Powerful internet fraud – Moneyexpert360 & Swoggi

It is not often that I write about consumer issues but I came across a lovely little scam the other day that took some money off me, luckily I worked it out before it was too much but it left me amazed that these businesses still exist and are not challenged by trading standards or Action Fraud. The story starts with a fake site called http://www.moneyexpert360.com where one of the writers talks about this amazing site called http://www.swoggi.com or http://www.swoggi.co.uk where you can bid for ipods and ipads etc and win at very low pricing. It does of course look too good to be true but at the same time professional and backed by Moneyexperts360 who of coursed ripped off the moneyexpert url.

So basically the site encourages you to bid but every bid will cost you 50p. The other clever feature is that the auction runs one penny at a time. So imagine trying to get to a £150 ipad – do the maths and consumers pay http://www.swoggi.co.uk thousands to get that ipad. The final twist is that people get bored of doing that and so employ the bidrobot to do the bidding for you and you set how many bids you want to do – all without realising that you are paying 50p a click.

The one line of explanation is hidden in reams of writing and frankly its hard to find and understand. Nowhere obvious does it state that you are paying with every bid, they know what they are doing and it is mis representation and as good as fraud.

Please share this blog, retweet the tweet and do anything you can to help shut down this scam site – if any of you are journos then please spread the word with your huge followers and lets stop these sites thrive on ignorance.

Digital foot print of parents

It struck me the other day as I posted an image of my wife and I plus friends on a no kid ski trip and the comments that came after that we are actually saying a lot about us as parents and revealing so many thoughts that would have disappeared into the sky in our day. We have all done it and seen it! ‘YES! weekend away without the kids!’ ‘Finally they are in bed’ ‘they have been little shits today’ and so on, you get it.

Now we all know that we don’t say anything with any malice but at the same time if you were to go back and read some of it, maybe it would strike a nerve. I know if I was posting about my wife, ‘thank god I am going to get away from her for a few days’ I may come in for some problems at home! So what is the difference and will they understand? Will kids understand for the first time just how much pleasure we got from ‘us/me time?’ All those photos from glamorous locations that some friends I know who travel a lot for work (not me of course), will they understand that you were actually working and not playing instead of being with them at home.

We are all creating a digital footprint, not just the teenagers we so often talk about when it comes to this subject, our lives are there for ever splashed across the various platforms – I wonder what other people will see in them when they look back. I hope for all our sakes that actually our children will see just how much we loved them, took them places, photographed them and showed them off with pride because they are going to need it to make up for some of those ‘brilliant another holiday ruined by sick child comments’

Ryder Cup of programmatic – my review of US vs Europe programmatic

First published in The Drum – click here

Back in 2010 when I started the European arm of VivaKi’s Audience On Demand, I had to turn to the US for everything. Half the companies I dealt with at the time had to turn to their data centres in the US just to make a bid, something that today would be impossible to imagine.

The US led the programmatic revolution, my own colleagues kicking things off in 2008. I was certainly wowed by the work going on in the US and the sophistication with which they approached this new and complex advertising technique.

Europeans often complain that Americans just don’t understand us. Having spent five months in the US last year, I realise that the reverse is also true. We just don’t understand the sheer scale and complexity of the US market either and because of that it creates more challenges for a single country than for Europe as a whole.

People would say without hesitation or doubt: ‘Oh so how is the UK, what are you, about two years’ behind us?’ Frustrating. So often the opinion was based on scale, not sophistication, and the two are fundamentally different in a market like the US. As I consider my time there and compare it with the UK, I would say there are three primary differences:

Scale vs campaign sophistication

There are advertisers in the US who at times spend more individually than two major European markets combined. Daunting as it is, this type of scale drives innovation and startups. It powers research and learnings because budgets are so large that testing new technology and funding research is that much easier than in smaller markets. But take a narrower view of the work, the strategy, and this is where Europe starts to come into its own.

While scale equates to innovation on a macro level, smaller budgets often lead to more rigorous optimisation on a campaign level.

Let’s take something like centralising retargeting. In the space of about a year the UK revolutionised the marketplace. It was a marketplace where an advertiser routinely had 10+ ad networks and publishers each with a pixel on the advertiser’s site. They would happily retarget their first-party data, creating incredible internal competition and price inflation on their audiences as well as data leakage. This is like letting multiple companies bid on brand search terms. It would never be allowed in search so why in display?

UK advertisers realised relatively quickly the problem needed fixing – and it was fixed. The US is still pondering the complexity.

Vendor management

Vast agency networks across multiple cities creates an opportunity for publishers and media sellers to find money in any number of cracks. Policing spend and agency-preferred partners in the US is incredibly difficult. Say no to a tech company in one city, and they will pitch to your counterpart in another.

Europe appears to have a much better grasp on that process. With relatively smaller teams, overarching strategies can be put into play and monitored effectively. This may not be to the liking of some media companies, but it needs to be done to ensure best-in-class partnerships.

Invented in the US, adopted in Europe, private marketplaces (PMPs) are another of Europe’s success stories. The speed with which the UK alone created PMPs surprised my US colleagues and competitors. Building bespoke PMPs is now the norm in Europe to drive programmatic business. In the US there are still DSP providers without PMP functionality, which I find incredible.

At a dinner I attended in New York, publishers were bemoaning the lack of buyer demand. In Europe we see the opposite – publishers and agencies are driving an ever higher proportion of spend via PMPs and there is massive innovation as well.

La Place Media in France is a prime example, and another more recent is theglobal launch of Pangaea, the publishing alliance led by The Guardian but including FT, CNN, The Economist and others. This is not happening in the US, as most players consider themselves too large to need that kind of collaboration. I think this is a mistake as Google, Facebook and others are only getting bigger and stronger.

Agility and innovation

Things just seem to move faster in European markets. Ideas are put into action very quickly. Geography helps. When AOD launched in the UK, I would walk down Charlotte Street in London, dealing with just a handful of leaders. The same approach in the US spans as many as six cities, 10 agencies and an army of people.

This is not a criticism, it is a fact.  Even when you have a well-developed idea, beta-testing is much quicker in a European market as you work with smaller teams who work next to each other.

Innovation is a hot topic and one that I think we lament when we look at the hotbed of Silicon Valley and the burgeoning New York scene.  However huge strides are being made in EMEA with hot new companies emerging from Israel to Amsterdam and Moscow.

One continent awe-inspiring in scale and opportunity. One continent agile and swift.  Operating in parallel? Formidable.

Premium publisher alliances and their benefits : My piece in Drum on Pangaea

Originally posted on The Drum click here.

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Exciting news from the new consortium called Pangaea. It has been a long time coming and represents another big step forward for the programmatic industry. Another step towards the word ‘programmatic’ being a thing of the past as the whole industry normalises as regards the use of tech for the targeting and delivery of ads.

I am still having conversations with advertisers who ask if we are dealing in long tail, unsold inventory. Initiatives like Pangaea add further evidence that the concept of not being able to buy premium, or build brands through programmatically traded media is a thing of the past.

This list of publishers sounds like a starting point and I am sure it will grow. It is exactly the collaboration that all publishers should be looking at.

Important to note however that although many advertisers do not want the long tail and want to avoid fraud we are still faced with a side by side comparison on lowest CPM wins driven by auditors. Pangaea will undoubtedly be at the more expensive end of the pricing spectrum in exchanges. Advertisers can’t have it both ways. We now need to make sure they are not priced out of the market by all the things the advertisers fear most but end up accepting for the sake of lower pricing.

The other plus point for Pangaea is that the advent of technology and data management platforms has changed the dynamics for advertisers. They can now play a more central role by controlling their audiences at the centre and then execute either globally or allow local markets to plug in. Either way, having the ability to partner with a single alliance to work with allows them to act at scale in premium inventory and access strong data to enhance their own.

Being global is essential. It is vital that publishers adapt to a marketplace where advertisers are doing deals with the Facebooks, Googles etc globally as a starting point in their media planning. Scale is becoming paramount.

The alliance will also allay fears from advertisers around brand safety and fraud, a critical issue right now. This group of companies can offer advertisers a vehicle to avoid many of those issues. The combined investment in tech from Rubicon, the publishers themselves and the nature of the sites means this should be a staple part of any global advertisers plans and safe in the knowledge it will bring quality, brand safe inventory.

My press round up from last couple of months.

Rather than copy and paste individual sections of my commentary in the press, here are the links to the latest hot topics, starting most recently with the Google buying Inmobi news. Basic summary was a necessary if not perfect acquisition target.

Published in Business Insider – click here for article.

A couple of weeks back, Marketing published a post on programmatic TV and how things were developing by Charlotte McEleny. Overview was we needed to unlock the data if things were going to progress.

Published in Marketing Magazine, please click here for the article.

Campaign published my article in the magazine on the joining of creative and programmatic and how both creative industry and media industry need to up their game.

Published in Campaign – please click here for the article.

Digiday story on the evolving story of trading desks, where VivaKi are leading the way in transformation in this space. Written by Emily Siegel.

Published in Digiday, click here for the article.

Drum coverage of VivaKi announcing restructure where programmatic buying skills move into the agencies. Written by Jessica Davies

Published in The Drum, for the article click here.