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Mobile advertising may still be a nascent market compared to online and traditional advertising, but its performance rates are often higher. For instance, mobile display ads have five to ten times higher click-through rates than banner ads online. Those numbers are impressive, but can they last?
At the IAB Marketplace: Mobile conference on Monday, the consensus was unsurprisingly yes. Mobile marketers and advertisers are pleased with how their medium has been performing in the downturn. And they were more concerned with the sucess of what is currently out there than the reach of mobile advertising as compared to online.
But will mobile advertising sucess rates continue when the novelty wears off?
Online advertisers are hoping to head off federal regulation of behavioral targeting with new measures that protect users' privacy and inform them of when and where they are being tracked online.
A new bill being crafted in Congress is rumored to include a regulation that would force advertisers to use opt-in provisions when tracking users online.
But web advertisers are trying to come up with measures that would adequately inform consumers of their tracking policies to avoid a blanket provision that could severely handicap the business of collecting user information and selling it to advertisers.
The general consensus seems to be that the Great Recession will end sooner than later and, even if we've got some permanent scars, most of us in Internet Land will get back to business as usual.
But what if that's not the case? What if online publishers should be preparing for a protracted period of little to no growth in online ad spend?
Today at the IAB Social Media Conference in New York, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released a new set of best practices for social advertising online. The IAB began setting standards for online advertising in 1996, and the new guidelines are meant to make social media ad buys more standardized, and especially, more scalable.
This is important in the social media space, where so many people are still unsure of what they want from social media campaigns and what their campaigns are capable of there. However, it is still unclear if the large social media networks will adhere to the standards.
The IAB released its first mobile ad spend study this week, which shows that the UK market grew by 99.2% year on year, and was worth a total of £28.6m in 2008.
I've been talking to the IAB's head of mobile Jon Mew about the mobile advertising survey...
Social media is marketing, not advertising, but it's got to live somewhere, and it's got to be measured. So it's only slightly ironic that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) would introduce definitions of social media metrics, given social media is the marketing channel that's actual beginning to replace advertising.
In a hefty 12-page document, the IAB's "Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions" (PDF download) slices social media into three subsets, and outlines relevant metrics for each. The major categories are defined as:
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is taking a new look at interactive ad unit standards. Only this time, they're looking for a new constituency to weigh in on the future of online advertising: the creatives.
"We believe we can make interactive advertising far more hospitable to the craft and practice of persuasion by putting creativity front and center in the development of advertising standards," said Randall Rothenberg, IAB president and CEO. "By bringing creative agency leaders into the discussion of the standards, we highlight our industry-wide mission to showcase brands and engaging consumers in meaningful ways."
The Internet Advertising Bureau UK recently developed a set of good practice principles for online promotions, to ensure companies that collect and use data for behavioural advertising do so ethically.
Growth forecasts for 2009 continue to be revised. Emarketer, following on the heels of the IAB's tentative outlook on 2009, has taken its internet ad spend projection down to 4.5 percent. It predicted an 8.9 percent bump last December.
And like the IAB, eMarketer analysts are hailing the projection as a good achievement in a terrible economy. That's for internet spending. On a global, multimedia level today WPP's GroupM revised U.S. spending this year to fall by 4.3 percent in 2009 to approximately $155 billion (versus the 3 percent drop predicted in December) and drop another 6.8 percent to about $144.5 billion next year.
Sponsorship and internet marketing are proving to be a tough couple. But they need immediate attention and innovation if brands have a shot at finding an effective presence on social media networks.
Two recent datapoints illustrate the issue. Yesterday's IAB report of 2008's ad results showed a 40 percent drop in sponsorships online. That is a shocking plunge for a business that tracked a 10 percent overall increase. And IDCs report on social media advertising delivered last week showed sponsorships may be the only form of advertising social network users will tolerate. "Tolerate" is the operative word here. They will not tolerate any kind of traditional display approach.
The IAB presented its statistical and philosophical take on 2008 today, and while it tracked some surprising growth numbers it left more than a few questions unanswered for the balance of 2009.
The important numbers: total US internet advertising growth topped 10.6 percent in 2009 when offline media dropped 2.4 percent. The industry crossed the $6 billion plateau for the first time during the fourth quarter of last year, but it came on the heels of the lowest sequential quarter-to-quarter growth rate since 2002. Search was up 10.5 percent over 2007 and the much-maligned category of display ads bounced 8 percent. However, display ads contracted 4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The Online Publishers Association (OPA), following closely in the footsteps of the IAB, is hoping to spark a creative revolution of sorts in online display advertising. To that end, a number of the OPA's high-profile members will introduce three newer, bigger, and more interactive ad units this summer.
The ads are even taking a page from the content side of the online equation: each will feature a forward-to-a-friend button.