Digital Advertising Lookback for 2017

What Happened in 2017?

Although your newsfeeds and inboxes have likely been inundated over the past few weeks with content and messages reflecting on the events from this past year, the digital marketing world really never pauses or slow downs. Since last January, global digital ad spend has increased 15%, surpassing TV ad spend for the first time ever. According to Statista, 2017 marked the first year in which mobile traffic composed more than half of all web traffic. It’s clear that the way that people consume content, interact with brands, and navigate the buyer’s journey is changing. Before you finish ramping up your marketing for the new year and embark on new digital ventures, we wanted to outline these major developments from 2017 to help you keep up with advancements being made today and anticipate transitions that advertisers will need to make tomorrow as we move into 2018.

Amazon Now Has Its Own DSP

Through the consolidation of many DSPs last year, we were left with one major surprise: Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) exceeded Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) as the most used DSP. Despite remaining fairly below the radar, Amazon’s DSP is quickly gaining popularity because of its low agency fees, self-service option and unique commerce and purchase data. When ad buyers were asked for their preferred DSP, 23% answered Amazon. This tops the next choice, AppNexus, which falls at 19%. As the number of DSPs not owned by walled gardens, telcos, enterprise clouds or media companies decreases, differentiation becomes the key challenge.

Innovations in Transparency Hold Advertisers & Publishers More Accountable

Facebook updated their transparency policy to require political and retail-focused advertisers to reveal all ads they are running publicly in their feed. In October, Facebook announced, “Starting next month, people will be able to click ‘View Ads’ on a Page and view ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — whether or not the person viewing is in the intended target audience for the ad.” All ads must be associated with a page during the ad creation. This is a huge shift towards leveling the playing field for advertisers as they will be able to view all other ads that are running on these networks and gain competitive insights to optimize their funnels. In the past, advertisers could run dark posts, which permitted advertisers to run as many ads as they wanted without ever appearing on the brand’s own feed. This means that your competition could run multiple target specific tailored ads and you would never see them. With Facebook’s new policy, regardless of demographics, advertisers will be able to see the ads that their competition are running.

Although this initiative stemmed from a need for greater democratic transparency, Facebook’s new initiative is helpful for all parties in the digital advertising sphere and they’re not the only ones advocating for more honest advertising practices. The IAB has taken major strides to keep publishers accountable for any counterfeit inventory served to advertisers through their ads.txt project. The Ads.txt buying method confirms that each webpage uploads a file to its root domain detailing which SSP (Sell Side Platform – a tool that manages the programmatic advertising on a publisher’s site) offers its inventory, its Placement ID and its relationship with that SSP. The publishers publicly indicate who is actually authorized to market their advertising space eliminating inventory fraud. In 2018 we’ll begin to see many DSPs offer only inventory tagged with an ads.txt ID to their brand partners.

Retail eCommerce Flourishes as Online & Offline Experiences Blend

2017 was an extremely busy year for retail eCommerce with a 4.9% increase in U.S. sales and a number of mergers and acquisitions. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion and Walmart acquired a number of eCommerce brands like Bonobos and Moosejaw. Despite the closure of many physical retail spaces, brands with brick and mortar stores are leveraging the data they’re gathering online to improve the offline customer experience, even implementing AI and AR to better understand and communicate with the customers. Conversely, strictly eCommerce brands like Casper mattresses and Harry’s shaving are partnering with traditional retailers like Target to bring online products to consumers more accustomed to offline shopping.

Cord Cutting Becomes More Popular & Advertisers Work to Gain Viewability

TVs, gaming devices, smart set-top boxes, desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones that all stream Amazon Video, Youtube TV, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO can be blamed for the slow death of cable TV. According to eMarketer, 22.2 million Americans, an 33% increase from 2016, have officially cut the cord and no longer pay for traditional cable, satellite or telco services. It’s forecasted that by 2021, 30% of adults won’t have traditional pay TV.

As online companies observed the increase in the number of streamers and the profitability this area brings, they were quick to jump onboard. In August, Facebook launched its new video service, “Watch.” This platform offers both live and pre-recorded videos that Facebook users can upload content to, similar to YouTube. However, they also partnered with Major League Baseball, the NBA, Nasa, Time Inc., National Geographic and NASA who pay to add their content to the viewing options. Facebook is not the only newcomer as Snapchat, Disney, Philo and countless TV networks created both paid and unpaid streaming platforms.

With this change in viewing preference, advertisers are finding new ways to reach these viewers. Many of the streaming platforms require users to watch a 15-60 second spot before their content plays. An advantage to this is that these ads are 100% viewable – there is no way to skip the ad. If advertisers are able to create clear, creative video that captures the attention of the viewer and seems more like an additional piece of content, this new shift will increase lift and be a great addition to many brand’s media mix.

Artificial Intelligence Knocks on Everyone’s Front Door

In 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) branched out from the areas where we were used to seeing it, like inside of our cars, smartphones and aircrafts, and is quickly integrating itself into our homes. Over the holiday season, Amazon said they sold “millions” of their Alexa products, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Connect, Echo Spot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Look, and Amazon Fire TV stick. Google also saw success with their line of home products.

Luckily for these search and retail giants, consumers’ attitudes towards AI has shifted from fear that the technology would take their jobs to appreciation. 75% of Americans now believe that AI is here to help humans and that those who don’t embrace its benefits will be without a job in the future. As it becomes increasingly present in our lives and continues to collect rich voice data, in-home AI devices will soon lend just as much of a hand to digital advertisers as it does consumers. As 2018 moves forward, advertisers will begin to map out the uncharted territory that lies within the data accumulated from these devices.

Apple Says Goodbye to the Home Button

Apple decided to make their newest phone’s screen as large as possible and to make space for more phone, they eliminated the home button. A once standard feature on every iPhone, adjusting to the new process to unlock the smartphone via facial recognition will take time. Chief Design Officer, Jonathan Ive, spoke to the change and some of the initial opposition it faced in a recent interview with Time. Ive said that “[he] actually think[s] the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure.”

The world’s most valuable brand and owner of approximately 15% of the global smartphone market share believes that its 2013 purchase of Israeli 3D sensing company, PrimeSense, powering this technology will continue to position Apple as a mobile leader. Providing greater security and ease for users when accessing their phones, the disappearance of the home button fulfills Steve Jobs wish to create a more simplified login. The iPhone X is Apple’s most personalized phone to date prompting users to say that it feels almost like the phone is magical, and projections to sell 265 million iPhones in 2018 support this sentiment.
Videos and Visuals Dominate

Four of the fastest growing social media platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr and the common denominator within all of these platforms is visual content. People are no longer satisfied with solely written content and in order to stay engaged, especially for consumers in the Millennial and Generation Z demographics, they are actively changing the way they view content. The average person gets distracted in about 8 seconds, so incorporating popular features such as photos, infographics, memes, illustrations and videos is essential. With 81% of people skimming the content they read online and image-related posts receiving a 650% higher engagement, it’s clear that captivating visual and video content is only going to become more important in 2018.

$10 Billion Spent on Data

According to a study from the IAB Data Center of Excellence and the Data & Marketing Association, US companies spent $10.05 billion on third-party audience data and $10.13 billion on solutions to support its activation in 2017. The $10.05 billion breaks down into $3.5 billion spent on email addresses, names, street addresses and other personally identifiable information, $2.9 billion on transactional data and $2 billion on digital identifiers. In regard to solution support, $4.3 billion was spent on supporting data integration, processing and hygiene, $4.2 billion spent on hosting and management solutions and $1.63 billion spent on analytics, modeling and segmentation solutions.

Snapchat Improves its Ad Tracking

Snapchat has had a very eventful year with many successes and challenges. Despite its devaluation after its IPO in March, the social platform has been very resilient. Snapchat boasts about 178 million daily users that spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the app and if you look at users under the age of 25 (about 60% of all users), this jumps to around 42 minutes of Snapchatting a day, making it more frequently used than its competitor. For brands looking to reach these users, there are a variety of ways to leverage the platform to promote their offerings, such as filters, geotags, and in-app ads that viewers see between viewing friends’ and publishers’ stories.

What’s most promising about Snapchat is its users’ disposition towards ads, with 50% receptive to or neutral to the ads they’re served. Brands are hoping to see positive results from their Snapchat campaigns and are also excited that they can now track them much more effectively. The recent release of the “Snap Pixel” allows advertisers to add a pixel to their ads and track campaign metrics and data analytics in real time. For the past three years since Snapchat began using advertising, it’s been making it easier for brands to automate campaigns, bid on ad space and measure the performance. With these advances and the platform’s sustained engagement of young millennials and Generation Z consumers, Snapchat is maintaining its position as a major player in digital advertising.

Summary

With an overwhelming amount of new players and shifting paradigms that have arisen in the digital ecosystem throughout 2017, there’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of opportunity waiting to be taken advantage of in 2018.  Having a strong digital partner to manage your brand’s digital ad buying is crucial and Digilant is ready to step in to help.  Reach out to us here to learn more about our digital media buying solutions and services and how to maximize your brand’s digital advertising potential in 2018.

Spreading Awareness with the National Safety Council to end the U.S. Opioid Crisis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One in four Americans has been affected by the opioid crisis, but according to a poll conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC), 40 percent still don’t see it as a threat to their family. In an effort to decrease those affected and increase awareness of the crisis’ impact on communities throughout the country, Digilant has partnered with the NSC on their Stop Everyday Killers campaign. Although it can be a very difficult subject to broach, like any problem, it won’t get solved until it’s been recognized and addressed.

The campaign is part of a larger public awareness initiative that seeks to help educate people about the risks of using opioids and encourages people to explore alternative pain treatment. Centered around a powerful short film that brings opioid users face to face with those who’ve been affected by this drug crisis, the NSC’s campaign is highly impactful. It’s filmed inside of the Prescribed to Death Memorial, which opened its doors to the public on November 10th to remember the 22,000 people whose lives were taken last year as a result of the opioid crisis. Currently located in Chicagos’ Wicker Park with 22,000 faces printed onto pills along a wall, the memorial will be making its way to Atlanta, Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. in the coming months. However, the Digilant Cares U.S. Team wants to ensure that this message reaches as many people as possible. For this reason, Digilant has launched a two week a pro bono programmatic campaign in which 30 second clips from the short film will be nationally distributed across display inventory.

It’s particularly important that this campaign runs during the holidays, because of the feelings that this time of year can evoke for those at risk of opioid abuse. Many gatherings this holiday season are accompanied with stress, drinking, and isolation or reconnection with unhealthy relationships. In addition to generating awareness, the NSC has taken direct action to stop the unnecessary prescribing of opioids. Their new “Opioid: Warn Me” labels for insurance and pharmacy cards are serving as reminders for prescribers to discuss any potential pain treatment involving opioids before the patient decides on his or her preferred route of treatment.

A few additional statistics from this year’s NSC Survey on the crisis can be found below:

  • Nearly 60% of opioid painkiller users don’t know that sharing them is a felony
  • 1 out of 3 prescription opioid users don’t even know they’re taking opioids
  • Half of all opioid addictions start out with valid prescriptions

See the entire video below and find out how you can help spread the word this holiday season starting on social media using the hashtag, #stopeverydaykillers. To donate and help the NSC continue their vitally imporant work, visit here.

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Making Strides for Men’s Health with Movember

As a well-established tradition at Digilant, it’s not a surprise to anyone in our Boston office when the end of October comes around and many men take out their razors to get their last clean shave in before the Movember Foundation‘s annual fundraising campaign begins. For those unfamiliar with Movember, growing out your facial hair for an entire month may seem a bit odd, but their’s a mission behind the mustache.

The Movember Foundation was established in Melbourne Australia in 2003 by two friends, Travis and Luke, who wondered why the stache had gone out of style. Inspired by a friend’s mom who had been fundraising for breast cancer, the duo thought that they’d support a good cause while attempting to revive the grooming style. They recognized that there’s strength in numbers, so they launched an email campaign with the subject line, “Are you man enough to be my man?” and recruited 30 other men to grow out their mustaches. Needless to say, it was a very successful test campaign, as the movement has since galvanized over 5 million “Mo Bros” & “Mo Sistahs” across 21 countries to get involved with the cause.

This year Digilant Cares U.S. created a MoTeam to raise funds amongst friends, family, and colleagues. We’re proud to say that the team managed to exceed its goal this year and these donations have also been matched by Digilant’s holding company, ispDigital. In total, over a thousand dollars will be put forth towards tackling physical and mental health issues faced by men. In addition to prostate cancer, Movember now helps fund testicular cancer research and treatment, supports mental health programs and organizes suicide prevention initiatives.

If you’d like to help the Digilant Cares team in continuing to raise funds for men’s health, visit our MoTeam here, or donate your time through events near you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABwsqypKNZI

Gleanings from Gilbane: 3 Content Automation Tools to Make Your Digital Marketing More Human

Last week Gilbane Advisor held its fourteenth annual Digital Content Conference where marketing and technology strategists, analysts, investors, managers, and innovators engaged in a variety of panels and break-out sessions on how to provide a competitive digital experience through thoughtful content. However, “thoughtful” might not be the first word to come to mind when today’s consumer thinks about the content they receive across the digital ecosystem.
Many brands have become accustomed to haphazardly pushing out content like robots simply because they can with all of the increasingly automated marketing tools and processes at their disposal. While advances in advertising technology driven by artificial intelligence and big data have created incredible opportunities for brands to scale and refine their digital strategies, marketers and technologists alike need to work together to leverage the power of automation to generate truly thoughtful content that’s intuitive, adaptive, and personal to its users.

This process of bridging the age of information and the age of the consumer can be daunting, but there were three presentations at Gilbane that gave great insight into what tools today’s digital marketer can turn towards to provide their audiences with valuable content while also maximizing ROC (Return on Content).

1.) Emotional AI

Gabi Zijderveld, CMO of Affectiva, an emotional recognition technology company, kicked off Gilbane with her presentation on how to create deeper connections with customers through AI. In a world where advanced AI systems are “designed to be contextual and relational, there’s massive cognitive abilities.” However, Zijderveld notes that most marketers only have access to software with a “High IQ, but no EQ.” This gap has lead to highly transactional and superficial digital interactions that often leave users feeling frustrated rather than empowered, because the content they engage with can’t intuit their wants and needs. Affectiva is confident that the gap can be closed.

With products like Affdex, a cloud-based solution that facially codes consumer’s emotional response to digital content, marketers can gather critical data that predicts success metrics such as purchase intent, brand recall, and thus influence future content creation. Fortune 100 brands and leading market research firms have tapped into emotional AI to optimize tag lines, story arches, and ultimately media spend, and are already seeing the returns. Ads with high emotion dynamics and low negative dynamics have been proven to be 4x more likely to lead to an increase in sales.

It’s by no means an easy journey, but as emotional AI continues to build momentum it will allow marketers to produce automated content that’s intuitive and relatable to users. To date, Affectiva has analyzed 2 billion facial frames, but as an industry we’ve just barely even scratched the surface. Personal analytics, such as cognitive state, age, ethnicity, and gender are also starting to be captured to target dynamic content in real-time. Zijerveld concluded the presentation by reminding the audience that, “we all have emotional passports” and that the digital world that we interact will not only be able to travel with us across geographic regions, but with our feelings anticipating our needs throughout our daily journeys and helping smooth out bumps in the road.

2.) Adaptive Content

Adaptive Content, also referred to as smart content, is often associated with the ease in which a piece of content transfers across different devices. However, there’s much more to this content than mobile-optimized webpages and email subject lines featuring users’ names. Juhee Garg, Senior Product Manager at Adobe, gave an in-depth overview of how digital content has evolved since the advent of the web to today’s constantly expanding digital ecosystem, where immersive and nimble content isn’t just preferred by consumers, but expected.

At its core, smart content is created, planned, and developed around the context, mood, and goals of the customer. Powered by a concept known as Information 4.0, content is generated through a network of networks that allows for the dynamic, ubiquitous, and spontaneous exchange of molecular data to offer relevant content to individual user profiles. The most defining aspect of adaptive content is its semantic richness. Embedded intelligence within a landing page, a mobile app, or any other digital environment can adjust fields within a piece of content so that it’s contextually relevant. For example, if a user is visiting a product info page on a site for the tenth time, adaptive content can identify the devices from which the user has accessed the content, how long the user interacted with specific areas of the page and then customize the heading, creative, and copy of the product page appropriately to leave the user with the most relevant information to close the purchase. This is the number one benefit of adaptive content; marketers create a piece of content once and can deploy it everywhere, achieving both reach and relevancy.

3.) Proprietary Programmatic

The most impactful presentation of the conference was a panel that managed to tie together all of the key components for implementing a truly thoughtful digital content strategy. Digilant’s Global CEO, Alan Osetek, alongside Global Head of Digital Marketing at Kaspersky Labs, Tom Hubbard, and Founder of Martekrs, Colin White, discussed how marketers can best leverage their data and proprietary programmatic tactics to drive a personalized digital strategy.


Moderator and Executive Director of East Coast CatalystTim Bourgeois,  kicked off the discussion by asking each panelist what programmatic means to them. Tom began saying, “I define it in a much broader terms. Many people equate it with media, but I think it can be summed up as the automation of marketing decisions. One of the most exciting things for me is seeing how AI will change programmatic.” Colin saw proprietary programmatic as an opportunity to help flip the marketing funnel for the brands he works for that are looking to approach their marketing from an account level, putting out the most relevant content to leads that are most likely to convert. Lastly, Alan defined it as, “The ability to buy media in a one-to-one, real-time, and always-on fashion.”

Although automation tools like emotional AI and adaptive content can create an extremely personal digital experience, they’re still evolving and not completely scalable without an effective and customized delivery strategy. That’s where programmatic ad buying implemented by an experienced partner like Digilant, with access to inventory across a number of advanced platforms and a talented team of analysts, comes in to help marketers and media buyers get the most out of their ad content and media spend.

As a marketing executive with limited resources, Colin remarked that, “With the convergence of platforms, instead of doing just A/B testing on a landing page, we can do multivariable testing across all different platforms. As a small marketing organization, we can’t really do that manually. Prior to programmatic,  you might’ve been limited to only a few tests.” The level of customization and experimentation available through proprietary programmatic has lead businesses of all sizes and verticals to find solutions that reach digital consumers with personally relevant content through automation.

Upon leaving Gilbane’s Digital Content Conference it was clear that despite how essential digital content is to engaging and converting users, if the way in which that content is created, adapted, and delivered isn’t valuable to the people consuming it, then it’s of no value to today’s digital marketer either.  I’m excited to keep up with these innovations in content marketing and how they can create more personal digital experiences for advertisers and their audiences.

For more information on Gilbane and to see presentations from this year’s conference, click here.

9 Tips for Media Buyers to Minimize Ad Fraud in Programmatic Campaigns

eMarketer estimates that U.S. programmatic investment will surpass 83 billion dollars in 2017, representing 73% of all digital ad spend this year.  To ensure that this increase in spend is sustained, the industry needs to continue to improve the programmatic purchasing experience and eliminate problems such as fraud. According toad verification company Adloox, the numbers suggest that ad fraud will cost brands $16.4 billion globally this year, and that nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted in 2016.
Companies that participate in the programmatic advertising ecosystem are most interested in banishing fraud and exposing bad practices.  That is why companies like Digilant are bringing more and more transparency to the whole process, promoting regulatory improvements against cybercrime, trying to ensure that content appears in the appropriate spaces and the advertisers get the greatest return on their investments. It is the only way for ad-tech to continue to be a marketing lever in the digital economy.
The good news is that because of efforts from programmatic vendors fraud is now in retreat. The National Association of Advertisers of the United States calculates that the losses will be over a million dollars less than last year.

In order to help marketers minimize fraud we have come up with 10 tips that help them make safer programmatic investments.

9 Tips for Minimizing Ad Fraud

There are different measures that advertisers can take to make their investments more secure:

  1.  Search for personalized strategies. Each proposal must be adjusted to reflect your brand values and overall marketing KPIs.
  2. Examine the context on the publisher pages. The analysis of the data of a web page can confirm that the content is relevant and suitable for your brand’s advertisements. Implement whitelists and blacklists, analyze user traffic and strengthen visibility criteria.
  3. Use machine learning to implement audience targeting and then to safely expand the audience of campaigns by finding people that look like them.
  4. Ask if they are willing to use only Ads.txt. This buying method confirms that each webpage uploads a file to its root domain detailing which SSP (Sell Side Platform – a tool that manages the programmatic advertising of a website) offers its inventory, its Placement ID and its relationship with that SSP. In this way, it is ensured that the information passed from SSP and the publisher ID is accurate. The publishers publicly indicate who is actually authorized to market their advertising space eliminating inventory fraud.
  5. Prioritize programmatic buying in private marketplaces, which ensures a direct relationship with publishers.
  6. Avoid non-certified apps. The environment of the applications can be more risky than desktop or mobile web.
  7. Ask if the DSP has a pre-bid solution. Ads are only bid on and served if the inventory meets certain conditions and pre-bid filtering can be used to ensure contextual relevancy or to prevent ads from appearing in environments are not brand safe.
  8. Identify programmatic companies that have or work with the best fraud technology solutions and application of best practices.
  9. Run away from opacity. The most advanced programmatic buying companies are offering an increasingly transparent relationships.

 Types of Ad Fraud

Fraud affects all digital marketing, generating false traffic. The fraud started with clicks (generated by people who have no real interest in the ad) and impressions (when requesting an impression in an Ad-Exchange knowing that it will not be seen by any real user). It was technically sophisticated with bots (software programs that simulate the action of a person visiting websites and clicking on advertisements).

Four other ad fraud practices that digital marketers are faced with include pixel stuffing, ad-stacking, ghost sites and masked URLs. Pixel Stuffing occurs when the visitor of the web page does not see the advertisement because it is so small, but for the advertiser it counts as an impression. Ad-Stacking is when several banners or videos are placed on top of each other in a single advertising space. Because the user can not see that they are stacked, the advertiser is charged for false impressions. Ghost sites are false websites and impersonations of domains, as the Financial Times recently experienced. Masked URLs occur when an ad is said to be shown on one website but is actually placed on another one.

There is also the reputational risk that brands can face if their ads appear next to inappropriate or illegal content. This was discovered last spring with Youtube and Google. The brands unknowingly placed advertisements for brands next to violent political content, religious extremists and other negative environments. The analyst firm Nomura calculated that the search engine could lose more than 7% of its revenue in 2017, totaling close to 750 million dollars.

In August, it became known that Google was refunding money to hundreds of brands affected by advertising fraud. Brands’ ads purchased through the DoubleClick Bid Manager-Google were being placed on pages with false traffic generated through automated programs.

At the end of last year, the computer security firm White Ops revealed the biggest and most sophisticated scam to date in this area, named Methbots. A group of Russian cyber criminals created an “army” of bots, pretending to be real people, that generated more than 300 million fake video views a day. More than 170 million dollars were spent by advertisers who believed they were generation impressions of real consumers.

Gearing Up for Winter with Cradles to Crayons


There are currently over 300,000 kids in the Greater Boston Area that are living in low-income or homeless situations that face the risk of having to brave the winter without the clothing that they need to stay warm. The Gear Up for Winter initiative led at Cradles to Crayons Boston, wants to change this, so that no child is cold for another of Boston’s long and unforgiving winters. 
Since starting the new initiative, Cradles to Crayons (C2C) has already managed to help out 40,000 children and aims to help another 100,000 this season.

In an effort to help reach this goal, the Digilant Boston Office headed over to the Giving Factory on Wednesday to check, sort, and package donations brought in from all over Massachusetts. The first group was in charge of assuring that the donations were new or in new condition, so that the children receiving them would be proud to wear the clothing. Once reviewed, the clothing was brought into the outfit section, where volunteers created packages for both boys and girls from newborns to teenagers. Lastly, once these outfits and other winter essentials, like sweaters, vests, and socks, were organized, the sorting team assisted in placing the packages in the proper to be sent out in time for winter.

It was a great day and the Digilant Boston Team looks forward to continuing to help put together clothing packages with C2C as the winter approaches. With offices and local drop-off centers in the Greater Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago Areas, many of us can join the cause and make a difference in the lives of our communities’ youth this winter. Visit Cradles to Crayons’ site to find out more about how and where to volunteer or donate and keep up with the Digilant Cares’ Teams latest collaborations with C2C by following us on our Instagram.

How to Hire an Internet Ad Buying Agency?

Part of any successful brand’s digital marketing strategy involves the tactful implementation of an internet ad buying plan. Although mapping out an impactful internet ad buying plan is a crucial and necessary step to take when growing your business, it can be a daunting task for even the most experienced marketer. For this reason, it’s generally more effective to hire a professional internet ad buying agency that will meet your needs and maximize your ad dollars from start to finish of your campaign.

Rather than taking full advantage of internet ad buying, many marketers opt to forgo more advanced internet ad buying strategies, simply because they’re unfamiliar with or can’t afford the ramp up time needed to properly run campaigns in-house. Among the many forms of internet ad buying, the model proven to be the most beneficial for brands of all sizes and verticals is programmatic media buying. Maybe you’re asking yourself, “What is it that programmatic internet ad buying can do for my brand?” and the answer is rather simple: it reaches the right audience, at the right place and time, and at the lowest cost for the advertiser.

How are brands managing their internet ad buying today?

Programmatic internet ad buying is powered by RTB (Real Time Bidding), which has become the go-to investment for brands looking to get the most out of their internet ad buying, because the bidding process is constantly improved upon as DSP‘s (Demand Side Platform) identify the inventory spaces that yield the highest ROI. This powerful software can identify, purchase, and place an ad impression across the digital ecosystem in milliseconds, but if you slow things down, the RTB process can be broken into five stages:

  1.  A user accesses a web page.
  2. Cookies on the page retrieve data on the user’s behavior and this data is used to create a profile.
  3. Advertisers participate in auctions with the publisher for the page inventory if the user profiles align with their target audience.
  4. Buyers set their CPM (cost per mil or cost per 1,000 display impressions) and the bidder with the highest CPM wins the auction.
  5. The creative is delivered by the advertiser to the ad space on the web page that the user is visiting.

What are the benefits to having a programmatic internet ad buying partner?

As an advertiser, you want to assure that your products and services will be discovered by as many users within your target audience. Whether your brand is focused on selling sportswear to women between 40 and 55 years-old or life insurance to millennial newlyweds, buying internet ads on one channel alone won’t yield results. Just like the people we know in our everyday lives, internet users are multidimensional and your internet ad buying strategy should be too. Although programmatic technology leverages artificial intelligence and is capable of incredible, hiring a programmatic partner with an experienced team to implement omnichannel approaches to your internet ad buying will set up a people-first digital strategy, leading to higher conversions and even uncovering new users that you previously didn’t know were part of your target audience.

Before hiring an internet ad buying agency, consider the following factors:

1.) Specialization

Every company is unique and the roadmap and buyer’s lifecycle of each vertical, market, and even product-type, can vary significantly.  For example, if you’re a healthcare company with a highly niche user demographic, you’ll want to inquire about case studies and the experience that the agency’s team has within the healthcare industry. If the agency’s portfolio is primarily composed of consumer-packaged goods and retail clients, they probably aren’t yet suited  to set up a high performing campaign for a B2B company that sells medical devices.

2.) Creativity

Contrary to what many people might think, the programmatic buying of internet ad inventory isn’t a process completely void of creativity. It’s very important to determine whether or not the agency will be capable of coming up with innovative and creative strategies to reach the users in your target audience and uncover new ones. An agency’s ability to be agile and flexible to adjust its for your is very important.

3.) Time Efficiency

Your marketing team member’s talent might be limitless, but their time certainly isn’t. Firstly, having access to a DSP (Demand Side Platform), allows you to bypass the timely process of negotiating with ad buyers and publishers involved in traditional media buying. Secondly, when you have a specialized internet ad buying agency managing your campaigns, there’s more time left for you and your team to focus on other marketing efforts that will enhance your strategy.
contratar una agencia de medios digitales: cambios en el proceso de compra de medios onlineIn the past, marketing managers and agencies could buy inventory directly from the publishers. A purchase decision that in many cases was based on the content. Depending on the target you would like to impact, you should choose a specific medium. However, the emergence of technologies such as DSPs, DMPs or SSPs have not only solved some of the inefficiencies of the traditional media buying process, but also, has made the process faster and easier to identify the target and the right moment to impact it.

4.) Cost Efficiency

Very often advertisers will begin their campaign planning by setting a budget, a logical thing to do when planning a digital ad campaign. However, the question shouldn’t be, “How much money can we spend on this campaign?” but rather, “How much money do we need to spend on this campaign?” The entire goal of internet ad buying is to reach and convert users with scale and precision that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to with traditional media buying. Therefore, greater ad spend  does not always translate into greater campaign results. Make sure that the agency you decide to hire is more focused on your company’s performance than their paycheck.

5.) Transparency

It’s very important to evaluate the level of transparency that the agency can provide your brand. Not only does it give you peace of mind to know where your ad dollars are being spent, but it’s also one of the best ways to shape your strategy. A top tier internet ad buying agency should be able to offer you with aggregated KPI metrics along with real time reports displayed on a dashboard for your team to reference and monitor. With this information you can glean insights from the internet ad campaigns that the agency’s managing and improve your digital strategy moving forward.

When embarking on your search to hire an internet ad buying agency, coming across a partner with all of these factors are only within the reach of a few companies among which, of course includes Digilant. Do you want to know more about how our programmatic solutions can help you launch a great internet ad buying strategy?

Media Innovation Day 2017: What is the Future of the Consumer Experience?

By Lainie Smith, Media Strategist at Digilant

This Wednesday, the Ad Club held its annual Media Innovation Day & Maven Awards, a “daylong content event covering new and emerging media, and focusing on the rapid media and marketing shifts that are impacting brands.” As soon as I stepped foot inside the building to the roaring echo of the crowd welcoming the next speaker to stage,  I knew I was in for a treat. Topics ranged from artificial intelligence, to robotics, to OTT, to partnerships and podcasts, but some overwhelming themes united the presentations, namely choice, personalization and relevancy. While technology continues to change how we communicate, media professionals can always rely on the unchanging nature of the consumer characterized by an innate desire for experiences.

Choice

In a world where people value their time above all else, new media channels and platforms must offer the user personal choice and flexibility if they want to survive. Nowhere is this more reflected than in OTT (Over-The-Top) content, comprising of all the media that we can’t get enough of from streaming platforms and services. Digital leaders from HP, Hulu, Nielsen, and Roku  spearheaded a panel discussion on the booming OTT industry, opened by Seth Walters from Roku who pointed out how ubiquitous OTT has become with Rokus now in 15 million households that collectively view a  billion hours of content a month.

Enid Maran from Nielsen jumped in to discuss how to best harness the buying power of these viewers, noting, “We have a new landscape to get messages out – what is the best way to market this space to advertisers?” The key to the success of this type of content lies in the flexibility it provides the user.  Media consumption is no longer dictated by a broadcast calendar, allowing users to schedule their entertainment around their lives and not the other way around. Even what the advertiser puts out needs to be on the user’s terms.  Peter Naylor added to the discussion by saying that, “nobody hates ads, but everybody hates irrelevance.”

Personalization

Often times, the most meaningful media triggers the consumer’s imagination and allows them to take an active role in shaping the ads they receive. Chris Giliberti, Head of Multiplatform at Gimlet, perfectly illustrated this concept when he played a Hiscox podcast advertisement for us. Simply listening to the narration of a single speaker, the user must apply his or her imagination to picture the speaker – what he looks like, where he came from, his current environment. It’s been proven that imagination is deeply linked to memory, so the key to memorable media may lie in leaving space for the consumer to personalize it, rather than crafting the entire narrative for him or her.

Experiences Over Things

It’s tough to pick one speaker that I most enjoyed hearing from when the lineup consisted of top execs from companies like Pinterest, Waze, Havas, and IBM, but one particularly memorable presentation was delivered by Anthony Reeves, Global Creative Director at Amazon. Reeves began his presentation by clearly identifying  Amazon as an “experience” company, rather than a tech or eCommerce giant. “People need experiences to drive us forward, either physically or through technology,” he said, before  showing a clip of Amazon partnering with Hyundai to physically bring cars to potential car purchasers for a test drive, rather than the customer going to dealership . This novel approach to the test-driving experience yielded great results for Hyundai, increasing sales and brand affinity amongst its audience.

On the topic of change, Mr. Reeves quoted Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos by saying, “When trends emerge, businesses have a choice – embrace them and you get a tailwind; fight them and you’re fighting the future.” But he left the audience with his understanding of the one constant in the rapidly changing media landscape – experience. Withstanding all change, the need for human experience will never go away.

Although media is constantly innovating, media consumers haven’t changed. The constant that media companies can drive towards is experience; the problem lies in how to adapt experiences across increasingly automated media channels, while still allowing the user the flexibility of making their own choices.

How to Become a Great Digital Media Buyer?

Since the onset of the digital transformation, the role of digital media buyer has been one of the most in-demand jobs in the advertising industry. Although digital media buying in and of itself is nothing new, it’s a profession that’s constantly adapting to new digital channels, technologies and platforms.

As a key liaison between agencies and advertisers, digital media buyers support in the creation and implementation of advertising campaigns for different brands. Although digital media buyers may be involved in many decisions made throughout the campaign planning process, the most important decisions lie in determining which online media channels and what tactics will yield the greatest reach and be most effective in achieving campaign goals.

In order to successfully do this, there are certain attributes and competencies required from today’s digital advertising industry. Would you know how to identify the necessary skills needed to be a digital media buyer? What type of person does it take to get the job done? Several professionals have expressed their opinions on this subject and these are a summary the most requested characteristics and skill sets:

  • A digital media buyer must be curious and not be afraid of tackling complex problems.
  • A buyer must possess an in-depth knowledge of the industry in which its customers operate.
  • Also, they must be an interdisciplinary professional that can manage both traditional and digital marketing with ease.

What exactly is a Digital Media Buyer?

It’s commonly thought that a digital media buyer is simply responsible for laying out the plan for a brand’s digital ad campaign, deciding what online channels (social media, apps, search engines, site banners, streaming platforms, etc.) will set the stage for the most conversions, greatest brand recognition, or the generation of the most qualified leads. However, a digital media buyer’s role extends far beyond this.

They’re the people that come in contact with almost every actor in the digital advertising planning and execution processes, so they end up learning not only how to create the roadmap of a campaign, but also how to drive it forward. These responsibilities demand the digital media buyer to be a multifaceted professional in order to meet their clients’ needs.

6 Important Attributes Needed to be a Great Digital Media Buyer

If you’ve ever considered a career in digital media buying and want to envision yourself in the role, ask yourself if you possess the below attributes:

1. Team Player

Successful digital media buyers are always team players because they have to work with many people in a variety of contexts. Whether reaching out to a more experienced buyer for help in overcoming an unforeseen campaign obstacle, inquiring about how to use new programmatic bidding technology and submitting requests to the product team, or developing account relationships with the sales team, planning and executing a digital ad campaign is never a one-person job.

2. Digital Expert

Although a digital media buyer isn’t expected to start their first day on the job completely adept in all things digital, it’s crucial to always maintain an eagerness to learn about the constantly evolving digital advertising ecosystem. It’s to a buyer’s advantage to become an early adopter of new technologies and platforms, because more likely than not, they’ll eventually be incorporated into new forms of online advertising. A few examples of new online user tendencies that have since been integrated into digital advertising include:

Some of the most frequently used tools and resources by buyers to keep up and plan effective digital ad and programmatic campaigns include:

  • Scarborough, MRI, or other demographic databases that provide information surrounding the digital channels where a campaign’s target audience can be found and measures the impact different digital platforms can have on these audiences.
  • ComScore Data to see specific sites if your goal is to introduce a brand to a new market or target audience, digital media buyers can analyze data from ComScore and other internet market research companies like Nielsen, to determine where on the web they should be redirecting their ads.
  • Social Tools: Of course, advertising via Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram, provides incredible reach when campaigns are correctly implemented.

3. Natural Networker

If you’re a naturally extroverted and well-connected person, you might want to consider digital media buying. The job can be very social because it requires working with various partners and clients, often through networking and socializing outside of the office. High-energy people who aren’t afraid to reach out to industry experts for the solutions they need to make their client’s campaign plans a reality.

4. Skilled Negotiator

If you want to become a digital media buyer, you have to present your media plan, receive approval, and then follow through on the plan under the approved parameters. Familiarity with standard industry rates for ad inventory and having the ability to stretch a budget to maximize ROI on ad spend will both improve the client’s campaign results and increase margins for the buyer’s agency.

5. Resourceful Problem Solver

One of the most important feats for any digital media buyer to achieve is overcoming obstacles and implementing inventive solutions while designing campaigns from the ground up, almost like a digital media engineer. For example, if a customer requests paid search in their digital media plan, the digital media buyer needs to determine if an Adwords campaign is needed and how to select keywords that will help optimize the SEM (search engine marketing) element of the campaign.

6. Intuitive Analyst

Beyond organizing Excel spreadsheets with copious amounts of qualitative and quantitative data collected over the course of a campaign, digital media buyers should also be able to explain the reasoning behind why different users take different paths during their consumer journey and what needs to be done to drive conversions. With the increase in data that online publishers provide, a digital media buyer has to understand and analyze media and market data, as well as brand development indices and campaign performances by digital channel.

How to Become a Digital Media Buyer

You don’t need any special training or a graduate-level degree to become a digital media buyer. However, most agencies seek candidates with an undergraduate degree and experience in communications, PR, statistics, or marketing. Beyond this general background, digital media buyers are expected to have strong writing skills, the ability to effectively track and analyze metrics, and a passion for all things digital, including:

  • Ability to appropriately budget and report
  • Clear and succinct cross-departmental communicator
  • Knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • Capable of implementing Google Adwords
  • Experience using media planning and performance tools like Google Analytics, Comscore, DoubleClick, etc.
  • A genuine passion for technology

Once a position has been landed and the digital media buyer is assigned to a new account, the first question the new hire should ask him or herself is: “How can this client, regardless of size or industry, build and strengthen its brand?” From there the buyer will analyze the digital channels where this brand’s advertisements will have optimal impact.

Resources for Digital Media Buyers

If you want to take some first steps towards a career in digital media buying or sharpen your skills, it’s a good idea to get in touch with and stay engaged with top media professionals at ad agencies.

  1. AdAge Datacenter: A primary resource for business intelligence and media research, this database can serve as a great starting point to expand your media buying contacts from top agencies.
  2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator.: Digital Sales professionals use this tool to find contacts and get referrals to important brands and agencies.

A digital media buyer with all of these skills and attributes is essential to the success of any digital ad campaign.

Are you in need of proprietary programmatic solutions paired with exceptional digital media planning to make your next digital ad campaign a success?  At Digilant, we help brands and agencies uncover new audience insights to implement more strategic, better-target digital advertising campaigns. From educational institutions to CPG companies, to top automotive brands, our solution span across all industries. We make it possible for agencies to bolster expertise and services for media clients and for brands to scale media buying quickly. With channel supported across programmatic, search, and social, Digilant makes media buying simple. Learn more about how Digilant can take your 2021 digital advertising campaigns to the next level. Let’s talk.

Best Internet Advertising Strategies Explained

Effective internet advertising relies on the delivery of impactful messages to consumers through the digital media channels that will provide optimal return on investment. Advertising agencies use a variety of internet advertising strategies according to the goals of the brands with which they work. These strategies can include email marketing, search, social, and display marketing, content marketing, and more often than not, a combination of all of these types of internet advertising.

There’s no formulaic path to follow when embarking upon an internet advertising campaign, and the trends and tastes of digital consumers change over time. If you want to keep up, consider implementing some of the most frequently used and most effective forms of ad buying strategies found below.

1.) Video Advertising on Social Media

There’s no denying that we’re consuming more and more video content on social media. 45% of users watch over an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week and 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. For these and other compelling reasons, social media platforms are including more ways for advertisers and publishers alike to create and engage with video.

Large video sharing platforms like YouTube have been selling video ad space for years, but have continuously enhanced their offerings, now allowing advertisers to have their videos appear in users’ search results.

What we have seen over the last two years is an explosion in video consumption on our platform, which in turn has created a great opportunity to take advantage of internet advertising,” said Graham Mudd, Director of Monetization Product Marketing at Facebook.

Live Videos

Since Facebook first took a chance on incorporating live streaming into its platform in April 2016 with “Facebook Live”, the video advertising landscape has undergone a turn. Previously, Twitter had bought and introduced a mobile device integration with Periscope, and most recently, Instagram launched Instagram stories. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram stories allow users to post photos and videos that can be viewed for up to 24 hours, however, Instagram differentiates itself with a live streaming feature.
This evolution in video advertising allowing for more personal interaction with users is key to understanding why many companies are deciding to allocate more and more of their ad spend towards social channels.
Big brands are capitalizing on these changes in information consumption to enhance their internet advertising strategies. Lowes, for example, unveiled its Black Friday deals on Facebook Live to an audience of 32,000 people and the recording was viewed an additional 891,000 times in the days following the live stream.

2.) Remarketing

Have you ever looked at a flight without buying it and then it started to appear everywhere as you navigated the web? How many times have you been on the verge of buying a product on Amazon, but you ultimately remove it from your cart and it shows up on almost every page you visit? This form of internet advertising is what’s known as remarketing.
Remarketing is an advertising strategy that leverages browsing data in the form of cookies to remind users that they can still convert and purchase the product or service they left behind. If a user has shown interest in any of your products or services, but has not yet converted, tactful remarketing can attract the user back with display ads on other websites.

A Customized Strategy

Remarketing is considered one of the best internet advertising techniques for both small and large advertisers. The best thing about this ad buying tactic is that you can customize the message in a way that will increase conversions.

However, advertisers should use this tactic carefully because poor use of remarketing often reflects a negative image of a brands as being quite aggressive or annoying. Set yourself up for success by doing your homework on which users will be most likely to convert upon exposure to a remarketing ad.

A great place to start is the Google Display Network, where you can reach potential customers that have already shown a strong interest in your product or service. One of the best features of the network is its audience segmentation capabilities which allows for keyword, contextual, behavioral, and geo-targeting, among other tactics.

3.) Inbound Marketing

Although inbound marketing is no longer the newest or most innovative of strategies, it’s still a great technique to drive internet advertising results. The reason? Inbound has adapted to the changing consumer-brand relationship.

The most important thing to prepare when planning your inbound marketing strategy is content. Not only does the content have to be consistent and available on the digital channels that your users access, but it also must be valuable content and tailored to the various audience segments to whom you’re trying to convert.


Identifying a variety of consumer personas and generating content catered to those personas is always the best first course of action before putting paper to pavement.  However, once you’re ready to launch an inbound marketing strategy, the below inbound lead generation tactics are a helpful roadmap to follow if you want to yield conversions for your business.

Inbound Marketing Tactics

  • Attracting Traffic: The first step of inbound is to get the user’s attention. It can be published periodically in your blog quality content, streamlining the different profiles of social networks or through the sending of newsletters, among other actions.
  • Conversion: If you offer quality content that provides value to your audience, such as free ebooks, thought pieces, infographics, guides, and videos, users will become loyal visitors to your site. Offer valuable materials that require a lead form from a landing page, so that
  • Closing: Once you’ve acquired the lead, it’s time to nurture it by further engaging the potential customer. Direct emails, webinars, and other personalized are all effective ways to capture leads.
  • Post-Campaign Analysis: Don’t forget this last step. In order to widen your inbound sales funnel, it’s important to analyze your campaign. What piece of content received the most downloads or site visits? What lead nurturing techniques worked best to seal the deal with your leads?

4.) Native Advertising

Native Advertising is a type of internet advertising that, like inbound marketing, has also arisen because of the new digital consumer’s relationship with brands.
Native is popular because it’s a less intrusive digital advertising tactic compared to traditional banners and other forms of display advertising. Each ad unit appears as if it were just another piece of the publisher’s content because it integrates its creative to mirror the publisher’s. A common form of native that you’ve probably encountered are ads found amongst the posts in a social network’s newsfeed.

Characteristics of Native Advertising

Native Ad Units share similar attributes with publisher content like image size & ratio, layout, headline, caption, font colors and style. The key differences lie in that native ads also include ad labels.
If you manage to sell your brand in an original way and offer content that your user needs, you’ll start to win over your audience. Providing solutions rather than asking for a purchase grabs a user’s attention and might even encourage sharing of the ad with others.

5.) Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is one of the most innovative forms of internet advertising to date, integrating the digital and physical world together to create experiences that surprise even the savviest of consumers.
The interactive nature of augmented reality is exciting and catches participants off guard, leaving an impact and sometimes even causing the campaign to go viral. Most campaigns are setup to allow smartphone users direct their phones’ cameras at certain objects, whether a print advertisement or even just a cup of coffee, in order to prompt a 3D video to play.
According to Nielsen, 97% of millennials own a smartphone, making this internet advertising strategy highly accessible to users, and more specifically, users that aren’t always apt to engage with traditional advertising.
 
One of the most exciting aspects of augmented reality is its room for growth and expansion. It’s very experimental, but the evidence is there to back up its effectiveness. According to Deloitte, there are already 88% of mid-market companies implementing some form of virtual or augmented reality into their business

Choose your Audience Wisely

As you plan your next internet advertising campaign, consider the internet users that you’re trying to reach and which strategies at your disposal will result in those users being receptive to your campaign.  The above digital ad buying strategies all focus on the current, yet constantly evolving, consumer-brand relationship.
Today’s most effective online tactics generally aren’t implemented as a part of a campaign used to drive direct sales, but instead boost brand engagement. Advertisers must always question how they can break down barriers between their brand and the user. How can you reach and connect with your buyer personas?

Partners like Digilant can help you move forward in your next internet advertising campaign, leveraging actionable data science to analyze user behavior and create campaigns that reach consumers across the digital ecosystem, while uncovering new insights and audiences along the way.

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