Category Archives: ad networks

DAA Chicago Symposium 2013

Connecting the Dots: Optimizing the Customer Experience in an Omnichannel Worldhttp://media.marketwire.com/attachments/201203/22739_DAALogo_VertRGB.jpg

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
10:30 – 12:00pm Student & Entry Level Primer
12:00 – 1:00pm Registration, Networking & Exhibit Browsing
1:00 – 5:30pm Symposium
5:30 – 7:00pm Cocktails & Reception

The Mid-America Club
200 E Randolph Drive, 80th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60601

http://www.digitalanalyticsassociation.org/symposium2013-chicago

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInStumbleUponRedditShare

Solutions to the Privacy Debate: Lemons, Carrots and Potatoes

After reading the How to Prevent the ‘Do Not Track’ Arms Race  by Peter Swire, the inanity of it all becomes more apparent.The premise of this Wired piece is that users should have a choice…they do. They can visit a site and are implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) agreeing to receive free content and services in exchange for being presented with targeted ads.

Canny Web browsers are in a mad dash to curry favor with the genteel “Information should be free” crowd visible in the user comments. It seems that this end-run was done to pre-empt negotiations through W3C, most likely in an attempt to gain market share. However, it is surprising that for an attorney that Swire missed the opportunity to articulate the above quid pro quo argument missing in the discussion. Then again, so did the IAB. See Digital Media Lesson in Shooting One’s Foot (Part I).

The Dead Weight Web Audience (DWWW) consists of variety of ad/tracking dodgers. The size of this audience and their habits can be measured by most major site analytics tools and ad servers out-of-the-box or with some customization. Common methods include:

  1. Browser DNT
  2. Cookie blockers
  3. Ad blockers
  4. JS rejectors
  5. NAI opt-outs
  6. Likely cookie-deleters
  7. Others…

While the politicians posture and the debate rages on, sometimes it is necessary to turn these lemons into lemonade. The good news is that, solid ad analytics (or adverlytics) can inform the decision-making process about which kinds are most prevalent in your target Web audience.


Advertisers
It all starts with digital marketers and their agencies paying attention to the details of ad delivery. The growing interest in ad viewability is encouraging. For those that really want to reach a tech-savvy entitled audience that wants nothing to do with their ads  they will need to first measure it, in order to monetize it.


  • Carrot. Demographics on this audience may skew higher education and higher income; this  audience spends a lot of time online and believes in getting something for nothing and not afraid to post about it. Measuring the performance of this specific audience for your ad campaigns however, may require a concerted effort by digital media planners and analytics professionals – but that is their job.
  • Stick: Time to get up off the couch and start asking questions of your media suppliers, agencies and analytics team. Advertisers wasting impressions on an audience that doesn’t want any ads and is actively blocking your efforts to show them an ad is kind of masochistic. Ignorance is no longer an excuse as the money being wasted on targeting into the unappreciated abyss, could instead be heavied-up with more receptive audiences. Again, analytics can help refine targeting.

If existing agency analytics can’t measure the Dead Weight Web Audience, then consider adding an independent analytics consultant.

Publishers
For site publishers that really want to attract the free-riding tech-savvy audience that also wants nothing to do with supporting their business model, the same advice applies: measure it and monetize it.

  • Carrot: Allow them to consume content for free, but find a way to sell advertising against this special audience. Free-riders can become its own targetable segment by definition – no off-site tracking or ad network is even needed. Anyone with DNT header activated, rejecting 3rd party cookies, blocking JS, etc…Most larger pubs already have an audience research/analytics and ad ops teams that can help do this and if not, additional consultants can be engaged.
  • Stick: Just say no to the content free-riders. While this has been really difficult for sites that have historically been in search of bulk ad impression delivery, the writing is on the wall considering the drive for ad viewability. When these literally dodgy people visit a site, send them a pop-up that advises them to pay for the session, subscribe, register or add site to the targeting white list. If the users choose not to, show them an empty page, very stripped down content or allow an annoying freebie cap. BTW, the pop-up can carry an ad, too.

Ad Networks
The real question is what to do with the DWWW that expects free content to be there when they arrive at a network Web site. These users can be sized up and once this is done, it is a question of monetization:

  • Carrot. Though anecdotal research suggests a small percentage of users are actually opting-out and that the size of the audience is relatively small, it does represent a valuable tech-savvy segment. Simply enable ad targeting of the DNT, NAI Opt-outs and the 3rd party cookie blocking crowd. Many ad networks have a means to even exclude likely cookie-deleters from their targeting. Folks, that sounds like a new segment to sell.
  • Stick. Develop or implement ad/pay wall technology. This will force the quid pro quo. For users that want to read their favorite bloggers, they will need to pay up with cash or a small slice of their attention. Smaller long-tail publisher partners will need help pulling this off but ad networks could easily deploy this technology.

Conclusion
Whether using the carrot, the stick or both, the solution is that advertisers and publishers need to take action on their own to stop getting ripped-off. Don’t carry this sack of entitled potatoes on your back. Now is the time to measure and monetize this otherwise mass of Dead Weight Web Audience.

Leveraging an incremental approach that leverages solid adverlytics, these strategies can boost the bottom-line and shape the digital media industry for the future. In doing so, many of these regulatory problems will solve themselves.

Learn to Say No to Free-riders.

    Control Your Ad Preferences 2012!

    Updated for 2012 and just in time for the Holidays, its Control Your Ad Preferences 2012!


    Don’t be a cafone and block ads or delete your cookies…forget what the privacy fanatics and content freeloaders say. TOTSB’s handy reference of major ad control settings panels is here to help. In our continuing effort to ease the privacy data paranoia and highlight consumer control, here is where you can adjust most if not all digital advertising preferences. 2




    Overview for 2012
    Overall, controlling your ad preferences has gotten easier. It is much simpler to do than correcting information on your credit report. What is interesting is that not all of the tools out there allow you to opt-in as in some cases you might be opted-out through no direct action on your part.

    LIMITATIONS: As with all cookie-based systems they are susceptible to cookie blockers, changing computers or delete the NAI opt-out cookie.

    Global Cookie Managers
    These services have emerged as a one-stop shop for consumers.
    1. PrivacyChoice – Very easy to use and includes Yahoo, Bizo, BlueKai, Exelate tabs (definitely easier to use since 2011). Individual publishers can skin this with their ad partners.
    2. Network Advertising Initiaive (NAI) – The industry’s solution and one of the earliest efforts to give consumers control. If you really don’t want ANY display advertising tailored to you, set your opt-out centrally and then get lots of irrelevant ads – enjoy. In 2012, they made it easier to see the opt-in list compared to opt-outs. However, it is easier to opt-out than it is to opt back in.
    3. TrustEWas new in 2011 as an opt-out approach and competitive to NAI. It has more participants than NAI. Not a bad approach but seeing tracking technologies like Adobe Omniture included here is interesting.
    4. PreferenceCentral – Rub by email house Unsubcentral – looks interesting but not sure what control this really provides yet (no change form 2011)
    Specific Advertising Provider Preference Managers
    The data providers of the world mostly work behind the scenes but have a variety of services for consumers to control their advertising.
    1. Blue Kai – by far the most interesting with a new interface. Plenty of behavioral ad targeting fodder in here. Also, you can really see the presence of offline credit ratings companies busily creating a whole new revenue stream off of you; interesting that because it is just as creepy yet harder to see. Still, Blue Kai stands out as offering a benefit to charities.
    2. Exelate -They changed the URL in 2012 and improved the interface. Offers many interest categories that can are based on behavior but can be edited.
    3. Lotame – New URL! Fairly innocuous interest and sub-interest categories with observed behavior.
    4. Bizo – Known as the B2B player in the digital advertising data business. Nice approach actually.
    5. Safecount –  from the DynamicLogic (WPP) family comes a totally different approach; with no behavioral segments but plenty of ad creative and sites you’ve been to; no interest preferences here. Actually shows you the creative units.
    6. Amazon – pretty simplistic control over personalization of Amazon ads.
    7. Blue Cava – mobile targeting manager. 
    8. RapLeaf – Opt-out and preference manager; associates to an email address.

    Major Consumer Portals
    Where people get their email 24×7 and store their personal life’s electronic communiques all for free…somebody has to pay for this storage and bandwidth. Thank you advertisers. Note, these email portal systems are more persistent than anonymous cookie-based platforms since they require users to authenticate. At the same time, they tend to be the most advanced.
    1. Google – Comprehensive and interest-based; no observed behavior included (yet). There is also the Google Dashboard. which offers an integrated way to manage all your Google services – including your search history. Must be signed-in.
    2. Microsoft – Another comprehensive list of interests; no observed behavior.
      Must be signed-in.
    3. Yahoo – Offers a fairly deep interest profile; no observed behavior. Their Ad Interest Manager currently only allows 7 category opt-outs – seems like an odd limit on something that makes the advertising more valuable.
    4. AOL – Pretty simplistic; shows what categories you are in but no control here yet.
    5. AT&TNEW! Control panel based on observed interests; a little clunky but editable.
    If anyone has any other suggestions for the above list, please comment or drop TOTSB a line!
    Also, in case you were looking for a Flash cookie control panel to view and/remove such locally stored objects: http://bit.ly/2fZi


    Last, don’t be evil and enjoy your new Google Toilet ™!


    Agency Trading Desk Myths & Memes Debunked (Part I)

    Fear, uncertainty and doubt has worked well for many incumbents in the technology and online media game over the years. Why should sell-siders be any different when it comes to Agency Trading Desks (ATDs)? Don’t worry…they’re not.


    With buy-siders generally tight-lipped about the subject of ATDs, the resulting vacuum is being filled by constant industry sniping and chatter. Since the advent of the ATD, they have had aspersions notoriously put on them – perpetuating FUD. That the industry trade media and blogs are the only place that a consistently negative view of ATDs can be found should come as no surprise. Yet, the recent spate of chicken-little articles, posts and heated comments represent what is apparently a really threatened sell-side point of view.


    While agencies are notoriously silent about their and their client’s businesses (as they should be), two anti-ATD blog posts (The Trouble With Agency Trading Desks and Thumb on the Scalewarranted a response from a different point-of-view…the advertiser. The spin and rhetoric have reached epic proportions and so a debunking of popular myths and memes follow below:



    Double-dipping. From the best defense is offense school. It is as if the basic math around billable hours and the service-layer around managing Demand Side Platforms have no value. Data-driven media buying is very different from traditional demo-driven index based methods and takes alot of time as clients and agency partners get up to speed. Moreover, the measurement planning, analytics, technical and media accounting and media reconciliation that are required to manage these campaigns are also very different. 

    The notion of “double-dipping” belies a basic misunderstanding of the process: DSPs are not exactly push-button. It is nothing like an in-house production studio – it is very strategic not simple production. Leveraging the expertise associated with intricate technical aspects of tags and data sources alone is a significant effort. Also as a reminder, digital advertising used to be commissionable or marked-up like traditional media. Meanwhile, where is the outrage at ad networks double-dipping with advertiser data?


    Profit-margins. The implication that agencies shouldn’t be seeking profitable service offerings is simply outrageous. In the end, it is a service business and comprised of talented specialists that care about client business. With the prevalence of small-scale site retargeting making up alot of the business today, the ad volume and associated fees that ATDs are charging suggest that they may be running somewhat in the red; at least, until the business scales up or broadens to warrant the resource investment

    Advertisers squeezing too hard here run the risk of running the people (not machines) doing the work into the ground – not good either. ATDs are not charitable organizations so it is not clear why they should be expected not to earn fees or why they have to justify it ad nauseaum. That said, it is in ATDs best interest to be very transparent with clients about the fees they are charging.


    Agency Technology Investment. Holding company ATDs, for the most part are not building their own buying technologies in-house. The spin-out of Adnetik being an exception and who’s success remains to be seen. Instead they are licensing DSP tools/white-labelling and applying their tech-savvy marketing teams to enable a platform for the benefit of clients. While their marketing often use the term platform, they mean technology and the service-layer to support it – not literally hardware and software. 


    In some cases, agencies may be using their business intelligence tools to support ATD reporting – that makes sense and is nothing new. Agency analytics teams have been using home-grown BI for years. Advertisers really just need to ask their agency questions if they don’t understand how all of it works…this recalls a famous Chinese proverb: He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.


    Data-hoarding ATDs. Really? The sell-sider rhetoric on this point is very misleading. Most ATDs are essentially service-providers, consultants armed with a DSP SLA (service level agreement) and the expertise. While agency BI tools attempt to provide handy storage of performance data (with debatable proficiency). Historical benchmarks and campaign reporting data are not the same as actionable behavioral user-level data, i.e. cookies. No, afraid that data is sitting inside ad networks, ad servers (which, by the way sometimes turns out to be the same cookie used by the ad exchange) or in a Data Management Platform. 


    Now that said, there is simply no excuse for an ATD or agency to clandestinely re-purpose
    so-called 4th party data from ad campaigns for later use. That is a major ethical lapse and sell-siders (publishers) should not tolerate. Ironically though, at the same time, far too many major ad networks are happy to re-purpose advertiser and publisher campaign performance data when it can maximize their revenue.



    Mandate. Just what are sell-siders so afraid of? Perhaps their advertiser clients getting the most experienced and savvy teams working on their behalf and more transparancy. That is a huge benefit for client-side marketers that remarkably all too often have few senior digital media natives in-house. As a result, there is a huge-learning curve and time means money in a service business. 


    The flip-side is that an agency holding company not consolidating their technical and negotiating expertise on one team raises management competency questions. With the level of technology change today, a centralized team is exactly what holding companies should be doing to effectively manage their resources. A better question and especially so for site retargeting is, that ad networks are still being considered. If old-school planner-buyers are concerned then they ought to put in for a transfer to the ATD.


    Conflict of Interest. Wow – look at who is talking. Most advertisers would probably prefer the dedicated separate team within their ATD (usually closely directed by their agency-of-record) than what naked and supposedly independent sell-siders and technology vendors have to offer to protect their interests, i.e. nothing. It seems no different than a client directly buying from a media vendor, where that really new “big idea” has actually been shopped to several other advertisers (probably not all that new.) Plus, if an advertiser decides to pass, 100% probability that “idea” will be offered up to an advertiser’s competitor. Hey, clients can certainly pay a premium for category exclusivity – that option is always available.


    On the other hand, AORs by definition get the concept of category exclusivity. With ATDs, there is semblance of brand stewardship and a compeitive firewall. Moreover, an ATD’s media planning agency partners are very unlikely to put any one client account at risk. That’s because in game theory terms, branding is a zero-sum game, i.e. it is about brand X winning, which means that brands A, B and C lose. As such, the ad strategies that are successful cannot be shared, nor the ones that didn’t. The problem is that sell-siders and technology vendors often have the opposite – industry specialists. 


    The Machine Knows Better. Of course it makes sense to leverage automatic optimization and novel algorithmic approaches to improve results. However, far too many of the sell-siders and arms vendors out there purport that an ATD just can’t keep up. That may or may not be true but consider the source. How many sellers are transparent enough to report on the performance of their supposed-machine learning technologies? Some will do it but only when asked.

    In any case, marketers will always have a need to explain and justify their actions. The client-side CFO does not want to hear about magic or blackboxes. They want to understand how to allocate cash to generate ROAS and ROI in a predictable way. People can be held accountable in a way machines cannot. The simple fact is that advertisers need expert brains to adjust to the changing marketplace and resources – managing campaigns on their behalf.


    Early-in-session User Performance. One of the more clever rhetorical devices that pops up when sellers realize they are about to get disintermediated. It essentially questions the competition’s inventory quality suggesting that either directly or indirectly that only they have access to the special ad inventory. That’s right, through first dibs or exclusive relationships, the seller’s inventory “performs better” and therefore more valuable than the other. It is possible but  depends on the seller’s definition of perform – for their bottom line or for their client’s? BTW, still waiting for the data or performance reports that back-this up after multiple requests. Ironically, most of these sellers are also getting a portion of their inventory from the same exchange sources as the ATD; the real question is just how much.


    Simplistic Wall Street Metaphors. This is an oldie…first of all day-trading media is a very one-dimensional way of viewing media consumption. It is not the same as a financial asset that has intrinsic value (stocks, bonds, options)…however it does make for nefarious and ominous metaphors with the recent financial crisis and all. Digging past the hackneyed writing, RTB by definition doesn’t allow positions to be taken in the same way as financial trading. These are real-time transactions, i.e. a spot market where ATDs aren’t owning inventory or taking a position. It seems that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of financial atribitraging.

    It seems like the amount of technology required to squeeze out any kind of profit through exploiting information inefficiencies across many RTB decisions is more likely going to come from a DSPs that can hedge across multiple advertisers. ATDs just don’t have the financial structure, engineering or research staff to pull this off. In practice, this is nothing more than another red herring. Any ATDs that could save client’s big money would want that to be known.


    Kick-backs. One of the more outrageous charges about kickbakcs was refuted in public and so the matter should be closed. Yet, the meme continues to proliferate. It may also depend on the definition of a kick-back. Is free user training or better support a kick-back? How about box seats to the Cubs game and fancy meals? Without knowing the internal accounting between DSPs, exchanges and ATDs it may never be known for certain. Clients can always ask for audit rights but like all memes this one can be difficult to prove or disprove.


    Did I miss any or do you have any others to add? Feel free to submit a comment below!

    The Moratorium: No, you May Not Place a Tag on the Site…

    Digital marketers, the time has come to heed the call and end the rampant chaos and confusion by putting in place page tag moratoriums. Today.

    WHY THE MORATORIUM?

    Upon taking a closer look at the confusion and chaos that the industry has come to tolerate clearly illustrates the rationale.

    CONFUSION
    For too many and for too long, digital marketing brings with it page tagging needs that need to be executed by technical teams in other departments. Moreover, there are often precision measurement implications to retargeting and conversion tags. Although some legacy ad networks are making strategic moves, this confusion has definitely been a money-making opportunity. Adding to the confusion, the ad networks are rapidly right-sizing their staff, diversifying their offerings and/or reinventing themselves as exchanges, DMPs, DSPs, data layers and more.

    That said, the real confusion can be split into three distinct aspects of communication within the digital marketing process:

    1. Opaque Reporting – With the advent of DSP’s, OpenRTB and the IAB’s taxonomy, not sharing more performance information is problematic. From an analytics standpoint, not knowing where your high-performing audience segments are coming from and/or where they are in the conversion funnel becomes a opportuniy cost. If you are focused on conversion this makes your campaigns spray and pray.

    2. Unclear Benefit – All too often, ad networks are quick and aggressive about getting their tags placed on pages…why? More details and in plain English are needed beyond anecdotal stories and faux studies of performance success. Agencies too have an oppotunity here to better steward their client’s brands. Exactly what is the specific benefit of retargeting, optimization or incremental conversion. A simple litmus test is: proceed when and only when the level of benefit exceeds the level of effort.

    3. Data Leakage Risk – In many cases, it is not clear who owns the cookies and/or the behavioral data  vapor trail that is a byproduct of site traffic/ad campaigns. Without clarity on this important intellectual property it shouldn’t be a surprise when you find that the competitors are benefitting from the campaigns that you just ran. With the growing calls for privacy and consumer control this should not be left to chance.

    The reality is that digital media is confusing enough rife with opportunities for swirl. Client-side marketers need to continue leaning in, stepping-up and demanding more clarity about those bells and whistles. Those that are not comfortable dealing with the more technical aspects of digital marketing need to get an agency, consultant and/or in-house staff that  are experienced and have demonstrated success.

    CHAOS
    To suggest that the technical aspects of today’s page tagging create chaos would be an understatement. Historically, page tags have fallen between the organizational cracks into the cross-functional abyss. Page tags have created serious problems for digital marketers and IT/engineering teams alike. With neither resourced properly to deal with this fast-moving technology that is growing more complex – mayhem and frayed relationships are an all too common result.

    The good news is that technology is now available to help deal with the chaos: universal tag management systems like BrightTag, Tealium, Ensighten and TagMan can help. The technology also offers three different kind of benefits:

    1. Tag Management – There is no question that proliferating page tags are the Achilles heel of most digital marketer and site IT/engineering teams. Today page tags are often late being implemented due to resource constraints with seemingly simple requests triggering requirements-level justification. As a result, in order to get any tags in place the real need is often scaled back to avoid the upfront time – that means a less than ideal deployment and less meaningful measurement. If the tags actually do get implemented, they are at certainly risk of randomly disappearing mid-campaign further compromising measurement. Last, once they are live, some page tags are escape notice and are never decommissioned upon campaign end. Don’t expect ad networks to remind you to remove their tags. Phantom cookie pools are probably rampant.

    2. Data Sharing – Beyond rendering tags on pages at the right places and the right times, the better tag management systems are being baked into site CMS (content management systems) to enable the routine passing of data attributes. Instead of hot-rodding simplistic 3rd party ad server container tags, the newer platforms are deeply integrated and have Web-based interfaces that marketing, IT and agencies can access. A huge benefit of this is avoiding the software development-QA queue and the subsequent management hassle of dealing with one-off JavaScript code.

    3. Tag Latency – Most page tags are “dumb,” meaning that they always fire all the time. So-called “smart” tags now offer conditional tag rendering, which provides marketers with even more precise control. More advanced approaches like BrightTag’s take advantage of super-fast asynchronous server-server connections, i.e. while the page is downloading in the user’s browser. If your page tag functionality can’t be called through their server-side API connection then latency is unavoidable.

    The result of this is compromised measurement and unnecessary latency putting digital ad campaigns at risk. It just doesn’t have to be this way with universal tag management technologies that make the entire process easier. For the first-time ever, agency ad ops, analytics, media planning and engineering teams have the chance to collaboratively and proactively manage burgeoning page tags.

    PRETZEL LOGIC
    A recent article by Joe Marchese of MediaPost, Putting Lipstick On The Banner puts it best. While I vehemently disagree with the assessment of display ad efficacy (there’s more to display than clicks), Mr. Marchese does make a good point about the apparent pretzel logic of digital media.

    Already challenged to explain the value of their existing campaigns, by adding more complexity digital marketers are usually not really improving their campaigns. With more retargeting, research and tracking tags on the horizon (bright-shiny objects) – savvy digital marketers and even partners can see why getting their house in order with their own version of The Moratorium makes total sense.

    The message of The Moratorium to ad networks, data providers and other meta media purveyors is a simple one: don’t bother asking for page tags unless you’re also bringing solutions to the chaos and confusion that you’re also bringing. Behind it is a more sustainable business relationship built on transparency and success.

    Digital marketers will continue to get the results that they deserve, until they demand better from media partners and even digital agencies.

    Until then the answer should be: No, you may not place a tag on the site.