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I joined Matt O’Neill, President of Ad Monsters and his terrific Team this week, at their conference focused on online operational issues (http://www.admonsters.com)

I have some previous history here, as an early Ad Monster from my time at Ask.com, 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 Adaptly.com.

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.

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, http://www.adconion.com, 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, Hulu.com 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 Propellondon.com, 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!

.foxnetworks.com 21st Century Growth Ad Monsters Adaptly.com adconion Agillic amazon andiamo.io AOL apps aQuantive Ask.com astia.org BallouPR BBC Online behavioural science Bladerston Capital blog-ola Bloggers blogosphere BookingBug.com Bootlaw Brainient Brandcast Media BraveNewTalent.com BSkyB buddy.com Channel 4 Charlotte Street Hotel Ciklum City Am Claire Paterson COADEC Codility CognitiveMatch com comscore inc Comufy comufy.com Cowboy Ventures customers David Cameron digital Digital London digital marketing digital revolution dot.com bubble Doubleclick Dreamstake.net e-commerce Eagle Eye Ebay Email Eric Schmidt Erply EU cookie legislation everywoman.com Eyewonder Facebook FaceBook FCC Fetchtv.com Figaro Flattr Forrester Foursquare.com FT Games General Motors generator global economic crisis Google Google+ Group M hive.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarter_Planet http://www.coadec.com/ Professor Hargreaves http://www.level39.co/ https://twitter.com/IBMSmartCamp Hulu i-level IAB IBC IBM SmartCamp independent Innovation Warehouse InSkin Media Inspire Conference IP IPvision-uk.tv ITV jelastic.com kinetise Launch 48 location targeting technology Luca Media magick.nu martin sorrell MashUP* Microsoft Mind Candy momit.com MoshiMonsters Multiple channels Naked Play Neo@Ogilvy nest.com 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 secludit.com Seedcamp Shuttle Sky SkyPlus social marketing ROI social marketing systems social media Social networks socialbullguard.com Soundcloud Spotify Springboard.com Start Ups Stephen Shakespeare Stradbroke Advisors Sunday Times Tech Hub techallstars.com TechCity Techcrunch techcrunch Tess Alps The Europa awards ThinkBox Timesonline tiramizoo.com TV Genius Tweets Twitter Twitter.com Uber UCL; Sharing Economy; Love Home Swap; unknown unknowns; Uber.com; Airbnb.com; UK Trade & Industry Unanimis Unicorn Club upperstreet.com User behaviour VAST wakingapp.comClearreturns.com web security Webinar White Bear Yard wordpress WPP www.lucamedia.com/searching-for-unicorns Yieldex YouTube Zeebox Zeebox.com Zonerider