Media: Double Standards - How the web can work for consumers and clients

Two online specialists on Phorm's 'spyware' technology, YouTube's new video ad formats - and what they do alone at night in front of their PC.

JIM BRIGDEN - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, I SPY SEARCH

- If search is the final activity before purchase, has it been taking too much credit for conversions?

Too few advertisers properly track their online advertising and too many advertisers make too many decisions on a last-click basis. However, Google has more than 130,000 active advertisers in the UK right now who are all very happy with their marketing investment. I don't believe that too many of these clients think search is taking too much credit for the sales they are generating. Quite the reverse, if anything. Search is clearly working for the consumer too.

- How surprised are you that big internet service providers such as BT and TalkTalk don't seem inclined to take tests of Phorm's technology any further?

I'm not surprised given all the negative press. ISPs need to experiment more and be more confident in educating consumers about the benefits of behavioural advertising. The industry is coming together to address consumer concerns, but it doesn't help when ISPs decline to test or experiment. There are innumerable benefits for both the consumer and publisher/advertiser to serving personalised ads; it's just a matter of time before it becomes normal practice.

- How successful will YouTube's new video advertising formats be in monetising its offer?

Google has been trying hard to push YouTube's products for a while now and there is definitely advertiser interest in the format and, indeed, Google is making increasingly bullish noises about the revenue it generates from YouTube. Will the pricing model hold it back, though? At the moment, video advertising appears too expensive for the return it generates.

- How does cookie deletion and private browsing affect measurability for all online advertising?

Nobody (myself included) appears to believe the surveys in cookie deletion that have been conducted. All estimates for cookie deletion appear to be massively overstated. How many people actually do delete their cookies? At I Spy, we believe that less than 10 per cent of internet users delete their cookies regularly. Cookie deletion can lead to overstating unique visitors, understating repeat visitors and also understating conversion rates. All of these factors must be considered when planning any results from an online campaign.

- How worried are you by UK advertising's seeming inability to adopt a universal measurement system for online display advertising?

I'm not. I think online advertising is clearly able to demonstrate its value focused around the key concept of return on investment, which is one of the key drivers of online growth. Would online have grown faster if an audience panel measurement methodology had been adopted? I doubt it very much.

- You're spending a night in alone with the PC. What sites do you visit?

I know I should be talking about visiting the likes of Seth Godin, Jim Sterne and John Battelle or getting to grips with the intricacies of Twitter ... the reality is that after a long day working on search and social campaigns for our clients, I'm more likely to be found sneaking on to Spurs Odyssey or Golfshake.com. As a Mac man, I wouldn't be seen dead with a PC, though.

JONAS JAANIMAGI - MANAGING PARTNER, WEBADS UK

- If search is the final activity before purchase, has it been taking too much credit for conversions?

Yes. For far too long, search has profited from the final click being the easiest way of attributing credit for conversion as it sits at the bottom of the purchasing funnel. Marketers have long understood the value of buying both display and search concomitantly but may not be fully evaluating the impact that each has upon the other. Recent research has shown how display makes consumers aware of a brand or product and then provokes research activity which search then converts and cashes in on.

- How surprised are you that big internet service providers such as BT and TalkTalk don't seem inclined to take tests of Phorm's technology any further?

Deep Packet Inspection is very powerful and sensitive as it allows access to literally everything you do online, even e-mail content. There are benefits to this for the legitimate surveillance of criminal activity or to monitor network security, but the commercial use of this type of technology simply should not be allowed. We all want to offer genuine relevancy and target users by both profile and behaviour, but if it is to be done at this level, it has to be 100 per cent opt-in or cookie-based, which users can easily remove.

- How successful will YouTube's new video advertising formats be in monetising its offer?

I don't think that ads around the video content or In-stream ads (pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll) are the answer, so giving advertisers the opportunity to use less interruptive InVideo ads (text or graphical overlays) will be one of the first steps towards profitability for YouTube. Allowing media partners to generate and share revenues will give them a larger development base for any new video ad formats. Once this has been properly developed, I predict that they will allow everyone to share in revenues generated from uploaded content to incentivise the production of even better quality content.

- How does cookie deletion and private browsing affect measurability for all online advertising?

Internet users delete cookies more than they used to and more than many in the industry would want to admit. Most anti-spyware programmes identify them as a threat and as browser technology advances, we can now all easily clear them out or browse privately. Search benefits from this as the post-click data for the final conversion from display, stored in cookies, is being lost. It's all about giving users the tools to do as they wish and fully educating them as to the pros and cons.

- How worried are you by UK advertising's seeming inability to adopt a universal measurement system for online display advertising?

Very, as the confusion over measurement for display forces marketers to play it safe and put more budgets into search. Ultimately, it's all about the audience, so it's difficult to argue against us going back to using traditional reach and frequency metrics such as GRPs, rather than just talking about impressions and clicks. Once we have clearer metrics moving forward, the industry can help itself by educating buyers to move away from focusing upon volumes and direct response - and concentrate more upon the audience they want to reach, the effectiveness of their client's message and its delivery to that audience.

- You're spending a night in alone with the PC. What sites do you visit?

Breakingviews.com for its strong insight into the day's key business stories and then a quick look at CityAM.com to see how the site redesign is progressing.

Topics