Trading Desks – the latest darling of the Pitch consultant

I will let you into a secret, this whole RTB thing is a real hot topic..I know, I know I hear you say but it is not with the people you would imagine, no it is with the auditors and intermediaries. They have seen an opportunity to turn a buck and are starting to get really interested in the subject.

‘Advertisers think this is a murky world’ is what I hear time and time again, but then I often wonder how they have come to that conclusion. Experience suggests that very few advertisers are engaging to any great degree, that is a shame in my view as we do all our best work with those advertisers who co-build the solution. My hunch is the plethora of intermediaries and auditors who don’t understand this subject and cant see how to make it work in their one size fits all race to the bottom approach to dismantling our industry step at a time. I also think that there maybe some advertisers who have had a bad experience and then try to spread that and tar everyone with the same brush without having a close grasp of the facts and of course, the competition in all its forms.

It is a diverse market place with many different offerings available and everyone approaches commercials and operations differently, so there is no simple way to do this, it is incumbent on communication between us and our advertisers and an ability to talk openly about how and why we do what we do. Audience On Demand for instance in display is 100% RTB, 100% transparent on inventory, buys only VivaKi Verified inventory, takes no position and does not arbitrage so we have a pretty simple approach to life that if an advertiser wants to discuss, we are more than happy to do so. I would say though that we also need to make sure we evaluate all companies in the same way, not just look at Agency Desks but all exchange trading operations.

We want a constructive dialogue in this space as opposed to a series of companies all trying to build their own businesses on the back of the latest hot potato of RTB and through scare mongering. There are so many fantastic opportunities in RTB, Google Search re-marketing, Youtube retargeting, mobile innovation, data design and execution, the best of that work comes through a very close collaboration, if we can do that, we will deliver some great, great work. 



Pitching has become so time sensitive, there is no time for good ideas.

Pitching is all part of being in an agency, to some extent its the best part, the thrill of the chase, the battleground of the pitch itself and then the exhilaration and pride of a win or the dejection of loss. I am sure the more enlightened clients understand what goes on behind the scenes, but i have a feeling many don’t understand the true reality of the labour that goes on. A large pitch can use up a team of 30+ people, working night and day for three weeks to deliver the final product – do all clients understand that?

What has changed over time has been the length of the pitch presentations, some even very large pitches have now fallen to a time scale of 1 hour for even a large account. Many people will tell you that if you can’t get your good idea across in that time then it can’t be that good an idea, I disagree. Some ideas need explaining as do some concepts, especially around the new battle grounds in digital and 40 slides is not enough to bring that to life. I think a major pitch should afford the competing agencies the time to genuinely deliver ideas, if more time was spent, I think more would come out of the pitches, more questions asked and therefore more of a sense of the agency.

The problem comes when often the advertiser cant seem to be able to knock people out of the process at different stages, I have been in processes where there were still 5 or 6 agencies in at the end, that strikes of a complete lack of decision-making from a clients perspective and is not the right way to approach things – have less people in at the final stage and give them longer to present, that’s a good model.

If you have to cover, buying, digital, strategies, responses to briefs, creds and many other areas you will not get enough time in, I think they should get down to 2 for a final stage and then do a Boot camp process where the clients get to spend some decent time with the teams, after all we could be talking about a 100m budget, spend some time and get to know the agency strategies and ideas in detail, then make a decision.

I should add though, agencies on the whole do a great job of these situations, I would like to see them get a better chance to shine.

Real time search, SEO and PPC just got complicated!

Marco Bertozzi 13.12.09
Well lets start with what Google says about its new search results, here is a video summing up the possibilities:

The summary of that provides these services:

• Ability to filter real-time results to only show updates from particular sources, such as Twitter, Friendfeed and others on new “Latest results” page;

• Latest results and new search options optimized for iPhone and Android devices “when you need them on the go, be it a quick glance at changing information like ski conditions or opening night chatter about a new movie — right when you’re in line to buy tickets”;

• “Hot topics” on Google Trends will now show most common topics being published to web in real-time.

SO what does that mean for advertisers and individuals?

There are two ways of looking at Real Time search. One is from the individual’s perspective and the other from an agency/advertiser’s.

An individual really just had the power put into their hands, an unbelievable position of prominence on the world’s most viewed ad placement. If you are unhappy you can make your point immediately. If you are raging at the latest piece of news, if a mouse just ran across your hotel room, whatever happens to you, you tweet or FB and its up and visible to all. It’s unbelievable, really.

Those tweeters and bloggers are now in a position to generate massive traffic for their sites or profiles, this will be the best thing ever for egomaniacs. It will of course also be amazingly useful. You are in a traffic jam and need to know what the hold up is, how is the weather in Balham right now, its all there, it will be so useful day-to-day. Of course its all there at the moment if you search on Twitter but I think this move will bring that knowledge to a far wider audience.

Part 2 however is much harder. If you are an advertiser and happily investing in PPC campaigns when suddenly your ad is now alongside someone who is destroying your brand or service, then you are going to have to come up with an active strategy. Areas such as Hotels, restaurants etc may have a nightmare if people do Tweet negatively about them while they are trying to buy ads encouraging them to book.

As an advertiser this will mean you have to consider a few actions;

1. Redouble your efforts to make sure your brand advertising is clear, eye-catching and able to draw people away before they start to soak up all the real-time results below which may not all be positive.

2. Advertisers will now be fighting over the top slots more fiercely so be prepared to invest further into the PPC budgets. You will not want your text ad half way down the page while some FF or Twitter updates are above you giving you what for!

3. If the reports are correct that only 26% of the top 500 superbrands seriously invest in Twitter then perhaps this move will spark them into action as they will need to have their own content in the real-time results as well as those of the users / customers / consumers. Thats probably a good thing as it will make more advertisers deal with social media, something that so many are still behind on.

Search systems which may only optimise a few times a day are also going to appear slow in comparision to these kind of results, at the moment as people monitor their search ROI it may be optimised infrequently, this will need to be accelerated. Bad real-time feeds may be ruining your PPC and you should know about it and react. It will make search a lot more labour intensive as if it needed to be anymore complicated.

So what do I think overall. Great for the individual, very useful, very informative. For the advertiser, well its going to need a lot more work and thought both in SEO, PPC and social strategies.