Feedback Loop: Ford, Pinterest & HuffPo

Each Friday we ask an industry leader to critique Digiday’s coverage of the industry that week. Jeremy Ostermiller, CEO of Altitude Digital Partners, does the honors this week.

Why Ford is Bullish on Programmatic Buying
While most publishers and brands remain skeptical of premium programmatic buying, Team Detroit, Ford’s advertising agency, has confidence in it.

This piece really caught my eye. Early in my career I was the account exec of automotive for both of Denver’s major newspapers. Ford is really shaping up to be the darling of digital. With their big wins and commitment to social and the brand’s understanding of ad tech, it seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The sooner the rest of the pack catches up with Ford’s current mindset, the better. The potential of branding campaigns online is astounding. The ability for advertisers to buy their audience is unmatched in nearly all other mediums. The reality of the matter is that wise publishers and advertisers are jumping all over programmatic buying.

5 Brands that get Pinterest
Brands are still trying to figure out Pinterest. That’s no secret. The numbers on Pinterest are really low, with global brands like Coca-Cola having just 1,200 followers. The majority of brands are pushing products through Pinterest, in an obvious effort to boost sales. But we’ve all learned with the onset of social media that the best type of marketing is the kind that does not feel like marketing at all.

Thank you for writing this! “Brands are still trying to figure Pinterest out,” and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to get across to our marketing director. He’s absolutely convinced that it’s a fad for brands and claims he’s going to lead them out of the desert like some digital Moses. OK, so maybe a photo on Coca Cola’s Facebook fanpage gets more likes than their entire Pinterest page has followers but, I feel that on Pinterest, smart brands are taking a much more organic approach to telling their story and to the elusive ROI. Plus, Pinterest is so visual, one might ask if the follow is really needed. In the end, only time can tell how Pinterest will play out for advertisers. I quoted the advice-giving co-worker Lou Mannheim from Wall Street and reminded our marketing director that “good things sometimes take time.” To which he rebutted with a Mannheim-ism of his own, “You’re on a roll. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it never does.”

HuffPo: Banners Are Here to Stay
There’s a “native advertising” movement afoot that’s ready to sound the death knell for the bulwark of Internet advertising: the much-maligned banner ad. Don’t bet on it, according to Moritz Loew, industry vet and newly named svp of sales at The Huffington Post.

Banner ads are here to stay! The majority of online publisher’s revenue still comes from display advertising and, as a matter of fact programmatic buying has inflated the CPM rates. Banner ads are, however, becoming more of a commodity. Last month our company served over 5 billion display ads and over 40 percent of our ads were filled by programmatic buying. Advertisers now have the ability to buy an audience, and by 2013 we are estimating that 60 percent of our display impressions will be filled by programmatic and will account for 80 percent of the revenue. As more and more content is consumed online, display will continue to grow because there is no other viable alternative to advertise to the viewer. Display advertising is not very intrusive compared to other forms of online advertising, and the consumers come to expect display advertising as part of their user experience.

Why Coke Relies on Mobile at Events
Mobile is still a bit of a mystery to many marketers. Ad formats are tiny, apps are often quickly forgotten. For Coke, mobile means digging in deep. That’s why it has a unit dedicated to mobile.

I see Coke relying on mobile as them getting back in touch with some marketing roots. This actually reminds me of an extremely low-tech form of marketing that soft drinks did when we were younger. There were few things better than walking to a gas station and buying a Coke only find that your bottle cap was worth another Coke! For me, those instant-win bottle caps were the original mobile marketing. Later when soft drinks tried to go tech and customers were forced to log on to a website to see if they had won, the experience suffered greatly. With QR codes and fun mobile apps, Coke is rekindling that communication with consumers. When marketers learn how to capitalize on mobile and tackle the consumer’s need for instant gratification, it’s going to bring the same joy and love to brands that instant-win bottle caps used to.

Publishers Greatest Challenges in Digital
A couple of weeks ago, Digiday asked several publishers, “Should publishers be investing their future in apps or the in-browser experience, like HTML 5?” The responses varied and the conversation surrounding the answers was entertaining and informative. This week, we wanted to bring the discussion up a level and find out some of the hurdles publishers constantly leap or trip over in digital. Yes, there are many. But having insights from some of the industry’s leading players can help frame the issues at hand into, perhaps, a manageable outcome.

Reading this can make the faint of heart squirm in their seat. When we step back and really look at the digital publishing landscape, if we tried to conquer all the issues at once, it would be quite the labor. Luckily, the industry is both deep and vast, and all of the challenges mentioned here really deal with providing the ability for brands to genuinely engage, while ensuring the user experience isn’t tainted. For an industry that relies almost solely on advancements in technology, it’s nice to see that priorities are centered on people. As Pontin said, “Digital first is a mode of being that promotes innovation and excellence.” Publishers know how to innovate, but they know they won’t attain excellence if they leave their customers to fall by the wayside.