Meet us at Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas – Jan 9-10, 2011

ZestADZ will be at the Affiliate Summit this weekend in Las Vegas. Affiliate Summit West, the premier affiliate marketing conference, is taking place January 9-11, 2011 at Wynn Las Vegas.

This three day conference includes an exhibit hall with affiliate merchants, vendors, and networks, as well as multiple tracks of educational sessions covering the latest trends and information from affiliate marketing experts.

We will be available on Jan 9th and Jan 10th. Please do write to dinesh@zestadz.com to schedule a meeting.

Mobile advertising is a powerful medium and ZestADZ can help advertisers and affiliate marketers to drive lead generation through powerful analytics and self service tools.

For more information on ZestADZ, please visit http://zestadz.com.

Privacy concerns and what could be done by the mobile app & advertising industry

Mobile Apps, Advertising and Privacy in 2011 Consumer Privacy is going to be very important. This year there were major concerns raised by consumer groups with lawsuits and massive coverage by well known publications such as the WSJ about privacy issues related to advertising and tracking of consumer data through mobile applications.

Online advertising is behavioral users being tracked using cookies their profiles being generated with browsing and searching patterns. Data about the user is also being mined across the internet to create a in-depth profile, which happens to have too much of personal information. This information is being shared with prospective advertisers. The other concern was the sharing of mobile application data user including user location in mobile apps to third party ad networks. This information may include phone number and unique user ids identifying each user.

Consumer Privacy at Risk

As mobile devices are becoming more common and more ubiquitous, mobile apps and services such as search, advertising etc, get access to more and more consumer information.  Customer privacy is at risk and in both web and mobile applications. With the respect to the online advertising industry, the industry has started self regulation mechanism which we believe has had some effect in protecting consumer privacy, unfortunately FTC and consumer privacy advocates don’t seem to agree.

FTC’s Do Not Track

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a universal “do not track” mechanism that would allow people to choose whether they want Internet companies to collect information on their browsing habits. The idea is that users would be able to choose to have their browser not to track them for advertising purposes. It is not clear whether this proposal includes mobile services and mobile advertising but we believe that this should serve as a wakeup call for mobile ad networks, app developers, advertiser, agencies and mobile ad networks.

Mobile App and Advertising Ecosystem

What could be done by the mobile apps and advertising ecosystem so that the consumers don’t feel spooked?.  There are various choices on the table

a) Self regulation with choices to the consumer to opt out is one great option that should be immediately initiated. This could be done with a common website or this could be offered as a choice in every application like the way browsers today have choices to reject cookies being saved.

b) Standards could be set where industry players agree to to limiting information collected, users tracked or the way information is shared or restrict the quantum of information being shared.

c) Key information must never be tracked or shared: Key identifying information about the user (ids, phone numbers etc) should be completely left untracked.  This could be a part of a standard or an adhoc initiative that could be immediately implemented.

Some of these steps may lead to some stifling of ad revenue dollars or tech companies may feel that innovation is being throttled but in long term this could have obvious benefits as more consumers would openly adopt newer services without the fear of being tracked.  This could also help the industry avoid expensive lawsuits.

Announcing ZestADZ Customer Support Center

ZestADZ announces the availability of a comprehensive help desk for its customers, available at the following URL http://zest.zendesk.com

When you encounter an issue, create a ticket by writing to support@zestadz.com or by visiting http://zest.zendesk.com. This ticket comes with a unique id so that we can track your issue until its closure.

You can also use the forums to interact with us or discuss your common queries with fellow publishers and advertisers. Our help desk personnel are available to serve you round the clock but we expect responses within a few business hours or at the latest next day.

We will even offer telephonic assistance if required so please do leave us your telephone number so that we can call you back.
We hope to improve the overall quality of service through the launch of the support centre.
Please send us your feedback at twitter (@zestadz) or via support@zestadz.com

ZestADZ Support

Minor usability enhancements have gone live today

We are happy to announce a number of minor ZestADZ enhancements that went live today. They are summarized below for your feedback:

Simpler Site and Navigation

The ZestADZ Website has been simplified with easier and simpler navigation for new and existing advertisers and publishers.


Section Home Pages

Users who have logged in will now see section pages which list available tools, simplifying navigation and overall usability of the site.


Drop Down Menu Navigation

The Navigation within the ZestADZ application now features drop down menus enabling you to move across the various elements of the site in a much more faster manner.


API Sections

ZestADZ users will now find dedicated API sections which explains available API, parameters and sample results. Users who have logged in will see dedicated sections showing their API Keys (which are required for API access) along with the API pages.


Campaign / Ad / Site or App Rejections

If your Campaign, Ad or Site is rejected, you will now be able to see the reason why it was rejected through a simple popup. Edit the rejected entity to have it reviewed by the ZestADZ team again.

Please send us your feedback to engineering [@] zestadz.com

Apple iAd and the Future of the Mobile Advertising Industry

Apple’s iAd

Apple’s entry into Mobile Advertising is great news for many reasons. One of the key things is that it represents the validation of the idea mobile advertising, the industry and the growth that everybody has been talking about for years. Of course, the Google-Admob deal is another one.

Anyways, In this blog, let us review the impact of Apple iAd on Advertisers and ad networks like ZestADZ. Here are some of my thoughts:

Apple’s iAd: The App is the Ad

Apple brings an exciting (but not necessarily new) idea to mobile advertising. The Ad is basically a rich HTML 5 app that pops up with full interactions available from within the Application itself, without redirecting the user to completely new advertiser page. The interactions are rich, not seen in mobile advertising earlier, and really represents the next step in mobile advertising.

Will Attract Big Brands and Agencies

Apple will bring bigger brands and agencies into mobile advertising and increase the overall size of this industry.  Advertisers will be attracted to a more powerful medium and experience to engage consumers. They will also gravitate thanks to Apple’s strong foothold in the mobile industry with iPhone / iPod and now the iPad.

Higher Pricing

Apple has already raised the stakes (and prices, I am not confirming this, but only quoting from other blogs) .   This may not be such good news for advertisers as many of them are used to paying lower and paying higher for better experience may be worth it but the results are yet to show.

This is however will be good news for other networks. This is because the pricing of mobile ads has been lower primarily because the demand has outstripped supply. This has led to lower eCPMs and lower fill rates for publisher. With more choices, advertisers will increase budgets for mobile advertising and this will reflect across the ecosystem.

iAds Cost

The cost of setting up initial iAds campaigns is very high(reported as $1m on some sites vs $10m per campaign as reported on various sites). Also the CPC / CPM rates compared to other networks are going to be very high.  This is an entry barrier for most existing mobile advertisers, especially those who have been the earliest to adopt mobile as the key medium advertising. I am referring to mobile VAS and premium services companies selling ringtones, games etc who do not have access to an army of Ad execs and hundreds of millions in budget each year to make their campaigns successful, despite the high cost.

Apple iPhone / iPad only platform

Apple did not (and probably will not) announce any support for other devices and even though iPhone does represent a large segment of the available devices, it does not represent ALL the mobile devices in US. This problem is bigger in Countries other than the US where iPhone is not necessarily the biggest device.  For example: In India, iPhone was a massive failure despite the backing of the top Carriers with its disastrous pricing, faulty networks and also the launch of a 3G model at a much more higher price point in a non 3G market.

Authoring of Ads

Reportedly, iAd advertisers will get some initial hand holding to create the Rich Media Ads on HTML 5. As some Googler pointed out (source: Adage.com), there is no tool for Authoring HTML 5 right now while Adobe, Apple’s current rival has just announced a few days back that they will build the best authoring tools for HTML 5.

So, where is the industry heading?

No doubt, the current industry biggies are busy preparing plans and strategies to counter Apple’s new iAd. The liveblogs, livetweets and endless praise by the Apple worshipping community did indeed a lot to raise the profile of a product that is not yet launched into the next big magical thing by Apple.

Apple has also made some important moves by blocking access to the data from within iPhone apps. That is of course being subject to scrutiny and time will tell whether such a move is valid.

I hear some noise about rich mobile media advertising by other players but whether iAd itself can be pushed for wide adoption (given the fragmentation of devices) is still a big question.

The market will further fragment due to more and more android devices that have been growing fast, iPhone market remaining static, HP’s acquisition of Palm and of course Microsoft’s Kin and Windows Phone 7 devices that look very exciting.

This is probably the number one reason why Apple’s iAd will never be the #1 in the market in a few years from now. The Google-Admob deal is around the horizon and if it goes through, Apple will see a lot of competing (read: cheaper) bids by them and the ad networks like ZestADZ.

ZestADZ Analytics – Preview

analytics_screenshotZestADZ Analytics is an upcoming mobile analytics solution by ZestADZ targeted at both publishers and advertisers. ZestADZ Analytics enabling them to extract  deep insights enabling them to take better business decisions.

As we put forth in one of our recent blogs,  there are many instances where advertisers and publishers request for more data such as how many unique visitors saw the campaign, what kind of devices are accessing them and so forth. Based on these market requirements we have built an extensive mobile analytics solution that complements our ad network – ZestADZ. ZestADZ Analytics comes at no additional charge to both advertisers and publishers.

A Preview of information and features that ZestADZ Analytics provides -

For Advertisers

ZestADZ Analytics gives information such as

  • Visitor tracking
  • Popular Handsets
  • Popular Handset Supported Properties
  • Detailed Ad-wise Performance
  • Geo statistics
  • Carrier-wise break down of traffic

Using ZestADZ Analytics, advertisers will be able to make better decisions on their campaigns such as

  • Tune landing pages to suit incoming traffic
  • Optimize campaign and creatives to the amount of incoming visitors
  • Optimize campaigns based on handsets / manufacturers and features  that are popular
  • Understand what carriers are delivering better quality traffic

Advertisers cannot yet measure download tracking or ROI but these are key features we will be adding in near future.

For Publishers

ZestADZ Analytics gives information such as

  • Visitor tracking
  • Traffic delivered
  • Popular Handset Manufacturers
  • Popular Handset Supported Properties
  • Geo statistics
  • Region wise breakdown of traffic
  • Carrier break down of traffic

Using Analytics, publishers will be able to

  • Track web / mobile apps in a single interface
  • Get important statistics  in a single console
  • Optimize / select ads based on available handset / carrier / location data and reject non performing or non relevant ads

Presentations

Online presentations and screenshots are available at the advertiser link and publisher link respectively.

So how can you start using analytics?

ZestADZ Analytics is currently in private beta and if you would like to try it, please get in touch with us by writing an email to analytics [at] zestadz.com or by requesting an invite at http://analytics.zestadz.com

Existing advertisers and publishers – You will get an invite soon to start using mobile analytics.

Thank you and please send us your feedback.

ZestADZ Engineering Team

Site install code updates with better user tracking

We have made further upgrades to our site install code and this time there has been key functionality added to enhance user tracking. Though this functionality in the API is still in its early days and there are other ways in which we track users, this upgrade will essentially help deliver better ROI for publishers as advertisers are willing to pay for better metrics and results.

This is an important enhancement  but ZestADZ is completely backward compatible with the previous code. So you can choose to upgrade or choose to remain with your existing site install code.

We would however would strongly recommend you going in for an upgrade of the site install code.

If there are any questions, write to us at support [at] zestadz.com

api

Several user experience upgrades have gone live

We have been doing a number of user experience upgrades which we believe will will enhance your mobile advertising experience. A number of them have gone live.

#1 Dashboard

The post login home page has been replaced by a simple dashboard that provides a review of the current campaigns or ad clients. You can directly click on them to go to the reports section

dashboard

#2 Publisher payments summaries

The top right publisher payments notification was confusing to a few of our publishers who thought their previous amounts vanished at the end of each month. That has been updated with the publisher payments – current and pending payments visible on the top right corner of the screen

earnings

#3 Ajax driven search in forms

Simple feature that helps users search in large data sets. This will be extremely useful for advertisers who are managing large number of campaigns.

search

#4 More usable forms

Most forms have been updated to make them simple and more usable

forms

#5 Improved Approve Ads Screen

This screen has been updated to deliver the list of ads and allow for easy approval or rejection of ads.

approve_ads

Mobile Advertising can help Obama’s Health Care Reform and AARP’s Campaign

aarp_campaignRecently AARP launched a campaign countering negative public opinion in the states about the health care reform as proposed by President Obama.  “To be clear: AARP has not endorsed any comprehensive health care reform bill — but we are fighting for a solution that improves health care for our members,” the group’s CEO, Barry Rand, and president, Jennie Chin Hansen, wrote to members on Tuesday.

Subsequently, a few days later President Obama also revealed his clear message with a $900 billion  plan to fix health care.

We think that a mobile advertising component to the AARP’s campaign would be a great medium for AARP and the government to clarify its position to the general public. Though it may not be a tool that can bring drastic change, it can through its reach and ubiquity, educate the general public about the misconceptions about the government’s stand on health care reform.

Here are our suggested set of simple steps for a mobile advertising campaign that can help the tide turn in the government’s favour

a) Launch a simple mobile site with FAQs on the health care bill.

b) Promote the mobile site focusing on unique visitor clicks with maximum coverage

c) Send out SMS Alerts to general public about specific myths to users on regular intervals

d) Enable social media / SMS based sharing of links

e) Enable SMS Alerts campaigns to those registered users

h) Launch a search enabled iPhone App with FAQs. Promote it the same way the Mobile site was promoted.

Launch your mobile campaigns with Device Specific Targeting

We have upgraded our campaign screens to enable levels of targeting. Advertisers can now launch mobile  campaigns by additionally targeting

  • Specific Device Targeting – Choose a single or multiple devices by device names from one or many manufacturers.
  • Device Property and Device OS Level Targeting

With these enhancements it is now possible to reach a specific set of users  you can now execute the following use cases in your mobile advertising campaigns

  • Target users of a specific OS such as Symbian.
  • Target specific Java platforms
  • Launch a campaign that focuses on specific handsets in Nokia [Say E71] and Video capabilities
  • Mix all the above scenarios together with Carrier / Country based targeting

device_targeting

If you have any further questions – please contact us at support [at] zestadz.com

Engineering Team