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.

3 Tips to Ensure Brand Safety for all Your Programmatic Media Buys

In 2017, marketers were told that they had to implement brand safety for all their digital and programmatic  display ad campaigns. The need for marketers to urgently address brand safety was spurred by the fact that “The Times” discovered that Youtube and Google were placing their ads next to content related to political violence, extremist religious propaganda and other offensive content that greatly misaligned with their brand’s messaging, and affected their brand safety. This prompted UK advertisers to quickly suspend their advertising on the site and countless U.S. advertisers quickly followed suit. Notably, the Havas Group, responsible for managing nearly $650 million (225€ million in the UK) in digital ad spend, decided to pull their ads from Google. This promoted advertisers to question how they can ensure that their digital display ads are running alongside publisher content that most closely aligns with their consumers’ values.

There are many precautions that advertisers can take to ensure their brands remain safe in the eyes of consumers. With digital ad spend expected to reach over $117 billion in 2018, we have outlined a few important tips that advertisers should use to ensure their programmatic buys are also brand safe.

1. Partner Up
Companies like Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify and Comscore have developed formulas, algorithms and data-driven tools to prevent ads from ever appearing alongside undesirable content. Data-driven marketing companies already have developed the intelligence to ensure that an advertiser will buy ads that are brand safe. They are also continuously updating and improving this technology.

Global measurement and ad verification partners are constantly working to improve the user experience. They want to put the right content in front of the right person: someone interested in that brand, willing to purchase their offerings. They also want to ensure that brands have peace of mind with where their media budget is being used and that their content is being placed on the sites of reliable publishers. Programmatic works to generate qualified traffic so that the brand’s online presence is strengthened, values are maintained and reputations are not tarnished.

2. Invest in Private Marketplaces

In 2017, 74.5% of all domestic digital display ads ran via private marketplaces (PMP) and programmatic direct deals. By using this avenue for a media buy, advertisers know exactly who they are purchasing from and where their ad will be placed. This decision, although potentially more expensive, warrants ease of mind with ad placement. This marketplace also, just as with all programmatic buys, allows advertisers to reach their ideal customers.

3. Whitelisting
It is common to hear that marketers have blacklisted sites, a result of either their own experience was poor or it has a negative reputation. However, the number of “bad sites” is constantly rising and there is no way to constantly keep up todate. An alternative option is to whitelist sites. You can find sites that are safe to run ads on and compile a list of options that you can then use when preparing a campaign or a media buy. If this seems like an overwhelming task, there are exchanges that have an intense inventory approval process. These exchanges require sites to pass tests such as human approval or pre-approval of a new relationship with a site or app within existing relationships. If a site doesn’t pass the test, they are not able to sell their inventory on the exchange. This is a great step to take to ensure brand safety as you are confident in the sites you are choosing to place your ads.

Ensuring Brand Safety can Feel Overwhelming

Billions of digital display ad transactions occur everyday which means brand safety can become very overwhelming. There are many precautions that brands can take to ensure that their ads end up in an ideal location. However, what is most important to remember is to use common sense. If an deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Consumers will find your ad more appealing if it is displayed on the right site next to the right content. So, when choosing where to spend your programmatic media dollars, take the time to ensure you have done research on where your ad is is going to be placed and don’t forget to use the three tips above to get your head above water when it comes to keeping your brand safe.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: What is the Difference Between AI, Machine Learning & Programmatic?

The world of digital advertising and programmatic advertising has developed its own language in the last couple of years, full of terms that are commonly heard and used everywhere but mean something very specific when attached to the word advertising. Most recently it’s almost impossible to read an article or even talk about media buying without bringing up the terms Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning. The terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably but they are different. What is the difference between the two and what should they mean to us or me as a marketer or CMO?

AI for Programmatic Buying

Artificial intelligence is the concept of reproducing human intelligence in machines so they can execute on activities that normally would require a human brain to be involved in, such as making data-based decisions.  By using AI-powered systems brands and advertisers case save money and time by completing tasks faster than us mere humans and make less mistakes.  When you apply this to the programmatic media buying industry, you bring efficiency to the media buying process, freeing people who’s job it is buy media from the more tedious and allowing them to focus on the strategic and creative elements of their jobs.

The reason digital media executives keep talking about AI technologies is that they allow us to have algorithms that analyze a user’s behavior, allowing for real time programmatic campaign optimizations towards consumers who are more likely to convert. Advertisers then have the ability to gather all this rich audience data to then use it to be more accurate with their media buys and overall targeting tactics – ultimately spending less money and time and bringing in a higher ROI.

Will Machine Learning Replace Media Buyers?

The words Machine Learning can conjure up images of old sci-fi movies in which someone develops an intelligent robot that then dominates its creator or destroys a large city… leading to many questions about how this technology could affect the digital media industry.
Machine learning is a type of Artificial Intelligence that provides computers or robots with the ability to learn things by being programmed specifically to take certain actions, improving their knowledge over time, much in the same way our brains do.
Computers using machine learning focus on imitating our own decision-making logic by training a machine to use data to learn more about how to perform a task.

Imagine you ride your bike to work every day. Over time, after trying different ways to get to work, you will learn which route is faster or maybe which road or path is better according to the day of the week or based on the weather outside. This is exactly how machine learning works. You feed the computer or algorithm with large amounts of data so it will analyze information from the past and learn from it to apply the learnings to any new data it receives in the future.

When applied to programmatic advertising, machine learning algorithms can analyze large volumes of data from difference sources and draw conclusions from it. It means you can almost replicate the brain of an experienced media buyer in a machine or algorithm so it becomes capable of  predicting, planning and optimizing media. Almost…. but not yet, though the machines can certainly make programmatic advertising more efficient, faster and easier to implement, there remain many factors which need human brains to input link the machine learning to an overall media buying strategy.

So How are AI and Machine Learning Connected to Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the automated process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange, connecting advertisers to publishers rather than having to make individual deals with each publisher. This process uses artificial intelligence technologies to improve efficiency and make better decisions for the advertisers with their budgets.
There is a lot of investment being made in marketing and ad buying technologies to leverage AI.  Companies like Xaxis, are betting heavy on AI for improving their future Programmatic Buying Platforms.  Fo right now marketers are using AI to stitch massive amounts of their data together, but it still hasn’t replaced human analysis.  For media agencies, Artificial Intelligence is still more a buzzword or a catchphrase to get peoples attention.

David Lee, programmatic lead at ad agency The Richards Group, said that he regularly gets pitches for AI-enabled products but the AI part of the products usually “doesn’t seem to affect performance outside of being a buzzword.”

You need Machine Learning to feed AI but you don’t need AI for Machine Learning. What that means is that machine learning is the technique — using algorithms to process data, learn from insights and make predictions for future programmatic campaigns which then trains the AI.
Both Machine Learning and AI are here to stay.  If you are a marketer or a media buyer, get familiar with these terms as they will continue to occupy the press and blogs like ours.  But for now they are not taking over for humans, that’s still in the sci-fi section of the video library.

2018 Programmatic Media Buying Trends: Video Takes 1st Place in Growth Opportunity

In 2017, advertisers spent more on video ads than banner ads for the first time. In the first half of 2017, advertisers spent $921 million on video ads which topped the $903 million spent on banner ads. This is in large part due to how many people are watching videos online. In a recent report, Cisco suggests that by 2019, 80% of all consumer traffic will be video. On mobile devices, 70% of the advertising traffic will be video ads. This yields a 14-times growth within the next five years. Advertisers and programmatic media buyers have a great opportunity to embrace this change, to make content that resonates with consumers and include video in more of their media plans.

Video display ads are expected to be the second leading highest spend platform in 2018 and in 2019 (source: eMarketer).

It isn’t just the growth in video consumption that is propelling a large spend on this ad format, there are also great opportunities for return on investment. Amazon, who owns one of the larger DSPs in the programmatic space, says that including a video ad increases the propensity to buy by up to 35%. Although video ads naturally cost more to produce, they are more engaging for consumers thus making them more effective. Advertisers need to ensure that they are still creating quality content, rather than a 15 second pre-roll TV ad.

Video is Winning the Attention Battle with Consumers


Consumers are now pre-programmed to ignore banner ads, so media buys need to make sure that this doesn’t happen with video advertising as well. Consumers are already watching videos, so if videos ads are interesting, they will remain hooked. As of now, video ads have the highest click-through rates of all digital ad formats at 1.84% which in large part is due to video trends yielding more brand engagement as opposed to direct-response, “buy this product” ads. Advertisers benefit because video ads offer live and very granular insights instead of static panel insights offered by other ad formats. There are many advantages for both consumers and advertisers that this ad format will continue to offer, as long as advertisers do not abuse it.

A Shift Towards a Video-First Strategy

The opportunity for revenue in video for publishers and advertisers is equally appealing and both are embracing video advertising as a dominant format.  Consumers have grown accustomed to the pre-roll and post-roll ads that appear when watching a video. But mid-roll, outstream and social in-feed ads are on the rise, now accounting for more than half of video spend ($478 million). Advertisers will need to proceed with caution with this ad format. Consumers do not like having their content disrupted and if this platform is abused, more people will start to use ad-blockers, thus making the ads irrelevant.
If advertisers and marketers stick to making quality, non-intrusive, creative video ads, consumers will begin to adapt pre, mid or post-roll ads as a ‘native’ format and part of their online video watching. This will allow programmatic media buyers to continue to see success with their video campaigns by both engaging consumers with brands and creating an overall return on investment.

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 and get going.  Need more information, you can also reach out to us here.

Digital Advertising Lookback for 2017

What Happened in 2017?

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

Amazon Now Has Its Own DSP

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

Innovations in Transparency Hold Advertisers & Publishers More Accountable

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

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

Retail eCommerce Flourishes as Online & Offline Experiences Blend

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

Cord Cutting Becomes More Popular & Advertisers Work to Gain Viewability

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

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

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

Artificial Intelligence Knocks on Everyone’s Front Door

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

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

Apple Says Goodbye to the Home Button

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

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

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

$10 Billion Spent on Data

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

Snapchat Improves its Ad Tracking

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

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

Summary

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

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Amazon Invests in Ad Tech with its DSP AAP (Amazon Advertising Platform)

Interested in learning about Amazon’s DSP capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan? Reach out to us here and learn about Digilant’s unique partnership with Amazon’s AAP (proprietary ad platform).

Amazon is now everywhere, seemingly moving into every industry and recently making great strides in ad tech with its growing DSP business, opening up self-service programmatic ad products, and offering training programs to make direct connections with ad buyers. Its Transparent Ad Marketplace is the most popular server-to-server wrapper in the ad industry.

According to eMarketer‘s latest report, Amazon’s advertising revenues will total $1.65 billion in 2017 —far below that of Google or Facebook, but above brands like Twitter and Snapchat.
By investing in it’s demand-side platform (DSP), which is now one of the largest in the US, Amazon has a larger share of the US digital display ad market. With 3.0% of net US digital display ad revenues, Amazon takes 4th place for display ad buying in 2017 and is keeping it’s eyes on 3rd place. By offering Headline search ads, Amazon can compete with Google and Facebook for ad dollars.  Amazon is the most popular site for customers to search for consumer products online and by offering headline search ads, they are now dipping into Google’s search engine market share.

Amazon is Changing Digital Advertising as we Know it!

The one thing marketers hate is spending media budget to buy ads and then having to prove that they are converting with attribution methods.  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 right time, but they also want the right relevance.  Amazon offers measurement metrics from impressions and clicks to deeper data on sales information, full shopping journeys and things like a customer’s worth over a lifetime, giving media buyers what they need to prove their ads are contributing to conversions.  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.

Their timing couldn’t be better, as Amazon’s DSP is growing in popularity, ad buyers are cutting back the number of DSPs they use. Media buyers and CMOs are choosing to use less DSPs and self-service platforms are on the rise in the ad tech industry, specifically for brands who are bringing all of their digital media buying in-house, with the goal to trim fees and have more control over their overall go-to-market strategy.  Amazon has greatly benefited from the programmatic in-housing trend. It offers agencies and brands a programmatic self-service model, and its DSP fees are among the lowest in the market.

If you want to know more about Amazon’s DSP capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan, or ask questions about Amazon’s AAP (proprietary ad platform) Digilant can help.  Reach out to us here.

2017 Holiday Shopping Insights & Stats for Marketers and Media Buyers – Infographic

The results are in from America’s biggest shopping weekend of the year and the numbers are bigger than ever!  According to Adobe, who predicted that Americans would spend $5 Billion this year on Black Friday, they actually surpassed that number in online retail sales reaching $5.03 Billion – up 16,9% over last year.  This comes after the record $2.87 billion in online sales on Thanksgiving.  Adobe analyses 80 percent of online transactions for the 100 largest web retailers in the country to come up with these stats.

Mobile Traffic Dominates Black Friday

This year, according to Salesforce 60% of traffic to retail sites came from a mobile phone device. This tells us that consumers are not just browsing on phones, as 42% of Black Friday orders were placed from a mobile phone. 2017 represents a huge shift to mobile and the first Black Friday where computers accounted for less than half – 49% – of all orders.

According to Adobe’s Revenue tracking index, on Black Friday, 54.3% of retail website visits and 36.9% of revenue came from mobile, with conversion rates for tablets up 13% year over year, and smartphones up 16.5% year over year.
With consistent mobile retail traffic and revenue since the beginning of the month, it’s time for all marketers to consider running mobile only programmatic campaigns. Because consumers have access to reviews, ratings, and suggestions at the tap of a button,mobile-driven micro-moments are grabbing the huge majority of consumer attention.  It’s important to get in front of that consumer at the right time with the right ad, on their device of choice, and create a fluid and intuitive buying experiences – all the way from the awareness stage to the point of purchase.

Mobile is also transforming the in-store experience for customers. In-store shoppers search for information online while in-store. For the most part, they’re using search engines but consumers also head to the retailer’s own site or app. This presents a powerful opportunity for retailers to connect with shoppers, whether by sending them a special coupon or thanking them for coming into the store —mostly using the opportunity to  prevent them from turning to the competition.

 

Getting Personal With Programmatic, 3 Buying Strategies for the Holidays – Infographic


It’s that time of year when consumers are being bombarded with advertising from all their favorite brands plus all the other brands that are trying to capture their shopping dollars.  For marketers, it’s the perfect time to work programmatic into your holiday media buying plans – so that you can reach specific audiences based on their current interests and behaviors.  With programmatic the consumer gets a more personalized experience – the right ad at the right time – resulting in a much better chance of converting them into a paying customer.
There are a couple of ways that programmatic advertising ensures brands can meet the unique needs of their seasonal shoppers when and where it really matters.

1. Data

One proven method of reaching customers on their seasonal shopping journey is leveraging first-party data for digital ad campaigns. The modern shopping experience is across devices, locations and is always-on. Utilizing the data that’s gathered directly from customers often translates to more accurate targeting capabilities and insights to what your audience responds positively to. When first-party data is added to third-party data and insights, marketers can create a well thought out campaign to ensure that their customers are receiving offers that will positively influence their shopping experience, in the right place and the right time, rather than add to the noise of online advertisements.  You can accomplish this by connecting your CRM data to your programmatic media buy.

2. Geotargeting

Programmatic advertising can help customize the experience for shoppers in physical stores through geotargeting. By targeting consumers with ads bytheir geographical locations, including ZIP code levels, brands have the power to develop hyper-localized ads to fit consumers’ exact preferences. These programmatic campaigns offer flexibility to taylor relevant ads to specific audiences, using data and analytics to make the necessary tweaks to maximize your holiday campaign performance.

Advanced programmatic geotargeting can be especially useful for holiday campaigns when paired with dynamic creative. Serving in-store promotions or product-specific ads to consumers within the zip code of store locations, advertisers can target those users who would most likely convert. With programmatic geotargeting, marketers can combine audience data filters with location signals to deliver timely ads that resonate with shoppers looking for specific holiday discounts or a particular product. These ads allow retailers to provide helpful details to consumers such as whether a product is in stock at a nearby store.

3. Personalization 

With programmatic advertising, you can remain agile and base your media plans on when, where and how your consumer wants to shop. You can offer shoppers product recommendations organized by the type of gift recipient – shoe lovers, sports fans, and more.  Then you can personalize that offer with a coupon to their local store.
You can marry customization with automation and offer consumers a personalized experience, whether is be a product that they might be looking for or a piece of advice through a native ad on a preferred social platform. Social media will have a real impact on what people buy for their loved ones this year so marketers also need to consider social as party of their holiday media plans.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture the attention of your consumers this holiday season.  Try getting personal with the right programmatic buying strategy.  Talk to us at Digilant to get started.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH): Bringing Back Billboards Using Ad-Technology

By 2019 it is projected that $4.5 billion will be spent on Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising in the United States. This old but new again marketing tactic has the ability to reach mass numbers of people, at the right time, in the right place. It’s no wonder companies and agencies are investing their budgets in placing their ads on these banners, billboards and screens.  We’ve put together everything you need to know about how DOOH works and why you should incorporating it into your programmatic advertising plan.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Defined

Historically categorized as ‘traditional media,’ requiring media buyers to book months in advance, today DOOH builds on the the programmatic promise.  These ads are no longer static and limited but are strategically placed LCD and LED screens that display digital content to consumers in places like bus stops, airports or on busy highways and are growing in number. Many also incorporate interactive features that allows consumers to involve themselves in the advertisement.

What are the Advantages for Digital Media Buyers?

The platforms for these advertisements are not unlimited like other digital ad channels, however, they are 100% viewable. No one can run ad-blocking software on a billboard or at a bus stop. This is a key advantage for marketers. DOOH advertisements have all the same features as online media, reaching the right target, at the right time, with the right message but with an advantage: you can guarantee people are going to see your ad.
Areas in which these ads are displayed use tracking to determine the demographics of the audience. Audience profiles are made up of information such as age, gender, income, spending habits, etc. When looking to purchase ad space, buyers choose where to place their campaign based on these profiles and set parameters based on target audience, budget and KPIs just like any other programmatic buying channel. As the campaign runs, marketers are given unlimited creative executions and can change the ad, in real-time, as different audience segments enter the area. Throughout the campaign, marketers are given reports on the success of their advertisement.
This new form of advertising shifts back to the early years of advertising: placing ads that demand attention in public spaces with high-foot traffic. DOOH ads  reach high volumes  of consumers but do a better job of engaging viewers through the unlimited creativity that can be incorporated. These ads can change in the space of a second, in order to ensure the right message is being showcased, at the right time, to the right people. DOOH unlocks countless advantages when added to your media plan.

How is it Being Used?

Major cities have been quick to jump into the DOOH market. New York, Paris and London are rapidly expanding their involvement while ensuring the content is engaging. Screens are being placed at bus stops, taxis, airport baggage claims, billboards, malls and other pedestrian epi-centers.
 

What’s Next for DOOH?

Interaction with consumers is improving as motion-censored screens are becoming more common in major cities. Technology is now able to recognize gestures as small as finger movements. Thee screens for DOOH ads are advancing and tracking capabilities are improving, leaving no room to skimp on the creative. Research into emotional recognition is in the works which will incorporate a new and even more targeted aspect into these already audience-specific ads.

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