of Digital & TV

  1. Video, video…and more video

Phrases like “pivot to video” have been thrown around a lot in the past year. And let’s face it, people love visual content, it’s simple to consume, it’s creative and it’s exciting.

On the second day of Dmexco, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, was on a panel about ‘Video: Connecting People, Reshaping Marketing’. She said, “Most recently, what we’re seeing is the consumption of videos…78%-90% of mobile traffic will be driven by video. Every time we estimate video consumption on our platform, we underestimate it. What we’re seeing is really exciting opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in many different formats of video, in the form that they love, which is sight, sound and motion.”

  1. AI and VR are both pretty cool, but they still have a long way to go

The two buzzwords in the industry for this year…AI and VR. More and more technology is being developed to mirror human interactions. Artificial intelligence has taken the form of chatbots and voice search, so it’s like talking to human instead of a machine. Also, Virtual Reality has meant more immersive experiences, particularly through VR headsets. As exciting as these both are, they’re still seen as entertainment and it will be a while until they’re integrated into everyday life.

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The ‘Preparing for GDPR: Embracing the Inevitable Regulations’ debate

                       

  1. It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz, but don’t forget about the real issues

There’s a certain buzz you get when you’re at Dmexco because there’s so much going on: thousands of people networking, hundreds of exhibitors, new innovations to see, talks to hear…I could go on. It’s very easy to see how you could get caught up in the Dmexco whirlwind and forget about the serious stuff. But it’s important not to ignore the problems in the industry. The main themes this year were GDPR, ad blocking and brand safety.

Here are the key takeaways from the discussions I heard:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is being enforced in May 2018. It brings Europe under one privacy law. And although there are penalties, “it’s not all bad news”, said Acxiom’s European Privacy Officer, Dr. Sachiko Scheuing in the ‘Preparing for GDPR: Embracing the Inevitable Regulations’ debate at Dmexco. She said, “GDPR is a great success. Now we’re talking about the obsolescence of opt in. Opt in made the consumers accountable, so without improving any privacy, you’re doing nothing else but putting the responsibility to the wrong side. GDPR puts that in the right context and I really welcome that.”

  • Ad blocking should encourage businesses to be more creative to engage the consumer, not annoy them. Advertising works best when it gives users space, chooses the moment and excites the consumer.

  • P&G’s Marc Pritchard called for all companies to follow a set of standards including MRC accreditation and brand safety guarantees in the Dmexco keynote: ‘A Wake Up Call’. He said, ”2017 isn’t over yet but it’s sounded several wake up calls for the marketing world. The reality is, in 2017 the bloom came off the rose for digital media. The reason is, the substantial waste in what has become a murky, non transparent, even fraudulent, media supply chain. If we all raise the bar and transform ourselves, we can accelerate market growth that will lift all of us and will especially benefit consumers.”

  1. Not all freebies are created equal

The Dmexco experience isn’t complete until you get a weird freebie. If you really wanted to, you could walk away with a suitcase full of weird and wonderful freebies. Of course, you have the classic squishy stress balls and branded notepads and pens. However, I find the unconventional ones much more interesting.

Here’s some of the weird freebies I saw:

  • Bright orange flip flops

  • A high vis jacket

  • Many fidget spinners

  • Shower caps

  • Plasters

  • Mini shower speaker

  • Grow a plant (in a can)

  • Berocca, alka seltzer and tea bag selection

Tweet us your best and worst Dmexco freebie: @Coull

So, until next year Cologne…

Cologne cathedral

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Coull prepare for the winter ahead…

Coull prepare for the winter ahead…

Coull escaped the office in early September for a team event, co-sponsored by Sphere Digital Recruitment. The day’s focus was not only about company updates but self reflection and team building (and of course, some drinks to help with that #FridayFeeling).

Sphere’s James Everett and Coull’s Managing Director, Dan Ginns led a discussion around the Tuckman theory. In brief, it’s a theory that helps identify development within teams. Although this theory is over 50 years old, it’s still just as relevant today.

There’s four main stages of growth: forming, storming, norming and performing.

The team were asked to plot themselves and their teams on the graph, however, there isn’t a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ answer. The Tuckman theory is used to help define different stages in business, so that the team can identify where they are and where they want to be.

Self reflection is crucial in all walks of life. It’s important to recognise both weaknesses and strengths. If we can only see weaknesses, this leads to little self belief and full potential can’t be reached. On the other hand, if all we can see is our strengths and triumphs, this can lead us to fall into our own traps.

The same goes for businesses and company culture. It’s very easy to notice only strengths or only weaknesses. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, but there’s also a time to celebrate.

At Coull, we know how significant it is to be self critical, especially if we want grow as a business. More importantly, we know how to celebrate achievements (and throw a good party!).

What did we learn?

  • Self reflection leads to success

  • Not everyone plotted themselves in the same place on the graph – this means we can support each other and work together as a team

  • Not to concentrate too much on KPIs (they only represents a small margin of people), instead we should think about brand uplift and awareness

  • Data insights are important to back up marketing and sales claims

What are our priorities?

  • Continuing to innovate in the video space

  • Always aiming to add value for publishers, advertisers and audiences

  • Case studies and data insights

  • Identifying industry trends and adapting our roadmap to fit

  • Creating a self serve model for our technology (SaaS)

Where is the industry going?

  • Video…and more video!

  • Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

  • A focus on better ads/ad formats and fighting against ad blocking

  • Anti fraud and brand safety are just as important

One achievement in particular, is how far we’ve come as a team – in this year alone.

Since May, we’ve had many key hires.

Meet the new Coull team members…

Dan – Managing Director

Azad – Programmatic Demand Sales Director

Alice – Demand Account Manager

Alex – Agency Sales Director

Toby –  Developer

Harry – Supply Account Manager

(and me) Naomi – Marketing Executive

And now, for the run up to Christmas, Coull are prepared for the winter ahead…                                                                                                                                    
Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Coull are heading to Dmexco

Coull are heading to Dmexco

It’s less than a month until people from all over the globe gather in Cologne for the Dmexco conference.

It’s set to be a great place to network, share ideas and discuss the future of the advertising and digital world. Over 50,000 people and 1,000 exhibitors from the digital marketing industry will be there. Not only that, hundreds of speakers will be imparting their knowledge; the impressive line up include: P&G’s Marc Pritchard, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Chris Cox, the CPO at Facebook.

At Coull, we like to think ourselves as the video overlay ad specialists. We are a Bristol born technology company, with teams in the heart of Bristol, London and the US. Six members of our team will be there to meet new people, chat about Coull and discuss the future of video and advertising.

If you’re curious about what we do or would like to work with us, come and say hello or organise a meeting with us!

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news

Coull Quickie – February 2016

In the Coull Quickie for February, Elise looks at the recent MWC, talks about Google AMP and Tube Mogul’s decision to refund advertisers for fraudulent ad impressions. All this and more programmatic video advertising news from February.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video
Navigating Cannes Lions as an AdTech Company

Navigating Cannes Lions as an AdTech Company

Cannes Lions. Yachts, rosè, hors d’oeuvres and networking – lots of networking. This year we sent some of our finest team members (well, the ones with the biggest mouths) along to the festival for the very first time.

Cannes Lions Festival has long been about the creative side of media and advertising, but with the adtech industry playing an increasingly dominant role in this space, the festival has well and truly been taken over by us adtech folk. With media companies, agencies, brands and technology companies from all over the world in attendance, it’s an opportunity like no other to meet current and prospective clients and partners, all in one place, in one week, and in a beautiful setting that ultimately puts everyone in a jolly good mood!

To keep things simple, here are our pros and cons from our experience at Cannes Lions.

Pros

  • Topical focused events. There is a good selection of interesting and engaging events happening outside of the main Palais Des Festivals (for which you don’t need a pass). These took on formats such as the classic panel with Q&As and open discussion lunches. From what I saw, these events cover interesting and relevant topics of the moment, and don’t tend to take longer than an hour, which is just as well in the Cannes heat! For example, TubeMogul hosted a panel session with agency executives on the rooftop of JW Marriot, discussing what programmatic models are best for brands.

  • The jetèe of yachts. I must admit, I’m a yacht convert. Leading up to Cannes I had the idea that yacht events are pretentious and cheesy and didn’t really like the idea of Coull hosting our own. But you know what, they are pretty damn cool, and once you’re out there, it becomes the norm. I found that a lot of technology companies took up residence on their own yacht for the week, and hosted parties every evening. Boat hopping was without a doubt how we did most of our networking out there. Why? Relaxed atmosphere, free drinks and food in abundance, great scenery and plenty of space.

  • Everyone is feeling positive. This is not a one or two day conference hall packed with suits trying to fit in as many business deals as possible. It’s a week (give or take) of relaxed, informal relationship building in a fantastic place with the sun shining. It’s hard not to have a smile on your face. There’s an unmistakable vibe of positivity, excitement and genuine interest to meet new people and explore new opportunities. Get your lighters out.

  • Business gets done. Believe it or not, a lot of deals are made in Cannes, and a lot of strong relationships are built. Before the sun sets and the drinks are flowing, most people are in back-to-back meetings, taking full advantage of the opportunity to meet with people they usually only get to speak to over the phone.

  • Relationship building.  Tying in with the above point, Cannes Lions has proved invaluable to us in terms of building and strengthening relationships. The down-time and relaxed atmosphere takes away the pressure and the formality. This, dare I say it, feels more like making friends rather than forced partnerships.

  • Lions Innovation. If you want to step away from all the above, and do the seminar and talks thing, then you absolutely can. It was the first year for Lions Innovation, a two day event where the topics of data, technology and creativity come together to bring a line-up of inspiring sessions for those in the industry. For a full round-up on what happened during these two days, visit The Guardian, who have compiled a great hour-by-hour overview, full of photos and videos. One of my personal favourites from this event was #EMOTICANNES – an incredible digital installation

Cons

  • It’s easy to steer off course. To be quite frank, we’re all in danger of mistaking this work trip as a bit of a holiday, so it’s important that you keep your head screwed on. My tip? Devise a schedule before you go, that’s not too tight, and stick to it. Saying that, this festival experience can be very serendipitous, and you never know what may come out of a spontaneous decision, so don’t be too afraid to get caught in the moment!

  • It’s very broad. The festival as a whole covers a broad range of companies and topics and so there are thousands of people in attendance that aren’t relevant to your company. And aside from the adtech boats and focused events, everyone tends to hang out in the same places, so you need to be careful not to dilute your time there too much.

  • Productivity. It’s most likely that you’re sending some of your C-level execs out there – these really busy people at the heart of the business are taking a week out of the daily grind to focus on Cannes. However, I see this activity as the same thing as any other long-term marketing tactics. It’s about the end-goal. Which brings us on nicely to…

  • Everyone at the office hates you. It’s inevitable, they’re sat in the office and we’re in the French Riviera. We’re sorry, but not really.

Tips

  • Do your planning – make sure you book on to as many relevant events as possible before you go. Even if you don’t end up going to all of them, you need to have a rough schedule and be ‘in-the-know’.

  • Book meetings with everyone you know that will be there. If the person in your company who usually deals directly with certain clients aren’t going, make sure that someone still meets them. Remember that you are representing your company, so knock it out of the park!

  • Make your schedule realistic and you’re more likely to stick to it. Too many late nights make early morning meetings difficult, so my tip would be to avoid committing to them in the first place.

  • Know what you want to get out of it. Are you predominately there for networking? Then maybe you don’t need a festival pass. Are you there to close deals? Go prepared and nurture those conversations in the lead up to the event.

  • Bring value home. Once you get passed the bitterness in the office, your colleagues will want to know what the company has got out of it. No matter how senior you are, you need to communicate this, so have that in mind.

Overall, #CannesLions was an invaluable experience for the Coull team and we’re all feeling very positive, despite the post-festival blues. We’ll see you there next year, hopefully with our own pretentious adtech yacht!

Posted by simonholliday in Coull news

Takeaways from Programmatic IO

Ad Exchanger’s Programmatic IO was held in April in San Francisco, and as with most trade events there were a few running themes. Here are the key points I took away from conversations, panels, and main speakers.

Fraud and Viewability

One of the biggest topics covered by the speakers and discussed by those attending was how to deal with fraud, and what actions are being taken to ensure viewability. The consensus was that across the industry, fraud is something we need to confront head on by investing in technology that can provide both information and transparency.

This is particularly needed within programmatic video – as it was noted; video is a prime target for fraud due to its high CPMs. Retargeting was also noted as a favorite tactic for committing ad fraud.

One opinion that stuck with me on the issues of fraud and viewability was that it is just the starting point for the industry, and that the impact of video as a medium is what needs to be measured.  A similar point came from Google’s Sean Downey’s during his talk on the Future of Programmatic though he said, “When it comes to impact, video is still king”.

Multiple screens

Tablets, computers, mobile phones, and television – consumers are connecting with content through multiple devices throughout the day and sometimes multiple devices at once.  This is a great opportunity for advertisers to reach their target audience, but it also presents advertisers with a greater challenge to earn engagement.

No longer is there one roadmap for reaching your audience, there are multiple routes, all which must be covered to ensure those who deviate from the standard desktop content model, to the increasingly popular mobile device landscape are accounted for. Targeting users while they view content on mobile is a challenge, engaging them while they are doing this during an ad break, while watching television is yet another. All aspects of the users behaviour need to be considered, and thus, content is changing to accommodate all of their various behaviours.

What we are beginning to see more and more, are advertisers blurring the lines between advertisements and content.  Some of the biggest viral videos in the last year were actually selling products, take for example the “Like a Girl” campaign that Always produced, it currently has over 57 million views on Youtube.com alone.  They not only got people to watch an advertisement, but they also started a conversation – showing the true definition of impact.

Great Statistics

Who doesn’t love a good statistic?  Especially when it shows new growth and opportunity.  Here are a few from Programmatic IO that stood out for me:

Programmatic IO covered viewability and ad fraud, multiple screens and how to ensure audiences are engaged and messages impactful. All these themes resonated because they are all challenges facing our industry. The issues present now unify us in a quest to achieve better. The exciting thing is that we’re creating new products and engaging with new partners that will mean we’re able to achieve more through online video, overcome obstacles and forge further ahead, adding even more value and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to us through mobile content.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment
Digital Innovators Summit – Innovate or Die

Digital Innovators Summit – Innovate or Die

Innovate or Die

That was the message from the recent Digital Innovators Summit #DISummit in Berlin, attended by Business Development Manager Rebecca. Forge ahead or be left behind is the name of the game, but here’s some context behind that message and Rebecca’s thoughts on how the ideas raised can be applied at publisher level.

The key areas of innovation and execution that publishers and ad tech companies need to focus on in 2015-16 will be:

  • Programmatic
  • Mobile
  • Video
  • Data
  • Native

Programmatic

One thing made very clear at the summit was that programmatic does not lower the value of inventory. Regardless of how content is traded, if you’re able to give advertisers what they want, CPMs will remain high. Programmatic enables buyers to reach their audience, at the right time and place. Publishers can expect higher CPMs for validated inventory (at Coull we class validated inventory as video that is viewable, human, and brand safe) and as the industry pushes for this, quality will be rewarded over quantity.

Providing advertisers with a brand safe environment with transparency on domains means confidence will only continue to grow in the programmatic space. Being able to deliver this at scale is the key to more advertiser budgets being spent programmatically. AMEX is leading the way here and has moved 100% of their digital ad spend to programmatic.

Two mediums that are really at the forefront of the programmatic revolution are mobile and video.

Mobile

Publishers need to start seeing mobile as a medium in and of itself not just an extension of online.

The Innovation in Media Magazine, World Report[1], predicts that a US $64 Billion of ad spend will be spent on mobile in 2015, that’s 60% of global ad spend and, that’s this year! On average people check their smartphones 221 times a day, so advertisers have the potential to reach their users 221 times in a day, in an engaged and personalised environment. Publishers that aren’t equipped for mobile will quickly find themselves unable to compete, it’s no longer about switching to mobile; it’s about doing mobile content better.

The key factors when building a mobile site according to the report; you need good content, it needs to be quick, constant, concise and responsive.

Video

79% of all web traffic is video. We know that the majority of this is YouTube, but I think what it indicates is that people want to consume information in this way more than ever before. Publishers cannot rely on strong editorial if that is not the medium in which people want to consume content. Publishers must adopt a video first approach to content.

It’s not just about keeping your audience engaged, it’s also about providing premium spaces for advertisers to invest. The problem is not with demand, it’s getting the supply and persuading publishers that this is where they need to invest in terms of content.

Some economic areas are experiencing down turn and though they desperately want to invest in video, they lack the required resources. They know where they want to be but they can’t get there in time and are therefore restricted. It shows that regardless of intentions, strategy and infrastructure need to be in place for successful campaigns to be possible.

Advertisers see over 800% more conversions with video ads than any other online ad. This means that average CPMs should continue to increase across premium inventory. However, a video strategy is also needed to ensure, relevant, quality content for audiences.

Value from Video

Part of any video strategy should consider how they might re-purpose that video, making yield per video an important metric for publishers. Hearst’s Gary Ellis demonstrated how they are using video across multiple properties and markets, eliminating duplication of work in creating video and giving more time to niche editorial for that property/market.

The message to subscription-based publishers was not to paywall video content. Video is a ubiquitous form of media and is all too easily accessed for free by users, so paywalling it won’t increase subscriptions. What it might do however is to lose you your audience.

DATA should inform – it’s no good if you’re not asking the right questions

Part of the problem media companies are having with big data is that it isn’t being used correctly to inform decisions and strategies. From the outset companies are not always asking the right questions, and can sometimes be measuring the wrong thing. Metrics can be flawed and ad fraud is also muddying the water when it comes to validation.

We need to ask the right questions, measure the right data to answer those questions and, most importantly, take action.

Lutz Finger, Author of Getting the best out of Big Data elucidated the problem of asking the right questions with an Alta Vista and Google example. Alta Vista is an example of a company that was asking the wrong question. In the mid-90s, Alta Vista was able to search more of the World Wide Web than any of their competitors, indeed more than was even thought to exist at the time, due to a fast, multi-threaded crawler.

However, this wasn’t the function that people needed in a search engine. What people wanted wasn’t more search engine results, what they wanted were more relevant results. This is where Google gained ground, it didn’t matter that back then they didn’t have the same resource or capabilities as Alta Vista, they had the right question in the beginning.

Once we have framed the question, we need to measure the right metrics.

Once the question is framed, it needs to be measured with the right metrics. So, if we want to know whether an ad is effective or not, we need to define what metrics are suitable to analyse that performance.

Engagement rates as we all know are flawed, issues with bots and ad fraud mean clicks are unreliable and VTR and viewability all have inherent problems. All these different metrics need to be applied together and used to build a model that we can make inferences from.

Once the data that informs has been gathered, there needs to be action. Implementing a strategy based on the data seems obvious but advertisers and publishers are failing to do this. Crack this seemingly simple set of principles and you’re on the road to success.

Native

So far in 2015 25% of publishers used native advertising on their sites. Advertisers report a 55% uplift in brand affinity and 70% of users say they prefer native advertising to banner ads.

Good native advertising can be just as good as editorial so long as there is no ambiguity over the fact that it’s sponsored content. No one likes being deceived, and not making a clear differentiation between sponsored content and editorial, is evasive, it’s uncomfortable. Native has been used in print for a very long time in the form of advertorials and Hearst has been particularly good at adopting this for brands such as Elle and Cosmopolitan. A partnership between Estee Lauder and Hearst, saw them launching Cosmopolitan Nigeria, a market that Estee Lauder were keen to enter. Through the use of native ads they have secured a great brand partnership but have kept their editorial integrity through clearly signposting that this content was sponsored.

Native, like mobile, video and programmatic is here to stay and there are huge branding budgets to be had if the publisher can get it right.

Go forth and make it work

The elements covered in the Digital Innovators Summit were not new, but that’s okay because it was focused on how to make these things work better, to be more effective and more compelling. There were some great discussion points and I think everyone came away thinking a lot deeper about what it is we’re trying to achieve when we innovate. It’s nice having new, shiny things -but it’s even nicer when they work.

[1] In association with Forrester Research

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment
Learning from the App Strategy Workshop – Los Angeles March 26th, 2015

Learning from the App Strategy Workshop – Los Angeles March 26th, 2015

The running joke at the recent Application Developer Alliance’s App Strategy Workshop in Los Angeles was that 2015 has been declared the year of mobile.  It’s funny because the years 2011 through 2014 were also declared the years of mobile. Humor aside, all this shows how growth in mobile is only accelerating.   In reference to mobile apps, a recent white paper by comScore announced that in 2014 “Mobile app usage exploded on its way to becoming the majority of all digital media activity.” With that trajectory in mind over 250 app-entrepreneurs joined companies such as Ad Colony and Millennial Media to learn how to turn an app start-up into the next big digital media success story.

As distinct from the “mobile web” where content is viewed through a browser, mobile apps enable deeper user interaction with the content. With the well-defined and highly engaged audiences that apps create, high CPM advertising is often the best choice for monetization. However, with a lot of money on the table, app startups face intense competition to win users.

A winning product-market strategy (and some luck) is required for apps to be discovered and downloaded.  But with more than 1.5 million apps in each the iOS and Android stores, it’s easy for even the best apps to go unnoticed. Of course, the Holy Grail of app discovery for developers is to be featured prominently in the iOS or Android stores. More exposure equals more downloads, a larger audience, and more revenue.

During the conference, much of the discussion centered on how to get apps downloaded. There was a spectrum of viewpoints on the best approach. Some speakers advised attendees to build and iterate rapidly, exposing their apps to rigorous testing from of a live audience. Other experts held that apps need to be largely bug-free and polished, in order to take root with early adopters who will evangelize it. Everybody agreed that successful apps need to have robust features and that entrepreneurs must be bold and decisive to make their product catch fire in the market. Several speakers even endorsed spending more money on app distribution than on the actual product development.

App creators face many challenges familiar to all media businesses. For example, continuously expanding the audience is essential; but staying highly focused on the core product attributes is required. Even with the best planning, app releases can be buoyed or eclipsed by just about anything else happening in the world.  In short, having a great app is no guarantee of success in the market. Fortunately for app entrepreneurs there is a well-developed ecosystem of vendors to service and support their projects in every way conceivable. This conference showed the strength of this industry. Of course we should expect no less in this age of mobile.

As apps become ever more engaging and essential, revenue opportunities will increase. However, monetisation must respect the intimacy that exists between a user and her device. Native, in app advertising enabled by technology such as Coull’s SDK can not only deliver revenue, but also add value to the user experience.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

What’s in a Word? The Reality of Native Advertising – Part Two

Last week I posted my overall thoughts on the first half of the IAB’s first Content Conference held in London. Its focus was the notion and reality of ‘native advertising’. The second installment of this blog covers – you guessed it, the second half of the conference which was insightful, if not a bit, well – quirky.

(photo from the IAB)

A picture tells a thousand words

Krane Jeffrey from Yahoo/Tumblr presented some of the trends in branded content marketing that are helping it become more accepted by audiences.

The age old ‘a picture tells a picture tells a thousand words’ still holds true today. In fact, with shorter attention spans, and ‘less time’ to consume ‘more content’, visuals are more effective than ever. Creating relevant content with copy less than 300 words is really effective for brands because audiences can consume on any device, without taking up too much of their precious time, and, importantly- it’s easily shareable.

Jeffrey explained three basic components of successful branded-content marketing:

  • Authenticity

There needs to be value in the content and it needs to be written with authenticity, rather than being evasive as to its true nature. Audiences are used to branded content now and won’t so easily fall for something that’s disguised, be honest.

  • Commitment

There needs to be a real belief and investment in the strategy, if you only go in half way, it shows. Publishers and agencies need to work together to create engaging content and a long term relationship.

  • Distribution

If you’re investing in the content, you also need to invest in the distribution, there is no point making great content if it never gets seen – it’s like buying an amazing leather jacket and never wearing it. Shameful.

(Photo from the IAB)

Feel the love

Alex Cheeseman of Outbrain and Kohlben Vodden of StoryScience spoke about the parallels between online dating and online advertising including the common denominators of trust – commitment – and ensuring it’s all being done for the right reasons. This metaphorical presentation included two other really important points:

  • ‘Scale isn’t a dirty word’

We should be looking for reach through quality content that might well proliferate through social channels. Branded content can be authentic and scale, it just requires dedication and a good partnership between publisher and brand.

  • Useful, engaging, emotional content – is gold dust

We now live in a content ecosystem that enables us to consume something arbitrarily, that interest us, and out of that, serendipitously discover another. By sharing content we’re genuinely interested in and following publishers we’ve come to trust, we build our own hub from which we continuously discover content we love.

The fame game

Average Joes and plain Janes have been given a voice through the medium of video, and this means those guys and gals next door, can become stars in a matter of clicks. Hamish Nicklin from Google spoke about how the very nature of fame has changed dramatically thanks to online video. Brands are starting to look to this new fame making machine because when anyone can be famous, it’s important to realize that famous people, in turn, have fans – and fans? ‘Well, fans are nuts!’

Brands want to be famous, because ‘true fans are loyal beyond reason’ – Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi

Hamish presented three key areas to remember when creating content with the goal of building brand awareness and loyalty.

  • Hygiene – Be the most compelling answer to consumers searches on topics related to your brand

  • Hub – Give ‘browsers’ and ‘searchers’ a reason to return with relevant, inspiring content.

  • Hero – Inspire browsers with impactful stories.

Phillip(Philly) Byrne of BuzzFeed gave us this line which is as good as any to end on. ‘Great content finds the right audience’!

If brands and advertisers can harness quality content to tell their own story without ‘tricking’ audiences, the relationship between publisher and advertiser (which is now becoming more and more prevalent through programmatic advertising), can thrive in the native sense, as long as we keep the content and the audience at the heart of the story.

Of the panels and presenters heard over the day, there were differing opinions about what native is, how it’s being created and whether it’s a good thing or not. The only clear realization was that there is a need for a simpler term and a more efficient and understandable way to attribute engagement and ROI from this format of advertising. Hopefully a year on from now we’ll be seeing some real breakthroughs in regard to just that.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment