Page Impressions Ltd Blogcetera: 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Google to institute only pay if viewed!

Fraud has plagued the on-line advertising market since its initiation. Back in 2009, Click Forensics estimated that for advertisers and ad networks, 14.1% of the clicks on their ads were bogus, and costs them money.

All PPC (pay per click) ad providers are keen to combat click fraud and have sophisticated methods for doing so although it still represents a significant proportion of their income since it is the advertiser who will always end up paying.

 However, on Thursday (13th December 2013) Google announced that it was introducing a new system to deal with how ads are viewed and consequently charged for. “If you are an advertiser and a human being didn’t see your ad, then frankly nothing else matters,” said Neal Mohan, Google’s vice-president of display advertising products at Google. “If you are a marketer, why pay if a human being did not see the ad?”

The global on-line advertising industry is worth $117bn and it is estimated that as many as half of the digital ads that marketers buy are not seen at all, with a large portion only being viewed if a website user scrolls all the way down to the bottom of a web page. This issue of how effective advertising is has always been an issue for all forms of advertising be it TV of Bill Posters.

 Now Google intends to introduce an approach called Active View. Google's new Active View offering is based on an emerging industry standard called IAB/3MS, which states that an ad is only “viewable” if more than 50 per cent of it is visible on the screen for one second or longer. Advertisers will be able to see a report of how many viewable impressions they have received for any given campaign, and this data can be used to inform future campaigns. The Active View system ensures that if your ad is buried "below the fold" and doesn't get seen then you will not be billed and if your on-line ad has been seen for at least one second then you will be billed for that impression.

I have always been rather sceptical about the value of such viewed ads which do not have any "call to action" and certainly attempts to at least bill for a viewing by a human being is a step in the right direction, but it really doesn't make for very effective use of ones advertising dollar, pound or euro. Billing for ads that didn't get seen in the past was always a very dodgy practice and this approach should have been introduced a long time ago. Whilst this may not be click fraud, I do think it continues to call into question the billions spent on adverts which are just about brand awareness on-line and fail to trigger a genuine sales lead. Maybe advertisers and agencies placing the ads need to think rather more carefully about what they are attempting to achieve with their on-line campaigns.

This is a good start, but Google and the other major on-line players need to go much further to clean up this industry and ensure advertisers get the value for money they pay for.

Further reporting:-
Financial Times , The Daily Telegraph , BBC

Monday, December 09, 2013

Has the Mobile Internet finally emerged as a primary retail channel in 2013

Back in 2000, I worked with a former colleague from business school to raise investment for what we now refer to as a location based mobile application. The application was known as ZagMe enabled customers to send offers to users of the service in their location such as a shopping mall  (BBC Zagme News report). Unfortunately the technology platform was based on WAP which proved unreliable and costly to use. Today companies such as Foursquare have taken the concept to a mobile broadband customer base happy to use and act on location based offers. However, 2013 has seen the break through of the mobile device including tablets etc. as a primary channel for online purchasing. Retailers have rushed to adapt to the new format and even bring out their own optimised devices such as Tesco and Aldi launching bespoke low cost tablets. According to mobile experience management platform Artisan ( ), 77% of consumers intend to make purchases through a mobile and/or tablet app this holiday season.

This statistic suggests that using mobile devices to purchase through sites such as Amazon, John Lewis etc. is more likely to be the norm rather than the exception.  In a recent survey, OFCOM forecast the number of mobile broadband subscribers to be in the region of 5.1 million.  With sales of Tablet computers of every type likely to be the most sought after gift this Christmas, that number is sure to grow dramatically and with it the opportunity for retailers to grow their online sales channel as well as location based sales by offering incentives to bring users into High Street stores.

Sadly all this furious activity in mobile sales comes to late for Zagme which succumbed to the dotcom bust when trying to raise a second round of finance.  Todays location based apps have a much brighter future!

UK ISP, Mobile Internet and Cable Subscriber Numbers - December 2013

Here is an update of the UK ISP market covering DSL and Cable Access market as well as the Mobile Dongle market in the UK.  I have also added in the published figures for 3G and 4G mobile access devices. I have used ITU published data for Broadband usage numbers and Neilson Ratings and ISP published figures to get an accurate picture as well all the reports and disclosures for each of the companies shown below. I believe these figures represent a reasonably accurate representation of the genuine adoption of broadband either via DSL, Cable or mobile dongle. Broadband connections included in this data cover download speeds equal to or faster than 256kbit/s.

Table 1. Broadband ISPs (Source: ITU, Neilsen, OFCOM & ISP Published Figures)

User Numbers
% of UK Market (inc Mobile)
BT Retail
Sky Broadband
Virgin Media
TalkTalk Group
Kingston Comms
Zen Internet
Vodafone UK
Thus Group

BT continues to grow its user base at the expense of the smaller players.  Sky Broadband has continued to grow, primarily by acquisition having taken over O2’s broadband user base.  However, although BT Sport is still in its early days, it is clearly impacting Sky’s organic growth.

The total UK Internet connectivity market is not only made up of Broadband ISPs, but connection is now frequently through 3G and a growing 4G user base. Consequently I have taken the total market as being made up of both the fixed-line broadband and mobile internet access as I think it would be erroneous to suggest that they are not part of the same competitive market. The Broadband ISP market size is estimated to be just under 22 million broadband connections. OFCOM estimates the mobile internet connectivity to be in the region of 5.0 million mobile broadband users in addition the 21.7 million fixed line users.  So the total market is estimated at 26.7million subscribers.  Of these super broadband users make up just 3.7million.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Google Announces New Search Algorithm

Google has just announced their new search algorithm, codenamed Hummingbird.  It is the first major upgrade for three years and is a major step towards semantic web search.

Launched quietly about a month ago, the new algorithm affects about 90% of Google searches. The update is designed to provide more accurate results when faced with natural prose questions from web searchers according to senior vice president of search Amit Singhal.

Google stressed that a new algorithm is important as users expect more natural and conversational interactions with a search engine - for example, using their voice to speak requests into mobile phones, smart watches and other wearable technology.

Hummingbird is focused more on ranking information based on a more intelligent understanding of search requests, unlike its predecessor, Caffeine, which was targeted at better indexing of websites.
 “We just changed Google's engines mid-flight - again” Amit Singhal Senior VP, Google Search.

It is more capable of understanding concepts and the relationships between them rather than simply words, which leads to more fluid interactions. In that sense, it is an extension of Google's "Knowledge Graph" concept introduced last year aimed at making interactions more human.

In one example, shown at the presentation, a Google executive showed off a voice search through her mobile phone, asking for pictures of the Eiffel Tower. After the pictures appeared, she then asked how tall it was. After Google correctly spoke back the correct answer, she then asked "show me pictures of the construction" - at which point a list of images appeared.

SEO just the same – Content is king!

As regards developing successful SEO programmes, really very little has changed.  In order to be successful in SEO the key is still to create relevant and interesting content that delivers real value for their consumers. 

However, a subtle change in how the algorithm views the content is happening whereby the new Google’s ranking algorithm focuses on the context of where content appears against search queries rather than traditional keyword matching.  Hummingbird tries to match documents based on the underlying user intent.  

The key to successful SEO will thus require much better content editing and site writing to ensure that the content is answering a question not just stuffing as many keywords and phrases a text will take.  The semantic web is coming of age with a search engine to match.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Apple on top, but Android's position is growing stonger!

Millennial Media, the Mobile ad platform, has released their latest Mobile Mix report, covering Q2 2013.  The report lists the top 20 mobile devices adding tablets into the mix along with smartphones and feature phones. Apple made devices dominate the rankings taking three of the top four places, however, the increasing importance of Android based machines is crucial. Samsung occupies the number two spot with its Galaxy S phones and gains some additional presence in the top ten thanks to the appearance of the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note in the top 10 list. HTC and Motorola lose some representation on the list, however and Amazon debuts with the Kindle Fire ranking number eight overall for impressions.  The fall of alternatives to iOS and Android make the market a two horse race.  Blackberry is clearly in trouble and Windows is failing to make any impression on the market.  Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia is unlikely to turn Windows prospects around.
Top 20 Devices - Ranked by Impressions

The fact that Google Play is now outpacing Apple App store for downloads suggest that the Android is increasingly eating Apple’s lunch.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

iOS Continues to dominate mobile market for mobile ads, but for how long?

Most recent reports suggest that Apple's iOS continues to dominate the mobile advertising market in terms of impressions and revenue generation delivering almost 44% of all ad impressions and almost 50% of revenue (Figure 1).  The mobile market is increasingly looking like a two horse race between Apple iOS and Android and whilst on the face of it Apple continues to dominate, the decline of any alternative operating system other than Android suggests that in the near term Android will soon pass iOS as it becomes the de-facto alternative operation system.

Traffic share (mobile phone OS)
OS Share
% of Traffic
% of Revenue
Source: Opera  mediaworks

The challenge presented by Android is strengthening as Google and its partners increase the rate of innovation.  Apple is clearly showing signs of innovation fatigue.  A recent report by Goldman Sachs pointed to several concerns, including “delayed product cycles, supply chain difficulties, product price erosion, and a slower pace of product innovation.” Apple’s ability to continue innovating at the breakneck pace it maintained over the past few years remains a major concern.  The recent performance of Google Play surpassing Apple's App Store downloads particularly in emerging markets underline the direction of travel.
This rebalancing of the market suggests that in the longer term the Android market is set to become the most important mobile advertising market.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

4G licences only raise £2.34 billion in auction

It beggars belief that the UK Government has only managed to raise just £2.34 bn in licence fees for the the 4G licences.  It really does suggest that both the UK Government and Ofcom are totally disconnected either from the potential of the mobile internet market or they are totally incompetent at running an auction.  Whilst it was clear from the start that the market would not pay the astronomical figures paid for the original 3G licences of £21 billion raised by Gordon Brown,  the value of these licences should have achieved far beyond the Office of Budget Responsibilities own projection of £3.5bn, let alone the £2,34bn delivered.  Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica (O2), Vodafone (VOD) and BT (BT.A)'s Niche Spectrum Ventures secured the 4G licences.  It is a little disappointing that the winning bids all came from the usual suspects and that we will not see any new entrant to spice up the cosy market carve up between the major mobile networks and BT.

Given that the UK is one the largest mobile internet markets and combined with the superior quality of coverage and speed of performance offered by 4G’s 800 MHz network, the winning network providers and service providers stand to make significant revenue.  The mobile broadband should provide smartphone and tablet computer users with "superfast" download speeds, and will provide £20 billion of benefits for UK consumers over the next ten years, Ofcom said. 

However, when mobile operator EE, a joint venture between T-Mobile and Orange, became the first to launch a 4G service in October 2012 in a brief monopoly, it struggled to attract users. It was forced to cut its prices in January, lowering its entry price to £31 from £36 a month.

Despite this slow take up, I still believe that 4G has the power to become the de facto communications network for Internet access in the UK - a view clearly shared by BT - which is why they entered the auction to secure 4G capacity which they are using to extend their WiFi network.  4G has the capacity to be a game changer in technology terms and could change the local access in remote locations of 100 MHz Ethernet speed access reducing the need to take fibre to the home.

There may not be champagne corks popping in No 11 tonight, but I am sure they will be in the HQs of our major mobile providers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Appscape

Here are a number of interesting facts concerning the growth of mobile marketing and in particular the App market.

  • Apple Apps – 700,000 (Nov 2012)
  • Android Apps – 700,000 (Nov 2012)
  • Microsoft – 120,000 (Dec 2012)
  • 37mins the average time spent on apps per day
  • Mobile apps will grow from a $6 billion industry today to $55.7 billion industry by 2015 (Forrester)
  • The average Android smartphone user has downloaded 44 apps onto their phone
  • 53% of American cellphone users now have a smartphone
  • 38% of people who use social media on mobile devices cite general browsing as their main activity
The rapid growth of Android apps is very impressive, having caught up with Apple so quickly and will undoubtedly pass Apple in 2013.  The fact that Apple apply rigid "quality control" as to which apps make it on to the iPhone and Google pretty much set a minimum compliance approach cannot be the only reason Android has blossomed since Microsoft has failed to grow in quite the same way.  Apple need to decide whether they are going to carry denying other smartphone users the chance to use the Apple IOS and ultimately see the market they have owned slowly (or maybe not so slowly) eroded by Android as they did twenty years ago during the PC wars.

iPhone 5 Decline in face Samsung Challenge?

Sales of the iPhone 5 appear to be slowing dramatically in the UK and around the world. In what seems like a bid to drum up sales, for the first time I can recall, my mobile provider is making unsolicited calls to remind that I am due an upgrade and have the opportunity of getting my hands on an iPhone 5 as part of my package.  Previous it appeared I needed to be best friends with the chairman of the mobile operator to get such an offer.   Furthermore, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has cut an iPhone 5 display manufacturing order by half citing "weaker-than-expected demand." The display order, which was targeted for the January to March quarter, was cut along with other key component manufacturing in December.

Given the crowded marketplace that the smartphone arena has become, it is only good business that there should be changes to manufacturing orders.  However, this data seems to confirm that globally, Samsung is beginning to get the upper hand in sales of smartphones in head-on competition with Apple.  With 1.3 billion smartphones in use worldwide by end of 2012 and 465 million Android smartphones sold in 2012. Google’s operating system has now captured a 66% global market share.  Samsung has used the Android OS to drive sales with their latest smartphone the Galaxy SIII with shipments estimated to be 18 million units for the third quarter of 2012, while smartphone and overall mobile device shipments are projected at 59 million and 106 million units respectively.

Apple is rumoured to be accelerating the launch of the iPhone 6 to combat this growing Korean threat and thus it is of little surprise that they are ramping down iPhone 5 production to make way for a newer model.  Clearly being sued by Apple is good commercial business for Samsung since it has crystallized the belief that the once mighty Apple may have a worthy competitor in the form of Samsung.  Litigation can have unexpected consequences and certainly it seems it may be the case that Apples lawyers are better at marketing Samsung's products than helping their own side win.

Summary of the Latest Social Media Data.

I was recent required to pull together a presentation covering the impact of social media on search engine optimisation and as part of that exercise I extracted a collection of the latest data points on the three leading social media sites of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  All the data is referenced from the companies themselves or studies they have commissioned.


  • 1 billion – Number of monthly active users on Facebook, passed in October 2012
  •  31% - Percentage of users that check in more than once a day.
  • 135 million – Number of monthly active users on Google+.
  • Facebook accounts for approximately 26% of referral traffic.
  • 47% – Percentage of Facebook users that are female.
  • 29% - Percentage of Google+ users are female.
  • 40.5 years – Average age of a Facebook user.
  • 2.7 billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day.
  • 24.3% – Share of the top 10,000 websites that have Facebook integration.
  • 4.7 billion minutes are spent on Facebook daily


  • 187 million – Number of members on LinkedIn (Sept, 2012).
  • 44.2 years – Average age of a Linkedin user.
  •  Highly targeted professional networked audience with 50% of LinkedIn users having a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • LinkedIn accounts for about 0.20% of referral traffic.
  • American users spend an average of 17 minutes on the site.
  •  22 million visit LinkedIn every day.
  •  There are 2 million companies on LinkedIn



  • 200 million – Monthly active users on Twitter, passed in December 2012.
  • 1 million accounts are added to Twitter every day
  • 9.66 million – Number of tweets during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
  • 175 million – Average number of daily tweets sent throughout 2012.
  • 37.3 years – Average age of a Twitter user.
  • 40 million visit Twitter daily
  • 307 – Number of tweets by the average Twitter user.
  • 51 – Average number of followers per Twitter user.
  • 163 billion – the number of tweets since Twitter started, passed in July 2012.
  •  $259 million is Twitter’s projected ad revenue in 2012
  • 123 – Number of heads of state that have a Twitter account.
The rate of adoption of these services remains an extraordinary phenomenon and have become key drivers of income for both themselves and a myriad of businesses utilising their technology and market concentration.