Dmexco – powered by professional energy

Perhaps a surprise to some but this year was my first year at Dmexco. Every year it has clashed with something or other, but this year I was there, well for a night and a day at least. It is usually the happenings around the conference that garner the most interest but at Dmexco it IS the conference. Dmexco is a REAL trade show, a place where companies come to show off their goods and hope that the circling hoards will come buy.

There is something refreshing about that, it felt a lot more meaningful, a place where business came first and rose second. Don’t get me wrong I have no issue with rose and I am certainly not one of those bitter nay sayers that write about the pointlessness of Cannes, no siree, I am a fan, but that said Dmexco felt solid and meaningful. There is no other place that so neatly distills the lumascape into a real environment, where you get to see the colossal competition for the buck all in one place. I think it is that which really struck me, just how many people are out there in the martech, adtech space and all with their piece of the action.

I did not get a chance to truly get around everything but I sensed there was a pecking order with the smaller stalls gathered in one place. They are all looking to grow of course and move into Yr2 with the big guys. Big guys they are as well, over the years the stalls have apparently grown and grown and it appears to be like Yachts with everyone weighing and rating each other up based on size and how many people fit, after the size comes facilities – does yours have a coffee machine? Meeting rooms? TV centre – shower? Swinging dicks aside it is an amazing array of companies all sat alongside each other from Adobe and Oracle to MediaMath or the agency lounge. It was great to see all the Publicis agencies there, not too big, not too small. GroupM were clearly out to make a statement on the other hand, commercially powered by Xaxis.

What I have been impressed by is the level of seniority of attendees, Global CEOs, Group CEOs all attending an event that is relatively new. All around the event you will find leaders from every corner of the business and with that brings some gravitas and focus and less feel of a jolly that comes with Cannes.

I hope to go for longer next year and attend more of the actual presentations, but for a first trip I was hugely impressed and will definitely prioritise. The event ended on a high as I managed to hitch a lift with the lovely (am I allowed to say lovely?) Nikki Mendonca who had a cab waiting for me even as I stood in a long queue.

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Annual interview with Beet.tv in Cannes – entering good times in programmatic

Every year at Cannes before the Rubicon Panel we discuss with Andy at Beet.tv where things stand in the programmatic industry and this year we discussed a brighter future. 2014 was the lost year to the topic of transparency but I sense we are over that now and have moved on to programmatic strategy and all the possibilities.

This year also marks a big step for us as we see the completion of the move of campaign planners and buyers into the agencies out of VivaKi and I hope will be the start of a new age in the agencies.

Programmatic in Cannes

12 Months of Adtech reviewed

In 12 months the Ad tech market place has gone totally crazy, impossible to keep track of it all and the money invested is off the scale, but below I highlighted a few stories and events in the last 11 months that I noted. I will have missed others for sure!

There has been some negativity around the space with transparency being a hot topic and whether advertisers want to take this all in house, but those headlines have distracted from some incredible market changing investments, purchases and alignments. Enjoy the reminisce!

January

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The Partridge in a Pear tree for Yahoo was Enrique Decastro, bringing him in on a huge salary and being presented as a saviour for the organisation, driving sales and value for the business. Unfortunately January saw that particular partridge being shot. Quick acting by Marissa to be fair to her, but an unlikely choice in the first place according to many. More recent news has seen Lisa Utzschneider fill that space, coming in from Amazon.

In other news Turn receive their belated Christmas present raising $80m as they march on as a leading DSP in the market and looking to expand beyond that descriptor and moving more towards a wider DMP, services model, some might call agency model.

Holy F*** February

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February was IPO crazy month with Pubmatic rumours, Rubicon filing, Rocketfuel all taking the plunge – some big valuations were banded around and it was the month everyone realised that the good times were back and the VCs were starting to spend all that cash they had been hoarding through the bad times – the bubble is inflating. Google buys another company, on the back of Deepmind in January, a London based machine learning company, called Vungle. We have seen the signs but Oracle buying Bluekai was a big flag being waved to show that the digital media business was being taken seriously by the cloud and consultancy companies. We also saw round one of TV disruption being won by the old school with Comcast getting Netflix to pay them for streaming services, the upstart being slapped into place.

But all the IPO business paled into insignificance when the world collectively went ‘what the f*** app’ as Facebook put down a multi billion dollar offer for the social messaging app. Cue the hand wringing about lack of revenue, too high a price from the digerati turned incredible commercial strategists. Facebook are clear on this, show us something growing fast and taking share and I will show you my cheque book (or should it be Visa Debit Card). Scale is everything in a world where data and the identification of people and what they are doing and where they are doing it becomes the most valuable asset. Or perhaps Mark is hoping to achieve the same status as Steve Jobs who was approved to appear on a US stamp that very same month.

Modernisation March

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March saw a number of moves for the future by different companies. Comcast bought Freewheel, a clear indication they are gearing up for a programmatic, data led future and could not resist the tide any longer. At the same time AOL One launched to much fanfare – the Game of Stacks now well underway with AOL taking a big step forward, We are but pawns in this incredible battle of supremacy between AOL, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Google and there is much more to go as we see this play out. The single view of the customer across screens is a vital offering and these teams are throwing everything at it, whilst Microsoft seems to be frozen to the spot at the moment. Perhaps they need to remove their whole sales team and start again? Oh..

Finally in modernisation March we saw Conde Nast take the stage and announce proudly, albeit a few years late that they had decided that yes programmatic was something to pay attention to and they would be getting involved. Thanks for that.

April Fools?

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The first signs of trouble for the IPOs of the previous months – the city falling out of love with a number of them, seeing prices fall significantly and some below opening day. There was some scepticism at IPO but recent press questioning whether these companies were right to value themselves on the hard work of bot traffic came into play. As the curtain lifts on the methods of many RTB companies this may be a theme for the future, perhaps even hitting the FT one day…oh it did.

RadiumOne saw some ‘Rocky’ waters as their CEO was eventually prosecuted for beating his wife up. It took some time and a fair amount of industry Twitter rejection to get him ousted but it happened and then everyone moved on as he set up Gravity8 three minutes later.

As if to demonstrate two different strategies Facebook and Google both made a play for the future with Facebook launching an…. Ad Network..meanwhile in other news Google bought a drone company – was it an April Fool? well after Nest in January and now a drone maker it appears not – Internet of Everything anyone?

Merger May, Maybe not

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Publicis and Omnicom call off merger. Must be something else they can buy sooner or later surely?

Millenial and Rocketfuel taking an absolute beating on the stock market as increased speculation on their businesses and whether or not they are complimentary or in conflict with agencies rage. Google and AOL keep buying companies to further enhance their operations, Google getting into attribution and AOL into cross channel allocation, interesting that both are now toe to toe on making the stack work. It was a month where everyone appeared to be tooling up with Axium buying and Liveramp to help with data onboarding.

Qriously June

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What is the worst brand name in Adtech? Qriously of course. Apparently that was not all bad and brought some pre Cannes exposure coupled with their expensive tablet card asking for a meeting. Memorable but expensive I would say, some might say a qrious decision.

June was the month GroupM announced a withdrawl from open exchanges and that it would be done by Christmas, big claim for sure. Could someone check for me? pretty sure they are still there but there is still time.  As with every year Cannes came around and the Adtech world took it by storm – the rose looked and tasted the same, the beaches were packed with hard working media folk but the names were different, everyone had upgraded this year and the place now resembled an Exchangewire event at scale. It was a good time to be in Cannes as the money continued to flow and pay for those expensive tents and lunches. Mediamath picked up a massive 170m dollars, Twitter bought Tap commerce for 100m, Facebook bought slingshot and WPP ploughed 25m into a DMP strategy.

Buy buy July

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Enough said, the boom continued and at pace. Facebook buys Liverail as its next move in Stack Wars, Yahoo buys Flurry to continue its successful push into mobile revenues, a battle it appears to be winning as we are seeing now as it overtakes Twitter in mobile revenues. Linkedin bought Bizo, a natural fit for both and makes us wonder if the sleeping giant is starting to wake up and join the fight.

Rocketfuel bought the very transparent X+1 as it starts the long road away from the darkness and into the incredibly difficult world of running a business transparently. In the spirit of transparency Turn took a turn in July and went on the offensive, taking aim at Tubemogul amongst others, it felt like an email you send late at night when slightly under the influence  – stand away from the send button. Oh no, you did again..in August.

August.

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Everyone went to the beach. Google bought some more companies.

Facebook me September!

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Millenial fights back and buys Nexage to grow out its programmatic credentials and build credibility in the data and RTB space. At the same time WPP drop their adserving business and buy into the DSP business, out with the old in with the new.

The Alibaba IPO put Yahoo into a very interesting position, as perhaps a buyer or maybe a seller? There is a strong belief that Yahoo and AOL are on a collision course and so having their P&L filled to the rafters with the Alibaba IPO cash will put them in a great position either way.

But really all everyone wanted to talk about was Atlas and the launch of their new adserving platform and soon to be launched DSP. Facebook had now made its biggest move in the Stack wars. Combining improved adserving tech with their data and soon to be launched DSP. With this move we see ever more clearly that there are likely to be some large islands of tech and everyone of those is ring fencing owned and operated inventory and how you access it. We have moved a long way from the utopia of one access point to the web and are now focused on how can we join these islands up with DMP and other technology.

Hotober

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Publicis buys RUN and invests in Matomy – something to expect as we progress and competition comes not just from other agency groups but also the very aggressive managed service offerings and RTB networks. Agency groups will need to tool up more and more and so I think we can expect more down the road. Mediamath go to prove the point and buy Upcast showing how they need to tool up as well and keep delivering new products and services cross channel and cross device. Meanwhile Videology launch a programmatic TV offering to follow Turn but go a step further in teaming up with major US TV partner.

Stack Wars is back in October with Yahoo buying Brightroll, a sensible move as you consider the purchase of Adapt by AOL and Facebook of Liverail a couple of months earlier. We now see them all with video offerings, display offerings, adserving and performance products and suites of data.  I think we are about at the right time to see them kick off. Atlas has hired a key guy in Damian Burns to lead their offering, once he has his feet under the table I think we will see some real movement.

Noooo!vember

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Headlines were:

Publics buys Sapient a huge acquisition and another one under the radar taking the advertising world by storm. An incredible team of people joining the Publicis.Sapient platform.

Channel 4 after years of resistance to programmatic have announced they are getting into the market place and will no doubt leave ITV where to go next. Either way it is clear the TV marketplace is hotting up and now we are seeing a hockey stick of activity and partnerships. Exciting times all around.

Rubicon buys two companies to help build out its direct deal automation tech..yawn. Yes you got it, we are going to take all those buys you used to do over the phone and now do it on a platform without any cherry picking or data insights. Just back to buying impressions. Back to the future.

I am sure I missed a number of big deals – list them below so we get the full picture of the comings and goings of Adtech and its sheer scale. Thanks

 

 

 

 

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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Cannes Lions Festival – You dream it, we deliver it

Monday to Thursday was the plan, but then work got in the way! So instead we went for a Tuesday afternoon flight, one that I of course missed by one minute, one minute that cost me 8 hours! I eventually arrived via Amsterdam and immediately got out into the thick of the event, it’s an impressive set up, there are not many places where you can meet up with all of your work colleagues from across the industry in one single city which is buzzing with both work and play conversations.

Down at the Gala event it was heaving with people from across the business, the business being very varied. Media groups, advertising groups, content companies, digital, film, music you name it, all here. A lot of drunken idiots as well to be fair, in fact some people were such imbeciles I was amazed they had been let in the country!

It was a fantastic evening, I met with Christian and Kate from AOL at their own party on a roof top, very civilized and a great ease into the evening, obviously as a reciprocal arrangement from zeitgeist, who should I see there but Damian Burns, Global Head of Agency Relations and Ben Faes from Google. Later in the evening there was Tom George from MEC, Stephen Haines from Facebook and a few other golden oldies. Although of course most of the talk is social, there is some interesting conversations about what has been seen and heard during the day. Apparently the Ben Stiller/Yahoo event was a little weird and did not entirely work, that said by then we outside the cleverly Yahoo sponsored ‘gutter bar’ which was the end destination most evenings and stayed open until way beyond you should have been in bed, luckily it was next to the Martinez where I was staying, so that worked!

The next morning after 2.5hrs of sleep Vivaki and Microsoft had their ‘steering committee’ meeting which lasted for some hours and covered the state of the nation between our two companies, an interesting meeting with some grand ambition which I am looking forward to working on in the coming months. After a lovely lunch a couple of meetings around ad exchanges (my topic of choice at the moment) and then on to the football. Microsoft hosted a great event with all of the UK people seemingly choosing their beach club to watch, great atmosphere not least as the US were playing and the Americans were getting very excited about their game too, we exchanged cheers through the afternoon, although i suspect they were less sure what they were cheering for!

Later at the awards I took my seat, waiting to see what award winning work looked like, there was some great stuff, I loved the recruitment work from one agency that distributed a calendar with a resignation letter for each day, waiting for the day you had had enough. The Aides campaign from TBWA France was also the rudest thing I have seen on the web, a willy chasing a vagina round a homepage and eventually having sex once safely inside a condom was pretty risqué, but brilliantly done.

All the winners can be seen here

An evening spent with Google was very entertaining and good to be on the inside when they win a big lawsuit with CBS! It also appears that I was sat down to one of the men who has contributed most to the uk digital scene, our own Bruce Daisley, winner the next night at the NMA awards for the accolade. I am very pleased, if disbelieving for the lad, he is a great practitioner and a great guy, he is just no good at hosting jollies as he reminded me of our jaunt to Germany for the football.

The next morning I got the chance to see the Microsoft Experience centre, packed full of their three screens, windows 7 phone, Xbox and Kinect. All of them looked amazing and full of potential for an advertiser. As I went round though It just reminded me of how little of this stuff the average planner or advertiser has seen or experienced. There is a gap between the possibility and the reality, I don’t think advertisers see how a touch sensitive table could drive their crm or sales. The Xbox is a home entertainment system with connectivity, content and games, do advertisers see this? I don’t think so and even worse I don’t think the agency folk are much better. If you get a chance go experience it!

As my trip came to an end and I got a chance to catch up with some other agency friends on the way home I thought to myself what a fantastic event, yes there is a lot of fun and drink and socializing but it’s a chance to bring a lot of very interesting people together and the opportunity to see some great work and technology.

A 4 hour delay on the way back, rounded the whole trip off. Thanks to Microsoft, sorry I did not make it on your video blog, I must have been as dull as my blog. When I got home I had an iPhone 4 waiting for me, that’s my next post..

Au Revoir