Category Archives: Internet & Web X.0

Recapping our TMK Digital Media Venture Capital Conference

This past Wednesday, April 11, we hosted our 5th annual TMK Digital Media Venture Capital Conference for our agency staffers, our clients, and our friends.  I was particularly excited to host the event this year because we had an all-star lineup of speakers including but not limited to Dan Porter (OMGPOP), Albert Wenger (Union Square Ventures) and Terrence Kawaja (LUMA Partners).  I alluded to this event earlier in the week via this post.

The overarching topic of the event was “mobile” and most of the presentations paid this off.

Tweets were active around the event hashtag, #tmkvcc so check here to read the tweets to get an idea of the event.  I love going back thru these as many of the insights that the speakers mentioned were captured here.  AdExchanger also wrote a nice piece on the opening keynote.

Here are a few of my favorite:

  • TV dollars won’t come online. Rather, the web will become TV @benfoxgo #tmkvcc
  • “Location may be one of the biggest indicators of intent since search.” Duncan McCall @PlaceIQ #tmkvcc
  • People spend money to rid themselves of ads in the mobile ecosystem via @albertwenger #tmkvcc
  • ‘Google has made advertising ugly.’ – @simonkhalaf at #TMKVCC
  • “Good advertising is a feature, not a bug.” @albertwenger at #tmkvcc
  • In Silicon Valley, we get the idea right. Decade wrong. Simon Khalaf, Flurry. #tmkvcc
  • Draw Something does 3000 drawings per second. Wow. #tmkvcc

There was a nice tension between the speakers ar0und interruptive vs. native advertising opportunities and that’s something that I envision spending a lot more time on in 2012.

One thing was absolutely certain from this event:  mobile is a platform that is going to dominate and change industries in ways we haven’t even imagined.

One of my favorite days of the year: TMK Digital Media Venture Capital Conference

The Media Kitchen logoOn Wednesday, April 11, The Media Kitchen is hosting our 5th annual Digital Media Venture Capital Conference.  Here is the writeup from 2008, our first one we ever held.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year because it’s packed with inspiration from some of the greatest minds in venture capital, technology, and entrepreneurship.  For five hours on Wednesday, executives from Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, LUMA Partners, OMGPOP, Adconion Media Group, PlaceIQ, Flurry, and Advertising Age are going to be taking our stage and talking about marketing, disruption, and mobile.  It’s going to be exciting.

I have one extra spot I’m holding for a reader of my blog.  If you’d be interested in attending, please contact me and let me know why you’d like to attend.  It’s from 8:30am-1pm in Tribeca (NYC) and you’d be expected to stay the whole time to maximize the opportunity.

Here are some of the topics of the talks:

The 2012 Industry Landscape—Challenges and Opportunities

Mention “the slide” to any industry vet and she’ll immediately know that you’re talking about Terry Kawaja’s famous “LUMAscapes”—the maps of how the different pieces of the digital marketing business fit together. Whether it’s how trading desks like Cadreon relate to DSPs like Turn in the display ecosystem, how Tremor feeds into Akamai in video and other companies across social, e-commerce, mobile, search and more, the LUMAscapes are, in the words of Google’s Neal Mohan, “the clear industry standard when it comes to understanding the digital media economy.” Today, we’re pleased to welcome LUMA Partners CEO Terence Kawaja as he outlines the most significant challenges and opportunities to companies trying to succeed in these rapidly evolving and inter-related ecosystems. Don’t miss this exciting keynote address!  Terence Kawaja, CEO & Founder, LUMA Partners LLC

The Past, Present and Future of Online Advertising

Can’t see the forest from the trees? Here’s a chainsaw. This presentation cuts through the complexity of the advertising industry by looking at its evolution over time. From the creation of the first billboard to the Exchanges, DSP’s, and Trading Desks of today, Ben Fox takes a comprehensive look at where the industry started and where it will go next. He exposes the forces that will drive change and takes a deep look at the technology systems that will be the foundation of the new online advertising ecosystem. Finally, he provides agencies, advertisers, ad networks, and publishers a roadmap to navigate the future space.  Ben Fox,  Adconion Media Group

Trends and Opportunities in Venture Capital and Mobile

First Round Capital has been one of the most active investors in NYC and across the country over the last several years, and one of the earliest to focus on seed stage investing.   Managing Partner Chris Fralic will discuss the forces driving the startup landscape, and where First Round is innovating and adding value.    He’ll also give an overview of some of the most important trends in Mobile, with real-world examples and insight, and what it means for brands and marketers.  Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Zero to $200 Million in 30 days

OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter interviewed by Chris Fralic.   It took AOL 9 years to hit 1 million users.  It took Facebook 9 months.   Draw Something by OMGPOP took 9 days.   Dan Porter is the CEO of NYC’s OMGPOP who has literally taken the mobile gaming world by storm, and in under a month launched one of the most successful games ever and were acquired by Zynga for over $200 million dollars.    This is no overnight success story, though – Dan and the team worked for years developing other games and learning what worked and didn’t.  Find out how they did it, and what brands and marketers can learn, from virality, to game theory, and working your way on to and up the app store leaderboards. Dan Porter, CEO OMGPOP & Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Inside the Trillion Dollar Media Revolution

Everyday, mobile applications appear to be disrupting multi-billion dollar industries raging from gaming and entertainment to transportation and logistics. In this session, Flurry will discuss the impact mobile applications are having on traditional media, the web and television and will also share insights on how mobile advertising is changing the way consumers are engaging with advertisers.  Simon Kalaf, CEO Flurry

The Future is Location Aware

“Location may be the biggest indicator of intent since search…” so the saying goes and we are out to prove it. In mobile advertising PlaceIQ is pushing the boundaries of privacy friendly audience targeting using the context of location as the key. We’ll discuss how, and show some specific customer examples. Plus discuss how the future is truly ‘location aware’ and what this means for the digital media industry.  Duncan McCall, CEO PlaceIQ

Why Everything You Know About Advertising Is Wrong

Well, maybe not *everything*. But if you think the future is about interruptive advertising, then yes, Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger thinks you’re mostly wrong, and maybe about to become obsolete. Technology is changing how humans interact with each other and if brands want to be part of that conversation they need to figure out how to add value in a way that’s “native to the user flow.” Advertising Age digital editor Michael Learmonth talks to Wenger about what that looks like and how the next generation of brands can thrive in the social web.  Michael Learmonth, Sr. Editor, Advertising Age with Albert Wenger, Partner, Union Square Ventures

Data Alone Is Not A Winning Proposition

I was fortunate enough to be asked by Ari & David Goldberg to speak at their State of Style Summit which was held today at the 92st Y in Tribeca.  They threw an A+ event and the turn-out of attendees was awesome; it looked like standing room only from the stage.  Job well done, Goldbergs.

On stage, I talked about data and the application of data for marketing along with Joe Zawadzki from MediaMath and Albert Azout of Sociocast.  I was on a tangent a bit and gave the crowd a laugh with the following quote:

It got re-tweeted a lot.

Looking back at it, it is immensely important.

Data is at all of our finger tips.  When you step on the scale each morning, look at your fitbit stats, log into your Mint.com account, or even review your Amex charges, you are looking at data that can then be turned into insights and then be actioned upon.

However, data alone does not mean action.  When I step on the scale in the mornings and am trending towards Alec Baldwin rather than Ryan Gosling, I’m not actioning data.   This is important.  Data alone does not make decisions.

An organization built for the next century is one who has to be able to wonk through large datasets, find insights and action them.  Just having data alone is not a winning proposition.  It’s the application of data, the extrapolation, and understanding that will lead to competitive differentiation.

If I was actioning the data from the scale, I’d not be eating this delicious chocolate chip cookie and tea from Mae Mae Cafe as I wrote this post.

Super Bowl XLVI Advertising, When TV Spots Are No Longer TV Spots

If you’ve been watching any of the major television channels over the past week, you’ve probably seen a little button on some of the commercials that pops up with a call to action to Shazam.  For those unfamiliar with this nifty app, it allows you to use your mobile device to take a sample of a sound in a room and send it to Shazam returning details surrounding the particular sound.  This initially launched around music – and I personally use it quite often to help me figure out who the artist is of a particular song so I can download the track at a later time.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve seen an increasing amount of television spots using Shazam technology to help consumers learn more about a product.  Back in February 2011, an Old Navy television spot featured Kim Kardashian singing and had a link out to Shazam.   This is the first commercial I saw that adopted this technology.  Since, some big brands are starting to use mobile to extend television spots.  Last night, I was watching 30 Rock on my DVR (lots of catching up to do) and there was a commercial for Progressive with a Shazam logo.  I took out my iPhone and Shazam’d it – and captured the screen shot here.

I’m predicting that we are going to see quite a few Super Bowl spots with Shazam tie-ins.  I’m not the first nor won’t be the last to say this.  AdWeek, back in June, predicted we’d see up to a third of all commercials.  They could be right.

While this is not an endorsement or commercial for Shazam perse, it’s a statement of stitching together multiple screens.  If brands are going down this path, they need to be thinking about the connected screen experience.  My buddy Pete calls this the Connected14I’ve written about it here.

Super Bowl XLVI could kick off (no pun intended) the main stream adoption of the connected experience.  I hope so.

Reading It Later – Content Consumption

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post talking about how I was optimizing my content consumption.  I spoke about both Knowabout.it and Summify, both of which I continue to use.  Summify was just acquired by Twitter, which I think is a good move for them, however I hope Summify still exists to help users consume beyond Twitter content under their new management.

I’ve started using Read It Later which allows me to save any article on the web and read it at a later time on my iPad or iPhone, amongst other devices.  This is particularly useful when an article is sent to me and I can’t read it at that particular time (for whatever reason) but I save it to read while I’m commuting home or similar.  Read It Later been a great tool/app.

I still think the optimized content consumption world has a long way to go and it’s an area that I’ll continue to watch closely.  If there are any new “Summify’s” popping up, I’d certainly like to hear about them.  You can contact me on twitter or thru my webform.

Marketing Wednesdays: Display Impressions

One sentence exec summary:  New measurement of advertising impressions are helping drive performance for marketers.

When we purchase media, one of the major components of the buy is around how many impressions we will achieve with a campaign.  The common thought here is that the optimal amount of impressions against a target audience will yield positive advertising results.  This is fairly common thinking around Madison Avenue and has led us to using the Nielsen metrics as currency for TV, circulation metrics for print, and unique visitors as being important for digital media.  The higher the rating, the larger the circulation and the more unique visitors a media property has, the higher the amount of impressions, theoretically* and thus, the more media spend that they can handle.

I personally and professionally believe that it’s not about the impressions, but about the engagements.  Engagements can be quantified many different ways (thru sales to interactions) but just impressions alone is not a basis for marketing working or not.

In digital, there is a never ending supply of advertising inventory especially when publishers like this put stories across 5 or 30 pages.  Creating more ad impressions is not the problem with digital.  3rd party ad serving systems such as DART, Atlas, MediaMind, MediaPlex, AdZerk, adk2, OpenX, and others were created to help manage advertising inventory for pubs and advertisers.  Not only do ad servers help us serve media but they also help us track the performance which allows us to understand which media partners are doing well.

Historically, this was always about the amount of impressions served and the respective clicks or engagements on a unit.  This post is not about clicks or click thru rates, as that’s an entire topic in itself, and you can read about it hereWhat we will discuss through the rest of this post is how we as marketers should be tracking an impression.

As you have viewed on many websites during your normal course of web surfing, banners and ad units are all over a respective page and sometimes, you cannot even see the units as they might be below the fold.  Generally** as long as the web page and assets load (tags fire), then the advertising units on the page log impressions, regardless if the user scrolls over them or engages.

Sounds weird, right?  An advertiser pays for impressions without confirmation that the user has at least had the ability to see the advertisement.

Since 2008, we’ve seen startups like DoubleVerify, AdXpose, and AdSafe (amongst others) help marketers understand what how many of their impressions are in-view along with many other non-standard ad server metrics.  The in-view metric is important because that’s the number that should count for impressions (in my theoretical perfect world).  Lately, ad serving solutions such as MediaMind have incorporated this metric into reporting but it’s not historically standard across 3rd party ad servers (which is shocking).

Today marks a big day for the digital media community because comScore released the vCE, which is what they are touting as “campaign essentials” and it’s built on a product they created and merged with AdXpose called the vGRP to validate the impressions served and displayed by publishers.  The vGRP is very interesting because it goes beyond traditional measurement of 3rd party ad serving solutions to include things like time on screen and in-view/out of view.  While admittedly I’ve not run a campaign yet with the vCE/vGRP, I hypothesize based on historical campaign performance we’ve run, that a paid media campaign will yield better performance when a higher composition of impressions are in-view and for no less than a minimum amount of time.  Not rocket science.

Additionally, other companies are building advanced measurement solutions to help understand display impressions better.  The Goodharts over at MOAT are building a brand analytics dashboard which help marketers understand how many people are hovering over their display advertisements.  The theory here is that the more that a user hovers over an impression, the higher the engagement, and thus, the better a campaign will perform.

Evolution is occuring in the digital space.  From the days of offline media based on circulation and rating points to a now “validated” actualized number of impressions being seen digitally.  Over the next decade or so, we’ll see our online measurement systems (tools/technology/process) brought to traditionally offline channels.  Then, we’ll be able to really understand our media performance.

* Why I said theoretically is because advertising dollars don’t always follow the amount of impressions.  Some impressions are worth more, and potentially, you can spend more for fewer qualified impressions.  Think webmd or other niche publishers.

**  I say generally here because it’s more often than not

*** I lifted the above image from the website of MOAT.

One Buying Platform for All Media

Back in June 2011, I wrote a post titled, The 87.5% Category According to Luma – Lots of Acquisitions.  The purpose of the article was to highlight that ad serving systems for online/digital media had a high propensity to be acquired or realize a significant exit.  87.5% of all ad servers on the chart had gone through an exit.  Not bad.

Over the last week of December, I spent some time at home and caught up on my favorite blogs and online content in between playing with my two kids.  In doing this, I spent time reading a December 20th post on AdExchanger by Google’s VP of Display, Neal Mohan.  While I’ve personally never met Neal, I have a lot of respect for what he’s doing at Google.  He has a great quote that I couldn’t agree with more:

We also know that advertisers and agencies ideally don’t want a separate buying platform for each type of media — they want a way to buy across all formats, and in 2012 I think they’ll get it. Real-time bidding (and by extension audience buying) has proven to be a transformative technology for buying desktop display — on our exchange, it currently accounts for 60 percent of all transactions. In 2012, we’ll start getting into that ballpark for mobile and video as well.

If you recall, when I wrote the 87.5% article, I highlighted an area in particular stands out to me as a killer opportunity:

If I personally was to start a company tomorrow, I’d probably create the next 3rd party ad serving system built for the future of all media (able to serve site-direct placements, social media and RTB) and include the opportunity for biddable, rich media, video, and full reporting & analytics.  I believe no ad serving system delivers superior reporting and analytics so this is an area that I’d specifically make sure I’d nail.

I think this is an area for massive innovation because the vision that the industry hasn’t recognized the full vision for the future… I believe that all media will be served, tracked, and optimized across all channels.  Television, print, radio, and out of home will all in some way or another be served, tracked and optimized.  This obviously cannot happen overnight as there are quite a few barriers and obstacles to go thru, but the opportunity is huge.  There is a reason why 87.5% of the companies in the ad serving segment have been acquired.

It looks like Neal and I are thinking the same thing and if any of you entrepreneurs are as well, I’d love to meet you.  This is an area that we are searching to invest in at kbs+ Ventures.  You can contact me here.

The Connected14 Strategy

One of my friends runs an engagement agency in Irvine, CA called The Buddy Group.  One of the services he sells clients is a “Connected14” strategy which intrigued me since the day he mentioned it.  Essentially, the Connected14 is an engagement strategy (and execution) across your 1 foot experience (tablet, mobile phone), 3 foot (desktop/laptop), and 10 foot (Smart TV).  There is a nice video that explains it here.

CES has had no groundbreaking product announcements this year, but the common thread that linked the whole show together for me was connectivity (I was there).  Consumers are purchasing an increasing amount of devices that are connected to the web and this is going to open up opportunities where marketers can deliver a well thought out and planned experience across the Connected14.  It is not good enough anymore to deliver the same experience and creative across all three devices at the same time for a brand.  We should be taking advantages of the intricacies of the devices and building engagements that are tailored to each, but connected thru a strategy so they can be used at the same time to amplify their impact.

I really like the Connected14 idea and would like to see the industry really start embracing and thinking about.  The one fact that we can all basically agree on is that we are becoming more connected and not less.  Time to continue/start planning for it.

Google Controls 5.85% of Worldwide Advertising

According to some simple excel calculations (see below), Google controls about 5.85% of the worldwide advertising billings.  According to a recent article I was reading, ZenithOptimedia has 2012 advertising expenditures pegged around $485 billion.  Google derives 97% of its revenue from advertising so they are around $28.4bln.  Do the math and it comes out to 5.85%.

The majority of this is derived from their search engine marketing practice, which is otherwise known as AdWords.  If Google nails display, can get TV seriously off the ground, participate in organic search (take a look at our, kbs+ Ventures,  portfolio company Yieldbot), and dominate the tablet/mobile market, then they could realistically get up to 10-20%.

Pretty amazing for a company that was founded in 1998.

Calculations