An incredibly joined up BCG study between ZO, Performics and VivaKi focused on the benefits of a unified platform and advanced targeting. A combination of strong partnership and strategy achieves very strong results.
In 12 months the Ad tech market place has gone totally crazy, impossible to keep track of it all and the money invested is off the scale, but below I highlighted a few stories and events in the last 11 months that I noted. I will have missed others for sure!
There has been some negativity around the space with transparency being a hot topic and whether advertisers want to take this all in house, but those headlines have distracted from some incredible market changing investments, purchases and alignments. Enjoy the reminisce!
The Partridge in a Pear tree for Yahoo was Enrique Decastro, bringing him in on a huge salary and being presented as a saviour for the organisation, driving sales and value for the business. Unfortunately January saw that particular partridge being shot. Quick acting by Marissa to be fair to her, but an unlikely choice in the first place according to many. More recent news has seen Lisa Utzschneider fill that space, coming in from Amazon.
In other news Turn receive their belated Christmas present raising $80m as they march on as a leading DSP in the market and looking to expand beyond that descriptor and moving more towards a wider DMP, services model, some might call agency model.
Holy F*** February
February was IPO crazy month with Pubmatic rumours, Rubicon filing, Rocketfuel all taking the plunge – some big valuations were banded around and it was the month everyone realised that the good times were back and the VCs were starting to spend all that cash they had been hoarding through the bad times – the bubble is inflating. Google buys another company, on the back of Deepmind in January, a London based machine learning company, called Vungle. We have seen the signs but Oracle buying Bluekai was a big flag being waved to show that the digital media business was being taken seriously by the cloud and consultancy companies. We also saw round one of TV disruption being won by the old school with Comcast getting Netflix to pay them for streaming services, the upstart being slapped into place.
But all the IPO business paled into insignificance when the world collectively went ‘what the f*** app’ as Facebook put down a multi billion dollar offer for the social messaging app. Cue the hand wringing about lack of revenue, too high a price from the digerati turned incredible commercial strategists. Facebook are clear on this, show us something growing fast and taking share and I will show you my cheque book (or should it be Visa Debit Card). Scale is everything in a world where data and the identification of people and what they are doing and where they are doing it becomes the most valuable asset. Or perhaps Mark is hoping to achieve the same status as Steve Jobs who was approved to appear on a US stamp that very same month.
March saw a number of moves for the future by different companies. Comcast bought Freewheel, a clear indication they are gearing up for a programmatic, data led future and could not resist the tide any longer. At the same time AOL One launched to much fanfare – the Game of Stacks now well underway with AOL taking a big step forward, We are but pawns in this incredible battle of supremacy between AOL, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Google and there is much more to go as we see this play out. The single view of the customer across screens is a vital offering and these teams are throwing everything at it, whilst Microsoft seems to be frozen to the spot at the moment. Perhaps they need to remove their whole sales team and start again? Oh..
Finally in modernisation March we saw Conde Nast take the stage and announce proudly, albeit a few years late that they had decided that yes programmatic was something to pay attention to and they would be getting involved. Thanks for that.
The first signs of trouble for the IPOs of the previous months – the city falling out of love with a number of them, seeing prices fall significantly and some below opening day. There was some scepticism at IPO but recent press questioning whether these companies were right to value themselves on the hard work of bot traffic came into play. As the curtain lifts on the methods of many RTB companies this may be a theme for the future, perhaps even hitting the FT one day…oh it did.
RadiumOne saw some ‘Rocky’ waters as their CEO was eventually prosecuted for beating his wife up. It took some time and a fair amount of industry Twitter rejection to get him ousted but it happened and then everyone moved on as he set up Gravity8 three minutes later.
As if to demonstrate two different strategies Facebook and Google both made a play for the future with Facebook launching an…. Ad Network..meanwhile in other news Google bought a drone company – was it an April Fool? well after Nest in January and now a drone maker it appears not – Internet of Everything anyone?
Merger May, Maybe not
Publicis and Omnicom call off merger. Must be something else they can buy sooner or later surely?
Millenial and Rocketfuel taking an absolute beating on the stock market as increased speculation on their businesses and whether or not they are complimentary or in conflict with agencies rage. Google and AOL keep buying companies to further enhance their operations, Google getting into attribution and AOL into cross channel allocation, interesting that both are now toe to toe on making the stack work. It was a month where everyone appeared to be tooling up with Axium buying and Liveramp to help with data onboarding.
What is the worst brand name in Adtech? Qriously of course. Apparently that was not all bad and brought some pre Cannes exposure coupled with their expensive tablet card asking for a meeting. Memorable but expensive I would say, some might say a qrious decision.
June was the month GroupM announced a withdrawl from open exchanges and that it would be done by Christmas, big claim for sure. Could someone check for me? pretty sure they are still there but there is still time. As with every year Cannes came around and the Adtech world took it by storm – the rose looked and tasted the same, the beaches were packed with hard working media folk but the names were different, everyone had upgraded this year and the place now resembled an Exchangewire event at scale. It was a good time to be in Cannes as the money continued to flow and pay for those expensive tents and lunches. Mediamath picked up a massive 170m dollars, Twitter bought Tap commerce for 100m, Facebook bought slingshot and WPP ploughed 25m into a DMP strategy.
Buy buy July
Enough said, the boom continued and at pace. Facebook buys Liverail as its next move in Stack Wars, Yahoo buys Flurry to continue its successful push into mobile revenues, a battle it appears to be winning as we are seeing now as it overtakes Twitter in mobile revenues. Linkedin bought Bizo, a natural fit for both and makes us wonder if the sleeping giant is starting to wake up and join the fight.
Rocketfuel bought the very transparent X+1 as it starts the long road away from the darkness and into the incredibly difficult world of running a business transparently. In the spirit of transparency Turn took a turn in July and went on the offensive, taking aim at Tubemogul amongst others, it felt like an email you send late at night when slightly under the influence – stand away from the send button. Oh no, you did again..in August.
Everyone went to the beach. Google bought some more companies.
Facebook me September!
Millenial fights back and buys Nexage to grow out its programmatic credentials and build credibility in the data and RTB space. At the same time WPP drop their adserving business and buy into the DSP business, out with the old in with the new.
The Alibaba IPO put Yahoo into a very interesting position, as perhaps a buyer or maybe a seller? There is a strong belief that Yahoo and AOL are on a collision course and so having their P&L filled to the rafters with the Alibaba IPO cash will put them in a great position either way.
But really all everyone wanted to talk about was Atlas and the launch of their new adserving platform and soon to be launched DSP. Facebook had now made its biggest move in the Stack wars. Combining improved adserving tech with their data and soon to be launched DSP. With this move we see ever more clearly that there are likely to be some large islands of tech and everyone of those is ring fencing owned and operated inventory and how you access it. We have moved a long way from the utopia of one access point to the web and are now focused on how can we join these islands up with DMP and other technology.
Publicis buys RUN and invests in Matomy – something to expect as we progress and competition comes not just from other agency groups but also the very aggressive managed service offerings and RTB networks. Agency groups will need to tool up more and more and so I think we can expect more down the road. Mediamath go to prove the point and buy Upcast showing how they need to tool up as well and keep delivering new products and services cross channel and cross device. Meanwhile Videology launch a programmatic TV offering to follow Turn but go a step further in teaming up with major US TV partner.
Stack Wars is back in October with Yahoo buying Brightroll, a sensible move as you consider the purchase of Adapt by AOL and Facebook of Liverail a couple of months earlier. We now see them all with video offerings, display offerings, adserving and performance products and suites of data. I think we are about at the right time to see them kick off. Atlas has hired a key guy in Damian Burns to lead their offering, once he has his feet under the table I think we will see some real movement.
Publics buys Sapient a huge acquisition and another one under the radar taking the advertising world by storm. An incredible team of people joining the Publicis.Sapient platform.
Channel 4 after years of resistance to programmatic have announced they are getting into the market place and will no doubt leave ITV where to go next. Either way it is clear the TV marketplace is hotting up and now we are seeing a hockey stick of activity and partnerships. Exciting times all around.
Rubicon buys two companies to help build out its direct deal automation tech..yawn. Yes you got it, we are going to take all those buys you used to do over the phone and now do it on a platform without any cherry picking or data insights. Just back to buying impressions. Back to the future.
I am sure I missed a number of big deals – list them below so we get the full picture of the comings and goings of Adtech and its sheer scale. Thanks
An interview with Geoff Smith and Myself on the successful learnings of the world first work we carried out earlier in 2013, where we took search signals and used them to re-market against through display.
All facilitated with DBM and DS3.
I thought I would ask our three latest recruits, all graduates to give me their view of our industry just one month in. The message is clear, we are big and complex and we love TLAs but that is what makes it fascinating. Backgrounds of economics, maths and marketing show that regardless of diverse backgrounds, all roads lead to RTB! Sorry Real Time Bidding! I am always excited when we have new people joining and so let’s hear from them..
Trisha Halai @trisha_halai
Having done a maths degree I never thought I would see myself taking on a career in the digital advertising industry. After being approached by a recruitment agency and being told about the role and company – I can say I will never look back. My first month has been very much a learning curve and a very interesting one. Understanding the technical aspect of the role in terms of getting to grips with the platform and the systems has been one thing and understanding the hundreds of jargon used in advertising is another. Initially, I was completely thrown back in my first week when I heard acronyms such as DSP, SSP, DFA, DFP, DBM, MPU and PMP to name a few. However, as time has gone on and the more I have heard these terms, they have become second nature to me and now not using them would be slightly absurd.
Coming from a maths background, I developed many transferable skills and I can say I am proud to have the opportunity to apply these analytical, problem solving and logical thinking skills into my current role. Working in a dynamic and creative industry, one that is so measureable and trackable in every aspect is exciting. It is great to be exposed to the industry at a point where it is constantly changing and advancing. Communicating and building relationships with highly respected technology and data providers and some of the big publishing names as well as agencies is what makes the day-to-day role so varied.
Being part of the AOD team at Vivaki has been an insight in many ways. It is very exciting working in a team that helps brands to deliver strong, highly targeted messages to very niche audiences across many channels such as display, video, mobile and social media. Working in a team that takes great pride in what it does and is passionate about its day-to-day management of campaigns is inspirational.
I look forward to learning new skills and developing a deeper understanding of my current role and I look forward to any challenges I may be faced with in AOD.
Claire Hobson @claireHobs
My first month as a member of the AOD team at VivaKi has been both exciting and eventful. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many new people and have learnt a great deal about the dynamic industry of digital media in such a short time.
As a Marketing MA graduate, I had developed an interest in digital marketing and was keen to get into this area as a first step in my career. However, I had never come across agency trading desks or real-time bidding and as a result I found the complexity of the real-time bidding ecosystem quite overwhelming when I first started. RTB, DSPs, Ad exchanges, ad networks, ad servers, SSPs, PMPs… it was all like a foreign language to me, particularly with the frequent use of (appropriately named) TLAs.
Four weeks on, what seemed complex to me back then is now much clearer, having benefitted from being amongst the hugely knowledgeable AOD team and from meeting the various external teams that represent the other vital pieces of the RTB puzzle. I have noticed the difference in levels of understanding and views of RTB across these different teams, whether it be media planner/ buyers, publishers, data providers or technology platforms. This has been useful for me to gain a more holistic understanding of how RTB is viewed in the wider media industry and has helped me in developing my own opinions.
Part of the reason why I wanted to work in digital after graduating is that it is an industry that is growing and constantly changing, making for an exciting and fast-paced environment to work in – my first month at VivaKi has definitely confirmed this. However, it has also highlighted that there are often challenges, difficulties and problems to solve around these changes, something that I did not previously fully appreciate but have come to see how this is key to the development of such a dynamic industry.
A good way to sum up my first month is perhaps not to reflect but to look at how it has given me both an eagerness to learn more and a strong desire to be a part of the future of RTB, whether it be in display, mobile, video or even connected TVs. I look forward to my second month at VivaKi in the exciting world of digital media and RTB.
Nick Brown @NickPhBrown
PMP, IO, SSP, DSP, KCT, vCPM, KPI, ABC1, GRP, MPU, RTB are just a bunch of letters… However, I have come in to contact with them such remarkable regularity that I find myself thinking what a laborious task it would be to have a conversation using full, un-acronym-ed words. Since, I started work at VivaKi, the AOD team has performed massive brand blasts, won over some great clients, tested cutting edge industry inventory, even achieved a world first! The list goes on… We work closely with companies like Doubleclick, VisualDNA and large pubs like eBay and Amazon, all to our own varied ends.
Point being, there’s so much to Real Time Bidding; too much to ever come close to having a shrink wrap solution to it. On top of that, it is constantly morphing and progressing. Not only are Mobile and Video making leaps and bounds forwards, but the platforms we work with on a daily basis bring in a whole host of new features almost weekly. It’s a crazy trade to be in and my first month has overwhelmed me with a phenomenal amount of information. I would love to write all about the diverse, highly affable team I’m working in, and on how much fun I’ve had in the many social events that have already taken place but if I tried to it would fill pages and pages. Suffice to say that my first month has been a whirlwind tour of the immense and fascinating world that AOD is right in the centre of: RTB.
Take a look at the opening keynote from Neal here
The best analogy of the two days was from Neal Mohan who likened the web to the old style stack we would have at home in music and TV. We would layer on more and more pieces of tech, with music systems, game consoles, and more recently the likes of Apple TV and Google TV.
We work hard to make it all appear seamless and sometimes it all works but often it involves getting on your knees and digging around behind the TV to swap plugs and find wires, we all know that experience. The web has been like this generally with a constant stream of extra tech layers to integrate and ad serve and ultimately try and track.
Google have been guilty of this within their own ecosystem with Dart Search, DFA, google Analytics and more recently Invite and Terracent. They have been on quite a journey, the first part of that has been improving the individual products. Dart Search had a 50% dissatisfaction rate which is now down to sub 10% and you can see why. The system improvements have been significant.
The next stage has been how they work together and this is the real win and the approach that feels like Google are tightening the noose on the competition. The fully integrated stack is something genuinely powerful and will be a big sales point. The inter connections between exchange trading, search, remarketing Ad creation and analytics are going to revolutionise how we buy in both search and exchanges. We are seeing a world where you still have ten devices on your Tv table and yet only one wire and it all just works.
These two days have shown a frictionless web, a world where one tag, one consumer is all we are working with avoiding the dedup issues and discrepancy issues and allowing us to build comms strategies around a true single view. Google have been challenged by the industry to improve and to some it may have come a little too slowly but I believe they have learned their lessons. The Invite 2.0 releases are an example of where they did not want to repeat a Doubleclick scenario.
The chance to discuss with the Product Managers all the new developments both in the sessions and in the bar make this a pretty unique session. Thanks to Google for the Invite.(excuse the pun)