This article is really not an informational piece. It’s my opportunity to vent and to take revenge on all the nay sayers I encountered so many times during my career in digital advertising.
When I started working in what was called the “Internet” most of my friends did not understand how these companies would make money. At Terra in 2001 it was still early days and popular belief was “proven” correct when the stock market burst. However, the “internet” continued to plough forward. Today, Google is the 2nd most valuable company in the world, and Facebook is worth the same as the following companies combined: Disney, 20th Century Fox, News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom, CBS, and Discovery!
In 2007 I was the Managing Director for MySpace Latin America, and I remember very well what the popular reaction was:
a) No brands would want to advertise in UGC (User Generated Content). Many agencies and industry journalists reminded us that in Brazil a pet food company advertised in Orkut (at that time the leading social media platform in Brazil) and the ad was placed in a user’s profile which advocated killing dogs and cats. That served as an example that these platforms were a dangerous place for brands.
b) In Mexico journalists wrote that users should not use social media platforms because kidnappers were using Facebook and MySpace to track where rich kids were going to, increasing the risk of getting kidnapped.
At MySpace, as the first social network to start selling ads in the region, we evangelized this media and after two years we sold less than US$5M in ads. Little did we know that we were paving the way for Facebook, which my guess is that they sell US$800M – US$1B in Latin America today.
And finally, when we launched Adsmovil in 2012 at Cisneros Interactive we visited ad agencies, even in the US Hispanic market where smartphone penetration was about 40%, and were told that they knew some Hispanics were consuming media on the phones but they had no budget for mobile advertising. At the same time, many experts and journalists were writing that the small screen on the phones made ads very ineffective. We countered with the fact that there was only one ad per screen vs. multiple ads in a webpage, and higher CTRs proved this point. No one was really listening to us at that time. Pandora saw its usage migrate to mobile and many analysts predicted its demise given that they could not monetize as well on mobile as they did on web. However, mobile made usage on Pandora explode and Pandora in 2015 had revenues of $1.2B. In May 2015, Google had more searches on mobile than on desktops and in the last quarter Google announced that its YOY revenues increased 17% , mostly due to mobile advertising.
So today no one doubts that digital advertising is a real business, no one questions advertising on UGC content, and mobile marketing which was so foreign in 2012, is a given in 2016.
So what’s next?
These days I am evangelizing three new products:
- Data: we invested in a JV with Tail Target, Brazil’s leading DMP and Data Provider
- Influencer Marketing: FLUVIP has a fantastic platform which automates many steps in influencer marketing
- Audio Advertising: At RedMas we launched Audio.Ad, the first and only audio ad network
Honestly, no one is saying we are crazy this time, but advertisers are not jumping at these opportunities as they should.
- Data: I am surprised that advertisers are not taking advantage of the incredible data that is now available to improve targeting their consumers and to better understand their current users
- Influencer Marketing: I’ve heard more than once that planning a campaign with influencers is very time consuming, and in some cases that influencers did not post what they had to after they were paid
- Audio: now this one is incredible – some agencies are saying that users cannot click on an audio spot. Can you click on a TV or Radio spot, in a print ad, in an OOH ad?
However, this time I am patient; I know that time has a funny way of changing perceptions! As with my earlier examples, I will one day shout with enthusiasm: “See, I was not that crazy after all!”