Youtube ADEX closure – Is the future a closed ecosystem?

Originally written for Digiday – link hereimages.

I have watched with interest the backlash against the Google decision to pull its YouTube inventory back from DoubleClick Ad Exchange. It got me thinking about the past and the present and the fact that there is this view that all companies must make everything equal to everyone. Google has disabled something that represented 5 percent of its total YouTube sales — is that really worth all the fuss?

While it is an issue insofar as many businesses are built on the back of disruption and filling niches and a multitude of other business models, Google has no obligation to make life easy for them. Indeed, Google is not alone. Facebook locked everything up; Amazon would rather shut sales down that let you get hold of its data; AOL, Yahoo and others hold all their best inventory back so you can only buy it through their platforms.

Welcome to the future. These companies have invested billions into their product, and they have no obligation to make other competitive businesses rich on the back of their investments. It is called competitive advantage.

Holding on to the Google debate a little longer, five years ago it had a poor ad server and limited display business. It was seemingly going backwards in terms of innovation outside of search and video. And then a few things happened: Some smart people made some smart decisions. Google bought companies, it invested in their stack, it invested in data, and before you knew it, it was dominating display. It did the same in video, so if it chooses to limit the access to just three entry points from four, then that is Google’s business. If AOL, after investing in content, tech and data, wants to only allow access to the best of what they have via its platform, that is its prerogative.

It was only five or six years ago that we were all forced to work like this. If you wanted inventory from The Telegraph, you rang up The Telegraph, likewise Guardian, ITV and so on. We were forced to deal with hundreds of walled gardens. We have improved the situation with technology, so now we have many fewer entry points to inventory, but when we started down this road no one ever said everyone had to sign up to this new way of working, the deal was that we could buy inventory through platforms and use data — not — be able to access all inventory through any platform.

As an example, AppNexus is the self-proclaimed independent solution outside of Google. It is doing well. But should Google then help AppNexus or worry about whether it can get access to YouTube inventory via AdX? Of course not. The same would go for many other demand-side platforms that would issue complaints on the topic.

Now, as a buyer, we would prefer to see an ecosystem where we can access whatever we want from wherever we want. And we do rally against the approaches of Google, Facebook and Amazon. But at the same time, we have options. We can work around most of this, and we will create solutions that help us navigate and deliver against the utopia we were once searching for. That said, this is business. This is about companies investing and then looking to make returns off the back of it. YouTube is not the BBC, and it can decide how you buy its content.

The BIG 6 learnings from 2014 Adtech

First published in Campaignlive US – click here for article.

In a year dominated by headlines of transparency, fraud, agency trading desks and advertisers “taking it in house,” we should not lose sight of the incredible pace of acquisitions, IPOs and investments. In all these seemingly endless and haphazard investments, we have seen a few patterns form — some just starting out while others completing the circle.

Completion of the ad stack

Probably the largest amount of ground was covered here. After the first big move last year by AOL buying, we saw a flurry of activity. Yahoo bought BrightRoll and Flurry; Facebook bought LiveRail and relaunched Atlas. AOL, Yahoo and Facebook are all live or creating their DSPs so if you want to buy their inventory you need to use their DSP. All these moves are designed to allow the big players to compete with Google and offer a full stack to the market place. More importance is being attached to being able to demonstrate targeting abilities across channel and platform, and this is where the battlegrounds will form.

One view to rule them all

As well as the platform and infrastructure play, we have seen massive moves afoot to deliver user identification both in terms of interests and where they are consuming media. The cookie is dying, slowly, everyone can see that and the realization that owned, logged in, registered data is the new cookie. Much hand-wringing occurred when Facebook bought WhatsApp. No revenue, no ad model, what are they doing? Well one, they needed to buy up the competition as they did with Instagram, but two, it massively expands Facebook’s pool of registered, logged-in user data. Everyone now wants to create a unique set of data insights around consumers, and I am afraid that is setting us back a little: Advertisers have a right to get a single view of their customer and not be forced to work with multiple siloes.

2014 — year of video

I know, it was meant to be the year of mobile (maybe it was really), but it turned out that video stole the show. A strong IPO from TubeMogul, Videology partnering with Mediaocean and Turn launching a TV offering, BrightRoll being bought by Yahoo, LiveRail by Facebook showed just how important video has become to advertisers and media-owners alike.

If it is not the media side of it, it is the structural side: Comcast bought up Freewheel in a move sure to take it toward programmatic, and the U.K.’s Channel 4 opened up VOD to selected video DSPs. Whether it is connected, on demand or in stream, video has well and truly taken center stage. Next year is the year of mobile. Definitely. Really.

Enterprise marketing solutions look to ad tech

The likes of Oracle, IBM, Salesforce and Adobe have for years looked in the other direction when it came to media and ad tech, but 2013 and 14 have seen that change considerably. There have been some major plays this year: most notably Oracle buying BlueKai, but Adobe and Oracle have also signed major agency deals and continue to feature heavily in the discussion of merging marketing tech with ad tech.

The ups and downs of IPOs

What a year for IPOs! I think everyone was taken aback by the volume and pace of the IPOs this year. Rubicon began strongly and gave the market some confidence. TubeMogul followed, and there was talk from DataXu as well, although that has not materialized. RocketFuel and Millennial IPO’d but to less success, and they followed Tremor and others in falling dramatically from their first-day float. Some of the business models are being questioned on the basis of market position, their real added value or even whether their businesses are built on the hard and never-ending work of the bots.

Internet of things as bought by Google

From left field comes a raft of purchases that prove the tech giants are looking well beyond the banner. (That’s dead, right?) Facebook bought Oculus Rift; slow on the social-gaming ride, Facebook simply jumped one step ahead. Google has bought into Nest, the household wireless heating/ home control system. Samsung bought Smart Things, another platform for controlling the home, and finally Google bought a drone company. There were more, but you get the idea. I recommend you read the book The Circle by Dave Eggers about a social-media company that becomes part of everything in our lives and slowly erodes privacy … Then look at some of these purchases.

Marco Bertozzi is President of AOD, EMEA and North American Client Services with VivaKi.

Jay Sears interview in advance of Adweek New York Panel

photo for blog

Your Name: Marco Bertozzi

Your Company: VivaKi

Your Title: President EMEA and US Client Services

SEARS: Where do you read your daily news [not just industry news, but all news]? Do you still read a newspaper? Listen to the radio? Use social media?

BERTOZZI: Twitter is usually where I start the discovery. Where I end up reading the news varies. I also use the Guardian News app as an anchor. Occasionally I will grab a newspaper but safe to say most of my news consumption is online.

SEARS: What’s your favorite commercial of all time?

BERTOZZI: My favorite commercial of all-time is an ad for Blackcurrant Tango.

SEARS: Today on average in the United States — out of each $1.00 spent on media (all media, not just digital) by one of your advertisers — how much is spent on automated or programmatic channels?

BERTOZZI: We’re seeing $0.08 of every $1.00 spent on programmatic channels in 2014, and I think we’re still in the early stages of adoption — even in the U.S. — but it’s starting to rise. We’re going to see a sharp increase as education continues across agencies and clients.

SEARS: What was this number in 2012?


SEARS: What will this number be in 2016?


SEARS: What is the mission statement of VivaKi AOD?

BERTOZZI: Audience On Demand® (AOD) was built exclusively for Publicis Groupe agencies and their clients. Created in 2008, our sole purpose has been to help our agency partners and their clients control their brands and messaging in a fragmented, digital ecosystem. We work as an extension of the agency team our clients trust to steward their advertising spend and marketing activity.

SEARS: Please tell us:

SEARS: Overall United States managed budget (media spend) for your trading desk, expected in 2014:


SEARS: Percentage increase, United States managed budget (media spend) 2013 vs. expected 2014:

BERTOZZI: It’s a healthy increase

SEARS: How many employees are there in your United States organization [headcount number]?

Total across USA: 261
Total in:
New York: 80
Boston: 8
Chicago: 123
Detroit: 23
San Francisco: 2
Los Angeles: N/A
Dallas: N/A
Other: 25 employees in Seattle

SEARS: What are VivaKi AOD’s three biggest U.S. initiatives in 2014?


Quality and viewability. We launched Quality Index — a proprietary evaluation process that vets all ad placements through AOD. Built on performance metrics and data provided by comScore, Integral Ad Science (IAS), Proximic and various DSPs, as well as ad server performance data, Quality Index also sources inventory according to various metrics that assess viewability, page content quality and historical performance.

This year, we also invested in the building out of the VivaKi OS, combining the AOD Platform and DMP, supported by our established channel solutions (display, mobile, video and social) and our VivaKi Verified teams.

We introduced AOD Brand into the US market. Focused on large-scale formats, it gives advertisers impactful creative in the right locations. It’s the best of RTB with premium inventory, utilizing private marketplaces and giving brand advertisers a vehicle to deliver programmatically against brand objectives. It’s an approach already heavily used in Europe but now formulated for the US.

SEARS: By 2016, what percentage of your holding company’s U.S. media spend will be automated or programmatic?

BERTOZZI: As above

SEARS: Can linear TV be automated, yes or no?

BERTOZZI: Yes! The real question, however, is whether large broadcasters are willing to invest in adapting to new and efficient ways of trading or do they prefer to hold on to “how it has always been done.” Media automation is an inevitability and those that move fastest will benefit the most.

SEARS: Does VivaKi AOD plan to automate linear TV in 2014? 2015?

BERTOZZI: No, but we intend to work with all available and accessible inventory and that includes connected TV inventory which will increase substantially over the coming months and years. The shift from TV to multiple screens will power the increase in inventory and as audiences across devices move away from just traditional TV the opportunities will only increase.

SEARS: Once linear TV is automated, will it be bought by TV buyers or digital buyers?

BERTOZZI: As we are already witnessing, there is a massive blurring of roles within agencies. By the time linear TV is automated I would suggest that roles and in fact most agencies including those in our group will be well under way with planning and buying being very much across screens and channels.

SEARS: On the subject of business models, the best way to describe your company is:

a) Product organization – i.e. you curate a media product for your agencies and advertisers
b) Service organization – i.e. you recommend and manage best practices and best of breed products for your agencies and advertisers
c) Combination of both
d) Other

BERTOZZI: Other. We see our role as threefold. First, we build technology that powers AOD in order to join up the complex programmatic ecosystem. Second, we evaluate and consult with advertisers on technology and data providers that best address their particular campaign needs and goals. Third, we provide marketing expertise and services for agencies and advertisers on campaigns including human oversight, strategic direction, context and advice that a machine simply cannot [offer].

SEARS: On the subject of advertiser clients and transparent vs. non-transparent models:

a) We have a transparent model — clients know media and other costs (i.e. costs are unbundled)
b) We have a non-transparent model — clients do not know media and other costs (i.e. costs are bundled)
c) Combination of both
d) Other

BERTOZZI: A. We make sure that our clients know how much spend is going against working media. I strongly believe this should be an absolute given for any business that aligns its objectives with its clients’ objectives. We also do not arbitrage media, as we believe this is counter to the principles and efficiencies offered by programmatic media-buying and takes us further away from the spirit of collaboration and true partnership with our clients.

SEARS: What percentage of your agency or advertiser’s site direct budget (direct orders) has been automated?

a) Less than 10% (of site direct dollars)
b) 11-20%
c) 21-50%
d) Over 50%

BERTOZZI: A. All of our buys are auction-based and therefore we do not allocate budget for direct-buys.

SEARS: Which of the following will accelerate the automation of site direct (direct orders) budget? Pick all that apply:

a) Dynamic access to all publisher inventory [vs. just “remnant” or “auction”]
b) Ability to leverage publisher first party data
c) Ability to leverage advertiser first party data [against all publisher inventory, especially premium]
d) Availability of rich media, expandable units and larger IAB Rising Star formats
e) Ability to more easily curate audiences for specific advertisers across the premium content of multiple publishers
f) All of the above

BERTOZZI: While all of the above are valid considerations, I believe the biggest factors that will help accelerate the automation of direct orders are actually tech development and greater alignment on inventory. As I’ve previously mentioned, there have been occasions where we wanted to push significant spend across premium publishers but the publishers were not ready to accept it.

SEARS: Tell us a bit more about you.

SEARS: Who was one of your first mentors as a child?

BERTOZZI: My brother. Five years older than I, he was (and is) someone I looked up to and not just because he defended me when I got into scrapes. It was his sound advice that ultimately led me into media agency life — so I should thank him for that!

SEARS: Money is not a concern. You no longer work in advertising or technology. What would you choose to do for work?

BERTOZZI: Having always loved animals, I would choose to work on an African game reserve. The solitude and connection to nature attracts me as does working with the most incredible animals on the planet. I would however probably still look for a connection to data, no matter how slow!

– See more at:

My piece in Exchangewire on AOD going mobile

Marco Bertozzi Discusses The Vivaki Mobile Partnership With Google, RTB In Mobile And The Rollout In Europe
Posted: November 10th, 2011 | Author: ExchangeWire

Marco Bertozzi is Managing Director EMEA at Vivaki Nerve Center. Here he discusses the Vivaki mobile partnership with Google, RTB in mobile and how to execute mobile buys as well as track performance without the cookie.

Can you give some overview on the recently announced mobile partnership with Google?

In November 2010 we renewed a long-standing partnership with Google, and in doing so we announced our intention to scale video and mobile display advertising on Audience on Demand™ (AOD). Over the past summer we have successfully beta-tested AOD video with a number of major clients and launched this in market a couple of weeks ago.

The latest announcement signals the advent of AOD mobile and initially means AOD will be given access to AdMob mobile advertising inventory through Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange. As AdMob publishers and developers make their inventory available on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, AOD, which has been testing the new model, will be able to buy the mobile ads for marketers in real time. The ads will run inside mobile games, news apps and content.

It will help us deliver the AOD standard to our agency’s clients as we bring mobile to scale, and will provide us with unprecedented insight into the operational elements, targeting, the creative assets that work best in this environment and importantly how mobile ad serving is embraced by the consumer.

What inventory will you be running campaigns across? Will it all be apps based?

Apps (avia admob) and mobile inventory via DFP are being leveraged in this particular instance. We will also be incorporating additional inventory from other sources, but in the very near term, the focus is on AdX’s new capabilities and gleaning a clean, in-depth understanding of the opportunities it presents for clients.

Does VivaKi see mobile as a pure DR channel?

Not at all. All clients want to reach the right consumer at the right time. Mobile, Video, Display, Search, etc… – all of these have value to clients. It’s our job to help our clients unlock this, which is a fundamental objective of our addressability strategy as an organization. AOD is all about reaching the right people at the right time on the right screen. We have seen clients across all sectors leverage mobile so far, and as we can bring the targeting, trust, and scalability to this addressable side of the mobile marketplace, we expect to continue to see such adoption by all clients.

That being said, we do expect clients with performance-based metrics to be amongst the first to test and develop strong POVs. That has been and will always be their nature. But it does not mean mobile is a DR channel.

Will we see significant volumes of mobile buying from VivaKi in the European market?

Our approach is to connect the buyers (clients) with the sellers (publishers and conduits) in the marketplace as demand warrants. The European marketplace is large and sees variation within different regions – it’s developing for display of all sorts and every market is moving at a different pace. Audience On Demand™ is technically ready to go and we will move as fast as the demand and supply.

I’m anticipating that the UK will pick up very quickly – there is huge demand on all sides so this should be very rapid and I know our AOD teams in France, Spain and the Netherlands are also keen to get going so this should also progress quickly.

The benefit of having a streamlined approach and structure across EMEA is the ability to share learning rapidly and benefit from this. Paul Silver, our Head of Product for AOD UK will be working with other markets to enable fast roll-out.

How are you buying? Will you trade through Invite? Are you buying in real-time? Is that possible?

VivaKi is technology neutral and our primary goal is to support client needs. We recognize that AdX is not the only source for mobile activity and Invite Media is not the only DSP to access mobile inventory and support targeting and campaign management. We are currently in discussions with other inventory sources and platforms to support mobile, which we expect to be available in early 2012.

This is entirely about real-time buying in the mobile space, so yes – it is possible and it is possible at scale with AdX. This is what we’re eager to better understand and see what “truths” we’ve developed on other channels translate to mobile and what new “truths” we uncover.

How difficult it is to target across mobile inventory without a universal cookie? When the cookie is not available, what targeting parameters are you using?

This is something that has been and will continue to be a hurdle relative to other channels. The ideal state that most desire is one where frequency and actions on other channels can inform decisions in the mobile channel. This ideal state is not a reality (yet), though there are means to incorporate insights from other channels to power decisions made on the mobile channel. For example – the context of the page, the geography of the impression, and the time of day are factors common across all channels. We have strong insights about how these factors influence advertising results and we incorporate those into our campaigns on all channels. So although targeting consumers across multiple channels and having each feed the other in real-time isn’t here yet, using what we’ve learned elsewhere to make a smart decision in the mobile channel is something we’re very confident in doing.

Is there still a big issue around tracking campaigns through the mobile channel given the lack of an established mobile ad server?

Tracking in mobile is still a challenge, and every honest participant in this industry will tell you so. The not so honest participant will try to confuse you with where cookies can be set vs. where they cannot be set – it is not at parity with the standard display space. The mobile channel also has the added complexity of the in-app tracking vs. the mobile web tracking, which are at a different places with regards to tracking.

The mobile standards such as the newly released MRAID will go along way with technology providers going down the same path. We are actively working with several partners to develop and also explore best in class solutions that will benefit our advertisers from a tracking and reporting perspective while respecting consumer privacy. We are looking to quickly close this gap so that we can introduce to our clients a standard measure for mobile and scale their use.

Can we expect to see other integrations with other mobile inventory sources, like the Microsoft ad exchange, in the coming months?

Without a doubt – those conversations and opportunities are already happening.

Marco Bertozzi discusses Vivaki/Google deal on exchangewire

Marco Bertozzi Discusses The Renewal Of The Vivaki And Invite Partnership
Posted: November 17th, 2010 | Author: ExchangeWire | Filed under: Ad Exchange, Ad Trading, Agency, Demand Side Platform, Online Advertising, RTB | Comments
Vivaki recently announced it was renewing its partnership with Invite Media. Marco Bertozzi, Managing Director EMEA at Vivaki Nerve Center, spoke to ExchangeWire this week about the implications of the partnership and what we’re likely to see in terms of innovation from Vivaki over the coming months.


Vivaki announced that it is renewing its partnership with Google for another two years. Does this mean that Vivaki will just exclusively use Invite Media to trade inventory? Or is there more to the deal?

MB: As I mentioned in my blog, the best friendships / partnerships come with time. Google and Vivaki have been working together since 2008 and have a close working relationship at a product development level and not just at a media level. It was our collaboration that encouraged them to purchase Invite. On that basis we feel that working with one partner, who in our view is the leader in this space is going to deliver better results than working with a whole range of partners who all have different processes and approaches, we will learn together and they are more likely to work to our needs as we are a large customer of theirs.

All that said of course it is incumbent on us to make sure we have a view on the marketplace and understand different systems. On that basis we have trialled different DSPs so to that extent it is not exclusive. As an aside the deal as you call it, I prefer a partnership as that is closer to the truth, is a Google one, not just an Invite one. Invite are one important part of our discussions.

What effect will the deal have on the European arm of the Vivaki and the Publicis agencies here?

MB: The US has been market leading in many areas of digital and ad exchange trading is no different. They are a good 12 months ahead of the UK in terms of maturity, understanding of the marketplace and scale. Therefore in EMEA we have always benefitted from that forward thinking work from the US and deals like this just add to that and help us mature more quickly in the EMEA markets. I believe this will create for us some very good first mover advantage in the areas we are focusing on such as video and mobile in the exchange space.

In a recent blog post you spoke about how the partnership with Google will focus more on mobile and video. What opportunities does Vivaki see in those channels from the perspective of data-driven ad trading?

MB: We see the whole ecosystem as being display whether its mobile, video or traditional display. The growth in spend is in these areas, the interest from agencies and clients is in this space so for us will come the need to be able to deliver an efficient and targeting solution in the form of exchanges across these different channels. We will want to have data that crosses channels and helps us discover out audience regardless of screen and this partnership will help us get there in the quickest time but at scale. There will always be small PR led partnerships around mobile and video but they are not at scale and often a lot of hot air, our approach is to do it right and to do it at scale.

Will “The Pool” initiative be part of this video and mobile strategy?

MB: The Pool is a slightly different approach where we are identifying the optimum ad format with in the video space. In the UK, Spain, China and US we are well underway with all of that work and it’s exciting to see the results. Although we will not be directly linking these, of course when the video ad exchanges take shape, our Vivaki built ASq model will be part of the formats available on the exchanges. I think more broadly Vivaki and SMG have really owned the video innovation space and so we would see these two areas being complimentary.

What are the key objectives you would like to achieve in the next two years with your renewed partnership with Google? Is it more automation across display, mobile and video?

MB: I think it’s pretty straight forward, we want to work with the Vivaki brands to accelerate all ad exchange trading but most importantly in the space of video and mobile, this will be a key battle ground and we want to be leading the market in this space, our work with Google and Invite will be a big part of this. Let’s not lose sight of why we are looking at all of this though, it’s to target the right audiences, minimise wastage and deliver strong targeting solutions and strong commercial results for our clients.

What currently differentiates Vivaki’s exchange strategy from those of other European holding companies?

MB: We have a purist approach to ad exchange trading and are not looking to create an ad network or exchange right now. The most important development for us is fine tuning the best approach to trading on exchanges and delivering an expertise to our clients, if the focus was on creating a marketplace or network I think the ambition is too centred on margin management and not on the best solutions. On top of that, the sheer scale and experience we now have from the US and more latterly in the UK in particular means we can use that experience to the benefit of our clients. Practical experience over the last 18 months gives us a head start on the other agency groups, some of which are still grappling with technical or organisational issues.

Since joining Vivaki do you think the European exchange space has evolved? Or are we still in the early stages of development?

MB: It’s slow but steady. On the one hand it feels as though everyone is talking about it but then you realise that it’s still very much under radar, I think all the people connected with this industry know each and other and interact, some limited teams in the agencies are aware but generally it’s still nascent. That said I am having more conversations with publishers who are waking up to the possibility that exchanges are an opportunity rather than a threat and that can only be a good thing. We are also slowly seeing the migration of US companies into EMEA but that remains surprisingly slow, so all in all I think things are growing but we are not mainstream yet!

NMA piece I contributed to, small coverage for a big subject.

As the online display ad ecosystem continues to evolve, this map of the status quo highlights the essential cogs and major players

Comparing the UK online display ad marketplace of ten years ago with today’s shows how rapidly it has changed, from an exchange of media and money through an ad server to a technologically complex and multi-layered ecosystem. And it’s about to change again.

One of the most talked about developments of the last six months has been Google’s acquisition of Invite Media, a technology firm with a demand-side platform that lets advertisers buy from multiple ad exchanges through one interface, while providing people support services.

While automated buying through ad exchanges has been heralded as a way for advertisers to cherry-pick the most targeted impressions in real time, with publishers avoiding the wastage of bulk buys and getting the highest value for inventory, its success depends on an abundance of buyers and inventory, plus knowing how to define bids.

Infectious Media founder Andy Cocker, highlighting the complexity of what’s currently on offer, warns, “There are around ten companies to which agencies could go to license DSP technology. But unless they know how to bid in a safe and controlled way, and how to use data to buy, they won’t have a good experience.”

For these reasons, development of automated trading has been hesitant. But some media players expect Google’s acquisition to change this. They argue it’s an endorsement of how display trading will develop and that it will help pave the way for much-needed standardisation in an area of technology that’s hugely disparate.

“This space needs to develop as a marketplace. Google buying Invite will only bring sophistication,” says Marco Bertozzi, EMEA MD of Vivaki. “Because it’s so dominant in search, there are a lot of people who start wailing and pulling their hair out, but everyone’s still using DoubleClick. The natural reaction is that it’s a bad thing, but any investment in the space is a good thing.”

Google’s latest acquisition gives it end-to-end capability within the online display ecosystem. It now offers an ad server, ad network, ad exchange and DSP technology. The impact this will have is hotly debated by industry players.

“We’re investing significantly in technologies that are helping to grow the display advertising ecosystem for publishers, agencies and advertisers,” said a Google spokeswoman. “Like our partners, we see enormous potential in this space. Real-time display ad buying, in particular, is delivering significant benefits for all players.”

Yet Jay Stevens, international VP and general manager for The Rubicon Project, which works with publishers to optimise inventory yield, is worried. “Google’s acquisition of Invite represents the last link in that value chain,” he says. “It already controls a digital market through search. If it owns the display landscape as well, it’s monopolisation which will hurt agencies and publishers.”

Full article here