On June 24, 2013, in a series of letters to major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Ask.com, as well as to specialized search engines, the FTC issued updated guidance to maintain clear disclosures to public regarding paid advertisements in search results.
Advertising disclosures need to be clear and prominent.
Consumers assume that search results reflect the most relevant results. When results appear because the advertiser has paid the search engine for, say, prominent placement, that placement could be deceptive to consumers if they are unaware of the commercial relationship between the advertiser and the search engine.
They’re giving the search engines some leeway with this, and they state that “any method may be used, so long as it is noticeable and understandable to consumers.” This however doesn’t prevent them from giving some tips.
Here is how the FTC thinks that Google, Yahoo! and Bing should do things differently.
Provide clearer visual cues surrounding their ads. The current shading is too light in their opinion and the it is difficult to differentiate the two. Below areand their recommended specifications for a proper visualoff set:
Advertising shouldn’t be set off simply by shading and an outline. Advertisements should have easily distinguishable text labels.
The FTC asserts that text labels must be used in addition to the visual cues as a search engine may use to distinguish advertising. Text labels must:
The FTC is basically letting the search engines know that their shading and text has gotten too nondescript, and they’ve been able to realize that consumers are less likely to notice when an ad is an ad.
There’s also a footnote in the letter that has to be somewhat validating for those who’ve been preaching the gospel of mobile.
It looks like the year of mobile is finally here! If the FTC is recognizing the value of a mobile campaign, it’s a safe bet that mobile has made it to the main stage. It seems like mobile devices are a bigger offender in their eyes than desktops, so look for changes in that platform. It’ll be an interesting few months for mobile advertising, what with campaigns getting enhanced and the shading of the ads almost certainly set to change.
In designing web pages, search engines … should ensure that any visual cues used to distinguish advertising, such as background shading, are sufficiently visible on both mobile devices and desktop computers. A search engine can indeed at a minimum determine whether a web page will be displayed on a mobile device as opposed to desktop computer… Consequently, we believe that search engines should consider using web pages of different luminosities for mobile devices and desktop computers.
Before closing the letter, the FTC offers a bit of shaming to the engines for their decreasingly relaxed emphasis on users knowing when an ad is an ad.
Search engines have reduced the font size of some text labels to identify top ads and other advertising and often locate these labels in the top right-hand corner of the shaded area or ‘ad block,’ as is the case with top ads. Consumers may not as readily notice the labels when placed in the top right-hand corner, especially when the labels are presented in small print and relate to more than one result.
Ads are their revenue stream, and they’re going to do what they can to maximize that. But things are going to look different.
How this going to affect us:
The FTC cites something in their letter that we already know to be true. People just don’t like ads. The clearer the indication that something is an ad, the higher the likelihood that someone with distaste for marketing professionals will avoid clicking. I think that PLAs are doing so well right now because it’s easy to overlook that they’re ads. They just look like regular listings at first pass.
We’re already at a disadvantage with these devices, as only the top two placements show above the organic listings. What’s going to happen to historically higher CTRs in mobile if the layout changes drastically? That seems like the area where the FTC was the most concerned, so I anticipate that’s where there’s going to be the most upheaval. I mentioned it before, but it’s worth stressing again: mobile will most likely be affected in a big way.
Different ad real estate
Will Google shift where they place their ad blocks? Could bottom ads go away at some point? Bing’s practice of showing the same ad above and below organic results will surely be affected in some way. Now that ads are supposed to be clearly demarcated, what are the engines going to do to goose CTR as much as possible? Google seems to be always playing with display URLs and where to place them, but could we see more radical ad formats are in our future? What can they do to entice clicks on what makes them money while complying with the new guidelines?
Since its conception, Facebook has been focusing on growing and building the foundations of its platform — News Feeds, location check in, Skype calling and the latest Open Graph. Simultaneously Facebook has also been finding ways to monetize from its current global user base. It was no surprise that in 2012 when Facebook went public they become more serious about monetization.
News Feed/Mobile Ads
Facebook is earning almost $4 million a day from its News Feed ads, in which three-fourths of that come directly from their mobile feed. Advertisers are pleased by these figures and continue to expect, higher click through rates and lower costs per click in this ad format.
Facebook introduced its Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding (RTB) platform that allows third-party platforms to place retargeting ads on their own network after users have visited external websites marked with DSP cookies.
It allows U.S. users to buy physical and digital goods for their friends. As the recipient has already registered their mailing information under their user profiles, the sender doesn’t need to know the friend’s address. Companies like Starbucks, Apple, Gap, Brookstone, Mondavi Wines and Fab.com are already selling items through this channel.
Facebook began offering large premium ads that get displayed as soon as the user logs out of the desktop web browser page. These ads still can only be purchased directly by Facebook and they come with a price tag equivalent to takeovers on sites like YouTube or Yahoo.
Similarly, Facebook has adopted many monetization schemes to promote brands products & services in recent times. Although it is a heaven for advertisers as they have psychographic & demographic information on their targeted audience to post their ads, but as a Facebook user it certainly looks clumsy and can be very annoying at times. In addition to that Facebook continually fiddles with its privacy policies that can be considered sneaky at times.
Last week, Facebook’s popular photo-sharing app Instagram introduced video recording capability to it. Much like its competitor Vine, which is owned by Twitter, Instagram now lets you record and share short videos using a few taps on your mobile device. This is clearly another step from Facebook to make more inroads in monetization and driving more people to their website.
During the launch, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said that the video feature was initially left out of Instagram because the “speed, simplicity and beauty” the creators strived for in the app “were definitely possible with photos — but it was really hard for video.”
When Facebook focused on advertising & monetization, what was seen as a social media hotspot became tainted in the minds of its users. Older generation people value online privacy and even younger generations are learning to abide themselves in term of privacy that can get skeptical in such an enormous user database.
According to David Ebersman, CFO of Facebook –
Ad impressions continued the recent trend of growing more slowly than users as more of our usage is on mobile devices. This trend is particularly true in markets such as the U.S., where smartphone use is expanding rapidly. The overall number of ads delivered in the U.S. this quarter decreased 2% year-over-year despite a 10% increase in daily users and despite the increase in ads per page from the product changes I mentioned earlier, as daily Web users in the U.S. declined in favor of mobile users. And we're seeing similar trends in other developed markets.
“The 9% increase in price per ad [global] was driven primarily by the United States, where CPMs [price per thousand ads] increased by over 20% due in large part to the ramp-up of Sponsored Stories in News Feed on both PCs and mobile devices.”
Facebook will continue to get a pricing boost as it rolls out more "Sponsored Stories," if user growth flattens or declines, the impact these increases have on Facebook's revenue growth will be limited.
Facebook continues to increase feed-based ad inventory, most recently allowing non-social page Like ads on its mobile site. Although ads haven’t had a significant effect on engagement thus far, the social network must consider qualitative feedback as well to keep a pulse on users’ perception and enjoyment of Facebook as it becomes more commercial. Policy changes like the one preventing ads from including more than 20 percent text are efforts to make advertising blend in with organic content on Facebook and feel less obtrusive to users.
Certainly, there will be further advancement in the monetization scheme from Facebook & we wish it will pay off well for the advertiser and Facebook. But, what will happen to those who joined facebook to meet their friends and have an online connection not to see pop-ups and Ads for something which they can get on eBay or Amazon.
Making profits has always been the main motive for any business. Converting a lead or a customer into a client/buyer has been the ultimate parameter for measuring success.
With increase in the number of parameters and channels to identify sales trends & consumer behaviour, it has given business analysts a whole new paradigm to understand the granularity of a business but on the flip side it has made their life tougher.
Today, customers touch points are densely & diversely populated across mobile, desktop, television, email, social media, point of sale etc. We can understand how a single channel is performing and affecting the business. However, it gets complex to understand the results when a single touch point gets influenced by crossovers from other touch points.
A perfect example is the retail business industry - This requires the business to understand seasonality, consumer psychology & purchasing patterns, offer effectiveness, sales concepts, real time stock replenishment etc. All this has created a necessary requirement for a system to analyze the contribuition of each touch point in the sales process.
What Is BIG DATA?
Big data is a term to describe the humongous amount of unstructured & semi-structured data that a company creates (sometimes as a by-product) which may take too much time & cost to load into a relational database for analysis. Reportedly, this big data accounts for almost 80% of an organization data.
According to IDC, it is imperative that big organization should focus on ever increasing volume, variety and velocity of information that forms BIG DATA.
VOLUME: In past, data volume has created big storage issues, but with technological advancements cost of storage has decreased immensely, however it has opened a new can of worms such as relevant data identification and then interpreting meaningful information from that data set.
VARIETY: Various formats of data makes it more complex to compile the database with relevant hierarchical data storage system. It is estimated that 76% of an organization’s data is not numerical in nature, however, they can’t be ignored while analysis & decision making.
VELOCITY: Analyzing data that is being generated at high speeds & then processing that data in real time has become a challenge to most of big organizations.
BIG DATA ANALYTICS
By employing data scientists and econometricians to analyze big data, companies can make better business decisions by interpreting huge volume of data in tandem with conventional business intelligence (BI) programs.
Big data analytics can be done with software tools commonly used as a part of advanced analytics disciplines like predictive analysis & data mining. But, unstructured data sources used for big data analytics may not fit for traditional data warehouses. As a result, tools like NoSQL database, Hadoop, MapReduce etc. have come into existence as a new class of analytics software. These tools support the processing of large datasets across clustered system in an open source software framework.
Advantages of Big Data Analytics:
The use of big data will become a key basis for competition & growth of an organization. It will create a new a level of productivity growth & consumer surplus and will also help in painting a better picture of customer interaction with the enterprise over time. From the standpoint of competitiveness & potential capture of value, all big companies need to take big data seriously in the near future.