Category Archives: Mobile, media, advertising

O2: ‘Mobile four times more efficient than TV’

Mobile media spend was over four times more efficient than TV and twice as efficient as other digital executions in a recent integrated campaign conducted by Pizza Hut.

Claire Valoti, MD of O2 Media, said Pizza Hut’s mobile messages were 4.4 times more efficient than TV and 2.6 times more efficient than digital advertising at driving footfall into its stores as part of the campaign.

O2 Media’s location-based ‘You Are Here’ tool was used to target families near Pizza Hut restaurants to encourage them to take part in its ‘kids eat for free’ promotion.

Participating O2 More customers could download a voucher for the promotion via an SMS link sent to their phones and redeemed in-store.

Valoti said that mobile was the top-performing media for the campaign, adding that its was 142% more efficient at delivering incremental sales revenue than the campaign average.

The mobile operator’s advertising arm took part in the cross-platform campaign with Starcom, measuring the effectiveness of each medium using the media agency’s POEM (Proprietary, Paid, Owned & Earned Media) tool.

Valoti said the mobile element of the campaign worked so well because the targeting, including the location element, was so sophisticated.

“We have a lot of demographic data to target by including demographic data, billing data and location data,” she said.

The data comes the same month as O2 Media announced that its O2 More customer base had reached 10m, to account for almost half of all O2 subscribers, after the operator altered its subscriber terms to opt-in by default ( 11 May 2012).

“We want to make it very clear that the customer is always in control of these messages and being part of this service. Every communication from O2 More includes instructions on how to opt out of the service,” said Valoti adding that opt-out rates are “minimal”.

The UK’s largest operator Everything Everywhere too is attempting to ramp-up numbers with both its Orange and T-Mobile brands.

However, the outfit’s Orange brand is more conservative in its approach to bolstering numbers to its Orange Shots service which currently counts 3m registered participants.

An Orange spokesman told new media age: “Customers across both our PAYG and PAYM segments have been joining our interactive SMS advertising service in one of two ways – choosing to opt in via a shortcode, or when we actively outreach to those we believe will be interested in this service, with a welcome pack clearly explaining how the service works and the benefits available.”

The Everything Everywhere outfit also said it was also attempting to address the problem of SMS spamming on its network as highlighted recently by the DMA ( 15 May 2012).

This includes working on a on a code of practice on spamming with the GSMA encouraging cooperation with other network operators.

“We are currently assessing a number of spam filtering solutions and are working closely with the regulatory bodies to implement these effectively” said an Orange spokesman.

“In order to minimise spam, we already monitor unusual traffic patterns and apply commercial and technical policies to discourage spam being sent to our customers,” he added.

“Orange customers can also forward spam messages to 7726 for free to help us investigate spam messages promptly.”

StrikeAd App Tracking White Paper…with a nice bit of ‘pre MWC 2012 sales pitch/PR’

StrikeAd App Tracking White Paper (2)

Affiliate Marketing Trends for 2012

Affiliate marketing is growing and changing faster than ever before. Technology is getting more affordable and efficient, advertising dollars are expanding quickly to new devices, and big brands are launching their own major publisher relationships. Affiliate networks are improving their services and giving more transparency to advertisers, and competition is rapidly growing. Below are some predictions for affiliate marketing in 2012.

1. Brands Pulling More In-House Talent

Companies are beginning to hire in-house affiliate experts to shape and manage distribution of their campaigns. This is already a trend for online acquisition channels like SEO, PPC, and Display, but I predict you will see experienced affiliate marketers and managers in every major marketing team in the country by the end of this year. Does this mean advertisers will stop working directly with networks? Certainly not. Yes it is important for brands to build long lasting partnerships with main stream publishers, but they also need legitimate affiliate networks to fill the funnel with traffic they can’t find on their own.  However, they will need someone to manage all of those affiliate network relationships and most likely do their own tracking, reporting and analysis of performance.

2. Mobile Advertising Gets Smart

So many people have already said that 2011 was the year of mobile, and I will certainly agree that last year we certainly saw a substantial rise in mobile advertising spend. In 2012 we will see competition increase and advertisers get smarter with their budgets. We will see more accountability for Ad Networks and new forms of user engagement. Connecting in-app to mobile web, in-app to in-app, and device to device will be the rage of the new year. Large game developers and major mobile publishers will lead the way. I predict this will lead an affiliate marketer gold rush. So many affiliates have been building their mobile traffic for over a decade, and in 2012 there will be more ways to effectively monetize mobile traffic, driving the cost per user through the roof. If you haven’t checked it out previously, Mobile App Tracking is our leap into supporting mobile advertising.

3. Need for Attribution Grows

As a result of more internal affiliate marketing talent, proving the value of affiliate traffic will become increasingly important for marketers everywhere. If affiliate marketing can really do what it says it can do, then why wouldn’t advertisers pay all day long for new customers. The crux falls on attributing credit to the proper marketing channels and to the most influential affiliates. If you work with major brands already, you know that proving your value can be a full time job. Tracking and reporting technologies must continue to improve or be left behind.

4. Do Not Track Grows Quieter

But how will we attribute credit for conversions to the right marketing channels if our ability to track users deteriorates? In 2011, the proposals by the FTC to enact various Do-Not-Track legislation got online advertisers a little worried. The greatest thing about affiliate marketing specifically is that we can track users and show that purchase decisions were influenced by affiliates. How will we progress in attribution technologies if browsers practices and legislation prevent us from tracking. My prediction is that Do-Not-Track will be a muted subject in 2012. We still have so much to learn about monetizing the web, and I believe the FTC intended to spook online advertisers into self regulating and checking their intentions.

5. Privacy Gets Ugly

Maybe 2012 is slightly premature, but I think the conversation on privacy and protecting personally identifiable information will grow exponentially. The mobile web is a completely wild place of little regulation but incredible security risk. In 2012 you will see at least one Internet giant under full scale attack by a government agency on the issue of user privacy. I believe SaaS companies will start reevaluating their business models and major brands will start looking for technologies to build a future with compliance and security.

6. Affiliate Fraud Gets Worse… and Better

I have no doubt that affiliate fraud will grow on a global scale in 2012 as more humans have access to the Internet (as will all general Internet fraud). However, I also believe that we will build more transparency into the affiliate marketing industry than ever before based on the demands of advertisers. As advertisers increase their in-house talent and develop more direct publisher relationships, they will absolutely require direct information about any traffic directed toward their campaigns. Some of this transparency may be provided by technology, but on a more basic level affiliate networks, media buyers, and affiliates will open the kimono a little more in order to get the attention and payouts of the best campaigns and offers, raising the bar on acceptable traffic for advertisers.

7. Affiliate Nexus Tax Rages On

I do not believe we will have any conclusions on Nexus Tax rulings in 2012 at a federal level. There are an unbelievable number of interested parties, and I simply do not believe Congress is capable of passing any effective or enforceable legislation, especially during an election year. The greatest hurdles in nexus tax are the generation gap of law makers and their lack of understanding in the online economy. However, this does not mean we should stay uninformed. Follow along with the PMA as they provide accurate information about the nexus battle, and I challenge you to make it your New Year’s resolution to support the PMA.

The truth about affiliates and cookie overwriting

Who overwrites who in the affiliate channel? This question has been at the heart of some hotly-debated issues in affiliate marketing over the last few years, but little research has been done to answer the question directly.

When we scrutinise the value of incentivised traffic, question whether or not voucher code sites are ‘stealing’ sales that would otherwise have been credited to content sites, or wonder how different models of multi-attribution might work, the ability to inform these debates with insights in to what extent cookie writing is occurring, and amongst which affiliates, is surely vital.

We recently conducted new research on this question and the results were presented at the A4U Expo in London earlier this month, looking at ‘daisy chain’ data and revealing the path to purchase a customer takes from click to sale through the affiliate channel.

We looked at five brand advertisers in different sectors to see how many affiliates are typically involved in a sale, and the extent to which their cookies overwrite each other, and focused on the impact of promotions these advertisers ran to get a sense of how the picture changed during the promotion compared to before it.

There were three headline findings that we highlighted, and which we found to be the case for each of these five advertisers.

The vast majority of transactions have only one referrer. In most cases there is simply no other affiliate’s cookie being overwritten. Secondly, almost all transactions take place within 24 hours of the click, and of those the vast majority take place within the hour.

Thirdly, where an affiliate does overwrite another affiliate’s cookie to claim the sale, they are more likely to overwrite affiliates that use the same primary method of promotion. Voucher code sites were more likely to overwrite other voucher code sites’ cookies than they were to overwrite true content sites’ cookies, for example.

What was perhaps most surprising was that these conclusions were applicable despite the different sectors that our advertisers operated in.

Our sample comprised retailers from the fashion, mobile, and health & beauty sectors, and two from the electronics sector. Each advertiser was a household name, had a high street presence and ran large affiliate programmes exclusively with Affiliate Window, giving us a large enough dataset to justify our conclusions.

Our three main findings also held even where average order values were high: even in the cases of our electronics retailers, where average order values of £200-£300 would suggest more ‘considered’ purchases, the vast majority of transactions were still made within an hour of the click and involved predominantly only a single referring affiliate.

Furthermore, we found that these conclusions held true both for the period before the promotion as well as during it, and on both the programme as a whole and for just those transactions referred by the affiliate running the promotion. In other words, these three conclusions seemed to be relatively unaffected by the various exclusive offers that were running at the time: we can say they represent the norm for these advertisers.

One of the most intriguing findings was evidence to suggest that where an exclusive code had been offered customers spent more anyway. In two cases where the advertiser offered an affiliate an exclusive voucher code the average order value from those advertisers actually rose during the time of the promotion compared to before it.

What then can we extrapolate about the performance of the affiliate channel as a whole on the basis of this research?

The statistics on the high number of single referrer sales and fast transaction times demonstrate the success of affiliates in engaging and converting their audiences on behalf of the advertisers they partner with.

It paints a picture of affiliates winning the click-through and converting that user into a customer speedily and as a result of their own efforts. Although it could be argued that another affiliate, or another channel, would have made the sale sooner or later anyway, it is equally true that in that time the customer might have bought from a competitor.

This research shows affiliate activity in a positive light. Affiliates are revealed as click winners, not ‘click stealers’. By and large, advertisers do not need to worry that their affiliates are cannibalising each other’s traffic, and there is no evidence to demonstrate that incentive sites are overwriting the cookies of true content affiliates in any significant numbers, even if this assumption has been adopted by many in the industry.

There are also implications for the ongoing debate on multi-attribution. If the vast majority of transactions from the affiliate channel are sole referrer, surely the debate about how to apportion commissions across a number of affiliates involved in the path to sale is foreclosed? Multi-attribution models are premised on a longer daisy chain than exists in the vast majority of cases.

Ultimately, this research only looked at transactions coming through the affiliate channel. Further, similar research within the channel would be welcome, but outside it advertisers might wish to compare these findings to their own analysis of other channels and use affiliates as a benchmark to measure the effectiveness of their online marketing efforts as a whole.

Mobile commerce in the UK: stats round up

The importance of smartphone technology to the UK shopper experience has been hard to ignore this past month with an abundance of mobile commerce data being added to our Internet Statistics Compendium.

UK mobile owners are making more purchases from their devices and are also using them when visiting offline stores. The growth of the sector is certainly one to keep an eye on, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

Mobile commerce growth

Data published in October from a new tracking initiative by IMRG highlights the growth of the mobile commerce sector in the UK.

During Q2 2011 visits to e-commerce sites from mobile devices accounted for 7% of overall traffic, up from an average of 1.4% in Q1 2010.

The research also shows that UK mobile shoppers are buying more and are now making 3.3% of e-commerce purchases from mobile devices. This is an increase from 0.4% at the beginning of 2010.

Mobile shoppers

The recently launched Our Mobile Planet tool from Google and fresh data from Intersperience also goes into considerable depth concerning the buying habits of mobile owners.

According to Intersperience, 8% of UK adults buy through their mobile phones, while 21% intend to in the future. Comparatively, a smaller percentage (7%) of under-18s currently make purchases via mobile but 33% plan to in the future.

Our Mobile Planet data focuses specifically on smartphone users, with 28% of owners making purchases from their devices. Though, of those that do, 87% admit they do so infrequently.

Barriers to purchase on mobile

Both sources look into the numbers of people who are still hesitant when it comes to mobile commerce. The Intersperience research highlights that 37% of UK adults are not keen to buy via mobile, compared to just 11% who remain hesitant to purchase via PC.

Google’s stats have price as the biggest obstacle to purchase (69%) followed by ‘doesn’t feel secure’ (34%) and complexity (9%).

The mobile shopping assistant

Mobile is also clearly playing a big part on purchases made in shops. Our Mobile Planet data sees 24% of UK smartphone owners taking their phones shopping with them in order to compare prices and inform themselves about products.

Additionally, mobile devices are on the cusp of becoming more than an in-store information source, with the release of apps and features allowing users to make payments through their devices instead of using cash or card.

Despite 24% of UK adults being in agreement that mobile phones are more likely to be stolen than wallets, Intersperience data shows that 17% would be keen to use their devices for payments. Again, youngsters are more eager, with 25% of under-18s keen to replace their wallets with mobiles at the cash register.

From a marketing point of view, there is still a significant amount of catch-up to be done for mobile commerce to become as trusted as PC-based mobile commerce.

Also, many companies have yet to be convinced that they need a mobile strategy. Our recent Conversion Rate Optimization Report found that 70% of companies have yet to optimise their sites for mobile

But with the increased role of mobile when users are making purchases in shops, there is more scope to promote the positive connection between mobile and shopping, even before users are confident enough to actually make payments through their devices.

This is of particular significance to well-established bricks and mortar stores, especially those who will be seeing a good number of smartphone-using shoppers coming through their doors over the next couple of months.

Q&A: LBI’s Manley on preparing for the EU cookie directive

Manley is SEO Director at LBi, and he has been working with clients recently, preparing for the full implementation of the EU cookie directive. 

This directive (here’s the pdf if you have a few hours spare) was introduced in the name of privacy, but has serious implications for online businesses.

I’ve been asking Manley about what the directive will mean in practice for online businesses, and what they should be doing to prepare themselves…

What was the thinking behind the EU cookie regulations?

The reason the EU has introduced this directive is due to concerns about privacy, especially from Scandinavia. The idea is to prevent organisations collecting information about web users without their permission.

The problem is that the people who have introduced this have very little idea of what a cookie is and what they are used for. Considering the privacy of individuals is no bad thing, but the law is slightly misguided.

It was announced at the beginning of the year, and the UK is the first country to have introduced it.

The idea behind this early adoption was that we could manipulate the law, and the initial guidance was that browser settings would deal with the need for users’ consent.

However, it soon became clear that that wouldn’t cut it.  Now we have a situation which is unclear for many businesses.

What does the ICO’s decision to delay implementation mean in practice?

The law is in force now, and has been since May 26. However, the ICO has said it will not prosecute anyone under this rule until May 2012.

You can make complaints against websites though, and just because businesses may operate websites within the UK, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to worry about until next year.

If your visitors are coming from other EU countries including Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Malta, you may be liable.

What do the cookie regulations mean for online business?

The ICO will not currently pursue companies for not gaining users’ consent for cookies, but this is no excuse not to be doing anything about it.

As the ICO’s Christopher Graham has said, those who choose to do nothing will have their lack of action taken into account once the regulations are enforceable.

The sort of organisation that will be likely to be complained about should have the resources to be able to make the necessary changes.

They should be concerned, as the penalty for flagrant flouting of the rules is £500,000. Any organisation with several websites and brands, some financial services companies for example, will therefore be liable for each property, meaning fines could add up to millions of pounds.

What should online businesses be doing in preparation?

Although you can be fined, what constitutes a serious breach is flagrant disregard for the directive, and the ICO says that a phased approach is acceptable.

Right now, you should be examining your existing current cookies, looking at:

  • How much information are you holding?
  • How necessary is it?
  • What measures can you put in place for gaining consent from visitors?

Even the ICO’s cookie consent message (below) isn’t enough to comply. Users have to be able to make an informed decision and give overt and informed consent.

If you have done an audit, have an acceptable and clear privacy policy, and a reasonable strategy on place for May 2012, ready to be implemented, then you will be prepared.

What are the various options for websites to ensure that they comply with the cookie law? Is it possible to comply without affecting the user experience?

Websites face a dilemma over how overtly they ask for user’s consent to store cookies.

They could put a notice on the page when new visitors arrive, one which asks for users to consent, but which still allows them to use the site as normal if they choose to ignore it.

This will mean a better user experience, but the flipside is that the amount of traffic picked by analytics packages will be a fraction of normal levels.

The other option is to use a lightbox to ask for consent. The user only has to opt in once, and this would solve the problem of losing analytics data, but it does mean that some visitors will drop out.

People don’t like being interfered with, and frequently ignore lighboxes when used to gather user feedback on sites. We find it offensive that something online is interacting with us, rather than us with it.

When someone arrives at a site for the first time, there will be higher bounce rates as they see this interruption.

Another approach is to have a tiered structure for visitors. For example, a ‘bronze’ level may mean no cookies are stored from that user, a sliver level with a minimal level of cookie data, and gold, where customers opt in, in return for the fullest possible experience on a site.

This will be the first time that most web users will become aware of this legislation, and in many cases, what cookies are. The potential effect of this change on the internet could be massive. As well as online retailers, massive sites like YouTube and Facebook all rely on cookies.

It also threatens many business models, retargeting, behavioural targeting, attribution CRM, display advertising, and of course, analytics.

Analytics could be seriously affected by these changes. For example, on May 26, when the ICO began to ask for consent to store cookies the visits shown in analytics were down to 11% of normal traffic.

Is there anything companies can do to educate web users in advance?

Perhaps, but since all businesses are looking for is a quick yes from visitors, education may not serve businesses particularly well.

Has there been much resistance to this law? Are companies lobbying against it?

I’ve done some work on this with financial services and telecoms companies. There are some who say this is unworkable, but in all honesty, it’s not, it’s just a bit irritating.

Others are accepting it and trying to work within the guidelines.

This isn’t going to go away, though whether the ICO actively seeks to prosecute businesses is debatable.

The answer is to embrace the law, and to have everything ready for its full implementation, except the last consent step, a lightbox or notice for new visitors.

When it’s clear that the law is in place and will be enforced, then this will need to be implemented.

How exactly the law will be implemented is still not 100% clear. The ICO has asked the industry for feedback, and it’s not certain how they will adapt to this. Until we see the legislation in practice, it’s difficult to know, bit just hoping it’s going to go away is not going to help.

The rise of pay per call in the UK affiliate market


Affiliate marketing is a staple line in any marketer’s budget and has been for years; but as budgets get tighter the sector is innovating and introducing more services to boost ROI and really prove its worth. 

The good thing about the affiliate sector is that performance marketing is based on one principle, the conversion of traffic to leads or sales, meaning a marketer only pays for what is achieved, it’s a no-risk investment.

However, it does have its limitations. Previously all sales had to be tracked online to ensure the sale was attributed to the affiliate channel, but things are changing.

We purchase products in many ways and performance marketing has developed to reflect this. For example, a phone sale.

While online purchases are now part of normal life, there are still ample occasions where you as the consumer needs or simply prefers, to be able to speak to someone to talk through your purchase decision.

This may be to do with the product, be it a bespoke travel holiday, signing up to an educational course, buying a new laptop or making a financial investment.

Let’s give an example to explain the principle, say, a mortgage. It’s a huge financial investment for anyone, something that a consumer wants to research to ensure they get the best deal.  They need to make sure it’s tailored to their specific requirements, and consequently isn’t a purchase you would usually make online.

A 2009 survey by Harris Interactive showed that 54% of online consumers want human interaction when making a substantial investment, like the aforementioned mortgage.

If you could research a mortgage online, looking into the different options that you want, you might then pick up the phone to get some professional advice on your decision. This discussion might then lead to a purchase.

Now, imagine if an affiliate can publish and track this sale through a unique telephone number, it opens up a world of opportunities for new brands and services which were previously unattainable in the affiliate space. This is the reality of PayPerCall.

Marketers often work with call centres, looking to increase customer consultation and build personal relationships with their audience. Pairing this with the affiliate channel, a powerful way to drive traffic and entice consumers, has the potential to offer huge rewards. It provides the link between the online space and offline sales.

If you think about it, there are a few logical conclusions to be made as to why PayPerCall can deliver, as well as a few statistics to support the case.

Let’s think about a consumer journey. If we go back  to our mortgage customer, the customer has done their research, they know the difference between variable and fixed rate mortgages and which one they want.

They definitely know their budget and possibly even know the house they want to buy, so they are well on their way to making a purchase. The last step is to call someone, the final hurdle before purchase.

Now for the statistic to support these sweeping conclusions; the average conversion rate per call is between 30% – 50%, substantially more than for clicks, the average cost for a call is  about £6 as merchants realise the higher conversion to sale.

The performance marketing model is reliable, it’s a low risk investment for marketers and offers high returns. Audiences can be targeted, tracked and rewarded with this model.

Publishers will no longer miss out on the commission for an offline phone lead or sale. The sector is expanding to accommodate new business models and target new audiences.

There has been plenty of interest from advertisers and publishers for our solution, pay per call is definitely a hot technology and one that’s being adopted across many vertical markets.