2019 AMIN Integrated Conference Recap: Emerging Digital Channels

By: Hannah Sturgeon, Campaign Solutions Analyst and Ariel Howard, Campaign Solutions Manager

On Tuesday, April 16th, my colleague, Ariel Howard, and I attended the AMIN (Advertising and Marketing Independent Network) Integrated Conference where our CEO, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a panel on how today’s independent agencies are leveraging newly emerging digital channels for their clients and what challenges and rewards come with integrating these channels into a brand’s media mix. The network, comprised of nearly thirty independent advertising agencies from across the country offering services ranging from creative, public relations, print, digital, and everything in between, joins together almost 100 senior marketers. Digilant was lucky enough to have a dynamic discussion between three of them:

All expert media buying professionals, Walt, Paige, and Cheryl gave us their take on everything from digital audio, DOOH, influencer marketing, programmatic TV, first party data modeling, personalization, attribution, and more. This is our summary of what was said and what we took away from the event. The responses from the panelists are not a word for word account of what was said upon answering each question.


Raquel kicked off the panel asking the group the following:

What new channels excite you personally and what will you be using more in 2019?

Cheryl jumped in first and talked about the excitement that she and her team at Signal Theory have around the advancements being made in programmatic TV, specifically leveraging OTT platforms through CTV (Connected TV). After working on an addressable TV campaign for six years targeting rural households of cattle producers through purchasing ad inventory on linear television in counties with high cattle populations, the prospect of executing a campaign that reaches the same audience leveraging the individual viewing habits of users within a DMA and deterministic matching to increase conversions and ROAS is highly appealing. Paige echoed Cheryl’s excitement surrounding CTV, noting that for Slingshot it has facilitated the connection of the digital and broadcast worlds. Audio Content Recognition (ACR) allows her agency to get a better understanding of what content audiences have been exposed to while they’re watching TV and then remarket to these audiences while they’re scrolling through Instagram and other social platforms on their mobile device and watching video content in their living room.
Despite privacy being a top concern for consumers and advertisers in today’s market, Walt loves that things are getting highly personalized in the digital space through multilayer targeting. A few years back, he and his colleagues were discussing a whiskey brand in the office and a half hour later began receiving banner ads for the brand. With home assistants becoming a standard item in U.S. homes, the opportunities that voice search marketing presents are very promising.

Which new channels present the greatest challenges, inefficiencies, or unknowns for your clients’ marketing efforts?

Influencer marketing is one channel that Cheryl feels is going downhill quickly, with frequent cases of what should come across as a genuine endorsement of a brand turning into a “DJ testimonial.” Although a lot of her clients are interested in adding it to their media mix, if it’s not authentic, then influencer marketing can go bad really quickly. It needs to make sense and brands need to partner with an influencer who will be a true evangelist of their product or service.

Paige noted that one of the biggest hurdles her team has when presenting new channels is navigating concerns that the channel won’t naturally integrate into the client’s media mix. She chimed back to what Walt mentioned regarding the high levels of personalization and targeting that can be achieved through mediums like voice that some clients think will come across as invasive. Although similar levels of data collection may be occurring through other channels that they’re already running media on, their mindsets aren’t there yet.

Walt also struggles with explaining to clients the benefits of more niche channels, such as DOOH. If there isn’t a billboard on their way into work or right outside of their office, they don’t want to do it. However, now that these new types of inventory are biddable, brands are slowly beginning to come around to them. Additionally, trying to define what OTT is and what it isn’t, while also explaining how different platforms like Hulu fit into it, has been a challenge.

 


How are traditional channels working with digital channels and are they starting to merge? Are the budgets still broken out and siloed, or is it treated as one budget planned by one media team.

Although budgets are continuously shifting to be more digitally-focused, Cheryl underscored that you can’t put everything into digital and need to have a robust media mix. The Signal Theory media planning team decides what forms of media they’ll run on through thorough research of their clients’ customers’ behavior. Their planners are channel agnostic and both plan and buy for the client to provide a holistic view of the campaign from start to finish. Paige said that her team members work similarly. Everything is planned around campaign goals and they often set up flowcharts broken out by video for example, where digital video, broadcast, and other mediums are all included together rather than divided out by traditional and digital. For Walt, traditional and digital have merged together based on where they can best reach different target audiences. With the rise of cord cutting and expansion of OTT platforms it’s harder to market to younger through traditional TV advertising, so a single campaign aiming to reach a broad range of age demographics will involve purchasing ads on channels like Hulu through CTV and linear TV to younger and older audiences respectively.

Do you have an attribution strategy for media performance across channels?


There’s still a long way to go to make implementing
multi-touch attribution for omni-channel media buying campaigns a seamless process. Cheryl and Paige note that there’s so much data required from the client across the board from offline to online efforts that all contribute to sales, but more often than not clients associate results with last touch attribution. Paige cites a campaign of a client that wanted to drive form completions of home leasing applications that saw programmatic display as the last touchpoint before converting. Although they were using additional channels, like audio and video, they couldn’t directly see that without those higher funnel tactics, their conversion rate would be lower.


Client data is the most powerful data out there. Let’s talk about our clients giving us access so we can reach their audience.

A commonality in the responses from each panelist was that there’s generally a want from both the advertiser and the agency to have the brand’s first party data shared, however, clients don’t know how to handle their data or aren’t fully equipped to do so. In these instances, Cheryl’s team pulls in members of their analytics team to explain to their account managers what reporting and insights will look like based on the data to which they do have access. If CRM data or an email list can be shared that’s most helpful, but otherwise Paige and her colleagues at Slingshot will use second or third party data to make their campaigns as smart as possible, customizing targeting and messaging to reach customers in a more personalized and relevant way.
At Richter7 the degree to which they’ve been able to leverage first party data has been truly unique to each client according to Walt. He’s had clients that face restrictions when even simply exporting email lists to those that have gathered data from their POS systems along with users’ matching credit card data to create audiences based on loyalty and then load those custom audiences to Facebook to then activate the data to run campaigns against them. Having access to this level of granular data yields incredible insights and can help him and his team decide where digital media is or isn’t working.

Before the event concluded, Raquel opened up the discussion to receive questions from the audience.

 

To what degree are you telling clients in advance that you’ll be able to hit a conversion goal beyond awareness?

Given the multifaceted nature of the campaigns that agencies are taking on in 2019, all of the panelists emphasized that it’s difficult to determine what they can promise to deliver to their clients beyond awareness. Despite some clients asking to receive guaranteed lifts in sales, Cheryl and Walt both said that they instead establish front end benchmarks for KPIs that they determine by referencing industry research or historical data from previous campaigns. Although it’s a challenging conversation to have with the client, it’s essential to be transparent. Paige mentioned that benchmarks can vary greatly depending on vertical, market size, and other factors, so rather than guaranteeing a precise number of people moving into homes, like a performance marketing or guaranteed lead program, they’ll instead offer up an estimated conversion rate based off of similar campaigns.

Although the discussion could have gone on for much longer, we wanted to respect our panelists’ time and allow them to enjoy the rest of the conference. As campaign solutions analysts and managers, we gained a lot of insight into the evolving needs of today’s independent agencies and are excited to apply what we learned into our day to day work executing digital media buying campaigns on these new channels for our clients at Digilant.

Interested in learning about how your brand or agency can create and execute an innovative omni-channel digital media buying campaigns? Feel free to reach out to us about our custom programmatic offerings here.

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.

Boston Dinner, Dessert, Fireworks & Everything Marketers and Media Buyers Need to Know About Blockchain

On Tuesday, June 12th, Digilant hosted a dinner panel in Boston titled “What Marketers & Media Buyers Need to Know About Blockchain.”Anagram’s Chief Executive Officer, Adam Cahill, moderated a discussion about the complexity and opinions on where blockchain is headed and how marketers, media planner and consumers will be affected with the following leading experts on the topic:


When discussing blockchain, most people have a very general idea of what it is – something to do with cryptocurrency, transparency, or monetary safety. But, when it comes to how blockchain is implemented, used and especially how it will affect marketing, media and consumers, most people are not well versed. Experts, like Dave, Isaac and Erich expressed their thoughts during the evening and gave their opinion on how best to prepare and stay up to date on changes due to blockchain.

This is my summary of what was said and what I took away from the event and not word for word for how the speakers answered each question.

Adam kicked off the event with the first question: What problems is blockchain designed to solve?

Isaac took to answering this question with an analogy that dates back thousands of years – dozens of commanders are defending their army and they need to coordinate their action, they need to decide to attack or retreat. Obviously, if they act correctly, everything will work great, however, the worst thing that can happen is if they don’t act in coordination. Within their army, there are messengers, which you can choose to trust, with the hope that they aren’t lying. Through all the chaos, they must come to a consensus on a truth of the situation and decide on what plan will work best. Blockchain is the first time we are able to solve the problem in a meaningful way, which doesn’t necessarily yield trust, but facilitates a conversation that everyone can take as the truth. So to draw a direct analogy, in the world of bitcoin, the general’s are the million of people that want to trade. These people need to decide who has how much and who needs to give what to whom. With the increasing complexity of ad tech – over 2000 tech providers and any given campaign you can invoke dozens of them and that will serve one ad to one person – we can now solve this very effectively. With blockchain, there is the ability to (1) solve longstanding structural issues in the industry and (2) solve the dumb pipes of the internet that weren’t meant to survive, bringing about a whole new generation of innovation, models and tools.
Erich joined in stating that blockchain is going to solve everything. Through all the issues that ad tech and digital marketing face, the consumer is the victim. Blockchain is in its infancy, people are talking and trying to figure out what they think. The companies who are quickly and aggressively creating a solution are a mess because it is such an early start. However, from this mess, applications that answer some of these questions will emerge, some taking longer than others.

Adam then asked Dave to play the role of contraire, to which he responded that out of ten possible use cases, there’s a handful of real cases where blockchain would help and ad tech is is at the top of that list. For ad tech, the problems really need to be solved. But he questioned, can blockchain change a company from the inside? Will you start adding blockchain or will you have to rebuild from the technology from scratch? People are saying they will start from the inside, but it isn’t happening. He posed the question if it can really be done?

Erich responded stating that after 22 years of ad tech, it would be ironic if this was the answer, if we are going to use the “stuff” we have today. The “stuff” we have today is bubblegum and duct tape – a quick, easy fix that isn’t sustainable.

Inspired from Erich’s response, Adam asked him why after all the different fields he has found success in and companies he has started, he planted his roots in ad tech?

Erich stated that he is a believer in ad tech, not to say it is without problems. He was surprised to see, after significant research, that many of the problems that ad tech is facing today, stem from the late 90s. Blockchain is new, it’s misunderstood, misapplied and many people say they have the solution. However, when you take into account that there is an opportunity to completely change the industry, there is a generation one opportunity to roll out some core functions that would sit next to and eventually replace that technology. His choice to work in ad tech was deliberate. He believes there is an opportunity to develop a new standard platform that will only succeed with adoption. But, they will get it done.

Adam turned to the audience as someone was curious to learn who profits from the current model? And if this were to start from the roots up, that would mean people are demanding this type of transparency. So, who can block this? Or who would be an objector?

After Dave joked that he’s the guy who isn’t benefiting from the current model, he went on to explain that the finance industry is taking their slice from everyone else. Everyone wants to maintain their part and when you insert something new, everyone wants their piece to be protected. However, no one gets a piece until we use this new system. You would need a consortium of the biggest companies who come together and break down the whole system. It would start from no one getting anything, building back up, and forcing big companies to join in. Naturally people are going to resist.

Erich jumped off of Dave’s point to say that there are people making more money than they should because the inefficiency is bigger than it should be. There are structural imbalances, frauds in the marketplace, vendors of dubious value and people are unclear what the contribution to the value actually is. We are in need of a mechanism to go deeper into the ad impression and see what the vendors are doing to the plan. Doing this would add a lot of value because as of now, lots of people are profiting but not off the right denominator.

Isaac concluded the answers to the question simply stating that there is no doubt that it is a big deal to get an industry to adopt a new idea. It is a challenge but that’s why it is interesting.

The next question also came from someone in the audience who asked how long they thought it would take for this to come to fruition?

Erich first stated the cop out answer that this will come to fruition during our lifetime, continuing to say that the real answer requires a conversation with publishers. There is an iterative way to roll this out that will provide accountability and legitimize the technology, all of which through new innovation. He concluded saying that he sees this happening in five to ten years.

After hearing those numbers, Adam asked if Erich thought it would be possible to see something like this happen in the next year?

Isaac jumped in to say that there are certain things that could sit next to the current technology.
Erich added that other organizations are developing their own points of view. Very large media planning organizations have a process where they sit in front of a media planner and select where they want to provide orders. There is a great deal of buying that happens quite transactionally. So, there is clarity, reporting and accountability in this process that can be taken and applied to blockchain. This could provide an intermittent step in showing the value in accountability for traditional media buying. At the impression level however, this is much more interesting as there are 12+ companies involved in each impression served to a consumer. He concluded stating that the analog way of buying is not going to last throughout our lifetime.

What is motivation to create this and bring it to the marketplace?

Dave used a comparison to the music industry to answer this question. 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 while transitioning over in order to secure a sustainable future.

Isaac stated that there is a noisy minority of bad actors who are largely spoiling things for the other folks. The core of all of this comes from eliminating the waste this is directly related to fraud, automated inference processes and the creation of a new protocol to initiate blockchain into the marketplace. More money spent at a more efficient rate will produce better results. All of this will be a reckoning of the noisy bad actors.
Erich posed the question asking how long the industry is going to be passive to the fact that they are wasting half of what they are spending? There is a coalition of the willing who want to spend more money, more efficiently, but changes need to be made now in order for that to happen.

Who are the winners and losers through all of this?

All panelists jumped in to agree that the advertiser wins, the publisher wins, and the consumer wins. The biggest loser is the holding company, those writing the check that knows what is costs but don’t know why or how?

Where is the resistance coming from?

Erich was the first to jump in saying that there are agencies in the world whose business practices are suspect, which has nothing to do with blockchain. But, there is also a group of enlightened agencies, and with this group, there is hope that the conversation about blockchain enables empowered advertisers and agencies to make a better decision, have clarity in where value is created. Blockchain could disrupt how some agencies operate today.

Adam then asked if people are going to come together to make this happen? Obviously blockchain technology helps with transparency and fraud, but many people associate it with cryptocurrency, so does that mean that media will need to be paid for by cryptocurrency?

Dave explained that people often mix the technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency can ride on top of blockchain and utilize it; there would not be blockcahin without cryptocurrency, but you don’t need cryptocurrency to validate it. Cryptocurrency can have nothing to do with the payments. He then used the example of lbry. Lbry is “free, open and community-run digital marketplace” built on the idea that people deserve free information. If a publisher is going to take upwards of 30% of the ad revenue, we should just let the people deal with each other. There is already iterative technology that is being built to take away the idea that you can make money from advertising.

Adam again went to the audience and someone asked how does someone go to P&G, for example, and ask them to use blockchain? From a security point of view, blockchain was built to be secure, but cryptocurrency has been hacked. So, how does one prove that blockchain is safe?

Erich took to answering this question by explaining that there are many insecure systems still in their infancy. We keep putting our own paradyme on how the industry should work, but, maybe there is a different paradigm that we have to play within.

Isaac added that blockchain itself has never been cracked, but people are trying to build so fast, people are leaving holes that can be cracked.

Adam brought up Brave Browser, started by Mozilla, which is a browser that lets people manage their identity and get paid for their personal data – a unique approach that questions who gets paid for what. He then asked if the panelists believed that people care enough to build something from the ground up?

Isaac’s opinion on this question was that if you have to ask consumers to install new browser, new marketing, new ways of “everything,” it doesn’t strike as the most optimal way forward for the industry. New protocol should enable those kinds of interaction. Everything should be built into the new enabling infrastructure or technology. He also added that we shouldn’t count out the traditional advertising people,
Erich believes that people do care. He brought up ad blocking and the poor advertising environment that consumers currently experience. The current answer to the ineffective environment is more volume, more poor advertising. 50% of advertising is fraud so the other 50% has to work harder, at a higher volume, with a lower cost. So, how do advertisers do it? What do they need? They don’t need  a new internet, but rather a well articulated process between the advertiser and the consumer. We need new technology that is reliable everyday with an optimized consumer experience.

The final question of the evening came from the audience. GDPR has unveiled a lot of questions with cost – companies have closed because they can’t afford the new costs. Could this prohibit companies from activating blockchain? Will small start-ups not be able to afford it?

Of course it costs money to reformat a business, stated Erich. However, he is weary that cost is not the sole reason companies left the market after GDPR. Effective deployment of the technology is at an infrastructure level. This would not require companies to create an entire new workflow.
The pipes of the internet are GDPR compliant, added Isaac, so it would be efficient to have smarter pipes that do the heavy lifting for us.
Adam concluded the panel, thanking the panelists for their time.

There is much to get excited about regarding blockchain. Although still at the beginning stages of development, adoption and acceptance, there is so much to be learned and gained from its adoption. A world that enables less fraud, more transparency and more brand safety is something to look forward to.
After more conversations and a delicious dessert, we were all pleasantly surprised by a spontaneous fireworks show over the water. Great discussion, delicious food and a beautiful view made for a spectacular Boston event. We want to thank our three amazing panelist once again for giving their unique and informative perspectives on this very relevant topic. We look forward to seeing you at one of our dinner panels in the near future.

Seattle Dinner, Drinks & Conversation About Programmatic Buzzwords: Transparency, GDPR, Attribution, Data Privacy and More

On Tuesday, June 5th, Digilant hosted a dinner panel in Seattle titled the “2018 Fast Track to an Integrated Digital Media & Marketing Strategy.” Digilant‘s Chief Executive Officer, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a discussion on the evolution of digital marketing with the following local marketing and advertising professionals:

This is my summary of what was said and what I took away from the event and not word for word for how the speakers answered each question.

Raquel from Digilant kicked off the discussion with this first question.

What industry buzzwords or shifts do you think will impact digital marketing this year? For example: GDPR, Transparency, Attribution, In-housing or Blockchain.

David from Vulcan was the first to answer this question.  For him from all the buzzwords Blockchain is most likely to have a general impact on the advertising world and what we will probably talk about the most.  It fixes a trail of action and shows you how a fish gets caught before it gets to your plate. Transparency, attribution, GDPR, Blockchain will talk to all of that.  How we process the amount of data that we are creating will be huge. So Blockchain is my topic for the year because it will be huge.

GDPR to me, said Sharon from The Seattle Times, is like Y2K, a lot of build up and preparation especially in the media.  At the Seattle Times we talked to attorneys and thought it would be a bigger deal for us, but then all we really did is turn off retargeting in the EU. In the meantime, the panic of GDPR has made us all become consent monkeys.  AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the keywords I would pick, voice assistants are going to be a big deal.

Adam from Formative said that he is interested what GDPR will mean for the longer term.  What it will mean for advertisers who can’t retarget their visitors, paywalls cost more, publishers will make less money for premium inventory.  In the US we’ll get a couple of years to see how Europe deals with it before we do. Voice, Alexa and Google home, if we think how search has dominated the advertising space for such a long time and now voice interactions will be increasingly part of our lives, so it will be interesting to see what that will look like.

Transparency and in-housing are two big buzzwords we are reading about a lot in relation to programmatic media buying. But the reality is that most brands are not taking things totally in house but still relying on their agency partners.  Why is it such a buzzword then? Is it because of transparency? Why are people talking about it, but not really doing it?

David’s response was that there is an expertise related to the traditional way of doing things.  People are only bringing in some of it in-house because they don’t know how to do the execution part on a bigger scale.  Adam thinks that clients like to talk about bringing stuff in house like social and search but there is an expertise and value that comes from working across different clients that you don’t get from working in-house.  I personally came to appreciate what agencies can provide to their clients.

We haven’t talked about the customer experience yet, there used to be only 50 partner options in the ad-tech ecosystem and now there are 5000 so the customer experience is now really changing and Customer Experience Officer (CXO) is becoming a common job title.

I get the idea of a CXO started Adam, I get it, but it’s also what a CMO is responsible for.  The CXO is somewhat driven by Silicon Valley startups as an anti-marketing thing, that they don’t need to invest in marketing, and that their companies and products can be successful without spending money on marketing.  The need to focus on that overall experience, thinking about it holistically as a cross channel experience is a big shift. With the 5000 ad-tech partners there is no excuse not to present a better experience for the consumer.
Sharon’s answer was that customer experience is something we struggle with at the Seattle Times.  We sell advertising and subscriptions and have hundreds of ad calls. Advertisers are looking for a better experience for their consumers and to me It’s shameful that Google had to come up with ad standards with Chrome, all because publishers weren’t paying attention to the experience.

What about the silos of data? What are the consequences of these trends?

David was the first to respond by saying that he is having a very hard time with the amount of data we are getting.  It’s getting to the point where we can’t deal with the volume of data in a way that it will inform us in a nimble fashion.  We are not sure if we are pulling real insights from all these new great dashboards that are supposed to show us how to use our data, even if you stitch it all together, you have to know how to make great decisions from what you pull out of all the data.
Sharon said that they are trying to be very focused on what is driving that actual subscription. Their AI team is developing a subscriber influence score; they want to know what story or email they read before they subscribed. Building their own scoring system and own analytics so that they can answer one simple question: ‘what influenced that consumer to subscribe?’  According to Adam, nothing slowed the innovation of ad-tech more than Facebook because they don’t allow 3rd party ad tracking, something we could do before, but not anymore. GDPR is actually pushing us back rather than improving the user experience.

What do you think the impact of the announcement that Google just made, about no longer being able to export DoubleClick IDs, will have on targeting, performance and ​attribution?

David said that he thinks it’s going to affect all of those things. Google has been good at thinking of that end user experience because they have the data on that user and people will be forced to used their solutions because it’s most efficient and cost effective.  It’s more concerning for the advertiser but not for the end user.
Adam thinks that Google is trying to get ahead of the curve and make all the changes at once. People will start to complain about the crappy ads they get targeted with as it becomes more difficult for ad formats like native. Instead of being very specific to the user, contextually relevant ads will have to be more generic and not as targeted, because it’s going to hard to do much else.
For Sharon, from a news publisher’s perspective, they tend to trust Google more than Facebook for now and are taking the wait and see approach.

Are you or companies you work with investing in marketing attribution platforms and strategies and why yes or not?

David said that they are not investing in it at this point.  For right now they are not very interested in how the consumers converted but getting the conversions. They aren’t investing enough dollars to make the investment in an attribution solution.
Adam also said that they are not spending the ad dollars at the level they used to, so attribution has not been that important for them right now.  Attribution a bit passé, they’ve been hearing about for a long time and now walled gardens are making it more difficult. What’s going to become important for them is attribution between online to offline, people have smart TV’s that have data, real attribution will be really important when online and offline are not blurred and the consumers get a real experience.

Do you think that brands are going to continue to invest in social advertising or will they be more hesitant based on Facebook’s recent data privacy news or YouTube’s brand safety challenges?

There has been no pullback from social at all, even during the Zuckerberg trial, answered Sharon.  So yes, she thinks people will continue to invest in social. David said that when social platforms first launched they brought together people that weren’t able to connect. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, are all free and nothing in America is free. People are going to remember that, so how do we keep it free, the benefits for the consumers will outweigh the data privacy issues. Adam thinks that eventually the pressure for data privacy will decrease as brands get more slack for data breaches. Facebook made a bunch of unrelated changes to their platform after their data scandal and people seemed ok with that.

What new digital ad formats or platforms have you tried over the last year?

David said that they have been talking a lot about podcasting, they are starting to dip into the programmatic area. People are passionate about podcasts and it would be efficient because we can narrow down the targeting to exactly who we want to reach.  Voice will be fantastic and huge especially combined with Amazon and Google e-commerce offerings, because they have so much data the ads will be even more effective.
Sharon said that this year they tried a couple new things, one of which was headline ads and was a huge failure.  Now they are trying to do more with native. For them the way they decide what to do is a little different than on the publisher side. If they try something new or develop something new it has to be profitable for the business. But if she was on the other side she thinks that she would definitely try something like podcasts.
Adam echoes the podcasts, but also SMS and messenger, because it feels like a one-on-one connection with consumers, more like a conversation and specific answers for their situation.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next event in Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending please reach out to us here: info@digilant.com.

A Dinner Conversation in NYC About Digital & Programmatic Advertising Trends

On Tuesday, May 8th we hosted dinner and conversation at 230 Fifth Rooftop in Manhattan.  Digilant‘s Executive Chairman, Alan Osetek moderated an intimate dinner discussion on the next evolution in integrated digital marketing solutions with digital experts:

As programmatic technology becomes a commodity that everyone is using and has access to, it’s even more important to have integrated teams and strategies to get ahead of the competition. Today’s CMO will be delivering a single media strategy that includes search, social and programmatic. They will be partnering with agencies and businesses that can help them strategize, implement and optimize their digital media across audiences, formats, screens and inventory to most effectively deliver on business goals and objectives.

Alan kicked off the event conversation by asking: What industry buzzwords or shifts do you think will impact digital marketing this year?

Chris from Underscore was the first to respond by saying that he went to SXSW in Austin this year and that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the number one thing they were talking about.  Other topics were automation of data and predicting what that’s going to look like.  From a data perspective that’s what people are interested in, using data to predict how campaigns will perform is going to be key. Lauren at eMarketer agreed that AI is definitely big as well as the focus on machine learning and analytics for understanding customers and what that will look like. Other topics that will be important are transparency, GDPR, Customer Data Platforms, voice search and what that means for advertisers.  Rob from Venbrook responded that from an insurance standpoint the industry is slow to move. The cutting edge people are having a field day with concepts like AI and other big buzzy words.  Not a lot is happening in terms of the insurance space yet but in his opinion, if you are a B2C broker then you start looking for a job because you will be replaced by a robot.  Alan summed up by saying that just like mobile, we were constantly hearing that this was the year of mobile, AI will probably take some time to really develop and there still a lot of value in people pulling the levers, but it will be interesting to see how long it will take to effect our day to day.

What consequences do think these shifts have had on the marketing organizations and the way they are structured or the type of people they need to hire?

When it comes to GDPR, companies are preparing as best they can, Lauren said, people are looking to external parties to help understand what the regulations actually mean for them, most people are starting off with looking into the privacy policy and consent piece, before trying to understand the data part, how do both those things work and connect together.

Are companies taking steps for connections to happen internally or is it the agency or the brand doing it for themselves?

Lauren continued by saying that brands are working in tandem with their agency or tech partners, they have to be responsible to the consumer.  In order to do that they have to convey the message as best they can. Publishers are also being thoughtful about their technology partnerships, because they have an even bigger responsibility to be very clear to the consumer.According to Rob, the horse has left the barn, big data has gotten away from us.  As a result I think we will see a shift back to the largest publishers controlling their data… like they did 20 years or so ago. Back then advertising was controlled by publishers. When advertising was more publisher driven, publishers had the advertiser relationships and would do the data analysis work themselves and then not share this audience data with anyone. An example is with big brands like the New York Times. I believe they will focus less on “mass marketing” and more on customer engagement. The Internet at its best is a one on one medium, not a mass medium. I think there will be greater attention paid to inbound strategies akin to Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 true fans” concept. Do big brands like the NY Times want to make an extra dollar on a CPM or do they want to sell something for a $100 to 1 million people? They don’t need to go to a third party to have the relationship that they want to with their consumers.

Do you think more companies are going to be investing in marketing attribution platforms and strategies and why yes or not?

So how do we collect the data? Chris responded.  Instead of attribution, we should be asking, how is your marketing working for you.  We can’t just look at a specific channel, otherwise attribution is something people are always going to chase. I have not run into someone that has a model I believe in.  Lauren agreed with that response.  Attribution is an understanding of the health of your org, whether it’s loyalty or sales, it has to a top level business moving KPI.  I am more and more convinced that the biggest challenge for attribution is not technology but the organization, how people are compensated and ultimately how they work together that’s holding up the process.
So, how do you do it? Alan asked.  Lauren continued, it’s a culture shift, you need people at the company who are advocates of attribution and collaboration, it starts at the top level of the organization and moves down.

Someone in the audience asked, what do you think the impact of the announcement that Google just made, about no longer being able to export DoubleClick IDs, will have on attribution?

Alan responded by saying that you should think about the other big networks like Facebook and Amazon who are closed, Google in comparison was more open. This move makes Google more like the other players while it also helps them be covered for privacy laws. If you are using a true third party attribution solution like Visual IQ it’s not going to affect you, but if you are only on the Google stack it’s going to be harder.
Chris also chimed in by saying that if you are not talking to the top level of the organization, then there is no point in trying to talk about attribution, as in the lower parts of the org they are not going to be able or want to share the data you need to make the attribution possible. Companies that have Chief digital Officers, a new role that teaches organizations about digital, have more chances to make attribution successful.  Also, today we have moved further along, where more CMOs are digitally savvy, makes it easier to implement attribution.

Shifting topics, Do you think CMOs should be thinking about bringing programmatic in-house and why?

I have been at an ad agency my whole career, started Chris, you can make it work but the talent will get stagnant.  My experience is that you need to work on different things to make your career and company grow.  The challenge is to find the same quality of talent in-house, that you would get at an agency that has a variety of projects and talent.  I’ve thought about it for myself, if I moved to the brand side I would be doing the same thing in 5 years, not able to improve or grow.  Lauren added that she is hearing a lot about in-housing but what’s really behind the momentum might be the impression of cost savings but in reality it’s the data question.  As more people use first party data there are implications of where you put that data. Thinking of a lot about the guaranteed buys, premium video, you don’t want to put your data on open market.  The strategic piece is an edge a lot agencies have because they are in the marketplace and have access to all the best inventory even, if the buying does move in-house.
Chris added that it also comes down to the kind of talent you have, you are never going to be as cheap as the big guys, but we are going to be better, because it’s not a 22 year old running the business.  Clients are investing in data and insights but not doing it alone, with the agency providing all our media data, they can apply it to the data on their side, letting them see a complete picture.  In the past client and agency data were two separate data silos so they couldn’t put the picture together.  The biggest shifts for agencies was to actually share their data to keep their clients from wanting to leave them.

Alan also added the at Digilant we noticed that people who are ramping up on our self-service platform nine out of ten times they don’t manage their actual campaigns and still need help to read and look at the data.  On the other extreme companies are starting to hire data scientists who are experts at reading data.  There is nothing really in the middle, you have to share the data.  It’s a partnership, the technology and the agency are an extension of the brand. Brands are more willing to pay for data analyst than media buyers, according to Chris, even though the young people have no idea what they are doing, companies don’t see the immediate value of media buying experience. In the immediate future, brands want us to do the work and be pro-active on supporting them and telling them next steps, concluded Alan.

How are you defining transparency within your organization?

Transparency has been a huge battle for me internally for the last three years, said Chris.  We are opening up the books now, data doesn’t lie and actually the opposite, it helps create a trust. It also puts other agencies on the spot if they don’t share their data with their clients. For Lauren there are several definitions for transparency, like tech tax, who is getting what cut, it’s a cool concept but for most companies if they actually had that data they wouldn’t know what to do with it. Most companies don’t have the right people who know what reporting should even look like.  There are a lot of layers to it, but overall the vast majority, if they were given the info wouldn’t know what to do with it.  For Rob there are two types of companies, ones who say they care about transparency but do nothing about it and others who are actually doing something.

As a last question Alan asked, what can marketers be doing with their display creative to enhance their media buys?

Chris said that cost is the number one challenge, our company doesn’t do creative, so how do you produce eight sets of banners, it’s too expensive. Creative makes the most sense to bring in-house, so that you get the ability to tell them what to do and don’t have to invest more money, that’s going to be the biggest challenge – taking a chance on a campaign though one creative.  Lauren added that the sheer production of all the assets, and then the strategy is cumbersome, on top of what data am I using to power the campaign.   For some it’s a legal thing, how do you get it all approved? For others, without understanding of the customer journey it becomes a gamble.  Rob finished by saying that he agrees with Lauren and Chris,  the customer segmentation process can be the holy grail or a nightmare, having an in-house creative team is a great idea and there are tons of creative people out there who want jobs.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next events in Seattle, June 5th, and Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending or speaking please reach out to us info@digilant.com.

Wining & Dining in Atlanta: A Conversation With Brands About Their Programmatic Stacks and Strategies

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2018, Digilant hosted an executive dinner panel at City Winery at Ponce City Market in Midtown Atlanta where local digital media agencies and brands gathered to listen in on and engage with a panel of digital marketing executives as they discussed all things digital media and programmatic.
After a lively session of networking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Digilant’s US Chief Executive Officer, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a panel with Senior Media Marketing Manager at Equifax, Joella Duncan, VP of Marketing and Digital Services at Marriott International, Sean Brevick, and Director of Product, Performance, and Data Strategy at Turner Broadcasting, Jonathon McKenzie.

Raquel started the evening off by emphasizing to the audience the amount of tools, technologies, platforms, and walled gardens that exist in today’s digital ecosystem, making it difficult for many digital marketers to keep up and deliver a quality customer experience. Digital media planning and buying teams can no longer afford to limit their inventory sources by running on just one DSP and programmatic campaign tactics need to be as diverse and dynamic as a brand’s customer journey. In order to remain competitive, digital marketers need to keep up to speed, making the development of an integrated digital strategy one of the most crucial tasks for any marketer in 2018.

Raquel kicked off the event by asking, which programmatic trends and developments impact their business today?

Jonathon from Turner was the first to dive into the discussion, saying that in the current state of the entertainment industry there’s so much quality content from premium publishers capable of showcasing brands to audiences and  now advertisers are really beginning to tap into it. He added that not only inventory quality is improving, but the channels on which programmatic inventory is now available are expanding to new frontiers and that helps publishers like Turner get their content distributed at the right time and place, specifically through DOOH. Sean echoed Jonathon’s response, saying that Marriott has benefitted from having less remnant inventory and that the company that manages a portfolio of nearly 30 brands is always looking for ways to thoughtfully manage their data and segment audiences.  Lastly, Joella from Equifax was excited about developments in multi-touch attribution, a longstanding practice at the credit reporting agency, but something that has recently taken center stage for many brands running omnichannel campaigns. Also, something that she thought they were going to hear more about was header bidding.  She feels like header bidding is something that we should all keep an eye on, but for now it’s something that publishers are more concerned about, wanting to monetize their sites.

What expectations do you and your brand have of their programmatic partners?

Joella was the first to respond by saying that she has extremely high expectations because of Equifax’s dedication to their fractional attribution modeling through their partner at VisualIQ, which is their source of truth. Many of their partners have built out new products and adapted to their needs.  For them, their programmatic partners need to be a tech company, invest in data science and employ forward looking employees.  They need to stay the shiny object by investing in those people, we don’t want to be the razor, we are and want to stay on the bleeding edge.  It’s then exciting that those partners can then go out and get more business with what they have built for us.  For Sean, a programmatic partner must be innovative but also have an understanding of their complex landscape.  They also have to bring brand recognition and buying power, stretch their dollars further, coming up with solutions that support their hotels and hotel owners needs.

What aspects of your digital media mix and or execution is your brand taking ownership of and why?

Our marketing teams have the dollars, started Jonathon, we develop the media strategy but the IO’s come out of the agencies. We benefit by receiving data from our agencies that come into our cloud as outbound data.  Everything’s piped back in house which is helpful, because the people at the agency and those of us at Turner aren’t within the same 4 walls every day to examine how to best leverage all data we receive.  The ownership is all held within Turner and then we execute it within the brand.  For Sean they have been using a hybrid model for a number of years.  We buy some media but our agency does it at scale.  They are focused on maintaining that model, they don’t plan to cross over into that space.  The goal is to simplify media buying for our hotels and take the burden off them so they can focus on operating and delivering exceptional guest experiences.  They know that they have experts that can manage it.  At Equifax, Joella said that they have a very close relationship with their agency.  They transact with complete transparency and because of security they own all of their contracts.  Because of the verticals that they deal with, they own the contracts, but work with their agency to develop the strategies and are at each others offices multiple times a week. She likes that the agency works with multiple clients and draws from that experience so they can help you pivot and you can rely on their network to get there.

Raquel concluded by saying it seems that the trend of a hybrid in-housing strategy is confirmed, that brands own their data and strategies, but rely on agencies for programmatic media buying execution.

How else is your company using data to influence your digital advertising spend or strategy? What kind of data are you using?

Jonathon said that at Turner Broadcasting they have all their data in-house so they can model it.  If we know you are going to watch our program we are not going to target you, but we don’t have enough of 1st party data, they use 2nd and 3rd party data to scale.  Joella, said that all their 1st party data comes from their website, people who come and convert, so they suppress those people so not to target them again, but do use the data for modeling, it’s also expensive to push data out.  They use 3rd party data to scale efficiently, and use Visual IQ to help model and spend money.  At Marriott, Sean uses data quite a bit with all the different brands, with 6000 hotels worldwide there is a lot of competing interests. Their challenge is how do we manage with that, we want to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, so they have to be thoughtful about how we talk to people.  They are dealing with a perishable experience and how do we measure and message to those people for their experience.  We need to measure at the transactional level and how do we measure that?

How are you managing digital advertising activities across search, social and programmatic? How do you make sure that you’re not bombarding users? And how siloed is your data?

There is more coordination than ever before, according to Sean, Marriott is a very complex company, but the best thing is the people.  We work together and do not compete with each other, and make sure there is knowledge shared across the groups. Joella manages to not silo her data by having all the media strategy and execution live under her, using Visual IQ to stitch it all together. At Turner, Jonathon said there is one team lead for each group, it gets Q&A’d before it goes to marketing.  We still have a siloed approach, so it’s flawed and there is no guarantee we are not targeting the same person on Facebook and outside Facebook with display.

How do you manage reporting for search, social and programmatic? Do you use the data to optimize spend?

Joella started by saying that they do set a budget at the beginning of the year, but then they look at the data everyday, so that they can move budget between channels and countries. The budgets get laid out but they are very fluid, they look at the data daily for high level results and then weekly for deep insights.  The way we move money around is not common and very smart. We’re able to take our data in such real time and make these really smart efficient decisions in that month that might not make the most sense in the next month based on where the credit market’s going. Having data at your fingertips and moving it to drive the best revenue is great.   Jonathon’s challenge is that he doesn’t know who’s going to watch, they have no idea.  They still care about buzz in the marketplace sot they still have to spray and pray to have the full brand experience.  For product it’s still very DR focused. Sean is managing 1700 individual interests and they manage those budgets like they are their own.  They are looking at their budgets on daily basis especially on a meta search basis, they don’t have large budgets, especially the cheaper hotels but have to treat them like they have large budgets.

How do you measure across digital (or offline channels)? Meaning, do you have an attribution strategy for optimization of media performance across media channels? How have you applied it?

Sean said that at Marriott they are not quite there yet, they are still focused on last click/view attribution but it is something we want to get to.  Jonathon said that it takes them 30 days to get the attribution in, it’s very tough.  Siloed attribution is garbage, attribution should come from the brand level and encompass everything.  Joella at Equifax uses Visual IQ as their partner to tag every impression that goes out, take all those touch points put it through their model and assign a attribution score, and assign true value to each of touch points.  They can see that they need to put money into display because it brings money into the funnel and can look down to the key word level, and even down to each partner’s targeting tactics – then they can forecast for the next month, to beat the goals that they have.  Use all the inputs to plan our data and budget, we found that as long as we are hitting our goals, we can use the remaining budget to test and invest in new channels, test new partners, new segments without actually having a dedicated testing budget.

Are you leveraging digital media to build personalization strategies for your consumers?

Marriott is just getting started, answered Sean, our focus has been integration.  We are just scratching the surface, big win for us has been to deliver dynamic creative.  We have to be able to deliver a specific message for a specific location, it’s evolving, through email and apps and through the channels we own and have a lot of data on.
Joella would love to use DCO, but due to legal constraints having a lot of creative is prohibitive, can’t do it on the fly, they have a more manual approach, specific banners for specific groups.  There is a conversion team that does testing on our site, find out what journeys convert best for people. They believe in it, they want to be able to have a dynamic landing page, with decisioning based on client value, know what experience they are more likely to convert on.  Jonathon would like to personalize the customer journey based on their fans, give them sneak peaks, real-time audio spots, and personalized messaging.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next events in New York May 8th, Seattle, May 22nd and Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending or speaking please reach out to us info@digilant.com.

DC Dinner Panel Discussion: How To Fast Track to an Integrated Digital Media Strategy in 2018?

On Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, Digilant hosted a discussion and dinner at SEI D.C. in Penn Quarter.  I joined local digital media agencies and brands to hear their colleagues discuss their approach to delivering new and innovative programmatic strategies.

As programmatic technology becomes a commodity that everyone is using and has access to, it’s even more important to have integrated teams and strategies to get ahead of the competition. Today’s CMO will be delivering a single media strategy that includes search, social and programmatic. They will be partnering with agencies and businesses that can help them strategize, implement and optimize their digital media across audiences, formats, screens and inventory to most effectively deliver on business goals and objectives.

During this intimate dinner conversation, Digilant Executive Chairman, Alan Osetek, moderated a panel with Professor of Digital Strategy at Georgetown University and former SVP at Edelman, David Almacy, SVP of Media Strategy and Analytics at Discovery Communications, Seth Goren, VP of Marketing for Tegna, Meredith Conte, and Senior Digital Marketing Solutions Manager for ResonateLisa Villano.


Alan kicked off the evening by reminding everyone that Digital Media has evolved enormously over the last 5-10 years, in the sense that when agencies used to present their media plans there used to be one slide at the end of a presentation about trying some digital.  Now for many agencies, not only do they lead with digital, but it could be the whole pitch.

So his first question to the panel was, what words would they use to describe what programmatic means to them?

Seth from Discovery kicked off by saying that programmatic to him is real-time buying, addressable and algorithmic, that their strategy is audience based. For David at Georgetown University, programmatic is an opportunity to use and collect data, because if your data is not good you might miss finding the right people as well as finding new audiences that you might want to communicated with. For Lisa at Resonate, programmatic is about being able to access all types of inventory through one platform and then being able to get audience insights that they can use to make decisions from.

What are the expectations that your brand/today’s brands have of their programmatic partners?

Companies are experiencing growing pains when it comes to digital, according to Lisa, which means that you need to have specialists for all the new topics like programmatic TV, OTT and all the new ad formats, along with a subject matter expert to keep them informed.  Meredith responded that for her, in-house education can’t be underestimated, that they have in-house teams that suit all of their clients needs and they constantly need to be kept up to speed on what’s going on in the market. For Seth, programmatic expertise has become an important part of the strategy and it’s making less and less sense to ship it outside of their company.

How much of your buying strategy or media is based on walled garden platforms? What are your general thoughts on walled gardens? 

Seth jumped in to say that it’s not that walled gardens are frustrating, but that you can’t live without them. Meredith said that for her it depends on your goal; sometimes it may be 100% in Facebook, but mostly it’s about who you are going after. David said that there are tried and true approaches out there, so with video and images Facebook might work better. Platforms like Snapchat are evolving, for example teenagers are using Snapchat to mobilize together to organize a protest against guns, the fact that protests were generated on this channel and it’s becoming a language and a tool for a certain age group, the originators of Snapchat never thought their platform would be used this way.  The lesson is to be open. The platforms will evolve and you have to be open to which are the most effective tools for your brand or campaign depending on what you want to achieve. Lisa finished by saying that Resonate can now use their data on Facebook, successfully pulling data out of the walled garden to try and reach the right people, though they can’t be sure that they will convert but have to manage to a KPI to make it work. It’s an education for all their clients.

What are you using to bring your digital strategy to the next level? 

Meredith started by saying that following the customer journey is really important to them, how people are engaging and when during the day, so that they can engage people when it’s relevant to them, it’s on their roadmap to solve. Seth’s goal is to build modular creative, hundreds of creative! For him the next level is on the execution side, “my first matzo ball out there, traditional metrics are terrible predictors, likes, comments, etc. has nothing to do whether they like the show,” it comes down to tracking attribution, and weighing each touch for attribution. For Lisa geolocation tracking is really important, knowing what people are doing and where, so that we know when to reach them. Lastly for David, he wants to measure what tools are most effective and when the optimal time to use them is.

What company organization changes are moving the company forward?

Meredith answered first by saying, audience based elements. Everyone can buy programmatic media now and old economies of scale go out the window.  You also have to hire the right people who are willing to take risks. It’s a time of massive disruption, people have to want to embrace the change.  Seth said, start somewhere, solve one problem at a time, then scale slowly. For David if there isn’t someone internally to educate people about these trends, get that buy-in, so that they can educated their bosses then it’s going to fail.  Maybe there are new tools available that might work better. Test, learn, iterate, repeat… Identify best practices locally and then scale if they work.

Has anything changed on the way you hire?

EVERYTHING! said Meredith. Communication skills, you have to have them… if you are great at data and can’t explain it, that’s not going to work for us.  Data and knowledge of digital is critical. Creativity and resilience are also important, if you can’t adapt and grow you won’t make it.  According to Seth the whole game has changed, it’s all about data scientists not just digital marketers. Lisa commented that they are constantly changing process and procedure, and you have to be able to keep up with it. For David, you need to be naturally curious or naturally creative, can’t teach that.

For the last question Alan asked the panelists to talk about a problem they are trying to solve for their company.

For Lisa it’s inventory scarcity for the newer formats. If customers want to spend a million dollars on OTT and they can’t deliver that programmatically it’s a challenge.  They are packaging it into a bigger offering, the idea of having access to different omni-channel inventory through one buying platform is great, but not completely achievable yet.  David’s personal challenge is to empower women in Mexico to use technology so that they can use the same channels that men are using to get elected into government offices. For Seth 2018 is the year of automation, his goal is to eliminate email and powerpoint communication in his company in exchange for dashboards. And Meredith wants to revisit audience segmentation for local broadcasts.

It was a wonderful evening of food, drinks and programmatic conversation.  We are looking forward to the next event in Atlanta, stay tuned for details.

A Media Buyers Lunch Conversation About Breaking Media Silos in Kansas City

On Tuesday, November 14, Digilant hosted a discussion and lunch at Stock Hill KC on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.  I joined local digital media agencies and brands to hear their colleagues discuss their approach to integrated planning and media silos.

During this intimate lunch conversation Raquel Rosenthal, CRO at Digilant U.S. moderated the conversation with Claire Bishop, VP of Marketing and Engagement at Children International, Lucas Cobb, VP of Integrated Planning at MMGY Global, and Pam Williams, Director of Media and Client Services at Rhycom.

Raquel kicked off the lunch discussion by addressing the following question to Claire: How are you managing – or planning to manage – digital advertising activities across search, social and programmatic? Are you merging the tactics or do they remain siloed activities? 
In 2010 there were 150 ad technologies out there and now there are 5,000+, so what does that mean for our industry?  It has created silos of data and silos in organizations with all the different channels like email, CRM, and search so what does that mean for the customer experience and journey?


Claire said that at Children’s International the reality is that search, social and display are all managed by external partners and that her and her team have to work at making sure that all of the channels are integrated with everything else and one another. They are definitely working hard to make sure that they leverage everything that they know to drive more effective marketing campaigns with the agencies and each other. Still there are many things that we have to solve for in order to effectively discern the impact that each of these channels have. Children’s International does a lot of direct mail and promos during the holidays and are looking for these tactics to work in combination with email and CRM points of integration along the spectrum of their marketing. All in all Claire finds this exciting grounds to cover for her brand.

Raquel also asked if Claire is looking at personalization along the customer journey?

There general answer is yes, for them with 350 thousand continuity givers talking to them through all the various channels, being able to speak to them personally is very important. And they need to understand where does personalization pay and what’s its the impact.

Pam, a question for you, How is Rhycom is managing the customer journey with all the different channels that are now available for marketers?

Pam’s response was that the customer journey is so fragmented and you need to be nimble and relevant.  So how do you do that we when attention spans are so short and dispersed? You need to know your client, what they are looking, likes, dislikes and demographics so that you can segment effectively and then map back to the customer journey. Measurement is really important to us, we now know what is working, our job is to educate the clients on perceived failures and transition that into the next campaign.

Claire chimed in by saying that you have the ability to be responsive by having automation in place, thus creating your own journey and adventure. Marketers also have to have a system to smartly asses those signals in order to take advantage of the information coming back in – the landscape has widened for us.

The customer is demanding the experience that they want and we have to be careful about what we give them, Raquel concluded.

Lucas, what are the expectations that your brands have of programmatic marketing? 

People expect that the programmatic marketing will be smarter than the people who do it, responded Lucas.  Not every partner is going to have the same ability to reach every individual. Agencies needs to understand how the partner will fit into the customer’s marketing ecosystem. Paid search has been our closer for years, but there are new opportunities with other technologies to close that loop.

So Lucas, what new channels have you explored in digital in 2017 beyond display, native and video? And what new channels or formats do you plan to try in 2018, for example: OTT, TV, Radio or new platforms like Amazon?

I have tried them all, he said – channels like TV, radio and outdoor.  Using the data to drive the decisions in every channel and making sure they use the right partner that can get there.  There is now an average of eight devices per household, knowing that TV is still very important also knowing at the same time that what you put on their devices is equally as important. And it takes data to drive that connection.

Pam also added that it will be exciting to see what will happen with programmatic Out of Home and the impact on media planning.

So how have you been distributing your budget between search, social and programmatic?

For Lucas there is no ratio for every client that works but on average, 70% is probably programmatic.
For Claire the average split is 10% for search 10% for social and at least 30 for programmatic because of all the channels in programmatic is more expensive because there are so many more opportunities like native and video as well as reach even with target audiences.

Where does programmatic fit in your consumer lifecycle? are you planning to use programmatic within your overall campaign strategies?

For MMGY global, programmatic is everywhere in their campaign strategies, it helps them find new people but also exclude people that they don’t want to reach. It has also become a top of the funnel tactic, where in the past programmatic was only used for bottom funnel.

For Children’s International programmatic helps them reduce waste.  By that Claire means that digital advertising introduces reams of data, so they need help to reduce the waste of just putting spend out there in the impressions we are serving, doesn’t just have to be at the bottom the funnel, it just needs to be the opportune time to capture that moment. Programmatic can be central in guiding the decision when, where and to serve the message to throughout the customer journey.

We hear a lot about “always-on” digital marketing strategies, across social, search, etc. What are your thoughts about having an always on programmatic campaign and why?

We should absolutely have an always on programmatic strategy – engagement and exposure to digital media is constant, answered Claire.  In the past advertising was restricted to a certain time when you were at home watching TV or at work on the computer. Now exposure is across the board, people don’t even realize they are being exposed.  For us the problem is there is a lot of waste of exposing people when it’s not relevant to them.  At this time of year, the mindset of donating and giving is popping up all over the place, Children’s International has to be there, when people are ready to give a donation or gift or we are missing the opportunity. The world made up of individuals with different experiences, we have to be present when people are ready to raise their hands.

Lucas, can you give us an example of how you have put programmatic data into action? 

 Programmatic data for us has been more about who we are trying to reach and what do we know about them? We know a lot about the brands that we work with and who their audiences are and with programmatic we can find the people we know we want to reach.  Our programmatic partner needs to make that data work harder, that piece of that programmatic model is what we really need.

So another question then, if data is so important; how do you police your partners to make sure they are using the data the right way?

You can’t, but throwing your data into a black hole won’t do you any good.  We put walls around our data, we don’t share PII with clients, partners – so the protections are in place. You also make sure that we choose the right partners.

Claire also answered this question by saying that she needs smarter people than herself to apply that data, our data is out there everyone has it. Data security is a huge concern and we have folks that are committed to handling data, passing it through without PII and other ways that are really important. I agree with Lucas that it’s important to cement reputable partners, use your judgment and experience and relationships with people you can hold accountable.

Claire, one last question, given this years’​ YouTube controversy and the constant battle against ad fraud, ​ what has been your brand or agency’s POV and or approach?

Working with non-profit we stand for credibility, transparency and trust, in today’s climate, pairing those three things with programmatic is tricky. We want to show our ads in opportune and also safe places, not all those scary places that you can go on the web.  Something you have to think about, like what we said earlier about data partners, who are my partners and can I hold them accountable.
The landscape has really changed, to get sales up we have to be on the right pages. Ask your partners what are they doing to handle viewablity and fraud, ask the hard questions.
Lucas chimed in to say that he hates that they have to use fraud monitoring 3rd parties, why are we paying for that and why is there no repercussion for those committing the fraud? Buy side is delivering it and paying for it.  Publishers and SSPs are making money off fraud.  Claire wrapped up the discussion by saying that advertisers have to stand up for themselves when it comes to fraud and address it in a meaningful way.
A lot of content for an hour of conversation, but the panelists did a good job keeping up with Raquel’s questions and Digilant appreciated their time and thoughtful answers in what turned out to be an inspiring afternoon.

Cocktails & Conversation with Marketing Executives: What is the Future of Programmatic Media Buying?

With programmatic spending expected to reach new highs in 2017, advertisers now more than ever before need to leverage their data and their digital media dollars for optimal results. This leads to an important discussion marketers are having around the growing demand for programmatic solutions and how they need to be more proprietary to their market or brands.

On Tuesday, Digilant held their 6th event covering the topic of ‘Why 2017 Is Going to be The Year of Custom Programmatic Marketing.Digilant’s Global CEO, Alan Osetek, alongside panelists Cynthia Austin Smith, Head of Global Digital Marketing at Bose, Beth Ringer, Director of Media at CVS Health, and Tom Hubbard, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Kaspersky Lab, sat together for 50 minutes to discuss the reasons.
Boston Programmatic Panel

The evening was kicked off by Alan asking everyone to define the word Programmatic.  Tom from Kaspersky Lab was the first to respond by saying that to him “Programmatic is the automation of marketing activities from humans to machines.”  Cynthia, from Bose defined it as the ability to leverage data insights and ultimately be a smarter marketer.  She buys many types of programmatic media, including email, direct mail audio, and said “it’s a way to buy media.

Then Alan kicked off the questions by asking Beth, “how does CVS Health use programmatic buying to reach their consumer?” The response was that CVS Health approaches DSP buying in a couple of different ways.  First, having always on campaigns.  The majority of their digital media buying is focused on campaigns with one campaign goal that combines all the channels, including search, social as well as programmatic.  Cynthia at Bose follows a similar strategy with two or three always on campaigns running in market, as well as leveraging their programmatic data to feed other digital media channels like search.

At Kaspersky Lab, all the digital media buying is centralized though one in-house team.  One pool of money with one target, same ROI and a team that works together.  With the idea that by using one tool they could more easily make budgeting decisions and move money between channels and their results have proved that centralizing their DSP buying was the right decision for them.

Next they moved onto the subject of marketing personalization.  Alan asked them how they see programmatic and the idea of personalization or customization coming together?  Cynthia from Bose was the first to respond by saying that “they try to make everything they do at Bose more personalized.”  The digital marketing industry is getting to a place where we can leverage data to understand where customers are, through all their touch points, so that we can personalize their customer journey.

Beth said that CVS Health has been trying really hard to achieve the goal of making it about one customer at a time.  But since they are a large corporation, the data lives in different places and it’s hard to put all the pieces together.  So far, where they have seen success is with the extra care reward card because all the ads and offers are based on that person’s data.

Tom at Kaspersky Lab said that form him “programmatic is a means to personalization.”  One of his challenges is that they have a low engagement product since their consumers essentially buy a contract.  Their challenge is to find the right cadence of offers so that they are not showing you an ad at a time you are not ready to buy.  This is how they are using programmatic data, to find the right moment to get you to buy.  The purchase process is measured in hours so it’s important not to annoy your prospect but to get in front of them at the right moment when they’ve decided to purchase.

Next the panelists were asked “what programmatic trends and developments they feel have had an impact on their business today, versus those that are on the horizon?”

Cynthia from Bose said that you have to be really smart about how you use your programmatic data so that you can leverage it for things like: understanding the consumer’s intent, finding people that look like your consumers, real-time messaging and figuring out if that’s even the right consumer to go after? As for the future, she sees bringing programmatic up the funnel and trying new channels like audio.
For CVS Health, Beth said that programmatic has become one of the major marketing channels with the same expectation to drive in-store sales.  “It’s great for lookalikes, rather than finding the same people again and again we can also find new ones.”

Tom from Kaspersky Lab is looking forward to programmatic moving towards commoditization, where everyone can buy the same inventory.  “In the future the advantage will be the data layer, using first party data will give you that leg up over your competitor.”  He also said that everyone is on the same path but on a different point of it in different countries.  Being international they have the ability to run advanced tactics in certain countries and get ahead where their competitors lag.

“So beyond lookalike how are you using first party data to make your media smarter,” Alan continued.
networking“Well, for us,” Tom said, “there are three ways to become a customer: direct buy, trial, or freemium product.  The problem for us is trying to predict to which of these you will respond to.  Media efficiency will be better for us when we know which message you will likely respond to and buy from.  Our goal is to make strides on different types of messages so that we can crack the purchase type using our data.”

At CVS Health they are lucky to have a 20-year-old loyalty program with 80 million extra care members that they can tap into.  Beth said that they just started going outside that audience to not just drive incremental sales and actually look at non-customers.  They are using data to unlock new customers.

Lastly, Alan asked the panelists their thoughts on Brand Safety and what they were doing in their respective companies, on top of using third party verification partners like Integral Ad Science ?
Beth said that at CVS Health they have what they call a Disney filter and that they are super strict about it.  They are vigilant about their blacklists and YouTube is working really hard to get their money back!  Both Tom and Cynthia talked about private marketplace deals and knowing more about the inventory you are buying as being very important to them.

Overall it was a very good discussion that could have gone for longer, but we promised our panelists that they could have a sit-down dinner.  As a marketer I gained a lot of insights into different areas of programmatic and am excited for what the future will bring.

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