In defence of Jargon

It annoys me when people say that our industry uses too much Jargon. Do we? Or do we use shorthand? Do we not all use shorthand in life? Anyone for a BLT? No wrong time of day I would rather a G&T or maybe a JD and coke. I make the point, we all use short hand in our discussions and conversations, I would not describe it as jargon.

I listen to advertisers talking about their business all the time, more jargon than you can shake a stick at! RTB – you want me to say Real time bidding every time? CTR? CPA? Life is too short to say that every time. No where we all go wrong is using them at the wrong time. Conferences, advertiser presentations, these mixed audience scenarios we need to all tread more carefully and explain what we mean.

The ability to explain a complex notion to a crowd that has less experience of your topic is where the art comes into its own. The programmatic buying business is technology obsessed and too focused upon it. It is this that we need to cut out, less the jargon. We should have learned from the past that technology is not the subject, it is what it can create for our advertisers. I met with an advertiser recently outside of our group and he seemed positively relieved as I focused on a more simplified approach to the business and a less techie pitch. As he put his algorithm back to basics manual away he seemed positively lifted.

And this is where Trading Desks can add value, the value of cutting through the jargon and the bullshit. As an advertiser with limited resources focused on this complex marketplace, they are pitched by everyone, each with their own shiny optimisation and algo (shorthand for algorithm) and it is daunting. Our job is to help navigate this world and design strategies that link up all of these marketplaces and technologies. We should focus on the outcomes of jargon, not the jargon itself and slowly for many the jargon will turn into normal day to day shorthand.

Well it is EOD so maybe a G&T?

Do we do enough to change our advertiser’s business?


Since the dawn of advertising and media our business has been evolving and adapting to the changing consumer landscape. Rishad Tobaccowala, our own Chief Strategy Officer described agencies as cockroaches for their ability to survive against the odds. It is not just agencies though, publishers, tech firms, Ad Nets have all pivoted to some extent or another, it is in our DNA.

We have been focused on our own internals and what the consumer has been up to but the advertisers we work with have more or less stayed the same. Yes they have embraced new ways of reaching their target audiences and moved at varying paces to use digital and so on, but give or take they have the same or similar teams, structures and demands.

It strikes me that we as agencies don’t do enough to challenge that, we are happy making sure our own businesses are future proofed but how much time do we spend telling the clients that they need to change fundamentally? Why are we restructuring, creating new businesses, skills sets and yet we don’t spend much time explaining to the client that they should be future proofing. Would we suggest a new structure to their media team, propose that they need new skill sets or a new unit? I am not sure we do and it is not our fault in many cases. Everyone has heard of the jumping flee story, if you keep putting the lid on eventually they stop jumping and I think we are all a little like that at times, we have ambition to change things with our advertisers but often it is rejected as too difficult or their incentives are not aligned.

In this new world of RTB, programmatic buying and data where all our businesses have evolved to a greater or lesser extent, in some cases creating new businesses and structures, what are we telling our clients? Are we suggesting they carry on the same or should we be telling them to think differently? Do they need a centre of excellence in this space, how can we get established and sometimes entrenched brand managers to adopt these new philosophies quicker? 

If we are all future proofing – what are we asking our advertisers to do other than buy media differently? We need to think bigger and challenge our very important customers to do the same.

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.