Is advertising the new battleground?

Advertising is one ‘arena’ which is changing beyond all recognition. Online advertising is set to grow by 15 percent in 2014, as advertisers spend $140 billion on campaigns this year. Ways of measuring the effectiveness of campaigns is also changing. Simply counting the number of clicks is definitely on the way out. This is partly because online advertising is so vulnerable to fraud. A recent Mercedes campaign was hijacked and over half the clicks were generated by bots.

The advertising industry is more vulnerable to fraudsters than other industries such as financial services, or e-commerce. The systems that support those arenas are robust and security is the priority. A brand wanting to generate clicks can buy clicks, which is not great business practice. And they are probably buying them off fraudsters.

Although most web sites can differentiate between human beings and robots, the decisions about where to advertise (in whatever form) needs a rethink.

Consumer sites will have completely different metrics than, say, BillingViews. It sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many people ask for the number of people who read BillingViews, rather than the budget of people who read BillingViews.

The classic arena where the rules are being re-written is TV. With the arrival of personalisation, my prime time is no longer your prime time. With the rise and rise of ‘catch up’ which, in the UK at least, comes without adverts, the problem gets worse. As a result, the agency that measures viewing figures, Nielsen, is beginning to measure ‘customer engagement and viewership’ for both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Customer engagement is, of course, the key. Delivering content to customers who actually want it, when they want it will deliver happy customers. Advertising must become part of that engagement. People who are actively looking for a new car will watch a 10 minute video that goes into some depth about new features, comparisons, deals and the like. People who are actively looking for a new billing system will read BillingViews for hours a day – er, almost certainly.

Viewing patterns – for TV and websites – are problematic, though. As Dominic Smith, Marketing Director at Cerillion, pointed out, “the difficulty is that Google knows what you just searched for. Knowing what you are about to search for is much more of a challenge.” Predictive analytics is still in its infancy.

This is where operators come in. They know what customers are doing now, where, and with what device. Using this knowledge, or offering it to brands, is a great opportunity. Bell Canada, for instance, was already using this knowledge to better target five billion adverts a month.

Those companies who can successfully harness and merge the information from different channels such as TV, social media, communications and location, and deliver it securely in the right way, will be the winners.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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