How Advertisers Combat the "Skip Ad" Button

In mid-August, Netflix announced that they are going to start testing running advertisements between episodes – or as they referred to them, “recommendations… [to help] members discover stories they will enjoy faster.” And no surprise, subscribers are not impressed with the concept and has  caused significant backlash. Netflix, until now, had set themselves apart from their competitors such as Hulu, Amazon Prime and YouTube, because their platform was completely ad free. So, even if Netflix’s intentions behind implementing these “suggestions” are actually meant to improve user experience – it brings up the age old  question of why viewers are so opposed to ads? What lengths they will go to to avoid watching ads? And most importantly, how do marketers and digital advertisers keep our users engaged and interested enough so that they don’t feel the urge to push the “skip ad” button.

CNBC covered a study written by IPG stating that 65% of viewers will push the skip ad button as soon as it becomes an available option. But even more interesting is that, 76% of those people were also reported to do so out of habit, “[as] an ingrained behavior.” It is clear that viewers are so accustomed to ads, because they experience them in video, on social media, and listening to music on a daily basis, that they have become wired to skip them. For digital advertisers this is an opportunity to improve the experience enough so that audiences feel both engaged and interested in the content being offered to them, rather than annoyed.

Make it Engaging

Advertisers need to tell a good story in the language that addresses their audience. Advertising can’t just focus on pushing features and functionality, but rather engage with the viewer in order to tell them who their brand is and why they should pay attention.This doesn’t need to be complex or lengthly, but actually the shorter the better, since the average viewer only watches the first 5.5 seconds of a 15 second pre-roll ad. Advertisers have to pack a lot into those couple of seconds, needing to effectively tell their story in an engaging way that keeps the audience’s’ attention and encourages them to interact with their brand.  
To encourage viewers from skipping ads on YouTube, NBC showed cute images with messages that read, ““Only a monster would skip a video of a bunny in a bucket…Enjoy a moment of goodness, and maybe, just maybe, you will end up in the good place” to promote Season 3 of their hit-sitcom, “The Good Place.” Viewers that didn’t skip over the ad were rewarded with a sneak peak of Season 3. This successful storytelling technique not only promoted users not to skip the ad, but to actually engage with the content being presented.

Make it Relevant

eMarketer projects that by 2020, video ad spending will reach $19.81 billion. With mass amounts marketing dollars going toward this platform, advertisers need to ensure they are targeting the right audience. With the growing capabilities of programmatic video, the ability to contextually target a person with the appropriate message, timing and content is in now possible. Brands who use a combined DMP and DSP for their programmatic video buys have the ability to learn about their users in an efficient way so that they can deliver ads with content that they will not want to ‘skip’ in the right context of the video content being consumed.
Programmatic media buyers also have the option of using Dynamic Creative Optimization technology (DCO) which enables them to create and test different creative options, automatically and simultaneously, and identify which ad gets the best consumer engagement. Tactics like this, that enable advertisers to match individual consumers specific interests, exemplify why 60% of video ad spend money is going toward programmatic video, with that number only estimated to grow in the coming years.

Online video advertising is rapidly dominating the advertising atmosphere. However, today it’s not enough to create a one size fits all ad creative, if brands want to combat  ‘the skip button,’ otherwise their dollars spent on this tactic, will be wasted. Viewers are less likely to skip an ad with a unique and interesting story, even more so, if the story interests them personally. Programmatic video advertising combined with user data and great creative offers a huge opportunity for advertisers to keep audiences less inclined to dislike advertising enough to skip it all together. If you are interested in learning more or talking about how to improve your video strategy, reach out to us here.

Marketers on the Move – Summer at Digilant

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. Looking back, at Digilant, we’ve been quite busy. For the marketing team it’s been a summer for making moves. Both our lead generation specialist, Mitchell Carey, and content marketing specialist, Sierra Ducey,  found themselves hopping coasts and continents. A nimble and global team, Sierra the San Diegan transitioned from going to school and interning at Digilant to permanently relocating to Boston and working as a full time employee, while lifelong Bostonian Mitchell, packed his bags to work on a project in Barcelona. We caught up with these programmatic marketers to see how their summers have panned out.

Barcelona – Mitchell Carey

This summer has definitely been full of unexpected but very welcome surprises – one in particular that I’ll never forget. After working here at Digilant in Boston for a little over a year, my supervisor, Digilant’s VP of Marketing, Karen Moked, brought up a project in the Iberoamerican market that one of our colleagues in Barcelona might appreciate some assistance with. Initially, I was under the impression that getting involved in the project would require working on some brand positioning from the comfort of our new office. However, shortly after the project was mentioned, Karen asked if I’d be willing to temporarily relocate to Barcelona.
For a bit of background, Digilant forms part of ispDigital, a holding group founded by the Rodés family through their family office, Inversiones y Servicios Publicitarios (ISP). Barcelona is home to ISP’s headquarters. After what were two very interesting months, I’m back and ready to go full speed ahead with our team here in the U.S.

World Cup viewing party at the Barcelona office

While in Barcelona I observed a number of unique differences in the market that influenced digital advertising throughout the summer. From a more engaged World Cup public, greater emphasis on multicultural marketing as advertisers targeted various regional, national, and international audiences all found in one city, and the very high precedence that GDPR compliance took for brands within the EU, I learned that just like any campaign, the Spanish market applies its own custom solutions to run programmatic. All of these characteristics of the Spanish market have a direct impact on how Digilant analyzes, manipulates, and activates data to create effective digital marketing strategies for our clients in Europe.

Another very interesting experience during my time abroad was getting to know Acceso, a media and consumer intelligence consultancy and fellow ispDigital company. I happened to arrive just before the AMEC (Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) Global Summit, one of the largest digital communications industry events of the year that Acceso participated in as the headline sponsor. The three day conference was chock-full of workshops, networking sessions, panels, and lively discussion on all things measurement, including PR KPIs, AI & blockchain’s role in communication, data analytics, and more.
Back in Beantown, I’m happy to be reunited with all of my friends, family, and the Digilant U.S. team, but am excited to stay in touch with the colleagues I’ve met abroad and continue to learn more about programmatic and digital advertising from across the pond.

Boston – Sierra Ducey

View from the new Boston office

At the Boston office, we began our summer with a big office move – well really, just down the hall. But, with a more open layout and great views of the Financial District, we have quickly fallen in love with our new space (and we’re still able to hit all of our favorite lunch spots!).
In the midst of the move, we hosted a great Dinner Panel that covered all things Blockchain. With attendees from a variety of companies all over New England, our speakers, Dave Balter, Partner at Flipside Crypto, Isaac Lidsky, President at Underscore CLT and Erich Wasserman, CoFounder of MediaMath shared their thoughts and predictions on how blockchain will affect advertisers, publishers and everyday people. After an insightful conversation and delicious dinner, we were surprised with a great fireworks show over the Boston Harbor. It was quite the way to kick off the summer!

World Cup viewing party at the Boston office

Personally, I’ve had a blast working on some of my own projects. These projects have really advanced my understanding of marketing and programmatic – learning tactics and practices that aren’t touched on very thoroughly in school. In May, Digilant launched a programmatic campaign for our company. Going through the process of creating content, finding the right segments and watching the campaign through gave me great insight into Digilant’s business practices. We have also been revamping out direct mail campaigns, a strategy that was not focused on in my classes, but that I believe is a very effective use of time and resources. In school, there is so much focus on digital trends and taking advantage of technology, so this was my first real exposure to mail campaigns, a great way of getting back to the roots of marketing. There’s no denying, everyone loves receiving packages so coming up with fun ideas to get potential client’s attention has been a fun challenge for me.

To finish out the summer, we welcomed Mitchell back from his summer travels at our Office Summer Luau Party. In the coming weeks, as I officially transition from college student to full-time employee continues, I’m excited to learn more and challenge myself in the world of programmatic marketing.

Summer may be winding down, but as fall approaches, marketers and advertisers need to be prepared for their media buying to ramp up. Looking to get in touch with a team of dedicated programmatic experts to plan your next digital media buying campaign? Check out our customized media buying solutions.

Post-GDPR, are data clean rooms the answer to accessing walled gardens?

As of May 25, 2018, Google announced that DoubleClick users will be unable to rely on cookies or mobile device IDs to connect impressions, clicks and site activities from DoubleClick logs. Instead, they will be limited to Google’s own Ads Data Hub for those metrics.

For some, this means that they are satisfied to stay within the Google stack. But not every brand’s solution will be and should be limited to Google. If media buyers want to analyze their spend outside of Google’s platform and offer up any attribution, then just using Google won’t work.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Why DSPs & DMPs work better together?

Data-driven advertising has been proven to deliver the most effective way of managing an advertiser’s spend as well as the most efficient way to monetize a seller’s digital assets.
The effectiveness of data-driven decisions –planning, selling, buying– make it necessary for both sellers and buyers to take as much control of their data as possible, and for this reason Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are a key technology for media buyers, publishers and marketers. A good DMP should not only be able to collect data from different sources, but also allow for the creation of audiences/ segmentation, consolidated reporting and campaign optimization – the place where people, platforms, partners and processes are brought together to apply audience data that is actionable. For all those marketers, media buyers and advertisers running programmatic advertising the DMP should be the source of truth for activation and analysis purposes.

What Can A DMP Offer?

Web and mobile experiences, speed of ad delivery, relevant ads and smooth and uncluttered paths to purchase have all contributed to the expectation of today’s consumers.  A good versus bad experience will make or break a retailer. The DMP enables advertisers and brands to craft and deliver personalized communications and offers to existing customers, while simultaneously reaching new customers (identified and informed by existing customer data) through digital advertising making sure the experience is seamless and relevant.

So what do advertisers look for when purchasing a DMP? According to John Lockmer, Director of Programmatic and Ad Operations for DuMont Project there are two main factors he considers when shopping for a DMP:

  1. How the platform will connect to his firm’s ad tech stack?
  2. How much it will cost to use?

With costs ranging from a minimum of $15,000 per month for basic usage to up to $500,000 for a license to manage up to 50 million users, advertisers are looking for alternatives which includes an integrated DSP (Demand Side Platform) and DMP solution.

“It makes it easier for us to work with them, as it does not require a yearly contract and commitment like [standalone] DMPs,” Lockmer said.


Tight integrations between a DMP and DSP hold a number of advantages for programmatic media buyers:

  • More efficient media activations – which means you can message your known audiences and address them with the right message
  • Advertising Efficiency – when there are clear signs that a user is no longer interested or have already bought your product, you can stop advertising to them
  • You can diversify your data to include first, second and third party sources for maximum advertising impact
  • Better understanding of the impact of your media buys across all online channels with more accurate and robust analytics
  • NO data leakage
  • If you work with Digilant, there is little or no added cost to activating the DMP

In order to execute a data driven programmatic media buy on a DMP, it’s also important to understand the different types of data available to today’s digital advertisers.

First Party Data

Advertisers have numerous potential first party data assets that they already own: CRM, Point of sale (POs), website, search, digital marketing and offline (point of sale, shopper visits, etc) marketing data. This data is frequently referred to as first party
data. The most important evolution for media buyers in first party data is the ability to activate it for programmatic campaigns, in addition to using the data only for email marketing or direct mail campaigns.  An necessary part of using first party data for programmatic is taking out any Personally Identifiable Information, know as PII, by using on-boarding service providers like LiveRamp – used to translate offline or email data signals to a digital user ID, so that DSPs can now translate different kinds of data for programmatic media campaigns.

Second Party Data

Second party data is acquired through exclusive relationships with data providers who do not sell their data in the open market. A DSP platform can help strike a deal with a data provider to enrich an advertiser’s first party data or directly activate second party data. DSPs are in a unique position to provide data intelligence to help advertisers make that data actionable. The DSP data intelligence comes from developing data science models from previous advertising campaigns that can be applied to enrich advertiser data and their campaigns.

Third Party Data

Data Management Platforms (DMPs), collect audience content consumption anonymously through access to publisher sites and sell the information as 3rd party data to advertisers. For sellers, the data that DMPs help collect is leveraged by sell side platforms (SSPs) to understand the value of their content and properties to increase monetization. For buyers, DMPs provide paid access to audience data from many publishers to which they otherwise not have access. DMP platforms that perform this data collection and distribution (“data exchange”) pay a small fee to sellers to be able to collect data and make it available for media buying platforms.
For example, BlueKai, acquired by Oracle, is one such DMP platform, the idea was to be able to monetize the data collected on both sides (sellers and Buyers), making it necessary for it to be anonymous, impartial and independent. This type of data is frequently termed third party data (3P). All DSPs have access to the same third party data for a price. But, additional layers in the media technology stack have implications. One, there is an additional fee to advertisers; and two, there is data loss as the audience universe do not exactly match between platforms. Since these different types of data are housed in different areas, a gap between first party data and third party data has been created for marketers and media buying platforms. these two data sets live in two different companies, in different technology solutions, and in different formats.

DSPs and DMPs Work Better Together

How can we bridge this gap? Digilant’s solution lies in its integrated DMP and DSP that bridges data management and media activation.  With all the effort, platforms, people and cost involved in executing data driven programmatic advertising, advertisers need to understand that the recipe for success is not pre-packaged, the right combined DMP and DSP will can help them achieve the right ingredients to create the right programmatic buying strategy that leads to campaigns that scale and perform.

PR Agencies Turning Toward Programmatic

PR agencies, traditionally, have the primary goal of gaining earned press, media or attention. As Forbe’s Robert Wynne stated, they don’t buy ads or create catchy slogans, but rather they “promote companies or individuals via editorial coverage,” otherwise known as earned media. As people use social media everyday, PR agencies rely on this platform as a means of gaining earned media. It is an easy way to organically reach thousands, if not millions of people while also maintaining brand image. Politics is an area that has seen great results from combining PR and social media. Political figures post their campaign commercials on social media, rather than paying for a TV spot and interact with voters firsthand on Twitter and Facebook. Even more effective, if a problem or scandal arises, they can take to social media to release a statement, directly reaching people. Social media platforms are a great tool for PR agencies to promote brands and people – but it is much easier for those who already have a significant following. For companies with smaller following, social platforms are becoming a tricky maneuver and pose different challenges that PR agencies are working to address.

Back in 2011, when social platforms changed their algorithm, the ability to rely on organic reach lessened. This was extremely problematic for PR agencies due to a market that is overly-flooded with media and news. PR agencies have continued to struggle to gain and maintain attention on behalf of their clients. As a solution, some agencies are looking to expand their services by including programmatic media buying as something they can offer to extend reach, especially when it comes to areas of interest like politics.

Less Focus on Awareness and More on Conversion

Marketing budgets are becoming more about ROI and attribution. Companies are less inclined to put their marketing dollars toward awareness, but focus more on conversion. They no longer just want customers to know about them, they want them to act on this awareness. Adding to this challenge, the constant influx of online content, makes it very difficult for articles and coverage to stay at the top of newsfeeds and searches. It is reported that nearly 2 million articles are posted online everyday. PR agencies are rising to this challenge and combining their standard PR strategies with programmatic media buys which include platforms like Facebook, which played a huge role in the last political elections.

PR is quickly evolving, companies like Cision are going beyond just distribution, moving data and analytics to the forefront. Reaching customers on social platforms, due to the high-paced change in newsfeed and content, is a real necessity for companies. As reported by Adexchanger, “…targeting a brand’s audience on social with a coupon or offer can drive customers back to the site, where a pixel tracks and learns more about them so they can be targeted with earned media in the future.” This tactic has two benefits. First, it drives the consumer directly to the website, putting them face-to-face with the brand and in an optimal position to make a purchase. Second, and most important to PR agencies, they are able to learn about the customer, how to better target them and what they most positively connect with. This in turn helps them determine the best content and placement of earned media to ensure its reaches the proper audience.  

The adoption of programmatic as a tool by PR agencies is still at the beginning stages. However, in the years to come, they will need to have programmatic media buying in their wheelhouse to get the reach and attention they need to maintain their clients and budgets. To stay current on Digital Media Strategies PR agencies are reaching out to programmatic buying companies and partnering with them. PR agencies understand the earned space, but savvy marketers want the best of all worlds which is the combination of paid, owned and earned media. Combining these marketing channels not only produces better ROI for companies, but more insights about customers and how to best reach them in the future.

Programmatic – It’s not just for media buyers. What the rest of us need to know?

The following article by Raquel Rosenthal was originally published by Digital Content Next.

It’s a message we’ve been hearing percolate through the industry now for years: programmatic is the future of advertising. Brands, in search of more control over their media buying activity, have embraced technology-based approaches that promise efficiency, precision, flexibility, and superior ROI. Warts and all — and there are plenty, ranging from flat-out false value propositions to rampant fraud and monopolistic marketplace control by actor behaving badly — programmatic is here to stay.

Media planners and buyers have arrived at this conclusion, however begrudgingly. But other participants in the advertising ecosystem — designers, copywriters, developers, and publishers — are wading into programmatic territory in earnest now as well. Here’s what they need to know about programmatic.

Audiences Increasingly Rely on Programmatic-Driven Experiences

Digital users — across desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones — increasingly expect tailored experiences, from both independent and sponsored content. And the most the efficient way to deliver custom experiences is via programmatic platforms.
For progressive advertising professionals, this is a welcomed opportunity (more on that later). Technology companies and developers benefit from this market evolution via an increased need for their solutions and services. Publishers, however, don’t have much of a choice in this regard. In order to encourage engagement, and minimize the deployment of inhibitive tools such as ad blockers, user experience must be a paramount consideration. Content providers that deliver optimal UX — which includes unobtrusive but effective advertising, such as native tactics — will win in the long run.

Dynamic Ad Creative Is a Genuine Game-Changer

One of the underlying historical maxims of the ad business has been its aim to distribute messages “to the right person, at the right time, at the right cost.” Though this has typically been more aspirational than realistic (and a regular source of frustration for creative professionals in particular) technology-enabled advertising does genuinely provide the opportunity for more specific customization.

To be sure, as a broader umbrella category, “digital marketing” was a step in the right direction on the road to customization (and what will eventually be widespread “personalization”). But due to a combination of hypergrowth conditions and the lack of internal structures to accommodate customization, the industry as a whole has lagged in this regard. As a recent BCG analysis explains, “Within both agencies and publishers, organizational silos with little cross-functional interaction lead to excessive work and rework, including costly handovers, long wait times, and fragmented decision making.”

Programmatic seems poised to serve as the bridge to genuine, industry-wide progress on the customization front. In a few short years, most campaigns will adjust art and messaging to accommodate fluid factors such as time of day, geography, demographics, user interests and behaviors, and the like. This will almost certainly improve campaign performance. It will also impact the underlying cost structure of campaign delivery. This will require more creative labor, for example, so the net ROI effect remains to be seen.

The Programmatic Train Has Left The Station

Like “digital” before it, programmatic will likely lose its specific designation over the next decade, and morph into a marketing channel line item or equivalent. But until it does, it will continue to be popular fodder for industry publications and conferences. And not without good reason. Most estimates peg the U.S. programmatic marketplace in the tens of billions of dollars annually, and growing in the double-digit range. eMarketer sizes the market at $46 billion in 2018, and comprising more than 80% of the entire digital display category, and a major factor in mobile advertising.

That said, in spite of its formidable size and growth forecast, all is not well in the programmatic category, and brands, publishers, and vendors alike are scrambling to address problems related to the big three challenges: fraud, transparency, and viewability. To wit, also according to eMarketer analysis: programmatic growth through 2020 will be driven by “private setups, such as private marketplaces (PMPs) and programmatic direct transactions, as buyers continue to be wary of the open markets’ transparency and quality issues”. [Disclosure: DCN is involved in one such marketplaceTrustX.]

It’s both an exciting and terrifying time to be part of the advertising business. Brand, publishers, and agencies alike are scrambling to navigate the constantly shifting terrain that’s characterized by tens of thousands of vendors competing for share and voice. Programmatic is one of the driving forces of disruption and upheaval in our industry today, and will play a big role in shaping the industry for years to come.

About the author

Raquel Rosenthal is the Chief Executive Officer of Digilant US, a programmatic marketing company headquartered in Boston. A digital industry veteran, she’s held various senior positions at Digilant, DataXu, AudienceScience, and DoubleClick. Raquel splits time between Dallas and New York City, and holds a B.S. from Ithaca College.

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