Tag Archives: Invite

A year is a long time at Google

As I sit wide awake on an American Airlines flight to California, when really I should be sleeping, mainly down to the horrendous ‘Angle flat’ beds I started thinking of the blog I wrote a year ago called ‘A Frictionless Web’

It talked about how Google wanted to streamline the whole cookie process and launch for the first time a ‘true stack’ something that had raised some eyebrows at the time mainly because Google had been excellent in many areas but had been flawed on Doubleclick and bordering on slow in the DSP space after purchase of Invite.

Google presented the new DFA and lots of new brand names like DDM – Doubleclick Digital Marketing, DBM, DC Bide Manager, DS3 and so on. Funny to think back then that even the Google people on stage were struggling to remember to use this terminology rather than good old Invite, DART etc etc. Neal Mohan presented credibly what the future would look like and that it was going to be powerful. At the time I thought, sometimes out loud and to the dislike of the DBM competition that this could really strike a blow to the competitive ecosystem if it turned out to be true.

Fast forward a year. In my opinion a big part of that dream has turned out to be right. Let me start with some of Audience On Demand’s change. We were well known for working with Invite and were heavily crticised for it but we stuck with it, especially as I saw the content of CAB 2012. The London office of AOD, powered by Geoff and Danny migrated all accounts to DBM (we say that now instead of Invite with out reminder!) the London office was and probably still is the largest user of DBM anywhere in the world and that includes the US, that does not happen often with something like DC.

As a result we were the first in the world to use the Search remarketing opportunity where DBM joins seemlessly with DFA and DS3. I cant reveal the results to that as thats my presentation at CAB but we learned an awful lot and that is still a big USP for us in the market as not many people have lined up DBM, DS3. DBM itself had a rocky start but again is now delivering the promise and we are pleased we got out there early and set the pace, working closely with the US team.

Bigger and more ominous for the competition however is that the new DS3 has really started to roll and two big things have happend. The first is that the product itself is good, widely acknowledged to be an improvement on some systems without the extra cost. I have seen across Europe business being returned to them from the companies that jumped in to fill the void of a quality Google product for years. The second is DFA in general has started to win back some lost ground from others in its own right. A good job Facebook bought Atlas as that was literally dead in the waters and amazingly those few major clients who continued to use them had seen the light and were off.

But the real success has been where advertisers or whole agencies are swapping to DS3 and DFA because they are or are about to be heavy users of DBM and want to benefit from the frictionless web. I work with people a year ago who were nowhere near wanting to work with DFA and were proudly using Mediamind or Flashtalking etc and have now switched and are happy. One major advertiser held a pitch right around now this time last year and the Stack solution was sold but was a just a little early with DS3, DBM all untried for them. One year on that shift is well under away. This is the fruits of the Stack and it is pretty compelling, Google in a year has transformed the display sell and regained an incredible amount of ground in such a short period of time.

There is work to be done of course around social tools and dynamic creative but hasn’t everyone? I am looking forward to presenting the amazing work the UK Audience On Demand team have done at this years CAB and hearing the next stage of the revolution. Over to Neal Mohan…

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Google Client Advisory Board – frictionless web

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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.

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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)

Dataxu buys Mexad – Mathmen just went back to Madmen

I quietly smiled to myself when I saw the announcement that Dataxu had bought Mexad and the press release that went with it. Dataxu buys Mexad. What an interesting start to the year in terms of consolidation.  I have had relations with both companies and in both situations I / we were criticised by the companies involved for our strategy. In both cases it boiled down to driving business growth through good old fashion means rather than selling the algorithm dream.

Dataxu first of all was very down on the VivaKi partnership with Google and Invite, first was the usual Google paranoia stuff which I am used to and bored of but the second was whether or not we could succeed by using Invite, considered the lesser DSP apparently by Dataxu compared to their high tech operation.  At the time I explained that to grow the marketplace and to grow my business and make a success of Audience On Demand first and foremost was to have the support of a strong partner (and a good one) with resources and scale not just in EMEA but globally. Secondly I needed consistency of offer, the finer points of the algorithm would not be the defining factor. Audience On Demand a year later is the largest Exchange Trading proposition in the world and we are delivering fantastic results and have some very smart people working for us so I feel pretty vindicated in my approach. It is therefore enlightening to now see Dataxu resort to buying Mexad to be able to deliver service and people.

Mike quotes ‘“feet-on-the-street” is becoming a key differentiator for the DSP business, because it’s not just about having the best software, algorithms and access to RTB inventory that determines success in local markets, but understanding local cultures, ways of doing business in specific markets, and the ability to advise and service local marketers and agencies in those markets.

This is exactly what I was explaining all those months ago and it seems Dataxu have also seen some truth in that approach.  The other telling thing for me is around the fact that the individual DSPs are finding it hard to get into the agency groups, they have been knocking on the door for some time and the way is blocked for many of them with Invite taking the lion’s share and each of the others taking the smaller share, at least in EMEA.  I have said all along that I still see this a very difficult market place for the independent DSPs, not impossible of course and I look forward to working with a number of them as we continue to test and learn, but difficult. Perhaps by buying Mexad they see a quicker way of getting through the doors, although Mexad as far as an agency trading desk is concerned is like outsourcing your TV buying so I suspect those doors, at least in developed markets, will also start to close.

Finally Mexad. I assume that even though they have been bought by Dataxu they will continue to work with multiple DSPs? I have been repeatedly heckled at industry events that working with just one is wrong and is not the way forward, that it is a flawed approach!  Anyone who knows how agency land works knows that it is a large education piece and consistency of message is crucial. Audience On Demand is working well because the agency teams understand it, the publishers know we are transparent and consistent and the clients have a team of people who are aligned and focused only on delivering the best results. Perhaps Mexad will find some of the same benefits now it can concentrate on one DSP only.

This world will evolve of course and Audience On Demand will test a number of different DSPs over time, that is what any desk would expect to do, even if we retain a major partner, I hope now that Mexad is tied down to just one they wont find it too strategically difficult to handle after claiming for months that it was the wrong approach!

Aside from that Good luck to all parties and well done!

A week at The VivaKi Nerve Center

A week at The Vivaki Nerve Center

Monday

An early meeting with the WW CEO of ZenithOptimedia to discuss how the market is shaping up and what can be expected of 2012. As the conference season starts I am being pulled in a number of directions to make sure everyone who needs the latest info has it!

Later that morning a call with the boss, Curt Hecht, it’s a about planning stage and we discuss what we need to get done for 2012 and how we will work with the agencies. A lot of progress in 2011 for VivaKi and The VivaKi Nerve Center and so it makes for some great conversations for next year. More than ever we will be a very European organisation which is achievement in itself. a series of meetings with the major EMEA markets all to be planned.

A session on contracts, which seems to take up a lot of time at the moment, but we are making real progress with a number of contracts signed that will help power The Pool, Partnerships and AOD.

End the day back at the WW CEO’s office to finalise some notes for the conference and its my turn to start to prepare for the Exchangewire ATS event where I am on a panel with Nigel Gilbert from Orange, Gurman from MediaIQ, Breadon from AOL, Martin from infectious and hosted by Zuzanna at Microsoft. Will be a good day I am sure.

In the evening, I went to the Appnexus / Microsoft drinks and met with the founder of Appnexus, the new head of Microsoft, Andy Hart and a number of others. Bumped into Jakob of GroupM, always a pleasure and we had a little catch up and then I had to leave for dinner with Quantcast and Exchangewire down at BerryBros.

As usual you learn something on these nights and having spoken to a number of people from other groups, its clear to me that VivaKi are the most integrated and aligned group in this space, working hand and glove with the agencies. I hope over time this pays dividends for us all.

Tuesday – ATS Day

Arriving at the event really makes you see how far things have moved on in the last year. Ciaran’s first one was a big event but this really surpassed itself with 400+ guests. Unfortunately as the day went on it became clear that again it lacked publishers and advertisers. The more I think about this though, the more I think, why should they be there?

Morning sessions were OK but lacked direction, more moderation, different questioners and less keynotes would have improved the morning session. Keynotes fund these events but I feel having Mediamath and Rubicon and Appnexus all doing a turn is perhaps excessive.

Microsoft did a great session, slick presentation and I think surprised everyone, he even presented an Apple Ad, which was the talk of the Twittersphere..

The afternoon panel I was on was billed to be controversial, I knew it would not be, for two reasons. The first is we have said this before and the second is that people in the audience don’t want to stand out and make issues. The bigger these events become the more polite they will become. I had a couple of key themes I wanted to get across around the whole Ad Trading Desks.

1. We are not an Ad Network
2. We will cut back on Ad Network spend
3. We will be aiming to centralise all retargeting and we think it’s the right thing to do
4. We work with a number of DSPs just not in the UK and we know what is what

I made all of these statements as well as suggesting Ad Nets use client data across their campaigns and received no resistance so, if it was not controversial, it was not because of me! Feedback has been that it was too about positioning of each others company etc but you go where the questions take you.

All in all though, a good day, got to catch up with some great people from around the business and generally enjoyed it all.

Wednesday

We march on with an exciting morning meeting with a large European company that is soon to become Vivak’s first VNC Partner in EMEA. We have of course high profile relations with Microsoft and Google as well as other US companies, but this is the first at scale. We worked through the opportunities, what we need to do together and how we can help each other, a great start to Wednesday and we look forward to releasing that news soon.

Later that day, I 100% focused on The Pool. We have been delayed on this but we are ready to go again, very exciting, there is other info on The Pool elsewhere on my blog Later this year I am presenting at the IAB conference on Spain the results of the Spanish Lane and some of the work that’s been going on in the US, I am really excited about the results that have come from this work.

We have three great publisher partners and already two major clients so things are looking great in that regard, there will be more to come on that subject shortly.

The day ends meeting a team of senior Google Product managers who are trying to work with us to provide insight to power Audience On Demand. It’s these meetings that the Google partnership is founded on, not media spend and discounts. It was a really interesting session and we learned alot about what is coming up. Invite will be a very powerful proposition.

Thursday

A quieter day on the meetings and valuable time to catch up. I did meet up with the CEO of Vindico and team who have big ambitions in the UK. We work with them on The Pool and they are a great outfit. Its time we need to get over the control issue around video adserving, we have been through this once with display and its time we moved on when it comes to video. We are used to substandard, early 2000 type tracking and reporting which is not acceptable.

Friday

A chance to discuss everything we have been doing and seeing this week. A morning appointment with a client with a brief to talk them through all the things The Vivaki Nerve Center are working on, went brilliantly and we will be doing some great work I hope. They showed the kind of interest in innovation that makes it all worth while.

A run for the train from glamorous Slough with just enough time to read the placard under the stuffed dog at the station and down to Microsoft to present to their regional scale display teams and talk about the importance of agency trading desks. Quite a turn out and some great questions from the group, I hope we can act on some of the discussions and continue to grow our global partnership.

I end the week with some time to keep up momentum with The Pool, discuss with thepaulsilver the final touches of an exciting launch next week and what I am going to do when he is on holiday!

Trading Desks are in for the long haul, not the sale.

I cant decide where to start on this post, there has been so much going on in the hectic world of ad exchanges in the last few weeks. Top of the bill was an excitable debate between an Audience on Demand employee and a disgruntled DSP. The key issues raised around conflict of interest included agencies being forced to put spend through their trading desks, lack of impartiality etc etc.

Interwoven with this debate was the fact that so many companies are approaching us at the moment, DSPs, Data targeting companies etc all with interesting premises I suppose but all with one thing in common, they all need to make as much money as possible, as fast as possible. Lets talk about conflict of interest..I use the DSP marketplace including Triggit which was involved in the above debate. How many shall we say there are, that are currently aiming for Trading Desk revenues – 4? 5?. Everyone is coming to town, everyone wants a piece of the action, but when they get into town they realise that a couple of those 4/5 have been busy for a few months / years and pretty much wrapped up the business. Its not to say thatagency groups will not test and learn, we do in the US and there is definatley room for more than one or two but for some, the market’s not big enough. What happens then? They need to fight for revenues, they need to say why they are better than each other and especially better than Invite to try and find the big ticket, except I am not sure there is a big ticket at the moment. So then they resort to the last option which is to try and undermine the credibility of a trading desk to try and open up some cracks of opportunity.

The conflict of interest for those guys is they have to make money to keep the VCs happy. The agency group trading desk model is not in the same boat. Audience on Demand’s sole purpose in life is to navigate on behalf of its clients a very complex market place and deliver great results. They are in it for the long haul, they have much more to lose. AOD messes up on a client it can jeopardise the whole business. Yes there is pressure to deliver..but its to deliver results not revenue first and foremost. In a competitive marketplace as the agency landscape is, the more things you do well and right, the more chance you have of retaining the client.

So whats better then? An organisation like Audience on Demand that has a remit to make sure it is working with the best, understanding strengths and weaknesses – and believe me all these tech companies have them – or a heavily invested tech company struggling to make ends meet. Who is actually going to have the interests of the client? I can tell you, it’s us. Anyone who thinks that agencies and clients are naive enough to accept sub standard strategy and results just because its in house is a) clearly lacking in understanding of how an agency works and b) underestimating the clients and Account people. If a client asks about our impartiality we can show them the full vetting we do of all DSPs, I can show them the data compliance methods we have in detail for every supplier, I can show them the results in detail where an acceptable flat cpa or cpc is not acceptable as it encourages the supplier to focus on growing their margin rather than delivering the lowest metric. I will show you 100’s of people who live and breath this space and understand it better than any individual tech company thats trying to undermine it.

Conflict of interest is doing what you have to do to stay afloat in one of the most competitive eras of all digital times vs doing what’s best for our clients. Finally it is always worth analysing who is throwing the mud, its often one of those people who came in to town too late and cant find anywhere to hang their hat.

My 2010 review for Exchangewire on Exchange trading, an agency perspective

End Of Year Review: Marco Bertozzi, Managing Director EMEA at Vivaki, Gives The Agency Perspective On 2010

Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Online Advertising | Comments

Exchangewire story here

I first talked about ad exchanges in a pitch in 2008. The DoubleClick ad exchange was either recently launched or due to be. Either way it seemed like the answer everyone in the industry had been looking for: namely, the chance to only buy audience you wanted and move away from buying in the thousands. That principle stands true today and overall the ad exchange trading approach is a successful formula.

The market place has remained pretty static since the late nineties. The industry traded in the same way as every other media channel and it worked quite nicely. When ad exchange trading emerged and became a serious proposition it asked many questions of the roles of agencies, ad networks and brought to life the data practices that had become so prevalent in recent years. 2010 has been an amazing year. The companies and technology on the lips of the media industry now – Invite Media, Turn, BlueKai, DSPs – were not even on the radar here in Europe twelve months ago. It’s incredible how quickly our industry can adapt and I have enjoyed being in thick of it in 2010.

A year in developing an ad exchange proposition

One of the hardest parts of a role such as the development of a new way of trading is gaining trust and buy-in from agency teams. It is actually harder to get traction with a proprietary approach than introducing a third party – see how Group M has struggled with the purchase of 24/7. There has to be proof that something like Audience on Demand can work and beat the competition. Client teams are rightly very defensive of their clients.

In every group you also have of course different agencies with their own approaches and ethos to digital. My challenge with Audience on Demand was to create an offering that worked for each agency and one they felt they could make their own. You have to work with many different opinions but in the case of Vivaki we did that and through that due diligence has come a unified view on how Audience on Demand could look and one of the reasons we have made so much progress. It is great that we have Starcom Mediavest, Zenthoptimedia and Razorfish all involved through consensual means rather than command.

Unique in this arena is the level of attention that needs to be given to data ownership and making sure that we are not buying unsuitable inventory. It’s important that contracts reflect the new world we are living and trading in. Outside of that we need to manage some people’s concerns that ad trading will be the death of the buyer and lead to an automated buying environment. Those concerns are mainly unfounded. Of course as more media is traded in this way it will make agencies more efficient – but take a look at search where we still have teams of people bringing the strategies to life.

The challenges we face in an agency

In considering the challenges we face I have chosen to break up the ad exchange trading proposition into four core areas, people, technology, marketplace and data. Each area has had its own areas of positives and negatives.

People

The challenge with ad trading is that it sits in the display camp. But the execution needs to be with those who are more direct response or search focused – namely those people who enjoy numbers and optimisation. This is not a ‘display’ buy. At the end of the day someone needs to have the skills to make this work and finding those people will be the next battle ground in this market. I fear a repeat of the search market where we competed for talent to the extent that search planners were getting large pay rises after 6 months in the job. We need to avoid a repeat of that by spreading the skill set as much as we can rather than concentrate on a select group of people.

I think there will be a new breed of buyers in this space but they could work across different elements of the same principle – biddable media. Some agencies claim to be employing NASA trained graduates, who could unpick the meaning of life in an instant. I don’t believe this is not a viable strategy for all. Some middle ground is needed here. What skills will be required by agencies? There should be heavy data knowledge, and more analytical than perhaps in the past – but this new breed of buyer shouldn’t be a complete departure. After all, the ad networks have been doing this for years without recruiting from MIT.

Technology

That’s easy! Why do I say it’s easy, well because it is all the same. I can already hear the howls from the baying crowds of technology companies, but fundamentally it’s true. Let’s not hide behind technology. It’s hugely important and exceptionally scientific but unless you have the people to make it work, it’s effectively useless. We work with Invite in the main and they are the leading player in the space now with the backing of Google – and hopefully they will continue to drive innovation. That said we have not won a single piece of business on the back of our technology sell. It’s all about the people and strategy. The most important thing any agency can do is work on the overall integration of the data provided by these systems into the agency’s data warehousing infrastructure. That’s where the value is created not in the individual system itself – and that’s where NASA knowhow comes in!

Ciaran asked me about developments in this space. I think we have been seeing the morphing of companies with a technical core into DSP offerings. That for me is the biggest shift. Real-time-bidding capabilities have also driven this development. As we have seen from results, it really makes a difference to performance and the margins publishers are able to take.

As I mentioned earlier its fascinating watching all the new players come to market. Dataxu, Turn, Mediamath, Appnexus and many others all staking their claims in this space and that battle with continue unabated. On the back of that I hope we will see product improvements to benefit our clients, especially around video and mobile.

Marketplace

Is there inventory or not? There is a lot of exchange inventory that needs to be supplemented with more mainstream inventory, Yahoo already do this. Microsoft has just signed up with Appnexus and there is a ground swell of larger publishers that are starting to hear the whispers that they can make more revenue through exchanges than going to ad networks. Critical mass is key and it is coming fast.

If you were to ask me what has changed in this area I would say that publishers are now considering putting more inventory through exchanges and dipping their toe in the water. Many people talk about the threat to ad networks from agencies – in terms of replicating their model. I am more inclined to believe that publishers are less willing to forsake their remnant and unsold to ad networks, preferring to move inventory into open exchanges.

Scale to compete is another topic of intense debate. Anyone who has run an attribution model on one of their campaigns will see that a number of sites can feature heavily across a number of exposures on a campaign but the last click will often fall to a small list of companies that effectively buy up the web. These networks buy at huge scale and therefore often win the last click battle. That’s not strategy or skill – it is sheer bulk. But it works in our current basic last-click-wins approach to digital. It’s no surprise to find that the ad networks are the largest buyers off the exchanges!

Data

Come back to me next year. There’s been so much talk but little action over the past twelve months. The area of most interest is of course retargeted inventory – first party data rather than third. For the last few years agencies and advertisers have been giving it away to ad networks to make their own campaigns work better. Ad networks were thus able to create greater insights on competing brands. The battle is now on to retrieve that data usage from third parties and keep it between agency and client. One thing that is blatantly clear is the need for a huge shift in data contracts. Client contracts and media owner contracts are going to change as everyone wakes up to the reality of how data is being used.

As for third party data, we are not there yet in Europe. There is little to no decent data on the market. A couple of companies are starting to shape their offerings. Obviously there are those who will sell data but on the back of their media networks. I think we will see some developments in 2011 as US companies come to town but we have some way to go. The greatest challenge is managing the price and value. Up to this point data has been too expensive and has invariably underperformed – so we should see some big improvements next year.

European ad exchange trading

I think that the idea of a group offering across Europe is more than possible, but it remains very complex. I spend much of my time investigating the developments in European markets and trying to understand their individual nuances. Each country has different marketplaces – with some more ready than others. Germany is a particularly entrenched market with some very established publisher relationships and a low use of ad networks. There are big companies in the space such as Weborama, Adjug, Adscale all looking at establishing opportunities. The importance of working with local partners cannot be underestimated if you are to make a success in these different markets – a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

Conclusions

It’s been a fascinating and exciting year. I have met with some extremely bright companies and people – and I believe that this ad exchange trading tide will change our business more than any other single development. As we move into 2011 – and we see the addition of video and mobile to the automated ad trading mix – the ad exchange space will become even more complete.

As I discussed it will ask questions of many company structures and approaches, people skills and data capabilities but that is the interesting area for me. It will make us all re-evaluate how we work and what our structures and people skill sets should be. I work with great teams in the VivaKi agencies and am fortunate to be able to push on an open door. This innovation requires some elements of trial and error, and we all need to learn together. I would also say we should encourage each other in this space. The more we work together, the better the traction from publishers and data companies, the more we will grow as an industry.

Exchangewire Ad summit 2010

So how do I feel after the largest gathering of Ad exchange professionals ever collated? I feel like we collected the largest group of ad exchange professionals all together and generally made ourselves feel better that we are part of something big and we made some great contacts. What I don’t feel is that we extended our reach beyond that room, and actually that would have been the best outcome of today. it’s a small thing but there were virtually no tweets, no coverage, nothing that seemed to extend beyond the room which is a shame, lets hope the attendees talk about the day.

Today was the inner sanctum, you could use all the phrases and acronyms that you liked today – DSP / SSP / Adexchange / Adnetwork / data etc without feeling like someone would not understand, and I think that’s fine, but what we need is amplification and understanding. I would have liked to have seen some more clients there, where were they? The agency folk were slim on the ground a smattering from Vivaki, Carat, Infectious, Mediacom but not many and none brought clients. It was a technology / supplyside gathering in the main.

What I wanted to see was a few clients and more mainstream agency folk to come and see what it was all about, see what it all meant and how it would affect them. I was asked to come up and co present with the Global CEO of Vivaki Nerve Center and I talked about my disappointment that the NMA had hardly bothered to talk about exchange trading in a recent issue and thats how I feel the industry is in general. It’s interesting because it appears no one has learned anything from the birth of search, ie we should have all embraced it quicker and we should have wanted to know more sooner, it feels like it’s happening again.

Of the content Admeld, Quantcast, Vivaki, Infectious, Google, Rubicon all contributed amongst others to an interesting session, the discussions around data and the demand side seemed to raise the most passions as people grapple with who owns what, who does what and who is going lose the most in the new world. Overall it was strong content, perhaps needed more direction and linkage but strong nevertheless, as I say, it was like preaching Catholicism to the Vatican, I would rather be in front of a crowd of non believers!

Credit to Ciaran for organising this, it takes some balls to get these things going and he did a great job, I hope for the next one there is a push to bring people from outside of the Lodge and bring in non believers, clients, broader agency people so we can spread the word. Today we established a real crop of experts in one room and that is a great start, on to the next..well done Ciaran.