Tag Archives: zenithoptimedia

A few months in photos..#VivaKi

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Welcome to some photos of the last few months to liven up my blog. It has been a crazy few months but incredibly exciting and met some very cool and bright people that make life os interesting.

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The first sights of Cannes, the main event and the Publicis entrance..one was visited more than the other..

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Power ladies on one panel – Carolyn Everson of Facebook, Laura Desmond of SMG, Erin Clift of Spotify and Wendy of Coca Cola – not bad..

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The juxtaposition of the classy Seb Fontaine against the Gutter Bar, we did both very well, great night with Spotify.

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The Rubicon Panel at Le Rooftop, Cannes, the worlds leaders of Trade desks talking the talk. It was hot!

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The Eden Roc outside of Cannes, beautiful spot for an evening meal with a few old friends, colleagues and new friends

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Doubleclick Client Advisory Board in Los Angeles – St Regis. Amazing venue and more announcements from Google. I also had my five minutes in the spot light!

20130621-235908.jpg20130621-235852.jpgOne of the greatest runs for a hangover cure, down by Dana Point

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Google Zeitgeist – the amazing collection of people, politicians, genius types, robots and Jesse J – standard!

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Publicis Investor Day – the great and good of Publicis all at LBi

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CES – More to add here but suffice to say this was the hardest bit to get through

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My Media Week

My Media Week: Marco Bertozzi

Hayley Pinkerfield, 21 March 2012, 3:15pm

This week Marco Bertozzi, managing director EMEA for the VivaKi Nerve Center, visits Spain, plays squash with Greg Grimmer, and teeters on the wrong side of The Thin Blue Line. Link here

 
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Monday

Every day starts pretty much the same as every other day, and has done for the last two years. Baby cries, cats miaow, I wake up and reach for the BlackBerry or iPhone to check what my US colleagues have been emailing about through the night, or to see how late people have been out and posting messages from all corners of Soho Land.

From that point in though, every day is very different. Which is a good thing, as variety is one of the things I enjoy most about working at the VivaKi Nerve Center.

I start today by catching up with Publicis’ global Google lead Simon Birkenhead to discuss what’s going on across the business. In fact, today is a day of meetings with our global partners, as I later met up with our new global lead from Microsoft, Nicole. It’s a tough gig understanding such a complex business and I wish her luck.

An afternoon of calls and a couple of quick meetings, then it’s off for my weekly punishment in the form of a personal training session.

Tuesday

I am down to present at an IAA event on the ‘Future of Media’. I expected it to be a relatively small affair, but it turns out to be a big event in a grand venue at Bloomberg (I make a mental note to thank my head of communications, Claire, for the heads-up.)

I think it goes OK, although I might have alienated all of the women in the audience when I described women as waste in the context of a specific audience targeting example – I was misunderstood!

Jump on my scooter to have a catch-up with Steve King, worldwide chief executive of ZenithOptimedia, which always turns out to be an interesting and entertaining discussion.

After about a year of organising, I finally managed to have a quick lunch with Chris Mellish of Razorfish. As well as working with ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest Group, the Nerve Center works closely with Razorfish and Digitas, and it’s always good to hear what they are up to.

Later on, I also catch up with Olivia Yabsley who runs content for Digitas, to round out the group in a day.

With a couple of client sessions fast approaching on the world of exchanges and some prep for our regular EMEA AOD (our proprietary addressable media capability) call, I sit quietly at my desk and nail some work before home time.

Wednesday

A sickeningly early start – I’m up and out of the house by 4.30am to go to Madrid with my boss Curt Hecht, global chief executive of the VivaKi Nerve Center.

We have a full day of meetings with the management of VivaKi, ZenithOptimedia, Performics and Starcom MediaVest Group, to go through the VivaKi plans. The Spanish guys are always open and enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with, they also lay on a great lunch in the office. It makes our spread look pretty shoddy.

We’re close to launching the results from the UK rollout of The Pool, a global research project to identify the industry’s optimal online advertising model, and I share progress with everyone. The results are in line with the other markets, which is hugely encouraging.

So six hours later, we run for the airport and get back on the plane. I have done a lot of travel over the last two years and it is still enjoyable, but I guess one day it will drag. I never enjoy being away from my wife and child too much though.

Thursday

A morning thrashing Greg Grimmer at squash. Sorry, I should say getting a thrashing from Greg Grimmer. This week, however, I have bought a new racket and trainers – so his days are numbered.

Later today, the UK leads for AOD Activation, Geoff Smith, and AOD Product, Paul Silver, and I have our monthly catch-up with the ZenithOptimedia and SMG trading guys. It is usually part presentation, part piss-take of each other. Mauricio Leon and John Baylon are not wallflowers, so you have to give as good as you get!

We’re celebrating today as AOD has achieved an incredible milestone and delivered 100 billion impressions. And that’s just in the US and UK. No mean feat given it didn’t exist at the beginning of 2008.

In the evening I head to the leaving do of my good friend Phil Christer, who has recently moved to Google. Phil has kept me sane on many occasions and I know he’ll do great things in his new job.

Friday

Today does not start brilliantly. I am pulled over by two police motorbike riders who have been tailing me for the last mile. Shame I hadn’t noticed them in my mirrors sooner because I realise I’ve just performed some of my most reckless scooter-riding of the last few years.

Mounting a pavement, running a very close amber/red, doing 40mph on Tottenham Court Road, with some weaving thrown in, all mean I am up the creek.

After immense contrition from me and puppy-dog eyes, they unbelievably let me off. I get into work pretty happy and thankfully things pick up after that.

I have a good catch-up with Iain Jacob of Starcom MediaVest Group around the VivaKi Nerve Center and SMG progresses across the wider EMEA region. It’s important to make sure that we are lined up with the senior agency regional and global leads as we expand in terms of products and scale.

Lunch is with our tech partner on Audience On Demand video (AODv) and another expansion discussion as AODv rolls out into more European countries. Creating publisher uptake of this new way of buying video is top of the agenda.

It’s a great lunch, but I’m glad to leave – the downstairs of Navarros always smells of bleach. A productive afternoon of clearing emails and a bit of Twitter banter and my week ends with a very cautious scooter ride home. I’m determined not to get pulled over by the police again – well, at least for a couple of days.

Audience On Demand is hiring..

VivaKi Nerve Center launched Audience On Demand in the US back in 2008, launched in London in 2010. Now the UK’s largest trading desk is looking to add to the team as we grow month on month working with some of the UK’s largest advertisers. We work with Starcom Mediavest, ZenithOptimedia and Razorfish teams and are the most lined up agency group in the UK with full support from the agency brands and our success reflects that.

Paul Silver Heads up the Audience On Demand Product and is one of the most respected people in the industry and he will be joined by the Head of Activation on Monday Geoff Smith, current Head of Technology at MEC, it’s a dream team backed by a number of activation and analyst team members and together we are really making great strides in the market place. If you want to work on private marketplaces, scale plays, strategies across the exchange space then you should contact me or Paul.

Bored at an Ad Network, or worrying about their future? Perhaps at another agency Group but struggling against constant resistance and confusion, maybe in a ‘specialist outfit’ but seeing just how restricting and myopic that can be? Want to work for a team that works openly and collaboratively with publishers then email us..

We look forward to hearing from you!

Balancing short term demands with long term strategy

As the digital landscape evolves so the companies within it have to adapt as well, but actually we all live in a short term world. Both publishers and agencies have their work cut out for different reasons but all too often good strategic decisions are being strangled by short term demands. This challenge has never been more obvious than right now.

I have been talking daily to organisations both in our group and externally about how we plan and adapt for the future, we can all see the major digital portals for instance having to sit and scratch their heads a little about dealing with the here and now but planning for the future. Take a Yahoo or a Microsoft, they have both embraced the new world of exchanges and yet somehow want or need to protect their network offerings, the two don’t sit easily in reality. As strategies they should be rewarded in their approach of embracing the exchange world, but instead they are under pressure to deliver their targets based on a 2010 estimation, when the world was entirely different. Was it that different? Were we not all talking about exchanges etc back then? Well yes we were but the spend was not backing up the rhetoric, 2011 is a different story. Audience On Demand, as the biggest exchange trader in the UK has accelerated incredibly, and that growth is having an impact. Look at Specific Media who but a year ago was recruiting staff and buying Myspace and a few short months later is making redundancies, that’s how quickly things move.

We are though at a juncture, and it’s for that reason we need some patience from the bean counters. 2010 did not properly represent the Exchange growth, 2011 is closer to the truth but 2012 will be big. As the long tail of Ad Nets is absorbed into the more focused addressable media hubs and digital consolidation continues, the likes of the Yahoo or Microsofts will begin to see the benefits of the exchange infrastructure and will be able to let go of the old DR network approach. They will start to reap the spends that once went to the Ad Nets, but this time via exchanges.

It is refreshing to see the strategy Yahoo are playing out in the us. There was an article today in fact on this in Adage – click here. They are going to take a hit in the US with their strategy of blocking the Ad Nets, Criteos and others from buying their inventory. Yes short term that is going to hurt them, longer term its a great move and will pay back undoubtedly. We are seeing a significant adjustment in the digital ecosystem.

Agencies are evaluating just as fast, less from a revenue perspective, more from a structural perspective. If you designed an agency today, would you do it the same? I doubt it and yet the upheaval required sometimes makes people think twice and come up with a number of reasons why they should not do something even though in the longer run it makes perfect sense. This requirement to change however on agencies and publishers comes from a number of key trends;

consolidation of digital, we have all seen the stats that show the big digital companies control a huge percentage of the total spend and audience, even within the exchange space you are dealing with a few big partners. I believe that clients are starting to see a new digital landscape that is not 40 sites on a plan. They are realising that actually they can achieve almost all they need with API buying, Audience On Demand and Search, its a shift, everyone is looking for scale and efficiencies.

Globalisation of media and advertising. Most pitches are becoming global, not all, the recent in for ZenithOptimedia of RBS proves that, but many are. As such as the clients think more globally then they look to the agencies to do the same, and the more you think like that the more the scale partners of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc become important to them and us.

Commoditisation drives value. This is an interesting development for me. Years of being told by Microsoft and Yahoo etc that their inventory is ‘premium’ has rarely been backed up by any real insight except their own research. Now we have commoditisated huge swathes of inventory through DSPs and exchanges we are being able to see what value inventory has and what performs. We see the volumes of money we spend with these companies through the DSPs and what eCPM we pay for them, none of this is determined by a person or a power point slide or negotiation. Tech has decided, results have decided and demand has decided and the patterns are very interesting indeed. After millions of pounds of spend through Audience On Demand we now see the true value of inventory and yet it has never been more commoditised.

Technology is in fashion. Of course tech has always been in fashion but never more so than now. It has been developed for agencies in a meaniful way. Demand Side Platforms for exchange trading, Bid optimisation platforms for search and API buying, these things have been designed to help us drive efficiencies and improve performance and we really see the opportunity now. It’s brutally competitive though and VivaKi have decided to work with the best partners and then develop tech that links all those partners up providing an interface to work with, this we see as the great opportunity, if you then add that to new streamlined teams and workflow, you have a heady mix that can deliver fantastic performance and service.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a lot to do and we need more people to take up the challenge and either drive the change through their organisations or give the people who have to do it a break so they can work through this transition. The end result though is the ship has sailed, the change is underway and we need to embrace it or become a dinosaur.

Smart Agencies Understand the Partnership Imperative

In the time I have been writing for this blog, I have worked substantially with Google. The VivaKi Nerve Center are tasked with identifying key partners in their role of being the future facing R&D division of VivaKi. Google are one of our major Partners and because of this I invited Google to write my 100th blog post and to talk about the importance of partnership in this new media landscape that is evolving into a tech driven business rather than just a media one.

Simon Birkenhead of Google, Global Agency Leader for Publicis has kindly submitted the below post and I must thank Simon and the brave Comms team down at Google for letting him loose on my amateur blog!

Smart Agencies understand the Partnership Imperative

In January 2008, Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, shook hands on the terrace of the Publicis building overlooking the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Their agreement, to join forces and partner in the deployment of new digital advertising technologies, kickstarted a radical transformation in the way that large agencies work with technology companies.

For decades agencies have been the masters of delivering effective advertising campaigns at the best possible value for their clients. A key strategy to achieve this was to maintain an arm’s length (some would say, adversarial) relationship with media owners to preserve objectivity and a strong negotiating position. The slow pace of true innovation in traditional media meant there was little pressure for this to change: agencies’ fluency in offline media required little 2-way interaction with media owners beyond discussions over pricing and tactical proposals.

However, the explosive growth of digital marketing over the past decade, and the associated emergence of Silicon Valley’s fast-moving technology companies, has instigated an urgent reappraisal of this adversarial mindset by the leaders of the world’s largest agencies. The increasing importance of data analytics as a key component of agencies’ service offering, combined with the lightning-paced evolution and technical complexity of the new digital marketing platforms, means that a closer working dynamic with technology companies is no longer an experimental initiative, it has become a business imperative.

When Maurice met with Eric in Paris in January 2008, which was also around the time I joined Google, Google’s product suite was largely limited to Search and our display network. Just three and a half years later, the conversations I have with agencies now cover mobile, online video, social, ad exchanges, global ad-serving platforms, rich media advertising, DSPs, analytics, real-time insights tools, data platforms and even enterprise software.

The pace & scale of change is truly mind-blowing:
● In 2008 Search accounted for just 3% of all media investment in the US and Western Europe. Just 3 years later this has tripled to ~9%. In UK, Search now represents at least 15% of all ad spend.
● Android has grown from zero to over 550,000 new activations per day in 3 years and, with iOS, is radically transforming how advertisers can engage with customers through mobile devices
● YouTube now streams 3 billion video views per day, double the volume just 18 months ago
● Facebook, Twitter & Google+ together have close to 1BN users globally, 50% of whom log on every day, half of these through mobiles
● In just 18 months, Ad Exchanges, DSPs and Agency Trading Desks have revolutionized the way display media is bought, challenging the business models for hundreds of existing display networks
● Google announced over 350 major new products or feature changes over the last 12 months alone, an average 7 per week. (To see what these were, visit http://www.google.com/newproducts)

As a Googler, with full access to our internal resources, it is a huge challenge to maintain my own knowledge of all these technologies and the associated opportunities they afford marketers and agencies. For agency account leaders, planners and buyers, who also have to be fluent in a similar suite of products from dozens of other digital companies in addition to all forms of traditional media, it has become truly impossible to remain true media ‘experts’. Every new layer of complexity created by technology evolution creates an even deeper requirement to nurture and build strong external partnerships. As Rishad Tobaccowala of VivaKi recently commented, “The world is too complex and moving too fast for any one company or team to do it all. We need to train people who are cross-bred and hybrid and who are willing to work together.” Tight-knit day-to-day collaboration at account team level with technology companies like Google have now become a necessity for agencies to keep up with all the potential options for connecting advertisers with their customers.

Many advertisers have also come to the same conclusion. A key component of many major media pitches recently has been the requirement for agencies to demonstrate the strength of their partnerships with Google and other players in the digital ecosystem, and how they can use these relationships to deliver additional value to their clients.

Smart agency leaders like Jack Klues, Laura Desmond and Steve King have realised that a close global partnership with Google would help their agencies to stay ahead. Today our global partnerships with VivaKi, Starcom Mediavest and ZenithOptimedia deliver immense value beyond the technology collaboration originally envisaged by Maurice & Eric in January 2008:
● Our industry experts provide deep insights into consumer & market trends that illuminate new consumer engagement opportunities for agencies, enabling their clients to lead rather than follow
● Our display, mobile & video experts work with agencies to create innovative, high impact campaigns for advertisers by pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible
● Our product managers help agencies to understand and prepare for new marketing opportunities generated by technology change
● The joint research studies we publish each year with agencies deepen our understanding of consumer behaviour in this new digital realm and deliver the proof points needed to encourage advertisers to leverage these new opportunities
● Our training initiatives and digital media certification programmes, covering everyone from the top CEO to entry-level graduates, are helping the agencies to maximise the ROI from their digital campaigns and keep their teams operating efficiently and effectively
● Our ongoing partnership with VivaKi’s Audience on Demand trading desk is helping agencies & their clients to improve the performance of their digital campaigns through superior buying processes.

Yet despite all this, as I talk to agency leaders around the world, both inside & outside of Publicis, I still occasionally get asked what the value is to an agency from working with Google.

Agency leaders who have not yet figured this out, who are not actively encouraging their account teams to build a deep collaborative partnership with Google, may soon discover they are at a significant disadvantage to their competitors in this fast-changing market.

Simon Birkenhead is Google’s Global Business Leader for Publicis Groupe

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!

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.