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.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: What is a Data Lake?

A data lake is a centralized place, like a lake, that allows you to hold a lot of raw data in its native format, structured and unstructured, at any scale. You can store your data as-is, without having to first structure the data or define it until its needed.  It can then be used for creating reporting dashboards and visualizations, real-time analytics, and machine learning to guide better programmatic advertising decisions.

As data grows and diversifies, many marketing and especially digital strategy teams are finding that traditional methods of collecting data are becoming outdated and are pushing for something more centralized like a data lake.  According to Aberdeen research done in September 2017, the average company is seeing the volume of their data grow at a rate that exceeds 50% per year. Additionally, these companies are managing an average of 33 unique data sources, according to the research study. With data split into silos by team, like search, social or direct marketing, CMOs are being challenged with how to efficiently manage the analysis for their media campaigns.  If they don’t consolidate their data, they risk targeting the same consumer more than once or even exposing them to the wrong message.

Why Do You Need a Data Lake?

Most data platforms will only store data if it’s been formatted to fit a particular structure, like rows and columns.  So unstructured data like log files, data from click-streams, social media, and internet connected devices typically can’t be uploaded into a data platform until the data has been defined.  A Data Lake allows you to import all marketing data in real-time, from multiple sources and in its original format. It also allows you to scale data of any size.  Then you can figure out how to use it in an automatic yet personalized way to attract and retain customers through digital advertising.  Companies like Digilant can help you set up a Data Lake and use it for media activation.

What is the difference between a data lake and a Demand Management Platform (DMP)?

If you are a digital marketer, a Data Lake allows companies to collect PII data (Personally Identifiable Information), which DMPs do not.  A DMP’s is main function is the collection of cookie data for media audience activation where a Data Lake is often the first step used by data scientists to expand the knowledge of the DMP.  The DMP often connects directly to the media activation tool which for programmatic is most likely a DSP (Demand Side Platform).  A DMP will establish connections between several external data providers, and the data lake then supplements it with new internal data like social media feeds or connected device data.

Four Main Advantages to Having a Data Lake

1. DATA INDEXING
Data Lakes allow you to store relational data (a collection of data items organized as a set of formally-described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the database tables.) —operational databases (data collected in real-time), and data from line of business applications, and non-relational data like mobile apps, connected devices, and social media. They also give you the ability to understand what data is in the lake through crawling, cataloging, and indexing of data.

2. ANALYTICS

Data Lakes allow data scientists, data developers, and operations analysts to access data with their choice of analytic tools and frameworks. This also includes open source data frameworks such as Apache Hadoop, Presto, and Apache Spark, and commercial offerings from data warehouse and business intelligence vendors. Data Lakes allow you to run Analytics without the need to move your data from one system to another.
3. MACHINE LEARNING

Data Lakes will allow organizations to generate different types of marketing and operational insights including reporting on historical data, and doing machine learning where financial models are built to forecast likely outcomes, and suggest a range of actions, if taken, have the ability to achieve optimal results.

4. IMPROVED CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS

A Data Lake can combine customer data from a CRM platform with social media data analytics, as well as a marketing platform that includes buying history to empower the business to understand the most profitable audiences, the root of customer churn, and what promotions or rewards could increase loyalty.

In Summary

Marketers and Media Buyers would want to implement a data lake for three main reasons. First, they want to take advantage of more advanced and sophisticated analytical tools and dashboards, using a more complex and diverse foundation of information. Secondly, they also want to make traditional activities — like data access and speed of retrieval — more efficient and easier to accomplish. The third reason is they want to bring all the data from the different parts of the organization into one place creating efficiencies of time as well as cost savings.  While not every company succeeds at achieving all three objectives simultaneously, the most effective ones will able to see positive results on their ability to make better programmatic media buying decisions.

Programmatic & Digital Advertising Leader Adds Jenna Umbrianna Gino to Executive Suite

The Addition of Industry Veteran Bolsters Anagram’s Market-Leading Programmatic Capabilities

BOSTON, May 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Anagram — a digital media agency built for the modern marketing era, and part of the ispDigital group of digital marketing technology companies — announced the hiring of Jenna Umbrianna Gino as Chief Client Officer. In her new role, she will be responsible for the design, development, and management of the company’s customer experience delivery capabilities, as well as serve as executive-in-charge of client services.
Jenna Umbrianna Gino brings a wealth of experience from all facets of the industry to Anagram, having worked at both globally recognized brands and large advertising agencies. Active at the intersection of marketing and technology for a decade, she’s one of only a handful of industry executives who have managed the design, launch and operation of two successful programmatic trading desks — first at Hill Holliday, a unit of IPG, and then at Affiperf, a division of Havas. Both IPG and Havas are among the leading five advertising agencies in the world.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Anagram,” says Jenna Umbrianna Gino. “I’m excited about the company’s strategic direction of meeting the marketing demands of the modern era. I appreciate how its leadership embraces fully transparent client communication strategies, and has created a company culture that facilitates recruitment of top talent.”

Joe Zawadzki, CEO and Founder of programmatic industry leader MediaMath, remarked, “I, and all of us at MediaMath, have been fortunate to work with Jenna for the past decade. We are excited for Jenna, for Anagram, and for the industry. Her ability to not only envision a better world for marketing, but to drive teams, clients, and partners toward that vision and ideal state is a rare and deeply needed gift.”

Before joining Anagram, Jenna Umbrianna Gino served as Partner and Research Director at Invisible Science, an independent research and advisory firm focused exclusively on programmatic marketing. Previously, she was Senior Vice President and General Manager at Havas — one of the world’s largest advertising agencies — where she managed programmatic strategy and trading activities across the North American client roster. Jenna Umbrianna Gino has also held a variety of marketing and advertising roles at Hill Holliday, a top 20 agency in the U.S and part of the IPG network.

“We’re very fortunate to be adding Jenna to the executive team,” says Adam Cahill, Founder and CEO of Anagram. “Her addition immediately strengthens our client strategy and service capabilities. Jenna is one of the pioneers in the programmatic industry, and we know our clients will enjoy more success with her on board.”

About Anagram

Anagram is a digital media agency built for the modern marketing era, with data and technology at our core. As marketing becomes more complex, we find that our client’s needs are quite varied, and tend to evolve over time. In some cases, we operate as a full-service digital media agency of record, planning, buying and optimizing campaigns across all digital channels. In others, we provide strategic counsel and systems integration services, assisting our clients as they build their internal capabilities. We’ve built our company around biddable media from day one: the way we work, the technologies we use, and the talent we hire are all oriented around an approach that is data-driven, fast, fluid, and outcome-obsessed.
Anagram is an ispDigital Group Company.  For more information, visit us at www.anagram.io and follow us on Twitter @AnagramLLC.
SOURCE: Anagram LLC
Contact: Karen Moked, VP of Marketing, Digilant: Karen.moked@digilant.com

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Programmatic Media Buying 101: Programmatic Creative is the Future for Display Advertising

Digital advertising that includes both high quality creative and relevant messaging is increasingly a high priority for media buyers and marketers.  Advertisers see no reason why creative, rich media, and programmatic should be mutually exclusive –­ it’s the combination that achieves engagement and results with consumers. The combination of programmatic and engaging creative offers a wide range of new opportunities – using data to precisely tailor messages.

Marketing teams are moving away from click-centric strategies as the only way to measure engagement. With all the new high-touch, high-impact ad formats and the growing popularity of native ad placements, there is a whole new world opening up to advertisers in display ads, to provide a more robust user experience while still reaping the benefits of programmatic buying.

Creative has never been more crucial to display ads as it is today and agencies and marketing teams are paying attention because they realize that a display ad’s message or creative is just as important as the channel or medium through which it’s served.

What is Programmatic Creative?

Programmatic creative has the ability to use the data collected from a programmatic display campaign to create a more personalized experiences for consumers. Rather than displaying one generic creative, new technologies, like Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO), mean that the ad creative can be tailored to the viewer in real-time, across multiple devices, according to their location, what they are doing, and the time of day – improving the overall user experience.
Where programmatic advertising matches users to ads on a one-to-one basis in real-time, DCO supports the matching of the best creative for that user during the programmatic advertising process.

Instead of marketers and advertisers having to figure out a one-size-fits-all, mass-market approach to their creative for a campaign, now they can create hyper-relevant ads that are relevant to individual users, while reaching a larger audience.  Using the sizable amount of data that is collected from each campaign, programmatic creative can enable automatically generated ads relevant to products or services that customers are viewing, helping to move customers towards the conversion path, and returning customers into repeat purchasers – building long-term loyalty and increasing returns for those campaigns.

Programmatic Advertising has Changed the Role of Display Ads


With programmatic taking the largest share of digital marketing budgets, the role of display advertising has been reborn and redefined.  More than four in five US digital display ad dollars, or $45.72 billion, will flow via programmatic means by 2019.
It’s no secret that different formats accomplish vastly different goals for marketers and media buyers. As the role of display advertising is redefined, and programmatic has dramatically changed the landscape, marketers need their display options to emphasize relevance for each consumer and define their experience as unique rather than obtrusive.
If campaigns are to remain relevant, marketers should be considering themselves not solely as advertisers, but as storytellers.  Marketers and publishers alike are turning to programmatic creative to enhance user experience and keep the customer at the center.

7 Things Brands Need to Know Before In-Housing Programmatic Media Buying

In 2018, brands and marketers have made it clear that they  want increased control of their programmatic advertising efforts. Digital advertising spend is estimated to overtake offline spend, with programmatic already surpassing direct digital buying. In more advanced markets, the media buying industry is aimed at a programmatic future.

Marketers have grown frustrated with the current business model; they want better control of their data and more financial transparency. A report by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) report finds that 90% of advertisers are reviewing and resetting both business models and contracts to achieve those goals. A survey conducted by Infectious Media found that over 70% of marketers think agencies have struggled to adjust to programmatic and they do not think the agencies accurately measure their programmatic media buys.

7 Things to Consider Before In-housing Your Programmatic Media Buys

With this loss of trust, it’s no wonder why brands are taking steps to bring their programmatic campaigns in-house. However, in order for them to be successful,  there are some steps they need to take. We’ve put together a check-list of what we think brand marketers need to know. Here are 7 things you need to consider if you want to bring your programmatic in-house.

1. Budgeting, resources, and hands on keyboard

The first thing to consider is evaluating your brand’s capabilities. Is the budget large enough? How many people will be on the programmatic team? Will they be able to stay up-to-date with the latest technology?

Brands must be spending at least $20 million programmatically before they even consider taking programmatic in-house, in order to generate a high enough level of savings to make the transition worthwhile.
Wayne Blodwell, CEO of The Programmatic Advisory

On top of a high cost, programmatic technology is complex; it requires a unique skill-set and it is hard to master. The technology requires an expert or multiple specialists at the helm. Hiring and training new recruits is not a simple process, especially if your office happens to be outside of New York, San Francisco or Boston.
After deciding which kind of technology stack is best for your brand (DSP, DMP, ad server, viewability tracking, dashboard, fraud protection) there are also other aspects to consider like licensing. This includes legal documentation, adherence to privacy regulations, etc.

Other forms of digital advertising, namely search, is dominated by a single player. Programmatic, on the other hand, lives in a complex environment that has many options of inventory to choose from. Several demand-side partners that can be used to access them and also several programmatic models to navigate through, like open exchanges to private marketplaces.

This goes back to having the right personnel for the job. New roles in the organization will open because of in-housing and it is up to you to have the right training methods for current employees. As mentioned before, programmatic technology is complicated and the right people must be on the job.

2. Objectives

After a programmatic team has been established it is time to understand the short and long-term goals of the business. Key considerations and questions at this point would include: Debating whether display, native and reach based advertising would help reach the long-term business goals, or whether inbound is a better fit, is an in-house team going to be more effective because of the increased frequency of campaigns?

3. In-housing goals

Besides long-term business objectives, identifying the end-goal of an in-house programmatic process is critical too.

  •       Do you simply want to purchase media in a more effective way?
  •       Do you want to maximize reach?
  •       Do you need better targeting and segmenting or are you looking to go wide?
  •       Do you want a broad mix of outbound- from display to native to video and mobile or are you limited to one or two formats?
  •       Or perhaps you also want to incorporate offline data to effectively take prospects along the typical buyer’s journey?

4. Big Data

One of the biggest and challenging tasks is being responsible for your own data. Collecting, managing, and then interpreting it for valuable insights can become rather tedious. If big data is too much to handle, hiring a separate data team can also be an option. Data-backed programmatic is extremely desirable today but it needs to be managed by disciplined professionals managing first and third party data

5. Cross-departmental Collaboration

It is important to make sure all departments are aware of the organization’s new programmatic team. Illustrate how an in-house programmatic process will benefit the whole business through increased sales, ROI, and customer satisfaction, not just the marketing department. Alignment with sales is also crucial in terms of making the most of leads generated via programmatic.

6. Implementation, testing, and execution

Different brands benefit from different programmatic models, determining which ones work best for you require testing.  Testing new tactics and programmatic strategies in-house for a short period of time may help your company adapt to the overall programmatic process before identifying a model that works best.

7. Consider a hybrid in-housing model


It may also be wise to consider using a hybrid approach. You may have a strong analytical data team, with data management experience, but not the talent or knowledge for programmatic execution. Or you might have built a strong digital marketing team, but they don’t have the skill or knowledge specifically in programmatic media buying. These are key skills that are worth outsourcing to a trusted agency of record while keeping strategy and data in house.

As much as having more control and transparency over programmatic media buying makes sense, the required investment in talent, expertise to navigate the ecosystem and budget size should not be overlooked. For now, if you are a brand considering starting the in sourcing process then you should consider a hybrid model where you own the contracts and data and your trusted partner, like Digilant, owns the rest.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: The Difference Between First and Second Price Auctions in RTB

If you are buying advertising programmatically then you are most likely using either a first or second price auction bidding process.  Most recently there has been more talk of moving towards first price auctions because of the popularity of header bidding.  DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) have traditionally been set up to use second-price auctions and for most DSPs adapting and changing strategies to first price auctions is expensive because they have to invest in technology that will specifically adapt to the rules of every auction and allow them to bid effectively.

So what are the differences between the two types of auctions?  And why should media buyers care which one gets used?

First Price Auctions

The programmatic buying model where if your bid wins, you pay exactly what you bid. This type of auction maximizes revenue potential for the seller.

In the first price auction model the bidders pay exactly what they bid. This type of auction can lead to unnaturally high prices because buyers are forced to guess how much their competition will bid.  This auction mechanism gives publishers the highest eCPMs for their inventory but can lead to the advertisers overpaying which can then lead to a lower demand for that publisher’s inventory.

The first-price auction allows both buyers and sellers to see the actual cost of the impression and the fees taken by the SSP/ad exchange will at least be known. The winning price is exactly what the advertiser agreed on, but there is a risk of overpaying for impressions.

The workings of the first-price auctions make sense economically only when the buyer knows the fair market value of the impressions they are bidding on, and understands the mechanics of hard- and soft- price floor mechanisms. The Price Floor, is the minimum price a publisher will accept for its inventory, which technically means they will ignore all bids below that price. This can turn a second-price auction into a type of first-price auction.

Second Price Auctions

The programmatic buying model where if your bid wins, you pay $0.01 above the second highest bid in the auction. In this type of auction, it is in your best interest to bid the highest amount you are willing to pay to win that impression, knowing that you will most likely end up paying less than that amount.
The second price auction is preferable to first price auctions for advertisers because it gives the winner a chance to pay a little less for the ad impression than their original submitted offer — instead of paying the full price, the winning bidder pays the price offered by the second-highest bidder, plus a bit more, usually $0.01. The final and winning price of the impression is known as the clearing price.

So What About Header Bidding?

Header bidding has become a popular type of first price auction where publishers place a piece of code on their webpage headers that allows a limited number of advertisers to bid on inventory outside of their primary ad server. This lets advertisers compete for premium or reserved inventory before or instead of the second-price auction.

Header bidding creates an auction prior to the final auction in a publisher’s ad server. Because of that inefficiency, SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) who run a fair second-price auction in the header, will have less competitive bids for that final auction, and find themselves with low win rates.  Being less competitive in the auction has terrible implications for SSPs as more competitive bids from header bidding can steal their market share.

Media Buyers Are Asking for Transparency in the Bidding Process

Programmatic ad buying exchanges have a mostly obscure bidding process, making it unclear for the buyers whether they are dealing with first or second price auction. If you want complete transparency, then first-price auction seems to be the better option (there are no floor mechanisms or hidden fees), but it offers few real benefits for the advertiser. Truthful bidding in this model (i.e. bidding the real value of the impression, which means if an impression has a value for you of $1.00, you should also bid $1.00) is not only more challenging but it’s also more expensive. A transparent first-price auction will squeeze the margins of the many ad tech players in the middle, and deliver more actual working media to the publisher. But if programmatic media buyers think they are still playing according to second-price auction rules, they will end up overpaying for inventory. Advertisers don’t like the feeling that they are being manipulated into bidding higher than they need to, which is exactly why DSPs use algorithms to predict the price floors and bid accordingly.

Many programmatic traders are left in the dark when it comes to the setup of the auctions they are bidding in. Since media buyers can only audit the vendors they are working with directly on the demand side, they have no way to verify if other programmatic platforms in the ad supply chain are altering their auction structures to make more margin. Which means a buyer might think they are buying based on second price auction but really be in a first price auction. That can get expensive, since the bid strategies are drastically different.

The industry will likely be in a transition period for much of 2018 as DSPs adjust their algorithms to allow for some Bid Shading to minimize the chance of overpaying.  It’s important for media buyers to clarify the auction type (first or second) whenever negotiating a deal and floor price with a publisher. To combat price increases, some buyers have already started Bid Shading, or reducing bid prices. But that strategy comes with risks because buyers can lose out on inventory they want if they submit too low a bid.  So until trust or transparency in auction type and fee structure is available in the open exchange, some media buyers will either try to work with adjusted algorithms or push towards more private exchange tactics so that they can trust the contracts and pricing models.

Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) Uses Attribution to Win Over Programmatic Media Buyers

Amazon’s theme of go big or go home remains consistent when it comes to it’s most recent moves in the programmatic advertising space.  Their DSP is already the 3rd most popular for media buyers and is seeing a 50% growth in adoption.  The popularity of Amazon’s DSP isn’t because of the platform itself and they are certainly not winning any awards for service, according to media buyers, but it’s because of the data that lives inside the platform.  According to Digiday, Amazon is running a series of attribution tests with at least two agencies, with the goal to prove its long-running pitch to marketers that Amazon offers, unlike Facebook and Google, what it calls a “total wallet perspective.”

Amazon DSP

Amazon is promising its programmatic ad buyers that if you buy ads on their DSP platform, you’ll know that they work and they will show you data to prove it. Because marketers not only want to be able to place ads in the right place and at the right time, but they also want the right relevance.  Amazon has a gigantic pool of real-time data, not just likes and habits, but actual purchases – what people are buying and how they are doing it -, you will know what ads work in actually driving people to make purchases — and then be best positioned to target those ads.

What programmatic buyers really want from Amazon and other DSPs is data they can’t get anywhere else.  This need has caused a shift in media buyer’s attention from a one DSP relationship strategy to having multiple contracts to satisfy their inventory and data challenges. So while buying remains fragmented, according to Forrester’s report titled “Marketers Must Demand More from Their Ad-tech”, marketers are searching for their single source of truth.
The word on the street is that Amazon is launching a new attribution tool designed to demonstrate the value in its’ advertising platform to skeptical media buyers and show how their advertising stacks up against other advertising platforms like Facebook and Google.

Why is Attribution Important for Amazon?

Media buyers use attribution models to track the behavior of users across platforms and devices. Individual purchase paths across the customer journey can be observed and used to continuously improve the programmatic media buying algorithm. Using an attribution model marketers can collect more customer data and then they can show relevant ads in ever better places at ever better times. When attribution models are used to inform programmatic algorithms, marketers gain a more realistic view of ad effectiveness.  If you’re not measuring the impact of your marketing efforts—especially in today’s world of fragmented devices and touch points—you are likely missing out on ROI opportunities and wasting spend on channels, strategies and audiences that aren’t performing well. Plus, getting attribution right helps you maximize your learnings to make better business decisions over time.

Amazon Attracts Media Buyers With Their Unique Data

Showing insights into where leads are coming from and which ad campaigns are resonating with advertisers is half the battle, but Amazon also has to find a way to relay that information in a clear, actionable way, or media buyers won’t know how to make use of the raw data. Brands now, more than ever before, want to be able to understand which advertising methods and platforms are gaining results, and also how to use that attribution to shift and improve their strategies moving forward.  As budgets get tighter and more marketers become sophisticated with programmatic buying platforms, the need to understand what ads and buying methods are performing is increasing – and it has to be scientific.  CMOs want to know how many people clicked on ads, where the ad was placed and if it lead to a purchase. The one thing marketers hate is spending media budget to buy ads and then having to prove that they are really converting.

All this is meant to upset the Facebook-Google Duopoly.  Amazon is not only increasing their brand recognition with media buyers with tools that they need to make their jobs easier, but they are also heavily investing in programmatic talent, as one of their biggest complaints from marketers has been lack of support.  The media buying business is still heavily centered around people, and managed service isn’t going away anytime soon according to Joanna O’Connell in her recent Forrester’s report on omnichannel marketing.

Digilant is partnered with Amazon’s Advertising Platform (AAP).  If you want to learn more about Amazon as a DSP and how you can get started go here.  Otherwise you can contact us now to get started: info@digilant.com.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Why Are Marketers Talking About Blockchain Technology?

Will Blockchain be the technology that solves the programmatic industry woes, or is it just another buzzword that we need to add to our vernacular in case someone brings it up in a conversation?
Either way it helps to know why people are talking about blockchain technology and how it will help or change the programmatic buying industry.  The problem that most people are hoping that blockchain has the potential to solve is transparency throughout the advertising supply chain – which means advertisers having a better understanding of cost and the visibility of their ads.

What is Blockchain Technology?

First of all Blockchain isn’t a new technology, and it wasn’t developed specifically for the advertising industry.   It was originally created for managing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.  Blockchain is a continuous series of records – blocks – linked by encryption, that sit across a distributed database and are stored on computers all around the world. Each time a transaction is made, a message is sent to the network to agree (or disagree) that the transaction is legitimate before giving the approval.

Why Are Marketers Interested in Blockchain for Programmatic Buying?

Blockchain has the ability to create a highly secure trading network for advertisers, by publicly storing data to create a permanent audit trail with an unchangeable record of all transactions that occur within the programmatic buying marketplace. This provides marketers with full visibility into their ad buy, to better track all transactions that are taking place automatically and ensure their budget is actually being used effectively. Using blockchain technology, a record of all transactions taking place throughout the ad-buying and selling process is made and in the future marketers can use this knowledge to reduce, or even eradicate, hidden costs or fees from multiple intermediaries within the ad-buying supply chain.

The main benefits of blockchain for advertisers include:

  • Keeping track of each point where that ad shows up effectively, so that the advertiser can control the process and get more working dollars in front of users/ clients
  • It can provide more transparency with relation to ad fraud and brand safety by allowing advertisers to record exactly where their ad campaign is being delivered and whom it is reaching

For those companies who are thinking of bringing their programmatic in-house there will be some benefits from the direct line of communication that blockchain offers with data providers and other vendors.  This means more transparency on how data is collected and sourced.  So if the advertiser doesn’t have to worry about security or fraud and is able to leverage transparency they can focus on improving their targeting strategies and invest in creative and an overall better experience for their audience.

So When Should We Expect Blockchain to go Mainstream?

If blockchain is so powerful, why has it not being used more widely?  After all, it’s not a new technology, what’s holding the ad-tech business back from implementing it?
First of all, it’s really bad for the environment!  Blockchain inherently uses an immense amount of energy.  It’s by nature a space-hungry technology because the series of blocks become very large very quickly and become hundreds of gigabytes in size.  And as the chains get bigger you need more storage and capacity is limited.  Then that data needs to load every time you make a transaction, which is not practical for any type of programmatic buying, which involves millions of transaction per second.  That’s a lot of blocks.
So this probably not going to be the year of blockchain for Real-Time Bidding (RTB) but it doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in other parts of the ecosystem.  For instance, it can be used to authenticate the publishers advertisers are working with when they set up private marketplace deals.  Even though PMPs are meant to be safer or fraud free they are still subject to domain spoofing. Using blockchain to set these deals up could give advertisers another layer of verification.  So blockchain still has some possibilities.  We are keeping an eye on it but haven’t seen it move the needle in any direction as of yet.

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.

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