The Next Big Ad Innovation: Stop Stealing My Time

by Lizzie Widhelm, Senior Vice President, Ad Product Sales & Strategy, Pandora

I think about time, all of the time. With a busy career, spouse and three young sons, I often feel like I have very little of it. So little, in fact, that I’m relentless about choosing who and what gets my attention.

Do I sound like anyone you know? The quest for time and attention is a hot topic in our households as well as every marketing meeting. Now more than ever, consumers are taking control of their time, so capturing it has become exceedingly difficult for brands. They want attention but it’s not surrendered easily.

The last decade has been a boom-town for content that does capture attention. Time spent on linear, appointment-based viewing and broadcast listening has been replaced with more personalized, choice-based content. Share of ear is moving away from broadcast radio to streaming music platforms; share of video viewing is moving away from TV to on-demand services; some would even say our social time is moving away from real life to social networks like Snapchat and Instagram.

We all have the ability to discover and personalize the content we consume. The only problem is the advertising experience has not kept pace. Many publishers still choose to create more inventory by increasing ads and the number of ways they’re served. The worst offenders place ads on top of entertainment content, training young generations to completely disregard and avoid.

The Solution: Earn Quality Time by Giving Back Control
I joke that my job at Pandora is to take something very special and not ruin it. Nearly 80 million listeners spend 24 hours a month tuned in to Pandora, enjoying their favorite music. That’s a level of time and attention almost unheard of in digital media. But music isn’t all they’re listening to. They also hear ads, which is the oxygen that keeps our service free and available anytime, anywhere.

Our challenge today is the same as when Pandora first started: how do we integrate ads without disrupting time and attention?

We’ve learned that consumers need to have a sense of control–or at least influence–over how brands interact with them. Unwanted interruptions and intrusive, bothersome ads are no longer acceptable. A recent Millward Brown study confirmed that users are nearly 4X more receptive to brand messages when they have control over the ad experience1.

But the truth is consumers don’t always feel like they have control, which is why ad blocking is such a hot topic in the industry right now. Recent eMarketer estimates show that a quarter of internet users (26%) have ad blockers enabled on their devices2. While this is concerning for the industry, the reasons are exactly what you’d expect. According to a recent Facebook survey, people use ad blockers to “stop annoying, disruptive ads” 3.

Publishers Must Respond With Better Offerings
The good news is that this movement to give users more control is already here. Publishers are offering better ad products, more sophisticated targeting and improved ad serving methods. Facebook recently improved the relevancy of their ads by offering users more tools to control the experience3. Similarly, Google announced changes to the way it collects data to result “in more personalized ads by connecting data across products and devices”4. Even news publications, like The Economist and Financial Times made headlines last year with guaranteed, time-based ad models.

When a user can authentically express intent towards a brand, engagement, attention and resonance follow naturally. This is the future of advertising.

We recently embraced this new future at Pandora by announcing new features on our ad-supported service. For the first time ever, listeners can unlock additional skips and replays by engaging with 15 seconds of video ads. This is the latest iteration in an ongoing effort to give both listeners and advertisers more control and flexibility. Advertisers not only get to support an enhanced listening experience, but they also connect with more deeply engaged listeners. With this approach, users will no longer feel the need to avoid advertising. In fact, it’ll be just the opposite.

At Pandora, we adhere to the philosophy that “what is good for the listener, is good for the advertiser.” I’m happy to see the industry adopt a similar mindset, responding with solutions that put more control in people’s hands, while creating a better user experience.

Yes, the struggle for time and attention is real, but smart solutions that capture attention for brands are equally as real–so long as an organization is willing to stop stealing time and start giving back control. I promise, it will only improve performance for your brands. As for gaining more time at home, I’m still accepting suggestions…

1 Millward Brown, “AdReaction: Video Creative in a Digital World,” October 2015
2 eMarketer, US Ad Blocking Users and Penetration, June 2016
3 Facebook Newsroom, “A New Way to Control the Ads You See on Facebook, and an Update on Ad Blocking,” August 2016
4 AdWeek, “Google Wants to Give You Better Control Over the Personalized Ads You See,” July 2016

Join Lizzie Widhelm and other advertising innovators as they are inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement on November 15 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. Learn more and register here.

About the Author

Lizzie Widhelm, Senior Vice President, Ad Product Strategy, Pandora


Lizzie WidhelmLizzie Widhelm is a storyteller. She believes that good stories and good conversations make lives better. People want to build meaningful connections with other people. The desire for those connections extends to products and brands. For Widhelm, advertising is the ability to have those conversations, to tell those stories. Facilitating those conversations through music is a career-defining passion, combining the rhythm of great songs with the heartbeat of great advertising. The earliest stories of our time were told through music, and today a great and vast generation of consumers is changing the rules and its attention span.

Today, as the Senior Vice President of Ad Product Sales and Strategy for Pandora, the go-to music source for fans and artists, Widhelm brings ad products to life that enable marketers to tell their stories and build connections with consumers. She has been with Pandora since the company’s formative moments over a decade ago. Throughout her time at Pandora, she has built not only ad products, but also an industry-leading company with her focus, tenacity, and unparalleled passion for advertising.

As Pandora has grown, Widhelm has proven she can do anything and everything — sometimes all at once. She started at Pandora as the company’s very first salesperson, selling “digital audio”…a product that no one had ever heard of. After cracking accounts with some of the most prominent advertisers in the country, Widhelm became Pandora’s Vice President of West Coast Sales and Vice President of National Entertainment Sales, driving Pandora’s success with entertainment, film, and TV advertisers. Next, she was Vice President of Digital where she was responsible for Pandora’s digital advertising positioning and oversaw the advertising sales strategy team. Widhelm has continued to rise and has seen more success thanks to her unique understanding of Pandora’s listeners and how to translate listener insights into engaging products and campaigns for advertisers.

Prior to Pandora, she worked with startups such as Broadband Enterprises and game companies (iWin, Uproar, and Flipside) before and subsequent to their sale to Vivendi Universal. Widhelm received a bachelor’s of science in finance and accounting from the University of Arizona. Outside of work, she enjoys being a mother to three wild boys and a wife to her loving husband Ben.

Follow Widhelm on Twitter: @LizzieWidhelm.

Two Lessons From the Road: Never Get Comfortable and Always Look Up the Hill

I’ve worked for the same company for 14 years.  Crazy, right?  When you start early at such a dynamic company like PepsiCo, it’s hard to make a change.  But, it’s more than that.  Throughout those 14 years, I can honestly say I’ve transformed.  And I’ve had to because the company and industry have moved so fast.  It’s been exciting to run, or in my case, cycle, at that pace.  I’ve been an avid cyclist for many years, so I tend to appreciate high velocity.  I’m inspired daily by my colleagues, who are pushing the beverage category and consumer marketing to the next level.  This is why, 14 years later, it still feels just as exciting as it did in the beginning.

So, that got me thinking about the keys to create a culture within a company that inspires and encourages transformation.  What have I learned from my own career path at PepsiCo and my passion for being an ever-evolving employee?  It’s interesting — two lessons that immediately came to mind are also true in cycling; never get comfortable in the saddle and always look up the hill.

Never Get Comfortable

Think about it: Nearly 10 years ago, the idea of Twitter — using 140 characters to communicate in real-time — was not even on the radar.  Fast-forward to today and you can’t imagine life without it.  Actually, I just became more focused on my own social media, and as a non-digital native, I’ve really had to push myself to jump in and not be afraid.

In today’s environment of 24/7 connectivity and real-time communication across multiple platforms, we need to constantly transform the way we speak to our fans.  We’re not only finding innovative and unique ways to engage with them, but to give them one-of-a-kind experiences unlike anything they’ve seen before.  The truth is, we don’t have all the answers and not everything we do will be 100% perfect.  However, we’re taking risks, we’re learning and we’re evolving our marketing practices to make products and programs even better for the future.

Speaking of “future” … Whether it’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Back to the Future” with the limited-edition release of Pepsi Perfect like we did in October or tapping into moments that focus on the happiness that Aquafina brings your body after consumption with our “For Happy Bodies” campaign, we’re always looking for new ways to bring people closer to our products in organic ways.

Always Look Up the Hill

Consumers think and act differently today, which means we need to pay close attention.  For more than two decades we’ve transformed the products we offer, expanding beyond our iconic soft drink brands to give consumers choices for every lifestyle and occasion, including tea, water, sports drinks, ready-to-drink coffees and premium juices.  Why?  Because we’re listening to consumers’ needs and then creating products around those needs.  If we don’t, we’re not staying ahead of the game.

We’re also transforming by building teams of individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets and passion areas who are capable to make this ride; together, they experiment, they explore, they push the boundaries and facilitate change.  For example, our Creator group explores the edges of culture to co-create innovative experiences such as the Pepsi Art Dome at the recent Voodoo Music and Arts Experience in New Orleans.

There’s no telling what changes will happen next.  But as the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change.  And that’s what makes it fun.  At PepsiCo North America Beverages, we’re all in for the ride.  And like our consumers, we’ll keep on transforming.

You can hear more from Seth Kaufman at AAF’s Digital Conference in Chicago, IL! Learn more and register here.

About the Author

Seth Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo North America Beverages

Seth Kaufman, PepsiCo

Seth Kaufman is the Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo North America Beverages (NAB), where he leads the holistic business, brand and consumer agenda across the company’s beverage portfolio in North America. This includes popular and iconic brands such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Aquafina, Lipton iced teas, Sierra Mist and Starbucks ready-to-drink iced coffees. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement in 2015 and will deliver the opening keynote on February 16 at the Edge Effect: Media Meets Technology in Advertising conference in Chicago. Prior to his current role, Kaufman served as Senior Vice President of Pepsi and NAB’s Flavor Portfolio and before this, he was Vice President/General Manager of the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between PepsiCo and Starbucks.

Kaufman received his Bachelor of Science in Television, Radio & Film Management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and his MBA from The Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan. He is a Board of Trustee member for the Immune Deficiency Foundation, is an avid cyclist and lives in Northern NJ with his wife Faith and their daughters Emma, Noa and Samone.

Follow Kaufman on Twitter: @SethAKaufman.

Strengthen Consumer Engagement Through Ad Tech and Marketing Collaboration

In today’s always-connected, on-demand digital world, consumers can choose where and how they get their media, like never before. This creates a big challenge, as brands need a constant stream of content to address their audience’s needs. However, it also opens new opportunities for marketers to establish stronger personal relationships between brands and consumers.

Brands need to be prepared to engage with their target audience across a wide spectrum of media at any time, in any place. This can include a video or photo that pops up on a social channel, an article on a favorite news site, blog posts or podcasts on a company web page or a digital ad that appears while doing an online search.

Content for the masses has been replaced by content for the individual. With the ongoing fragmentation of media, brands are learning that highly personalized content is essential to drive customer engagement. The challenge is pulling in the right people and partners to make this happen.

Ad technology plays a valuable role in the development of personalized content. Having real-time information on how consumers are interacting with content, both the brand’s and the competition, allows marketers to continually strengthen their outreach. With this approach a brand can understand who a consumer is and what they want, often before that consumer even realizes they want or need the brand.

This onslaught of new technologies also creates new demands as advertising is becoming as much about science as art. Marketers are tasked with merging traditional and digital media formats, while measuring their results in new ways. New engagement metrics, such as gaze time, total interactions, interaction rates and cost/engaged visit require technical expertise that often isn’t available in-house or at a traditional ad agency.

ShocaseThe Need for Collaboration

One solution would be for technology companies to hire more creatives and ad agencies to develop more tech capabilities. The problem with this tactic is it dilutes the strengths of each type of business.

Instead of competing, collaboration makes more sense for these highly specialized but diverse companies. In a partnership, an agency and an ad tech company can combine their strengths to deliver a whole solution that is greater than the sum of its parts. And, when it comes to engaging with consumers, it goes well beyond advertising. Collaborating with experts in PR, video production, and social media, to name just a few areas, is also required to deliver consistency across platforms.

The more consistent the message across all media, the more effective a campaign will be. Brands that deliver consistency in their entertainment value, style and depth of knowledge create a strong level of trust with their audience that often leads to increased sales and other desired behaviors.

We are just at the beginning of this digital media era and new challenges and opportunities will continue to arise. Staying nimble will be a key to success. Partnerships allow brands to move faster and generate more opportunities to develop deep, engaging consumer experiences. In this digital era where brands are looking for any competitive advantage they can find, collaboration will be a key driver of innovation. It’s up to all those involved to find the right partners to drive change and develop best practices to stay at the bleeding edge of this digital revolution.

Ron Young is the founder and CEO of Shocase, a professional market network designed exclusively to connect the world of marketing. With Shocase, marketers can find partners and talent across all marketing disciplines, build teams and win business.

You can hear more about this topic from Ron Young at AAF’s Digital Conference in Chicago, IL! Learn more and register here.

About the Author

Ron Young, founder and CEO, Shocase

Ron Young, Founder & CEO, Shocase

Ron Young, Shocase

Ron Young is the founder and CEO of Shocase, the first professional social network designed specifically for marketers. He has a proven business track record with more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and marketing leader. Ron previously held prominent marketing roles at Levi’s, CVS and Electronic Arts, and was founder or CMO of three successful startups that achieved nine-figure exits. More… 

ThinkWithGoogle: Building a YouTube Content Strategy: Lessons From Google BrandLab

Mobile, video, and programmatic. These are all top of mind for brands. But where does content development fit in? Kim Larson, global director of Google BrandLab, shares how her team helps marketers improve and streamline their YouTube marketing strategies and feed the proverbial content monster.

Read Full Article.

Presented By


As the director of Google BrandLab, where we help marketers think digital-first, there are three words that rule my day, every day: mobile, video, and programmatic. With Mary Meeker predicting that, by 2017, 74% of all internet traffic will be video, and with mobile watch time on YouTube already surpassing desktop in 2015,1 the time for brands to make sense of what mobile means for their video content strategy is now.

At Google BrandLab, we get two primary questions from marketers about how they can keep up with the ever-increasing demand for video in this mobile revolution: “What video content should I make to best engage my audience while staying true to my brand?” and “How can I create that video content at scale?” In Part 1 of our “Lessons from Google BrandLab” series, I’ll answer both of these questions by taking you through two frameworks we use every day at the Lab.

What types of YouTube videos should I make?

To answer this question, we start with a Venn diagram. The first circle represents what the brand’s target audience cares about; the second represents what the brand stands for. To get to this kind of thinking, we ask folks in BrandLab to think about:

  • “What’s truly unique and different about our brand?”
  • “What’s truly ownable for our brand?”
  • “What right does our brand have to play (and win) in this content space versus our competition?”

Once the answers are in the Venn diagram, the overlapping circles provide a window into the sweet spot for developing a video content strategy:

Sweet Spot: Where Brands and Their Audiences Intersect

Think With Google

As you consider what your audience cares about, think about the micro-moments they might be experiencing. Micro-moments are the I-want-to-goI-want-to-doI-want-to-buy, or I-want-to-know moments when people are turning to devices to find answers, discover new things, or make decisions. Johnson & Johnson Consumer, for example, took these kinds of moments into consideration as it built its video content strategy for CLEAN & CLEAR®. The brand had always been about teen friendships, and the team’s research showed that teen girls were turning to YouTube in moments when they needed inspiration, community, and support, so CLEAN & CLEAR® built a channelaround the confidence-boosting mission SEE THE REAL ME®.

How can I create online video and other branded content at scale?

Here’s the hard truth: There’s no way a brand can create all the content needed to feed consumers’ voracious appetite for video, especially on mobile devices. There isn’t enough time, money, or resources. The trick is to create content gradually and build an engaging library over time. That might sound daunting with a traditional production mind-set as a reference point. But to produce at scale requires rethinking that production process, and getting a little help while you’re at it.

Think With Google

That’s where the Create, Collaborate, Curate—or what we like to call “CCC”—content framework comes in. The idea is to use this framework to “feed the content monster,” so that content creation—video production, specifically—no longer feels like a barrier to entry into the video marketplace. As we take you through each “C” in the framework, we’ll share examples of how one brand, Mountain Dew, is using CCC to streamline its video creation and engage the mobile audience.


The first type of content in the CCC framework is created by the brand. It feels like the brand, captures the brand’s tone, and offers a more traditional creative polish. It tells a story about the brand that’s entertaining, educational, or inspiring. “Create” content might simply be entertaining video that gets people’s attention, or it might deliver on the specific micro-moments we talked about earlier, such as how-to content in an I-want-to-do moment.

Mountain Dew®, for example, released an extended version of the team’s Kickstart™ “Come Alive” spot on YouTube, entertaining audiences with a longer, more interactive story than television allowed. But the brand team didn’t stop there. They worked with our Art, Copy & Code team on the firstUnskippable Labs experiment to figure out how to improve the video for mobile viewers and make it undeniably “unskippable” content people would choose to watch.

“Rather than using video exclusively as a storytelling mechanism, think of it as a tool for storymaking, in which consumers get to take part.”


This content is the product of the brand’s collaboration with digital influencers. It’s often content that features a YouTube creator and is produced and promoted in partnership with the creator’s channel. Ultimately, the goal of “Collaborate” content is to help brands broaden their relevance and connect with a uniquely engaged fan base while leveraging the expertise of experienced creators.

Devinsupertramp, for example, has more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube. Mountain Dew partnered with him to create a series of stunt videosfor #DEWroadtrip. They cross-posted the videos on both Devin’s channel and Mountain Dew’s channel to engage Devin’s audience.


The third and final content type is crafted by consumers and is the product of an audience call-to-action. Rather than using video exclusively as a storytellingmechanism, think of it as a tool for storymaking, in which consumers get to take part.

Audience participation keeps your message authentic and relatable and can be gathered across social channels. And consumers want to interact with brands: According to brandshare 2014, 87% of people feel they should be able to communicate, share opinions, and interact with brands in real time. Mountain Dew got the message and made fan stories a critical part of its content strategy with the “Art of Dew” video series.

Don’t overthink your YouTube content marketing strategy

You already know why you should be prioritizing online video: because consumers are. As Mary Meeker pointed out in May, more than half of mobile data traffic is already from video.2 Consumers turn to devices in all kinds of micro-moments; they’re flipping to YouTube to help them feel entertained, complete tasks, and make purchase decisions. And yet, Meeker also says advertisers aren’t putting their money where consumers are. Even though mobile commands about a quarter of media time, it only accounts for about 8% of ad dollars.2

Where’s the disconnect? I suspect it’s twofold, actually. First, I don’t think brand marketers are sure what content to make. And second, they aren’t sure how to make it. Don’t waste time overcomplicating it: Video is what consumers want on mobile. Make more of it with a little help from the Venn diagram exercise and the CCC framework.

Think With Google: The Creative Shortlist: Real Time Remixed

Presented by

Think with Google


The Creative Shortlist is a series that looks at the trends and themes informing innovative digital campaigns. This month we spotlight campaigns that are leading the next wave of social through more collaborative relationships and an evolved real-time approach.


See what Creative Sandbox campaigns we’re talking about.
This edition’s guest curator is Marvin Chow, global marketing director for Google’s social products.

The holidays. The Oscars. The World Cup. To stay relevant, brands have always taken advantage of big consumer moments such as these. Now that consumers are constantly connected, there are many more moments that matter, and brands can join them in real time. But that’s just the beginning. Getting an audience to engage with your story beyond a mere “like” or a generic retweet is what makes a brand a meme of its own.

Last year’s widely talked about Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout was a wake-up call to traditional marketers. It showed the true value of being nimble, insightful, creative and—above all—first. But as we saw with this year’s Super Bowl, similar efforts without a higher level of engagement and conversation were short lived. Enabling the audience to create the conversation that follows is critical to really capture the moment.

From YouTube to Twitter to Google+, an entire generation is putting its own spin on brands through memes, remixes, hashtags and more. Smart brands are making this part of their marketing strategies. They see their audience as the creators; they’re just the enabler. Nike’s “Phenomenal Shot” campaign during the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a fresh example that exemplifies this thinking. Nike set out to let fans create their own version of winning moments during the tournament. The centerpiece of the campaign was a suite of 3D avatars that fans could “remix” by adding headlines, filters and stickers to create their own digital posters, just moments after something amazing happened during a live game.

Taking conversations further, brands can create ambassadors and foster even more meaningful relationships with consumers. Understanding that your brand is the enabler and the audience is the creator will help you win in the long run. For 20% of the work, they can get 100% of the credit, all in the name of your brand’s story. Taking this approach, you can establish a more fulfilling social media environment for people and for your brand. Everyone wins.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Share your #brandremix thoughts and favorite examples and get the conversation started. Follow us at+CreativeSandbox and @CreativeSandbox for more ideas that blend creativity and technology.

The campaigns we’re featuring this month demonstrate the movement toward user-generated content by empowering people to express themselves through their relationship with a brand:

#1 Nike “Phenomenal Shot”

Memorable sports moments, remixed in real time

#2 Toyota Collaborator

A social shopping tool for designing cars

#3 Two Days Beat

A crowdsourced audiotrack

#4 Target Everyday Runway

A live runway show inspired by everyday tweets

AOL’s Digital Prophet, David Shing

The American Advertising Federation was honored to have several keyonote speakers at ADMERICA! 2014 who are innovative, insightful thought leaders in advertising. We were pleased to have David Shing join us in Boca Raton, Florida and are pleased to share a recap of his keynote with you. Watch Now >>

David Shing

David Shing is AOL’s digital prophet. Shing spends most of his time watching the future take shape across the vast online landscape. The rest he spends talking to people about where things are headed and how we can get the most out of it. Shing has spent most of his adult life in the digital world working for both large and small creative companies. He served as AOL’s European head of media and marketing before taking on his current mantle. Engaging, witty, and refreshingly candid, Shing provides both historical perspective and current context as he lays out his vision of the brave, new world of marketing to come – one he believes will belong to those willing to embrace change and take risks now, and one that he dearly hopes will suck a great deal less. The opportunities are incredible. The rewards are real. And Shing’s here to show you the way. That, after all, is what prophets do.

In the Crosshairs or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Targeted Advertising

By: Zach Glass, Director of Advertising, RED Interactive

When targeted advertising first crawled onto dry land many years ago, there wasn’t much to be said for it. Ads for muscle powder and dating websites crowded my (male aged 18-35) browser windows and while the industry “oohed” and “aahed” at its potential, most consumers perceived it as a nuisance.

The next step in the evolution was retargeting, which felt like getting chased around a used car lot by an overzealous salesman. (“I see you just glanced at that Prius! Let me tell you more about the Prius. No? Maybe tomorrow? Have another cookie.”)

But recently, it seems that targeted advertising is finally moving toward real relevance. I mentioned in an email that I needed a teakettle, and all of a sudden, here’s an ad in Gmail for teakettles from a store that I actually like. Useful, right? And, this phenomenon is not exclusive to text. I was just on Facebook and saw a suggested (sponsored) post in my feed for modern architecture that I was actually interested in. An ad on just asked me to get my Fantasy Football league back together—something I had been meaning to do anyway. In all three cases something magical happened: I clicked on an ad.

I know it sounds strange for someone in the ad industry to say, but I—like 99% of Internet users—very rarely click on ads (unless I’m doing it for testing purposes). So this was a big step. Targeted advertising is undergoing a metamorphosis— shifting from feeling goofy and nagging to being current and meaningful. It’s not just traditional product-based advertising either: Advertisers are developing branded content that’s actually worth looking at. Comedy Central posted a hilarious Vine for Key & Peele the other day, all sorts of advertisers are getting in on the 90’s nostalgia machine with native advertising on BuzzFeed, and Chipotle recently released a beautifully produced video and game about sustainable food practices.

This is all content I want to consume, and if I see it first in an ad instead of in a link from a friend, so what? I’d much rather see relevant content than something I couldn’t care less about. However, the industry still has some major limitations: Companies like Blue Kai and Rocketfuel allow advertisers to target specific user demographics by collecting information provided by partner websites, but most of that information can only be gathered when users are logged in or via cookies. Cookies, in particular, have fallen out of favor recently, as Apple’s Safari does not allow them, Mozilla’s Firefox plans to follow Apple’s lead, and most browsers have a “Do Not Track” setting, preventing advertisers from delivering targeted content to many users.

Having said that, things might be changing sooner than we think. A source at Google recently stated that they were exploring a method of tracking users without using cookies using an “anonymous identifier”. Google has stayed mum as to the technical details of such a system, but the emergence of this technology could carry many implications, not the least of which is that our phone, tablet and computer browsing habits will all be aggregated into one database. This information will be used to serve us even more relevant advertising and content. Privacy concerns will undoubtedly be raised, but if the Edward Snowden story has taught us anything, it’s that nothing we do online is private anyway. So Google, how about some rooibos tea for that teakettle?

Native Advertising Isn’t New, But It’s The Future

By Jonathan Perelman, VP, Agency Strategy and Development, BuzzFeed

Media consumption and consumer habits are rapidly changing. Look no further than your own behavior. Do you sleep with your phone by your bed? Sure, it’s your alarm clock, but do you check it before you go to sleep, or when you first wake up? Let’s be honest. The challenge for marketers today is to reach consumers in a way that invites them in, not distracts them from what they are doing.

Native advertising is a hot topic in marketing today and for good reason. Unlike intrusive banner ads, native advertising does not distract consumers from what they are doing, but adds to the overall experience.  With all the attention recently given to native, we should remember that native advertising isn’t new in digital. The most well known is search, as the ads are native to the environment of the search results. However, the convergence of content marketing and native advertising provides an organic way for brands to enter the conversation with consumers.

Throughout the history of advertising, we have taken the type of ads that have worked on one platform, and tried to make them work for the new technology. The first radio ads simply were the audio of a print spot. The next evolution were TV ads, which were radio spots with an image. Today, standard banner ads are the most prevalent ads, but that doesn’t make them good.  Ask yourself, what’s the last great banner ad you’ve seen?

As the digital advertising ecosystem has evolved from Portal -> Search -> Social, online ads need to evolve as well. As mentioned earlier, native advertising isn’t new, but can be broken into two categories, 1. Utility 2. Content. If you’re in a new city and need to find a coffee shop, you’re likely to search for one. Maybe you launch the maps function to search for directions to your desired location. But, what happens after you find that shop, and you’re the 15th person in line for that latte? Most likely you take out your phone to snack on content until the milk is steamed and your caffeine is ready. Increasingly, the type of content that people are consuming is branding, as it is as equally captivating as editorial.

The challenge for advertisers today is to be seen and stand out in an environment where social is the new starting point online. Creating social, shareable content to be served in a native environment allows the advertiser to tell a story, and to engage the consumer in the natural environment of content.

Native ads are even more important when we talk about mobile. The promise of mobile appears to be unfulfilled from an advertising perspective. Simply repurposing ads from desktop onto a smaller screen doesn’t work. A recent study* found that 40% of clicks on mobile banner ads are a result of fat-finger clicks, or mistakes. At BuzzFeed, we see more sharing of content (including ads) from the mobile device than we do on desktop. We don’t consider mobile as a separate platform, we think mobile web first.

Native advertising isn’t new, but the convergence of factors leads to native being the perfect type of advertising for this stage of the web. Combining the elements of social, brands as publishers and the importance of the mobile web are all factors that lead to the prominence and opportunity of native advertising.

This article appeared as part of the AAF’s 2013 Digital Resource Guide, which can be downloaded here.


Study Results Show Parents/Adults For Expansion of COPPA

Results from a recent study commissioned by the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense Media were released today, showing strong disapproval (80 percent) from parents and other adults over a variety of digital marketing techniques currently being used to collect information from children online. According to the study, 91 percent of those surveyed were opposed to advertisers collecting and using information about a child’s location via their mobile phone, and 96 percent of parents (94 percent of adults) responded against websites asking children to provide personal information about their friends online.

The study—conducted in November by Princeton Research Associates International—comes just before the Federal Trade Commission’s likely expansion of the 1998 Childrens Online Privacy Act (COPPA) which requires marketers to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. This expansion of COPPA would extend the FTC’s authority to include mobile devices and would make targeting children online and via mobile devices much more difficult.

As expected, the online advertising industry has lobbied heavily against this proposed expansion, which would essentially collapse a massive ad market consisting of tech-savvy children carrying mobile devices in their pockets and using mobile technology daily.

Also see: Study: Parents Concerned About Digital Marketing Practices Targeting Kids from

Webinar: Should Technology Dictate Creativity?

AAF Thought Leadership presents:
Innovative Ideas in Digital Advertising: Should Technology Dictate Creativity?

When it comes to advertising, digital is king. It isn’t just the extra point capping off a game winning touchdown drive — it’s the 80 yard bomb to the corner of the end zone. Digital isn’t simply a piece of your ad campaign. It IS your campaign.

Thanks to new innovations in digital technology (paired with an enormous availability of consumer insights), advertisers are reaching their target audience with lightning speed and pinpoint accuracy. Yes, Madison Ave seems to have found its renewable source of energy…in Silicon Valley.

But as digital advertising grows, so too does a dependency upon technology to meet client advertising goals — a dependency which brings forth a new dilemma for agency creatives:

To what extent should technology dictate creativity – or should it at all?

Thursday, September 6, 2012
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Panelists include:
Jason Dailey, Director of Bing Evangelism at Microsoft
Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development, Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Moderator: Shane Santiago, President and Chief Creative Officer at SBS Studios.

This free webinar is brought to you by the American Advertising Federation’s Thought Leadership program.

Register Now!