A week at The VivaKi Nerve Center

A week at The Vivaki Nerve Center

Monday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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!

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My 2010 review for Exchangewire on Exchange trading, an agency perspective

End Of Year Review: Marco Bertozzi, Managing Director EMEA at Vivaki, Gives The Agency Perspective On 2010

Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Online Advertising | Comments

Exchangewire story here

I first talked about ad exchanges in a pitch in 2008. The DoubleClick ad exchange was either recently launched or due to be. Either way it seemed like the answer everyone in the industry had been looking for: namely, the chance to only buy audience you wanted and move away from buying in the thousands. That principle stands true today and overall the ad exchange trading approach is a successful formula.

The market place has remained pretty static since the late nineties. The industry traded in the same way as every other media channel and it worked quite nicely. When ad exchange trading emerged and became a serious proposition it asked many questions of the roles of agencies, ad networks and brought to life the data practices that had become so prevalent in recent years. 2010 has been an amazing year. The companies and technology on the lips of the media industry now – Invite Media, Turn, BlueKai, DSPs – were not even on the radar here in Europe twelve months ago. It’s incredible how quickly our industry can adapt and I have enjoyed being in thick of it in 2010.

A year in developing an ad exchange proposition

One of the hardest parts of a role such as the development of a new way of trading is gaining trust and buy-in from agency teams. It is actually harder to get traction with a proprietary approach than introducing a third party – see how Group M has struggled with the purchase of 24/7. There has to be proof that something like Audience on Demand can work and beat the competition. Client teams are rightly very defensive of their clients.

In every group you also have of course different agencies with their own approaches and ethos to digital. My challenge with Audience on Demand was to create an offering that worked for each agency and one they felt they could make their own. You have to work with many different opinions but in the case of Vivaki we did that and through that due diligence has come a unified view on how Audience on Demand could look and one of the reasons we have made so much progress. It is great that we have Starcom Mediavest, Zenthoptimedia and Razorfish all involved through consensual means rather than command.

Unique in this arena is the level of attention that needs to be given to data ownership and making sure that we are not buying unsuitable inventory. It’s important that contracts reflect the new world we are living and trading in. Outside of that we need to manage some people’s concerns that ad trading will be the death of the buyer and lead to an automated buying environment. Those concerns are mainly unfounded. Of course as more media is traded in this way it will make agencies more efficient – but take a look at search where we still have teams of people bringing the strategies to life.

The challenges we face in an agency

In considering the challenges we face I have chosen to break up the ad exchange trading proposition into four core areas, people, technology, marketplace and data. Each area has had its own areas of positives and negatives.

People

The challenge with ad trading is that it sits in the display camp. But the execution needs to be with those who are more direct response or search focused – namely those people who enjoy numbers and optimisation. This is not a ‘display’ buy. At the end of the day someone needs to have the skills to make this work and finding those people will be the next battle ground in this market. I fear a repeat of the search market where we competed for talent to the extent that search planners were getting large pay rises after 6 months in the job. We need to avoid a repeat of that by spreading the skill set as much as we can rather than concentrate on a select group of people.

I think there will be a new breed of buyers in this space but they could work across different elements of the same principle – biddable media. Some agencies claim to be employing NASA trained graduates, who could unpick the meaning of life in an instant. I don’t believe this is not a viable strategy for all. Some middle ground is needed here. What skills will be required by agencies? There should be heavy data knowledge, and more analytical than perhaps in the past – but this new breed of buyer shouldn’t be a complete departure. After all, the ad networks have been doing this for years without recruiting from MIT.

Technology

That’s easy! Why do I say it’s easy, well because it is all the same. I can already hear the howls from the baying crowds of technology companies, but fundamentally it’s true. Let’s not hide behind technology. It’s hugely important and exceptionally scientific but unless you have the people to make it work, it’s effectively useless. We work with Invite in the main and they are the leading player in the space now with the backing of Google – and hopefully they will continue to drive innovation. That said we have not won a single piece of business on the back of our technology sell. It’s all about the people and strategy. The most important thing any agency can do is work on the overall integration of the data provided by these systems into the agency’s data warehousing infrastructure. That’s where the value is created not in the individual system itself – and that’s where NASA knowhow comes in!

Ciaran asked me about developments in this space. I think we have been seeing the morphing of companies with a technical core into DSP offerings. That for me is the biggest shift. Real-time-bidding capabilities have also driven this development. As we have seen from results, it really makes a difference to performance and the margins publishers are able to take.

As I mentioned earlier its fascinating watching all the new players come to market. Dataxu, Turn, Mediamath, Appnexus and many others all staking their claims in this space and that battle with continue unabated. On the back of that I hope we will see product improvements to benefit our clients, especially around video and mobile.

Marketplace

Is there inventory or not? There is a lot of exchange inventory that needs to be supplemented with more mainstream inventory, Yahoo already do this. Microsoft has just signed up with Appnexus and there is a ground swell of larger publishers that are starting to hear the whispers that they can make more revenue through exchanges than going to ad networks. Critical mass is key and it is coming fast.

If you were to ask me what has changed in this area I would say that publishers are now considering putting more inventory through exchanges and dipping their toe in the water. Many people talk about the threat to ad networks from agencies – in terms of replicating their model. I am more inclined to believe that publishers are less willing to forsake their remnant and unsold to ad networks, preferring to move inventory into open exchanges.

Scale to compete is another topic of intense debate. Anyone who has run an attribution model on one of their campaigns will see that a number of sites can feature heavily across a number of exposures on a campaign but the last click will often fall to a small list of companies that effectively buy up the web. These networks buy at huge scale and therefore often win the last click battle. That’s not strategy or skill – it is sheer bulk. But it works in our current basic last-click-wins approach to digital. It’s no surprise to find that the ad networks are the largest buyers off the exchanges!

Data

Come back to me next year. There’s been so much talk but little action over the past twelve months. The area of most interest is of course retargeted inventory – first party data rather than third. For the last few years agencies and advertisers have been giving it away to ad networks to make their own campaigns work better. Ad networks were thus able to create greater insights on competing brands. The battle is now on to retrieve that data usage from third parties and keep it between agency and client. One thing that is blatantly clear is the need for a huge shift in data contracts. Client contracts and media owner contracts are going to change as everyone wakes up to the reality of how data is being used.

As for third party data, we are not there yet in Europe. There is little to no decent data on the market. A couple of companies are starting to shape their offerings. Obviously there are those who will sell data but on the back of their media networks. I think we will see some developments in 2011 as US companies come to town but we have some way to go. The greatest challenge is managing the price and value. Up to this point data has been too expensive and has invariably underperformed – so we should see some big improvements next year.

European ad exchange trading

I think that the idea of a group offering across Europe is more than possible, but it remains very complex. I spend much of my time investigating the developments in European markets and trying to understand their individual nuances. Each country has different marketplaces – with some more ready than others. Germany is a particularly entrenched market with some very established publisher relationships and a low use of ad networks. There are big companies in the space such as Weborama, Adjug, Adscale all looking at establishing opportunities. The importance of working with local partners cannot be underestimated if you are to make a success in these different markets – a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

Conclusions

It’s been a fascinating and exciting year. I have met with some extremely bright companies and people – and I believe that this ad exchange trading tide will change our business more than any other single development. As we move into 2011 – and we see the addition of video and mobile to the automated ad trading mix – the ad exchange space will become even more complete.

As I discussed it will ask questions of many company structures and approaches, people skills and data capabilities but that is the interesting area for me. It will make us all re-evaluate how we work and what our structures and people skill sets should be. I work with great teams in the VivaKi agencies and am fortunate to be able to push on an open door. This innovation requires some elements of trial and error, and we all need to learn together. I would also say we should encourage each other in this space. The more we work together, the better the traction from publishers and data companies, the more we will grow as an industry.

Vivaki Nerve Center launches The Pool video lane

When I started in the Vivaki Nerve Center I had quite a few things on my to do list. One of the most exciting was getting ‘The Pool’ live.

The Pool is a vehicle through which we would bring together advertisers and publishers to participate in a project that would shape the market in whatever field it is concerned with, drive future facing ad formats and hopefully drive revenue on both sides. It was designed to be objective, a consensus approach but based in consumer insight. The Pool started in the US with fantastic results, if you want to read more about it, click here

Video advertising is the subject of choice. Why is that? Well there are some fundamental factors that lead video to be an ideal Lane in any country. Firstly we all know its growing hugely, unstoppable and more and more quality content is migrating to the web which is not being followed by advertising pounds. That leads to the next couple of issues. The ability of publishers to monetise has been difficult due to the constant erosion of pricing and lack of research to prove it works and secondly it’s a chaotic ad market in terms of formats. If you work on the basis of 50-60% of TV ad pounds go against a 30sec Ad it’s easy to ramp up investment rapidly. Anyone who has done video advertising knows there are too many formats, too many creative approaches and publishers all have their own model. The Pool aims to solve that.

Tomorrow sees the launch to all the major publishers in the UK of The Pool Lane 1 in the UK, Long form video. Vivaki Nerve Center with close collaboration from ZenithOptimedia and Starcom will be aiming to get publishers on board with the project to find the single best Ad format for video across a range of categories of results. Once on board we will work through field research and with the help of clients to identify the winning Ad format.

It’s an exciting project and I hope very high profile, the end result should be a win for the publishers, a win for the advertisers and a win for the agencies in the Vivaki groupe. I hope by the end of this there will be a model that becomes second nature to planners and allows scalable spend in video which has to be a good thing.

I will then be turning my spotlight on mobile. Mobile suffers similar issues if not worse and needs to have a greater industry focus put upon it. The levels of spend in mobile display are appalling when compared with the time spent on mobile devices so I hope in 2011 The Pool approach will drive some great new learnings for mobile.

My new role at Vivaki Nerve Center , EMEA

Marco Bertozzi:03.03.2010
After a break of three months I have very recently secured a new role at Vivaki Nerve Center. I set out to find a role that was at the heart of the world of digital and I am pleased to say this role 100% achieves that. I am also excited about the fact that we are still at the formative stages for the Vivaki Nerve Center and that I will be part of the definition and growth of the unit.

http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/994625/Marco-Bertozzi-hits-nerve-VivaKi/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

In the last three months I have spoken to many agency folk around the market and its been a fascinating view on the market. All the major agency groups are investing in their parent group offerings, seeing the benefits of aggregation of skills, knowledge, technology and of course media investment. I hope that as part of the VNC I will be working in what will be the future for Publicis Groupe and help lead the change.

As I have written about previously I believe that the one thing that is for certain is that technology and changing trading methods will alter the way agency groups structure around digital planning and buying. The role of the ‘media schedule’ will be less relevant when in fact we should be buying audiences regardless of their location or site they are visiting. Trading will be about buying at the best price to deliver the relevant ROI not about the fact you bought 10million impressions at a set price earlier in the month and that will combine search and display in all its formats.

On top of that we are of course dealing with the huge changes coming from mobile, social and video, three huge topics that we have to make a success of in our marketing solutions. I am constantly on my iPhone and Nexus one, I surf, blog, update and find information and there are many like me so our solutions need to be making the most of that audience. I believe we have a way to go in that arena as an industry, I look forward to working with Phonevalley and others in implementing these new strategies.

Whether it be social media, mobile or straight forward impression buying we also need cutting edge tracking and reporting solutions and I look forward to working with our partners and Groupe companies in helping us to deliver intuitive, useful and accurate reporting suites to help us across Search, display, video and social.

Having just spent a few days in San Francisco its clear there is an enormous amount to be getting on with, some tasks more straight forward than others but all equally exciting. Our strategic partnerships are going to really create some amazing opportunities for our clients and there will no doubt be more to come. I work in a group of amazingly talented companies including Razorfish, Digitas, Performics and many others so this should be an exciting times and I cant wait to start.

There is nothing like memory lane

Yesterday saw a small reunion at The Dudley pub in Paddington. The Dudley was the spiritual drinking home of Zenith Media as it was. Yesterday some of its most loyal supporters returned to have a quick drink there before moving on to other Paddington favourite haunts.

The reminiscing and story telling was in full swing and it was a great day but left you realising how much media has changed from the days back in the shed @ Paddington. ZO is now all grown up with shiny offices on Charlotte St, along with many other agencies in the area, many of our group had left ZO and interestingly often from agency to media owner which shows how much the skills between agency and media owner are blurring as they become more and more strategic in their approach as well as more central to discussions with clients as clients look to involve content and conversation in their approach to reaching people.

All in all though, it was good to discuss some of the bigger issues which I would be prohibited from raising here but focused on JF and TS quite a bit and of course not to mention JH and KH.