Thursday, January 15, 2009

Follow my new blog - Talking Digital

Hi subscribers - just wanted to let you know I am still very active and blogging ... just on my new blog Talking Digital -

Why the move? Well ... I like Wordpress more, and it also allowed me to join up with Liam Walsh ... who is someone I respect and a really sharp mind ... so hopefully what that means is a better experience for us and also, more importantly, the reader.

Posts are coming thick and fast and some of the comments have been fantastic, so I encourage you to have a look ... and if you like what you see - sign up via email!

Cheers, Ben

Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducing 'Talking Digital' - a new blog

Just wanted to get everyone across a new blog I have started with the Australian MD of DrivePM, Liam Walsh.

It's called 'Talking Digital' and basically the premise is to get the different perspective of an agency guy (me) and a publisher guy (Liam) across a variety of topical issues relevant to the digital media world and the wider media world.

Liam has been active within the industry for years, and has played pivotal roles in developing both Fairfax Digital and emitch into market leading companies at crucial times.

We haven't really seen anything like it in our travels across the blog world and over time it should hopefully serve to be a neat resource for those looking for information or opinion.

It also builds a small bridge over the 'Melbourne V Sydney' river.

What we're trying to do is write content and explore issues that we would find interesting and helpful.

Enjoy and give us your feedback!

Friday, November 7, 2008

IAB/PWC Q3 report out: Positive signs all round (unless you're in classifieds)

The latest IAB/PWC figures are out and the sentiment is very positive.

In Q3 of 2008, total online spend on advertising was $451m - up 30% YOY (from $348m Q3 2007) and up 9% on Q2 2008.

All categories contributed to the growth, Display, Classifieds and Search. Display was up 29% YOY, Search 33% YOY and Classifieds up 25% YOY.

When you look at quarter on quarter growth the picture is a little different.

Search was up 9% Q2 to Q3 to $212m for Q3. Display was up 10% to 126m. Classifieds was only up 2% Q2 oto Q3 to 114m.

For display advertising these quarter on quarter figures are a triumph. It outpaced the market in terms of growth, gaining ground on search for the first time in a long time.

For classifieds it signals the start of more bad news to come. Seek today forecast zero profit growth for this fiscal year and the next 6-12 months will hit the main classifieds operators hard as the job, auto and real estate markets flatline.

Display was definitely helped by the Olympics falling into Q3 2008, and was given a kick by some solid and encouraging improvements within the Automotive, Media and Real Estate sectors, alongside strong increases spend wise from the mainstays - Finance, Technology/Telco and Travel.

This report also broke out segments within categories - allowing those who use it to get a better idea of how specific areas such as Music, Home Loans, Gaming, Beverages etc went.

On that note, the music industry definitely need a swift kick up the arse with their online investment - the ENTIRE industry only spent 365k on digital in Q3.

All in all, very encouraging results for the digital advertising world. Q4 will be interesting - publishers seem to be scrambling a little but this is a probably a result of overzealous revenue targeting rather than the bottom dropping out of the market.

2009 - who knows what it will hold ... if I was a Sales Director I'd make sure I was extremely cautious on Q3 09 in terms of YOY growth ... I'd also be somewhat concerned that the big 4 categories for online display spend - finance, automotive, tech and travel are copping a bit of a battering already as a result of a sluggish economic climate. Can they maintain the same spend levels in terms of dollar amount they invested in 08 in 09, let alone increase them?

Thankyou to Patty Keegan for supplying me with this report today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oops Patrol - Strip Tease BTYB Bigpond

I saw Bigpond have a sponsorship on - which is sort of an integrated thing.

Problem is - it seems to go across ALL video content on the site. Even strip teases as the screengrab shows.
I wonder if Heavy told Bigpond this was a possibility ...

Oops Patrol - Career One

Last night I was watching a documentary on the gang MS13. Today I wanted to do some further reading and came across a site called Know Gangs.

Career One are all over the site - through Google content network ads.

Here's an interesting screengrab of a 'Lift Your Lifestyle' placement I came across.
Takeout ... this Google Content Network needs a lot of work on both ends.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sensis finally caves to Google

I read today that Sensis has finally decided to play nice with Google as opposed to trying to compete against them and losing badly.

It's not a bad move - back in February I touched on Sensis's problems -

When I wrote this I copped a bit of heat from some Telstra/Sensis people, which was never really clarified. It was implied what I was saying made no sense, however in hindsight I think it actually did make perfect sense ...

I raised 5 key areas they needed to sort out in 08 - my comments as of today are in bold

1. Do they maintain a search engine that cannot compete against Google let alone a MSHOO joint play ... or do they walk away from SEM or look to offer Yahoo or MSN a search distro deal across their network and rev. share?

They have walked and handed it to Google in what is no doubt a revshare similar to the above scenario.

2. How can they adapt Yellow to become more appealing to users? How do they adapt the way advertisers pay to be in Yellow given Google has changed the way many SMEs want to pay for leads

The Google alliance will probably help but doesn't solve the issue that Yellow isn't relevant in 2008

3. Can Whereis hold itself against Google Maps. What can it do better than its competitors - it's not enough to simply match them.

I think this product will be put to sleep in 09 given what has happened today. Yellow will now use Google Maps.

4. What does Sensis actually mean to consumers? Do you retire the brand or simply push it to the background?

Pushed to the background would be my bet now they have backed away from search and conceded to Goog. The media assets are under the Telstra Media stable so it appears they are moving towards the more trusted parent brand.

5. Do they walk away from search and maps and focus on mobile - an they have a pretty sophisticated offering to give the market now the walled garden approach has been abandoned.

They have walked from search and they will walk from maps. They are still making good headway with mobile and have a pretty solid first mover advantage still. However, they need wider distribution that they presently have, so this is the key challenge in this space.

"Bruce Akhurst, chief executive of Sensis, said: "This agreement combines Sensis' strong capabilities in advertising sales and local business content and Google's strong capabilities in online search and mapping technology."

If this isn't conceding defeat I'm not sure what is ...

There's no shame to losing to Google in these 2 specific areas. What Sensis/Telstra has done is a smart obvious move that makes more sense given the climate right now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pay Per Lead TV?

Saw this on ESPN this morning

How can this work unless the only media you are doing is TV?

And if you have other media in the mix (which you in most cases would if you are a DR advertiser), how can you precisely quantify where leads are coming from ... given leads are generally a by product of many touchpoints not just one.

Case in point. You run this Pay Per Lead TV with a tactical offer ... the consumer doesn't immediately act but the next day goes to Google and searches for your brand. As a result there's a conversion - who do you attribute the action to?

Interesting that the client has to use the company to produce the TVC and also buy the media. Is this just a clever way to extract more revenue?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oops Patrol: Fairfax Digital ad placement

I am sure Honda and Mazda would be rapt with this placement.

Thanks to my source(s) for this.

With oops's like this happening, I don't think 'heritage media' has too much to worry about in the short term if their digital cousins can't avoid competing vehicles running next to each other.

Yahoo!7 streamline their processes and bring new agility and efficiency to how they work as an organisation

Read: They fired people yesterday.

How many? No one is really sure. I know of 5 definites across production and engineering ... reports are up to 20 were asked to leave, including one very senior staffer.,28124,24572546-7582,00.html

Edit: Just 6 days earlier Y7 told The Oz they had no immediate plans to make local redundancies -,24897,24540225-5013040,00.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ad Networks on the way out ...

In the US anyway ...

Other ad networks "are in severe trouble and could be closing their doors in the back half of this year or the beginning of '09. People are bracing for the worst," says Ross Sandler, an Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

When I was at adtech in April I was shocked at the amount of ad networks in the US - it was out of control. Funny thing was, none of them really had a point of difference. They sold eyeballs simply because they were there to be sold.

VC liked ad networks as there was a promise of low initial setup and large immediate returns. Problem is - there's really no long term asset in an ad network as you don't really own any IP - you sell banners on sites you don't own, through technology you don't own via agencies you don't own. Effectively you're an agent and not much more.

Yes, there are some great ad networks ... but not many. You could count on one hand the good networks in AU. Most have offerings that are primative at best - failing to capitalise on the gap for strong vertical buys and the need for exclusivity. Not to mention transperency ... but that's another matter.

In AU there's a lot of these operators - not as many as the US - but more than we need. How long until this space thins out?