The IAB Introduces L.E.A.N. Ads Program In Response To Ad Blocking

What Happened
Facing mounting pressure of the rapid adoption of ad blocking technologies, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) introduced the L.E.A.N. Ads program — the acronym standing for Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive — on Thursday. It is meant to provide advertisers with a set of principles intended to “guide the next phases” of technical standards for the digital advertising supply chain. With L.E.A.N. Ads, the IAB hopes to increase ad efficiency, address the volume of ads per page, as well as continue on the path to viewability, which it also sets the industry standard for.

What Agencies Need To Do
As ad-blockers continue to gain momentum among users, agencies should feel incentivized to figure out ways to actively respond to the challenges that ad-blocking brings. The L.E.A.N. Ads program provides a good reference that advertisers should take into consideration. For more actionable suggestions on how advertisers can deal with the rise of ad-blockers, click here to read our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on this hot topic.


Source: IAB

“Mobile First” Means Consumer First

If the IAB Mobile Marketplace had a slogan, it might be “mobile first!” Heard at multiple sessions throughout the day, it acknowledges that mobile phones have become essential devices for consumers, omnipresent, and always on. As a result, it’s no surprise that marketers are eager to engage customers through mobile. But as Lou Paskalis highlighted during his presentation, in order to truly succeed, the industry must shift its mindset to “human first.”

Mobile, connected cars, and smart homes are creating a “Human Operating System”—an ecosystem in which digital elements are fully incorporated into daily life. This gives marketers an unprecedented opportunity to connect with people at the right time and place. As Paskalis noted, “Geo-targeting is one of the best need-states signals we’ve ever had to work with in marketing.” Rather than thinking in terms of ads, marketers must identify these needs-states and create relevant brand experiences. Challenges including learning how to:

  • Encourage opt-in, not opt-out
  • Focus on relationships before measurement
  • “Engage,” not disrupt

Publishers Weigh In On Programmatic At IAB Mobile Marketplace

As part of today’s IAB Mobile Marketplace event, a panel was held on the effect on digital advertising of programmatic tools from publishers’ perspectives. In the panel were Liz White from Time Inc. and  Jeremy Hlavacek from The Weather Channel.

Time has been pushing to optimize the responsiveness of mobile web sites and ad experiences. Over 50% of the audience for is coming from mobile devices. They now have a dedicated team working on their private exchanges, trying to act on 1st party data that they have across their publications. The challenge now is how to add value to their premium inventory. They have expanded their private exchanges globally.

Meanwhile, The Weather Channel mobile app – which currently has 130 million users – is launching a new version in a couple weeks with optimized ad experiences. 30% of their revenue is from programmatic-bought ads. Programmatic tools help them deal with large audiences at scale. They actively use their SSP, moving away from a network-based mindset where they pass off inventory to third parties.

Their new app is going to have 300×250 ads as well as native ads. 1st party data includes weather, UV data, wind speed, and dozens of other pieces of weather data within their  programmatic solution so buyers can buy on those factors. Platform is called Weather Effects, also takes geo-location into account. they don’t currently sell that product in the exchange, as it is considered premium inventory. They look to offer cross-platform solutions including cable network. With the rise of programmatic TV-buying in the future, the sorts of 360-degree solutions they may be able to offer should become very powerful offerings for applicable brands.

The State Of Programmatic At IAB Mobile Marketplace

Today’s IAB Mobile Marketing event featured a deep-dive track on programmatic buying and selling in mobile, sponsored by Google. The first speaker was Marc Theermann, the head of mobile platform sales for Google, who shared a number of interesting insights. From a technical perspective it’s useful to note that HTML5 is emerging as the standard for building mobile ad experiences, having now eclipsed Flash.

Rich media is overwhelmingly commonplace on desktop, but has yet to take off on mobile. Meanwhile, mobile impressions are set to eclipse desktop impressions in the coming year, but the advertising spend on the latter is many times that of the former. This discrepancy is fueled by what basically amounts to inertia (or lack thereof) and client demand. Also, validation metrics and attribution have not matured quickly enough in the eyes of many marketers.

Programmatic is exciting for publishers because they can see who is buying their inventory, and is exciting for buyers because of more precise audience targeting. In recent years, the Google-owned DoubleClick ad exchange has grown enormously. It currently handles more daily transactions than NYSE and NASDAQ combined.

Next up was a discussion with Brian Long, CEO of TapCommerce. TapCommerce is exclusively focused on mobile and buying it programmatically. 95% of their revenue is from RTB activity. A major KPI of ads they place is app re-engagement, i.e. get people who have lapsed from using an app to use it again. Churn is enormous in mobile, as an app popular today can drop off enormously tomorrow and vice versa. That kind of churn not as apparent on the web. As such, the majority of in-app mobile advertisers today are for app downloads. TapCommerce has seen the best performance in full-screen interstitial units.

Programmatic is important because the efficiency that customer gets allows them to differentiate on price. Click-through rate is not as indicative because of accidental clicks. TapCommerce doesn’t usually look at CTR as a measure of success. Focused on conversions as measure of success. Meanwhile, Google focused on reducing click-spam (including accidental clicks).

Digital video programmatic buying on mobile is in a very early stage, but buyers are asking about it more. The trick is to make sure units are skippable because on mobile video ads can be obtrusive. Creative needs to be especially strong and a good user experience. Many apps have experimented with video ads and then dropped it because of user complaints. There haven’t been enough buyers so users of the same app saw the same videos over and over. Apps employing video ads need frequency capping in order to maximize ROI.

In general Q4 2013 was huge for retailers advertising on mobile, reaching people on tablets who were shopping. Game developers still dominate in-app advertising, whereas the mix on mobile web is more heterogenous.

The key suggestion given for publishers interested in programmatic was to try and send as many parameters as possible into the system; it helps catch more bids on the exchange. First party data, if available, is critically important for adding value in this context.

More Meaningful Metrics At IAB Mobile Marketplace

Mobile measurement is one of the biggest challenges for marketers but some learnings at the IAB  Mobile Marketplace event demonstrate that we won’t be able to use that excuse for much longer.  And despite the lack of cookies, audience profile data, location tags, device IDs and more are giving marketers plenty of targeting capabilities.

YP’s David Petersen dove into some of the metrics his clients are using to prove the effectiveness of the platform. Initially, there are the engagement metrics, namely CTR, then secondary metrics if redirected to a landing page, etc. Far more interesting however, was store conversion rates as mobile allows brick and mortar clients to track ad exposure to store visits, leveraging location tags within apps. This seems to be of growing importance for mobile marketers as we get closer to mapping ad exposure to sales.

A YP client also mentioned the additional layer of store visit behavior they have access to through iBeacons. By placing these bluetooth beacons in stores, retailers can now begin to track movements within 1-100 ft in precision, using the phone as a proxy for shopper traffic. They can now understand time spent, which aisles shoppers were in and can offer proximity based messaging within apps.

Discussing The Value Of Data At The IAB Mobile Marketplace

During one of the early morning sessions of the IAB Mobile Marketplace, Kelly Jones of Microsoft presented consumer research that they conducted with fellow IPG company (and office neighbors) MediaBrands. To those who’ve seen our 2014 Outlook, these trends will sound familiar:

  • Value Me: Consumers know their data is valuable, and are willing to exchange it for a reward.
  • Enhancing the Real: Technology, and in particular mobile, should enhance real life
  • Intelligently On: The shift from “always on” to more specific brand contact based on need-states
  • My Analytics: The “quantified self” should provide consumers insights that allows them to improve their lives

The key to all of these trends is the value exchange, providing consumers with a benefit in exchange for their data. In fact, one of the questions we often get from visitors to the Lab is, “Aren’t consumers protective of their data?” But this jaded perspective is more prevalent amongst marketers, not consumers: multiple statistics indicated that at least 50% of consumers were willing to share data. If anything, most consumers assume that their data is already being collected, so they may as well get something out of it. Marketers that provide some value—whether time, money, social status, and so on—will find consumers open to working with them.

MRC Lifts Advisory on Viewable Impressions

The MRC has lifted its advisory on viewable impressions, encouraging the industry to transact based on the metric. A recent blog from the IAB has also officially announced the standard for viewable impressions – 50% of pixels in view for at least 1 sec. While it still does not guarantee ad exposure, it does revalue inventory below the fold and makes us consider new proxies for attention. Viewability has been around for quite some time, but the lack of standards would lead to quite a bit of chaos when it came to transacting with the data. The IAB anticipates viewable video to come by this summer but viewability is just the start. I’d imagine we can expect viewability to be calculated based on total time and perhaps priced on a sliding scale in the future.

IAB Releases Primer On In-Image Ads

With every site looking more and more like Pinterest, brands are getting savvy about making their ads more visual, or going a step further to incorporate branding within existing images themselves. Referred to as in-image ads, a number of providers from Stipple to GumGum are allowing advertisers incorporate overlays and interactivity across set imagery on publishers sites. While this works by enabling a defined set of images, recognition technology will let brands correctly identify brand imagery on user generated photos at scale. They don’t have rights for those images of course…at least not yet.

Check out the IAB’s recently released Primer for more information.

Me Want Cookies: Advertisers Pay 3X More For Interest-Based Ads

A study from the Digital Advertising Alliance found that advertisers will pay 3x more for cookie-based ads and 7x more if the cookie is 90 days old. Amidst White House efforts to review privacy implications of Big Data this week, groups like the IAB and DAA are hoping these numbers will position advertising as the lifeblood of the internet. For instance, 60% of small websites ad revenue comes from interest-based ads. Yet, the industry will need to do a better job of being transparent and educating the public on data and targeting if they want to maintain consumer trust. Companies like Enliken are already doing that, providing a service to ad networks and brands which makes it easy for the public to see which consumer segments they have been categorized in.

Mozilla’s Cookie Policy Divides Publishers

Mozilla’s decision to not store third-party cookies by default has divided online publishers. Many publishers that have embraced cookie-based targeting available through ad exchanges will suffer as a result of the new policy. On the other hand, the premium publishers that offer direct ad sales will be able to value their content more highly without programmatic buying available for many Firefox users. It will be interesting to see if any other browsers follow suit with Mozilla.