GDPR Was Just The Start: MediaMath’s Rothkopf

June 26, 2018 — by MediaMath0

GettyImages-870253988.jpg interviewed MediaMath’s media and growth channels GM Lewis Rothkopf at Cannes last week. An excerpt is below. To watch the rest of our series on consumer-first marketing, visit this page

Once month after Europe’s new privacy legislation came into effect, the world did not cease to exist—but a good proportion of ad inventory did.

Still, one ad-tech exec believes consumers have every right to expect a rebalancing of their relationship with publishers and advertisers, which the new GDPR law sought to usher in.

“We’ve seen a decrease in available inventory in the European Economic Area since the 25th. But we are not having challenges executing,” says MediaMath’s media and growth channels GM Lewis Rothkopf, in this video interview with Beet.TV.

Rothkpof said MediaMath, which offers a demand-side ad-buying platform and a data-management platform, its supply partners and marketers had prepared for GDPR, which he expects to be replicated in other parts of the world.

But, despite the challenge, Rothkopf doesn’t have a problem with the movement that GDPR represents.

“Consumers deserve a better deal online,” he adds. “The value exchange that we are asking of consumers in exchange for their time and attentiveness needs to be far more in their favor.”


IBM’s Bitterman Tells Facebook Backlash Won’t Change Consumer Behavior

June 21, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Has the Cambridge/Analytica scandal started mass-shifting consumers away from social media sites as they rise up to demand better, more transparent advertising experiences?

No, according to Jordan Bitterman, VP of Digital at IBM, who spoke to for our video series on creating a consumer-first ecosystem.

“We maybe need to demand things differently, but consumers aren’t going to band together and do that,” he said. “Maybe they’ll use some platforms a little bit less than they were before, but ultimately it’s probably not going to have a huge material change to the industry.”

You can watch the full interview with Bitterman below and the rest of our series here.


Ad ID Joins DigiTrust (Not the Other Way Around!) Brings the Industry Closer to Neutrality and Independence

June 20, 2018 — by John Slocum0


Everything comes full circle. Overalls are back in fashion for our kids two decades after we donned them in homeroom. The movie It was just remade last year. Even Zima, which went off the market 10 years ago, has made a comeback. And so, it comes to pass that even in the Era of Industry Identity Consortiums, we’ve found ourselves back where we started with the news that Ad ID—a consortium that advocated standardizing on vendor-owned domains—is now promoting an independent device namespace. Ad ID has joined DigiTrust, a neutral, non-profit, industry-wide collaboration of ad tech platforms and premium publishers utilizing a standardized user token to improve the consumer online experience.

When we first helped found Ad ID some 13 months ago, this is what we envisioned—a common namespace that didn’t rely on any one vendor’s technology, and that could be broadly adopted by the industry without reservation. We believe that the Ad ID Consortium coming back to an independent namespace by joining DigiTrust is the right move for the former, and further validates the shared vision of a neutral governance model, managed by the trusted industry trade organization, IAB Tech Lab.

From whence it came

MediaMath helped found the Ad ID (then Open Ad ID) Consortium with LiveRamp in the spring of 2017. In the fall of 2017, we decided to leave that group when the effort veered in a direction incompatible with broad adoption. We then joined the DigiTrust consortium in March of this year because we believe it presents a neutral, independent governance model for building a common ID for the Web that was then, and continues to be, broadly adopted. Think IDFA for the Web. DigiTrust was acquired by IAB Tech Lab in April 2018, and now operates as a service from IAB Tech Lab.

Why did these individual consortiums coalesce in the first place? Because, as it stands today, trying to deliver consumers personalized digital content and advertising over the Web, across many different devices, makes for a crappy end-user experience.

Each company collaborating to deliver messages to consumers assigns its own proprietary, cookie-based user token, which its partners can’t read. That means that to work together in real-time, each company must maintain elaborate systems and processes to synchronize the different tokens used by each of its partners, for each consumer, on each web browser, in every connected device. The conventional process to update those systems and synchronize tokens with each other is called “pixel syncing” (or “cookie syncing”), and because it’s so widely deployed across so many companies, it can result in more than 100 third-party requests on a given webpage. This slows down the Web experience publishers offer their consumer audiences and is costly for third-party companies to maintain.

The DigiTrust service and technology solution works to solve this problem by creating a pseudonymous user token that is stored within a conventional cookie that may be read and propagated by DigiTrust members. With a standardized token provided to and used by all parties, pixel syncs are rendered obsolete. Hundreds of billions of unnecessary, daily, third-party pixel sync requests will eventually be removed from webpages, improving the Web experience for consumers while publishers and their partners continue to work together to deliver consumers rich, personalized content and advertising.

Why DigiTrust could never combine with Ad ID

The two consortiums are not “joining forces.” Ad ID is joining DigiTrust, now IAB Tech Lab, as a regular member, signing the regular DigiTrust member agreement, with no special rights or privileges. DigiTrust could not join Ad ID without a member vote and restructuring from the neutral, non-profit entity that is now actually part of IAB Tech Lab, because Ad ID supports a few specific, for-profit entities. The suggestion that DigiTrust could join Ad ID violates the very terms that make DigiTrust the right approach to building a common ID for the Web, supported by so many across the industry and more each day.

We believe Ad ID joining DigiTrust confirms the market’s need for a neutral, independent, device-level identifier that will help us put consumers first by delivering better internet experiences. MediaMath committed to these principles before even founding Ad ID, and we believe we’re seeing the industry embrace the same, enabling global scale and proprietary value-add. We welcome new members to DigiTrust, along with further validation on principles of neutrality and independence from which marketers, publishers, tech companies and consumers stand to benefit.


What the Global Internet’s Stakeholders Can Learn from Europe’s New Data Law

June 15, 2018 — by Daniel Sepulveda0


This piece originally appeared as a byline for the World Economic Forum

When Europe’s new data law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), went into force on May 25, it pushed a decades-long global debate over privacy and the proper regulatory guardrails for the commercial use of people’s information on the internet to the front pages of newspapers all over the world.

As a result of the regulation’s European origins, some members of both the industry and the media are still under the impression that GDPR is somehow a “Europe issue.” It is not. It is a global call for those of us who collect, use, or distribute people’s information to rethink how we engage with the end consumer. There are also other takeaways for all stakeholders – governments interested in passing their own legislation, data dependent companies and industries, website operators and publishers, and the internet’s users themselves.

1. It’s about alternative solutions that will work for everyone

The first of these lessons is not to conclude that Europe has an aggressive regulatory philosophy and therefore there is nothing to be gained from assessing how the GDPR was constructed. It’s actually in part about how those of us that were concerned about the legislation approached influencing the outcome. Legislators and regulators in the United States and other countries are free to make law — good, bad, and in between — and they will continue to do so. The first lesson from the GDPR experience should be that standing in opposition to regulatory action or ideas for consumer and privacy protection in the digital age without providing widely acceptable alternative solutions to the concerns of consumers will not work.

The GDPR was one idea for constructing rules of the road for the treatment of people’s data that would give them greater comfort. It is the result of political pressure from European consumer concerns with commercial data practices that they believe lack transparency or adequate governance and the sense on the part of European legislators that they had to act to protect fundamental rights. Now that it is law, we should work cooperatively and collaboratively with thought leaders in the region to implement the regulation in a tempered and reasonable manner.

As technology and data dependent industries, we must also listen and rise to the challenge to put the consumer and his/or her interests first, independent of GDPR and in anticipation of regulatory and legal proposals to come. We should not limit ourselves to “check-the-box” compliance with every law, nor should we engage in expensive jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction battles to beat back new data-restriction proposals. Instead, we should provide alternative constructs for consumer protection for the digital age that are more flexible and enabling of innovation than the GDPR is in parts while simultaneously doing as good or a better job of putting consumers in charge of their digital experiences and identity. We should do that through self-regulatory work, public-private cooperation, and an open approach to the modernization of existing law.

2. It’s about both give and take

To help construct this new social contract for the digital age, we should commit to creating an online marketplace in which the rights and needs of both digital market actors and consumers are respected. We don’t need government to force us to do this. We can do it by right-sizing the exchange of value in the ecosystem and making it much more transparent and explicit. We are asking for consumers’ attention and time, so in return we must offer ad experiences that respect people’s digital dignity and enrich, entertain, inform, and educate them.

3. It’s about understanding that the internet is global, not local

Countries from Brazil to Australia, as well as US states including California, are considering to copy GDPR, or writing similar legislation. Much of it could be better constructed and too much of it is premised on the idea that data sharing itself is bad. Nonetheless, this rise in policymaker concerns and proposals represents a powerful call for individual digital empowerment. Consumers across the globe are raising their voices and asking for a better deal online. The digital ecosystem had better answer their calls. Setting aside potential new laws and regulation, one needs only look at the rising tide of ad blocking to hear what consumers want. Global consumer behaviour, like the internet itself, is not dependent upon, nor confined to, any particular geographic regulatory schema.

4. It’s about the user and the consumer, not the country or company

To win the support of the public and their representatives for the continued development of a globally data-driven economy, we must all embrace a consumer-first ethos. We must engage in a transparent dialogue with users and treat their information in a manner that the average person can reasonably be expected to understand and embrace. That is a fair challenge, and it is the galvanizing spirit of the GDPR and other proposals.

In partial response to the call from Europe, and in accordance with GDPR, the IAB Europe has created a Transparency and Consent Framework that provides a viable way to respect GDPR without hindering digital commerce. This is an example of addressing consumer and policymaker concerns in good faith. We should urge all actors in the digital economy to embrace it. It creates a mechanism for website operators to make clear to consumers which other digital actors are involved in the protection of consumer data and for what purposes. It offers consumers the choice whether or not to distribute that data to those actors for those uses. Beyond that, securing the information we hold and enabling people to ask for their records to be deleted are also reasonable demands, with which we should comply without complaint.

5. Lessons on what not to do

But as we consider the future of digital commerce, there are some truly bad ideas that the call for consumer protection is leading some policymakers to embrace. For example, we should seriously consider – whether under the GDPR or any other law – if legislators should force companies to provide services for free that they now provide in exchange for people’s information. Barring that specific service being a human right or utility, that is a step too far.

Website publishers should not be made to provide access to the content on a news website or to a service like social networking for free when someone chooses not to engage in the value exchange of data for services. People should have the choice not to have their data used without their consent but not the choice to free ride off the information of others and access services for free. We don’t believe that is fair. We hope that those who interpret GDPR, or are considering similar laws in their own jurisdictions, will take this on board.

It is currently unclear in both the GDPR and the current draft of upcoming European ePrivacy rules whether or not companies will be able to charge people anything if they choose not to engage in the value exchange of data for services. The assertion is that consumers should be able to bar access to their data without penalty and many are interpreting charging for services in any way as a penalty. In the current draft of the California ballot initiative under consideration for November it explicitly states that companies have to allow those free use of their services by consumers that refuse to provide access to their data. The internet and the services it delivers are amazing and prolific, but they are not free. It is bad precedent and bad policy to mandate how a service can or cannot be monetized or how a person can or cannot compensate a service provider for that service. Companies need to monetize services to operate. And for people to continue accessing services on the internet without having to reach for their wallets each time, websites have to have the ability to negotiate for access to data in order to best finance currently cash payment free services.

There is no doubt that commerce on the internet under GDPR and other similar proposals will get more challenging. Some companies won’t be able to make the transition, and the companies that survive and adapt to new law and consumer demands will have to rise to a higher standard. But we cannot throw the baby out with the bath water – and nor do we think that is anybody’s intent. Using, analyzing and distributing people’s data to create, monetize, and deliver services has fueled the rise of a global digital economy with very low barriers to entry and participation. It has served as an incredible engine for the democratization of commerce and conversation. We can come to mutually agreed standards and processes for ensuring its continued progress and enabling its financing – through multiple mechanisms, including permissioned advertising – while also giving people more control over their own information and data.

The World Economic Forum is a great platform on which to have this dialogue. As is the OECD, think tanks like the German Marshall Fund, your national legislatures, regulatory bodies, and self-regulatory and multi-stakeholder organizations.

GDPR is not the end of the global and national discussions and deliberations over people’s privacy in the digital age nor is it a silver bullet solution that should be cut and pasted into other jurisdictions. It is one idea that European legislators and regulators have worked hard to construct. Those companies operating in Europe, including my own, should respect and comply with it. And we should all evaluate it, engage with its implementation, and think about what might work just as well or even better elsewhere in the world for the sake of protecting people and enabling innovation and commerce in our still developing information society.


Wil Schobeiri and the IAB Present Transparency & Consent Framework Training

June 8, 2018 — by Lauren Fritsky0


IAB Europe’s Interact 2018 took place in Milan, Italy last month, and Wil Schobeiri, MediaMath CTO, presented a training on the organization’s Transparency & Consent Framework with Matthias Matthiesen, Director, Privacy & Public Policy at IAB Europe. Watch the full training session at the video below.


How to End the Marketer Paradox of (Too Much) Choice

June 1, 2018 — by Aaron Lassila0


We’ve all likely experienced the paradox of choice in our lives at some point.

Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice, posits that making decisions has become complex because of all the options we have, from deciding where to eat for dinner to selecting a new primary care physician. The marketing industry has not been immune to this theory. As advertising technologies have proliferated, marketers are now faced with numerous options for choosing how to run campaigns, manage their data, attribute results, manage identity, and more.

This may seem like a good thing, except that according to Schwartz, “choice overload” can make us over-question our decisions, misalign our expectations and cause self-blame for any failures that result. Eliminating choices, on the other hand, can reduce stress and increase satisfaction over our choices. Any Whole Foods loyalist who has spent time exploring a major supermarket knows the pain of having to browse an aisle of options for one food item vs a more limited, highly curated, selection.

I am not digressing. This is stuff is important to marketing, and here’s why. Advertiser Perceptions, a market research firm that surveys hundreds of brands and agencies to get feedback on vendors, recently released its updated DSP and DMP report that surveyed that surveyed 740 advertisers with an average annual digital spend of $20.8 million USD, with a 50/50 breakout of agencies and marketers. MediaMath was excited to be rated #1 in Net Promoter Score (NPS), an index that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others, and that is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service.

This strong NPS score is a leading indicator of future adoption of the MediaMath platform, especially given the 10+ point lead over one of our biggest competitors. But one of the things the Advertiser Perceptions report also highlighted was the average advertiser uses three to four DSPs (up from two to three in the July 2017 report). Marketers are still clearly evolving their sophistication with digital advertising and are gobbling up technologies to navigate a variety of campaign needs, channels and client goals.

It’s hard to think of having to find a single solution to rule them all. And we know that for certain advertisers and campaigns, it can be important. But if you’re really looking to drive outcomes for the long-term, single-channel DSPs and siloed systems are fundamentally not the answer. They might provide immediate gratification in campaign-specific performance upticks, but they won’t move the needle on long-term goals like customer lifetime value. This is why you need to consider consolidating your technologies. Hear me out…

  • You don’t need multiple DSPs to run campaigns in multiple channels. If you do this, you rob yourself of a single source of truth in terms of customer view, budgeting, insights and reporting. A single omnichannel DSP that has capabilities across standard and emerging channels like audio and the ability to ramp budgets up and down and control frequency and sequencing to run omnichannel campaigns gives you the best of both worlds. With a centralized view of performance, you can quickly change tracks in-flight to optimize towards your desired outcomes.
  • An integrated DMP+DSP solution can enable dynamic, granular segmentation, real-time analysis, ingestion of bespoke data and immediate activation of audiences in media. This gives you seamless execution and a feedback loop whereby data informs media and vice versa. Plus, you can still use standalone DMP technology alongside a combined technology to meet your specific business goals.
  • The beauty of a single technology platform—and, yes, one into which you can plug and play other systems via API or integrate other compatible technologies to custom-meet your needs—is that you can go to a single service and support team to address issues, optimize your experience and get consultative advice. You’ll get consistency across how you manage your technology and be able to make decisions that don’t run the risk of breaking one component to fix another.
  • A transparent, open, buy side-aligned platform is good for the long-term. There are big players out there with conflicts of interest in that they keep your data and insights behind walls, with unreliable measurement approaches, and also cater to the supply side and, therefore, might prioritize their own inventory over what’s best for individual marketer goals. Your technology should align with your best interests, and you should be able to look under the hood to understand how it works.

In this world where vendors are often playing both sides of the buy-side and sell-side equation, it is more critical than ever to ask the right questions when exploring potential vendor partners (regardless of which side of the ecosystem you sit on!). As a marketer, please select a transparent offering that takes no opaque position in supply and offers log-level insights into tactics performed via the platform. With brand-safety and fraud issues prevalent throughout the industry, transparency into your provider’s programmatic buying should be top of mind for all parties in the ecosystem. While avoiding “the paradox of choice” can represent a cumbersome decision upfront, those that make the call to consolidate vendors to run their full-funnel programmatic practice will be rewarded handsomely with outsized performance.


Joe Zawadzki on GDPR is Driving a More Explicit Relationship with the Consumer

May 31, 2018 — by MediaMath0

GDPR is officially here. The question hanging in the air for many companies outside of the EU is: should similar regulation be put into place in other parts of the world? recently interviewed MediaMath Founder and CEO Joe Zawadzki for a new series, The Consumer First, a New Era in Digital Media presented by MediaMath.

You can watch all videos in the series here.


It’s Time for Digital Advertising to Get Serious About Blockchain

May 29, 2018 — by Joe Zawadzki0


Now is the time. Why?

Despite its great successes and its enduring promise, digital marketing remains plagued by fundamental challenges. In too many instances, advertisers lack transparency, discrepancies arise among stakeholders, inventory fails to meet quality standards, and/or a noisy minority of bad actors exploits internet infrastructure weaknesses to siphon unearned value from the ecosystem. At the same time, consumers are increasingly aware of the privacy implications and economic value inherent in the digital data they generate, and they’re demanding to participate in the commercialization of that data. Prudent stewardship of consumer trust has never been more critical.

Built properly, with all stakeholders in mind, a digital marketing technology layer that embodies permanence, trust, and transparency—the fundamental features of blockchain and related technologies—will enable us finally to overcome these longstanding challenges.

And it holds the promise to do far more. It can:

  • expand the universe of meaningful business outcomes we can manage and measure against;
  • increase the efficiency, simplicity, and effectiveness of marketing execution; and
  • streamline campaign accounting and payment, with new, flexible financing solutions.


We’ve seen many cycles of adtech innovation through the years. We want to do better than has been done in the past by doing this together, from the ground up:

  • The optimal solution will mix big and small; innovative, purpose-built startups must partner with trusted, enterprise-grade companies to build with scale in mind.
  • The optimal solution will engage the entire value chain. We must accommodate the diversity of constituents in our industry while enshrining the common standards and principles that ensure its vitality.
  • The optimal solution will leverage existing industry associations to coordinate efforts and achieve scale. (Compare, for example, the adoption of DAA’s AdChoices or IAB’s ads.txt to purely commercial attempts to define industry standards—we win when we work together.)

What are we building?

Today, MathCapital and MediaMath’s Strategic Business Development team announce the first investment in an incubated business, Underscore CLT, which has set out to develop a new, foundational technology for digital marketing based on cryptographic ledger technology (aka blockchain). Underscore CLT will grow in three phases:

  • In Phase 1, Underscore CLT will work in concert with marketers, publishers, demand- and supply-side platforms, agencies, industry associations, and technology providers to (a) scope industry-wide applications and (b) create the alliance of stakeholders that will deliver those solutions.
  • In Phase 2, this Underscore CLT alliance will develop its infrastructure technology layer and test it at scale across foundational partners.
  • In Phase 3, the Underscore CLT alliance will deliver the new foundation upon which we will all build digital marketing’s bright future.

Who is leading the effort?

MediaMath has tapped serial entrepreneur Isaac Lidsky to launch Underscore CLT as its President. Lidsky is one of the original adtech founders. After graduating with honors from Harvard at age 19 with a degree in mathematics and computer science, he and I founded [x+1] together in 1999. While at [x+1], Lidsky was among the first in the industry to develop software to target and customize digital marketing real-time. ([x+1] was acquired by Rocket Fuel, then Sizmek.)

Fascinated by the burgeoning field of “cyberlaw,” when Lidsky left [x+1] he returned to Harvard to attend law school, graduating magna cum laude and serving as Editor of the Harvard Law Review and as the first student named a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. After law school, Lidsky served as an appellate litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a Law Clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 2011, Lidsky returned to his entrepreneurial technology roots. With the U.S. housing market stagnating at a historic low, Lidsky correctly predicted that its inevitable recovery would demand a far more efficient construction model to succeed. He purchased a small, struggling residential construction subcontractor and led the development of a proprietary suite of logistics and ERM software to transform it. His reinvented construction services company grew more than tenfold in its first five years, and today it boasts revenues in excess of $250 million.

Lidsky is an accomplished thought leader on topics such as entrepreneurship and leadership. His book, “Eyes Wide Open,” is a New York Times bestseller, and his main-stage TED Talk was viewed more than a million times in its first 20 days. He has delivered lectures to dozens of corporations and organizations around the world, including Accenture, Cisco, FedEx, Forrester Research, Microsoft, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Raytheon, Red Ventures, and Verizon. Lidsky has been featured in numerous national media, including Forbes, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, 60 Minutes, and Voice of America.

Lidsky has returned home to adtech. Partnering with MediaMath and its industry partners, with Underscore CLT, Lidsky is determined to lead the development of a new technology infrastructure for digital marketing that will mitigate the industry’s longstanding structural challenges and deliver on its untapped promise.

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We’re excited to keep you informed about this new project; please visit to learn more. We’re more excited to hear from you! To get involved or share your questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact Underscore CLT at (917) 521-6622 or info at underscoreclt dot com.