Tag Archives: media

Buy cheap, Buy twice when it comes to Adtech

Disintermediation is a hot topic right now. Since coming to the US I have witnessed and been shocked by the extent of it on this side of the Atlantic, far more so than in Europe. It is a trend affecting the entire media ecosystem and one which if global industry trends are anything to go by, will soon impact European advertisers in the same way.

As an advertiser it is increasingly appealing, especially within programmatic to see the ‘sell’ of a standalone DSP as attractive. Tech costs are high, so minimising service fees is an incentive. The trouble is that when cost is the driving force rather than a particular strategic play, you can be led down the wrong path. The rules have changed with the rise of ad tech. Our whole business is based more and more on data which we need to manage, explore, test and learn with. The data needs to be held by the agency running the wider business, or remain in the hands of the advertiser should they choose to take the process in-house. Either way, the advertiser retains control and has the opportunity to ‘play the field’ without too many costs being incurred.

As a company 100% focused on this space we see all of the pros and cons of the different platforms. We have a whole team, called VivaKi Verified, dedicated to analysing and evaluating the different tech offerings. This gives us an unbiased view of all of their strengths and weaknesses as well as access to every opportunity. If you think about the exclusion of Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) from Facebook or the fact that no DSP vendor has access to Amazon or AOP, or that Yahoo stopped selling to certain Ad networks and so on, advertisers cannot afford to tie themselves to a single player. Times change and abilities increase and decrease over time. Handcuffing yourself a single provider will therefore be to the detriment of your own ability to innovate. Analytics remains the play of the day with data insights being invaluable to deciding your strategy. Companies such as ours have a view of the whole marketplace and create understanding and analytics to inform which tech to use in which circumstances. Whether you are after pure direct response or greater data understanding, the type of inventory, access to it and historical performance are all crucial ingredients.

A single Ad tech company can only give you their view. An advertiser might be attracted to cheaper options. A siloed, third-party provider might “feel” unbiased. But what happens when the market moves (which is does every day), and that advertiser is tied to a single provider? They can only move at the speed of the provider. Or they pay a significant switching cost. Yes, DSP technology evolves. But their lack of access to the ideal marketplaces may leave an advertiser handicapped. And how will the advertiser know? It is hard to measure performance without any comparison or opportunity to swap (short of making an extensive investment).

The agency relationship should give clients cross-platform, open access to all opportunities — and objectivity. Trading desks should deliver the benefits of relationships, learnings and experience with all of the best DSPs, plus perpetual evaluations of new and evolving partners. They must be able to provide brand safety, starting with the basics like full disclosure on where ads are appearing and how much of advertiser’s budget was spent on media. The advertiser may invest substantial energy into a single provider, giving them data knowledge and insights and indeed some very valuable CRM data access. The problems arise when they decide to change providers. For this reason, it is important to know what happens to campaign performance and of course your data insights. DSPs will not necessarily let clients take all of their campaign set up and data insights with them, claiming that it is not their proprietary insight. This will most certainly affect the advertiser’s ongoing performance.

The VC-fuelled pressure cooker we are in at the moment is creating the potential for disintermediation on a grand scale. Everyone focuses on the agencies and what they lose out on, but few highlight the danger to the advertiser. There is always an opportunity cost but we know that you can often ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. The end goal for an advertiser is to either use multiple parties or at least have the infrastructure in place to make the swap easily and in a controlled fashion. The ‘all your eggs in a single basket’ approach is strewn with risk and I believe that a few of the active advertisers to date who have gone all in with one party will start to realise their mistake and push back. When they do, I believe agencies with a robust programmatic offering or an integrated trading desk will be there to pick up the pieces, and as with search back in the day, weave it back into the overall media mix.

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Digiday Post : The Ad Tech threat agencies need to take seriously

My piece on Digiday outlining the threat of Ad tech disintermediation. First posted here.

I remember sitting with a founder of a well-known demand-side platform a few years back (feels like a lifetime), and he was warning me how the evil Google would disintermediate us all and destroy the agency trading desk business if we were not careful.

The irony now is that the worst culprits of all are the new, up-and-coming tech vendors who are chasing the direct-to-advertiser relationship at any cost.

As an agency, allowing a DSP or real-time bidding ad network to control all the programmatic spend may seem the same as giving an insertion order to an ad network, but it is far from that. The rules have changed with the rise of ad tech. Our whole business is based more and more on data. We need to manage, explore, test and learn with data, and the data needs to be held at the hands of the agency running the wider business, or remain in the advertiser’s hands should they choose to take the process in-house.

To release tens of millions of dollars to a managed service DSP is to release all of your intellectual capital to an external company where the same rules expected of an agency may or may not apply. We see clear benefits when we are able to apply the agency learnings to all the programmatic opportunities. Whether we are looking at cross-channel attribution, econometric modeling or online and offline synchronization of media spend, we can make activity work so much harder in that context — and tie it back to the advertiser’s own data whether on or offline. A third party, or siloed business, simply cannot do the same.

Agencies take heed: This is no longer just a question of outsourcing some digital buying but rather the outsourcing of your agency role and intellect to a third party. You may not recognize the danger, given the modest level of programmatic spend relative to massive TV budgets. But when this spend drifts away, a little bit of control goes with it. Not a good situation given the projected growth of programmatic.

Take a lesson from search. Two things happened in search that made it one of the biggest battle grounds of the agency world through the mid-2000s. The first was that the agencies ignored it when it launched, and the second was they fought tooth and nail to get it pulled back into the agency when it had grown into the mammoth beast that it is today. Today’s DSPs are yesterdays search villains.

An agency digital lead should fight to keep the programmatic business close. Yes, I am biased toward a relationship with an agency trading desk — not just because data-driven, programmatic buying will be the lifeblood of the future media agencies but also because the right agency/trading desk relationship is better for clients.

An advertiser might be attracted to cheaper options. A siloed, third-party provider might “feel” unbiased. But what happens when the market moves (which is does every day), and that marketer is tied to a single provider. They move at the the speed of the provider. Or they pay the significant switching cost. Yes, DSP technology evolves. But their lack of access to the ideal marketplaces may leave an advertiser handicapped. And how will the marketer know? It’s hard to measure performance without any comparison or opportunity to swap (short of making an extensive investment).

The agency relationship should give clients cross-platform, open access to all opportunities — and objectivity. Trading desks should deliver the benefits of relationships, learnings and experience with all of the best DSPs, plus perpetual evaluations of new and evolving partners. They must be able to provide the brand safety, starting with basics like full disclosure on where ads are appearing and how much of your budget was spent on media. It is fascinating to me that Rocketfuel discloses 60 percent margins and there are no concerned glances from advertisers. Really? 60 percent?

I have been warned all my life that Google is the bad guy, but it is becoming clear that as the story unfolds, we are seeing a very different picture. The VC-fueled pressure cooker we are in at the moment is creating disintermediation on a grand scale or at least the potential of it. And agencies and advertisers should both see that there is a major role for their partners in helping them steer through this time so that we don’t walk blindly into a repeat of 2001-2008, an era that both agencies and advertisers regretted longer term.

 

Content that you want to share : An advertiser gets it right.

Over the last few years the consistent hot topics of media and marketing have been around social media and content. Our world has been shaped by three words. Paid, Owned and Earned. The magic ingredient has been how social media channels have allow advertisers to super charge each of these areas of focus. That said this is not entirely new, or not as new as some may think.

Having worked in digital for many years, going back to the rise of viral videos in the early 2000’s we used to urge advertisers to create content for digital and not just repurposing their TV Ads. We explained that online users were looking for something extra, to be able to engage on their small screens with content other than TV Ads. Normally we did not succeed.

Years later and now every advertising initiative includes content and social and advertisers have realised they have to add value to earn the attention of their consumers. The bar has been raised as to what adding value means. Only the best work will cut through and so it was with a smile that I watched the recent work by nestle #ShareYourGoodness in India. This work has generated the highest viewed FMCG video,in India at 7million views and counting.

Grab

The campaign focuses on the fact we all have kindness and capacity for goodness that has come from family and friends and the world around us. The crux though is the sharing of that, passing it to others and making the world around us a better, happier place.

The campaign mirrors that by encouraging people to share goodness amongst their friends and colleagues. To me what stands out is the amazing quality of the story telling and execution. YouTube, Twitter have all been used extensively and powerfully with an amazing response on Twitter – the best sharing mechanism of all. The impressive part of this campaign was that it started online – an advertiser realising that TV does not have to come first and from an FMCG advertiser that is even more significant. The TV followed of course but allowing the content speak for itself and the physical sharing of the content mirroring the message itself was a clever strategic decision.

SYG Cake

Nestle created two fantastic films to inspire viewers to #ShareYourGoodness, take a look below. The first was about two siblings and their insecurities, and how they bond with each. The second a heart warming film shows the life of Dabba-walas of Mumbai and how Nestlé India showed its gratitude to these precious people who deliver hot home-made food to Mumbaikars every-day, and thanked them for their values of dedication, punctuality and commitment.

I posted one of them, the second can be found by searching ShareYourGoodness

Enjoy the films and in the spirit of the work, why not share it!

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2013 – A year in review – BertozziBytesize

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2013 passed in a blur, the way the industry was evolving and our own business here at VivaKi meant we saw a frenetic pace from start to finish.  It seems a world away that VivaKi restructured to be more out facing to the wider Groupe, the question marks on how we would survive and adapt answered by the end of 2013 and the future opportunity laying itself out ahead of us into 2014 is a positive one.

VivaKi now works with more agencies than ever in the Groupe and we have pulled together representatives from all media and creative agencies to work on our Ventures team, our focus as a product, data and services team in Publicis is really bearing fruit now with the incredible data warehousing solution of SkySkraper and the AOD platform now working with all the VivaKi Verified DSPs being accessible to all. The VivaKi data story has evolved at an incredible pace and having road tested on some of the world’s largest advertisers I know we are on to a good thing.

On a personal note the combination of new business, new markets, AOD growth generally and VivaKi representation at some of the major events from Istanbul to Google’s CAB in San Francisco meant that the days remained full to the brim. Just how I like it. The range of events this year has been more varied,  I somehow ended up missing the main programmatic season in September but it was great presenting at both Client Advisory Board events for Google, OMMA RTB event, more recently the Future of TV event and a really enjoyable session at Marketing Society in Ireland amongst others. The programmatic bug reached Istanbul at Webit where we talked RTB at their big event as well as a few London sessions and a turn at Festival of Media.  As well as industry events we held publisher days in Amsterdam, Milan, Istanbul, Madrid. The pace of change amongst publishers in RTB is significant across the region and these events are important to keep up good dialogue.

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As the year progressed I think the most enjoyable trend was one of growth into more creative ways of using programmatic. Audience On Demand spend has leapt forward on the back of brand advertisers moving into the space and seeing the opportunity. Larger formats, the ability to combine data, viewability and fantastic inventory across all channels has opened up a massive opportunity for everyone. Brand advertisers can now see the benefits and are getting behind it, it is so great to see.

VivaKi and Audience On Demand launched three global Activation Centers in Amsterdam, Singapore and Dubai, creating a new way of providing first class product and service to our major advertisers. The Activation Center in Amsterdam now carries campaigns from 10 markets, that is from something we set up in May! The world is adjusting and I am proud of this particular development because we have not just done what we always do, we rewrote the rules and it’s working.

The press has been in overdrive with stories of clients doing everything themselves, taking it in house etc. It has been the busiest I have ever known it. I am sure those themes will continue on into 2014 and we will see some companies either try and do something themselves or use there parties like DSPs to support. People will experiment, as far as I am concerned Audience On a Demand need to have an offering we believe in, we want to work closely with publisher partners and agency partners and then the rest will play out. The scope of what we are building gives me a lot of confidence that we can show advertisers all the reasons they need to work with us. Part of that is transparency and again I am sure there will be more on that. My understanding is that ISBA will be doing more in this space which is great. 

The incredible pace of IPOs and sales in 2013 has been mind boggling, lots of the big names have taken the plunge and so I imagine we will continue to see a lot of press and growth from them as they justify their business models, the 60+% margins now all on show in accounts helps to demonstrate how they are running versus our own offerings when talking with advertisers,
Especially those who continue to offer blind, flat cpc, cpm offerings. Finally I think more advertisers are understanding the market now so I hope to see some rules often applied to trading desks, at least AOD anyway, being applied to these companies. That can only be a good thing.

Apparently 2014 is going to be the year that advertisers only pay for Ads that are watched or seen. This is a great step forward, I hope this applies to newspapers and TV and outdoor? I assume it will be since that would be unfair advantage! Perhaps that explains the total imbalance of pounds spent on newspapers vs their share of consumption?  I am all for viewability, let’s just agree how and what because we have the answer to why. Many different providers, tech companies, more pivoting than the Royal Ballet makes life complicated for everyone, we need to see a concerted effort to try and create some standards.  Talking of standards the Digital Trading Standards Group sprang back to life at the latter end of 2013 which I hope is a good thing. I have been involved for many months and it all appeared to be getting a little out of hand, some common sense and reason has returned to make it something palatable for most so I expect to be seeing and hearing more in 2014.  In the same vain ISBA wants to work with some parties to evaluate the whole trading desk area. If they lead then we are happy with that, one thing that will be questioned strongly will be the involvement of an auditor and a main competitor to the trade desks as advisors, that’s not an ideal scenario and should really not involve anyone with skin in the game. That’s for 2014 I guess, it will go on the list of challenges!

All in all though 2013 was a fantastic year, the VivaKi, AOD teams have grown in size and strength and we are working with more advertisers than ever and seen 100%+ growth. I am personally excited to be working closely with markets like Turkey and Eastern European markets that are on a steep trajectory. The leaders of VivaKi across EMEA are shaping the market and doing a fantastic job which gives us great strength and depth. 

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We enter 2014 with an early flight to CES, the largest most diverse and tech driven conference of the year. VivaKi as ever will be leading their VivaKi Bright Lights agenda, and all of our partners will descend for a 24/7 packed few days.  As we move through the year I am sure the POG agenda will accelerate and I think that will be incredibly exciting and I am so pleased to be working through such a mammoth event, a landmark in advertising and media history. It will create opportunity, buzz and of course the world’s largest advertising and media business!  I am looking forward to VivaKi involvement throughout.

What else will the year hold for us all?

Less buzz more substance
Transparency debate affecting Independant RTB networks more strictly
Mobile growth on the back of equalisation of all the point solution offerings
RTB becoming all media not just performance with most brand opportunities such as homepage takeovers etcetera becoming the norm

It’s been another amazing year in digital. Thanks to all the VivaKi teams, thanks to all our partners, and basically all the great people we work with across the business. Our agency brands have been incredible as ever at ZenithOptimedia, SMG, LBi, Razorfish and we are really looking forward to 2014.

The T Word @mediatel

What a funny world we live in when representatives from the trade press and trade bodies are happily chirping away at the dastardly trade desks. We are not transparent, we are sitting on hoards of gold, laughing into our hands at the lack of interest that advertisers are showing us. It is a money making extravaganza.

The first thing I would say is those same people were quite happy when their advertisers were throwing good money after bad at media companies with not the slightest inkling about where the money was going or how. No results, no insights, no controls on frequency, absolutely zero brand safety right up to advertising on illegal sites. Oh that’s fine because those companies delivering the Ads are not in an agency group. Even today there is a major RTB Ad Net that revealed in its financials that it makes over 60% margin..is that OK advertisers? Same people, same budgets – totally blind by the way.

Let me explain what we (we being AOD as not everyone is the same) have done, us terrible evil operators – we have brought transparency. Our advertisers know what is media and what is not. We have been stringent in brand safety terms with our VivaKi Verfied process so advertisers can make sure they are not being exposed to bad content. We have frequency controls so that the advertiser does not show their Ad 50 times and thus waste money. Our commercials mean that we are dedicated to finding the right user not managing an arbitrage or variable margin, everything we do is RTB, not upfront buying, not something most of the media companies can truly claim. We do not charge advertisers set cpm or set cpc – are you still accepting that? Well ask yourself why you would in an auction world? Because it is a nice safety net? Well that is your worst media procurement decision yet. No it is because those deals make their providers lots of cash and the advertiser has no idea how much.

I laugh out loud at the suggestion that we are not being scrutinised by auditors. Anyone who commits that to paper has clearly not spoken to anyone who works inside the relevant organisations. It is one of the most common conversations I have between ad hoc meetings and pitches. Have you seen a pitch document recently? No we are scrutinised, perhaps some are not, but we certainly are and I think it mocks the advertisers to say they are not focused on the subject. I know many who are, many.

The Trade desk has challenged the status quo, many of the companies have had to raise their game because they were being faced with a tide of Transparency, unearthing how they were doing business and continue to do so,  I am happy with that, I am happy we have changed things. I think it is a shame that there is not more open dialogue on the subject as opposed to people throwing stones from a position of ignorance.

 

 

 

Videonet interview on Programmatic video

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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