Three Signs That You Are Ready to Bring Programmatic Media Buying In-house

Today’s CMO and marketing teams are tasked with getting more value out of their advertising spend, which means they have to use their resources wisely.  The motivation for companies to move their programmatic spend in-house is tied to value but also to needing better ROI attribution, improved audience targeting and overall campaign effectiveness.  But even though the motivations behind insourcing programmatic spend are justified, not all brands have all the tools and people in place to complete the transition to a complete in-house operation.  
So if you are a CMO or your CMO asks you to start thinking about bringing your programmatic media spend in-house, how do you know that you are ready?  What are the things that you need to think about? There are three signs that you are indeed ready for the transition to an in-house programmatic media buying team.

  1. You’ve managed either Google Adwords, Facebook Ads or worked within a Marketing Automation platform, before venturing into programmatic.

With the evolution of automation technology there has also been progress made in platform interfaces.  Media buyers that are already advertising on social or have some experience working with search campaigns, will quickly find that programmatic platforms have familiar feeling features.  For many of the DSP platforms, like MediaMath, campaign set-up is easier than it has even been, with many aspects of running and optimizing programmatic that has been automated using the latest AI technologies.

  1. You are determined to own every part of your company’s media budget as well data and analytics, rather than have it be a black box.  You want to negotiate your own contract and terms with vendors and not have those contracts owned by your agency or media partner.

Programmatic advertising has become the lion’s share of digital advertising spend over the last four years. Especially for US digital display ad buyers and sellers, programmatic is now the standard.  According to eMarketer, 78% of US digital display ad dollars will have been bought programmatically in 2018 and the prediction for 2019 is that share of ad spend will increase to 83%.  So having programmatic as a skill in-house is something that CMOs are taking more seriously, especially those who have significant budgets and want to fully own every aspect of their campaigns. 

Brands that are taking on direct relationships with DSPs are finding out that they need multiple platforms to execute omni-channel programmatic media buys.  This means that not only do companies need to think about hiring teams to manage campaigns but they also need staff to manage these new partnerships and find ways to gain the most value out of every platform under contract.

The goal for marketers and media buyers is that with direct access to their programmatic media, they will be able to keep track of their campaigns in real-time, make adjustments on the fly, such as creative changes, targeting optimizations, budget and bid adjustments.  This not only saves on time but also on cost, as everything will be completely transparent to the organization.

  1. You are ready to have multiple people at your company that will be dedicated to keeping up to date on the knowledge, expertise and platforms that are part of the programmatic ecosystem.

Although there has been a lot of progress in the user experience of marketing automation platforms and especially in the media buying category, there is still a ton to learn and to maneuver if you want to fully own programmatic in-house. Even if the plan is to go all-in, programmatic advertising is not a plug and play situation, and brands should give themselves time to get fully up and running. There needs to be significant buy-in from the C-Suite to justify changes in the team structures and the new organization needed to in-house functions that were previously performed by an exterior resource.  

The questions that marketing executives need to asked range from:

  • Do we have talent in-house that we can move to these new roles?
  • Is our office in a location that would attract the right talent if we need to hire?
  • Do we have enough funds in the budget for the required salaries?
  • What is the transition schedule between in house staff and the external resource (agency/ media partner)?

If you already own your data strategy and have access to a CRM and/ or a DMP you are off to a good start in the transition process.  But if you don’t have all the talent trained right from the start or have the relationships in place to get in front of the right platforms then you have options.  There are programmatic services companies like Digilant that can be both partner and consultant to help transition and train your programmatic media buying team to be fully self-sufficient.  So while you are learning how to be hands on keyboard but are not quite ready to push all the buttons, the ideal situation is to have someone else who can own the media execution piece, until you have a full team ready to go.  

In-housing is a long term strategy that requires a plan, people and time.  Even if you are ready it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything in one shot.  Successful companies take a year to two years to be fully up and running with the results they would expect from having less partners and more control over their spends.

2019 Programmatic Media Buying Trends

64% of people that took Forrester’s ‘In-House Agency Forum’ survey said that they used in-house agencies in 2018, an increase of 52% from a decade ago. While in-housing is a trend that we are going to see more of, not all functions are going to in-house teams, brands are opting to use programmatic consulting services for specialized programmatic capabilities as well as the transition from agency to in-house.

Digilant has identified ten programmatic trends that will impact 2019.  To read them all you can view our infographic here.

Digilant Releases New Infographic: 2019 Top Ten Trends for Programmatic Advertising

Visual Guide for 2019 Digital Media Planning

 
Boston, January 31, 2019 —-  Today, Digilant – a programmatic media buying services company – released a Top Programmatic Media Buying Trends of 2019  infographic. The exhibit outlines everything media buyers need to consider when planning media budgets for the year.

In this infographic, Digilant has summarized all of the most important digital advertising trends for 2019 — including voice marketing, shoppable ads and programmatic in-housing — into one easy-to-read page. With the constant evolution of technology in the advertising and media world, it is more critical than ever for advertisers to be aware of current trends, and more importantly, the tactical nuances that will require adaptation in the coming months.  With that backdrop in mind, Digilant’s infographic aims to help media buyers grasp the most important developments in programmatic advertising.

Key 2019 Trends

Today’s consumers are spending more time than ever on personal devices and are invested in their voice assistants, which have quickly become an integral part of our everyday lives. “The voice technology category is evolving rapidly and will affect the digital marketing landscape in a similar way that mobile devices and smartphones did a decade ago—except maybe faster and more pervasively,” says Raquel Rosenthal, CEO of Digilant, global digital media company.

While voice technology is forecast to have a breakout year in 2019, it is just one of ten key trends that Digilant identified in an effort keep clients and partners informed about marketplace developments and be successful in the coming year and beyond.  As a leading programmatic marketing company, Digilant is constantly assessing the media marketplace to understand threats and opportunities, and take advantage of new channels, formats, and categories.

Voice, Digital Out of Home (OOH), Audio and programmatic TV are just of few of the trends included in our analysis.  The top ten programmatic media buying trends for 2019 include:

  1. Prepare to embrace Voice Marketing as a new channel: Over 56 million smart speakers were shipped in 2018.
  2. Programmatic TV is seriously on the rise: eMarketer predicts U.S. advertisers will buy $3.8 billion in programmatic TV ads in 2019.
  3. Advertisers get serious about audio advertising: US people devote an average of 3.6 hours to their mobile device very day and 52 minutes of that is audio.
  4. Shoppable ads are taking off: Snapchatters are 20% more likely to make purchases on a mobile device after engaging with an ad.
  5. Digital Out of Home (DOOH) goes programmatic: 48% of consumers are more willing to click on a banner after being exposed to an DOOH ad.
  6. Media Buyers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for media optimization: 4 in 10 advertisers are using AI for better audience segmentation and media spend optimization.
  7. Agencies are consolidating their media and DSP partners: Less platforms cuts down on the ad tech tax.
  8. Showing fees is a growing imperative for ad buyers: Agencies are pushing for more transparent relationships.
  9. CMOs want programmatic as a skill in-house: 78% of U.S. digital display ad dollars were bought programmatically in 2018, which is predicted to grow in 2019.
  10. More brands will be bringing their media in-house vs. 2018: 64% of people that took Forrester’s ‘In-House Agency Forum” survey said that they used in-house agencies in 2019.

The digital landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace – marketers of every type are racing to keep up with the latest trends in digital technology. Many trust focused media buying expert to ferret out opportunities, and guard against aggressive upstarts. Digilant’s infographic gives digital advertisers the information they need to help make 2019 a success.

Download the full infographic here.
 
About Digilant
 
Digilant is a programmatic buying company, designed for both agencies and brands. We connect people and technology to create a perfect blend of strategy, insight and efficiency that will elevate any marketing team to find massive success. We also support advertisers who are moving towards programmatic self-sufficiency by aligning with and training them on the right set of programmatic platforms and technologies.

Using MAIA – Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics – the harmonious combination of machine power and human expertise behind all things DIGILANT, we intelligently navigate massive data sets. MAIA enables marketers to use data as a currency to generate more efficient media buys, make better informed decisions, optimize and drive performance across all digital channels and campaigns.

Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company.  For more information, visit us at www.digilant.com, read our blog or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.

Super Bowl 2019: Digilant Releases Infographic

Advertising and Shopping Behavior Stats for Digital Media Buyers

 
Boston – January 23, 2019 — Today, Digilant – a programmatic media buying services company – released a Super Bowl 2019 infographic for digital media buyers that includes consumer behavior trends, data related to viewing preferences, social media actions and shopping behavior.  Regarded as the advertising opportunity of the year, the Super Bowl has become a one of kind opportunity for advertisers. Most brand marketers can’t afford the mid-game TV spots, but that doesn’t mean that they should miss out on the opportunity to get in front of potential customers.  Digilant’s infographic is meant to inspire media budget holders to make informed decisions on how, where and when to buy digital and programmatic advertising before, during and after the 2019 Super Bowl.

In 2018, over 188 million people tuned in to watch the Eagles and Patriots play. Since the Super Bowl first started 51 years ago, it has grown far beyond just your average football game. The unofficial national holiday includes music, lots and lots of food, what has become an internationally famous halftime concert (after the wardrobe incident that went viral), and what some might regard as the most important and most iconic television advertisements of the year. Advertisers prepare all year for their 30-60 second spot during the game – and rightly so with a price point starting at $5 million. But for people with smaller marketing budgets, there are also great opportunities to align your advertising efforts around the live event. Digilant’s 2019 Super Bowl infographic outlines all the most important statistics surrounding the game to help media buyers and advertisers prepare for February 3rd.

Highlights from Digilant’s 2019 Super Bowl Infographic:

  • 5 million people watched the 2018 Super Bowl, making it the most watched television event of the year.
  • Advertisements become more memorable and elaborate each year. Companies have also started releasing the ads prior to the game. Gillette released their Superbowl ad last week and it has already been viewed nearly 20 million times on Youtube. The impact of these ads on the viewer not only influences their purchasing decisions but also starts a mass-media conversation.
  • In 2018, there were more than 170 million social media interactions related to the game across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • The average American will spend $81.17 on the Super Bowl in 2019 – this includes food, beverages, decorations and some consumers will even buy a new TV for the big game.

To download the complete infographic click here.

How does all of this information apply to media buyers and advertisers?

 Media buyers and advertisers are very accustomed with staying up to date on the US calendar of holidays and pop culture events, so that they can appropriately time the release of advertisements and product offerings. From Christmas to the Fourth of July and even less official celebrations such as Mardi Gras and seasonal changes, media buyers prepare their budgets and creative releases accordingly.

According to Karen Moked, Vice President of Marketing at Digilant, “the Super Bowl is unique in how it sets the stage for real-time, building brand moments for advertisers. Because it is a live event, there are moments that go viral every year, creating once in a lifetime opportunities that can only be had during a live broadcast. From the blackout of 2013 to “Left Shark” in 2015, advertisers and media buyers took to social media, releasing timely content that achieved immediate consumer interest.” It is important for marketers to stay alert during the Super Bowl, taking advantage of any opportunities to join in on event inspired fan conversations.

The average American will spend nearly $100 on the game, so brands need to ensure their ads get in front of viewers at least a week before the game. Even if you aren’t in a category that offers products directly related to the game, advertisers can still jump in on the conversation. The few days before the game, consumers are planning and preparing for the game, so content should be relevant. The Super Bowl isn’t just another football game that you can overlook, but rather a great opportunity to use your media spend to gain consumer interest.

Download Complete Infographic HERE

Learn more about who’s watching in Part 1 of our series The 2019 Superbowl: What Media Buyers Need to Know to Prepare for the Big Game. Check it out here.
 
About Digilant

Digilant is a programmatic buying company, designed for both agencies and brands. We connect people and technology to create a perfect blend of strategy, insight and efficiency that will elevate any marketing team to find massive success. We also support advertisers who are moving towards programmatic self-sufficiency by aligning with and training them on the right set of programmatic platforms and technologies.

Using MAIA – Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics – the harmonious combination of machine power and human expertise behind all things DIGILANT, we intelligently navigate massive data sets. MAIA enables marketers to use data as a currency to generate more efficient media buys, make better-informed decisions, optimize and drive performance across all digital channels and campaigns.

Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company.  For more information, visit us at www.digilant.com, read our blog or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.

Digilant Announces MAIA: Programmatic Power With Human Insights

Marketing, Artificial Intelligence & Analytics for the Modern Marketer

Boston — December 18, 2018 Today, Digilant — a programmatic media buying services company — introduced MAIA: Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics. This straightforward yet powerful infrastructure will be used to power DIGILANT and offers advertisers the harmonious combination of programmatic power and human derived insights, in one easy-to-use solution.  
According to a recent report by Forrester, no one DSP or ad-tech platform exists that addresses the full range of omni-channel buying needs. As a result, marketers are forced to stitch together a patchwork of disparate platforms, inventory and data sources to address their requirements — and then rely on these programs built on wobbly infrastructure to measure, analyze and predict consumer behavior.

“The existing set of online advertising solutions is conceptually inadequate for what marketers need to be successful in 2019 and beyond”, says Raquel Rosenthal, CEO of Digilant. “This year we made it a priority to address this gaping hole in the digital advertising solutions landscape, and we think we nailed it with MAIA.”

Never before have marketers been forced to be so adept across so many channels, or has it been such an ongoing challenge to serve up “the right ads, to the right audience, at the right time and cost”. With dozens and sometimes hundreds of dynamic digital channels to manage on even a single campaign, media buyers find themselves at the mercy of systems and software that are often either disconnected altogether, have loose and unreliable connections, or report on questionable metrics. The result is advertisers exposed to potential overspending, fraud and brand safety concerns.

Enter MAIA – Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics for the modern marketer.

According to eMarketer, 73% of U.S. marketing professionals find it difficult to get quality reporting and insights from their data sources. And in our experience at Digilant, the crux of the problem is a combination of an over-reliance on technology and not enough involvement of insightful and experienced digital advertising professionals.

This is the issue MAIA addresses head-on. Unlike existing marketplace solutions, MAIA brings people and technology together, creating the perfect blend of strategy, insight and efficiency that helps drive marketing teams to successful outcomes. MAIA intelligently makes sense of massive data sets, and with the constant support and guidance from the Digilant operations and analytics teams, leads advertisers to more efficient media buys, better decision-making, and media optimization across multiple channels — resulting in superior ROAS and overall performance.

MAIA Combines Best-of-Breed Technology + Talent

With the introduction of MAIA, Digilant is now able to offer Digital Advertising Solutions for agencies and brands that blends both human expertise and curated technology to generate intelligent insights activated through cross-channel campaigns.

“I’ve been in the Internet advertising industry for more than 20 years,” says Digilant CEO Raquel Rosenthal, “and I can tell you that MAIA solves the single biggest challenge that media buyers face today, and that’s multichannel management and optimization. There’s nothing in the marketplace that comes close to the features and functionality of MAIA.”

MAIA’s infrastructure was built to combat the future complexities of the advertising industry and allows marketers to effectively use billions of collected and analyzed data points. This data is sourced from over 250+ log level feeds, API’s and server-to-server level integrations with partners and channels. MAIA’s AWS powered technology directly feeds in to Digilant’s fully integrated Data Management Platform and Data Mining Console.


MAIA, by Digilant, offers media buyers and brands:

  • Omni-channel media buying and execution
  • Privileged access to the highest-quality markets and media
  • Real-time, extensible data management based on people, not cookies
  • A proprietary data layer combined with AI, built from real transactions
  • Extensible decisioning and machine learning platform, and customizable attribution framework
  • The best human insights from people with programmatic know-how

The modern marketing operation requires both programmatic power and human expertise to be successful, and MAIA accurately measures, analyzes and predicts customer personas, behaviors and motives. The platform uses data as a currency, to not only build the most accurate audiences to target, but to give brands the ability to see the whole picture – how strategy, data, inventory and reporting work together. And then the ability act on those insights to consistently learn and achieve better results campaign-over-campaign.

About Digilant

Digilant is a programmatic buying company, designed for both agencies and brands. We connect people and technology to create a perfect blend of strategy, insight and efficiency that will elevate any marketing team to find massive success. We also support advertisers who are moving towards programmatic self-sufficiency by aligning them with and training them on the right set of programmatic platforms and technologies.

Using MAIA (Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics) – the harmonious combination of machine power and human expertise behind all things DIGILANT — we intelligently navigate massive data sets. MAIA enables marketers to use data as a currency to generate more efficient media buys, make better informed decisions, optimize and drive performance across all digital channels and campaigns.

Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company. For more information, visit us at www.digilant.com, read our blog or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.

Healthcare Marketers Gain Programmatic Power Using Unique Deterministic Data

Digilant And HealthLink Dimensions Partner To Help Marketers Go All-In On Digital

Boston — November 15, 2018  Today, Digilant, a programmatic media buying services company, announced that to address a pressing market need, Digilant and HealthLink Dimensions have joined forces to create a powerful partnership, specifically designed to address the demands of healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing executives by offering:

  • Industry leading programmatic power
  • The best deterministic physician and health care provider data
  • Insightful and practical analysis from experts

“We’re very optimistic about the new alignment with HealthLink Dimensions,” says Raquel Rosenthal, CEO at Digilant. “We’ve been delivering programmatic solutions to brands all over the world for more than a decade, and the healthcare category is ripe for digital marketing innovation.”

Health marketers are facing more challenges than ever before, in addition to having to wrangle with the steady drumbeat of regulatory and HIPAA issues that require constant attention. Indeed, the perfect storm of proliferating data and an influx of new marketing technologies has resulted in an environment never before experienced by many of even the most accomplished marketers.

As a result, healthcare marketing executives are encountering myriad new complexities, like keeping pace with technology adoption, generating a steady stream of news to fill social media channels they never used before, and addressing the ongoing challenges of targeting the right audiences without being limited by scale.

Programmatic On The Rise in Healthcare & Pharma

According to eMarketer, health marketers are lagging inordinately in adopting programmatic, as compared with their peers in other industry categories. Indeed, programmatic penetration is 4X as higher across other U.S. sectors, with programmatic accounting for 19% of healthcare digital advertising budgets versus 80% elsewhere.

However, operating behind-the-programmatic-curve is also understandable, given the unique challenges that healthcare advertisers must navigate. With that said, healthcare marketers can no longer afford to keep programmatic off the table. On the contrary, well-funded and lean upstarts are nipping at the heels of industry behemoths, so marketers need to learn how to maneuver the current digital marketing landscape as quickly as possible in order to maintain market-leading positions.

That’s where the Digilant and HealthLink Dimensions partnership seeks to fill a void: by helping health marketers pursue innovative initiatives aggressively but also safely and successfully. It’s time for health and pharma to go “all-in” on digital, by effectively embracing all of the available channels and quality data to achieve advertising goals, while also gaining scale and efficiency.

The Digital Marketing Revolution Is Well Underway

After many years of encountering all sorts of roadblocks on the road to innovation, health marketers are now able to make digital marketing a reality in their organizations, whether it be medical devices, specialty products, or services. And whether the target audience involves patients, providers, or payers – digital advertising can play a meaningful role in getting the job done.

“With Digilant’s expertise in the functional area of programmatic advertising, and our focus on quality healthcare data, we’re excited to bring our unique partnership to clients, and help them accelerate their online marketing capabilities,” says Kevin Guthrie, president of HealthLink Dimensions.

Specifically, the Digilant and HealthLink Dimensions partnership provides healthcare marketing organizations with support on multiple fronts, including:

  • Efficiency. For good reason, programmatic has a bad reputation in some circles due to concerns about waste, fraud and lack of transparency. There are few credible experts that can help advertisers avoid programmatic pitfalls and optimize ROAS, and with more than a decade of experience in the category, we offer unique expertise.
  • Scale. Proving a tactic or strategy to be successful is one thing; applying it to a global operation and at significant scale is quite another. Our hands-on experience with global brands and international footprint allows us to support clients’ far-reaching programmatic goals.
  • Tactics. Strategy and planning are critical to successful campaigns, of course, but day-to-day tactical support is where campaigns succeed or fail. We partner with clients every step of the way, in the form of employing deterministic data to pursue specific audience groups, activating proven techniques like look-alike and retargeting, and using third party data to broaden reach and penetration.
  • Innovation. One of the more popular words in the general business lexicon these days, ‘innovation’ is genuinely underway in the healthcare marketing category. As a result of the stifling regulatory conditions in the aftermath of HIPAA, digital marketing has been slower to evolve in the healthcare category, as compared to early adopters like retail, hospitality, and entertainment. As a result, we’re on the cusp of halcyon days for healthcare marketers that are transforming their organizations to be digital-centric and incorporating the latest technologies and techniques to both deepen existing customer relationships but also develop new ones.

About Digilant

Digilant is a programmatic buying company, designed for both agencies and brands. We connect people and technology to create a perfect blend of strategy, insight and efficiency that will elevate any marketing team to find massive success. We also support advertisers who are moving towards programmatic self-sufficiency by aligning them with and training them on the right set of programmatic platforms and technologies.
Using MAIA – Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics – the harmonious combination of machine power and human expertise behind all things DIGILANT, we intelligently navigate massive data sets. MAIA enables marketers to use data as a currency to generate more efficient media buys, make better informed decisions, optimize and drive performance across all digital channels and campaigns.

Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company.  For more information, visit us at www.digilant.com, read our blog or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.

About HealthLink Dimensions

HealthLink Dimensions provides healthcare data solutions to healthcare and life science organizations to improve master data management, compliance and marketing initiatives.  Leveraging the largest multi-sourced database of active practicing healthcare professionals, HealthLink Dimensions develops customized data solutions to help clients reach their target audience, enrich their business data, optimize claims processing, meet compliance requirements and solve master data quality problems. Based in Atlanta, GA, HealthLink Dimensions is one of America’s fastest-growing private companies on the Inc. 5000 list, and one of Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™.

For additional information about the company, visit the HealthLink Dimensions website: www.HealthLinkDimensions.com.

Defining the Impact of Programmatic Buzzwords over Brews In Kansas City: AI, Blockchain, Attribution, & More

On Wednesday, October 3rd I attended Digilant’s gathering of digital marketers at Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City for a lunch panel around the topic of “Defining the Impact of Programmatic Advertising Buzzwords.”

While guests tasted a variety of brews and ate a delicious lunch, CEO of Digilant, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a panel with:

–       Claire Bishop, VP of Marketing & Engagement at Children International
–       Carrie Gill, Digital Media Supervisor at InTouch Solutions
–       Beau White, Digital Commerce Lead at MARS


Below is my summary of the events.  This is my version of the events and is not word for word of what was said nor is it my opinion of what was said.

The event kicked off with the following question:

What digital buzzwords and shifts that have been trending in the industry this year, such as Transparency, Attribution, In-Housing, Influencer Marketing, etc. do you see having a big impact on your 2019 marketing budgets?

Claire Bishop was the first to answer by saying that attribution is critically important to them as a brand that uses multiple channels for acquisition. Children International is a child and youth development organization and their primary fundraising model is child sponsorship. It’s a very effective model with monthly continuity and in effect they have a loyalty marketing program. Attribution and having as much visibility as possible into the channels driving acquisition value for them has been important since she joined the organization three years ago.

It was of even greater importance when she was on the agency side working for travel clients, because of the significant LTV of the acquisitions. You don’t want to make decisions on the last touch model, you want to understand your attribution among the different channels. It’s not one of the things they nailed, so they just selected a new agency and part of the decision was based on the attribution partner that they have, Visual IQ. They have, as many clients do, a ton of data and data issues.  As they plug this together, digital display, search, social, native and some offline channels that they are using, they will really be able to draw a more complete picture through attribution.

Influencer marketing, is also a very big buzzword for them.  With charitable giving, people want to have a sense that this is a credible and transparent organization.  Most of the time they are not making a decision on their first encounter with the organization, so they want to create warm leads and leverage referrals from influencers that are credible to the audience to move them down the funnel. This can lower acquisition costs and create affinity and credibility off the bat.

Carrie Gill was next to answer this question.  Her company is in the pharmaceutical space and they tend to be more cautious in adopting new technologies, however, attribution is important because they really need to understand how everything makes a impact. How does one consumer journey differ from the others? She works from a really unique perspective where she can have two drugs in the market that treat the same disease, so attribution is really important to understand how one consumer journey is really different from another to eliminate cannibalization across brands. It seems somewhat shocking, but digital influencers are trending in pharmaceuticals, they are looking to activate it for some of their brands. People like first person opinion and knowledge.  From an efficiency standpoint, it’s going to be very important for them because people are talking about the efficiencies in programmatic media buying. Lifetime value is very high, so are they always have to ask if they’re putting in enough to get the return that they need to make social a more efficient channel.

Beau White chimed to say that Mars Wrigley will be challenged to reach the same online share as offline. For them, in ice cream, they have to achieve higher share online than offline, because new market entrants are small companies that can easily create products. These competitors don’t have to worry about the same financials as big companies like his. The walls are coming down and they can be very fluid with their budgets. At Mars ice cream they spend a lot of time setting expectations from a budget perspective, with all the buckets that he needs to spend money needing to be clearly laid out, but he will likely come back and want to switch it around. Influencer marketing in the cosmetics industry as a whole category is moving online and large stores will begin to remove their cosmetic departments altogether.

Raquel then joined that conversation to say that what Beau had just said was quite true. For example, Mac by Estee Lauder is coming up against new brands that have no overhead, go online and do a video on YouTube and especially if they are a big star, they can take market share away from a big brand like Estee Lauder. This is a real challenge; the large companies have to rethink how they are doing business to deal with this changing landscape. She thinks that is the social influencer marketing that they are talking about.

Moving on to a different topic –  as more marketing teams move towards an omnichannel approach to improve the customer experience, people also want their programmatic partners to be omnichannel. What has changed for you in your company based on breaking away from the marketing channel silos and being more holistic in your approach?

For Claire she said that nonprofits focus on many offline channels; while digital is an important part of the mix it’s not the entirety of what they are doing. Children International has a full production facility at their headquarters for direct mail.  It might be more expensive, but it is still viable. We are printing out a vast amount of direct mail not only to prospects, but also to lapsed clients. Being able to tie the direct mail to the digital that they are doing is a new frontier they’ve embarked on since she joined. Just recently they performed several tests in which they tied IP addresses and home addresses, so when prospects receive direct mail they also receive social and native ads on mobile devices from partners like Digilant. They like to think of this as the 360-degree view.

For things like ice cream it might be a more immediate decision, but there is a long lead time to make decisions for big things like child sponsorship. It’s a big commitment and therefore they need to permeate the consumer experience through multiple touch points. Consumer journey mapping and omnichannel approach are tightly interwoven for them because they want to understand at what the micro-moments people are making the decision to sponsor. People might have encountered Children International at an event with one of their favorite performers and then they saw an ad geo-targeted to their mobile device, so they are starting to consider them as an organization but need to validate their decision to give. Claire has to then consider what kind of experience they can give consumers on their website to get them in that state of mind. Being smart about the way their consumers are using media to support their decision for this process and providing relevant information about that process ultimately drives what content is distributed across their channels.

Carrie answered this question by saying that historically when they looked at a demand side platform (DSP) they siloed it as a display only channel. Everyone is now looking for DSPs that can offer more turnkey optimizations. DSPs can actually be a great source for starting an omnichannel approach. Channels are planned in silos, because that’s just historically how it’s been done, but sometimes these channels are not even working towards the same objective. She thinks people just need to get in a room and make sure they are working towards the same goal, something that sounds simple, but they are still working through it. They have had different CTAs and goals across an array of channels, so now they just have to make sure that they are working in unison towards the same goal.

Beau responded by saying that they are looking at omnichannel, but his marketing department deals with the majority of it. In digital commerce, people are focused on shopping, so they need to make sure that their customers are aware of the omnichannel experience. Consumers can’t just be familiar with the brick and mortar experience, so Mars needs to look at its content, create context, use shopper marketing, and ultimately find a way to take in-store activity and activate online. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s an impulsive category. Over the course of the day people are constantly being interrupted with messages from brands, so they have to be very consistent with their message so when they come by their product, they’ve seen it a bunch of times and will hopefully choose them over the competitor.

Raquel wrapped up the question by saying that a lot of agencies that Digilant works with have gone from a siloed approach to an omnichannel approach. They’re integrating teams and bringing offline together with online as way to embrace the new omnichannel environment, and in the case of certain brands, even hiring for customer experience roles so that they can integrate the different experiences across the brand, which used to be a CMO’s responsibility but now can go either way.

Can any of you talk to the role of customer experience?

Claire said that customer experience is a huge thing for them. At the top of their priority list at the beginning of 2018, they identified that they needed to develop the capability to map the consumer experience and then to deliver and execute a really integrated and cohesive experience across multiple touchpoints in their organization.  Being able to identify the journey and being able to execute on it well are two different things. The first step in achieving successful execution was their capability roadmap which required technology and expertise to support it in their organization. They re-launched their website in 2016 allowing for the ability to integrate multiple inputs and data points, relying on their CRM provider to make sure everything is captured so that they can begin thinking about a more holistic customer journey.  

A major takeaway for her from a recent CEB event about personalization – cast vision and get buy-in from the technology and the experience that is needed in order to stand this capability up. Personalization is useful to consumers when it’s helpful to them, so if you are not helping but know a consumer’s name it is not doing anything for them. If you are not making their experience any easier in any way, then you’re actually hurting your brand because it takes away from what you are doing. Depending on what kind of brand you are, help can take shape in different forms. Help me save money, help me be fulfilled as a giver, help me validate my decision, help me communicate to my spouse, etc. Those are some of the things Children International thinks about in the consumer journey.  The name and demographics are less important than what they are trying to accomplish in that moment. If they can pinpoint those micro touch points and deliver something of value that truly helps consumers do what they are trying to do it can lift affinity, that relationship between the consumer and the brand.

Carrie had a recent example of personalization her agency is currently working through. They’re trying to reach an extremely targeted and generally cautious audience, so they’ve developed an AI driven banner bot that adds value to the consumer. It asks people about their symptoms, if they are experiencing relapses, and provides some more information about how to treat them. Users are looking for a different relationship with brands beyond get more information from them, they can do that anywhere. AI is a real world thing, it is happening. The pharmaceutical brands she works with want true meaningful engagement with consumers and they want to establish a lifelong affinity to their drug with them by using a solid value proposition and serving as partner in their conversations surrounding the decision making process.

Beau said that for customer experience they are in an interesting spot because they are influencing without authority. They partner with different retailers who have different websites, so rather than focusing on personalization, they are focusing on consumer journey. One of the things they see and do a lot of work on in brick and mortar is understanding needs, states, and motives of shoppers through the consumer journey. Everyone knows that 95% of search starts in the search bar, so they do spend a lot of time looking at how customers set their websites up.  How easy it is for people to find the categories they need and add items to their cart. They evaluated that and partners with different retailers to optimize that. They don’t have their own site but they do spend a lot of time making sure they are on top of the consumer journey.

There are different types of personalization on a website like CMS, content, colors, DCO but specifically what were you talking about Claire?

Claire said that Children International is really focused on the website and the digital experience, linking up all the data points between social and email to deliver the best experience. DCO is hugely relevant for them as well, especially in the digital ad space where you can get access to info for whatever on your website you can’t plug into.  Being able to use and access that and use that information and then serve relevant info is important as well.

Attribution: For your organization, does attribution happen at the client level or the agency level or both? If you are investing in attribution which platforms are you investing in? Have the recent changes made by walled garden platforms like Google and Facebook impacted your attribution?

Carrie started by saying that they are partnering with C3 for their clients, because they have a heavy digital focus. Additionally, they talk to partners like Visual IQ that are great if you have broadcast spends or if you have offline metrics to pull in.  Attribution has to have buy-in from both the agency and the clients. Before introducing these partners, most clients didn’t really understand attribution, but most of them thought they had it because they saw reporting so they had to sell attribution to our clients and they importance, especially from a franchise perspective how one brand can support the other.  Biggest conversation that we have with our client, who should own attribution, they day to day management of it. They think it should be owned by an analytics team. Ongoing conversation they have that it’s important to have someone in there to analyze the patterns of what is changing. One of the opportunities that they have with pharma clients is often clients come to them in Q4 with incremental spend one thing we hope to achieve is that we want to show them which channel is converting faster.

Claire responded that for them agencies are viewed as the resource to help them inform their approach, measurement as a whole and attribution specifically. She hopes that clients have gotten smarter over the years and are coming to the table with agency partners prepared to have a meaningful discussion about attribution. Client has to buy into the formulas and the models you being created. Every client is so unique, like snowflakes, and they have to understand the data and strategies that are represented in an attribution model. Data is should be married to individuals with brains in their heads. Her experience with folks like Digilant is that they have the data and the tools but also the people that know the data really well. Individuals that bring human perspective, to help ingest the data and iterate towards the ideal attribution model. It takes smart data, AI, tools and algorithms but also really smart people who are committed to digging into that data.

Raquel said that she has been hearing about measurement and attribution in the market quite a bit. Digilant always felt that data and analytics are important, and we’ve had account managers to dig into data for clients and give them the insights. As the market evolves, more and more clients want this service to understand their data and insights.

Carrie responded that we talk about big data and data all the time, but what is more critical is how we apply the data and insights and you need to have the right people to adjust it and really dig into it the data is lost and a mute point.

So does anyone have an opinion on walled gardens?

Beau touched upon Amazon, saying that it is interesting for Mars. Amazon perceives itself really as a media agency, they really see themselves as the biggest media agency and they think you should invest all your media dollars in them. 55% of all searches start on Amazon, but why would you give the biggest retailer all of your ad dollars?

Raquel added that Estee Lauder didn’t want to be associated with Amazon because they didn’t think it worked in their favor as a luxury beauty brand, but the traffic is there and they can’t avoid it.

According to Claire, recent trends, especially with Facebook have cracked that walled garden shell. GDPR is exposing them to the needs consumers have on how their data is being used; they want to understand it. As marketers, they are doing what they can to understand how their data is being used. Demanding more transparency for their ad dollars at stake is crucial. She concluded by stating that if we work together as an industry to create a unified set of demands and make those real we might be able to get somewhere.


Thanks to everyone who participated in our event or took the time to read this summary. Stay tuned for next year’s calendar of Digilant events.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Bid Shading And Bid Caching Defined

Programmatic auctions are experiencing a big shift in the way inventory is priced. Media buyers who have been using second price auction strategies are finding that more and more SSPs are moving to first price auctions.  In the second quarter of 2018 a report by Getintent found that 43.3% of impressions were sold through first-price auctions, where the highest bid wins an impression. That figure was much higher than the previous study done in December 2017, when just 5.8% of the impressions analyzed were sold in a first price auction. With more money shifting to first price auctions, the programmatic advertising industry, both on the buy and sell side, had to come up with strategies and tactics to mitigate the effect this change has had on the way they buy and sell inventory.

Bid Shading

Bid shading is one of the tactics, which is relatively new to DSPs, that has been developed as a compromise between first- and second-price auctions.  Buyers are unhappy about paying higher prices than they were used to in second price auctions. Bid shading reduces the price for the advertiser so rather than pay the full first price, they get charged and average price between the first and second price auction.  The price is usually calculated by the SSP or DSP from bid history information which includes typical bid win rates for certain websites.

For right now bid shading is mostly used by the supply-side platforms (SSPs) and is free to the user.  But as first price auctions become the norm for programmatic media buying, more Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are adopting this tactic out of necessity.

Another, less accepted method of dealing with the shift in auction dynamics has been developed by Ad Exchanges and is called bid caching.

Bid Caching

Why has bid caching all of a sudden become an important ad-tech term to be familiar with over the past month?  This is due to the fact that media buyers using the Global ad marketplace Index Exchange did not know that this tactic was being used for over a year until they published this blog post.

“We didn’t think it was an issue with buyers. We were so surprised. We thought this was an industry practice,” said Drew Bradstock, SVP of product at Index Exchange.

So What is Bid Caching and Why Do Media Buyers Not Like It?

It’s when a lost bid on a programmatic auction is used to fill a subsequent auction, where the impression characteristics do not necessarily match up.  For example, if the buyer bids on a particular publisher’s homepage to appear in the morning and loses that bid, the exchange would roll the bid into another auction for the next piece of content that the consumer views. So instead of running on a homepage, the ad would most likely end up on an article page. For the media buyer, this means that they are not  getting what they originally paid for.

So what are the other negative aspects of bid caching for DSP buying?

  1. Overpaying for inventory: advertisers are willing to pay higher prices for the first page in a user session, so if that’s not what they are getting then they have overpaid for the ad
  2. Messing up frequency caps and pacing: delays between a bid and ad server could increase the likelihood that a DSP found the user elsewhere
  3. Brand safety concerns: ad is served on the same domain but not on the same page

What’s Next for Programmatic Media Buyers?

Ad tech professionals have expressed their frustrations with yet another example of the lack of transparency in the industry.  Just when we think we are finally making strides to improve the negativity surrounding programmatic advertising, a story like this pops up and stirs up controversy all over again.  The negative press that has resulted from Index Exchange’s lack in public disclosure of their tactics has hopefully served as a warning to others in this space to own up to any changes in their platforms that would have a drastic effect on the way inventory is bought and/ or sold.  In the meantime, it’s important for media buyers to know all the tactics and associated terms with the move to first price auctions and how their DSP partners are adapting to the changes being made.  Talk to us if you have any doubts or questions about what your next steps should be.

Post GDPR, Are Data Clean Rooms The Answer To Accessing Walled Gardens For Programmatic Buyers?

As GDPR enforcement becomes a reality not only in Europe but also here in the US, advertisers are struggling to find a way to scale the walled gardens and optimize their data assets.

As of May 25, 2018, Google announced that DCM users will be unable to use cookies or mobile device IDs to connect impressions, clicks and site activities from the DCM logs, users 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.  But 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.

“Some marketers who spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on Google will be fine just letting Google do the analytics,” says Alice Sylvester of Sequent Partners.

Google wasn’t the only one to lock down their platform.  In response to the combined pressure of GDPR and the Cambridge Analytica scandals over its handling of personal information, Facebook decided that it would shut down ad tools called “Partner Categories” powered by outside data brokers. Those tools let Facebook advertisers target ads at people based on third-party data such as their offline purchasing history.  This means advertisers will have access only to their own data and data Facebook collects itself.  If an advertiser wants to pull campaign-level insights to inform future campaigns or use the data for the basis of an attribution model then they are out of luck.

Introduction of Data Clean Rooms

Data clean rooms allow large inventory partners like Facebook and Google to share customer information with brands, while still maintaining strict controls in place.  Data clean rooms were named for the completely airtight rooms where microchips and other sensitive materials get made.  In this case, the rooms enable a shared environment between two or more companies that is completely secure from external access (no wifi) where each company decides the level of visibility to their data.  This eliminates the possibility of data leakage for companies like Facebook which caused the Cambridge Analytica mentioned earlier.

“We and a partner combine a data set with very specific rules and controls around how each party can operate within the shared environment,” said Scott Shapiro, a product marketing director for measurement at Facebook, who noted that Facebook didn’t invent the clean-room concept.

The concept is to create a safe space where data can be share and manipulated without leaving the inventory partner’s environment.  Specifically for Facebook, a brand can create an audience based on first-party data, like a list of email addresses and then push that list into Facebook, match it, and grab a copy which they can later combine with their data as the basis for attribution, measurement and modeling.
How it happens in reality is that an advertiser will lead a clean or wiped laptop or device that has never been connected to the Internet with that advertiser’s first party data, which in most cases is an email list.  A second clean computer is loaded by Facebook or Google with impression-level and non-PII campaign data.

Maybe, The Answer to Scaling The Walled Gardens?

For advertisers with a lot of data and substantial programmatic advertising budgets this is a great opportunity to scale the otherwise elusive walled gardens.  The data clean rooms create a safe environment for data providers to share the marketing data that brands need and crave to model future media buys and advertising strategies. If managed in the right way, with the right methods and standards, this would be the tool for brands to really understand their walled-garden ad spends within the larger marketing ecosystem.  For advertisers and publishers there is a lot at stake in the post GDPR world of data governance.  There is no room for unintended data sharing because the consequences are too great.

Marketers have been eager to get more insights out of Facebook and other walled gardens but it’s unclear how many brands or agencies will take advantage of this opportunity to get more out of their spend with the largest inventory providers.  From Facebook’s perspective they are not advertising the data clean room solution because if they gave advertisers too much access to data buyers might eventually become less reliant on their platform for scale and identity data.  But Facebook and Google also don’t want to piss off their advertisers because they are demanding more data so this is the solution that they can offer for brands that pressure them to giving them more insights.  There is still the issue of the manpower involved and the fact that the data is limited to a snapshot in time but advertisers who buy into this solution are fully aware of what they are getting and have to decide if the value is worth the effort.

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.

Digilant Hosts Panel On Blockchain Innovation in Ad Tech

Blockchain Explained for: Digital Marketers, Media Buyers & Advertisers

BOSTON, June 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Digilant, a global provider of programmatic ad buying solutions and services, assembled a panel of speakers in Boston, to discuss the impact of blockchain innovation on the advertising technology industry. The panel was moderated by Adam Cahill, Executive Chairman, Digilant US and CEO of Anagram and the panelists included:

One of the more prominent buzzwords in digital circles these days is “blockchain” and, as is the case in the early days of a market trend, there’s significant confusion about its meaning, application, and future. That’s certainly the case with blockchain in general, and more specifically, what it means to marketers and digital media professionals.

To give our community insight into where this trend is going, Digilant pulled together ad-tech’s leading experts on the topic of blockchain for a dinner panel at the scenic Legal Harborside in Boston’s Seaport District. The room was full of  leaders across the spectrum of digital media buyers, technologists, and investors. After an hour of conversation, everyone walked away with a deeper understanding of the topic but here are the highlights.

The Digital Media Supply Chain Is A Serious Problem Looking For a Solution

That the advertising industry has efficiency challenges to address is undeniable. And while digital advertising channels have created more opportunities to address consumers where they are across screens and experiences, the supply chain needed to deliver relevant and compelling ads is complex – likely, unnecessarily so – to the detriment of the channel. By some estimates, more than 50% of internet advertising is wasted due to issues relating to viewability, fraud, and transparency. In an industry category that totaled almost $90 billion in the U.S. last year, according to the IAB and PwC, that means serious dollars are frittering away.
Joe Zawadzki of MediaMath, one of the largest independent digital advertising software companies, described the reach and complexity of the supply chain challenges: “In too many instances, advertisers lack transparency, discrepancies arise among stakeholders, inventory fails to meet quality standards, and/or a noisy minority of bad actors exploits internet infrastructure weaknesses to siphon unearned value from the ecosystem.” And this doesn’t even speak to the privacy and GDPR concerns that have been front-and-center in recent months, which add yet additional complexity.

While industry associations and watchgroups have been discussing these challenges for years, momentum accelerated in 2017 when CMOs from some of the largest advertisers on the planet — Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Bank of America — began talking about the issues publicly and frequently. In turn, the mainstream business press now covers the trends more closely, and that means CEOs and CFOs have been put on alert. That of course means that CMOs need to be armed with information and problem-solving tactics to explain how they are addressing the problem. And blockchain will be part of the longer term solution. MediaMath has already started working towards integrating blockchain for their programmatic platform by announcing its investment in a new business, Underscore CLT.

How Blockchain Works?

At its core, blockchain is a relatively complex and technical suite of technologies that “allows a network of computers to agree at regular intervals on the true state of a distributed ledger,” according to Christian Catalini of MIT. And a quick Google search reveals a slew of explanations, including this user-friendly video from Simply Explained.

Isaac Lidsky of Underscore CLT, offered an analog example to explain blockchain. “Imagine,” he explained, “that it’s the Middle Ages and you’re a general of an army that’s loosely confederated with other armies, and you’re about to attack a position that’s defended by the Roman Army. If the attacking armies act in concert and coordinate their attack, everything will work out great. The worst thing they can do is not act in coordination. But at the same time, it’s impossible to trust the communications being transferred by the generals and their runners. It’s similar to the situation faced by advertisers, publishers, and intermediaries today — except more complex; there are thousands of players involved, and blockchain technology offers the ability to facilitate communication and transaction which can be taken as the truth.”
Sound complicated? It is. But marketers don’t need to worry too much about the underpinnings of blockchain. Others will figure that out — entrepreneurs, technology companies, regulators and the like. But just like marketers don’t need to understand how the internet works, they do need to understand its implications on the ability to go to market effectively for their companies and clients.

Blockchain Will Disrupt The Ad-Tech Supply Chain In The Near Future

Blockchain will offer significant benefits to marketers — and it will probably be disruptive at one point but we are not sure when — the technology being used to power digital advertising today is due for a significant upgrade, and quick fixes are not a longer term solution. That’s why MediaMath, Facebook, Google, Amazon and others are all investing in blockchain right now as the marketplace expects more data privacy and transactional transparency from these advertising giants.

Erich Wasserman, CoFounder of MediaMath thinks that “there are structural imbalances, fraud in the marketplace, vendors of dubious value, and people are unclear what the contribution to the value actually is by individual participants. We are in need of a mechanism to go deeper into the ad impression and surface what exact value individual technologies are adding to the return on investment.”

Ross Benes of eMarketer summarizes the promise and challenges of blockchain neatly in a recent piece. “Some ad industry observers believe that blockchain’s open and distributed ledger could clear up some of these issues by making advertising transactions more transparent. But right now, blockchain doesn’t operate quickly enough to work in the fast-paced bidding world of programmatic advertising. Until the technology gets faster and more people adopt it…” Fortunately, if there is one thing of which we can be certain it is that technology will continue to develop and disrupt at rapid pace – which, of course, is the reason we’re here discussing blockchain at all. As stated above, there is heavy investment in the technology, so marketers need to keep their eyes on the prize.  It’s going to be a race to the finish line.  The first company able to mainstream the technology will write the rules for everyone else.

When it comes to broad marketplace adoption, it’s always difficult for new technologies to enter on a grand scale, and usually requires either massive investment from one or a handful of companies (think Android / Google), or a disruptive evolution in user behavior, such as the massive increase in smartphone adoption (negligible in mid 2000s to around 80% in mid 2010s).

Companies like MediaMath and Underscore CLT are working on the speed and adoption issues, while organization’s such as Dave Balter’s Flipside Crypto are constantly on the lookout for attractive companies to invest in that rely on blockchain technology or infrastructure. Dave Balter used an analogy to the music industry to explain the resistance of some in the ad industry to adopting blockchain: “at first, the music industry was very opposed to digital music. It was a ten year process to get them to adapt to the digital side but they quickly realized it was a process in which they would make a little less money in the short term, while transitioning to secure a sustainable future.”
 

In Summary

The dinner panel was a great education for all who attended, an opportunity to hear from real experts, and get a glimpse into how blockchain could impact the digital advertising business. And like MediaMath, we are very concerned about the internet advertising supply chain, as it’s core to our business — and these are the areas of our industry where blockchain could be most impactful, at least over the next several years. So these are the three primary takeaways:

  1. We are keeping close tabs on blockchain. Just as we do with any other market trends that have the potential to impact data management, demand-side platforms (DSPs), exchanges, and trading desks.
  2. We do not anticipate blockchain having a material short-term (6-12 months) impact on ad-tech methodology. Programmatic vendors need to stay customer focused and transparent until blockchain enables the technology to automate more fraud detection as well as changing the value supply chain.
  3. Big players in the industry could accelerate blockchain’s application in the digital advertising business. As is the case with any emerging technologies — think about the growth of open source in the mid-2000s — the adoption and acceleration of blockchain could be turbo-charged by big company attention and investment. For example, IBM made an announcement at Cannes last week; if this launch is successful, it will likely attract other influential organizations (Oracle, Adobe, etc.) and so blockchain’s role in advertising could look very different in 2019 or 2020.

 

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