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Latest news from The Drum

The threat to advertisers from Adblock Plus, mobile operators and Apple
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

There is literally so much going on in ad blocking that I have had to split this blog in two. This blog provides a background and establishes the battle lines, and the next one provides some possible options and solutions, as well as Apple’s introduction into the mix.

Firstly, definitions: it’s a numbers game

First we need to define ad blocking – as ‘software in a web browser which prevents ads from loading’. Second, we need to establish that this isn’t something new. The ad blocking threat to advertisers has been around for about five years, with real take up by users accelerating over the last two years.

The number of people using ad blocking software has recently hit a critical mass – more than 215 million or 7 per cent of the world’s online population. The figure grew by 70 per cent last year, according to an Adobe and PageFair study. A Reuters Institute Digital News Report claimed 39 per cent of the internet users in the UK and 47 per cent in the US are now using this software. And in Germany the figure is 30 per cent.

Ad blocking software has, until recently, been designed primarily for PCs and laptops. However, ads can now be blocked where the eyeballs are – on tablets and smartphones – and in May, Adblock Plus, the world’s most popular ad blocker, announced that it is launching an ad blocking browser designed for Android mobiles.

Mobile operators vs publishers and media owners

Also in May the FT reported that mobile operators are allegedly planning to block advertising on web pages and apps, inevitably bringing them into conflict with publishers and media owners such as Google, AOL and Yahoo.

Right now ad blocking is based upon users making a conscious decision to opt in to download the software. However, who is to say that users won’t automatically be opted out of being served ads by mobile operators fairly soon? How many users will actively opt back in to receive ads? Not many I suspect!

A default opt out might soon be applied across entire mobile networks, covering millions of subscribers all at once.                                

Adblock Plus’s ‘white list’ and ‘acceptable ads’: Discuss!

Adblock Plus initially blocked all ads. It now operates a ‘white list’ of approximately 150 websites, whose ads avoid the block. According to another FT report, over the past couple of years a number of the big media owners such as Google have allegedly handed over a great deal of money to ensure that they were included on Adblock Plus’s ‘white list’. Google allegedly lost about $6.6bn revenue to ad blockers in 2014.

As Google, which relies on showing advertising for approximately 90 per cent of its revenues, appears to have the most to lose from ad blocking, it is rather ironic that Chrome is the most popular browser used to download ad blocking software.

Adblock Plus claims that only 10 per cent of the companies ‘whitelisted’ actually have to pay for the privilege. Of course it’s the biggest global companies that afford to hand over big bucks. If these companies don’t pay up, their ads are blocked, even if they are deemed 'acceptable'.

The rest of the companies included on the white list, the long tail, those that don’t have to pay, still have to meet various criteria to prove that their ads are ‘acceptable’. AdBlock Plus determines that acceptable ads "aren’t annoying, don’t disrupt or distort page content, are transparent about being an ad, are effective without shouting at users and are appropriate to the site or tweet that users are on". Acceptable ads can’t include animations or sounds and can’t be pop ups that cover other content.

Publishers’ responsibility

Publishers have a great deal to lose as advertisers won’t want to pay for ads which are blocked. Therefore it’s in their interests to ensure that pop ups and autoplay video ads don’t interfere with page loading and navigation and to reject tedious ads and ensure there aren’t too many ads appearing on their real estate. On the other hand they need to sell as much inventory as possible.

We need to be aware that a smartphone’s battery life can be severely affected by rich media videos, which can interfere with page loading and navigation, eating into a user’s data plan. Not forgetting the privacy angle, with ads dropping cookies on users’ devices and data being shared with opaque third parties.

Some publishers are looking to develop more direct relationships with advertisers. A new breed of online publisher, typified by the likes of the Vice Media Group offering uncomfortable, immersive, investigative journalism, is emerging.

Online vs TV ads

But of course this is all very subjective. Some of the most irritating ads, on TV and online, are amongst the most successful in building brands and shifting product. You can probably recall a couple. And some of the most aesthetic, creative and artistic ads aren’t even noticed.

I think that most of us agree that online ads need to improve. Publishers need to accept that cramming their sites with disruptive ads will eventually drive users away. However, I don’t think that the situation is helped by commentators slamming online at the same time as glorifying TV, radio and OOH ads. It’s not exactly black and white – online advertising is still a relatively new medium and we’re all learning. I don’t think that ads on ITV in the fifties won too many awards.

One observer recently stated, and I quote: “The TV adverts in between the action at the Superbowl in America are the most talked-about things in the country for a day or so after the event. People genuinely like them because they’re funny, cute or just generally interesting.” And they cost up to $12.4 million – research finding that these investments don’t necessarily translate into sales. Let's concentrate on TV ads shown in the UK week in week out – I’m sure there’s some room for improvement.

And by being targeted online, ads avoid wastage, being served to the right person at the right time in the right context. No matter how engaging an ad for dog food is on TV, for those viewers who don’t have a dog it’s simply not relevant. At least Sky’s Adsmart offers the opportunity to target audiences, serving different TV ads to different households watching the same programme, not only for linear broadcasting, but by the end of the year also for on-demand services and Sky Go.

David Ellison is marketing services manager at ISBA

A thirst for innovation – Heineken's refreshing approach to creativity
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Across a beer category frothing in creative mediocrity Heineken’s advertising has stood out for some time.

It’s no surprise then that it snatched the award for Creative Marketer of the Year at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Festival chief executive Philip Thomas highlighted the experimental approach of its recent campaigns, noting it never lost sight of the core essence of its brands, which include Fosters, Strongbow and Kronenbourg.

In 2014, for example, the company made a 15-second film based on a tweet, ran an Instagram campaign for Gay Pride month, and trialled a mobile-only campaign for a new beer-tequila brand.

For a large global giant, Heineken is surprisingly nifty. However, its sorties into social experiments, such as watching football matches virtually with star players, have never undermined its core offering of creating compelling TV spots.

Recently its TV and video spots have seldom deviated from a central tenet of visually arresting creative predicated on big universal themes.

This is writ large in some executions of the highly acclaimed ‘Legends’ campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, and its ‘Cities Of The World’ spots which showcase lush executions featuring urbane men sashaying through cities.

The ‘Legends’ campaign scooped the 2013 Cannes Lions Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix, with one of its spots gaining more than 10m views on YouTube.

Similarly its 2008 ‘Walk-in Fridge’ campaign had global appeal and was founded on the universal theme of what separates and attracts women and men.

Both the ‘Walk-in Fridge’ and ‘Legends’ campaigns carry something else that any ad executive will tell you does not usually travel well – humour – and Faustin Claverie, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, says nailing this was tricky.

“It’s not easy for sure. I’m French and I know I’m not funny at all in English. But I’m sure even Jerry Seinfeld is not funny in North Korean. We just try to inject humour based on globally recognised insights that will then hopefully work in most places around the world.”

Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, chairman and chief executive of Heineken, says: “For me the most successful campaigns for the Heineken brand have a few things in common. They have something cosmopolitan or worldly. Something open-minded, something optimistic, and all have wittiness, or a clever sense of humour.”

Make no bones about it, Heineken has the financial muscle some can only dream of to attract a cavalcade of talented directors and writers.

Adam Tucker, senior creative director at Leo Burnett, explains: “Beer advertising has really gone downhill. I have quite a lot of respect for what Heineken has done. It acts like a big brand and gets the best people to work on projects. It has lots of money and it shows.”

Calverie adds: “Who doesn’t want to work with the best director? Heineken’s spots are always big and epic productions. That’s the brand’s trademark in the advertising world.”

Heineken, in fact, has acted like a big pioneering brand from the start, from its debut TV spots in the 60s which awakened a Dutch audience to the taste of bottled beer, to its iconic ‘Refreshes the Parts’ UK campaign of the 80s.

As Phil Rumbol, the former UK marketing manager who dropped its famous ‘Refreshes the Parts’ strapline, points out “the use of metaphor to sell a beer brand was practically unheard of at the time”.

For Van Boxmeer, the list of Heineken campaigns he is proud of is a long one, from ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ campaign for its Dos Equis brand in the US to the company’s campaigns around its sponsorship of Champions League, Rugby World Cup and James Bond films.

Its Champions League activity encapsulates the way the company has managed to tiptoe into cultivating content and social experiments without losing sight of its big brand credentials.

According to Rumbol, the #sharethesofa campaign (a second-screen real-time football show) “makes you feel like an invited guest rather than an uninvited guest”.

Van Boxmeer adds: “Heineken has always tried to define its own style. It has also taken the lead in pushing the frontiers of the category by exploring new directions. We increasingly use social media as channels to reach consumers and we make special spin-offs of the campaign for Facebook and YouTube.”

With more than 18m Facebook ‘likes’, Heineken claims to be the biggest beer brand on the social network and has effectively used the platform to channel its creativity.

However, the company has been hit by increasing industry regulation, which has stymied creativity over the years.

Tucker says it’s no longer the case that agencies “celebrate all week” after winning beer business, as “you knew you would be making great ads”.

This is highlighted by Calverie, who says, “you can do whatever you want in Brazil (explosions, white tigers or dwarfs) but you can’t touch a Heineken bottle in Mexico”.

Van Boxmeer points out that restrictions can help stimulate creativity, but he believes that they are a “simplistic” response from politicians and do not address the central issue of alcohol abuse.

However, there seems little sign that restrictions will curtail Heineken’s creative output in the future. The business is on a roll – in the past three years, six of its brands have won 41 Lions. Previous winners of the Creative Marketer of the Year include Mars, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Heineken sits well in this company.

This feature was first published in The Drum’s Cannes issue, guest edited by Maurice Lévy.

Need to Know – The latest US media & marketing news: AC/DC embrace streaming, Trump dumped & Kendall Jenner crowned new Instagram queen
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Morning all, here’s a glimpse at all the media and marketing news you should know today.

1. Kendall Jenner has broken Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s Instagram record with a five-week old picture of her lying on a carpet with her eyes shut. Billboard notes that the image has mustered 2.48m likes

2. NBC has dumped Donald Trump as the host of the Apprentice following his comments about Mexican Immigrants, reports USA Today. The studio issued a statement reading: “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBC Universal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

3. AC/DC is one of the final major bands to embrace music streaming, signing deals with Spotify, Radio and Apple Music. Time reports that the band, who were late even on iTunes (2012) are finally adopting new ways of marketing its tracks.

4. Uber is telling investors that the company generates a $470m operating loss as a result of its research and global expansion costs. Bloomberg reports that despite operating in 300 cities and having a valuation of $50bn, the company is essentially a long haul from profitability.

5. Microsoft has served its ad business to Verizon-owned AOL in a move which ought to ruffle the feathers of search rival Google. Adage reports that an exclusive decade-long deal sees Bing the default search engine for AOL site queries.

6. The Washington Post has started encrypting parts of its site to stop hackers and government agencies to track its reader’s viewing habits. The publication made the announcement adding that the homepage, national security and tech stories will initially receive the protection.

7. Facebook has opened its first office on the African continent, reports Business Insider. Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, the base will help the firm build its ad network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

8. Music discovery app Shazam is now unveiling what music top artists are listening to, according to Engadget. Newly refreshed iOS and Android apps offer users the chance to follow hundreds of artists and identify their tastes.

Stay in the media and marketing news loop at thedrum.com and to receive The Drum's US Daily Newsletter sign up here.

Mother joins The Drum's Cannes Comedown review event lineup
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Mother London has joined the speaker line up at Cannes Comedown, The Drum’s inaugural event reviewing the creative highlights of the Cannes Lions festival.

A new annual tradition, Cannes Comedown, in association with Workfront, will feature The Drum team, alongside some of the industry’s leading creative lights, reviewing the best, the worst and the most inspirational things that happened at last week’s festival.

One half of Mother London’s exciting new exec creative team, husband and wife Hermeti Balarin and Ana Balarin, will be joining Brave MD Ash Bendelow, Astrid van Essen, MediaMonks MD UK, and Gerry Human, CCO, Ogilvy & Mather to discuss the trends, the parties, and what we can learn from the most awarded work at Cannes Lions 2015.

Cannes Comedown, occupying the entire Hoxton Pony bar in Shoreditch from 6pm this Thursday, also features AOL Digital Prophet David Shing sharing his creative highlights of the week.

It’s going to be an evening of inspiration, celebration and interaction. With plenty of rose.

To register your interest in attending this event please click here

Peter Oborne makes a return to the Daily Mail as political columnist
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Veteran journalist Peter Oborne is set to return to the Daily Mail with a new political column.

Following his resignation from the Telegraph in February after he accused the newspaper of refusing to properly cover HSBC’s tax avoidance for commercial reasons, the award-winning journalist will start a new column at rival publication the Daily Mail.

On his decision, Oborne said: “I am thrilled to be going to the Mail.

“I have greatly missed writing a political column and I am looking forward to starting once again for the Daily Mail in the autumn.”

Oborne was the chief political columnist at the Mail until 2010 when he jumped ship to the Telegraph.

Brand of the Day: United Airlines
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

United Airlines announced that it will run its first flight using fuel generated from farm waste and oils derived from animal fat this summer.

The flight from Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco will be a significant pillar in the history of aviation as it will mark the first time a domestic airliner operates a passenger flight using an alternative fuel source.

The company is also set to announce a $30m investment into a leading biofuel producer, Fulcrum BioEnergy. The move represents the largest ever investment by domestic airline into alternative fuels and will help the company market an eco-friendly image.

Here’s more on the United Airlines brand.

The company announced that it will give free air miles to anyone able to locate bugs and vulnerabilities in their software. The air mile rewards can vary from less than 50,000 to 1 million, depending on the severity of the bug discovered.

In February United Airlines accidentally sold first class tickets from London to Newark for just $74 due to a software mistake. The company blamed the website glitch on a third party error and said it would not honour the cut-price cost of the flights.

The airliner struggled in the US Airline Quality rating Report this year, finding itself ranked 9th out of the 12 US airlines.

It was the first US airliner to debut the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is the company’s most eco-friendly plane.

In 2010 the airliner merged with Continental Airlines to create one of the world's largest carriers. The combined entity resulted in United Airlines having the biggest fleet of commercial airliners in the world with more destinations than any of their competitor.

Going All the Way: My Cannes Lions 2015 Highlights
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

With over 300 marketing industry speakers making presentations on creativity, technology and ideas, the Cannes Lions festival was certainly the place to be last week. My favourite speaker of the week, however, was Ben Jones of AKQA who shared his philosophy on the subject of innovation.

Ben opened with an emotionally charged video focusing the audience's minds to find something you believe in and then go "all the way" to make it happen - even if it means losing your friends, your marriage and even your mind. What a start! He had the audience on the edges of their seats.

Throughout the presentation, Ben talked in a direct, humorous and cut-through-the-bullshit style. He spoke about "Add-vertising" - where adding value to people's lives should take priority over endless one-way advertising. The aim is not to create consumers but to inspire champions. The future of engaging with people by creating something remarkable, he told us. Something emotional. Something human that people can connect with. And the shift from the internet to what Ben called the "huma-net".

He also talked about "Moodies" - apps where you can understand how people feel. This excited him so much he spoke of getting a "pilo-erection" (that's goosebumps to you and me).

Ben spoke passionately of how indistinguishable technology should be from magic and referenced brands like Cirque du Soleil and  Über as providers of great experiences (though the latter was a controversial choice last week among Cannes delegates as taxi strikes played out throughout France and left people scrambling to get to the airport by train and bus). He went on to explore a future where we have our own personal algorithm and people no longer have to do chores like shopping, banking and social media updates - they just get their personal algorithm to do it for them.

Ben inspired the audience to think like children - be curious, be naïve, be a deliberate beginner. Become "ThinkerMakers". Don't be an adult, be an optimist - gauge for success in building remarkable things. You know you've built something remarkable, said Ben, when you've phoned your mum to tell her.

Ben's checklist to go all the way:

Change your inputs

Take the friction out

Re-assess the vision

Serve the champions

Look through the eyes of a child

Go all the way

In addition to Ben's checklist, here are The Blueprint's essentials to making a festival go all the way...

Uber, the taxi hailing service, put on a special Cannes edition of the Ubercopter for festival goers, flying  along the coast.

Gareth Moss is managing director of The Blueprint.

Facebook hires Google’s Andy Mihalop to head up Atlas for UK
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Facebook has hired Google’s Andy Mihalop to head up the UK sales operation of its ad tech business Atlas – its equivalent to Doubleclick.

Mihalop, who was Google’s head of network agencies and media platforms, and second in command for DoubleClick in the UK, is understood to be on gardening leave for the next couple of months.

His remit once he takes up his new role in September will include scaling Atlas operations in the UK as well as helping develop the product itself, with Facebook understood to be harbouring an ambitious road map as it looks to compete head to head with Google for advertising spend.

The Drum understands his remit also includes overseeing Atlas in Germany, but with primary focus on the UK, reporting to head of international sales Damian Burns.

Commenting on the appointment Burns said: "The move away from cookie-centric marketing technology is gathering pace, with the most forward-thinking marketers transitioning to Atlas.

"Unlike other ad server technologies - which have historically been viewed by advertisers as marketing cost - the unique measurement capabilities of Atlas are being viewed as marketing investment and a competitive advantage. Befitting the momentum behind Atlas, we are delighted to have the very best talent in the industry joining the team in our offices all around the world."

Prior to his time at Google where he was most recently head of network agencies and media platforms reporting to Phil Miles, Mihalop was head of biddable media at MediaCom and before that was chief digital officer at Moneysupermarket where he spearheaded the launch of the comparison site’s in-house trading desk.

 

Morrisons come back continues as sales increase ahead of rivals
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Morrisons has achieved the largest sales increase among the ‘big four’ retailers for the second month in a row

While Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda all saw sales fall – a 1.3 per cent drop at Tesco and Sainsbury’s and 3.5 per cent at Asda – Morrisons increased its sales by 0.6 per cent, which was supported by an increase in online shopping.

Furthermore, the retailer has increased its market share to 11.0 per cent, up 0.1 percentage points compared with a year ago. 

Commenting on the latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, which covered the 12 weeks ending 21 June, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight, said: “While only a small increase against a weak 2014, this does represent the first market share gains made by Morrisons since December 2011.”

It comes after Morrisons recently rolled out its first advert under new boss David Potts, heralding its customer service and manned checkouts in a bid to distinguish itself amid the price-led marketing of its rivals.

The past three months haven’t been as positive for Tesco where market share was down 0.3 percentage points to 28.6 per cent. Sainsbury’s was similarly down 0.2 per cent to take 16.5 per cent of overall share.

At Asda sales plummeted 3.5 per cent, leaving the retailer with a 16.5 per cent share, compared with 17.1 per cent last year. 

Conversely, Aldi and Lidl continue to chip away at the big four’s share. The two discounters increased sales by 15.4 per cent and 9.1 per cent respectively.

Aldi reached a new high with a 5.5 per cent share of the market while Lidl, also showing continued growth, rose to 3.9 per cent. 

However, the overall grocery market is slipping back into decline with 0.1 per cent less going through the tills compared to last year. 

 “Last seen in November, the return to marginal decline across the grocery market reflects both falling prices and only steady volume growth.  Sales volumes are up two per cent compared to a year ago but are not anticipated to accelerate, even with an improving economy, as demand for groceries has remained broadly steady since before the recession,” said McKevvitt.

Groceries are now 1.7 per cent cheaper compared with a year ago but are projected to rise by the end of this year.

Mars experiments with programmatic/e-commerce mix
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Mars Foods is experimenting with ideas around how programmatic and e-commerce channels can work together as it looks to reach mass audiences using individualised messages.

Although the FMCG giant, which counts brands including Uncle Ben’s, Snickers and M&M’s among its portfolio, hasn’t any firm plans in the space, it is watching developments in digital advertising and shopping behaviours with interest, according to Mars’ global chief marketing officer (CMO) Bruce McColl.

“The big change that’s happening now is the way people are shopping and when you think about tailoring, or starting to merge how you communicate with how people buy, then programmatic and the ability to individualise messages there start to get very exciting,” McColl told The Drum.

“You can then start to think about e-commerce – that is something we are getting our heads around, we don’t know how to do it yet but we are experimenting. If I was to predict five years out then that is something that’s going to have to really drive our industry and we are going to see the blurring of lines even more than it has before on sales, on marketing, on consumers and customers and retailers.”

Mars is not alone in its experiments with digital ads and e-commerce; fellow FMCG giant Mondelez recently announced that it is to let shoppers buy their favourite snacks from all its owned, earned and paid media in an attempt to elevate the return-on-investments from its promotions.

The company has begun to embed “Buy it Now’ buttons into its online media, from brands’ product pages to social media, video advertising and CRM campaigns across 25 markets. 

Meanwhile Nike last week revealed plans to create more opportunities for people to buy goods from its social channels after seeing efforts to bridge the gap between media and commerce bear fruit in its latest financial quarter.