Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blog downtime due to hand failure

I have hurt my hand (don't ask me how as I don't know) - as a result I've been asked to rest it for 7 days.

This means I can't really type ... so the blog will take a break until the end of next week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

09 and beyond #5: Guy Gibbs, Head of Agency Relations Google Inc.

So what are the big issues we face moving forward in digital ... and all media? Well, we've asked six respected industry people to give us their opinion.

Week 4 we have Guy Gibbs. Guy is the Head of Agency Relations at Google AU. He heads up Google's vertical based sales team. Prior to this he was at News Ltd, working in the NewsNet Division. In 2006 I played on the same footy team as Guy (Herald Sun Vs Agency AllStars) and he was a pretty determined player who definitely got amongst it ... and he brings the same traits to his work at Google, getting amongst it with agencies and clients alike and playing a pivotal role in spreading the Google gospel beyond the online media nerds.

Here are his thoughts on the digital landscape and issues moving forward.


More information, better resultsGoogle reaches the ripe old age of ten this year and has achieved a fair bit in this time. Search always has been, and remains, the cornerstone of our business and continues to evolve and innovate as we strive towards the goal of making the world’s information universally accessible and useful.

Australian businesses of all sizes have begun to wake up to the opportunity that search provides and we will see significant growth from all categories over the next few years but there are still some issues that we need to work on in Australia. These include educating clients, website optimisation and understanding the extensive data available. Plus, clients and agencies now understanding that their brands should “always be on” because the consumer is online 24/7. Every search is an opportunity for a relevant marketer to enter the conversation with its consumers or potential consumers.The upside is that there is still a huge amount to be realised with estimates suggesting that only 10% of the global content is on the web and only a 6th of the world’s population is online.

The way that we think and understand “search” is expanding. When we talk about search today we include images, news, finance, books, local, and geographical information as well as web search. The move towards “universal search” (incorporating all these sources in the one set of results) is a challenging technological exercise. But there is no doubt that it’s a long term trend. People aren’t always looking for web pages. Sometimes they’re looking for directions, or photos, or tickets for sale, or friends, or newspaper articles.

Google Maps and Google Earth (Google’s “geo” products) are helping to solve a considerable search problem: how do you take all of the information about the physical world and make it accessible and useful? Google Earth has helped archaeologists find things they've searched for over centuries (eg. a Roman villa in someone's backyard).

User-generated content is the rage right now. It manifests itself in Google Maps and Google Earth through online communities, shared placemarkers and self-made maps. The user-generated content that we're seeing on our geo products is profoundly useful and helps us better understand the world.

We think of search as a science. Think of search as being like astronomy in the 17th century. We’re just discovering that the earth moves around the sun and not vice versa. There’s a long way to go.Website Optimisation Data beats opinion. There was a time when John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Well, with new tools and formats, we’re beginning to see more accountable and efficient marketing, both online and off. Ultimately, data can help a marketer optimise a campaign and gain insight into its consumers. Instantaneous feedback is a mechanism that the Internet pioneered.

Website optimisation

Website optimisation seemed to be the hot topic at SES New York this year. Speakers were discussing how small changes in website content can result in big differences in traffic patterns. This is not a new topic but one that continues to hold companies back from gaining the best return and results from internet traffic. Without a well structured site or an effective strategy to measure, test and refine , marketers are missing the opportunity to create a positive connection, or understand what the consumer did online. Many people confuse website optimisation with search-engine optimisation, so I will clarify the difference here:
Search-engine optimisation means adjusting and improving the content of your site so that it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase.
Website optimisation means creating and testing different combinations of site content to increase visitor conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction.

Analytics best practices

Analytics is at the core of everything we do as a company and marketers can definitely take advantage of the opportunities to optimise site traffic by understanding key metrics. It is still quite surprising how many websites are not set up to engage the consumer, create a positive user experience or qualify the interaction through tracking. The questions that clients need answering:

How to get actionable data out of your analytics
How to use your analytics to understand where your users are having trouble navigating the site
Determining which features of analysis can shine light on special opportunities
How to have a cost efficient campaign and increase conversions
How to use proprietary tools to increase the conversion rate (i.e sales funnel)
How to get everyone in the company to love and use their data

Retail & ecommerce

Recent research commissioned by Google and Monash University found that 50 percent of Australian shoppers research online before going to purchase in a bricks-and-mortar store. It is vital that retailers look to grow and capture the attention of consumers at the very moment they search for a product.

Retailers have a massive opportunity to deliver the basic needs of customers from their websites. If consumers are researching, they want to know many things such as: which of your stores carry the products they seek? Do you have a website with an easy-to-use store locator? When is their closest store open? Can they park there?

This report demonstrates the shift that is occurring in the Australian consumer landscape. The proliferation of broadband, comfort with online transactions and globalisation of retail practices is changing the behaviours, expectations and attitudes of consumers. This shift is confirmed by the growth that we are seeing in searches across all retail categories.


Online video is absolutely mainstream. The demographic of the YouTube audience mirrors that of the Australian internet population.

A couple of stats that may interest you: every day 10 hours of video are uploaded to the YouTube site every minute! That’s something like 3,000x Hollywood’s rate of production – or the equivalent of movie studios releasing some 57K movies into theaters every week. So while you often hear talk about the coming Video revolution, for users, it’s already here.

So, if video is mainstream, it needs to be part of digital marketing plans, and marketing plans overall, and indeed state-of-the-art marketers are recognising this. However there is a real need to educate and engage clients and brands on the key benefits of the different platforms and ad products in the market as well as the type of content that is available.

Check out the channel for The Queen of England on YouTube – her channel has over 1M views – and even Oprah’s on YouTube. Here she’s created what we call a “Brand Channel,” which is just a single home for all Oprah’s video assets because that’s where users are watching.


Ultimately the web is dynamic and moving at a pace that few of us can keep up with as new applications, ad formats and websites appear daily.

The industry needs to doubledown on its education efforts to keep people abreast of the changes, or they will get left behind and we will miss out on digital opportunities.

Google for its part has a program in place with agency partners and will continue to disseminate key insights and knowledge to all partners. This is very much a focus for us going forward.

It’s a cliché, but in this industry, change is the only constant. There is much talk in the industry about how fast things have changed and how we're in the “Web World”. Indeed we are, but it's only the beginning.

As the world gets connected and media consumption patterns continue to change, we all need to be nimble, prepared to adapt to change and ready to embrace the next big idea – wherever it comes from.

Past Posts in the Series

Liam Walsh, MD DrivePM -
Tony Faure, CEO ninemsn -
Monique Talbot, CEO & Founder, Tempest -
Dave Whittle, MD Mark -

Trading Post states long term goal: "Become Australia’s favourite place to buy and sell"

So said Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst today.

"Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst today (26 May) said his aim was to make Trading Post the number one online auction site in Australia.

"On top of the two million people that already use each month, there are an additional 3.4 million Australians using online auctions that are not currently using Trading Post," Akhurst said. "And while auctions have only just started on, our aim is to build up the number of items available and become Australia’s favourite place to buy and sell."

I think it's a tough task.

According to Netview

Ebay users - 5.212m

Trading Post users (taking a de-dup'd figure of Trading Post and Trading Post - Auto) - 827k

Sensis is saying they have 2m unique users on Trading Post - however no Neilsen data backs this up.
Regardless, that's a fair gap. I understand a mission is meant to be an ambitious, almost impossible goal ... but pegging back 4m plus users from a service that is one of the most loved ... tough!

Screenshot above of the Netview de-duplicated figure.

Monday, May 26, 2008

This just in: Blogs on the up whilst the News category remains flat

If you need more evidence that the line between semi-pro (or pro-am or whatever you want to call it) and professional journalism content is blurring rapidly, lets have a look at usage data between topline News (ie journalists) figures and the unduplicated audience of the top 4 blog platforms.

According to Neilsen Netview, the topline News & Information figures (which is a unduplicated figure taking into account News Digital Media, The Age, SMH, BBC, Yahoo!7 News, National Nine News, NY Times, Bigpond NEws, Google News, Conde Nast, Daily Mail, CNN etc) only saw essentially a zero usage increase from April 07 to April 08 - from 7.785m in April 07 to 7.786m in April 08.

Now lets look at the unduplicated figures of the top 4 blogging platforms - blogger, wordpress, typepad and livejournal.

April 07 - 1.839m

April 08 - 2.484m

That is a YOY increase of 35%. What does this show? Well .. people are turning to blogs more and more to get their information. Why is this? Well ... I don't have the definitive answer ... but I believe that blogs offer more credibility and passion than their larger counterparts - especially in niche areas (which we all know become quite big when there are enough niche's combined). And this doesn't even cover sites like Perez Hilton, TMZ, Gizmodo, Defamer, Slashdot etc - which I would argue are blogs by format and design.

It's not all bad for the News & Information category - page views per user per month are up YOY from 65 to 74. Still, if I had the choice between a marginal increase in consumption or a major increase in users I know which one I'd take.

Maybe we will start seeing large news site bloggers become more than just light entertainment 'columnists' and actual evolve to being actual experts on what they're covering.

Does Google actually drive sales?

Something to consider - sparked by this article in The Oz -,25197,23755750-26077,00.html

From the article: "The argument Google is making to advertisers is persuasive: for the cost of buying one 30-second TV spot, you might be able to own your favourite keyword terms on Google for a month. In a tight market, the question becomes: which one is most likely to boost sales? "

I think this is a little one dimensional. The two areas we need to consider are demand creation versus demand fulfillment. I think the idea of Google going after TV dollars (if in fact they are) is misguided ... TV is potentially Google's best friend.

Can Google boost sales (ie create incremental demand). YES it can. Do most people know how to do this. No.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Message to the Dukes Of Windsor: Stop Trying

I was doing a search today for The Presets (who are awesome) ... and who came up in the sponsored results - the f*ckin' Dukes of Windsor ... yes, that 'edgy' electro-rock outfit (their words, not mine). Click on the image to see.

Seriously ... this is scraping the bottom of the barrel SEM marketing. It's interesting some bands are now managing to incorporate their musical unoriginality into their search marketing efforts!


Fairfax Digital: The Vine traffic at 400% of expected after 1 month ...

So according to Fairfax Digital's Pippa Leary, is swimming along with 155,000 users in month 1 - way over the 40,000 they forecast.

Problem is - there's no audited data on this.

A search for The Vine on Neilsen Netview generates zero result - meaning the amount of users on the Netview panel accessing the site was too low for it to be an adequate sample size.

And on Market Intelligence - which Fairfax uses for The Age, RSVP SMH, Lifestyle, ASX and it's Business properties, is nowhere to be seen ... I have checked under Lifestyle and Entertainment and it is not one of the sites Neilsen is tracking

Begs the question - why isn't FD monitoring this through Neilsen given it's the only standard for agencies and clients in Australia? It's hard to swallow publisher supplied glee when they haven't used Neilsen to monitor traffic ... it's especially hard given the FD salesforce go to market daily trumpeting their primo sites traffic and sourcing Neilsen when doing so.

AdNews piece is here --

Hulu: The numbers are out and they tell a great story

When I was in the US in April I fell in love with NBC and Fox's video sharing site, Hulu.

Hulu is great - it basically aggregates most of the TV content of NBC Universal and Fox (think Law & Order, SNL, American Idol, Family Guy, Simpsons, 24) - and allows what I think is the webs best example of TV on demand.

It's high quality (not HD) and the depth of content is impressive. If I want to watch the entire 3 seasons of Arrested Development - I can ... on demand. Pause/rewind/fast forward ... it's too easy.

In the States Hulu launched to much debate - many thought it wouldn't work - but the numbers are pretty strong and would have definitely inspired confidence in the NBC and News Ltd execs behind the concept.

Hulu is playing in a different space to YouTube - YouTube us UGC ... the US guys call it 'amateur video' ... Hulu is produced content - 'professional video' ... it's effectively TV programming taken online which gives users greater flexibility with how they view it. This works in their favour as the consensus seems to be that it will be easier to migrate brand dollars to professional video content rather than UGC video.

So the first bunch of Hulu data ...

2.43m unique users
26 streams per user (63,226,000 in total)
2 hours, 9 minutes spent per user on the site

2.43m isn't a massive number - but it's respectable to place Hulu in the Top 10 video sites. The real gold is in the 'engagement' metrics ... users are spending 2+ hours on the site a month ... compared to other TV offerings (ie ABC, CBS, NBC) this is excellent. Fox's website users spend about 20 mins on the site a month, whereas NBC's spend just over 90 minutes ... Hulu has beaten both of these.

That said - lets look at unique audience

NBC - 2.25m users streaming video
FOX - 4.04m users streaming video

Hulu is above NBC, but below FOX. ABC has 5.84m users streaming video ... the problem is they are only viewing 10 videos per month.

So Hulu has nailed 'sticky' ... now they just need to nail unique audience. I am pretty sure this will happen ... people talk and a service like Hulu definitely has that quality ... so you can be sure it already has vocal advocates spruiking its wares. Plus Hulu has some strong distribution deals which give it access to a wide variety of American eyeballs - through major networks and also niche players. Smart.

Now we just need it to come to AU. OR - one of the major networks to pull a Hulu and get their broadcast content online and on demand.
The Hulu strategy is basically if you give people what they want for free they probably won't want to steal it anymore. Seems to be working.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

April Neilsen data is out

Netview has released its April data ... And it's interesting!

- Facebook have overtaken myspace (see -

- Yahoo!7 shed over 450k users in one month (almost 10% of their audience)

- ninemsn have shed over 330k users in April (compared to May)

- Twitter has 49,000 users (April is the first time I have seen Twitter on Netview)

- Google search is down 197k users

- Yahoo! search is down 114k users

- ninemsn search is down 329k users

- is down 44k users in April. However, this figure for some reason does not factor in the traffic - which is at 267,000 users for April (up 101k year on year)

The AU Internet universe sits at 11,229,000 ... which is down marginally from the 11,443,000 in May.

Facebook passes Myspace in AU for first time

April Neilsen numbers are out and Facebook has passed Myspace in terms of usage.

Facebook: 2.646m users
Myspace: 2.623m users

Source: Neilsen Netview, April 2008

Myspace has shed over 380,000 users in the past 5 months.

09 and beyond #4: Liam Walsh, MD Drive PM

So what are the big issues we face moving forward in digital ... and all media? Well, we've asked six respected industry people to give us their opinion.

Week 4 we have Liam Walsh. Liam is currently MD at DrivePM (a division of Microsoft - which is a leader in retargeting technology and data enhanced digital advertising. Prior to this Liam was Sales Director at Fairfax Digital and prior to this was GM at emitch. He brings to the table a heap of experience, insight and most importantly honesty ... I really enjoyed reading this, hope you do too.


(It's) Fantastic to be Google right now. No sign of things stopping. For the folks involved in corporate marketing - i.e. not small businesses, it’s time we looked harder at Google. There is a difference between being ‘accountable’ and being ‘able to count’. One can easily count sales and clicks from Google, we all know arithmetic - or excel does at least. Google doesn’t drive sales, it navigates people to sales. Paying Google for creating a sale that it didn’t is a debate we need to have immediately. This collectively and lazy approach to marketing is having a dramatic effect on all online media businesses.


Not withstanding the somewhat clumsy debate about advertising products to support it, video usage just keeps growing. Video is only useful if it makes money so the bulk of the smart money is around quality - read: NOT UGC -video where marketers are prepared to place their brands. So publishers need to get their mitts on quality content. This is reasonably easy - notwithstanding politics of P&Ls - for those with TV network relationships or large production departments, much harder for print originated content businesses. Print originated businesses will struggle not just because of the investment but around up-skilling and shifting users to accept text based businesses as video brands.


The less fascinating area of course is funding. Money is now expensive and it doesn’t like risk. Hence securing capital for start-ups is extremely challenging and money for buying businesses is a little harder to come by. Cashed up giants wont struggle but everybody below that line is seeing a lot more commercial rigour applied to any investment decisions.


The debate about internet rolling into mainstream agencies won’t stop as advertising and media folk love talking about themselves but it would be less embarrassing if it did. The online businesses that are most impressive, extract the best margins and command the best pricing for their stock are classified and ecommerce businesses. They don’t waste time talking about mainstream counterparts, agencies, strategic planning. They invest in delivering services that meet customer needs. It would be great if online media businesses were considered alongside This industry (online media and publishing) should work on delivering excellent services for marketers to buy. There is no way one could reasonably say this is happening.


We need to stop telling traditional marketers they are wrong or don’t get it. They may well have an approach that isn’t optimal but these marketers that associate advertising with television need two things. Moving pictures and reach/frequency scores BEFORE they spend the money not after. We need a decent system to allow reach and frequency estimates for traditional advertising customers. Portals shouldn’t complain about these advertisers until they put up what these customers have been demanding for a decade ... Networks Open and closed. That is the starting point. If it’s open this means the advertiser doesn’t know where all the advertising is going. If it’s closed the advertiser does know the sites it can appear on. Agencies and advertisers are risking their brands on open networks and thinking it is enough to have terms and conditions saying no porn and no gambling. That’s not enough. Drivepm, MSDR, FDO all offer closed networks. The pricing is higher than open networks because quality demands superior pricing.

Next week - Guy Gibbs from Google.

Want to read more? Check out ...

Dave Whittle - MD, Mark -

Monique Talbot - CEO, Tempest -

Tony Faure - CEO, ninemsn -

Monday, May 19, 2008

09 and beyond #4: Liam Walsh, MD Drive PM - coming soon

Hi guys. The #4 edition of 09 and beyond has been delayed. Liam Walsh is on the case but is in London for work so somewhat snowed under. Stay tuned!

IAB Australia announce CEO

News Digital Media Sales Director, Paul Fisher, has been announced as the first CEO of the Australian branch of the Internet Advertising Bureau.

He starts 1 July.

I have to say, he has a tough task ahead of him. After the balls up that was the IAB Awards ceremony and process as well as the IAB being virtually invisible to the industry since inception it's going to be difficult to establish confidence in the body.

That said, the only way is up for IAB which is virtually at rock bottom as a lobby group.

I worked under Paul at News Digital Media and he is a pretty determined operator, so I am sure he will give this a nudge.

His initial two priorities are resolving the measurement debate and also establishing closer ties with other media lobby groups (FreeTV, Commercial Radio). It's great to see someone from within the IAB come out and address these.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

O'Reilly - this f**king thing sucks!

Great youtube video doing the rounds. Thanks to Wednesday nights Colbert Report for the tip

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Pubmatic Predicament

Also known as - large publisher display media ads sold by ad networks in US are getting cheaper and cheaper.

It showed that the yield the Pubmatic model could bring to its network of partner sites was decreasing. Fast.

The only exception was small websites - they were experiencing a 12% increase Feb through April -8.

Yet the average CPMs on large sites has plumetted 44% over the past two months, with medium sized websites remaining unchanged.

There were two main responses.

Silicon Valley Insider felt it represented an economic slowdown and was slamming the 'desperate publishers' that used Ad Networks -

Valleyway was less concerned - putting the price drop down to simple supply and demand economics
"The business of brokering ads is failing advertisers and publishers. Advertisers don't want to spray their ads across the Web; they want to target them to the right audiences. Publishers, meanwhile, would like to see their products earning uninsulting rates. But what is sold cheaply is valued little."

I am with Valleywag on this. I don't think declining yield has anything to do with an economic slowdown - it's more a consequence of a proliferation of these ad networks and a huge oversupply of inventory. I would hazard a guess the exact same thing is happening in Australia with Ad Networks popping up every week almost - the more of them there are, the more supply there is ... the more leverage agencies and clients have to negotiate to push down rates to ridiculous levels. How do I know this - well, I negotiate these sorts of things weekly and have seen how far I have been able to push it.

The key issues that face sites that use these sorts of networks are

- It devalues your inventory. YES - it provides some quick short term revenue but ultimately it waters down your value proposition.
- You resign control over your pricing and positioning. It becomes a numbers game not a context game ... the idea of 'premium' is gone.
- Advertisers value context and environment and ALWAYS have. Running shedloads of cheap blind RON means my carefully placed client x ISP ad might run next to 3 random credit card ads. 99% of clients would never consider buying TV or Mags on this model.

The real game of digital media is not about cheap inventory. It's in offering VALUE and currency to advertisers. Personally I feel the rise of the Ad Network and this approach is a clear sign of a lack of skilled sales practitioner in the digital world who can sell the space in a smart, trusted-advisor type way and sell the benefit beyond the audience numbers. As a result it's gone automated to monetise eyeballs whenever, however, wherever.

The only people benefiting from this cheap inventory approach are the people pedalling the cheap inventory.

Fairfax Digital launch search agency?

Seems weird to me, but it's happening. FD and MelbourneIT have partnered to create a search marketing agency aimed at SME's.

From AdNews: "The joint venture, Advantate, will target SMEs in Australia and New Zealand, including the 700,000 SMEs Fairfax and Melbourne IT already have a relationship with through the provision of classifieds, domain name and hosting services."

Jack Matthews modestly claimed: " the range of products and services we will offer will be far broader than existing search engine agencies can provide."

Melbourne IT CEO Theo Hnarakis also chimed in about the 'broader' services they will provide: "We will be able to bundle in search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, domain hosting and, down the track, display advertising"

With all due respect, SEM, SEO, domain name rego and display advertising bundled isn't exactly a new concept. It does, however, signal that the traditional display/classifieds operators in AU are looking to search to grow revenue. It also would worry the people over at Sensis - who I think would be bracing for their Yellow Pages business to cop an absolute pounding from paid search and its evolution into mapping, mobile and video over the next 3-5 years.

Ad News article (sub. req.) -

Yahoo!7 alliance deals change

I've noticed that Yahoo! is back on board with Carsales and Seek for their Auto and Jobs alliance deals. Previously they were with Fairfax's My Career and Drive.

It appears they have retained their alliance with FD's Domain.

It also appears that they have abandoned their own branding (ie Yahoo! Jobs, Yahoo! Cars etc) in favour of just linking out to the partners external site.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What is 'Essential' online?

I've been thinking lately about what sites/apps etc are considered essential by users. Reason being - there are SO MANY sites out there and I think this is a measurement (subjective as it may be) that may assist sorting out what environments resonate well with consumers beyond page impressions, unique users and other standard metrics that often make planning a strategy harder than it needs to be.

Another key reason is differentiation. There are too many similar sites in Australia that require consolidation. The portals are the main area causing this unnecessary clutter by trying to compete in every conceiveable space despite sometimes some of them not being able to bring anything to the table for users or advertisers.

A great metric for 'essential' online is Unique Browser Frequency - ie, how many times on average each user returns each month.

Why is it a good metric? Well ... it's not based on time spent ... which in many instances isn't at all a metric of value as not all sites are designed to keep you as long possible ... many are in/out transactional type sites. Google wouldn't look at session duration/time spent as a metric as they are about quick dissemination of information ... they would look at Unique Browser Frequency.

Google users return 12.85 times per month (source: Neilsen, April 2008), Ninemsn Messenger users return on average 14 times per month.

So what are the other sites in key verticals that have people coming back en masse. Well, I tried to look into this using Neilsen Netview and find the top 20 ... but unfortunately Neilsen doesn't allow users to sort via this metric. Hence, I had to use Neilsen Market Intelligence (which is flawed, admittedly, as all sites that appear have paid for the privalege and it misses a load of sites, especially US ones) ... however for the purpose of this exercise it's the best solution.

Only caveat is that the site must have over 50k users per month (April 2008). The number 1 for UB frequency sites are listed

Sport - Domestic
Swellnet. 188,544 users returning on average 4.49 times per month

Automotive - Domestic
Carsales. 1.6m users returning on average 2.21 times per month

Business/Finance - Domestic
ASX. 1.09m users returning on average 4.95 times per month

Entertainment - Domestic
Habbo Hotel. 195,000 users returning on average 4.37 times per month.

Lifestyle - Domestic
RSVP. 721,656 users returning on average 5.54 times per month. (worth noting Fairfax Digital has 4 of the top 7 Lifestyle sites for engagement with RSVP, Essential Baby and The age and SMG Life&Style)

Magazines - Domestic
Money. 402,349 users returning on average 2.17 times per month.

News and Weather - Domestic
Elders Weather. 280,127 users returning on average 5.35 times per month. ( is number 2 with 4.34m users returning on average 4.42 times per month)

I am not saying this is the answer to solving the engagement riddle - but combine unique browser frequency with unique users and you start to get an idea of both reach and loyalty.

I, for one, think this IS important and often overlooked. I think if you work in media and you are purely looking for reach and audience size you are barely scraping the surface ... our role is to find environments that mean something to our target and find ways of integrating our messages within these in a way that adds value. I think something that is 'essential' ADDS value to advertising messages. For instance, I am more likely to view and consider an ad I see on a site like (which I love) than an ad I see on portal standard Travel site. Why? Because I trust and turn to it for information.

I think moving forward more thought and importance will be put into these 'essential' destinations - seeking them out and finding new ways to utilise them. It's almost vital now - especially when you're faced with 10/20/30 sites with similar content, audiences, and ratecards ... and it's not going to get any easier as it seems the new ethos of the AU digital advertising industry in 2008 is 'if it has eyeballs plonk ads on it regardless of whether it makes sense to users or advertisers'.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

09 and beyond #3: Tony Faure, CEO Ninemsn

So what are the big issues we face moving forward in digital ... and all media? Well, we've asked six respected industry people to give us their opinion.

Week 3 we have Tony Faure (pictured right with Collingwood Football Club chairman Eddie Maguire), CEO of Australia's largest digital display media player, ninemsn.

Tony is undoubtedly one of the most respected members of the digital community. He was the first employee of Yahoo! AUNZ and went on to become Regional Vice President, South Asia of Yahoo! before leaving in 2002 to pursue his own investments, including online movie rental business Homescreen. He has been leading ninemsn since 2006.

The one thing that strikes you about Tony is he has no ego. He is open to his staff, agencies and clients, which is an invaluable trait.

So what does he see as key issues in the digital space?

1. Differentiation

Marketers will focus on the really hard problem (how do I persuade a consumer to prefer my brand to someone else’s?) rather than the easy problem (how do I run big volumes of risk-free search and performance ads?). Publishers will need strongly differentiated products to win consumer, and so advertiser, loyalty.

2. Retargeting and Behavioural Targeting at scale

Targeting will become much more sophisticated, but there will be tension between the precision of the targeting and the size of the pool of target audience. To win here publishers need to be able to offer both..

3. Mainstreaming

Digital is a mainstream medium for a mainstream audience. It will increasingly be bought and sold this way. Publishers will sell the people we reach, not UBs, PVs and UUs. Agencies will treat digital as mainstream, not specialised.

4. Images not words

Consumers want images. Video and other image products will show the most rapid growth. Marketers will use digital broadcasting as the best way to use the power of digital to differentiate.

5. Last click is not necessarily the most valuable

Smart digital marketers will focus on understanding the impact of all the different ROI touch points in their advertising campaigns rather than just the last one.

6. Big creative ideas

This is the period where great agencies will have to stop blaming the limitations of the medium for poor creative. The arrival of decent broadband means that there’s nothing you can do in another medium that you can’t do in digital – and you can do a lot more.

Next week, Liam Walsh of DrivePM

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sweeping generalisation of the day thanks to SMH

From Paul McIntyre

"The Australian market, strangely enough, is only just starting out on a potentially massive migration to Google based on a flawed interpretation of true statistics."

C'mon ... give advertisers and agencies some credit dude. The industry is well aware of last cookie attribution and is aware of all the other factors both digitally and broadcast (ATL and BTL) that influence search traffic and capture.

It's great digital is getting some coverage but this article is effectively pointless and not at all topical.

Introducing the 'Printerstitial'

Want yet another digital ad format? No ... well, stop reading. If the answer is yes, you're in luck!

Introducing the 'Printerstitial', a new technology and ad placement developed by US firm Format Dynamics.

"Format Dynamics has perhaps invented a whole new ad category by developing a service that inserts ads into printouts of Web pages, combining the "advantages of online ads with the power of traditional print ads."

From MediaPost: "Format Dynamics estimates that U.S. consumers print 61 billion Web pages annually"

61 billion! That's a helluva lot of pages.

Mediapost again: "When consumers make printouts from Web pages enabled with Format Dynamics' "CleanPrint," the technology dynamically reformats the pages to be more appealing to both consumers and advertisers--including text, photos, charts and ads--while completely eliminating such Web-centric features as navigation bars. The PrinterStitials can either be print-friendly versions of ads already on the Web page or completely separate "print ads."

So what this essentially means is the technology cleans up printed html pages to be easier for users to read and ideally file, and easier for advertisers to include stronger ad executions.

It makes sense. If you print out a recipe (like I do often) from Taste like this - - no ad appears on the printed page. Surely this has a value that the publisher could take to market to monetise? Same deal for Recipe Finder. It wouldn't be a stretch to assume both of these properties have thousands of pages printed a day of their content.

Sometimes ads do appear on the printed page. Lets say I print an article out from ninemsn Health about Nutrition - - it will print out the frame on the leaderboard that was active when the print job processed. Not the best use of the space.

Fairfax have it nailed at the moment. Their print friendly versions have static gifs which carry the info they need to carry.

It would be very interesting to get an idea of how many pages are printed by Australians from web content ... and will be also interesting to see how the major publishers approach this. It's an interesting space - digital moving into traditional print ... but with technology and insights that could (essentially) create ads relevant to the users age, location and online habits.

Full article -

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fairfax reach out to the tragically hip's in-boxes

Came across the weekly email out for douchebag bible Vice and saw the main advertiser within was Fairfax, pedalling their 'hip monied 18-29 yo' portal The Vine.

I don't want to sound negative, but I don't think I'm the only one that would safely say that they have zero chance of moving the self annointed bleeding edge culture leaders of Vice onto their aggregation of everything that is done better elsewhere The Vine experiment.
Want pop culture opinion with character - check out

How accurate ...

Saw this when reading an article in the media section of The Australian - raised a bit of a chuckle (that said I am easily amused)

Who knew two headlines could be so insightful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Future of Journalism online: A must see Media Watch

A must see Media Watch aired on Monday night.

"The newspaper format is a dead duck" pronounced Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade, as Jonathan Holmes presented a special Media Watch that looked at the future of journalism in an online world.

They aired opinion from Greenslade, Crikey publisher Eric Beecher and Fairfax's Mike van Niekerk.

The show covered a few core points ...

- the online news model isn't as profitable as the traditional news model (Beecher talked about the SMH in glory 'rivers of gold' times pulling approx. 40k per page in revenues ... whereas the same ads in a digital format don't pull in the same bucks. Beecher:"So the 40-thousand dollars that advertisers pay for a classified page in a newspaper becomes something like 4-thousand dollars on the internet. "
- Given the above, who is going to pay for the foreign bureau's and the quality journalism. Especially considering digital mediums are so trackable, that editors have the luxury of seeing in real time what is generating page views, and in essence, revenue.
- Are Fairfax's core mastheads - The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald - heading in a more tabloid direction

It was great to see the conflicting views of Greenslade and Van Nikekerk.

Greenslade: "It's not a matter of saying 'hooray' newspapers are dying, it is simply a factual matter of revenue."

Van Niekerek: "People who say that newspapers are on their last legs and are about to die are completely wrong in my view. I think that newspapers have a very long future."

Greenslade's view was that the direction of journalism was shifting. "In future there will be advertising, it won't be enough to fund huge staffs as there are now, but we'll have a core of professional journalists. We can fund them and then, in company - in participation with citizen journalists, bloggers, user-generated content, however you want to describe that, amateur journalists - that in company with them - crowd-sourcing, mash-ups, however you want to do it - that you will form a different kind of approach to journalism. "

Personally I think this is already well underway - especially in the US.

Holmes spoke of renowned US and European mastheads, and their lack of trash/tabloid content. Check out and and you won't see articles on Amy Winehouse smoking crack or Britney Spears having a meltdown.

However on the Fairfax mastheads digital versions trash isn't taboo. Media Watch cited one day where Fairfax ran the following on the homepage

Dolphin killed in mid-air trick
Balls up: Ronaldo's prostitutes turn out to be transvestites.
I had you babe: Cher tells Oprah of Tom Cruise affair.
Janet's GLAAD about award— Sydney Morning Herald online, 29th April, 2008

Mike van Niekerk: "Absolutely you will see some stories that will resemble entertainment, stories about celebrities, I don't deny that. They are there. And that's part of what we do, is entertainment, but we also inform. And the quality journalism is there and those stories actually represent a very small fraction." Mike van Niekerk

So where is journalism heading as more eyeballs migrate online and the essence of newspapers changes? And how can brands like Fairfax that actively sell their premium AB audience maintain that position whilst heading more and more tabloid to generate reach and frequency in an ever competitive marketplace?

Will the real 'premium' eyeballs (ie the high net worth people) migrate off the Fairfax mastheads and look to overseas sites like The Guardian and the NY Times? Or even The Australian - which is probably News Digital Media's most underutilised resource - great articles, solid readership and broad content (with no tabloid)

Whatever happens, it's happy days for advertisers. The options keep on getting broader and the reliance on 1 or 2 publishers to hit the 'newspaper' readers has well and truly gone. There are hundreds of options now and it's a positive thing. I can buy ad space on virtually any newspaper in the world and can do it within 24 hours. This is the case with all content verticals - from music to movies, gaming to social networks, business, finance, technology and everything else ... I personally feel that sometimes local publishers neglect to recognise this and almost expect advertisers to spend with them despite superior options (context, audience) being available offshore.

I am also interested to see whether Media Watch evolves to cover more journalism - professional, amateur and blogs - on the show. Sometimes I scratch my head in confusion when they will cover a sourcing error at a North Queensland local paper for 10 minutes yet seem to ignore the blog world ...

Anyway - it is definitely worth a watch. Download link is below.

Yahoo!7 to launch Vertical Ad Network

So Yahoo!7 is getting into the vertical network game locally ... partnering with a company called Digital Niche to create "largest and most sought after publisher network".

Well - that is the plan - long term - from Markus Barnikel, Yahoo! Strategic Partnerships head.

"Yahoo!7 is committed to building Australia’s largest and most sought after publisher network, and we’re creating a unique form for advertisers to connect with their consumers, through delivery of premium inventory with diverse publisher categories."

The network isn't a blind buy - clients will be able to pick and choose which sites they want to appear on. This currently happens with the Google network and numerous other suppliers.

This is a sensible move for Yahoo! They have been doing this in the US and its logical they'd want to compete with Google locally as they have had this offering in market for the past 8 months. Plus networks like SellMedia, MediaSmart and Response Directive and built up strong vertical offerings which would appeal to clients looking for specialist areas.

How will it go? Who knows ... it really depends on the alliances they can forge ... which all depends on the deals they can cut with the sites that they need ... or if they can offer better yield for the site owners than their competitors. One would assume being late to get in on the game won't help them ... but as stated above, the jury is out until the strength of the network is shown.

Digital Niche -

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TechCrunch founder in Time Magazines 'Time 100'

So I flogged a copy of this weeks Time Magazine from work today to see who had made the list in the Time 100.

Amongst the likes of the Dalai Lama, Rupert Murdoch, Bruce Springsteen, Kevin07, Michael Bloomberg, Lance Armstong, Karl Lagerfeld and Oprah Winfrey was TechCrunch founder and highly influential tech blogger Michael Arrington.

Arrington was profiled by Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.

I thought it was GREAT to see him get such recognition. The power and influence of TechCrunch can't be denied and the passion, energy and knowledge Arrington and his team have is amazing and addictive.

Other noteable tech inclusions were Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Jobs (Apple), Steve Ballmer (MS CEO and all-round bully), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Jay Adelson (Digg).

Get your hands on it if you can - it's hard not to be inspired by some of the list and it's worth it alone to see some of the leading lights of digital get profiled as they deserve.

The publisher dilemma - having my cake and eating it too ...

Can you position your homepage as 'premium' but take ultra cheap Readers Digest ads that mislead users to click on a message that doesn't exist when you can't sell it to brand advertisers.

Well, according to Yahoo!7 you can ... I, for one, wouldn't want my clients ads running anywhere near something like this.

Might make some people think twice about paying the asking rate moving forward.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Torrent usage in AU enjoying huge consumption increases

If you needed any more evidence that the way people consume broadcast media (especially TV) is changing, feast your eyes on these stats.
Bit Torrent usage in Australia continues to explode. Three key sites have experienced over 100% growth over the last 12 months - from already respectable base audiences.
Mininova - currently at 574k users (March 08) - up 123% year on year
The Pirate Bay - currently at 307k users - up 256% year on year
Torrentz - currently at 225k users - up 106% year on year
The unduplicated audience of these three sites is 702,000 people.
Source All: Neilsen Netview, March 2008
This is a huge amount. Torrents aren't just for the tech saavy anymore, they are mainstream and will keep growing.

09 and beyond #2: Monique Talbot, CEO and Founder Tempest Media

So what are the big issues we face moving forward in digital ... and all media? Well, we've asked six respected industry people to give us their opinion.

Week 2 we have Monique Talbot from Tempest.

Tempest Media is one of Australia's leading Ad Networks - representing the likes of carsales, AOL, the Glam Media network and Ticketek. They also have the eDM network, Zoom Direct and played a pivotal role in establishing the likes of ebay and YouTube within the display advertising market.

So what are Monique's 5 things to look out for ...

1) Branding Vs Performance

Branding Campaigns online - Does such a thing exist? Many agencies talk about wanting to do Online Branding campaigns but then when the results of the campaign come back to them they say - 'oh it didn't back out to an efficient ROI for the client'. What is wrong with sharing the expected outcome with us the publishers from the beginning so we can all work to the same end goal - a happy client and a happy agency?

2) Performance Campaigns

Great when tracked properly. Great to see that some of our major publishers are seeing performance campaigns as a positive way to monitise 100% of their inventory without jeopodising or even worse cannibilsing their high value CPM camapigns. It is becoming more and more evident to us that Performance campaigns only work well for the publisher and the advertiser when they are run with intelligent technology platforms like Adconion or something like PPlus from Ninemsn. I think we all learnt the hard way in 2007 how not to run performance campaigns effectively from a standard ad platform like Dart for Publishers etc even with human intervention. The technology must have the smarts to evaluate the commercials of a campaign and make them compete against one another for the best result for the advertiser and the publisher and this cannot be done effectively manually.

3) First cookie recognition

Something we should all be concerned about right now. The display/performance dollars flowing through our industry are growing at a rapid pace but we need to be mindful that everyone is apportioning credit where credit is due. Should it be last view, first view? Perhaps all cookies should be dropped off the click so that only publishers that cause an action are advantaged? One thing is for sure we need to be consistent in our approach and there does need to be some degree of fair play.

4) Portals transforming themselves into Ad Networks

What is an ad network these days? I know for a fact that Tempest is referred to as an ad network but we don't sell our sites on a network wide basis - does this still make us an ad network? Our premium content sites are all sold on an exclusive site specific basis and Tempest does not own any of the sites in our network therefore preventing any confict of interest for us yet we do have the largest network of independent sites in Australia. Amazingly to me, the portals on the other hand seem to think that a smart growth strategy is suddenly getting into the ad network game. How will they provide value to publishers when they will most certainly push money to their own sites first and then the sites in their ad network second?

5) Email resurgance

With the growth in performance we have seen email marketing come into its own again. Our Zoom Direct database with over 250,000 Aussies has been steadily growing with the amount of advertisers wanting to send offers to it's willing audience. The difference now is that now many of these deals are CPC or the even more popular CPL. Market researchers seem to have finally been bitten by the digital bug too and they want to use the online medium to ask for user feedback in their own time rather than those annoying phone calls. We love market researchers because they operate with a high degree of discipline and are willing to pay a fair price for the right response.

Tempest Media -

Tempest Blog -

Next week: Tony Faure, CEO ninemsn

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Could local media owners learn a little from their US counterparts?

I saw a trade marketing ad for US cable station Bravo (sort of like Arena) on

The overarching concept is about Bravo's 'Affluencer' audience - affluent and influential (ie high income people who like to talk about things they like to other like minded and high income people).

They have some metrics to back their claim (which I won't go into) ... but I thought it was interesting to see a media owner going beyond the same old boring metrics we usually get (which relates generally to AB or reach volume in traditional media) and starting to look beyond the numbers.

Most interestingly, Bravo is not positioning itself as a 'TV Network' - it is a four dimensional media brand.

"BRAVO is more than just TV. We produce award-winning content for every platform. Our audience wants to experience BRAVO every way they can – and we’re happy to accommodate them. That’s why we’ve become BRAVO Media."

At AdTech I noticed that the US are much more evolved that our local counterparts at selling their media brands across platform in a less fragmented way.

So how does it work?

1D Attention: Push media - TV broadcast, webisodes, mobile episodes

2D Interact: 2 way comms - Blogging, SMS, Red Button on steroids

3D Experience: Activation - Books, Events, Shopping

4D Share: UGC - Widgets, Social Networking, Viewing Parties

More detail - click on the image above.

Why is this interesting - it shows a media company trying to align its objectives with the new communication objectives and hurdles brands and marketers are faced with.

It might purely be spin - but I feel locally online media is viewed moreso by local media owners as a way to drive revenue growth and make up for lost offline audiences rather than something that needs to be evolved and refined to match the needs of the market. Case in point - a local media owner pushing the idea of extending a TVC reach by simply running the same TVC online using their platform and network ... isn't this just moving money around between mediums and not really solving the problem at hand? An ad on TV that is ignored utilising broadcast will be equally ignored online - isn't VALUE the key?

I also think Bravo has identified that in many ways, brands (ie advertisers) want to become more deeply integrated into content - and many harbour ambitions to develop their own media brands. I think with this approach they are showing they can play a role in this and assist.

Bravo is showing that they understand the concept that those involved in the media exchange (agencies and publishers) need to embrace and help facilitate communities and moving forward that this will be the point of difference agencies will live and die by.

This report by Morgan Stanley touches on this (pictured left - full doco - - Internet and Personal Sources are the most important sources of information - with TV, newspapers and radio less influential as they CURRENTLY operate.

Progressive media companies (ie from all spectrums) shouldn't panic - they just need to evolve beyond broadcast and look at how they can leverage their audiences to create communities.

Same with agencies, particularly media agencies. There is less value in the stock standard 'buying' role of an agency intermediary. There is also less revenue from this model. (see,25197,23624879-17061,00.html).

Creative agencies are in a great place as they are traditionally the 'ideas factory' and have this position with clients ... however the creative agency model has been based on push communication for years - big TVCs, press ads, radio, outdoor ... 1-way communication. A shift to 2-way and community generation and relevance/value is a whole new ballgame.

Microsoft walk away from Yahoo! Ballmer to Yang: "Clearly a deal is not to be."

So finally Microsoft have walked away from the offer they made Yahoo on Feb 1 - initially $31 per share, increased to $33 afterwards.

The two had met three times over April, with reports indicating Yahoo! wanted $38 or the deal was off.

MS decided today to walk away from the deal. This is a clean break - all reports indicate negotiations are off and MS will continue on their own. Begs the question, where does this leave Yahoo!?

See press release below

Press Release:
Microsoft Withdraws Proposal to Acquire Yahoo!

REDMOND, Wash., May 3 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO).

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

“We have a talented team in place and a compelling plan to grow our business through innovative new services and strategic transactions with other business partners. While Yahoo! would have accelerated our strategy, I am confident that we can continue to move forward toward our goals,” Ballmer said.

“We are investing heavily in new tools and Web experiences, we have dramatically improved our search performance and advertiser satisfaction, and we will continue to build our scale through organic growth and partnerships,” said Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president for platforms and services.

More ...

All Things Digital -

Techrunch -

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A dating site for potheads?

Yes. It is real.

I will let Internet Superstar's Martin Sergeant explain it as he does a fine job.

Surely it can't be that hard to find a like minded lover for a pot smoker ... just go to an Earthcore or catch the train out to Eltham.

IAB Awards 2008 - recap

So the IABs have been and gone for another year. The 550+ turnout at Star City showed that there is support for the awards ... but the reception/respect the crowd gave the hosts and winners showed that maybe, just maybe, they're either not taken that seriously or some people working in digital don't care about celebrating/respecting great campaigns by at least listening to the winners announcements.

In above pic (left to right), Me, Bill Burton, Ben Maudsley, Leigh Lavery (thanks to Jodie from Drive for the pic)

Full winners can be found here -->

Media in short, Zenith Optimedia won in Auto for their work on Honda CRV, Mindshare Interaction won for ING Home Loans in the Finance category, Carat won for Tourism Australia in Travel, New Dialogue won for their Kevin 07 work in Fusion (which weirdly only had 2 finalists ...) and OMD won for V in the Retail category.

Creative wise, Visual Jazz won for both Fusion and Best in Show for Defence Jobs, New Dialogue for CommBank in Finance, Soap for Consumer Goods for Cornetto, DT Digital for Auto on Honda and Host for Travel for Tourism NZ.

DGM won the Search award for their work on Dell.

The best reactions seemed to be to some of the 'Workplace' videos (kudos to the Sensis video which had some staff dancing to Flo Rida) ... and host Natarsha Belling didn't follow up her 07 performance (she was snide and snappy ... sure, the crowd were tough - VERY TOUGH - but towards the end she wasn't doing much to diffuse the situation). Even though the awards were pretty short - quick speeches and not much fluff ... the crowd never seemed to be on board. I'm not sure if they were all hammered and that's what caused the problems ... but it's doubtful as the service was terrible!

Afterwards most of the attendees hit a bar in King St Wharf - can't remember the name - where the festivities continued until 5am (it was reported back to me - I shut up shop at 2am)

So where to now for the awards? I don't have the answers ... but I think they need a rejig. Many have commented on the quality of the judges and the need for improvement in future ... and many have reservations about how winners are actually judged ... given no entries are audited and year after year there are some extremely odd and anecdotal metrics given that seem to be accepted as fact.

I was sitting on the same table as two agency heads and both didn't seem too impressed with any part of the awards. One commented on how out of 80% of the finalists he has never seen any of the campaigns in situ.

Another question is - do we need a seperate 'digital' awards ceremony ... is this still relevant? Probably - but I think it needs a tweak.

Lastly - what was with the banging dance music when the winners were announced. I felt like I was at QBH on a Saturday night.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

IAB Awards tonight

The Australian IAB Awards are tonight. There seems to be a bit of a Melbourne contingent heading up. Should be a great night!