A video that outlines Audience On Demand and programmatic buying more generally.
My argument that advertisers need to ask the same questions of Independent trading desks and RTB Networks as they do of Agency Trading Desks if they want transparency and brand safety.
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.
Not one of the highest quality videos! This is like Jeopardy – I give the answer, you guess the question! We had 80 people from all of the top Italian publishers to cover issues around RTB and private marketplaces. The market is cautious but definitely progressing well.
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.
Each year I go back to Monaco the subject of Real time bidding, programmatic buying and data rises up the agenda. Year one there was little or no coverage of the topic. Last year we had a side room break out on the topic, not attended by anyone outside of those who worked in it. This year I was interviewed on the topic, and the panel regarding tech, data and RTB was on the main stage as well as other related round tables.
Part of that for me was an interview with Beet.TV on the growth of programmatic buying in the video ecosystem. Click on the image below to be directed through to the site.