When it comes to viewability, what you see isn’t always what you get.
It seems that every day brings a negative report about unseen advertising, wasted investment or misrepresented metrics by large publishers. Concerns over fraudulent traffic and the re-emergence of silent, auto-play, small-player video are raising new questions about the definition of a video view—a concept that once seemed straightforward.
The industry is calling on its leaders to take action. Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, gave a widely lauded speech at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in January, announcing new requirements for the company’s media vendors to clean up the supply chain. He spoke on this subject again this week at 4A’s Transformation 2017. We’ve also seen brands and agencies recently remove their content from platforms in response to questionable user generated content. At Spotify, we’re thinking hard about product innovation and third-party measurement…
Some classic disco to jump-start the morning, a slice of soothing folk to assist concentration at work, a bit of roaring heavy metal in the car on the way home, and some easy-listening jazz to accompany dinner-time cooking – well, you get the idea.
Sound like your ideal day? Almost certainly not – everyone has their own music tastes. For many of Spotify’s 100 million-plus registered users, that playlist would include Ed Sheeran, who nearly ‘broke’ the platform with 273 million streams of his latest album within days of its release.
Either way, Spotify claims those listening habits are enabling it to help brands create more relevant advertising experiences.
“Our core audience is listening to Spotify two-and-a-half hours a day across all different devices. The one USP I hadn’t thought about when I came in is our ability to communicate with people right through the day,” says Bertozzi.
“Even if they have their phone in their pockets, or they are in the car where they won’t be watching video, we have the audio to be able to communicate. That helps us to talk to the consumer right through the day, and I don’t think anyone else can do it.”
‘STREAMING STATE OF MIND’
Bertozzi will be attending Festival of Media Global in part to discuss ‘The Streaming State of Mind’, a report published last year in partnership with WPP’s GroupM, exploring the growth in streaming of music, TV and movie content across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Thanks to the likes of Spotify and Netflix, streaming has become a prevalent form of digital content consumption, especially with younger Millennial and Gen Z users. The majority (60%) of this streaming is also being carried out using mobile devices throughout the day.
The report concludes that ads on streaming platforms targeting consumers during specific moments of the day – from commuting to working out at the gym – represents a $220m opportunity in the surveyed markets alone (the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Australia). These numbers are music, quite literally, to Spotify’s ears.
To help advertisers reach the right users at optimal moments, Spotify has opted to turn its back on the co-called ‘walled garden’ ethos of Google and Facebook in favour of a more open and collaborative approach to data – within, of course, privacy parameters that listeners find acceptable.
“Our challenge is to make advertisers realise they can work with us in all these different ways”
Last month, Spotify partnered with Acxiom-owned ad tech company LiveRamp to allow brands to combine their first-party data with its own. Currently being tested in the US, with Europe and other regions to follow, Bertozzi claims this style of ‘people-based’ marketing will finally surpass the old cookie method, and help marketers to improve both targeting and their understanding of campaign performance.
“The sophistication around data-driven marketing is going to continue to grow. A couple of years ago, people would have described using third-party data as being ‘data-driven’. I think we have now moved to an era now where it is more focused on CRM, custom audiences and data matching,” he says.
“[The RampUp partnership] is going to be a really big deal for us, as – in terms of opportunities and capabilities – it puts us in the same league as the Facebooks and Googles of the world.
“It allows us to have much more in-depth conversations with our advertisers, in understanding their audiences better and being able to target and create audiences, [as well as] tracking sales, because you have matched the data. That is a huge play.”
For Bertozzi, Spotify’s core digital audio takes the “personal link” and “intimacy” consumers have long enjoyed with radio as a medium, and offers advertisers contextual benefits. “It’s the best of both worlds,” he insists.
As well as its bread-and-butter music industry campaigns, Spotify has been looking to dial up the creativity of its ad deals. In the UK, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has used the platform’s Branded Moments format reach consumers in the kitchen while they are preparing meals – and working out plans for their next grocery shop. Disney, meanwhile, also selected Spotify for an elaborate music-themed campaign to promote its latest movie release, ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
A key challenge, however, remains, namely in the need to drive awareness among brands that Spotify – famous for its audio services – offers the full suite of video and display ad formats.
“Advertisers like the fact they can combine video, display and audio as a single campaign, connecting channels that used to be very siloed. That helps us to do more of that storytelling that brands talk about,” says Bertozzi.
“There is an opportunity for pretty much any advertiser to work with us. We talk about the power of audio as one of our key narratives, but we’re talking about it in the sense of people listening to music and podcasts. From an advertiser point of view we are a multi-channel experience, and our challenge is to make advertisers realise they can work with us in all these different ways.”
And to the big question – can anyone (or anything) top Ed Sheeran’s incredible strangle-hold on Spotify playlists in 2017?
“Very good question,” chuckles Bertozzi. “It’s hard to see anybody coming up behind Ed Sheeran any time soon. I guess it will be if someone, somewhere could persuade Taylor Swift to come back, but that is well above my pay-grade!”
So I thought for a change from talking about Spotify, I would give my humble views on the latest digital furore.
It is a well trodden path – Scandal first, debate and finger pointing and finally actions and solutions often leading to a better future state. We see it in everyday life with so many different topics. It is always a shame that it gets to that point but at the same time we should grab the opportunity that it presents us.
I know I sound like an old git and have said it before but I have seen so many stages of digital, starting with the concept of selling hits. Ironically we never knew less about what we were selling in 2000 but it was probably in front of humans back then, Ad fraud was not on the radar. We have seen the social media wave, video, programmatic, and on it goes.
However this latest scandal is not about impressions appearing against unfavourable content, and by all accounts a tiny amount, it’s about the fact that everyone just got a cold bucket of water thrown over them and screamed at to wake up. The bucket was thrown by The Times as it happens but this topic has been on every stage in programmatic for two plus years. It has been the sell of many companies talking about brand safety for years but the truth is, no one listened. In 2014 I was at a ANA conference with hundreds of buyers and I asked them if they cared about brand safety and unanimously they said they did. I then I asked them if they bought blind performance or blind inventory through any number of RTB networks and most did. I ended with the phrase. ‘Then you don’t care about brand safety’ this is not to have a dig at those companies, by the way, many still operating, but to make the point that the issue has been out there for some time.
My blog is littered with articles I have written on this topic and I was not the only one of course. Trouble was no one listened. Ask any agency that wanted to deliver more brand safe impressions, the toughest thing was applying quality inventory, whitelists, vetting etc and still hitting cpms demanded by auditors and pitches.
So now the scandal is passing and we have had much debate, now on to the solutions. Here is my take out on the topic. Here are the likely developments for the industry:
Advertisers are going to continue to take more ownership of their programmatic work in some way, hopefully finding a happy balance with agencies, combining best of both worlds
Quality media will see a resurgence – it will at least be given air to breathe. Quality sites will be seen for what they are, brand safe with quality audiences
Verification will be standard for Facebook and Google – at last advertisers will be able to see what their viewability scores are on puking rainbows
Standards are about to shoot up. At Spotify we sell all video with Moat HAVOC standards – Human, Audio, Video, on complete. Our ads deliver 100% SOV, 95+% viewability. See these as becoming standard.
We are entering a new dawn for digital advertising, the question is whether everyone goes back to sleep or decides to get up and out. Take the opportunity to make our industry a better place.
Today I just wrote a list. A list of observations from the sales side of the house from a recent ex agency person. Headline is ‘long time agency executive did not self combust when joining a sales organisation’ Here are some insights for those of you thinking about crossing the divide…
I really did not know where anyone’s offices were and Christ you do a lot of travelling around. Google saves hundreds of hours by getting everyone to come to them.
You get cancelled a lot. No biggie, shit happens, but you get cancelled a lot
What I assumed would be an awesome event to attend is actually just competing with loads of awesome events to attend
People cancel late – main thing is to cancel, even that day, but not so late you can’t find a home for the ticket, even if I bring my mum
Learning all about restaurants in a 5min circumference from each agency
I have competed with many, annoyed some, but overall everyone has been hugely welcoming of my new role.
Agencies are working their socks off on pitches. Every.Single.Day.
There is some cool shit going on in agencies, fascinating to see and hear it. One even came to tell us about it.
I am really enjoying getting to work with all the people I used to work with but are now scattered across the industry – chance to see everyone again
Agency chat involves a lot about offices. A lot. More even than Google and Facebook talk about theirs.
People talk about Google and Facebook a lot.
There are so many people I did not know but glad I am getting to know.
I could have waited a month, six months, a year to write this but the biggest impact of jumping in cold water comes immediately, not after a few minutes, so I thought I would try to sum up my feelings about the change from agency to sales two weeks in.
This is not a blog about better or worse, it’s about difference. I am old enough and wise enough now to know that everyone goes to work every day and takes what they need out of work, you can only hope that you find a role that fulfils you, we spend a lot of time at work and being happy there, whatever the role is important. What I will be finding out I guess is whether I should have been doing sales all along, as many have told me, or whether I had it right first time. I feel like timing and choice of company will also impact that decision and I will come back to that shortly.
1.Clarity of focus
So 20,000 minutes later, the first thing that really strikes me is the clarity of focus. I used to describe that as ‘does it not feel repetitive talking about only one thing?’ But now I am in it, there is something liberating about having a clear focus on what your role in life is, it helps being in a brand as strong as Spotify admittedly, but nevertheless. Agencies have a lot of ground to cover and they have to be experts in many things which is hard and they do a great job of it. When I think of a planning director in an agency, they have to be strategic, understand everything from content to programmatic, keep the client service ticking over and that is not easy. That range of services and opportunities needs to be communicated to clients and so meetings have to cover so much and sometimes without the time to really go deep. When I hear people say ‘I can never get hold of someone’ I suspect it is because they have shifted their time to their clients and not meeting everyone and their dog from the outside. What appears to be a negative, is likely a positive.
On the media owner side, dark side, partner or publisher side you are there for one reason. Everyone knows you are there to talk about your brand and your proposition, the challenge for us is that we have to do a good job of that, since that is all you have to do. As an agency executive I would expect sales people to know their product inside out, ideally know what’s happening in my business and with my clients and deliver a clear and persuasive argument as to why I should spend money with you. The clarity of that purpose is quite liberating. I was in a meeting with a large global client and for me the first thing was that the relationship of our two brands was a no brainer – our audiences complimented each other perfectly. That is something as a publisher, if you have that you should be confident of it, how you then connect the two brands is just a collaboration using all the assets we have available to a brand.
2. Pace of work generates energy
I expected the pace to be different for sure, agency life runs on a different, longer term timetable, different objectives and I expected to find that on the sales side, but there is a stark difference. Of course things are shorter term, but pleasingly mixed with longer term strategies running in parallel. On top of the pace of things though comes the energy which is generated – the communication is fast and frequent, the team support each other and there is a great energy, again connected with clarity of purpose. I think that is something that 20K minutes in, I am enjoying the most. The team has great energy and I love seeing them getting behind each other, both in country and across countries.
The time in CES which I was lucky enough to enjoy with some of my European band members and some of the US as well was a joy in terms of spending time with people who are all excited and pulling for each other. The Spotify space in Vegas was real quality and I felt proud to be part of the company and especially when combined with the great people I met who all welcomed me in. I am going to spend the next week with them in NY as well, which I am thoroughly looking forward to.
Yes. Numbers are everywhere, this is a company built on understanding our business regardless of your level, sounds obvious? Well I think sales people who move to agencies may be surprised how relatively cosseted the equivalent levels in agency are from the business metrics behind what they do. At a certain level of course there is more exposure but there is so much to make sure you are on top of in a shorter term revenue business to make sure that targets are met than you would find in agency. At a large Google conference that I go to every year they split it into buy and sell side. This year it fell right on the change in my role and so I asked if I could swap and join the sales side tracks even though I was invited as buyside. It was interesting to me that on the buyside everything focused on what could we target, how could we use the data more, how can we join up channels etc. On the buyside it was far more commercial. How do we drive revenue for our valuable and scarce quality audience?
So you want to join the dark side? Well I am afraid I think it will depend on who and when you join. I wrote down the kind of company I wanted to join, and Spotify came top and I was lucky enough to get in the door. I feel comfortable in this environment because I can be passionate about a brand that is in the hand of the most sort after audiences for 2+hrs a day. I feel passionate about a brand that people love and that makes my job so much easier. The clarity of purpose suits me, the brand suits me, and the team is great so it works, albeit 20K minutes in! Agencies provide a powerful view of the landscape, you get to see everything, that variety is intoxicating so if you move to media owner side I would suggest go somewhere you care about and has a great offering, that more than makes up for the slightly more focused narrative. That said, I have enjoyed meeting some of the agency contacts I have been mates with for 20 years, that gives a whole new perspective on things. I look forward to working with all those agency friends, I just happen to be sitting on the other side of the desk.
Give or take 20 years ago I started at Zenith Media and with the exception of two years the Publicis Groupe is where I stayed. Through the intervening years I am pretty sure I set a record in the number of companies I worked for and in. In that time I have worked for Zenith Media, Zenith Interactive Solutions, Zed Media, ZenithOptimedia, VivaKi Nerve Center, VivaKi, SMG, Performics and PMX. I have worked in UK, EMEA and Global roles as well as two short stints in the US (NY and Chicago) and along the way I have met some amazing people from countries all over the world. I still marvel at the fact that it is possible to pick up the phone from Australia, China, India to California and everywhere in between and speak to a friendly voice. It is without doubt the best part of the last 20 years and I could never have imagined back as a Trainee TV buyer in Paddington that all that would have been possible.
Publicis has given me so many opportunities to progress and for that I will always be grateful, from my earliest boss in Tracey Stern through to Gerry Boyle and the late great Curt Hecht. They all had one thing in common, they supported and guided but allowed you room to grow and take responsibility for your own work, and most of all, were human. When the pressure is on, when things are not always going the way you want them to, being able to keep hold of things that are important to each of your team is vital, support them as people and the rest will come naturally. Politics, P&L pressures, come to everyone, don’t let them make you forget that everyone is human and appreciates direct and honest conversations, integrity first. There are way too many people to mention in this blog, but thanks to all those who have supported me and helped me succeed over time.
I think my first few years in Zenith were foundational and there are so many friends from that period scattered all over the business and doing great. Zenith was a powerhouse and incubator for so much talent in the industry and we all still reminisce about the fab times back then. They all know who they are so I won’t list them, but its great to see them all doing so well. The VivaKi AOD years hold special memories, so much fun, working for Curt Hecht and Kurt Unkel, fighting it out on one conference stage after another with the anti-trade desk brigade, the travel, the growth and wonderful team. Paul Silver, Geoff Smith, Danny Hopwood, Jen Hubbard, Sam and Lina, the foundation of AOD and then broadening out to all the stars of the region with Jean Baptiste Rouet, Adeline, Lothar, ilke, Sara, Bea as well as the US team – Kurt,Cheri, Cassie, Sean, Kurt, Kelly, Doug. We were a dream team in early programmatic and what a laugh we had whilst working our socks off, and there it is, enjoying work will conquer all and boy did we enjoy it!
Finally on the people front, a massive thank you to Becky Hopwood, my one and only assistant through all the travel, the change the ups and downs, my good moods and less good moods! She has been part of everything since 2010 and helped me both at work and out of work and for that I am immensely grateful.
Publicis is going through huge change now, creating a new model for agency groups and I know they will come out of it better and stronger and ready to address this incredibly complex world we now find ourselves in, there is a great a team there and I wish them all the best for the future. I want to thank everyone from all over the world who has sent me notes and messages of support, its been an amazing eye opener, all the people I have crossed paths with and who have got in touch.
Now for the next challenge. In identifying my next role I had some criteria that I was adamant I wanted to have. I was looking for a company that was deep into data, technology and content. I wanted a company that could contribute to the desire of advertisers to engage positively with consumers and be part of their lives in a way that was one to one and added value. I wanted to work at a consumer facing company, being able to use the product, listen to people’s feedback and watch the world engaging with the brand. I wanted to work somewhere that had achieved a lot, but had so much more opportunity to go and finally somewhere that I knew was a company people liked to work for and with. I am hugely excited to have found that role at Spotify.
I am thrilled to be joining a team that is so focused, has a wealth of smart people and product and be able to work alongside all the other team members to create a company that leads the market in innovation around data and tech as well as delivering the best experience for our clients and agencies. I know the next few months are going to be a whirlwind of activity and can’t wait to get going and meet everyone internally as well as our clients. I have had a really enjoyable first chapter in my career and now to the next. 2017 here we come and yes it starts with a trip to Vegas.
DONT START…I added quotation marks around digital because I know that Tess Alps would be all over it in a second, but I had to describe it as something and there lies the issue for many. Old ways of describing a world moving at a 1000mph are not sitting comfortably at the moment. In the last week or so I have been witnessing the never ending battle of TV vs Digital. The first was during IAB Engage and the second was the Video Ad News conference. Mainly played out on Twitter, noone wins, it normally involves bright people and Nigel Walley and I always wonder what it would be like to have all these people in a room together, working together.
At the heart of the issues lies the definition of what constitutes digital, TV, mobile and how should we talk about them and report them. Those who follow Twitter feeds on the topic will see it is something that appears to have little end in sight. Now I know we are all eating from the same trough, advertiser money, but surely we can work more effectively together and create some strategies that bring all sides together to recognise the benefits of both.
It strikes me that we have a synergistic relationship going on where one supports the other. TV has a history of making brands famous and creating a rapid rise in a brand’s recognition, digital has helped socialise TV and delivers the ROI through websites and follow up digital activity (in addition to instore) but it is vital that we work together to create more studies and more work to prove out these different theories and at an industry level, not just advertiser or agency case studies.
Digital has taken a battering over measurement and quality in recent times and indeed this should and I believe is a wake up call for many in the industry, TV on the other hand is perhaps guilty of resting on some laurels in terms of what it has achieved rather than making sure it is future proofing itself. An amazing amount of progress has been made in the last 2 or 3 years and its great to see but there is a lot more to go. An example of adaptation is where TV may use different tech to deliver ads but can still report back in similar TV metrics and not dive into digital ones, likewise video networks and supply sources have to find a way to include themselves in the GRP discussion rather than bang the table saying, ‘they are right about measurement.’ Todays moderator in an opening address was fast to try and encourage the audience to agree that TV measurement was wrong, we have always known it, but at least it was consistently wrong.’ Controversial. Especially given the current digital malaise. TV measurement is solid if at times a little limited but not wrong.
I would be excited to see TV progress in the way that Sky have started to go, taking incremental steps forward in targeting and reporting and I believe we will rapidly arrive at an offering that combines a good quotient of TV and Digital (there I go again, all TV is digital) benefits. Sky is in the driving seat right now so don’t be surprised to see the channel broadcasters cutting deals with Sky to be able to use Adsmart and IQ like targeting in the future. One area I will be interested in is to see how they embrace the data discussion as regards advertisers and their DMPs. It is still early days but the use of DMPs is moving at pace and becoming more and more sophisticated. As advertisers explore ways to use their first party data against media properties and media buying, perhaps TV has an opportunity to work with them collaboratively and not create another walled garden.
Of course Sky can become the next walled garden and on some levels I would not blame them, but they are in competition with Google and Facebook who most definitely are walled gardens. They are unlikely to change, Facebook has 350+ billion dollar reasons why it cant be bothered to, BUT ITV and C4 could go a different route and help advertisers invest in their properties and demonstrate sales through integrations with DMPs.
Its not often I sit on the fence or become a middle man, but I believe that we could all learn something from each other and one is not better than the other. The biggest crime is that we don’t admit failings and don’t admit that we could learn from one another. As more TV becomes localised, one important lesson to learn from digital is to not let standards drop on creative. TV advertising on the whole is of the highest standards but as a more local offering creeps in with Sky openly encouraging local businesses to come into the TV market place, we are in danger of having a US experience with men standing outside their local garages offering this weeks best deals. TV must keep creative of the highest standards.
We need to keep going back to understanding people, and as we know, people don’t differentiate these channels in the way our industry does, they instinctively just know what they want from each of them. We could all learn from that too and get on with working out how best to engage them and not annoy them.