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.

In 2018, Mobile Video Spend Will Dominate Programmatic Media Buys

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

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

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

Mobile Video Ad Boom Driven by Social Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Snapchat vs. Instagram

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

In Summary

What do we need to know about Generation Z?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native Gained Popularity Through Social Media Platforms

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

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

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

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

Programmatic Media Buying 101: How the Industry is Solving Domain Spoofing and Ad Fraud with Ads.txt & Private Marketplace

In 2018 the ad tech industry, and especially the top DSPs, are going to focus on improving inventory quality for programmatic media, as seen in our top ten trends you need to know about programmatic this year.

Download the full infographic here

What Does Inventory Quality Mean?

Over the past few years, the quantity of fraudulent ads has decreased greatly as the ability to monitor and prevent ad fraud has improved. However, there was still a significant room for improvement. Much of the development that has been made is for desktops ads. As the digital ad buying process continues to become more transparent and ad inventory quality improves, focus now needs to be centered on mobile and video ads. Video ads are extremely enticing to ad fraudsters due to high CPMs. The importance of eliminating fraud and enhancing the quality of ad inventory benefits both buyers and publishers.

On the buyer’s side, there are two major reason to ensure quality ad inventory: brand safety and media waste. If a buyer purchases fraudulent ad space and their brand is presented in a negative environment, it can greatly affect their brand image. In regard to media waste, if an ad is bought and only viewed by bots, instead of human eyes, the media spend is wasted on false impressions. Purchasing quality ad inventory ensures that an ad shows up on the site it is supposed to be published on and that human eyes are viewing it.

Publishers are primarily concerned with ensuring a quality customer experience. Customer experiences are deterred through malware or annoying ads. If the ad exchange is not properly screened, malware can arrive on a publisher’s site. If the consumer clicks on the ad, it will infect their browser, creating a very negative customer experience. Customers do not like when ads refresh, flash or are otherwise annoying. Publishers need to ensure that this is not occurring with their advertisements.

Publishers and buyers need to work together to become a trusted source of quality inventory which involves the following:

  1. Publishers sharing information with one another about negative buying experiences.
  2. DSPs need to educate their advertisers, that buying ad space from many different sources opens up the door for ad fraud.
  3. Create realistic standards for viewability. It is unrealistic to set 100% viewability goals.

Solutions for Fraud and Domain Spoofing

Private Marketplace Deals

Ad space was traditionally bought through open marketplaces. This is a process in which multiple media owners offer up their ad inventory to multiple buyers. All of the buyers compete to have their ad space placed on a page and the highest bidder wins.
Private marketplaces are auctions that are only open to select advertisers through an invitation-only format. Some of these entail only one publisher offering up ad space, others have a few. Before the auction, buyers and sellers negotiate a deal. Each deal is given a unique ID and advertisers bid on that deal only – inventory that does not meet the deal will not be bid on. This marketplace structure requires more work however, it is much more transparent. Buyers will know where their ad is being placed such as the URL of the website their ad will be shown on. The marketplace ensures a more transparent ad buying process and ensures that buyers ads show up exactly where they want them to, reaching the right audience in the right place.  

DSPs Are Implementing Ads.txt

IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) has released the latest mechanism that boosts inventory quality and makes the ad buying process less risky. In September, IAB released the authorized digital sellers or ads.txt. This is a simple, flexible method for publishers and distributors to clearly state which companies are authorized to use their digital inventory.

Companies drop a text file on their website that lists the different companies authorized to sell inventory on their site. This will enable buyers to see which programmatic firms have authorization to sell ad space on specific websites, ensuring validity in their purchase. The upkeep for this process is also simple. Someone will have to monitor additions to an ads.txt list to stay up to date with authorized sellers.

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

10 Programmatic Media Buying Trends for 2018 That You Need to Know About

As we kick off 2018, it’s important as marketers, media buyers or media planners to be confident that we are making the right choices, spending valuable dollars in the right places and overall making the returns for those dollars that everyone is expecting.  How do we know for sure we made the right decisions?  We read, we discuss and we read some more on what’s next and how we can outsmart others by being ahead of the trends or implementing the newest ad technology before anyone realized they even needed it.

Our team at Digilant has spent a good amount of time doing the research for you.  We narrowed it down to 10 big trends we know will affect programmatic media buyers this year.  In 2018 you will be hearing a lot of talk about in-housing, ads.txt, OTT, DOOH, native, transparency, attribution and how digital media buying will be going fully programmatic in the next couple of years. We will cover all these topics and more over the next couple of weeks but in the meantime we offer you 10 things you need to know about programmatic for 2018.

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

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