Millennial Media Banks $27.5 Million For Mobile; The Map Is Here; Transparency’s Downside

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Millennial Money

Having $27.5 million in its latest funding round, mobile ad network Millennial Media may just be up to the task of staying independent and staying in the game against the two competitors, Apple and Google. The company claims that revenue tripled last year at a time when mobile advertising really started to draw substantial ad spending. So how does the company stack up where it matters? AdAge’s Kunar Patel points to IDC estimates that puts Millennial’s gross revenue for 2010 at $60 million – giving it a 15.4 percent share of the mobile display market, compared to Google’s and Apple’s respective shares of 19 percent and 18.8 percent. This new funding round should help the company pursue more deals like its acquisition of analytics tool TapMetrics.

LUMA’s Shifting Landscape

LUMA Partners’ Terence Kawaja can’t stop tinkering with his Ad Tech Landscape map. Hence, he tells that “Given the ever-changing nature of the landscape, I posted it to Slideshare.” The colorful presentation currently lists 245 companies, grouped by Agencies, Media Buying Desks, DSPs, Ad Exchanges, Ad Networks (with sub-categories for vertical, horizontal, performance and mobile), among others. That should make it a bit easier to keep the landscape up-to-date. This will be the link to the chart going forward:

Targetable Men

In general, users are wary of being behaviorally targeted by advertisers. However, some are less concerned about it than others. An eMarketer post, pointing to polls by Gallup and Burst Media, men seem least bothered by having an advertiser track their online movements. When questioned about whether targeting would change their view of a brand that does it, 10.4 percent of men said they would feel more negative towards it, compared to 11.4 percent of women. Interestingly, men were also twice as likely as women to say their opinion of a brand that targets them would actually be better. Pluralities of men and women both said they were neutral, suggesting that brands don’t have much to lose by continuing to target.

Data Is King

Publishers have tended to get a bad deal from search ads. The attraction to search ads for marketers is that it’s a performance medium with the clear promise of ROI. But with publishers owning the “first party data,” meaning that they should have some advantages over “third party data” providers, says Jonathan Mendez on his Optimize and Prophesize blog. For one thing, the FTC has excluded first party data from its “Do Not Track” recommendations. Plus, the contextual advantages they provide create an environment conducive to “session depth,” which tends to be valued by advertisers as strong proof of engagement. Ultimately, if audience data is king, then as the first party data owner, publishers are better positioned than any of the companies that make money off their audience information as “power will be to those businesses that own the best data.”

Keep Clicking

Who says clicks aren’t valuable? CPCs in all major sectors were up by at least double digits on a YoY basis, according to Dr. Siddharth Shah,
Director of Business Analytics at Efficient Frontier. Cost per clicks gained 10- to 15 percent last year across Finance, Automotive and Retail. Travel CPCs did particularly well, rising 23 percent. Taking a look a narrower trend lines, month-over-month, CPCs dipped a bit in Travel and Finance during Q3, which is typical of the seasonality of general ad spending. These categories bounced back in Q4, as Retail grew 10 percent due to the Holiday shopping season.

Transparency’s Downside

The issue of reporting and transparency was last year’s problem for the ad exchange business. By this point, all the major demand side platforms have set up strict procedures for determining what was being bid on. But now with the light shining wide on the system of buying and selling ad placements, Clickz columnist Adam Cahill has spotted a new problem as a result: there is clearly a lot of low quality ad inventory clogging up the exchanges. He’s not talking about adjacencies with porn or other easily filtered, patently offensive content. Cahill sees “an endless list of properties that seemingly exist for no other reason than to serve ads.” The solution he calls for involves setting up a ranking system that rates third parties’ quality and reward the efforts to build more transparency throughout ad exchanges.

Getting Too Personal

The premise of targeting is that users who express a particular interest in something must want to see more of it. But when you think about it, most targeting is based on a particular moment in time – it doesn’t reflect where a user’s interests will lie in the future. That’s the essence of entrepreneur Bradford Cross’s argument against personalization. In fact, Cross isn’t just skeptical of personalization, he’s actively against it. He feels that herding people into groups of targets just hardens vague feelings among consumers, resulting in more erratic and unreliable targeting.

Search + Display

Display and search need not be enemies. Yahoo VP Dave Zinman has shown how the two can work in concert. In a series of decks (via Mediapost), Zinman demonstrates how keyword targeted display (or, “search retargeting”) can serve as a complement to marketers’ search campaigns. After all, doesn’t it make sense to show banners to users who have shown their intent (think of prospective car buyers searching for keywords related to autos) by searching on broad or competitive search terms? For a quick summary, check out’s blog.

Permission To Be Pushy

With all the algorithms that underlie most advertising campaigns, it’s easy to think that the business data-driven advertising feels a bit too sophisticated, a bit beyond the hard-sell tactics of a less analytic era. Upstream’s Doug Weaver feels that the ad business has gotten a bit too gentle in its approach. In other words, this is a time to get a little more “old-school.” It seems intuitive that consumers are put off by ad messages. Therefore, if you keep pushing, the more repelled they’ll be. It sounds logical, but marketing is beyond logic. If a marketer gives up to quickly on a lead, the target feels justified in blowing him off. But if a marketer really believes in the value of the message, and shows that with ever-greater persistence, the target just might sense that both the message and the messenger deserve a full hearing.

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