My ten minute presentation designed to trigger some discussion in Turkey about RTB and programmatic.
For those of you who have been living through the digital advertising era from the start can not help but notice a little resurgence of what used to be the only names that counted in digital media. In those early and exciting years AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Excite ruled the landscape until they started to come under fire from the upstarts, not least a start up called Google. The pursuing years saw these companies lose their place in life as more and more competition entered the marketplace. It is not to say of course that they have not always been major players, but without doubt lost their way in the face of Facebook, Youtube and others.
In the last couple of years we have seen a come back, it started with AOL. Launching Project Devil to stamp some brand credentials on what was mostly a DR product through Ad.com, the purchase of GoViral started their video offering and then more recently Huff Post, all adding up to create some powerful content. The final act though has been to embrace the programmatic era and to beef up video with the purchase of Adapt.tv, rounding off what is now a far more interesting offer for agencies and seemingly leading them to a return to the top.
Yahoo have seen a similar track, they had a head start with Right Media in programmatic but did not know what to do with it and in my opinion lost a few valuable years vs Google when they should have been ahead of the game. RM was neglected and allowed to become a down market solution, when it should have been the forerunner of private marketplaces. The much hyped arrival of Marissa has had many words written about it so I wont focus on that but it appears that a series of purchases in mobile is starting to bear fruit. Marissa has in fact bought 35+ companies since joining, the largest of course being Tumblr. The good news is that mobile traffic for Yahoo is on the up, in fact it is up 47% year on year. The approach towards native ads such as ‘Stream Ads’ and away from banner should also increase yields and encourage brand advertisers onto mobile. If you believe the press releases Yahoo plan to phase out all banner ads by the end of the year.
So that leaves Microsoft. Working with Microsoft over the years has been like watching a wildebeest bog down in sinking mud, struggling harder and harder but just getting into a worse and worse situation. Microsoft have always had the ingredients to make an incredible meal, but somehow the planning and then the execution always fell short. I have for many years looked to Microsoft to turn that corner, they have the four screens, an incredible offer in the Xbox and Kinect, turned a corner in mobile and yet stiching these things together always seemed elusive.
I remember for instance sitting in a presentation in Cannes where Microsoft was presenting the new Windows8. It looked great, but telling to me was little or no information about how advertising would work within it. The potential tiles as Ads in W8 was clearly an early example of a Native Ad – although luckily the term had not been coined yet! However these tile Ads would be perfect for programmatic – unique to Microsoft but definitively able to be automated. However no one had planned that far ahead, the company worked in silos. What a shame for them and us.
Programmatic as a whole also demonstrated a lack of future planning. When Google was buying companies and integrating them, Microsoft was desperately trying to protect its direct ad network business. Even today they are behind the curve, they started fast and then went backwards a little with limited targeting capabilities and a seemingly disconnected leadership who were not willing to move faster and embrace programmatic. The recent launch of Microsoft Video Network is both a step forward and a step sidewards versus competition. Microsoft are taking their valuable data and applying it across the video exchanges, where AOL are buying the tech outright rather than licensing. Where Google are buying Invite and Doubleclick, Microsoft bought 5% of Appnexus. Even the Crown Jewels of Xbox and Kinect have been under utilised, I am still yet to see an Ad pushing Xbox as anything more than a games console when in reality it is so much more, I think we will see that change over coming months as Google TV, Apple TV and others ramp up their efforts.
But is not lost because the big picture for Microsoft is changing. The new leadership for a start. Microsoft ended up choosing from within, disappointing for some but as Satya Nadella says himself ‘he is now looking at the business through fresh eyes.’ He is also super bright, passionate and has accelerated change in just a few short days. Recently there have been a couple of large events, the launch of Office 365 and most notably onto Apple devices and the Build 2014 conference. Both these events have revealed that Nadella has big plans and wants to shake things up. Microsoft had already started changing with One Microsoft where they tore down siloes and made sure that cross divisional work and idea sharing started to happen, so someone creating software for the phone was thinking about advertisers as well. The example I sight above about the tiles would probably not have happened today.
More importantly Nadella has pushed through changes inconceivable a few years back. What has changed. As Nadella describes it, we are now in an era of ubiquitous computing. Connected users, devices all relying on the cloud for delivery of ever more complex solutions. Not for today but importantly for Microsoft they see their customers as consumers and IT professionals, the corporate world and only Microsoft really has the range to answer to both of those – this should rediscover for them differentiation.On average the consumer is carrying/using four devices and Windows and Microsoft want to span all those devices seamlessly, they want the canvas for software, Apps and their developers and users to be as wide as possible. So what are they doing?
1. Windows is being introduced across all devices including Kinect for Windows. A huge step forward for users and developers a like. Design once for all devices is crucial in this connected world. Still Apple and Android want people to design for mobile and desktop/laptop. As a user the more seamless the App the better the experience across devices.
2. Use the power of Office – making it available cross all devices is huge, anyone who uses iPads know the big issues is with opening Powerpoint in particular, but to make it free is a massive step for Microsoft, putting it all in the cloud also makes it entirely portable and for developers they can use Office 365 log ins as an identifier
3. Welcome to the new world of Kinect. App developers can now design Apps once that include Kinect technology to make incredible user experiences, this will make that box in your room, even more interesting and put Microsoft right back in the game as far as Apps. Likely end result being even your PC being able to work through motion.
4. Smaller signs of change have been to provide solutions that allow people what they want on their desktop like the start button. Some describe it as retreating, I call it sensible. Microsoft is listening and that is the main thing that we all want and need.
There have been other innovations with Cortana the voice assistant, great that it has been introduced but not sure it stands out vs Siri and of course has arrived considerably later, but again an extra ingredient to create experiences for users.
Microsoft really wants to get into the Internet of Everything and with their very close partner Intel they can start to revolutionise the home and out of home with Windows being the glue to make it all happen.
Microsoft have realised that the world has changed and you need to pull users in with what is still a great set of products used by over a billion people. Microsoft have the opportunity to be a partner to your life in a way that no one else can, I say an opportunity. It is what they do with it that counts. Microsoft have a leading position in the home with Xbox, software and cloud computing has always been their strength, it is just application they must work on, phones and tablets need more work but by making life easier for developers and IT professionals they can solidify their position spanning consumers and corporate.
Overall Microsoft, more than anyone has the plumbing, the hardware and most importantly the software, and they are focused on a mobile world. They need to make room for the marketeer in all of this and bringing them to the table, we as advertisers are desperate to make sure that Microsoft is central in plans but they need to make this easier for us. As with AOL, Yahoo I hope that we see a strong resurgence from Microsoft and it seems that Satya Nadella has the right ideas and guts to push them through. Just don’t forget that the advertiser would like to be involved.
Blink and you will miss it! A quick interview for @EmergingSpaces on programmatic at @AW_Europe
The latest Adweek Europe – Rubicon 2nd Annual Trading Desk panel was preceded by a questionaire covering growth, strategy and the odd personal question! The panel showed again that there is no slowing in the programmatic business although everyone is approaching it slightly differently. The most extreme being Xaxis who have moved away from being an ATD and becoming more an Ad Network.
SEARS: What flavor ice cream best describes your management style?
BERTOZZI: Cookies and cream – you have to take the crunchy and the smooth.
SEARS: On average in the EMEA market — out of each $1.00 spent on media (all media, not just digital) by one of your advertisers, how much today is spent on automated or programmatic channels?
BERTOZZI: $0.04. Definitions of programmatic vary wildly so making comparisons between organizations can be difficult.
SEARS: What will this number be in 2015?
SEARS: Describe how most media (all media, digital + non-digital, non-programmatic media) is bought and sold today.
BERTOZZI: Planning and buying is still largely a non-automated business in the context of digital exchange trading. All channels use technology to facilitate processes — DDS in TV as an example. The true interaction of buyer and seller through a tech platform is limited to Search, API work across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, etc. and exchange trading.
Planning is still being driven by offline systems that set the picture to be interpreted online. The shift to programmatic means advertisers are creating portraits in real data that we can immediately execute across the digital ecosystem. The Data advertisers own online and CRM data, combined with publisher data and the tech to join them up will drive the next stage of data planning.
SEARS: Tell us the about the EMEA operations of VivaKi:
BERTOZZI: VivaKi is the global leader in digital advertising solutions working with Publicis Groupe agencies to help them and their clients navigate the evolving and chaotic media landscape. We focus on the three areas of Addressability, Dynamic Interaction and Data. Our EMEA operations span 17 markets and are delivered through a combination of people on the ground locally, supported by a central Activation Centre based in Amsterdam and regional leaders of our Platform and channels.
SEARS: Please tell us:
SEARS: Percentage increase, managed budget (media spend) 2013 vs. expected 2014 for EMEA:
o BERTOZZI: 70%
SEARS: How many employees are there in EMEA?
o BERTOZZI: We have a total of 90 people working across 17 markets in EMEA
SEARS: What countries are you entering in 2014?
o BERTOZZI: We realized very aggressive growth plans for 2013 launching two regional Activation Centers — firstly in Amsterdam to scale AOD across EMEA with the launch of an Activation Center in Singapore towards the end of 2013 to drive growth of AOD across Asia Pacific.
We have seen significant growth through the Activation Centers and have a number of further market launches lined up this year. In addition we are also planning to expand the number of markets across UAE through our Activation Center in Dubai.
SEARS: What are VivaKi AOD’s three biggest initiatives in EMEA for 2014?
1. 2013 saw us implement aggressive global growth plans with rapid expansion across a number of markets and 2014 will see continued investment in developing these markets into programmatic leaders. Every market from London to Moscow is on a curve of programmatic sophistication and so we are running at different speeds across each of them. Education of agencies, publishers and shared knowledge through the AOD Platform helps everyone accelerate.
2. We are launching a major development of VivaKi Verified, our proprietary process that rigorously reviews all media, data and technology partners across client critical needs to ensure the highest level of brand safety, consumer privacy and client data protection. We will create our own Quality index across every one of our URLs and as an example will combine leading data suppliers in the area of viewability. This will continue to provide reassurance for advertisers as well as a whole new way of targeting campaigns day-to- day.
3. SkyScraper is our Groupe data warehousing proposition — a single data store with 95% of Publicis Groupe spend data, adserving data, DSP data and third party data. This is an infrastructure we have been working on for a number of years and will become very much front and centre of operations in 2014 as we continue to grow out data sophistication.
SEARS: By 2015, what percentage of total media spend in the EMEA region across your holding company will be programmatic?
BERTOZZI: We estimated at around $0.08.
SEARS: To reach a higher adoption of direct order automation and use of the programmatic channel, what are the major impediments to overcome?
BERTOZZI: I believe that there are many companies who are pushing for direct deals / programmatic premium or whatever the latest buzz word is. I actually don’t think things have moved forward much in 12 months. The idea of private market places has moved forward very fast and is a large part of what we do in AOD, but the idea of a single IO line item being delivered to a single media owner at a set CPM is less prevalent.
There still needs to be tech development and alignment. For example there have been a couple of occasions where AOD wanted to push a large block of spend across some premium publishers and we could not get the money away as the publishers were not ready to accept it. Part tech issues, part inventory.
SEARS: How are RFPs used between your operating agency clients and your trading desk? What does a “Programmatic IO” or a “Programmatic RFP” look like?
BERTOZZI: I think we are in danger of building this unique process and infrastructure around programmatic. We need to remember this is still planning and buying and ultimately starts with an advertiser and a brief. Initially briefs are focused on our clients’ challenge and it is our job to build out a strategy that answers that. The tools and techniques we use vary, real-time data instead of offline static data etc. but the goal is the same.
As we work with advertisers we work on deeper and deeper strategies that move away from a line item to a platform for their digital advertising. The sooner we do that, the better the results.
SEARS: What should top comScore publisher CROs do to build their direct order automation and programmatic selling with your trading desk and operating agencies?
BERTOZZI: First of all every publisher needs to break down their own siloes. It is vital that they set up their internal adservers to manage the sale of inventory to the best bidder, not carve off inventory to direct sales and then pump the rest out. We as buyers in programmatic should compete with their internal teams for the best of the best.
Publishers need to align inventory and creative product development with the programmatic space from the outset. Start to shape the business around it early in the planning cycle so the company slowly evolves over time.
Publishers need to know their data intimately; they need to value it so they can have discussions with a real stance on how they think they stack up versus the market and where possible have evidence to back it up.
Employ the right talent to be able to do all of this. There are still too many companies with the wrong balance of people calling the shots. Agency trading desks, independent trading desks and others are all tooling up in this space so if publishers don’t they will be at a disadvantage.
SEARS: Why is direct order automation so important? Is it important?
BERTOZZI: Being able to combine a Publisher’s first party data, with advertiser data across premium inventory is going to be very important for this business to evolve. Managing where and how spend is delivered has always been important to advertisers but I believe there is still a lot of hype in this space and mainly generated by those with the most to gain.
SEARS: What countries in the EMEA region are the leaders and laggards in programmatic?
BERTOZZI: There are no laggards; there are countries that live with different pressures to others and those that have a particular client base. We have seen the UK and France expand rapidly. This time last year we were all bemoaning Germany but we have seen considerable expansion there as well now.
We are expanding with new markets, all hungry to be part of the revolution which is very exciting, but in every market we have to take our time and move as fast as market conditions allow, all the time educating and demonstrating benefits.
Tell us a bit more about you:
SEARS: If you could choose a movie star to be the global head of your trading desk, who would you choose and why?
BERTOZZI: That’s easy. It would need to be a superhero. Let’s keep it simple and call it Superman. They have to fly around a lot, be able to resist the slings and arrows of the industry but never tire and want to change the world for the better! The X-ray vision would come in useful to see through the bullshit.
SEARS: If you could travel for pleasure anywhere in the world, to a place you have never been, where would you go?
BERTOZZI: There are too many places, but somewhere remote, with sea and mountains, and ideally somewhere without a connection so I can for once switch off from the emails!
SEARS: If you were trapped alone on a desert island and needed to choose one ad holding company CEO to accompany you ( other than your own holding company CEO), which CEO would you pick and why?
BERTOZZI: That would have to be John Wren, for rather obvious reasons!
SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
BERTOZZI: It has to be the crazy, authentic restaurant in my home town of Cesena that I have been eating at all my life.
My argument that advertisers need to ask the same questions of Independent trading desks and RTB Networks as they do of Agency Trading Desks if they want transparency and brand safety.
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.
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.
What a funny world we live in when representatives from the trade press and trade bodies are happily chirping away at the dastardly trade desks. We are not transparent, we are sitting on hoards of gold, laughing into our hands at the lack of interest that advertisers are showing us. It is a money making extravaganza.
The first thing I would say is those same people were quite happy when their advertisers were throwing good money after bad at media companies with not the slightest inkling about where the money was going or how. No results, no insights, no controls on frequency, absolutely zero brand safety right up to advertising on illegal sites. Oh that’s fine because those companies delivering the Ads are not in an agency group. Even today there is a major RTB Ad Net that revealed in its financials that it makes over 60% margin..is that OK advertisers? Same people, same budgets – totally blind by the way.
Let me explain what we (we being AOD as not everyone is the same) have done, us terrible evil operators – we have brought transparency. Our advertisers know what is media and what is not. We have been stringent in brand safety terms with our VivaKi Verfied process so advertisers can make sure they are not being exposed to bad content. We have frequency controls so that the advertiser does not show their Ad 50 times and thus waste money. Our commercials mean that we are dedicated to finding the right user not managing an arbitrage or variable margin, everything we do is RTB, not upfront buying, not something most of the media companies can truly claim. We do not charge advertisers set cpm or set cpc – are you still accepting that? Well ask yourself why you would in an auction world? Because it is a nice safety net? Well that is your worst media procurement decision yet. No it is because those deals make their providers lots of cash and the advertiser has no idea how much.
I laugh out loud at the suggestion that we are not being scrutinised by auditors. Anyone who commits that to paper has clearly not spoken to anyone who works inside the relevant organisations. It is one of the most common conversations I have between ad hoc meetings and pitches. Have you seen a pitch document recently? No we are scrutinised, perhaps some are not, but we certainly are and I think it mocks the advertisers to say they are not focused on the subject. I know many who are, many.
The Trade desk has challenged the status quo, many of the companies have had to raise their game because they were being faced with a tide of Transparency, unearthing how they were doing business and continue to do so, I am happy with that, I am happy we have changed things. I think it is a shame that there is not more open dialogue on the subject as opposed to people throwing stones from a position of ignorance.
Broadcasters are currently resisting the march of programmatic buying and its sub-set, Real-Time Bidding (RTB), as a mechanism for selling their online inventory. While in some cases they may be right to fear it, they should understand that this is the way that most digital inventory is going to be sold, so should try to get ahead of the curve and at least start experimenting with RTB. That is the message from Marco Bertozzi, Executive Managing Director, EMEA, at VivaKi, the independent unit within the Publicis Group focused on addressable and dynamic advertising.
The main objection broadcasters have to selling through online advertising platforms that use RTB is loss of control, he says. “Traditionally they have 110% control over how advertising is delivered and reported, and they have direct deals with agencies. This technology takes away a lot of that control from them. They are uncomfortable with the idea that a platform like our Audience on Demand system would decide which advertisement is shown at any given moment. They are not keen on the idea that one of maybe ten advertisers could take a spot. They want to be the ones that decide which advertisement goes where.”
There are other objections, outlined below, but Bertozzi is convinced they need to put them all to one side and start giving advertisers access to their inventory through systems that use RTB. “The horse is bolting and there is no way anyone is going to get it back into its box. More broadcasters will find that the pressure will start mounting from buyers to engage in this form of advertising.
“Today broadcasters are very reticent to get involved in this area,” he continues. “They can resist RTB and maybe they are right to resist; they know their business better than anyone else. But the question is whether they should get on the front foot with this approach and learn about it, get better insights from it and deliver better commercial returns as a result. Pretty much all digital spend based around delivering an advert into spaces, whether that is a pre-roll or a banner, is going down this road. The broadcasters need to understand that.”
Bertozzi points out that what is happening online today on the laptop and tablet will become increasingly relevant to advertising on television screens as more TV sets are linked to the Internet and set-top boxes also become an extension of the online video ecosystem. He thinks consumers will actually come to expect more personalized advertising, too.
RTB is a process that brings together buyers and sellers of advertising for digital (e.g. online) inventory. It started life in display advertising and is now being used for advertising around online video, including for non-broadcaster premium content.
In very simple terms, when you use RTB a publisher site tells would-be advertisers that someone has entered its website on a particular page. It issues a request for an advertisement. Advertisers can assess whether the user is in their target audience based on various data points, then decide if they want to bid for the advertising opportunities on that page, which could include a pre-roll video advertisement, for example.
As the name suggests, Real-Time Bidding means an advertising platform, acting as a proxy for an agency and their advertising client, can bid on every impression, one by one. This requires a huge amount of automation. Bertozzi says the process of receiving an ad request, matching the user data against campaign requirements, making a bid and then delivering an advertisement takes 30-50 milliseconds, so this is all happening as the webpage loads.
VivaKi provides a service for advertising brands and agencies to plan and deliver their digital/online advertising requirements. It has its own proprietary Audience on Demand (AOD) platform to run at least part of those campaigns through a variety of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) that in turn use RTB to flag and buy online inventory that could be relevant to advertisers. VivaKi also works direct with publishers and the company pools together consumer data from many first-party and third-party sources into its system so it can make the best possible judgements about who makes a good advertising target.
According to Bertozzi, there are a number of components that make one programmatic buying system better than another and which make AOD stand out from the crowd. AOD leads with its VivaKi Verified process, a dedicated team focused on the verification and evaluation of technology, data and inventory. “It is vital for advertisers to have trust in what their partners are doing in a world full of shiny new objects,” he says.
Then there is the quality of the data. VivaKi works with publishers direct to get first-party data and places more emphasis on this than some companies. The quality of the data, wherever it comes from, is key. Third is the quality of the inventory, so again, it comes down to which publishers you are working with, directly or indirectly. “Viewability and brand safety are crucial from an inventory perspective and VivaKi Verified invests people and time in making sure advertisers can relax,” Bertozzi, declares.
The quality of technologies used by the partner Demand Side Platforms and Ad Exchanges that bring the inventory to the surface in AOD is another difference, VivaKi says. AOD is not wedded to any single Demand Side Platform but has all the big ones plugged in, and clients can choose which ones to use if they want. “No one else has gone to the same lengths to verify and stack-rank the industry’s best data and technology partners,” Bertozzi argues.
He points out that beyond these points, you need to look at the people behind the systems and their experience working in this market. “Audience on Demand launched in 2008 when most other operations were three years from fruition.”
There is a widely held conviction among the supporters of RTB that it increases advertising efficiency because of its better targeting. Bertozzi points out that a company selling mobile phones will bid higher for a 16-34 female who has recently looked at mobiles then an advertiser that just wants to hit 16-34 females. So in an auction-driven open market, each piece of ad inventory should find its true value, with that value determined by how valuable the consumer is to a given buyer at a given time. You can also adjust campaigns as you go, depending on the results from previous inventory purchases.
Bertozzi thinks broadcasters, who can already sell-out their online inventory using direct agency relationships, fear that the only way their pricing can go is down. He acknowledges that in some instances CPM (cost per thousand) rates could fall but in others they will rise because good targeting will make inventory more valuable. Scarcity drives price up. As most broadcasters explain how they are oversold, that should benefit them, he thinks.
“Today an advertiser might want to target a programme that has a high conversation rate for 16-34 year-old men. It could be football but maybe 30% of the audience is actually women. You could instead sell to males and sell to females and I would argue that you could probably get a higher CPM for those specific audiences.”
This is where we start to see the introduction of Dynamic Advertising Insertion (DAI), which splits ad break audiences and delivers different advertising copy to those different audiences. RTB/Programmatic plus DAI are the foundation stones for what could become a major shake-up in television advertising over the next few years.
Bertozzi says some broadcasters are starting to move towards a more data-driven advertising world but usually within their own walled garden and still stopping short of opening their inventory to RTB-based platforms. He points to Channel 4 as a good example.
The UK commercial broadcaster is now selling very specific audiences in their online VOD. “They have enhanced their data insights and are selling those to agencies so they have taken a step towards acknowledging that data will be the thing that informs their inventory,” he explains. “So that is stage one: engaging with data at that level. Stage two is making that data available to more external buying platforms and trading desks as the norm and that is the sticking point today.”
Referring to broadcasters generally, Bertozzi says they might stick at this position for a while but eventually will have to take that second step