The 6th Rubicon Project Trading Desk Panel at Liberty Theatre, NY. Covered many of the usual topics around the programmatic space including a clip from the Cannes Rubicon Panel to kick things off. CLICK picture for video
The 6th Rubicon Project Trading Desk Panel at Liberty Theatre, NY. Covered many of the usual topics around the programmatic space including a clip from the Cannes Rubicon Panel to kick things off. CLICK picture for video
This post was first published in the Wall Street Journal – to see it click here
In Defence of Trading Desks
The World Federation of Advertisers report on programmatic trading, issued last week, has set the online ad industry abuzz. I am pleased to see clients taking a stand on transparency and some of the other issues surfaced in the report, despite being one of the purported programmatic culprits.
When Publicis launched Audience On Demand in 2008, we decided to create it as an alternative to the very murky services that were dominating the marketplace at the time, such as ad networks, that operated in the dark and sometimes pocketed triple digit profit margins in the process.
Six years later we are standing firm on our early decisions, and reports like the one issued last week suggest the market is moving in our favor.
But the fact is not all agency trading desks are created equal. And while the WFA report inaccurately tries to paint us all with one color, I encourage every marketer in the industry to take note of the questions in the report that relate to issues such as arbitrage and data. Don’t just ask these questions of your agency trading desk, however; Ask them of every programmatic provider you might be spending with today.
If a programmatic provider is working in a marketers’ best interest it should not be arbitraging inventory, it should be buying audiences and inventory transparently in real time. It should be protecting marketers’ data (it’s their data, and they should honor it as such, unless given permission to blend it). It should have a rigorous vetting process to evaluate all data and technology partners to be sure that protection extends across the ecosystem.
It should also be tireless in pursuit of viewability and quality, and it should show you how it is trying to protect your ads from fraud. I submit that an in-house option or managed service demand-side platform that buys on a marketer’s behalf will provide less brand safety than an agency trading desk. It simply costs too much to deliver extensive black and white lists, tech vetting and human vetting at a client level.
Finally programmatic providers should make it entirely clear what percentage of marketers’ ad dollars are actually spent on ad space, and it should be far, far greater than 40% as the WFA report suggested. That number is ridiculous. Candidly, a fair amount of the math cited in the WFA report is peculiar.
In general, the WFA report steers marketers toward setting up an in-house solution. It’s a viable, though difficult and limiting proposition to pursue. An in-house operation is not going to resolve all transparency issues. It might give marketers complete control, but it also results in limited visibility once the campaigns go out the door, and you are only as good as the technology you tie yourself to.
Meanwhile, if marketers outsource to an ad network, managed service DSP or non-disclosed trading desk, you have little control, less visibility and no ownership.
I hope I get a chance to meet the WFA. I would love to talk to authors of this report about their findings, where the insights were obtained and how the calculations were done. So much of the report is spot on in terms of what questions to ask, but the bias and inaccuracies need to be corrected.
It has been a while since a company has demonstrated behaviours that have left me both gobsmacked and fuming. Ladbrokes has just demonstrated itself as one of those companies that we should highlight at every conference on data privacy, and I sure will from now on.
So I opened a Ladbrokes account at some point with a plan to lose some money on the Grand National. It will not surprise anyone to know that I did not read any of the terms and conditions, lets face who does? In the past that has never bothered me until now.
So first thing that happens is that Ladbrokes email me to say that my account has been inactive and they are going to charge me for the fact I am not betting but it is still open. The email goes like this:
‘We recently wrote to you about an Administrative Fee which would be applied to your Ladbrokes account.
The Fee has now been taken from your account and was calculated as either £2 (or currency equivalent) or 5% of the balance on the date at which your account became inactive, whichever is greater. When calculating the charge, we have included balances from all wallets (including poker, casino etc). The Fee itself has been taken from the Sportsbook wallet and this may result in a negative balance if funds were held elsewhere.
If your account retains a total positive balance a further Fee will become due on the 1st day of every subsequent month.’
The first thing is the account is at zero and they still took the fee, so that is breaking their terms and conditions. Of course the obvious reaction is annoyance about the fact they are charging me for not using the account, but let’s say they have costs to maintain the infrastructure and we accept that. So I decide that I would like to close the account, that after all is what they are pressing me to do right?
I write to their support services and ask to close my account. The response is as follows:
???? What? Now I feel totally violated. I can’t delete my details, I can’t remove myself from your database? I am totally shocked by this, in this climate of data invasion the idea that a major company is refusing to delete my details seems totally incongruous, even NSA is having to be more open and transparent about what data it collects and keeps. To me this is totally unacceptable and is what gives the data and online industry a bad name and has to be stopped. We hear all the time about how gambling advertisers have a less than above board to approach how and where they target consumers, but clearly it does not stop there.
This article was first published on The Drum link here
The annual pilgramage to CES this year created quite an impression. The big themes were relentless connectivity and tracking, the concept of the Internet of Everything from Cisco, basically the intersection of humans, objects and technology and finally wearable technology.
These themes provided us with huge opportunity and some not inconsiderable challenges as humans, businesses and marketeers. This year felt a little like companies were connecting things just because they could; objects were transmitting data, even though they did not know what to do with it. As a marketeer you were left scratching your head, knowing that somewhere in all this incredible innovation there was opportunity, but just did not know where to start.
Even as a self proclaimed tech enthusiast I was still overwhelmed by the range of companies that want you to invest from both a money and time perspective in their ecosystems. Although the end result could sometimes be fantastic, such as the house you could entirely control from your phone, the lack of cross system interoperability leaves you wondering if we will be able to cope with the plethora of apps needed to manage all this and whether it will be safe, especially as regards the connected home.
So all that said, I wanted to have a look at some of those big themes and try to eek out the challenges and opportunities for us all whether as a connected consumer or a business trying to benefit from it.
Technology designed for simplicity, creating complexity
CES looks to the future, identifies innovation and on that basis we should embrace all it has to offer us. At the same time it leaves the head spinning, trying to understand how to manage the plethora of ecosystems. Even as things stand we are all coping with the battle of the operating systems, more and more we are being encouraged to package our lives into Apple,Android or Microsoft. Just looking at the art of watching TV we are provided endless choice on how and where to watch content. Roku, Netflix, smart TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast and on and on, but after a few days here you realise that there is more to come, a lot more.
The connected home has allowed companies such as LG, Samsung, ADT, DISH and others to offer the ability to hook up your whole house all the devices talking together. The problem is none of these systems are talking to each other, they are building closed systems. Yes it is incredibly clever but this has to work for us and has to have an element of open source wiring so we can consolidate different streams of data and functionality. Interestingly, companies such as Cisco and Intel may hold the key as they create smaller, faster chips that can go in multiple devices they may help us join the dots a little and perhaps find ways of at least consolidating data into a single dashboard. Apart from complexity of devices and systems there is also a cost perspective, how many different 200 pound devices and systems can we sustain?
Just because you can does not always mean you should. It feels at CES that the technology is coming first and the consumer second in some regards. Let’s take the amazing 4K televisions with this year’s big twist – the introduction of curved screens. People were left a little cold by curved sceens, an innovation that lacked a real consumer demand and required a change in our approach to viewing. The suggestion from excitable sales people was that even on an 80-inch TV you need to sit close to it to enjoy it. That fails on a number of levels – not least big TVs go in big rooms and you dont want to be crowded around a TV like you are warming yourself around a fire. Secondly, I don’t want my kids sat on top of a massive screen. The other relatively important area is that none of the broadcasters have any content that is delivered in 4k. Instead of enhancing, sometimes the viewing experience is diminished – even on good old HD we still don’t have all content delivered in this fashion, so pretty as they were, I would not rush out and buy one.
Similarly with features such as iBeacon from Apple – the idea that you can be fired messages from retailers and merchants as you browse stores sounds great but first you have to download an app from that retailer to be able to receive the messages. I for one do not want 50 Apps on my phone dedicated to retailers, as well as one for the Samsung fridge, cooker, the one for my BMW i3 outside and another for my ADT home security set up. Some how we need to link this together and make it user friendly and applicable.
We need guardians of our data
Data is a word that comes with a very wide remit, but one thing is for sure, we are creating it at a horrifying rate. Wearable technology, the smart home, the Internet of Everything, means this is both a positive and a negative for us all to consider. Imagine sensors on your body or clothes sending data to your health provider, your home consumption data being linked directly to retail stores, home utilities controlling themselves based on weather data, traffic data giving you immediate ways to avoid the latest gridlock. The opportunities are endless. Individuals become nodes on the internet transmitting data constantly to the internet. Much as we focus on the devices, let’s not forget we are being tracked. We will be tracked in every way possible and we have to make our peace with that.
The best example of this was ‘Mother’, an object that sits at home and comes with many small sensors called cookies. You place these cookies anywhere you want to understand what is happening around your home – how often and long are you brushing your teeth, footfall through the door, how much coffee are you drinking… the list is endless. Those cookies then relay all this data back to Mother for you to analyse it. As with many things at CES, there seems to be a lack of clarity on exactly how this will all help, tracking for tracking sake. But at the end what we are doing is passing incredible amounts of data to third party companies. This data is becoming ever more intimate and needs to be carefully controlled. The most important area is the ability to decide what happens to that data – many of the devices do not allow you the opportunity to influence what is happening with it as it gets passed to the company servers. One commentator at CES also pointed out the fact that even among family members or flatmates there should be the ability to have more ownership of your information and set it apart from that of others in the family or home, again something not possible right now.
As with all Wi-Fi data services the final consideration is the ability of hackers and tech thieves to access sensitive data from your life, or indeed in the case of the connected home, be able to easily hack into your ecosystem. These are all solvable issues and should in no way slow progress but as individuals we need to take control and encourage these companies we are entrusting our lives with to help us do that.
Marketing will become evermore native
As I toured the conference floor and we explored all these opportunities I was with a number of advertisers who were expressing their clear concern about how this was going to impact them. We already talk a lot about story telling and content. The proliferation of personal devices and tracking technologies means that each one of these companies – whether it is LG, BMW, Samsung – are all going to want to create their own ways of allowing advertisers to engage with people.
Native advertising is a hot topic but will become increasingly relevant, bringing complexity to marketing and advertising as they have to work across a multitude of different ecosystems and platforms. We already mentioned the iBeacon technology; how will BMW or Audi want to deliver messaging in car to their passengers? The upside for large advertisers is that the more forward thinking may have an opportunity to work directly with tech partners higher up the food chain and scope how they can be integrated closely into this development. But all that requires time, people, cost and the old methods of advertising will become evermore distant, increasing pressure on wholesale reinvention.
The tight rope they will need to walk will be avoiding too much disruption or even intrusion in the consumer’s experience. Tempting as it will be to use the incredible amounts of data available, people will be wary of that and given the intimacy of some of this data will expect it to be treated with respect.
CES is not about advertising but we are reaching a crossroads where marketing and technology will need to work closely together. It currently resides a firm second to technological advancement from a utilitarian perspective. It does however promise much for marketeers as long as they realise more than ever they will need to deliver value. Value can come in many guises, but if you want me to download your app then I need something for that because there will be significant competition.
Mobility technology reaches the car
The big standout this year was the rise of technology in the car. A flurry of launches at CES shows that this event is becoming very popular for car manufacturuers. There seems to be two directions manufacturers are moving in: the open platform based on Android or Apple where your car and phones are linked or proprietory technologies in the cars such as Audi that will turn your car into an intelligent hub. The car becomes the brain, it is able to make decisions based on commands and external data. As an example you could look up directions in the house and send them to the car, the car automatically plots that route using latest data and finds you an optimum route. Perhaps you are heading to a meeting and the car realises you are going to be late so it emails your meeting organiser with your current telemetry showing where you are and how far to go with an ETA.
Since your journey will now be forever linked to the wider net, showing you relevant ads, perhaps for the next coffee house, petrol station or relevant shops to you based on previous journeys will be common place. Cars will also become social – with linkages between you and your friends as we see with recommendations – if you travel to a new town for example your friends recommendations can be presented to you – or even their route for getting there. The opportunities are endless and we will see the car completing the triangle between you, your home and your car.
The final frontier is of course the self-driving car. All we have seen in this space has been the Google work but then up pops Audi and explains they have a self driving car up to 40mph, legal in Nevada. When did that happen? Well it has and even more than that it can find you a parking space, park it for you and if you want you can programme it to avoid red lights by adjusting its speed based on the traffic light data base that it has connected. As we mentioned earlier though that comes with limitations, not least you may find yourself driving very slowly as it seeks to avoid the next red light. I would suggest this is not for driving fans.
Some of this connectivity will be useful though as you can start your car from the comfort of your own home and in winter make sure the windows are defrosted and the seats nice and warm as well as wider beenfits, I can see that being a winner for sure and with some clear upsides for advertisers.
An incredible array of innovation, fantastic product explosion, and an inevitable and unstoppable march towards the Internet of Everything. As marketeers we will have to develop an incredibly open mind to reaching consumers. We will look to these companies to be guardians of our data using the highest level of integrity. As humans we are going to be linked inexoribly to the cloud and as Cisco say ‘be nodes’ of the Internet through our connected homes, cars and objects. There is so much to work out, but the future is exciting and we should embrace it.
Broadcasters are currently resisting the march of programmatic buying and its sub-set, Real-Time Bidding (RTB), as a mechanism for selling their online inventory. While in some cases they may be right to fear it, they should understand that this is the way that most digital inventory is going to be sold, so should try to get ahead of the curve and at least start experimenting with RTB. That is the message from Marco Bertozzi, Executive Managing Director, EMEA, at VivaKi, the independent unit within the Publicis Group focused on addressable and dynamic advertising.
The main objection broadcasters have to selling through online advertising platforms that use RTB is loss of control, he says. “Traditionally they have 110% control over how advertising is delivered and reported, and they have direct deals with agencies. This technology takes away a lot of that control from them. They are uncomfortable with the idea that a platform like our Audience on Demand system would decide which advertisement is shown at any given moment. They are not keen on the idea that one of maybe ten advertisers could take a spot. They want to be the ones that decide which advertisement goes where.”
There are other objections, outlined below, but Bertozzi is convinced they need to put them all to one side and start giving advertisers access to their inventory through systems that use RTB. “The horse is bolting and there is no way anyone is going to get it back into its box. More broadcasters will find that the pressure will start mounting from buyers to engage in this form of advertising.
“Today broadcasters are very reticent to get involved in this area,” he continues. “They can resist RTB and maybe they are right to resist; they know their business better than anyone else. But the question is whether they should get on the front foot with this approach and learn about it, get better insights from it and deliver better commercial returns as a result. Pretty much all digital spend based around delivering an advert into spaces, whether that is a pre-roll or a banner, is going down this road. The broadcasters need to understand that.”
Bertozzi points out that what is happening online today on the laptop and tablet will become increasingly relevant to advertising on television screens as more TV sets are linked to the Internet and set-top boxes also become an extension of the online video ecosystem. He thinks consumers will actually come to expect more personalized advertising, too.
RTB is a process that brings together buyers and sellers of advertising for digital (e.g. online) inventory. It started life in display advertising and is now being used for advertising around online video, including for non-broadcaster premium content.
In very simple terms, when you use RTB a publisher site tells would-be advertisers that someone has entered its website on a particular page. It issues a request for an advertisement. Advertisers can assess whether the user is in their target audience based on various data points, then decide if they want to bid for the advertising opportunities on that page, which could include a pre-roll video advertisement, for example.
As the name suggests, Real-Time Bidding means an advertising platform, acting as a proxy for an agency and their advertising client, can bid on every impression, one by one. This requires a huge amount of automation. Bertozzi says the process of receiving an ad request, matching the user data against campaign requirements, making a bid and then delivering an advertisement takes 30-50 milliseconds, so this is all happening as the webpage loads.
VivaKi provides a service for advertising brands and agencies to plan and deliver their digital/online advertising requirements. It has its own proprietary Audience on Demand (AOD) platform to run at least part of those campaigns through a variety of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) that in turn use RTB to flag and buy online inventory that could be relevant to advertisers. VivaKi also works direct with publishers and the company pools together consumer data from many first-party and third-party sources into its system so it can make the best possible judgements about who makes a good advertising target.
According to Bertozzi, there are a number of components that make one programmatic buying system better than another and which make AOD stand out from the crowd. AOD leads with its VivaKi Verified process, a dedicated team focused on the verification and evaluation of technology, data and inventory. “It is vital for advertisers to have trust in what their partners are doing in a world full of shiny new objects,” he says.
Then there is the quality of the data. VivaKi works with publishers direct to get first-party data and places more emphasis on this than some companies. The quality of the data, wherever it comes from, is key. Third is the quality of the inventory, so again, it comes down to which publishers you are working with, directly or indirectly. “Viewability and brand safety are crucial from an inventory perspective and VivaKi Verified invests people and time in making sure advertisers can relax,” Bertozzi, declares.
The quality of technologies used by the partner Demand Side Platforms and Ad Exchanges that bring the inventory to the surface in AOD is another difference, VivaKi says. AOD is not wedded to any single Demand Side Platform but has all the big ones plugged in, and clients can choose which ones to use if they want. “No one else has gone to the same lengths to verify and stack-rank the industry’s best data and technology partners,” Bertozzi argues.
He points out that beyond these points, you need to look at the people behind the systems and their experience working in this market. “Audience on Demand launched in 2008 when most other operations were three years from fruition.”
There is a widely held conviction among the supporters of RTB that it increases advertising efficiency because of its better targeting. Bertozzi points out that a company selling mobile phones will bid higher for a 16-34 female who has recently looked at mobiles then an advertiser that just wants to hit 16-34 females. So in an auction-driven open market, each piece of ad inventory should find its true value, with that value determined by how valuable the consumer is to a given buyer at a given time. You can also adjust campaigns as you go, depending on the results from previous inventory purchases.
Bertozzi thinks broadcasters, who can already sell-out their online inventory using direct agency relationships, fear that the only way their pricing can go is down. He acknowledges that in some instances CPM (cost per thousand) rates could fall but in others they will rise because good targeting will make inventory more valuable. Scarcity drives price up. As most broadcasters explain how they are oversold, that should benefit them, he thinks.
“Today an advertiser might want to target a programme that has a high conversation rate for 16-34 year-old men. It could be football but maybe 30% of the audience is actually women. You could instead sell to males and sell to females and I would argue that you could probably get a higher CPM for those specific audiences.”
This is where we start to see the introduction of Dynamic Advertising Insertion (DAI), which splits ad break audiences and delivers different advertising copy to those different audiences. RTB/Programmatic plus DAI are the foundation stones for what could become a major shake-up in television advertising over the next few years.
Bertozzi says some broadcasters are starting to move towards a more data-driven advertising world but usually within their own walled garden and still stopping short of opening their inventory to RTB-based platforms. He points to Channel 4 as a good example.
The UK commercial broadcaster is now selling very specific audiences in their online VOD. “They have enhanced their data insights and are selling those to agencies so they have taken a step towards acknowledging that data will be the thing that informs their inventory,” he explains. “So that is stage one: engaging with data at that level. Stage two is making that data available to more external buying platforms and trading desks as the norm and that is the sticking point today.”
Referring to broadcasters generally, Bertozzi says they might stick at this position for a while but eventually will have to take that second step
I cant 100% explain the tone or actual words, but it translates along the lines of ‘watch out boys, ALL the advertisers are going to do this RTB thing themselves.’ I hear the message a lot, usually from people in companies that feel they will benefit either way, agency relationship or not. Trouble is there is rarely any proper definition of this phenomena and that leads to falsehoods and scare mongering.
Facts first, an advertiser employing a Mediamath or an Audience Science is not ‘going it alone’ they are merely changing the people they pay to make the work happen, that is going direct, different to going it alone. I would love to write an article about how misguided the rationale is but will save that for another day. Fact is we need to be clear on what we are describing first and foremost because any advertiser who employs a managed service has changed nothing other than the party they are employing, sure, the industry may then be broadening out but thats not a big deal, has happened all through the last couple of decades and big players came and went.
So what does that leave us with? The advertiser who truly does this themselves, I mean employs people who sit in a room? Well first of all, lets look at what needs to happen to deliver a decent offering. At Audience On Demand central to our approach is VivaKi Verified, a team of people who evaluate Tech, Data and Inventory at scale and that is all they do. They are experts, they have expert processes and support the whole operation. When you meet these guys you know they are serious and without them, you have a shaky offering.
But back to the ‘going it alone’ advertisers.
1. The first and most important thing is to hire people to do the work, so you are looking for people interested and experienced in this space. They have to be experienced as your advertiser organisation on the whole would not have people to train them up and mentor them. Those people then need to be inspired, developed, they need to grow as employees, they want to be in an exciting dynamic operation, we know these people, they are demanding. Working in one business, with no peers and little scope for growth will not inspire the best to come and work so you need to find a solution there. If you are lucky enough to hire quality you then have to retain them because if they leave, you wont have a large team to retain knowledge. Final piece in that jigsaw is getting headcount signed off, not easy, what is the rationale exactly as you wont be ‘saving’ money, you will be a cost.
2. OK so let’s say you found the industry RTB expert who wants to come and join, next they need to choose the tech partner, partners. So they do a ‘review’. What does that entail exactly? A few presentations, a load of words on a slide with no way of knowing if they are true or not. Your tech decision is based on a very lightweight approach and has no benchmarks. Even worse you end up choosing lots of different ones and testing and testing. Likelihood is you end up working with one partner. In my day job I am asked a lot about the importance of remaining agnostic, fleet of foot, go where the best tech is. Advertisers want to know we are doing that, but is that practical on a stretched team without expertise? I would challenge it and without scale you cant run different verticals, brands etc to see how DSPs respond so you end up leaning on one partner.
3. OK, so we have a person and some technology. So you start running some campaigns. Feels good to be doing all this in house. One day though you get an email from the boss saying he saw your ad on an unsavoury site. How did that happen, I used all the right tick boxes? Suddenly the pressure descends on how on earth you are going to make sure that does not happen again. Vetting urls needs to occur, ideally upfront, creating white lists and verticals, it has to be ongoing. You need to have that up to date, the tech provider you use cant be trusted to do that. Some DSPs have in their T&Cs that it is simply not their responsibility, so it is now yours. Verification is time consuming, and needs resource to be done well. If you are using multiple partners out their that are not transparent you will have to fix that ASAP because the liability is with you, and you wont be able to demand money back. So best thing to do is do a review of verification providers in the space, there are a lot and they all promise a lot, it is down to you to decide. You could ask a partner for their view perhaps?
4. Now we are in a good place, you have a person, tech x 3, verification process that is ongoing. You now need to develop your inventory outside of standard exchange inventory and into private exchanges, you need to develop partnerships with large players. I would suggest that to be done properly you need a dedicated FTE, you don’t have that to hand so you will need to find some quick wins, otherwise known as average solutions, par with market. As well as inventory we have data that needs verifying – you need to trust the data, source of data, how it is collected etc, that is what we would expect in AOD – beyond that, a strategy around first party data combined with 2nd and 3rd party data to really maximise what you are doing. Ideally would be good to see how a certain data compares based on vertical or business type, KPI type etc, harder for a single advertiser desk. I guess you could ask your partners to fill you in?
5. Campaigns are live. Results are OK, not sure how they compare, but they are OK, you need to optimise though and that takes time, would be good to have some other people to run strategies by though, maybe discuss optimisation strategy, even learn from other countries. Vital to have cross fertilisation in this new space as there are very few experts. Doing a good job takes time. Understanding why something is not working as planned is where things get tougher, you could ask a partner to help?
6. Did you know that DSPs don’t design individual dashboards for you, or cut the data just how you want it to report to the board. They don’t always give you the insights you need so ideally create a solution that you can pull that data into that gives you flexibility – you can licence some software, learn all about it and use that. Maybe the DSP has something it can sell you – is it the best one though? Perhaps worth a review of the market to come to some conclusions. Ideally would be good to talk to some people who have had experience of multiple solutions and look under the bonnet. You could ask a partner to help on that I guess?
This is the tip of the iceberg, running and creating a genuinely Grade A trade desk is not about logging in and pressing go, it is about scale, it is about cross pollination, you need to have support and strength in depth. We have an incredible team in AOD that is able to provide a fantastic proposition to advertisers that is technology agnostic, founded on deep expertise and importantly a team of people focused on results not their VC pressure to extent the number of partners and revenues before sell date or IPO. I am a passionate advocate for what we do and to be honest the wider groups as well, as long as they are showing transparency and not flogging their own tech.
Advertisers may well do this themselves and some do, but what I have seen so far are advertisers who say they do it themselves but really then lean on third parties, no different to using a Trade desk. Perhaps that is the future, that’s not my debate today, its about those who are saying they do it themselves. In my opinion they will end up creating a less good proposition for their business, with less experienced people who even if they stay, fall behind the market place because they are too siloed and lack inspiration from different people. I am proud of what we do and how we do it, I hope that advertisers continue to realise the benefits of that, but watch with interest the ‘DIY’ strategies play out of course. Either way, I reckon there is space in the business for everyone to play in.
The article today from Adage here is talking about how tech companies are going direct to advertisers and agencies need to shape up if they are going to stop that trend. For all the reasons above, I dont see this as a genuine trend. Its a just another chapter, we dont know how it will end, I can tell you though that most of these tech companies are not geared for this and niether are the advertisers. All the benefits above should soon reveal themselves to any advertiser trying to go it alone pretty quickly. Anyway does anyone care – isn’t Google going to take over the world? No probably not, they don’t want the terrible business models we have to endure and niether will all the others.
I am Just back from meetings in Seattle and San Fran with the Big 4. Big 4 you ask? Well in todays world of data connectivity, mobile innovation and growth as well as digital commerce the big 4 has changed. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon are now gunpowder and bullet. The others more and more the barrel.
The message that is coming out loud and clear is that these players in their own varied ways are out to maximise the insights they have on their users and customers through a single themed approach of ‘Persistent Identity.’ I heard it a few times over the time I was out there, I have seen it mentioned in the odd article. But when you get to spend three days with all these market leading companies it becomes loud and clear that the data they hold on consumers is the key to their future and the single most valuable asset.
Persistent Identity is a fancy way of saying ‘we know who you are, we know where you are and we know what device you are on, the holy grail of data. The kind of data and insights advertisers are crying out for. What strikes me about this data is how much more powerful it is than third party data sold by any number of companies, data which is slightly worn out, like an old apple at the bottom of a bag, still edible but just not as fresh and juicy as when it was picked.
The ability to recognise you, add insights to your iD, serve ads depending on which device you are on, understand you through your behaviour by device, friends, clicks and links is so powerful, so powerful in fact you can see the likes of Facebook being the defacto judge of what is good or accurate data instead of the traditional players. That has already started of course but I think will gather momentum. Watch out panel data.
When you take a step back and realise what data they have you can understand why they are reticent to share it or risk it being stolen, putting up walls of protection around it. Amazon with their marketplace, Facebook only allowing access through API, Twitter pulling info from Google, these are the actions of companies with hidden treasure. These businesses dont need all the old methods of tracking whether it is panels of adserved cookies, they know their people, signed in, registered people at scale.
Persistent identiity is powerful and logical, the only problem is that you have to stack up on these solutions. Like having a car and pulling up at the fuel station and putting 3 or 4 different petrols in to be able to get the car going. I want to recognise everyone through the ability of joining up these players – I would love to spot a FB user who has been updating a status about an iPod, browsing on Amazon and nail them with a promoted Tweet or video Ad to close the deal. I know it is too much to ask to have all these companies reveal their secret source but targeting would be fun..
Either way, data businesses will need to work hard and fast to justify their models in the face of the biggest digital players in the world starting to pull up their sleeves and flex their guns, because be under no illusion they are big guns.