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.

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.

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.

In 2018, Mobile Video Spend Will Dominate Programmatic Media Buys

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

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

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

Mobile Video Ad Boom Driven by Social Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Snapchat vs. Instagram

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

In Summary

What do we need to know about Generation Z?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native Gained Popularity Through Social Media Platforms

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Download the full infographic here

What Does Inventory Quality Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

Solutions for Fraud and Domain Spoofing

Private Marketplace Deals

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

DSPs Are Implementing Ads.txt

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

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

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

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