Brace yourself for the biggest m-commerce day of the year


Image via Mobile Commerce Press

Image via Mobile Commerce Press

The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about your gift list. And if you’re anything like the vast majority of consumers, you’ll be swapping the crowds and craze of brick-and-mortar shopping for the more laid-back approach of perusing what’s in stock from your mobile device.

Adobe recently released its 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast, which looks at more than a trillion visits on 4,500 retail websites from the past six years—as well as 20 billion visits from last month—in order to come to its findings: that mobile devices and holiday shopping are a match made in marketing heaven.

According to the report, e-commerce prices will hit rock bottom on Thanksgiving Day, lower than any other day during the holiday season.

Record sales of $1.35 billion are expected on Thanksgiving Day (a 27% increase since last year). Sales on Cyber Monday are predicted to reach around $2.6 billion (an increase of 15%) and Black Friday is expected to be the fastest growing online sales day of the year at $2.48 billion (an increase of 28%).

The report not only forecasts that Thanksgiving Day will be the best day to shop online for the best deals, but maintains that a growing number of consumers will be shopping from their mobile devices.

“Consumers will be able to get the best deals this year if they shop online on Thanksgiving Day,” stated Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing at Adobe. “Smartphones and tablets continue to drive more and more sales online, which will lead to new sales records on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With over 30 cents on the dollar spent via mobile devices, Thanksgiving Day will surpass Black Friday as the most mobile shopping day ever recorded.”

Thanksgiving is expected to be the most mobile shopping day of the year: 31% of all online sales ($418 million) will be generated via smartphones and tablets, up from 21% last year and marking a new mobile share record. Mobile devices will also drive a substantial share of sales on Black Friday (26% or $644 million) and Cyber Monday (20% or $520 million).

Those numbers represent the growing prevalence and prominence of mobile devices and build on 2014’s biggest marketing trend: that retailers can not afford to shrug off mobile as an overhyped channel.

By leveraging mobile devices, personalization tools and contextual signals, retailers can better interact with consumers on a personal level, reaching out when relevant, providing a better experience and, ultimately, finding a higher return on investment.

Social media is proving to be a significant player in the earlier stages of the consumer’s purchasing journey. The report indicates that 2% of purchases will come directly from social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter. According to an Adobe survey of more than 400 U.S. consumers, only 25% of them will consult social media when deciding to make a purchase, while 40% of 18 to 34 year olds are likely to check social networks for gift ideas.

The report indicates that 18% of mobile marketers plan on using iBeacon technology in order to target consumers.

As the holiday season kicks off, Opera Mediaworks announced Fuse this week, a new cross-screen attribution measurement system to complete its Retail Intelligence Suite (RISe) for retail and CPG brands. This cross-screen attribution tool will be coming at a key time for retail marketers, as they use mobile media to drive online and in-store sales during the holiday shopping season. FUSe will allow them to understand the impact of those campaigns on their Black Friday e-commerce sales, regardless of what device customers choose to use for checkout.

The State of the Digital Industry – Where is mobile at?

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The Opera Mediaworks team today attended the Chief Digital Officer Global Forum in Half Moon Bay, California. The event is an exclusive gathering of senior digital operating executives and industry influencers to discuss and debate the state of the connected consumer.

Opera Mediaworks CEO Mahi de Silva was on an opening panel on the first day of the conference, talking about “The State of the Industry” with Mark Mahaney, Managing Director, Internet Research, RBC and Tom Bedacarre, co-founder and chairman, AKQA & President, WPP Ventures. The panel was moderated by Ari Levy, Senior Tech Reporter at CNBC.

The panel went over many discussion points about the state of the digital advertising industry and where the dollars are moving. Some of the key points addressed by the influential panelists were:

Mobile advertising:

Mark Mahaney from RBC quoted a stat that today up to 25% of digital ad spend is going into mobile and he sees mobile as the single biggest trend in digital advertising. However, there is a problem of attribution and tracking to the right source, which is what the industry needs to solve, pointed Tom Bedacarre of AKQA. Our own Mahi de Silva talked about the growth of mobile video advertising as the ultimate medium that connects with the consumer with sight, sound and motion. He pointed out that with a $100M annual revenue run rate, Opera Mediaworks mobile ad platform now sees almost 50% revenue coming from mobile video ads — a trend to watch out for in mobile.

Cross-screen advertising and Connected TVs:

 Ari brought up a good point about the role of connected devices in the advertising ecosystem and how marketers will be able to target consumers on the large screen. Mark from RBC predicts that these will just be intermediary devices for the time being that will go away with the rise of Connected TVs. Mahi pointed out that Europe is already implementing cross-screen advertising and companion experiences across TVs, tablets and mobile devices and it won’t be too long before this becomes a mainstream phenomenon.


And how will marketers utilize wearables as an advertising opportunity? We certainly don’t expect consumers to be bombarded with ads on their tiny wearable screens, pointed Mahi. However, what is important for marketers is the data they can retrieve from these devices for better marketing and targeting. With wearables, companies will be able to get more information about user habits, preferences, and their proclivities, which marketers will then be able to use to offer consumers the right messages on their mobile devices which are heavily attached to their wearables.


Last but not the least was the age-old question of the compromise of privacy as users continue to give away lots of personal information to apps such as Facebook. Panelists seem to agree that consumers were ok with their privacy being compromised to some extent as long as they got a fair value exchange for giving up that information – and will continue to use services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google to stay connected. Mahi pointed out that Facebook has been able to do a tremendous job of keeping its users engaged even though there is no way to opt out of their targeting like users can with Google.

All in all, an interesting, high-level discussion on where we are with digital and mobile advertising with many view points.

Opera Mediaworks at M1 Summit and CDX Forum

m1-summitOpera Mediaworks will be at several upcoming events this month that are not to be missed, beginning with the M1 (“Mobile-First”) Summit on Thursday November 13 at The Village, San Francisco. Join us there to hear Scott Swanson, President, Global Advertising Sales speak on the “Mobile Cross Device Advertising” panel alongside panelists from Verizon, ActionX and xAd. The panel will be moderated by Jeff Bercovici from Forbes and begins at 12:30pm. Register for tickets here!

CDX2013_LogoIconOnly_RGB_72DPI Then join us November 19 at the Chief Digital Officer Global Forum in Half Moon Bay, California where CEO Mahi de Silva will take the main stage on the panel “CNBC Presents: The State of the Industry” moderated by Senior Tech Reporter Ari Levy. This 9:25 am session will take a look at the exploding digital and mobile economies, key macro-level trends and issues, and predictions from a diverse group of industry leaders and influencers.

The CDX Forum runs from November 18-20 and we hope to see you there. 

 It’s a busy time for us at Opera Mediaworks and we want to share it with you. Follow us on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages for more details and upcoming events!

Mobile tech: Near-field communication


Is NFC the bridge to the future?

It is certainly bridging the gap between the physical and virtual worlds, and it is absolutely poised to play a pivotal role in the way we use our phones, especially when it comes to mobile payments.

Even if you’ve never owned an NFC-equipped device (like a Samsung Galaxy S5 or a Nokia Lumia), chances are you’ve still probably used NFC. The technology is embedded in things like commuter cards, print advertisements and smart cards. And now that the technology is placed in more Android and Windows phones, and Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch, NFC is more relevant than ever.

NFC, or near-field communication, is a fairly straightforward technology that allows two devices placed within a few centimeters of each other to share small bits of data. In order for this to work, both devices must be equipped with an NFC chip.

One-way vs. two-way

There are two ways that this can play out. The first is two-way communication. This happens when two devices work together so they can both read and write to each other. For instance, using NFC, you can touch two Android devices together to share information like contacts, links or photos.

The second is one-way communication. In this case, a powered device (like a phone, credit card reader, or commuter card terminal) reads and writes to an NFC chip. Then, when the user taps his or her commuter card on the terminal, the NFC-powered terminal deducts money from the balance written to the card.

One-way communication to a mobile device is what advertisers are interested in working with first, of course. Retail is the obvious application: A coffee chain serving a coupon offer directly to a customer’s phone, for instance. (NFC should be confused with beacons, however, which have farther physical reach.)

Less power, Bluetooth-friendly

Consumers tend to have a love-hate relationship with Bluetooth. They like for its ‘magical’ powers, but don’t like the inconvenience of pairing devices. It’s hard enough pairing Bluetooth in a car to call mom.

 Bluetooth is also a huge drain on your battery. That’s the beauty of NFC – it uses significantly less power than Bluetooth. This is important when you consider that someday, phones could supplant wallets, meaning battery life will be one of the primary considerations when purchasing a mobile device.

NFC is a team player, too, in that it works directly with Bluetooth. For example, rather than trying to endure the process of pairing your phone with Bluetooth speakers, you can just tap your device to a speaker and allow NFC to exchange the pairing data.

So it really isn’t too big of an exaggeration to say that someday we will all be making purchases with our phones, using NFC technology. In that sense, NFC is the bridge to the future.

Will credit cards become obsolete?

Maybe. But maybe not. Credit cards could still remain the golden standard to which everything must be compared to – the ease, the reward points, the lustrous sheen — what’s not to like? Still, as we’ve seen recently, credit cards are swimming in their share of problems. From credit card breaches (remember the Target nightmare?) to credit card fraud (according to your statement you just dropped a grand at a Parisian nightclub), now may be an especially good time to find a solution that protects our wallets from theft and fraud.

Millennials, Gen Z are digging mobile payments

According to GfK’s FutureBuy survey, Millennials (Generation Y) and the generation after (Generation Z) are more apt to see mobile payment systems as more efficient and effective than other types of transactions, even if they are admittedly concerned about security and privacy.

About a third of Generations Y and Z say if they have the opportunity, mobile is their preferred method of payment. As for the others, mobile payment may not be their number one pick right now, but they certainly do not seemed closed to the idea.

“Right now, people are standing by. There’s a willingness to embrace mobile payment, but they’re standing back because they sense the issues,” Tom Neri, executive vice president of GfK’s Financial Services team in North America, tells Marketing Daily.

One factor that may help give this crowd a boost of confidence in mobile payments — Apple. Apple’s introduction of ApplePay could just be the key player that the industry needs to really take hold.

“No one’s really made the case yet, and Apple’s probably in the best position to do so,” Neri points out.

With Q3 numbers, Opera Mediaworks is the no.1 independent mobile ad platform

Today, Opera Software reported third quarter earnings, showing strong revenue growth from Opera Mediaworks, the mobile advertising subsidiary.

Some highlights from the earnings report that went out today:

  • Opera reported Q3 revenues of $138.8 million, up 84% from Q3 2013
  • Adjusted EBITDA* of $33.9 million, up 51% from Q3 2013

In Q3, the Opera Mediaworks business became the largest independent mobile ad platform globally, as measured by reported revenue. The Opera Mediaworks business showed revenues of $86.9 million in Q3, up 193% compared to the same time last year.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.05.24 AM

Last quarter, revenues from Opera Mediaworks surpassed Opera’s overall revenues by 50 percent. In Q3, they were well above 60 percent of the company’s overall revenues. In stark contrast to the scaled businesses in the mobile ad tech space, the Opera Mediaworks business generates healthy operating income.

Total mobile advertising impressions now managed by the Opera Mediaworks platform are 187.5 billion – up 9% compared to Q3 2013. This revenue growth was driven primarily by increased revenue from premium and performance advertisers and “app install” driven spend from primarily the mobile gaming sector.

In Q3, Opera Mediaworks also closed the acquisition of AdColony and saw a very strong contribution from the company in Q3 earnings. Opera Mediaworks made a strong bet on mobile video advertising by acquiring AdColony, and today, close to half of Opera Mediaworks’ revenues come from mobile video.

One in 10 mobile ads in the United States today is video, as reported by our Q3 State of Mobile Advertising report,  and that trend is only growing as we move toward the magical impact of video on consumers through sight, sound and motion.

AdColony excels in delivering innovative, TV-like crystal-clear video ads instantly in HD across the most popular iOS and Android smartphone and tablet apps in the world.

Together with AdColony, the Opera Mediaworks’ mobile advertising platform now reaches more than 800 million consumers globally. When combined with the Opera owned and operated properties, Opera Mediaworks has a reach of 1 billion consumers.

“We are proud to report yet another successful quarter with record revenues,” said Mahi de Silva, CEO, Opera Mediaworks. “Our Q3 results and the addition of AdColony, positions us the no.1 independent mobile ad platform globally. While generating record revenues, we are also delivering very healthy profits, in sharp contrast to other mobile ad tech companies.”

You can read more about Opera’s Q3 results here.

Code Mobile and more…

Opera Mediaworks at the Code Mobile conference

Opera Mediaworks at the Code Mobile conference

Opera Mediaworks was one of the founding partners for the prestigious Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay earlier this week.  Apart from the gorgeous location at the Ritz Carlton, Code Mobile proved to be a solid gathering of some of the key personalities in the mobile industry – discussing some of the important trends and innovations in mobile.

It was  interesting to catch them talk about how they have utilized mobile as a platform to either connect people, enable commerce or just unleash their creativity.

At the end of the day and a half, it was clear that mobile is a pervasive platform that is here to stay. This is clearly expressed in this piece in Re/Code on the “World of Mobile by Numbers.” You will see the Opera Mediaworks’ Q3 2014 State of Mobile Advertising highly cited here.

CEO Mahi de Silva and President, Global Ad Sales, Scott Swanson at Code Mobile

CEO Mahi de Silva and President, Global Ad Sales, Scott Swanson at Code Mobile

In other news, Opera Mediaworks CEO Mahi de Silva was seen earlier this week talking on Bloomberg West about our latest State of Mobile Advertising report. Mahi focused on Android and iOS as mobile platforms and which one garners more mobile ad impressions versus mobile monetization.  He also talked about the rise of mobile video as a way for brands to connect with their audiences on the devices closest to them – their phones. See the interview here.

All in all, a very busy and fruitful week for Opera Mediaworks!

Proximity marketing for holiday shoppers

omw_logo_1Beginning in November, Macy’s will roll out a proximity-marketing platform that helps shoppers find the specific item they’re seeking — and will also offer recommendations about merchandise in their local Macy’s that they may not be aware of.

The program works with Google’s proximity marketing platform that taps into the marketing and sales possibilities of using GPS to give consumers promotional stimuli at times that it can be most impactful: while they’re either in or near retail outlets.

“We’re trying to encourage omni-shopping behaviors in consumers,” Jennifer Kasper, group VP-digital media and multicultural marketing at Macy’s, told Ad Age. “We know that we have great opportunity to build a longer, more loyal relationship with them if we are successful in communicating…and encouraging discovery.”

With this new feature, shoppers can search for an item on their phones and see exactly what Macy’s locations have it in stock. Along with images of the items, shoppers will be able to view product details like price, size and color, directions to the store, and a link to the item on the retailer’s website.

The program will also suggest other items in Macy’s stores on a customized basis.

“This is a great opportunity for us to shine a light on what’s in our stores,” Kasper says. “It’s getting more credit for the inventory that’s in our stores through digital.”

Macy’s has been testing the local inventory ads in various markets over the past year and so far, the results have been encouraging.

But while search-based mobile marketing does hit the consumer at a great time — while they are actively seeking products — this does not, by any means, eclipse the importance of other types of location-based brand campaigns.

There are ways to know if a customer is in-market for a product without them having to type it into a search engine. You can obtain rich consumer profiles and achieve very precise targeting for rich media brand campaigns that deliver on strong KPIs. And there’s no partnership required to do so.

Take, for instance, a rich media ad unit that dynamically populates the ad with products based on where the user is located. This product, called Shop Local, lets advertisers customize the design of the interface of that unit to match their ad branding, too. It’s a complete solution that allows both map and list display, sorting of entries by either price or popularity, dynamic feed of offerings per specific location and a swipe-able product gallery. It’s like a shopping experience – all within an ad unit.

Understanding the impact of these types of units is actually fairly easy, too. Through Shopper Insights — a reporting technology that analyzes billions of locations from the largest opt-in panel in the industry and measures the data signals shift to confirm in-store visits — it is possible to determine exactly how many unique visitors went to a retail location after seeing an ad. Retailers will also be able to understand the characteristics of their audience exposed to mobile ads, indexed against U.S. population.

And now is the time to be thinking more about the mobile opportunity for retail. With the holiday season fast approaching, shoppers are more likely than ever to turn to their mobile devices to view offers, comparison shop in-store and purchase goods and services.

According to the Ipsos Holiday Shopping Study, more than 75% of all smartphone owners will use their device for holiday shopping and that 1 out of every 4 will make a purchase on their phone.

Consumers are starting their research earlier than ever and retailers are expanding their Black Friday promotions across the entire month of November. What used to be a one-day special is now a month-long event, making location-based campaigns more important than ever.

Shoppers are also spending more time researching and consulting more sources before making a decision. In 2010, consumers used an average of five sources of information before making their purchase. That number has more than doubled, with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources last year. That means that October through November has become a pivotal window for retailers to reach their consumers, present them with offers, information and other valuable content.

Android and mobile video on the rise

Today we released our quarterly State of Mobile Advertising report, using the impression and monetization data from the third quarter of this year. The findings, while not surprising, do point to some significant trends that we’re seeing as we round the corner of 2014 and head into the final stretch.

Android, for instance, has truly risen from its 2013 position and has made a deep impression (pun intended!) on the global consumer. It seems almost implausible that just one year ago, iOS was the clear leader of the two operating systems. While iOS continues to dominate monetization, with more than half (51%) of market share, Android is catching up. Google’s mobile OS climbed three percentage points in the last quarter to reach 42% of revenue. In terms of impression volume, Android devices captured almost 58%, nearly double that of Apple devices (30%).


phonesWhile marketers and technologists tend to think of the mobile device battle as “Android vs. iOS,” consumers have typically been more concerned about device type and brand, such as a Samsung Galaxy or an Apple iPad.

However, as noted in a recent study by J.D. Power & Associates, operating systems are becoming more of a factor and are a significant driver of device selection, user experience and brand satisfaction. Consumer satisfaction with mobile devices is becoming more closely tied to the system powering it than the bells and whistles it provides, reported MediaPost last week. As such, we will continue to closely watch the popularity of these top two operating systems ebb and flow through the rest of the year and into 2015.

Another significant finding from this quarter’s SMA is the clear rise of mobile video advertising. Marketers are quickly adopting it as a format: brand spending on in-app HD mobile ads has increased 36% from the second quarter, and 1 in 10 mobile ads in the U.S. are now video. Mobile video ads are also incredible revenue opportunity for publishers, as eCPMs are 8X that of regular banner ads and 2X higher than rich media ads.

ecpm_multiples[1]With that rise, and the interest mobile video is getting from advertisers — especially those in Entertainment, CPG and Financial Services — comes a series of questions. As part of our integration with the premium video ad platform AdColony, we were able to cull some data that helps to address some common questions from advertisers. Below are three of those that we were able to answer in this report.

Q: What is the ideal length for a mobile video ad?

A: The average length of a mobile video ad is 20.6 seconds, but 53% of video impressions are shorter than that. Advertisers are finding that short videos (<15 seconds) can support a number of marketing goals, from driving awareness to purchase intent.

mobile_video_creativeQ: Who watches more video, iOS or Android users?

A: iOS users. There are more video impressions served to them, relevant to overall market share.

Q: What are the hot app categories for mobile video?

A: Shopping, Sports, Social and Health & Fitness are the categories that are seeing the strongest mobile video ad completion rates — with many of those averaging higher than 90%.

For deeper background on these questions, and additional findings from Q3, see the full report.


The true value of beacons is not in the here-and-now

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This week, Buzzfeed reported that New York City had authorized an advertising company to place 500 beacons on the sides of phone booths, which would send push notifications to phones that had the GameStop app on their phone every time they walk by a brick-and-mortar location.

Within 12 hours of the report, a city spokesman said the beacons would be removed.

Why the uproar over beacons? The problem is that they are a relatively new technology that consumers don’t fully understand. Highly targeted advertising, especially related to location, can give the impression that you are being “tracked,” when in fact that is not really the case.

“Beacons don’t track. Beacons are a way that any object can say ‘I am here,’ but you need to download the app,” Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, explained. In fact, they might even be the most user-friendly of all new technologies, he told the International Business Times.

Our Director of Innovation Product Strategy and Marketing, Andrew Dubatowka, might agree. But he has a different take on the value of beacons – one that is very different from the activation we saw in New York this week.

Rather than being about the “here and now,” or real-time ad messaging, he thinks that beacons are really about creating new opportunities for marketers to build deeper audience segmentations, and to move into advanced location targeting.

As he wrote in an article that was published by StreetFight today:

Imagine being able to segment users and advertise to them at scale based on exactly where they have gone, when and how often. Maybe you want to target users who have been in your store in the past month, or who haven’t been in your store in the past month, or who go in your store once per month every month. Or maybe you want to target that fitness enthusiast who visits the gym everyday or that auto-intender who visited several car dealerships over the last few days.

An even more interesting advertising use case than in-store alerts is using advanced beacon data to hyper-target an audience across a broad set of mobile apps and sites, times of day and contexts. Finding that fitness addict when he is watching sports highlights, or reaching a loyal customer while she is checking the news are what we should be getting excited about.

Andrew also talks about the challenges of beacon implementation, one of which is gaining a critical mass of users for the brand’s native app. He says that once brands let go of that need – and also lets go of the focus on real-time messaging – it opens them up to so many different types of targeting, across a wide array of mobile inventory and contexts.

Curious about beacons and want to learn more? Read the whole article here.



Advertising Week 2014 was in full force this week as nearly 100,000 marketing professionals descended upon New York City to talk shop and attend a smorgasbord of panels, seminars and workshops.

And this year, the vast majority of the events revolved around all things mobile.

While the focus on mobile should come as no surprise as digital advertising continues to take up an ever-growing piece of the global advertising pie, there were certainly a number of interesting takeaways from this year’s marketing blitz.

Here are the 5 most important points made during Advertising Week:


Social media giant Facebook unveiled its long-awaited and much-anticipated Google AdSense competitor. It’s called Atlas, and it will enable brands to leverage the social network’s massive amount of data to target ads on sites across the web.

Erik Johnson, the head of Atlas, maintains that the traditional means of tracking consumers — cookies — is flawed, because consumers are diversifying their devices.

“Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world,” Johnson said.

Atlas, on the other hand, provides “people-based marketing,” or more specifically, marketing based on Facebook’s data, as the ultimate solution. Facebook claims that the new platform means that advertisers cannot only track users between various devices, but can connect online campaigns to offline sales in order to decipher just how effective a campaign really was.


It’s all about timing. If advertisers can time their ads to reach consumers when they are attentive and open, brand performance is likely to improve. Okay, so that may seem obvious, but the art, or science rather, of getting the ads in front of the right people at just the right time is a feat in its own right.

The average attention span these days is about 8 seconds, and that’s down from 12 seconds from a decade ago. Given this brief window of opportunity, many brands have turned their focus towards mastering the 6-second Vine video. Yet the problem with this approach is that it does not account for context.

A better strategy for brands is to focus on understanding consumer behavior. Consumers are watching all forms of digital video content on all forms of devices at all hours of the day. The difference, though, in a consumer’s ability to truly receive the message may have a lot to do with where he or she is when the message is served. Contrary to popular though, consumers are not necessarily most attentive while they are at home watching television. It’s when they are on their smartphones that they are most receptive, and more specifically, when they are at school or at work.

Greater attentiveness and receptiveness drives brand favorability, purchase intent and recommendation intent. So if you want to really make an impact, make sure your timing is right.


Native advertising is arguably one of the biggest trends in advertising right now. Spending on native ads on social sites alone is expected to increase from $3.1 billion to $5 billion in 2017. Yet it’s not just the sales that are growing, it’s the practice of native advertising that’s evolving as well. And this means that our understanding of what works and what doesn’t is becoming more thorough too. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  •  Relevancy is key: without relevance, users are quick to reject the ad, seeing it as an obstruction that they are quick to dismiss
  • Choose the right outlet: well-chosen outlets allow well-chosen topics into a success for both the brand and the publisher
  • Authenticity: provide native content that is as authentic as the editorial site of an operation, and the content will increase value for all involved
  • Integration: integration is a vital component of any successful native advertisement


As social media outlets continue to expand, with mobile feeds taking the reigns on storytelling, brands need to figure out how to best position themselves on social platforms. They need to find a way to feel more tangible and accessible to consumers. They need to find a way to establish that human connection.

“It’s important for consumers to be able to feel that they are engaging with brands,” said Marla Kaplowitz, North American CEO of MEC.

So just how do brands go about finding that human connection? Take a look at Skype. Skype realized that its real value was not in its ability to allow people to converse over the Internet. Its real value is in the connections it creates and the way it affects people’s everyday lives. Drawing from that revelation, the brand has taken a new approach to advertising, including:

  •  Helping young leukemia patients combat loneliness
  • Teaming up with YouTube stars JacksGap for a new documentary series focusing on three women who use Skype in unique ways
  • Connecting Guardians of the Galaxy fans with the cast and crew


Data has been around forever. It’s nothing newsworthy. It’s nothing fresh. But what brands are doing with it most certainly is.

“People think data is the new thing, and to that I say ‘bullshit,’” said Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder John Hegarty, who spoke on an Adweek panel called “When Big Data Met Big Creativity” alongside Chuck Porter, chairman of CP&B and Tham Khai Meng, worldwide chief creative officer and chairman of Ogilvy.

Right now, there is a massive amount of data out there. It’s what Mr. Tham calls “infobesity.” But just because there is all this information doesn’t mean it should be the sole metric to measure an idea. Rather, data should work in conjunction with creativity. In fact, as the speakers said, data are insights best used as an inspiration to reach and identify an audience.

As an example, Mr. Tham brought up the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which has received a number of accolades but grew out of a single piece of data — that only 4% of women considered themselves beautiful. “Data is the orchestra, creative is the music,” Tham said. “You need both.”

Another example is BBH’s “Keep Walking” campaign for Johnnie Walker, which grew out of the data point that its consumers were successful yet still striving.

“Any creative is obsessed with data,” said Mr. Hegarty, as it sheds light on the consumer. Yet data should be used “to guide us, not to be our masters.”

Mr. Porter agreed, extolling the creative idea as paramount. “In any new medium, the great story is the killer app,” he said.

And it’s like Mr. Hegarty said: “Human beings are not a collection of algorithms.” And neither are the best advertisements.