3 Tips to Ensure Brand Safety for all Your Programmatic Media Buys

In 2017, marketers were told that they had to implement brand safety for all their digital and programmatic  display ad campaigns. The need for marketers to urgently address brand safety was spurred by the fact that “The Times” discovered that Youtube and Google were placing their ads next to content related to political violence, extremist religious propaganda and other offensive content that greatly misaligned with their brand’s messaging, and affected their brand safety. This prompted UK advertisers to quickly suspend their advertising on the site and countless U.S. advertisers quickly followed suit. Notably, the Havas Group, responsible for managing nearly $650 million (225€ million in the UK) in digital ad spend, decided to pull their ads from Google. This promoted advertisers to question how they can ensure that their digital display ads are running alongside publisher content that most closely aligns with their consumers’ values.

There are many precautions that advertisers can take to ensure their brands remain safe in the eyes of consumers. With digital ad spend expected to reach over $117 billion in 2018, we have outlined a few important tips that advertisers should use to ensure their programmatic buys are also brand safe.

1. Partner Up
Companies like Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify and Comscore have developed formulas, algorithms and data-driven tools to prevent ads from ever appearing alongside undesirable content. Data-driven marketing companies already have developed the intelligence to ensure that an advertiser will buy ads that are brand safe. They are also continuously updating and improving this technology.

Global measurement and ad verification partners are constantly working to improve the user experience. They want to put the right content in front of the right person: someone interested in that brand, willing to purchase their offerings. They also want to ensure that brands have peace of mind with where their media budget is being used and that their content is being placed on the sites of reliable publishers. Programmatic works to generate qualified traffic so that the brand’s online presence is strengthened, values are maintained and reputations are not tarnished.

2. Invest in Private Marketplaces

In 2017, 74.5% of all domestic digital display ads ran via private marketplaces (PMP) and programmatic direct deals. By using this avenue for a media buy, advertisers know exactly who they are purchasing from and where their ad will be placed. This decision, although potentially more expensive, warrants ease of mind with ad placement. This marketplace also, just as with all programmatic buys, allows advertisers to reach their ideal customers.

3. Whitelisting
It is common to hear that marketers have blacklisted sites, a result of either their own experience was poor or it has a negative reputation. However, the number of “bad sites” is constantly rising and there is no way to constantly keep up todate. An alternative option is to whitelist sites. You can find sites that are safe to run ads on and compile a list of options that you can then use when preparing a campaign or a media buy. If this seems like an overwhelming task, there are exchanges that have an intense inventory approval process. These exchanges require sites to pass tests such as human approval or pre-approval of a new relationship with a site or app within existing relationships. If a site doesn’t pass the test, they are not able to sell their inventory on the exchange. This is a great step to take to ensure brand safety as you are confident in the sites you are choosing to place your ads.

Ensuring Brand Safety can Feel Overwhelming

Billions of digital display ad transactions occur everyday which means brand safety can become very overwhelming. There are many precautions that brands can take to ensure that their ads end up in an ideal location. However, what is most important to remember is to use common sense. If an deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Consumers will find your ad more appealing if it is displayed on the right site next to the right content. So, when choosing where to spend your programmatic media dollars, take the time to ensure you have done research on where your ad is is going to be placed and don’t forget to use the three tips above to get your head above water when it comes to keeping your brand safe.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: What is the Difference Between AI, Machine Learning & Programmatic?

The world of digital advertising and programmatic advertising has developed its own language in the last couple of years, full of terms that are commonly heard and used everywhere but mean something very specific when attached to the word advertising. Most recently it’s almost impossible to read an article or even talk about media buying without bringing up the terms Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning. The terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably but they are different. What is the difference between the two and what should they mean to us or me as a marketer or CMO?

AI for Programmatic Buying

Artificial intelligence is the concept of reproducing human intelligence in machines so they can execute on activities that normally would require a human brain to be involved in, such as making data-based decisions.  By using AI-powered systems brands and advertisers case save money and time by completing tasks faster than us mere humans and make less mistakes.  When you apply this to the programmatic media buying industry, you bring efficiency to the media buying process, freeing people who’s job it is buy media from the more tedious and allowing them to focus on the strategic and creative elements of their jobs.

The reason digital media executives keep talking about AI technologies is that they allow us to have algorithms that analyze a user’s behavior, allowing for real time programmatic campaign optimizations towards consumers who are more likely to convert. Advertisers then have the ability to gather all this rich audience data to then use it to be more accurate with their media buys and overall targeting tactics – ultimately spending less money and time and bringing in a higher ROI.

Will Machine Learning Replace Media Buyers?

The words Machine Learning can conjure up images of old sci-fi movies in which someone develops an intelligent robot that then dominates its creator or destroys a large city… leading to many questions about how this technology could affect the digital media industry.
Machine learning is a type of Artificial Intelligence that provides computers or robots with the ability to learn things by being programmed specifically to take certain actions, improving their knowledge over time, much in the same way our brains do.
Computers using machine learning focus on imitating our own decision-making logic by training a machine to use data to learn more about how to perform a task.

Imagine you ride your bike to work every day. Over time, after trying different ways to get to work, you will learn which route is faster or maybe which road or path is better according to the day of the week or based on the weather outside. This is exactly how machine learning works. You feed the computer or algorithm with large amounts of data so it will analyze information from the past and learn from it to apply the learnings to any new data it receives in the future.

When applied to programmatic advertising, machine learning algorithms can analyze large volumes of data from difference sources and draw conclusions from it. It means you can almost replicate the brain of an experienced media buyer in a machine or algorithm so it becomes capable of  predicting, planning and optimizing media. Almost…. but not yet, though the machines can certainly make programmatic advertising more efficient, faster and easier to implement, there remain many factors which need human brains to input link the machine learning to an overall media buying strategy.

So How are AI and Machine Learning Connected to Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the automated process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange, connecting advertisers to publishers rather than having to make individual deals with each publisher. This process uses artificial intelligence technologies to improve efficiency and make better decisions for the advertisers with their budgets.
There is a lot of investment being made in marketing and ad buying technologies to leverage AI.  Companies like Xaxis, are betting heavy on AI for improving their future Programmatic Buying Platforms.  Fo right now marketers are using AI to stitch massive amounts of their data together, but it still hasn’t replaced human analysis.  For media agencies, Artificial Intelligence is still more a buzzword or a catchphrase to get peoples attention.

David Lee, programmatic lead at ad agency The Richards Group, said that he regularly gets pitches for AI-enabled products but the AI part of the products usually “doesn’t seem to affect performance outside of being a buzzword.”

You need Machine Learning to feed AI but you don’t need AI for Machine Learning. What that means is that machine learning is the technique — using algorithms to process data, learn from insights and make predictions for future programmatic campaigns which then trains the AI.
Both Machine Learning and AI are here to stay.  If you are a marketer or a media buyer, get familiar with these terms as they will continue to occupy the press and blogs like ours.  But for now they are not taking over for humans, that’s still in the sci-fi section of the video library.

In 2018, Mobile Video Spend Will Dominate Programmatic Media Buys

In 2017, programmatic digital display ad spending reached $32.56 billion and is projected to continue to grow rapidly throughout 2018 and hit $45 billion in spend by 2019. With this rise in programmatic ad spend, there also comes a shift in where advertisers are buying ad space. Another shift in programmatic ad buying is the rapid rise in mobile placements over desktop. The move to mobile is not surprising considering that on average, people in the United States are spending over 5 hours a day on their mobile devices. Media Buyers are set to capitalize on this shift, in 2018, programmatic investment on mobile will reach $30 billion, over 3x the amount spent on desktop. This is in large part due to the popularity of mobile video consumption and mobile-friendly sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat.

In 2018, Programmatic investment on mobile will reach $30 billion, over 3x the amount spent on desktop -eMarketer

This year, it is projected that mobile video ad spending will surpass non-mobile ad spend. This is due to the rise in popularity of consumers watching video online. It is projected that this year people will spend on average 36 minutes watching video on their phone or tablet compared to 18.5 minutes on non-mobile devices. Around the world, people will watch 25% more video on phone and tablets whereas computer and laptop video consumption is expected to decline. Smart TV streaming continues to rise, but not quickly enough to make up for the mass decline in non-mobile platform viewing. Mobile video ad spending alone is expected to reach $18 billion, a 49% growth. With more consumers watching videos on their phone, media plans are also being adjusted to include larger budgets for mobile video ads and creative.

Mobile Video Ad Boom Driven by Social Platforms

The move towards mobile video consumption is largely due to mobile-friendly apps like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. Over 500 million hours of YouTube video are watched everyday. 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a Facebook video will watch for at least 10 seconds, and 45% will watch for 30 seconds (Facebook, 2016).  These stats clearly explain why Google as well as Facebook have the largest share in mobile advertising. Advertising agencies put aside a portion of their media budget for Facebook ads and although these agencies don’t necessarily plan to use this money for mobile, it is where the audience is going, as most of Facebook’s audience is through mobile. Views for branded video content on Facebook has increased 258% in 2017 making it a great media buy for advertisers. With 10 million videos watched on Snapchat everyday, the company is estimated to experience the fastest mobile ad revenue growth between 2016-2019. As more companies make their websites mobile friendly, the shift to mobile advertising will continue to grow, leaving desktop ads behind.  

By 2019, $45.72 billion will flow via biddable media, more than four out of five US digital display ad dollars. Mobile ad spending will be credited for more than $30 billion of this amount. The era of mobile programmatic advertising is just beginning as advertisers and brands spend more time and budget optimizing their campaigns for mobile.

Read about the other nine trends that we are predicting will be the key to success for programmatic buying teams in 2018 here.

If you haven’t already, there is no time like 2018 to get on the programmatic bandwagon.  If you need to get started Digilant University has all the information you need to get up to speed on native advertising and more than 30 other topics.  Need more information, you can also reach out to us here.

2018 Trends: Generation Z vs Millennials, What Programmatic Media Buyers Need to Know?

In the last five years, digital media buyers and brand marketers have been hyper-focused on finding and targeting millennials, forgetting about an extremely influential and profitable demographic, Generation Z. Generation Z defines the group of people born between 1996 and the mid 2000s. They have different purchasing habits and need to be targeted differently than millennials. Most importantly, their influence on the market is tremendous and if brands don’t adapt to fit their needs, they have a great possibility of getting left behind.

Instagram Stories blow past Snapchat with 200 million daily active users as Generation Z becomes more valuable to most organizations than millennials -Statista


Generation Z has very clear and unique preferences that advertisers need to understand. Influencer marketing is very successful with Gen Z. Rather than looking at informational sites, they are likely to head to YouTube and watch a trusted influencer’s video for their information. Although many of them grew up with technology in their hand, this isn’t where they do their shopping. Millennials are much more likely to shop online than Generation Z who prefer shopping in person. Although millennials and Gen Z share short attention spans and the ability to toggle between multiple pages, Gen Z takes this to an extreme level. People in Gen Z have an average attention span of 8 seconds and usually switch between at at least 5 different screens. Advertisers had already seen a decline in television advertising success but now with an even shorter attention span, Generation Z is not the audience to target with TV spots. Gen Z wants real content that makes them feel like they know the brand and the person behind the content. Most importantly, this age demographic wants their independence. They are not interested in loyalty programs but rather want to interact with the advertiser on their terms. Brands that understand the unique preferences of this age demographic and can build media plans, creative and overall programmatic marketing campaigns that have better results.
 

Snapchat vs. Instagram

Brands that are looking to buy programmatic media that targets a younger demographic need to stay up to date with Gen Z likes and dislikes. Especially when it comes to social media advertising. Snapchat, one of the biggest social media platforms with 150 million daily users is starting to fall behind in market share as they realize their competitors are resonating with Gen Z more effectively. Although Facebook, who also owns Instagram, added the “stories” feature and have been accused of copying Snapchat, they already have more active daily users than Snapchat. Instagram started with a larger install base, at over 800 million active users, and have been able to successfully copy what Gen Z users love about Snapchat and adapt it in their own app. This leaves Snapchat to figure out how best to target Gen Z so the users come back to their app and don’t leave them behind in the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  
 

In Summary

What do we need to know about Generation Z?

  1. Trust influencers over direct brand advertising and would prefer to see a YouTube video from someone they follow vs. a TV spot from a brand they might like.
  2. Prefer to do their shopping at a brick and mortar store rather than online.
  3. Have a super short attention span, and are often toggling between 5 screens.
  4. Are super independent and don’t want to be defined by a brand, so advertisers that want to succeed with them need to celebrate the individual rather than trying to group them into categories or audiences.

Read about the other nine trends that we are predicting will be the key to success for programmatic buying teams in 2018 here.

If you haven’t already, there is no time like 2018 to get on the programmatic bandwagon.  If you need to get started Digilant University has all the information you need to get up to speed on native advertising and more than 30 other topics.  Need more information, you can also reach out to us here.

In 2018 Native Becomes the Leading Ad Format for Programmatic Media Buying Platforms

Native advertising was established to make ads appear more natural on a web page. Rather than making it overtly obvious that the ad is not part of the original page, native advertising uses the page’s design and layout to design the ad so that it appears as just a part of the webpage.  Programmatic native advertising takes this to the next level by targeting a person based on specific data parameters, with the goal of providing the right message to the user in the context of the page/ and or platform that they are on. This provides relevant and helpful information to the user at the right time.

Increase demand for more native experiences will drive programmatic native spend, reaching $24 million by years end, compared to 13.24 billion in 2016 – eMarketer

In 2018 native digital display ads will make up more than half of all digital display ad spending in the United States. This stems from both publisher and advertiser demands. Publishers are pursuing higher value and more mobile friendly content while advertisers are interested in more engaging, less intrusive ads.  This is a trend that programmatic media buyers need to pay attention to as it will be front and center in 2018 media plans. With the advances of machine learning and AI native advertising will become even smarter and which will likely increase the already enticing engagement metrics. Also, it is easier for publishers to guarantee a viewable and fraud free experience providing brands with a more reassuring level of transparency.

Native Gained Popularity Through Social Media Platforms

Native advertising has gained traction through social media platforms, the trend having started with Facebook. In 2017, 84.2% of native display ads appeared on social platforms, which resulted in a $18.59 billion spend. Because most people consume social media on their phones, the focus native advertising development is equally been mobile heavy.  In 2017, $19.5 billion was spent on native mobile display which encompasses 88.3% of all native advertising, and the share is only growing. However, the social platform trend is slowly shifting as other publishers outside the social platform walled gardens are incorporating in-feed ads and videos allowing media buyers to scale their native programmatic ad buys, especially for those brands who are seeking higher rates of engagement. In the coming months, it is projected that more non-social publishers will quickly move to accommodate native programmatic ad buying.

As non-social sites incorporate programmatic native ads, social platforms continue to incorporate these ads to accommodate demand from both publishers and advertisers for this advertising format, and we predict that the trend will be that in 2018 native programmatic advertising will continue to take share away from display ads. The numbers back up this trend. It is estimated that the total ad spend will reach $24 billion which will make up more than 50% of all display ad spending in the United States.

Read about the other nine trends that we are predicting will be the key to success for programmatic buying teams in 2018 here.

If you haven’t already, there is no time like 2018 to get on the programmatic bandwagon.  If you need to get started Digilant University has all the information you need to get up to speed on native advertising and more than 30 other topics.  Need more information, you can also reach out to us here.

2018 Programmatic Media Buying Trends: Video Takes 1st Place in Growth Opportunity

In 2017, advertisers spent more on video ads than banner ads for the first time. In the first half of 2017, advertisers spent $921 million on video ads which topped the $903 million spent on banner ads. This is in large part due to how many people are watching videos online. In a recent report, Cisco suggests that by 2019, 80% of all consumer traffic will be video. On mobile devices, 70% of the advertising traffic will be video ads. This yields a 14-times growth within the next five years. Advertisers and programmatic media buyers have a great opportunity to embrace this change, to make content that resonates with consumers and include video in more of their media plans.

Video display ads are expected to be the second leading highest spend platform in 2018 and in 2019 (source: eMarketer).

It isn’t just the growth in video consumption that is propelling a large spend on this ad format, there are also great opportunities for return on investment. Amazon, who owns one of the larger DSPs in the programmatic space, says that including a video ad increases the propensity to buy by up to 35%. Although video ads naturally cost more to produce, they are more engaging for consumers thus making them more effective. Advertisers need to ensure that they are still creating quality content, rather than a 15 second pre-roll TV ad.

Video is Winning the Attention Battle with Consumers


Consumers are now pre-programmed to ignore banner ads, so media buys need to make sure that this doesn’t happen with video advertising as well. Consumers are already watching videos, so if videos ads are interesting, they will remain hooked. As of now, video ads have the highest click-through rates of all digital ad formats at 1.84% which in large part is due to video trends yielding more brand engagement as opposed to direct-response, “buy this product” ads. Advertisers benefit because video ads offer live and very granular insights instead of static panel insights offered by other ad formats. There are many advantages for both consumers and advertisers that this ad format will continue to offer, as long as advertisers do not abuse it.

A Shift Towards a Video-First Strategy

The opportunity for revenue in video for publishers and advertisers is equally appealing and both are embracing video advertising as a dominant format.  Consumers have grown accustomed to the pre-roll and post-roll ads that appear when watching a video. But mid-roll, outstream and social in-feed ads are on the rise, now accounting for more than half of video spend ($478 million). Advertisers will need to proceed with caution with this ad format. Consumers do not like having their content disrupted and if this platform is abused, more people will start to use ad-blockers, thus making the ads irrelevant.
If advertisers and marketers stick to making quality, non-intrusive, creative video ads, consumers will begin to adapt pre, mid or post-roll ads as a ‘native’ format and part of their online video watching. This will allow programmatic media buyers to continue to see success with their video campaigns by both engaging consumers with brands and creating an overall return on investment.

Read about the other nine trends that we are predicting will be the key to success for programmatic buying teams in 2018 here.

If you haven’t already, there is no time like 2018 to get on the programmatic bandwagon.  If you need to get started Digilant University has all the information you need to get up to speed and get going.  Need more information, you can also reach out to us here.

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