Benefits of the Unified stack, a byline for Google / Think Insights


As the global leader in digital advertising solutions, VivaKi needs to stay on top of—or ahead of—digital marketing trends. New trends bring new tools, new techniques and new data that VivaKi can use to help its clients. The company’s integrated marketing platform provides it with a unified solution for cross-channel digital marketing, and Executive Managing Director Marco Bertozzi explains why that’s such a big deal for both company and client.

Display advertising has changed dramatically over the years. And with innovation comes complexity. There are more formats, channels and devices than ever before, providing almost countless ways for brands to connect with consumers. This level of opportunity is exciting but also daunting. Fragmentation is a huge issue. Advertisers and agencies need to figure out how to create, launch and manage integrated campaigns efficiently.

At VivaKi, one of the world’s largest media counsel and buying groups, we feel these challenges keenly. To help our clients find effective ways to access and leverage their customer data, we’re turning to technology platforms. But there are many questions we need to ask when evaluating them. Will it make us more efficient? Will it drive a better experience for the consumer? Will it provide more opportunities to reach that targeted customer? Will it deliver better results?

This is where a platform—a unified solution for digital marketing—can be extremely valuable. However, this is not to say that once you’ve committed to a platform, you can set it and forget it. Shifts in the industry will always necessitate adaptation. As your clients’ needs evolve, so does your quest to find the right tools. Recently, for example, this has increasingly involved the practice of retargeting—the idea of driving visitors back to your site with targeted messaging.

As an early adopter of an integrated platform, at scale, we’ve been quite pleased, and the benefits for our clients have been significant. Here I’ve detailed some of the major features we’ve come to value as well as some of the results our clients have experienced because of its implementation. In our case, the solution we’re describing is DoubleClick Digital Marketing.

Multi-channel support. We use the data from search campaigns and from social, display, video and mobile channels to power an extended dialogue with consumers, and this goes beyond using search ad performance to improve results. For example, in any given search campaign, you convert a percentage of leads, but the rest remain visitors who have not bought or done anything. On an integrated platform, reconnecting with these unfulfilled leads is easy because display and search campaigns are on the same platform.

Building brand response. Facebook, YouTube and the like provide a real opportunity for brand building, and we’re now able to seamlessly connect brand activity with lead generation. Consumers are very engaged on YouTube, and an integrated platform makes it possible to reconnect or continue the conversation with this highly engaged audience.

Insights from analytics. Imagine the range of actions people conduct on your site. If you dig into this data and gain understanding from the site analytics, you can then use this information to reconnect consumers. It allows you to turbo-charge the sophistication of your messaging, seamlessly aggregating insights to design creative that’s immediately applicable across the web. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to campaigns, and advertisers now have the ability to adapt their creative strategy easily and quickly, using a single, unified platform.

Real-time response. The term “real time” is often overused, but it has a specific meaning when applied to the bid process and programmatic buying. Here, recency and frequency are key: The ability to deliver a tailored message to a consumer quickly after a site visit is vital to today’s campaigns. Our platform lets us schedule an ad to run within the first two hours after a site visit. We can incorporate an aggressive call to action, and we can set the frequency at high. The research window is often small—the time it takes a consumer to research car insurance plans online, for instance. That consumer might look at only five sites, with a strong intent to purchase, so it’s important to act quickly and efficiently. Using a single stack has allowed us to bring this to life, providing a new opportunity for advertisers to react fast.

Real-time data. “Real time” also has a specific meaning when applied to generating insights. Take conversion data, for instance; our platform removes the pain point of waiting to reconcile and mash up conversion reports to get a full view of our performance across channels. Because everything is happening on the same platform, we can make up-to-the-minute decisions using real-time conversion information.

Better workflow. Workflow is incredibly important, as is knowledge sharing among teams. The platform brings together so many different disciplines—search, display, mobile, analytics—all working together for a single purpose: the client. The process of using paid search signals and applying them to our bidding activity is seamless and immediate. There’s no cumbersome uploading and downloading to deal with or spreadsheets to manipulate. We now have a single user interface for all of our experts to work with and share across agency teams.

Increased performance. There is now a smarter, easier and faster way to make media-buying decisions. Results are what matters, and our integrated platform has provided us with many new ways to generate insights that drive results. For example, we’ve seen a better than 60% improvement in CPA across our travel and auto advertisers when they have incorporated their paid search signals into their display activity, using display remarketing from search ads. And when we used our stack for the U.K.’s first video retargeting campaign, we smashed all of our KPIs.

In this forever-changing landscape, a common mistake is assuming that merely implementing technology is the answer to everything. In reality, it’s the questions you ask of the technology that make the real difference. Asking the right questions—those that can make you more efficient and provide nuanced messaging for consumers and better results for clients—is a step in the right direction. For us, and many others, choosing an integrated platform that brings together all advertising activity was a good first step.



Advertisers need to press the reset button on digital

Agency Trading Desks. Independent trading desks. RTB Networks. Data networks. Managed service Desks. We have significantly added to the ecosystem in the last few years and on balance for the better I think. Of course there are concerns about transparency and who is doing what and the advertiser is being taken for a ride so on, but in totality we now see a more sophisticated digital ecosystem than three years ago which is a good thing.

However with that comes a need for everyone to refocus. There is a whole auditing, pitch consultant business, advertiser organisation business that is focused on Agency Trading Desks. I think part of the issue around Agency Trading Desks is that they are all different. Some are an extension of the agency, some are more akin to a department within an agency, some are out there in the extreme like Xaxis that has changed so significantly that it really no longer sits in the bracket at all and everything in between.

So when it comes to pitches, auditors, advertiser evaluations of the space they obsess with agency trading desks but not the wider market. My business and that of a company like Rocketfuel or Criteo or Quantcast are the same, we do the same. Plenty of people will argue the good and bad of both including me but for now put that aside, fundamentally we are the same, we cook with the same ingredients – the end plate of food looks and tastes different but we do the same. For that reason we compete with these companies, spend that we could argue should go to us goes to those companies and independent trade desks. So for me, we should all be judged the same by advertisers. The same rules should apply, if those rules are based on genuine concerns of an advertiser about their media investments then why would they not?

So why don’t we start with what is asked of us? What do the agencies and advertisers want of us? Lets run through a few:

  • They want to see results line by line with associated cpms, cpc etc
  • They want brand safety – clear controls as to what we are buying
  • They want to know what tech we use and why – and how much does it cost?
  • They don’t want us to create large margins behind set cpas and cpcs etc
  • They want auditing rights on activity
  • They want private marketplaces and innovation with partners
  • They want detailed costs breakdowns

Those are just a selection. Articles in the past have commented on how the ATD is not held accountable but that is a falsehood. The pitch process would argue differently as well as regular reviews with advertisers that question in detail all of these areas, we are constantly evaluated on one level or another including our toughest challengers, the agencies we work with, and rightly so.

Trouble is on any plan spend is going not just to us, but to many of those companies mentioned above and many more in display, video and mobile. These companies are not held to the same standards and I think this should be investigated further. If a guidance paper for instance gets released to advertisers on ATDs, I can guarantee it will ask all those questions above (and more) but why just to ATDs? Any such guidance and evaluations now have to be extended to a wider group of companies and end the double standards.

I sat with a large group of advertisers and time and time again the issue of brand safety was raised. One of the core tenants of AOD is protection, and that is for a good reason, we are advertiser / agency focused, we know what they expect. So why would an advertiser invest in a company that provided no transparency at all? An ad appearing next to inappropriate content is still inappropriate regardless of how it got there. Blind buys should not be acceptable to any major advertiser. Why if you are concerned about how much money AOD makes do you not care about the 50-60% margins being reported in the company accounts of some of the other companies? I could go on but my point is that we cannot attach the ATD to the agency, but rather attach the RTB/programmatic industry to the standards of the agencies and ATDs, at least those like AOD. So I hope to see from the various trade bodies and the like a stance that widens the net of companies that it recommends should be evaluated in this new exciting programmatic world we live in, and avoid people having too much cake and eating it.

The importance of centralised re-targeting – An AOD view.

Centralising Retargeting
BY: Paul Silver, Head of Product AOD UK and Geoff Smith, Head of Activation AOD UK
Featured in Exchangewire also here

Retargeting is the core foundation of any performance display campaign. It’s something we all know now, but it’s not something we all knew when we outsourced our display buying to ad networks all those years ago. That’s ultimately because ad networks never disclosed the importance of retargeting whilst they were able to ride the gravy train. However those days are over, and there are several compelling reasons as to why we should all bring retargeting in house today.

Arguably, the greatest output of RTB is that it has created a new marketplace that allows it to be centred on transparency (not 100% complete transparency on every bid request but considerably better than it was previously).

Being in control and accountable of every penny a client spends means we know exactly how much contribution there is from every element of their retargeting programme, and what’s more, so now do our clients. There is no more allowing ad networks to hide behind blended CPA metrics, offsetting the poorer performance of their run of network activity with quick win retargeting conversions. Clients now understand the exact worth of retargeting and precisely how/what needs to be done to a) increase that volume but also b) drive incremental growth.

Lets not forget, in most cases, we also now have insight and transparency into where our ads are being served. Not only is this paramount from a brand safety perspective but also incredibly valuable when we can provide insight to clients that demonstrates which environments convert their target audience more efficiently, how that informs their other cross media planning strategies, and how it disrupts their traditional media planning with fresh ideas.

Price Inflation:
The impact of price inflation from multiple retargeters running on a single media plan is real, it is not just a theory. We know the effect of having to bid for a single user against other bidders. We’ve seen the data, it becomes less efficient. The message we convey to clients is that the situation is akin to brand bidding in the affiliate space a few years ago. Why would you let affiliates obtain standard levels of commission for piggybacking on your marketing investment, by bidding on your brand, whilst also inflating your own CPC costs to access that brand term inventory? It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

Strategy versus tactic:
By centralising retargeting in house, you immediately remove any element of having to play ‘the ad network game’ which is designed to obtain last click or view attribution. You are actually able to start developing more bespoke, controlled strategies around first party data, integrating it into the wider marketing/comms mix and introducing separate eCRM or cross channel strategies. It becomes an extension to an integrated marketing plan, rather than simply a cheap display acquisition tactic.

User experience:
If there’s one thing that gives retargeting a bad name, it’s when advertisers do it poorly. Retargeting should be used as a reminder of the brand/product/service that a potential customer is considering, rather than giving advertisers the ability to stalk users across the Internet with the same message, no cap on frequency, and potentially showing them the same product that they bought 3 weeks ago. It sounds basic, but we’ve all seen it in action. By taking the retargeting program in house, agencies can help clients ensure that their customer’s user experience remains engaging, consistent and above all else, controlled, increasing brand advocacy rather than damaging it.

Data security:
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, being in control of client’s first party data is not a simple game of efficiency improvements. There is also the much more serious consideration of client data protection. With publishers being able to place tracking pixels within tracking pixels within tracking pixels, can you honestly say that you know every 3rd party server call being made from your client’s site?

It is not unfair to say that practices from *some* ad networks in the past have included leveraging one client’s dataset to improve performance for another client competing in the same vertical. Why should client A help fuel the performance of client B? It reduces their competitive advantage for the benefit of their competitor’s. It’s clearly efficient for ad networks to do this, and certain agency groups are also now taking this data sharing approach, but who really gains when everyone has the same cookie pool available to them?

Data leakage became a serious issue for the industry last year, and with the e-privacy cloud looming, agencies have a responsibility as much as their clients to ensure consumers are well informed of how cookie data is being used. How confident can you be in your client’s privacy policy if numerous disparate suppliers are still managing elements of your retargeting?

At VivaKi we take this very seriously and ensure that no client data is EVER co-mingled. We also work with clients to give them transparency over which pixels are on placed on each of their sites and what they are used for. When you outsource retargeting, you loose your ability to have a holistic view on how your client’s data is being used and ultimately, you outsource control. In today’s ever-stringent e-privacy environment, that is a dangerous place to be.