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A really tragic story today, of the loss of a 14-year-old boy, murdered by an evil person he thought was an "online friend."

I feel so sad for his parents, family and friends. But also for the people who work in social businesses online, who merely provide communication platforms, enjoyed by billions and abused by a minority. Reflecting on this awful story today, two tech stories I read last week have sprung to mind.

The 1st is about Facebook's ability to determine with the magic of big data, how predictive some behaviours are of lasting love or heartbreak city.

The 2nd is one, which reports that Canadian researchers confirm that Internet Trolls are sadists.

Perhaps social businesses could work with these researchers and consider if it is possible to mine their data to provide early warnings of danger.

A real long shot, but worth considering to find ways to protect the vulnerable.

I joined Matt O’Neill, President of Ad Monsters and his terrific Team this week, at their conference focused on online operational issues (

I have some previous history here, as an early Ad Monster from my time at, a few years ago now. But I’ve not been to one of these conferences in a while, but I know it’s a great place to find out what’s going on.

Recently, I’ve been mentoring new Start Ups in different sectors (gamification; social; mobile; e-commerce; email). However, I can also provide consultancy on people, revenue and process issues for digital businesses, and decided to attend OPS with a view to keeping my knowledge updated, particularly for digital publisher clients.

In Peter Slaughter’s session, Operations Director at The FT for 28 years, he said only his knowledge from the last three really counts now. I’m sure that he was vastly underselling himself. But, technology has changed and is rapidly changing his business and his role within it.

So what conclusions did I draw from the day?

Well the online business is even more complex and operationally intensive now, with additional revenue areas like Social, and new formats like Tablets and Smart Phones to take account of.

Rob Beeler, excellent Master of Ceremonies for Ad Monsters commented that managing display online could take between 20-40% of budget overheads, whilst takes TV takes 2%.

There are multiple suppliers to consider in multiple sector areas and additional services like compliance and verification (DoubleVerify).

No one talks about Search; Google handles that all very well on behalf of partners.

Mobile and Video are still nascent, but growing exponentially. Really interesting mobile presentation by Russell Buckley, CMO of Eagle Eye Solutions, and an inspirational Key Note Opening from Jonny Shaw of Naked Play, ripping up the marketing rule book for mobile advertising, everything is about play now. I see a few logistical problems translating this philosophy across multiple platforms.

There is great focus on display advertising, (real time buying or programmatic buying). Yet, outside of Facebook, banner display revenue is flat, and most good video content is sold outside of automated exchanges.

Great to see one example of updated serving systems presented by Ken Parnham MD of OpenX, and also to hear an Agency view from Richard Wheaton MD Neo@Ogilvy on how they manage the difficult process of display for their clients. Quality still counts.

It’s not just about ad inventory, data is valuable too now, but heavy lifting to manage and value this.

I heard about Yieldex, a technology product that improves the accuracy of forecasting and management of direct sales inventory.

Fru Hazlitt of ITV presented the great work they are doing with Apps, 2nd screens and deeper customer partnerships, but this is all at an early stage. No mention of ZeeBox and other apps launched recently, this will take a year or two to feed through, and it will be interesting to find out more about this later on.

I learnt about Facebook’s vast inventory. Their currency is people not impressions, (no pixels to measure this). Their sell through is low, so I bet they are disappointed that General Motors has announced that it is pulling out of Facebook display, the day before their IPO. Facebook sits operationally outside of other display measurements, as do other social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Oh and Twitter Tweets are worthless if not seen within 15 minutes according to

Doubleclick, now owned by Google, is still an important player, but I did not get a sense yet of a seamless process solution across different platforms to support their publishers. So, a lot of hard work to hold together the operational cats cradle on an on-going basis.

It’s going to take a major game changer to streamline operational processes across online, perhaps with converging developments in TV/Internet, or something we cannot yet imagine!

There must be opportunity for consultancy in this area, and will think about revisiting this for Q4 kick off.

In this emerging multi screen world - who controls who?

£35.00 seemed reasonable to hear about technology convergence development between TV, devices and social media. I knew the audience would be primarily drawn from the tech development sector, as it was held at Innovation Warehouse in Smithfield, London, a new digital start up hub. I did not recognise any TV people that I know. Tony Fish of MashUp* did a good job playing Devils Advocate.

The Speakers were:

Anthony Rose - Co-Founder and COO of Zeebox -

Anthony was previously responsible for iPlayer development for the BBC and worked on the YouView project. The development and broadcasting community is keen to see what he comes up with. He has spoken at various conferences this year, and I was pleased to meet him and hear about his work. Anthony's business is due to launch an innovative service this autumn. The free zeebox app automatically syncs your iPad, phone or computer with your TV, shares your viewing and shows you what your friends are watching in real time. You can connect and chat around any TV programme, interact with live shows and get more info about any person, thing or topic on air. You can even buy anything on screen with a single click. We call this "augmented TV".

David Bloom - Commercial Director of IP Vision -

Owners of, An additional set top box offering consumers on demand options, BBC iPlayer access and distribution of some Sky services.

Tom Weiss - CEO of TV Genius

A TV recommendation engine, a personalised, digital TV/Radio times

The discussion was about who owns who in a multi device world. First run broadcast material (also plus channels and first re-runs), remains a very valuable commodity, with TV audiences ever stronger. Broadcasters are firmly in control of TV screens. But who owns who on second devices, tablets, mobiles etc? Again, so long as the rights are in place, and the distribution deals are well negotiated, I cannot see how content owners cannot win out on time shifted viewing and personal scheduling of their content. But others, like all the Panel member companies, will build up subscription revenue streams from their new services, maybe ad revenue too, particularly as social ad revenue grows, but others like FaceBook, Google +, Twitter etc will do well here.

I'm sure that Advertisers and their Agencies are reassessing engagement during ad breaks now that some consumers are multi tasking with tablets and mobiles at the same time. Consumers are savvy about fast forwarding through recorded content. I would seriously look at reducing ad minutage/sponsorship idents in prime time, recoup losses by increasing prices, and create even more relevant ad breaks for consumers to engage with, plus work on new innovative interactive options for Advertisers on 2nd screens.

It is more than 10 years since digital TV launched in the UK, and my service provider, Sky EPG is looking rather dated. In my house, with big sports fans, Sky is essential. The SkyPlus service was a step forward, but has not kept up with consumer demand, for example limitations on watching a third programme whilst 2 others are being recorded on the living room TV, and woe betide the person who deletes an item to make space to record what they want to view, as storage is limited! So loads of room for improvement, which might come from Broadcasters, after all it was the BBC who brought us the iPlayer, and Sky that has brought so much innovation over the past 20 years, or perhaps it will be that new Broadcaster, Google?

The discussion touched on Google's intention to move their tanks further from the digital market (13% share of global advertising 2011), into the 46% share of global advertising that TV currently enjoys (source Carat). Google are extending their assets further with the recent launch of User friendly Google+, their social product. Search was not considered to be a suitable tool for finding content, as consumers are more likely to be put off by not finding what they want, hence the development of services like ZeeBox, but I'm sure that Google is working on something similar.

Tess Alps, CEO of ThinkBox, the central marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, is right to be wary of "Greeks bearing gifts" with regard to her recent open letter to Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, From no fault of their own, except their superior technical genius, Google does tend to marginalise partners. I once worked for, then Google's largest global search partner, later on trumped by AOL. Both partner organisations now have a much smaller share of their respective markets, but still revenue growth through their Google partnerships. Google have signalled their intention to become a original content producer, (they are already a Broadcaster via YouTube). They have the expertise to design access tools to update the entire ecosystem, that's if innovators like ZeeBox and others are not run away successes first.

The latest TV Wall technology was mentioned, as this was unveiled at IBC in Amsterdam recently. It's certainly created quite a buzz.

IBC: Wall-sized displays suggest higher-def TV

I don't think there were any conclusions drawn from the event, but I enjoyed the discussion about existing and upcoming disruption, and hope that they follow this up in a few months time.

I attended my first seminar at The Hospital in Covent Garden, organised by Figaro Digital. Figaro are newish, set up in May 08 They publish a quarterly magazine, Figaro Digital. I was impressed. One of the great things about the digital sector is the collaborative approach amongst companies. Figaro demonstrate this very well, offering these seminars free of charge, while they build up their customer base and partnerships.

Their speakers included Matt Hunt UK MD of Adconion,, They are a global online ad sales network. Evolving to capitalise on the opportunity their technical expertise and reach provides in content serving/distribution/syndication for publishers, to secure rev and market share in the online video advertising market as it develops, as well as selling/serving online advertising. I realised afterwards that I briefly crossed career paths with Keith Kaplan their President of North America, at Interactive Search Holdings. Small digital world! They work with Joost, who are pioneers in the online video content space.

Ad networks/serving businesses have been successful in securing a large share of the online advertising display market to date, and some notable examples have been acquired by Google (Doubleclick), Microsoft (aQuantive) and Orange (Unanimis) and there is every reason to expect that ad networks will be successful in video online given their expertise and drive, but I think they will be given a run for their money by the established TV networks and TV Buyers on their home turf.

Francis Turner of .Fox Networks, forecasted £65m this year for the UK Video Online ad market (In stream). However, put that in perspective with the total UK online ad market at £3.54b in 2009 and within that online UK display at £709.3m (IAB/PWC), and GroupM’s latest Jun 10 UK TV Advertising forecast for 2010 at £3.329b, there is an exciting journey ahead. As an aside, I noted recently a headline that Forrester is predicting video will be the fastest growing interactive advertising format in Europe over the next five years, with advertisers spending more than €1bn (£860m) on the medium.

Toby Crisp of comScore Inc presented an interesting overview of the UK online video market. YouTube dominate with 49% of audience share, over the remaining 51% distributed over a long tail after Facebook, BBC, ITV, BSkyB who are all making good progress. I asked Toby how he thought this might change over the next few years. His personal comments were that it depends on YouTube’s further success in developing distribution/rev share with content providers like UK Broadcaster Channel 4, etc, versus how aggregators/distributors (Adconion aim to be amongst them) and broadcasters develop their video online interests. The average length of video viewed online is now 5.1 minutes, which incidentally is the IAB’s definition of long form video, so it’s not just about user generated content anymore. Only 5% of mobile users view video online, but 14% of smart phone owners, a very lucrative and targetable audience of predominantly higher earners aged 24-34. 38% of all time spent online is now spent watching video content. Strong points for online video are convenience of how you view (easy to stop/start/pause) when (time flexible) and where (multiple or mobile locations). TV still wins out though in terms of pleasure of the viewing experience in both vision and sound on the big screen.

Both Robert Black of EyeWonder and Steve Doyle of InSkin Media presented their very innovative ad formats.The former has been bought by Lime Light, a large content service provider, and I expect that more of these businesses will be consolidated higher up the online video revenue chain over the next few years. Robert Black also chairs IAB’s online video committee, and has been championing audience research work (VAST –open source so able to work Agency/Broadcaster/Advertiser research) which originated from the IAB USA. I sold TV for several years earlier in my career, I know all about the power of sight, sound, motion, and subliminal messages for brands. Steve Doyle of InSkin summarised that online video offers all of these, together with long dwell times, interaction, positive engagement and brand metrics as well, a feast of opportunity, and great news for advertisers wanting to find out more about ROI.

Charlie Grive, MD of Brandcast Media, a versatile production business that has grasped online developments across the board presented his work and credentials. His innovative work with professional communities like Oncologists is inspiring.

I met some great people during drinks after (sponsored by, recruiters for digital - thanks). It was interesting for me to consider updated views of a sector that I know well. Well done Figaro, look forward to the next one! 21st Century Growth Ad Monsters adconion Agillic amazon AOL apps aQuantive BallouPR BBC Online behavioural science Bladerston Capital blog-ola Bloggers blogosphere Bootlaw Brainient Brandcast Media BSkyB Channel 4 Charlotte Street Hotel Ciklum City Am Claire Paterson COADEC Codility CognitiveMatch com comscore inc Comufy Cowboy Ventures customers David Cameron digital Digital London digital marketing digital revolution bubble Doubleclick e-commerce Eagle Eye Ebay Email Eric Schmidt Erply EU cookie legislation Eyewonder Facebook FaceBook FCC Figaro Flattr Forrester FT Games General Motors generator global economic crisis Google Google+ Group M Professor Hargreaves Hulu i-level IAB IBC IBM SmartCamp independent Innovation Warehouse InSkin Media Inspire Conference IP ITV kinetise Launch 48 location targeting technology Luca Media martin sorrell MashUP* Microsoft Mind Candy MoshiMonsters Multiple channels Naked Play Neo@Ogilvy Netflix Now For The Long Term Ogilvy online danger online sales Online T's & C's online video Oodle OpenX Orange Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations Parag Khanna PatientKnowsBest people Policy Exchange; smart cities ; GLA; Catapault; Bristol Futures; UK Broadband: Camden Council; Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis Postmates process Propel London Proximity London PWC recession revenue Rory Sutherland Seedcamp Shuttle Sky SkyPlus social marketing ROI social marketing systems social media Social networks Soundcloud Spotify Start Ups Stephen Shakespeare Stradbroke Advisors Sunday Times Tech Hub TechCity Techcrunch techcrunch Tess Alps The Europa awards ThinkBox Timesonline TV Genius Tweets Twitter Uber UCL; Sharing Economy; Love Home Swap; unknown unknowns;;; UK Trade & Industry Unanimis Unicorn Club User behaviour VAST web security Webinar White Bear Yard wordpress WPP Yieldex YouTube Zeebox Zonerider