Digital Dash: Smart billboard ads & more

1. New gigantic Piccadilly Circus billboard will tailor ads to traffic
If you thought your flat screen TV was big, imagine one the size of three tennis courts.

Thankfully, this one’s not intended for domestic use, but it is about to find a new home in London’s Piccadilly Circus – which has been noticeably billboard-free for the past nine months.

The enormous new advertising platform will fire-up for the first time at the end of October, packed with 11 million pixels to make sure no detail gets missed.

Piccadilly Circus_billboard screen

And what the screen boasts in size, is more than matched by smarts – a set of sneaky hidden cameras will track the make and model of passing cars and deliver ads based on what’s driving past at that exact moment.

Brands will even be able to dictate which cars they’d like a specific ad to be shown to.

The billboard will also take weather conditions into account before deciding which ads to display.

The screen will replace the six iconic wraparound billboards that have defined Piccadilly Circus for many decades, and while it can too be split into sections to run several ads simultaneously, it also offers the exciting opportunity for a brand to embark on a full-screen takeover.


2. 3 must-know announcements from Facebook’s Oculus Connect conference
This week, Mark Zuckerberg and his Oculus team took to the stage for the Connect developer’s conference to lift the lid on some seriously exciting VR evolutions.

Here are three of the biggest announcements:

3D News Feed posts – prepare for the arrival of a brand new type of News Feed post, different to anything you’ve seen before. You’ll soon be able to create virtual objects in the Oculus Medium sculpting platform or Facebook Spaces VR hangouts, then share them on the News Feed to people who – wait for it – don’t have a VR headset. Users can then grab, spin and interact with the object from all angles.

Facebook_3D News Feed posts

Oculus Go – the company’s latest headset has a crucial USP in that it’s standalone – working without the need for a PC or mobile. It will also be far more affordable than most other models out right now, hitting the market at $199. This should help Mr. Zuckerberg achieve his ambition of getting one billion people into VR.

Oculus Dash – once you’ve seen this, your lonely old IRL monitor will seem infinitely unimpressive. Oculus Dash introduces you to a world of limitless screens, repositioned all around you at the swipe of a hand. Here it is in action:


3. Prepare to care A LOT about Snapchat’s new Context Cards
Businesses listen up, Snapchat’s latest feature is kind of a big deal.

Context Cards will allow you to swipe up on certain Snaps shared by users – yes, users – to reveal extra info about a business or location featured in the Snap. This will include reviews, bookings, ride hailing, contact details and more (info is gathered from Snapchat’s partners, including TripAdvisor and Foursquare, Uber and Lyft).

The reason this could mark a big moment for marketers relates to discovery. We all know that organic recommendations from peers are by far the most influential way to pique interest in others, and Snaps take recommendations to a whole new level with their super engaging format.

What we’re now talking about is people viewing a friend’s Snap – say of them at a restaurant – liking what they see, then being able to instantly access information about the restaurant and interact with the business directly.

Context Cards will only feature on Snaps using a venue-specific geofilter, or those that have been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and appear in Snap Map or search.


4. Facebook adds campaign-level budget optimisation
Most Facebook advertisers will be familiar with the issue of an ad set not being able to spend in line with the set budget.

This often happens when a target audience is relatively small or very specific, and Facebook simply can’t find enough users that fulfil both your criteria and its own, to deliver the ads to.

It could also happen if a particular ad set just isn’t performing very well.

Either way, when you’re busy juggling budgets, it’s a bit of a headache.

But Facebook is now looking to reintroduce an option that disappeared some time ago – budget optimisation at campaign level.

Just like how budget optimisation at ad set level automatically adjusts spends based on ad performance, the campaign-level optimisation will do the same but for ad sets rather than individual ads.

So if you’re running a contest for example, and want to make sure that you spend £200 in total for the campaign, Facebook will assign more money to the ad sets getting the best results to ensure that your entire budget is used up.


5. Apple causes panic with new cookie-blocking Safari update – but how scary is it really?
Apple has done something really annoying, albeit more annoying to advertisers than users.

Along with a new Safari update comes the introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which signals a significant crackdown on third-party cross-site browsing data tracking.

ITP means that third-party cookies that track people across sites can only be used within 24 hours of visiting a website via Safari, and after that they can only be used for log-in purposes. Beyond 30 days the cookies are gone for good.

In terms of Facebook, this could result in an additional confirmation stage when using Facebook plug-ins on websites (after 24 hours), and a repeat login (after 30 days).

Facebook analytics could also be hit, with advertisers seeing skewed unique user counts from mobile website data.

People may also have to log in every time they use Facebook within an app, rather than just logging in once per device.

There’s no doubt that on many levels, ITP could impact businesses quite heavily – especially in terms of attribution.

But interestingly, it’s not yet clear whether Facebook’s retargeting pixel will be affected at all. It actually looks like it might not be, which for companies like ours is a bloody massive relief.

Google is already taking measures to limit the impact of ITP by releasing a new Google Analytics cookie. You can read all about that here.