Monday, March 31, 2008

Oops - Fairfax Digital's Google AdSense placements get a little too relevant

Unfortunate ad placement on this article on The Age re the laser pointing issues facing pilots flying into Sydney Airport.

First image is the article ... second is the Google AdSense placements ...

Notice Google Ad Number 1 - is for a company called which allows you to purchase the same sorts of lasers (they claim these are the 'worlds most powerful lasers') fuss free and delivered that have been causing all the fuss to the pilots trying to land.

Unfortunate to say the least.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

IAB Australia finalists announced

IAB have announced the finalists for the Australian IAB Awards. Taken from Ad News

MindShare Interaction (my employer) have been nominated for 4 awards - the most of any agency. OMD and Publicis took 3 nominations each.


Category: Automotive
ninepixels - Lancer Supershort Series; ninemsn
DraftFCB - Honda CRV Online; Honda
DraftFCB - Honda Civic Type R Online; Honda
DTDigital – ASIMO; DTDigital

Category: Consumer Goods
Publicis Digital – STICK; Nestle Peters
NetX - Gillette Google Gadget; Gilette
Soap Creative – Cornetto; Streets
Publicis Digital - Well of Positivity; Mt Franklin

Category: Financial Services
New Dialogue – Dollarmites; Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Clemenger BLUE - Celebration Dance; National Australia Bank
OneDigital - OSA & SS Polling; HSBC

Category: Travel, Entertainment and Leisure
Host - Home Sweet As; Air New Zealand
CNET Networks Australia - CNET Networks Asia Pacific Grand Slam Mobile Gaming Tournament; CNET Networks Australia
Leo Burnett - Martin Merton; Leo Burnett
Soap Creative – Jumper; Soap Creative

Category: Fusion
Visual Jazz - Defencejobs Games; Defence Force Recruiting
Market United - Murdoch University Switching Campaign; Murdoch University
Leo Burnett - Name It; McDonald's
Market United - Murdoch University Discoverers; Murdoch University
Tequila - eBay Make Shopping Exciting; Tequila


Category: Automotive
Publicis Media - Honda CR-V; Honda
MEC:interaction - Lancer Supershort Series; Mitsubishi Motors
Starcom MediaVest - Impreza MY08; Subaru
MindShare Interaction - Ford Mondeo; Ford Motor Company of Australia

Category: Consumer Goods
OMD – V-Raw; V Energy Drink
MindShare Interaction - iinet Naked DSL launch; iinet
MindShare Interaction - Easy Mac; Kraft

OMD - Selleys BBQ Wipes; Selleys

Category: Financial Services
Initiative – RaboPlus; Rabobank Australia
MindShare Interaction - First Home Buyers Guide; ING Direct
Neo@Ogilvy - American Express; Neo@Ogilvy

Category: Travel, Entertainment and Leisure
Publicis Media - The Simpsons; 20th Century Fox
CNET Networks Australia - CNET Networks Asia Pacific Grand Slam Mobile Gaming Tournament; CNET Networks Australia
OMD - Shangri-La Business Travellers
Carat - Traveltainment; Tourism Australia

Category: Fusion
New Dialogue - Kevin07; Australian Labor Party
pureprofile/naked - Mount Franklin Well of Positivity; Coca-Cola Amatil

Category: Search
dgmAustralia - Dell Search; Dell
24/7 Real Media - CareerOne Search; CareerOne
Publicis Media - Domestic Hotels; Qantas Holidays
iProspect – Network Ten Search Engine Optimisation; Network Ten

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The rise of the premium Ad Network

Australia is primed for the rise of the premium Ad Network. Like SEM it is the one area that has massive growth opportunities with agency-scale advertisers and is a relatively clean space in most instances.

One thing Ad Networks do well is get local advertisers on high quality, premium international sites with strong and loyal AU IP eyeballs. Think tripadvisor,, Mini Clip, iVillage ... these are category leading sites who are on the bleeding edge of innovation and have strong brands that users identify with. What these sites allow marketers to achieve is more thorough presence in relevant areas and improved overall reach. They give the advertiser more choice. As the web becomes more mainstream these international sites will become more well known (as Google has more and more say over what is deemed as most relevant) and marketers will expect their agencies to be evaluating them against the big 5's options.

As someone who puts together digital strategies for clients, the more choice I have to evaluate the more confident I am in that I am answering the brief in the best possible way.

On top of this is Ad Networks can help advertisers get on premium local sites without dedicated representation for sales. Again, this is very liberating for advertisers as it offers even more choice, more eyeballs, more options.

What has been great this year has been a much more concerted push by the Ad Networks to offer further value. Primarily in the areas of selling a network of sites across specific categories and also offering sophisticated targeting options.

Category or vertical based ad networks are fantastic as they offer the advertiser the chance to reach a wider group of consumers across a wider variety of sites, but have control over the sites they choose and the ability to tailor a message to the context. Platform 9's content network as well as the Google Content Network are great examples of this and provide the opportunity to reach potentially a brand new audience in environments they trust. The key attractions here are reach, cost and relevance. Reaching a SME in a relevant environment used to cost you upwards of $60CPM ... now you can reach them for $6 with higher reach and response. Tempest's affiliation with Glam Media now means there are now 100+ odd additional options as well as using to reach this audience. Our reliance on a selected number of sites has been removed - in essence, restoring the balance and nurturing a health digital ad market.

And you can get quite specific with some the networks.

If I'm looking for people who are involved in grassroots local football leagues on the Eastern Seaboard I can now target them with minimal wastage. A few years back this would have been a costly and labour intensive exercise ... now thanks to a smartly crafted network I can pinpoint this audience. A premium Ad Network has aligned a large number of small grassroots sports sites (think sporting clubs, facilities etc) to create a impressively sized audience with new to market targeting options. Not a bad option for a football boot if they can target those people who are playing in a local football league within a relevant environment.

These areas offer a lot of value as they allow you to tap into consumers 'passion points' (for want of a better term) online. And they do it in a way that offers the advertiser the opportunity to manage the activity in terms of trafficking, reporting and billing just like a major local network.

What does this mean? It means the big 5 aren't really competing against eachother anymore, they're competing against hundreds of thousands of sites who now are equipped to service Australian advertisers and organised sufficiently to deliver.

Combine these audiences and numbers wise they offer the opportunity to reach equal or better volumes to the major networks ... which for the advertiser is a massive positive. It by no means replaces the need to consider larger networks, it moreso gives one more options to consider and allows for innovative ways to use the two in combination.

Then there's behavioural targeting/retargeting ... different concepts but essentially both have the same intent: utilising technology to serve more relevant ads to consumer. With sufficient networks behind them both of these formats are exciting as they offer another area to add to the digital mix. Yes, some of the main networks are playing in this space (Yahoo and Media Smart in particular) however they are competing against some strong players (such as AdConion).

Begs the question, maybe instead of investing in systems to monetise their remnant inventory some of the major publishers (aside Media Smart who already play in this space) should have been looking to extend their reach and relevancy in key high yield areas by providing local representation to premium smaller sites?

More options, more sites, more contexts, more executions, more reach - all things that can benefit the entire industry.

And lets not forget that it is now entirely viable for advertisers to CREATE the content and with digital the reliance on publishers for eyeballs and engagement is decreasing ... but that's a whole other topic.

IAB push back finalists announcement to March 27

IAB were due to announce finalists for the AU IAB Awards today (Tuesday 25)

In a massive surprise, they have pushed the date back to Thursday March 27.
I find it interesting and to be honest, irritating, that they decide at midday THE DAY NOMINIATIONS ARE DUE TO BE ANNOUNCED to then change the date. Poor form.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Billy Bragg: "Social Networks want the use of our music without having to pay for it"

From the NY Times via TechCrunch

"The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?"

So says Billy Bragg who is asking the founders of Bebo - where is a slice of the $850m USD pie for the musicians who drove traffic to your site.

Bragg has contributed this article - - to the NY Times which calls for more formal definitions of artists IP rights through emerging digital platforms.

The radio analogy isn't a bad one - I always assumed the social networks would pay some sort of royalty per play of an artists steam - however it seems that they don't.

I put this hypothetical situation out there - imagine tomorrow all of the bands/artists/musicians etc who were on myspace shut down their pages - I wonder what it would do to their bottom line and revenues ...

I have never liked Billy Bragg as a performer but he is completely on the money here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nailing the concept of engaging advertiser driven content

From AdAge's Crystal Ball 2.0 piece (great article and good thought starter) -

Tom Martin of Positive Disruption says "With the cost of production and distribution of digital content rapidly approaching zero, including distribution to the television platform, the opportunity to create branded micro-content that consumers will invite into their lives becomes a financial reality with a huge ROI upside; it's advertising that people want to watch. This should be the single biggest trend to catch fire in 2008. "

There's a lot said right now about creating 'engaging content' ... problem is many in the industry feel that is either a competition or a rehash of the same content we can already get on tv/radio/print.

What is really needed are applications that first and foremost consider the user and enhance their experience. And it doesn't have to be something whiz-bang technically - it can be something nice and simple and most importantly, useable.

I was in a Google presentation the other day and they stated, quite clearly, that the user is central to everything they do. It's almost like a 'create first, nail it, then monetise' mentality. Whilst this makes total sense, it was the first time I had seen a publisher/supplier pitch that actually explained this. More often than not the speil for a new content area starts with something like 'We identified we were missing a key segment of cashed up 24 year old women who lived at home so we created a site that will appeal to them. It's all about UGC and other analogies as a business we don't understand but do you have any client dollars to 'partner' with us on.'

The assumption you can create something for a reason that is more about exploting an audience than serving it and said audience will just embrace it is ambitious to say the least ... but hey, this is the Australian media industry.

The best ideas and the most successful ones will come out of trying to provide value to some. That's why I love this -

Disclaimer: This was done out of the MindShare Interaction office in Sydney, I am an employee at MindShare Interaction in Melbourne.

The functionality isn't anything not previously available - but it delivers it in a really smart, simple way for you to use. And even better it encourages multiple use. It embraces community (users can share maps, share stories/advice in forums), offers practical information (distance, time ran) and doesn't feel the need to smash you over the head with branding.

I think this demonstrates a fresh approach to analysing a brief. The idea of creating an area to align your brand yourself if one doesn't exist is a fantastic one.

I realise this isn't new, but testament to the strength of the concept is I am still using it well into 08, entering new maps to be conquered.

What is also cool is this app has very logical extensions across the mobile device, Facebook/myspace and blogs. Lets hope come May 1 this campaign is recognised at the IAB Awards.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rumour: Eric Schmidt is in Sydney

B&T reports the most influential man in digital is in Sydney this morning to announce a Google venture with Optus.


Geez it'd be good to get 15 minutes in front of the guy to talk digital.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What is up with Yahoo!7 search?

Checking the latest Neilsen Netview numbers Yahoo!7 search is down 27% year on year ... surely an issue given it was given a strong push in January during the Oz Open and has been promoted heavily during key Network 7 programs in February.

February 08: 1,231,000
February 07: 1,680,000

Source: Neilsen Netview, February 2008

Their ATL activity to push their Mail property has seen a modest 1,000 new users year on year (February 07 to February 08) currently sitting at 1,438,000 users. Over the same time the 'Email' category has added 301,000 users.

February 08: 1,438,000
February 07: 1,437,000

The question must be raised on why this activity isn't generating results. Both the Y!7 search and Mail products are strong and robust services - so why aren't they being taken up. Mail wise there was a push to offer users a new domain (and the opportunity to get a new address) ... but the numbers don't seem to indicate this is adding additional users.

In other Neilsen news ... both myspace and Facebook saw month on month declines for February 08 - however when you factor in that February had 2 less days than a 'normal' month the drops are really cancelled out.

Social Networks February 08
Myspace: 2,662.000
Facebook: 2,377,000
Bebo: 629,000

Where is all the new stuff on Google Labs

Last new innovation was uploaded in May of 2007 ... Google is still fostering the initiative of Engineers allocating 20% of their time to new innovations ... so why aren't we seeing them?

China blocks YouTube

Access to YouTube has been blocked by the Government in China.

Thailand dabbled in doing the same thing last year but lifted the ban once they realised there are plenty of other video sites on the web and real blanket censorship of video content was never going to happen.

Reports are Google is currently working to restore the service.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

BBC on the prowl for AU ad dollars

Caught this ad (see picture left) on The Australian's media section for BBC - they're now actively targeting the ad market to monetise their leading properties.

Activity directs through to

Side note: Why do News take competitors ads ... you would assume The Oz and BBC are competing for the same AB type audience ... why give your competitor a legup for a few short term dollars? Last year they were taking ads for ad network 3Di.

BBC calls their audience the 'Internationalist' ... (I assume they mean Powderfinger fans?) ... and then split them into 4 key areas

- Affluent Consumers
- Early Adoptors
- Decision Makers
- Avid Travlellers

The thing is - EVERYONE claims to have these audiences ... still, the numbers behind BBC in Asia Pac are strong (over 7m per month) and the quality of the content is second to none.

In Australia the BBC reaches 828,000 people a month across their network - significant figures and definitely something that agencies and marketers are going to look to embrace.

Why? Because BBC is the news property others follow ... it's an innovator not a follower, and that will give it a point of difference against a lot of the local competitors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Whirlwind week - catch up

Phew! What a week. With half the office out and my colleague burning up the stage at Ad:Tech, I haven't had a chance to post at all this week.

Not too much to report

AOL pays USD 850m for Bebo

Hard to really comment on this given it just happened and Bebo isn't really much of a player in the AU market. Wonder whether it will affect the sales relationship Bebo has with Y!7? It appears from the article everyone else didn't want to touch Bebo - Yahoo, Disney, MSN etc

Disgraced NY governor Elliot Spitzer's drop in call-girl is also a wannabe singer


Doubleclick and Google merger is now approved

Green light from the EU means Google can now officially enter another realm.

Disney CEO: join the digital revolution--or hire people who can.

Eisner replacement lays down the a directive for Disney to significantly grow digital revenues.

YouTube coming to TV - via Tivo

When it is introduced this year (the exact time has not been specified), the YouTube service will be available only to TiVo users who have up-to-date hardware — a Series 3 or HD set-top box — and a broadband connection. Sounds cool, will Seven roll it out locally? Wonder what is actually happening with Tivo here.

Carlton Draught launch Skytroop

Lots of video placements, plus a YouTube homepage takeover.

Friday, March 7, 2008 and Stephen Colbert

Did anyone else see Colbert Report last night (Thursday 6/3) on Comedy Channel (Australia). They ran a pretty funny story on legit website

View the clip here (courtesy Valleywag) -

The site is pretty funny - it brings 'women' (ie those who want implants but don't want to pay together with 'benefactors' (weird dudes who will pay them money to do things like chat, post pics, see custom photos) in order to satisfy both of their wants.

The ultimate aim is the women get new boobs and the men get something in return for their pledge. According to Colbert the site has helped 95 girls score new boobs.

If you're keen, here's some feelgood sentiment from the site owner.

"And remember... the best part is seeing the newly transformed ladies after the surgery when they return to the website to post pictures of the results. You can take pride in knowing that you helped her improve her self esteem and self image!"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

US: Mobile Ad Visibility on the increase

The NY Times reports "the number of phone users who recalled seeing mobile ads rose by 38 percent to 58 million in the fourth quarter compared with 42 million in the second quarter, Nielsen's fourth-quarter survey of 22,000 active mobile data users."

So we have non brand specific recall improving, as well as reach. All positives for the mobile space.

The article touches on ad content potentially subsidising usage for subscribers, with Virgin Mobile US even implementing this practice now.

"About 13 percent of respondents said they were open to ads if they improves the mobile content available, while about 14 percent said they were open to ads as long as they were relevant to their interests, the (Neilsen) survey found."

Is the answer locally making mobile Internet access free (or a nominal monthly charge - say $5 - and funding the data through targeted display ads?

Role reversal: Google shares taking a pounding

So apparently Google's share price has dropped 40% since November 07. If you've missed this happening, you're not alone, it seems to have slipped under the radar given the hype around the MS/Yahoo potential merger and Jimmy Wales sex life.

This dive represents a shareholder value loss of more than $93b USD. John Battelle, author of The Search and noted industry expert, has stated that right now is Google's first rough patch and "It will test the character of the company."

Lets not forget however that it's not all bad news for Google.

Last year the company made 4.2b in profits.

In January 08 it increased its lead on Yahoo, ask and MSN in the US search market in terms of % of total searches by 9%, however it has been claimed user clicked on 7% less ads. (there is substantial debate about the validity of these claims though)

I think what this investor caution does show is there is more pressure now for Google to prove not only its leadership beyond it's core business, search, but also it's ability to monetise smarter than their competitors.

Are they up for it? Well, only a fool would bet against them.

IAB Australia board gets a boost

According to B&T, the IAB has added some new board members. And they don't come much bigger in the local market.

Tony Faure - CEO, Ninemsn
Rohan Lund - CEO, Yahoo!7
Nick Leeder - COO, News Digital Media
Bill Burton - Bigpond
Nick Cola - Fairfax Digital

Nothing on it on the IAB website funnily enough -

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This blog has now changed

This blog has changed title and now solely reflects the opinions of the author, not of MindShare Interaction or any associated or aligned company.

Everything else will continue as it was.


Media Watch outs 4 Square media head honcho for 'borrowing' copy

Ouch! David Richards cops a battering from Media Watch for plagiarism.

You have to admire his defence however.

"Several stories exposed on Media Watch were not posted by me or 4Square Media staff as Media Watch indicated. These stories have been deliberately posted to our web site using my byline in an effort to discredit both myself and 4Square Media... our web site content engine has been accessed by non authorized personnel who appear to have lifted a story from another site and then posted it inside our content engine."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New NIN embraces flexible pricing

Trent Reznor's frustrations with the traditional music industry were well documented, so it's not surprising to see him fully embrace the autonomy of the web and take control back of his product.

You can download the first 9 tracks, DRm free - FOR FREE

All 36 tracks + a 40 page pdf - $5

2 X CD on 6 panel digipack - $10

There's also $300 (sold out) and $75 deluxe options for fans.

More performance mumbles from the AU players

According to this article Fairfax Digital have approached some of the other large players about setting up a remnant inventory pool between these players (FD, News, ninemsn, Yahoo!) to try and defend their turf against other remnant inventory sellers such as Max and DGM.

Jack Matthews has a tough dilemma - having his cake and eating it too.

Taken from,25197,23307005-7582,00.html ""Performance is a big strategic challenge for us," Mr Matthews said. "We are looking at whether we will be running a performance network ourselves. One of our concerns is that we do want to make sure we maintain our premium inventory." "

Matthews has claimed the talks are more about the large players coming together to try and spruke the values of premium inventory. To be honest, this seems more sensible.

With the Internet truly global and users having access to millions of sites - not to mention Google playing a huge role in what sites get traffic given the importance of search, you really have to wonder what a network like this would achieve despite diluting the value these networks have tried to protect and actively promote in the past 18 months. There is more reach to be had via the countless networks that sell blind buys across the Internet.

I often wonder whether performance can ever be something that increases yield over time given it's remnant, unsold, generally untargeted and most importantly completely irrelevant to the page content. Don't get me wrong, 'performance' has its place but is it going to offer sustainable growth and long term advantage for publishers? Are there more short term dollars in moving publishers Google AdSense ads closer to the fold? At least these have a connection to page content.

The hysteria around performance is definitely interesting in 08. Is MARKET/client need driving it or PUBLISHER revenue want at any mid to long term cost ... is it the publishers scrambling for revenue as the online display growth starts to slow and search makes more inroads into the big dollar agency clients? This performance approach seems very immediate term - and in terms of the users you have to wonder whether over time there will be pressure to place more ads on pages ... to push more revenue per PI ... and whether users will desert and move to cleaner pastures ... just like they did with search 7-8 years ago when millions embraced Google.

Social Media here to stay: Executive Director of 'Thanks for the Add' to be appointed

So social networks are here to stay says a new report from TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony out of the US. They even say it is a facet of the marcomms mix that needs to be overseen by senior execs in a specialised manner.

"In the survey of 71 marketing professionals in the U.S., Canada, France and the U.K., not even one respondent saw social media as a passing fad. Approximately a fifth (21.1 percent) said it was worth monitoring at the staff level but "should not absorb significant resources," while nearly half (49.3 percent) said it should be monitored at the executive level and receive significant resources. Another 29.6 percent called it a "revolutionary new opportunity that must be grasped with a sense of urgency." The U.S. had a higher concentration of exuberance, with 45 percent of respondents calling social media revolutionary. " -

Well, what does this mean?

It appears the majority consider social media if not essential, revolutionary to a point of urgency.

So what is pushing their buttons?

"Monitoring social media activity for brand and category-related sentiments ranked highest among marketers' priorities for the channel and scored considerably higher than brand awareness and customer loyalty initiatives. Whereas roughly 20 percent said it offered the greatest potential for either increasing loyalty or building awareness, 36.6 percent described it as ideal for "gaining consumer insights."

The first point is really no different to offline media monitoring ... checking media to ensure you are on top of market sentiment and being able to respond accordingly. Utilising it for brand awareness and loyalty doesn't score as well (which would be troubling for some), yet over a third consider it ideal for gaining consumer insights (which is an area neither of the big players have really tapped into which could be a ridiculously large goldmine if executed correctly).

Will we see the major social utilities look to gain insights from consumers and actively monetise these beyond what straight targeting? Will we see social networks and utilities partner with brands (ie really partner, not just sell inventory and some production) to allow them to truly understand their audience and connect with them in a meaningful way?

Lets not forget these are o/s stats - I would wonder what the data would look like locally. Still, promising news for the social media gang.