Thoughts on the US Leadership Forum in NYC

I hope everyone who attended the US Leadership Forum in New York this past week found it enjoyable and valuable. As always I was in awe of being surrounded by so many smart people. Events such as the Leadership Forum are such a great way to not only learn from each other but also to use as a springboard to propel the industry forward.

If you weren’t able to attend or if you are looking for a quick recap I’ve got you covered. With that — I give you my takeaways from the day.

A new (regulatory) sheriff in town

Alan Chapell of Chapell and Associates gave an extremely timely and informative keynote about the current state government regulation (as it pertains to advertising and privacy of course). If you haven’t been reading the news there’s been a lot of articles on how the FTC and privacy groups are coming down on the digital advertising industry for such “questionable” technology such as real-time bidding and behavioral targeting.

By the way, if you haven’t been keeping up on the news you can find those articles in our Ad Ops News Feeds.

The response from the online advertising industry has been one of pro-activity via self-regulation. A key component of this being fair information practices including giving notice to the consumer and giving them options to control their own personal information. Just this week the IAB and NAI released the CLEAR (Control Links for Education and Advertising Responsibly) Ad Notice Technical Specifications, “a set of common technical standards enabling enhanced notice in online ads” (Source: IAB). You can read the press release here.

Mobile Advertising is blowing up!

Bryan Moffett gave an excellent presentation – I guess you could call it a case study – about how National Public Media developed their iPad and iPhone applications and specifically the advertising piece of that.

Moffett pointed out that although building applications is difficult, it is an extremely valuable way to engage with your audience with both content and ads. Also it is a way to differentiate yourself in this competitive marketplace. It makes the ad offerings appealing to buyers and it reaches the audience in places you couldn’t before – including in some cases offline (via asynchronous serving).

Another key take away I thought was the fact that we’ve already moved beyond standard creative ads in mobile and devices and are have jumped right to rich media and video.

Pre-roll’s not dead

You’ve heard it before. Video is where “it” is at – the “it” being growth in revenue. And if you want to get in on “it” there was no better person to learn from then Matthew Corbin of Google/YouTube. This is about more than just adopting VAST and VPAID (hugely important of course but you already knew that didn’t you). It’s about adjusting the inventory based on who your users are and how they consume video. It’s about streamlining operational processes and adjusting with the audience changes. It’s about getting advertisers over the fear of viral content and comments. It’s about scale.

As video content grows longer, 15 and 30 second spots are more accepted by users. People are up for consuming video like TV now. Also Corbin made a great point about users consuming video while multi-tasking (like checking your facebook page perhaps?). Corbin also discussed was the impact of the varied global consumptions. A user in Korea may not have the same tolerance for ad breaks as someone in London or San Francisco. Controlling frequency is the key here and taking into account the viewing habits of your global user base.

And don’t forget – the pre-roll allows for efficiencies on the agency side in the fact that they get to re-use their advertiser’s video creative. This leads to ease of buying and eases things operationally for them as well.

Social Media – word of mouth marketing but measurable

Frank O’Brien of Conversation LLC talked about the cost per fan metric, the impact of celebrity tweets, and why you shouldn’t have an intern handling your social media posts. He likened social media marketing to an advertising media buy – it’s about planning, executing and measuring. And here’s one to think on: consumers spend more time daily on social networks than on a brand website. How many times a day do you check facebook? He discussed engaging with your “fans” once you have them. For advertisers and publishers this may mean having compelling content that brings eyes back to your site.

Turning on the light

In the member sessions a lively discussion broke out about verification services. It’s a hot topic but one thing everyone agrees on – it’s here. So what does that mean for your business? The great thing about having ad networks, agencies and publishers in the room is the issues are discussed on all sides. There’s a need to learn more about these vendors, establish the terms in which you are going to work with them (for instance establishing impression thresholds), have open discussions with agencies and publishers about how these services fit into the process.

Ask yourself – how does your ad operations team handle customization and innovation?

The competitive marketplace has created the need for publishers to stand out in “new and exciting, never been done before” custom advertising executions. The importance of communication, taking into account timing and planning, involving your internal teams (especially editorial), and the need for having a project manager were all key points. Also discussed was scaling by building the non-standard into standard (for example the OPA ads).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any of the other points I mentioned. Please reach out to me or leave your comments below.