SQAD POD: 5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Should Know – July 2018

Industry news and insights podcast curated from the world of advertising and marketing trends.

We’ve hit the peak of summer with all the crowded beaches, backyard barbecues, and block parties. Now with the sound of ice cream trucks filling the air, there’s still a lot of buzz in the advertising world. For the month of July, we’re talking about AT&T’s advertising strategies, Facebook and transparency, HQ Trivia, text message advertising, and giving passive billboards true analytics.

1. AT&T’s Advertising Ambitions

It looks like AT&T is not letting the pending Justice Department challenge against its Time Warner acquisition stop its relentless push for advertising dominance. Assuming they can officially push the Time Warner acquisition through, AT&T plans to transform HBO into a toe-to-toe competitor for the king of streaming, Netflix. It would be able to use the data that comes with HBO to learn more about audience behavior, and in turn, create advertising services to bring in even more revenue. Not long after it received approval to purchase Time Warner – which is now being appealed – the telecom giant announced its acquisition of AppNexus, which operates digital advertising services and software. AT&T’s acquisition strategy is starting to come into full view as it looks to leverage technology and content for greater advertising opportunities. Its ace-in-the-hole against Google and Facebook may be the AppNexus acquisition, as it may super-charge their capabilities in advanced television advertising.

2. Facebook in the Age of Transparency

We have found ourselves standing at the cusp of a new revolution. Digital ad transparency is gaining ground and brands are coming under fire as consumers and government agencies demand answers for online data collection. With new laws like the GDPR (as well as new proposals from states like California) coming into effect, ad tech firms are being held accountable for the part they are playing in the collection and monetization of personal information managed by their technology. Thanks to this new scrutiny, Facebook is becoming the poster child for the new era of transparency. Initially, Facebook only required full disclosure for political ads – which would be archived for seven years and be publicly accessible – but now, it is requiring full disclosure for allbrands. Anyone advertising on Facebook must disclose who is behind the content and allow users to see all the ads they are running on the platform network, which includes Instagram and Messenger. While consumer groups may be applauding the transparency, advertisers have a reason to be alarmed as competitors will have a centralized source to review all the ads being run at a given time. Will consumers really find it useful to review the ongoing ads of advertisers and agencies? Will agencies be inadvertently disclosing their client lists and strategies if they advertise on Facebook? Time will tell how this new world of transparency will reshape the world of digital advertising.

3. HQ Trivia Becomes “Must See” Digital Programming

HQ Trivia took Apple iPhones by storm last fall to become a viral sensation. What began as a mid-afternoon distraction for many grew to be “must see” experience over the course of a few months – with the app racking up 1.7 million players at its peak in March when it partnered with Nike during its 20-minute broadcast. The live trivia game is live-streamed through the app every day at a set time, and users partake in the experience by answering questions in real-time with the promise of cash prizes. HQ has recently stepped up its games by offering more than just cash rewards. For example, the Nike partnership came with the incentive of exclusive sneakers; and another episode featuring judges from “The Voice” came with a $50,000 prize and a trip to the show’s finale. HQ has proven itself to be more than just a viral game – it’s reinventing traditional appointment TV for the era of time-shifting DVR programming. The app’s evolution to partner with brands on sponsored content creates a win-win situation, while redefining how mobile devices can be used to engage consumers. Bringing people together into a real-time event with real-time advertisements is a throwback to the age of captive audiences and shared viewing experiences. This is an exciting time to see how other innovators will remix this idea into new engaging strategies and advertising opportunities.

4. Advertising Gets Even More Personal

The advertising industry is constantly pushing the creative boundaries of marketing, refining the machine for better ways to reach potential customers. That’s what Steve Brown and Leonard Butterman had in mind when they started brainstorming an innovative strategy to disrupt mobile advertising. From their experience as fathers, they noticed that their kids were constantly on their phones, communicating though their digital devices even when they were physically sitting next to each other. Thus, the question arose: Why not tap into a currently ad-free space for the next generation of advertising – text messages? And that is how SlamAds was born. SlamAds would appear within the body of a text message, and would be generated based on the relevance to a given conversation. Suppose you were a SlamAd user talking about pizza – a link would pop up at the bottom of your text message for, as an example, a 10% off voucher for Domino’s Pizza that you would send to the receiver of your message. The incentive is simple. The sender gets paid for allowing the ad to be embedded into the text. Users can cash out anytime in the form of gift cards, contribute to a 529 plan for college tuition, or even donate to charity. There are still a lot of questions about privacy, permissions, and revenue, but the innovation of SlamAds places consumers at the center of the ad experience and has the potential to transform the mobile advertising world, bringing ads into even more intimate spaces.

5. What the EU Fine Means for Google

The day of reckoning has come for Google’s anti-competitive practices in Europe as EU antitrust regulators bring the hammer down with a hefty $5.1 billion fine. The fine comes from the allegation that Google forces Android device makers to squeeze out other search engines by strong-arming manufacturers to pre-install the Chrome browser and Google search, or risk losing access to the Google Play store, the central hub for all apps for the OS. This suit comes a year after Google was fined for prioritizing shopping search results to favor their own products and services – giving themselves an unfair advantage over other companies offering similar products. Now, having a commanding hold of more than 90% of the search market, 85% of mobile phones, and roughly 60 percent of browser market share, Google’s manipulation of the playing field was bound to catch the attention of regulators. Google will challenge the fines, but will also probably modify their practices to avoid future scrutiny. This can only be good news for competitors looking to break into Google’s stronghold.