A week at The VivaKi Nerve Center

A week at The Vivaki Nerve Center


An early meeting with the WW CEO of ZenithOptimedia to discuss how the market is shaping up and what can be expected of 2012. As the conference season starts I am being pulled in a number of directions to make sure everyone who needs the latest info has it!

Later that morning a call with the boss, Curt Hecht, it’s a about planning stage and we discuss what we need to get done for 2012 and how we will work with the agencies. A lot of progress in 2011 for VivaKi and The VivaKi Nerve Center and so it makes for some great conversations for next year. More than ever we will be a very European organisation which is achievement in itself. a series of meetings with the major EMEA markets all to be planned.

A session on contracts, which seems to take up a lot of time at the moment, but we are making real progress with a number of contracts signed that will help power The Pool, Partnerships and AOD.

End the day back at the WW CEO’s office to finalise some notes for the conference and its my turn to start to prepare for the Exchangewire ATS event where I am on a panel with Nigel Gilbert from Orange, Gurman from MediaIQ, Breadon from AOL, Martin from infectious and hosted by Zuzanna at Microsoft. Will be a good day I am sure.

In the evening, I went to the Appnexus / Microsoft drinks and met with the founder of Appnexus, the new head of Microsoft, Andy Hart and a number of others. Bumped into Jakob of GroupM, always a pleasure and we had a little catch up and then I had to leave for dinner with Quantcast and Exchangewire down at BerryBros.

As usual you learn something on these nights and having spoken to a number of people from other groups, its clear to me that VivaKi are the most integrated and aligned group in this space, working hand and glove with the agencies. I hope over time this pays dividends for us all.

Tuesday – ATS Day

Arriving at the event really makes you see how far things have moved on in the last year. Ciaran’s first one was a big event but this really surpassed itself with 400+ guests. Unfortunately as the day went on it became clear that again it lacked publishers and advertisers. The more I think about this though, the more I think, why should they be there?

Morning sessions were OK but lacked direction, more moderation, different questioners and less keynotes would have improved the morning session. Keynotes fund these events but I feel having Mediamath and Rubicon and Appnexus all doing a turn is perhaps excessive.

Microsoft did a great session, slick presentation and I think surprised everyone, he even presented an Apple Ad, which was the talk of the Twittersphere..

The afternoon panel I was on was billed to be controversial, I knew it would not be, for two reasons. The first is we have said this before and the second is that people in the audience don’t want to stand out and make issues. The bigger these events become the more polite they will become. I had a couple of key themes I wanted to get across around the whole Ad Trading Desks.

1. We are not an Ad Network
2. We will cut back on Ad Network spend
3. We will be aiming to centralise all retargeting and we think it’s the right thing to do
4. We work with a number of DSPs just not in the UK and we know what is what

I made all of these statements as well as suggesting Ad Nets use client data across their campaigns and received no resistance so, if it was not controversial, it was not because of me! Feedback has been that it was too about positioning of each others company etc but you go where the questions take you.

All in all though, a good day, got to catch up with some great people from around the business and generally enjoyed it all.


We march on with an exciting morning meeting with a large European company that is soon to become Vivak’s first VNC Partner in EMEA. We have of course high profile relations with Microsoft and Google as well as other US companies, but this is the first at scale. We worked through the opportunities, what we need to do together and how we can help each other, a great start to Wednesday and we look forward to releasing that news soon.

Later that day, I 100% focused on The Pool. We have been delayed on this but we are ready to go again, very exciting, there is other info on The Pool elsewhere on my blog Later this year I am presenting at the IAB conference on Spain the results of the Spanish Lane and some of the work that’s been going on in the US, I am really excited about the results that have come from this work.

We have three great publisher partners and already two major clients so things are looking great in that regard, there will be more to come on that subject shortly.

The day ends meeting a team of senior Google Product managers who are trying to work with us to provide insight to power Audience On Demand. It’s these meetings that the Google partnership is founded on, not media spend and discounts. It was a really interesting session and we learned alot about what is coming up. Invite will be a very powerful proposition.


A quieter day on the meetings and valuable time to catch up. I did meet up with the CEO of Vindico and team who have big ambitions in the UK. We work with them on The Pool and they are a great outfit. Its time we need to get over the control issue around video adserving, we have been through this once with display and its time we moved on when it comes to video. We are used to substandard, early 2000 type tracking and reporting which is not acceptable.


A chance to discuss everything we have been doing and seeing this week. A morning appointment with a client with a brief to talk them through all the things The Vivaki Nerve Center are working on, went brilliantly and we will be doing some great work I hope. They showed the kind of interest in innovation that makes it all worth while.

A run for the train from glamorous Slough with just enough time to read the placard under the stuffed dog at the station and down to Microsoft to present to their regional scale display teams and talk about the importance of agency trading desks. Quite a turn out and some great questions from the group, I hope we can act on some of the discussions and continue to grow our global partnership.

I end the week with some time to keep up momentum with The Pool, discuss with thepaulsilver the final touches of an exciting launch next week and what I am going to do when he is on holiday!

Interview in Cannes around technology and changing world

I am one of a number of people interviewed in Cannes this summer around technology and the evolving world around us, I am featured around 4.35 and the last slot for those that care! Curt Hecht also of The Vivaki Nerve Center is also interviewed.

Google and Publicis/Vivaki renew partnership

Oh yes there will be those who start to pick away and question this partnership, some ask what this partnership is about, but you need to start at the start. Maurice Levy set out a strategy for the Groupe to be the leading digital group in the marketplace. He has achieved that ambition, but how do you get a huge organisation to move in one direction? Well firstly you show them you mean business and invest. Look back at what he has done. Maurice bought up Phonevalley in mobile, Performics in search and SEO, the big one was Razorfish and others, this has created no doubt about his intentions. So what else would a digital organisation of this size do?

Well you should have some close friends that are themselves giants of the digital business. Enter Google partnership in 2008 and Microsoft a little later on, both significant relationships, both the first partnerships of their kind and both giving an insight and opportunity to the clients of Vivaki that noone else could offer. This approach make so much sense and cannot be open to criticism.

Now the thing with friendships, the longer they are the more fruitful they are, the partnership with Google is now into its second term and third year. The senior teams in the VNC and digital teams of the group have been working with product and commercial guys from Google in a more integrated and collaborative way for some time and it’s this that drives the value and the reason, you cant undo a long friendship.

The announcement today of the renewal is significant a) because it has been renewed! We have worked well together and we want that relationship to continue and b) our renewal comes at a time when others are just creating their first deals and they are basing them on very spend related terms rather than strategic and product led. These deals are designed to create opportunity for the clients, not deliver a low cpm. Its an exciting space and the VNC will be working closely with Google on creating some of the most advanced strategies around exchange technology in video and mobile so this can only be a good thing.

Read the announcement here

I look forward to working with Google over the next two years and can proudly say that Vivaki really does have a couple of great BFs.

Nexus One UK release – don’t bother and wait for the 4G iPhone

Marco Bertozzi 26.04.10
This Friday the Nexus One is available to the wider UK marketplace. I am not sure how big a deal this is to the wider market, feels like the world has moved on in some ways, the iPhone 4G has come along and I think it looks better and acts better from the very little I have seen and read.

I have had the Nexus One for a couple of months and I have to say, other than the fact its quick compared to a 3G (maybe not a 3Gs) it fails on so many other levels! If you are thinking of buying, consider these:

1. Everyone talked about the fact the casing of the phone was tougher and better than the iPhone – i have dropped mine and it has gouged out a corner of the metal casing, in many ways its more obvious than normal scratches and bangs

2. The keyboard is shit. No other way to put it. It’s less intuitive, it does not feel as tactile as the iPhone and it creates gibberish! As an example I could be walking across Sainsbury car park at 2am, worse for wear, pitch dark and I could be writing an email or text that I would probably regret the next day and the spelling would be perfect on the iPhone. It’s like the phone guessed what I wanted to say based on all the other rubbish I had typed before..Nexus One does not even have a guess at it – it will write nit over not for instance. The law of averages says not is a more likely word to go for over nit?!

3. The cardinal sin – the Apps are of a very low quality, they crash regularly, they are not as good and the range is very small, for me a complete fail.

4. This is just me, but having had an iPhone for so long, I have accessories all over the place and not to mention all the music and apps I have built up, none of it can be replicated, not peculiar to the Nexus but still irritates!

There are others but these are pretty fundamental. I just don’t think it is good enough, I have tried but I am back to 4G. Even the Microsoft series 7 phone looks better, so ebay here I come – anyone want mine?

Microsoft Imagine..not sure I really dreamed

Spent the day at the Microsoft Imagine day, these events are always filled with one over riding thought. Will I see something new and challenging? Today for me was dominated by one thing..concerts in a banner, a campaign for Axion, The Banner campaigns  http://www.bornoncloud9.be/mouseawards2009/axion/the-banner-concerts-banners/

I will not try and explain it, just take a look, it is the best thing I have seen since 2000. I loved this, it was new, it used imagination, it used what some of the other presenters talked about, dreamtelligence, that was from the MD of future labs. That said he did use too much geek buzz words, basically took any two words and combined them!

The rest of the day presented technology, some great ideas but I am still left with this feeling of scratching the surface, not in terms of capabilities, but how is this going to help an advertiser? How are Microsoft going to link up PC, Windows 7, mobile, touch screen in a manageable, executional way for the average client? I know they are working on it but I still want to see it, in practice without being touched up..

Good to be there but I still want to see more…