On Wednesday the AOP released the results of a survey on "the relationship between consumer engagement with website content and how it impacts on their reaction to advertising on different website types: original content sites, portals and social networks."It found that approximately twice as many respondents to the survey trusted the advertising on content sites as on social media
It raised some questions for me which I posted here. If trust and engagement are such key indicators of the value of online advertising, how can content sites maintain CPMs that are ten times greater than those achieved by social media when their own research is able to show only twice as much trust for their advertising?
"...engagement and advertising responsiveness is strongest on original content sites compared to other site genres. Respondents are almost twice as likely to trust advertising and brands on content sites vs. social media sites".
Journalism.co.uk also highlights some detail from the report: "respondents were significantly more likely to trust advertising on content sites than social media sites, with 59 per cent trusting content sites compared to 34 per cent for social networks."
Which is hardly good news for those original content sites which (at one remove) funded the report, given that as it stands they achieve CPMs almost ten times those achieved by social networks for what they appear to have just proven is only twice the value.
Can't quite decide whether the ad that ran in yesterday's papers from the alcohol industry's self-regulation lobby The Portman Group is brilliant subversion or not. I think on balance it is brilliant subversion.
The ad is half a page (the picture left is from Tuesday's Telegraph) warning people of the sort of drinks promotions that are not allowed: featuring drinkers under 25, encouraging binge drinking, highlighting alcohol's impact on "romantic" success, even revealing the biochemical fact that alcohol affects your mood. (This is perhaps the most remarkable feature of the UK's code of practice for advertising alcohol, that it specifically prohibits the statement of a well-established scientific fact.)
The Portman Group pitches this as a "zero tolerance campaign" against the irresponsible marketing of alcohol. A cynical man might point out that what they have so far achieved with their campaign is to get a half-page ad into several national papers featuring a cute young student peering coyly over a large glass of wine. Nor sure why but I suddenly fancy one too.
Up next week - McDonalds to become the new sponsor of Sesame Street with a disclaimer "just by way of example, to show how this sort of this is totally not acceptable" and Benson & Hedges product placement in Blue Peter under a banner that flashes "I can't believe we're getting away with this shit".
Earlier today the FT broke the news that the Telegraph is (probably) joining the Times, FT and indeed News of the World by putting up a paywall next year. A spokesman told Reuters by email that "absolutely no decisions have been made on the introduction of a paid-content model," but a number of Telegraph execs appear to have confirmed to the FT that there would be a paywall in place before the end of 2011.
Paywall experiments over the past ten years have been a disaster for online newspapers. However, the Telegraph's move could perhaps be justified by two fundamental changes to this market - an increased scarcity of professional journalism online, and the effective collapse of the Telegraph's current commercial model, occasioned primarily by Facebook.
A quick comparison of Facebook with its approximate peers - major consumer technology retailers, websites and especially social networks - shows a chasm between the value placed on the revenues of other companies versus pure social networks. (Revenues rather than profits are used throughout because profits at Facebook are unknown.) But the things we have to believe for a valuation of $50 billion make sense just aren't all that wild.
Two days after the Whitehall kettle and the police are already sounding the warnings for "a new era of unrest". Quite apart from the obviousness of the police agenda (new unrest, new license to beat up protestors) the surprise for me is the rarity with which people take to the streets.
"Don't vote, the government might get in" goes the old saw. There is, as ever, much truth behind the doggerrel. The thing is, all the parties know that we only vote to get them out. They know that we don't want them governing us. And we can tell this from the simple evidence of what they spend their money at election time convincing us to do.
Facebook's last few technical moves - the Like button, Messenger - were all about capturing more of the online display market. Display advertising is where Facebook makes its money (about $1.1bn this year), so it's hardly rocket science that it's going to put its engineers on projects that sew that market up. So the next people who'll be getting calls from Mark Z's guys - and therefore crazy options offers - are going to be the sales guys.
Display sales is a pretty small world and it turns on a handful of relationships between the media buyers and strategists at the biggest agencies and the salespeople at the publisher end. If you wanted to disrupt the incumbents you'd make the technical moves Facebook already has and then you'd poach the people with the big rolodexes at Yahoo, MSN, AOL and, increasingly these days, Google. Hence, bubble time for sales as well as engineers. We'll see at least one of these bidding wars break out over a salesperson at one of the portals before Xmas.
A recent post by a disaffected San Francisco restauranteur complains eloquently that Opentable is sucking the whole margin out of the restaurant business just for processing the bookings - about $10 on a four-cover booking, which assuming that table spends $200 at a normal 5% margin means Opentable is keeping all of the profit on the booking leaving the restaurant with, err, nothing. If that's true it's bad for restaurants but bad for Opentable too - a parasite that kills all of its hosts doesn't have much in the way of long-term prospects.
The bad news for the restaurant industry is that the problem of Opentable carving out a position for itself as a new middleman in the eating-out value chain arose because of a basic strategic error made by the restaurants themselves. The good news is that the error is relatively simple for the restaurants themselves to reverse.
Yesterday Facebook announced the launch of its newest don't-call-it-email service, Facebook Messages, and I speculated that this is a move designed to capture more (a lot more) of the valuable online display ad market.
There's two big questions to ask about the new Messenger. One, how does Facebook make money? Two, how does Messenger help them make more? And (ok, there's three really) how does this particular move by Facebook fit into their broader commercial strategy?