Will Blockchain Upend Digital Advertising As We Know It?

August 22, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on MarketingDive.

Even as digital advertising reaches parity with TV in terms of media spend, the space is having a decidedly rough go of it in 2017. Some of the most influential marketers in the world like Procter & Gamble are peeling back tens of millions of dollars from digital budgets as issues like ad fraud, brand safety, wonky metrics and general non-transparency continue to siphon off dollars and hamper business performance.

Online ad companies, to put it pointedly, are quickly losing the trust of brands. But for those who still cherish digital’s flexibility, wide creative canvas and globe-spanning scale, blockchain technology is looking more and more like a balm to many of the channel’s glaring and growing blemishes. Two pillars of blockchain — micropayments and smart contracts — were cited by multiple sources interviewed for this piece as being able to clean up and greatly simplify the digital media supply chain.

That shift that would, in turn, cause a lot of disruption, and shake up an agency and ad tech space that’s repeatedly had trouble catching up with the demands of digital transformation and a quickly fragmenting media landscape.

“This has the potential to really change the game in terms of how agencies are compensated,” Dustin Engel, head of analytics and data activation at the independent full-service agency PMG, told Marketing Dive. “This opens the floodgates in terms of what actions are actually going to be the most meaningful for my business.

“If I want to talk to new customers, I can actually establish micropayments if certain criteria are hit,” he said, noting that those criteria can be as granular or broad as an advertiser wishes. “That really changes things for advertisers, which turns into more spend. It’s just a question of, how does an agency deal with a change in their economic model and contracts with their advertisers to be able to manage to that?”

Breaking down the blockchain basics

Marketers can be forgiven for not knowing the nitty-gritty of blockchain given how nascent the technology is. First manifesting in a white paper by the elusive computer programmer Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, blockchain quickly gained traction in the financial sector in the forms of Bitcoin and Ethereum. But how does it actually work?

“At the core of every blockchain is the distributed ledger — a distributed database of sorts — which keeps full copies at multiple locations that are kept in sync through the open internet or private networks,” Wil Schobeiri, CTO at MediaMath, explained in an emailed statement. “Every time a transaction occurs, it’s replicated to and verified by all participants in the network. The record of transactions is always available to every participant, and they are notified with each new transaction.”

Parties in a blockchain are linked together by what are called smart contracts, and desired actions can be accounted for individually in micropayments executed in real time. Engel pointed to MetaX, which runs the adChain protocol, as an early example of blockchain being leveraged for digital advertising.

“What blockchain brings to the industry is really just the ability to coordinate and come to a trusted conclusion on data,” Ken Brook, co-founder and CEO, MetaX, said in a phone interview. “You can trust it because it’s secured and no one owns it — there’s no incentive to modify this information that’s being accessed.”

Creating a secure digital business environment will only become more pressing as government regulation in response to cybersecurity and fraud threats looms larger, per Brook.

“This industry has always been known to be unregulated by the government,” he said of digital advertising. “If we’re not enforcing guidelines and standards that protect data and allow us to be responsible, then we’ll continue to see the government step in, place fines and get more involved.”

For marketers, the tech also presents an opportunity to rectify the long-standing neglect of online consumers who are inundated with often intrusive ads but rarely acknowledged or rewarded for their time. The same payment system between advertisers and publishers under blockchain extends to consumers, who can be given tokens for engaging with ads, providing data or completing other activities that add brand value, creating a more equitable exchange that could stymie the adoption of ad blockers, according to Brook.

“What blockchain creates is essentially an active consumer,” Engel said. “That’s existed for some time — I will pay you if you do X, Y and Z, and typically the result of that has been you get somebody to sign up as a lead, not necessarily a sale. It’s basically wasted money and the illusion of lead volume.”

Marketers, in an example from Engel, could also compensate influencers not only to demonstrate and buy products as they do now, but also socially influence around those products at scale via micropayments, clearing waste in the influencer market and making the channel more actionable. And blockchain, or at least a steadier adoption of micropayments applied to these business areas, could be arriving far sooner than some might expect — within the next 18 to 36 months, sources said.

Risks and roadblocks

Unlike other emerging tech areas, blockchain won’t need to reach critical mass to make a serious dent in the industry. All it really takes is one standout example to attract more interest, according to Engel. He said that, while fraud is a top concern — an estimated $16 billion in ad dollars is lost to bot traffic annually — the split of working to non-working dollars put into marketing is what truly pains digital advertisers at the moment.

“You could have a large advertiser that really cares about their ratio of dollars that are actually working dollars versus non-working dollars saying, ‘Hey, look at the amount of middle layers I could potentially cut out if an open exchange exists and I can ensure reduced fraud and high brand equity’ — that is something that can turn the tide quite a bit,” he explained.

On the other hand, one notable disaster that calls into question blockchain’s security proposition could turn marketers away. Enthusiasts often tout blockchain as being “unhackable,” which is almost certainly untrue, according to Alanna Gombert, former GM of the IAB Tech Lab, who recently resigned from that position to pursue a role in the private sector.

To read the full article, click here.


Facebook Cracks Down on ‘Fat-Finger’ Accidental Ad Clicks

August 14, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on AdvertisingAge

Facebook wants to fix the pile-up of “fat fingers” and hair-trigger mobile ads that lead to unintended clicks.

The company has decided to stop charging advertisers in its Facebook Audience Network if a person clicks on a mobile ad but backtracks within two seconds. That’s a telltale sign of an accidental click, according to Brett Vogel, Facebook’s product marketing manager.

It is also setting new requirements on ad formats in the audience network so they are less quick to register a click and send people to a new page.

Facebook Audience Network, or FAN, is an ad network used by apps, games and publishers to serve ads like the ones served on the social network. Facebook sells the inventory to its customers but lets them reach beyond its own properties.

The changes affect only FAN and not Facebook’s own mobile properties, which don’t run the kind of ad units that most exacerbate the problem. Some publishers make it too easy to click on ads, likely hoping to boost their fortunes on pay-per-click buys. It’s particular easy to mistakenly hit an ad, for example, when a game that requires tapping the screen a lot suddenly serves a pop-up.

“It may be short-term profitable for publishers,” Vogel said, referring to cashing in on inadvertent ad clicks. “But it doesn’t add any value for people or advertisers. And it’s not in the long-term interest of publishers looking to sustain a profitable business.”

Facebook on Tuesday announced the updates along with changes to the ways it reports metrics to advertisers. It will now offer a “gross impression” stat to advertisers, showing them how many total views an ad received, including impressions that don’t show up on their bills such as those caused by bots.

The company has been making an effort to improve its transparency with advertisers ever since a measurement failure last year gave brands with bad data about performance on the social network.

Fat thumbs and accidental clicks are a problem as old as mobile, and so long as there are advertisers that cut corners and publishers with bad ad formats, people will frustratingly hit an unwanted ad.

“Invalid clicks are a pervasive issue, particularly on mobile devices,” said Jalal Nasir, CEO of Pixalate, a digital ad measurement company. “Many marketers still optimize toward clicks, and some sellers are taking advantage of this by optimizing their placements and code to generate more invalid clicks and reap the benefits. The ability to identify and eliminate invalid clicks should be on everyone’s checklist.”

In apps, display ads have a 5.8% accidental click rate, according to Pixalate data from July. Facebook’s ad network is primarily used inside mobile apps.

“Optimizing” away from click-based campaigns could be the key to solving fat thumbs. More sophisticated advertisers are starting to demand outcomes from ad campaigns and not just clicks. There is a certain breed of ad buyer that is more concerned with racking up clicks at a low cost per-click, even if that costs the brands that employ them in the long run.

“We’re trying to get clients out of those wrong metrics,” said Floriana Nicastro, mobile product solutions manager at MediaMath, an ad tech platform. “All some advertisers want is a low CPC and they aren’t checking what happens after the click.”

MediaMath, Facebook and others are trying to move the advertisers to care about sales downloads, store traffic and not just these clicks.

At this point, talking about clicks and fat thumbs could just be a distraction in the face of more pressing metrics issues for Facebook, according to Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a publisher industry group that often finds itself on the other side of issues with the social network.

“Brands are focused on a more mature advertising ecosystem to help build desire and demand yet this is optimization of lousy direct response metrics,” Kint said by e-mail. “The entire discussion is akin to your mail carrier preventing your junk mail from getting wet.”


Marketing Wiki: Tab Distraction

August 8, 2017 — by Laura Carrier0


Quick: How many tabs do you have open on your browser right now? OK, you can stop counting. It’s a lot, right? So how did this happen? If you’re on the web all day, it’s not surprising that you keep opening new tabs. Often when you click on a link, it launches another tab. It’s not unusual to have a dozen or more tabs open at one time. While this probably ranks low on the list of modern white-collar workplace annoyances (well below, say, dodgy Wi-Fi or slow trail mix refills), it rises to the level of minor annoyance for marketers because it makes attribution more difficult.

  • What is tab distraction?

Let’s say you’re in Chrome and have a bunch of tabs open. One is open to J. Crew’s website because you’re about to buy a short-sleeve shirt in Japanese indigo chambray. But the other tabs are markers of various ways you’ve wasted the day so far, including Reddit, TMZ and Facebook. So let’s say right before you decide to checkout at J.Crew, you go to Facebook, which has a J. Crew retargeting ad waiting for you (as would Reddit, TMZ and many of your other open tabs). Then you go back to continue completing your purchase of that short-sleeve shirt in Japanese indigo chambray on J. Crew. Even though it didn’t help make the sale in this case, Facebook will get credit for this sale on last-touch attribution models.

  • Why is this a big deal?

Last-touch attribution may be an inaccurate way of giving marketing credit for purchases or other desired actions (some compare it to making the team that scores last the winner of a basketball game), but it’s still standard practice for many companies. Tab distraction adds to the issue of giving too much credit to the last ad seen before conversion which in this common example didn’t even help make the sale and under-credits all of the marketing that actually did influence the customer’s behavior. That attribution not only impacts measurement of the efficacy of the set of marketing that led to this conversion, but also affects future spending because the marketer thinks “Facebook led to this sale, so I’ll spend my money there.”

  • What can be done?

An industry shift towards multi-touch attribution helps mitigate the impact of this issue, and is one of the most significant steps that marketers can take to ensure that they are understanding the effect their marketing is having on their customers’ behaviors. Consumers’ continuing exodus to mobile is also making tab distraction less of an issue.


In-house, agency or consultancy?

August 7, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on The Drum.

In the year since the last ATS Singapore, a lot has happened in the adtech industry: transparency issues rage, with complexity and issues like viewability and fraud taking centre stage, header bidding has also started to be adopted in Asia Pacific as publishers arm themselves against the duopoly.

As with many conferences about the digital advertising sector, the tone of the conversation had flip flopped between accusations against bad behaviours, calls to arms to work more collaboratively with creatives and the occasional Devil’s Advocate asking whether anyone really cares? Perhaps it is all just industry hot air?

While the tone and opinions bounced around, one key theme persisted: complexity. Grounded in the call from P&G’s Marc Pritchard for better scrutiny on the transparency of media, much of the conversation looked at who is best placed to manage the complexity that will inevitably still exist. Can the agencies regain trust? Will brands take this in-house? What about newcomers to this, such as the consultancies?

Senior professionals from brands, agencies, suppliers and publishers offered their thoughts on what the industry needs to do, particularly in Asia Pacific. The Drum selected some of the key points from across the day on this ongoing global debate.

Marcus Cho, regional multiscreen performance and precision marketing, Asia Pacific at Johnson & Johnson

Cho came from the point of view that FMCG brands did want to see more consolidation and convergence in the programmatic space, particularly around data and agency structures. This was largely driven by the imperative, shared by many brands, to build a single customer view.

“We want to see harder metrics, we want to look at how we measure the sales, use ecommerce data or transaction and credit card transaction data. From what we have seen, those who are providing soft metrics will face a midlife crisis in programmatic,” he said.

“We work closely with trading desks and AORs but we do see convergence and our point of view is in full stack solutions that run through agency partners and partners such as Google and Oracle etc. Once we plug in analytics, we want to see more, a single point of view on marketing and operations. The need state is to see end-to-end analytics through single view on programmatic and operations,” he added.

On the point of using consultancies, Cho stated his confidence in agencies as experts in media but said big companies may still turn to traditional consultancies for bigger picture strategies.

Sanchit Sanga, chief digital officer, APAC and MENA at Mindshare

Sanga’s reaction to the threat of consultancies was to state his confidence in media expertise, arguing that consultancy firms couldn’t provide the insight that agencies could.

He also addressed the topic of agency transparency, referring to GroupM’s recent launch of Mplatform, an adtech platform that promises to answer the client need for a single customer view by using an open universal ID.

“We are big believers at Mindshare and Groupm, that through Mplatform the disclosure and transparency issue gets sorted pretty quickly. You can see it even in the open desks we run for Unilever and HSBC which are 100% transparent; we do believe the future is revealing all costs to clients,” he said.

On the topic of consolidation, Sanga’s key concern lay with the duopoly of Google and Facebook. “in terms of the consolidation of technology, we don’t see walled gardens as anything but a threat to democratic technology. I don’t think all marketers are savvy enough to understand they are playing into hands of two companies who are not revealing the single source of truth,” he said.

Matt Harty, senior vice president, Asia Pacific at The Trade Desk

Harty took on the question of in-housing and whether brands were going direct to adtech partners like The Trade Desk.

“The more sophisticated marketers are wanting to take control. The most sophisticated clients want to take more control and want to be able to see inside of the tools,” he said.

However, he warned: “It is a mistake for people to not take the servicing that the agency has to offer. We have been down this road before; search gives us that lesson and shows us where to go. We had search specialists, then in-house popped up and now it sits in agency again. There just isn’t the amount of talent that can be dispersed.”

Harty argued that if each fortune 500 business across Asia Pacific wanted an in-house programmatic person, the talent wouldn’t be there. “You would be frankly hard pressed have 100 people across APAC that can independently run campaigns.”

“Agencies needed to be centres of excellence but it shouldn’t discourage us for allowing the client to be more empowered than ever before,” he added.

Rahul Vasudev, managing director, APAC at MediaMath

In terms of the duopoly, moderator Wendy Hogan, marketing transformation and strategy director at Oracle asked whether any players in Asia Pacific were attempting to educate the market, as Google and Facebook are. Google itself is almost at the end of the first year of a large-scale training programme for programmatic in Singapore, created in conjunction with the Singapore government.

“Through our training we have trained 10,000 people globally. We get them to focus on outcomes and not get confused by the plethora of terms and technology. The handshakes that take place to enable great marketing should be invisible,” he said.

Prashant Kumar, senior partner at Entropia

Kumar shared a stage with Sukesh Singh, vice president, APAC at Adform to discuss full stack solutions and shared an example of how Entropia was helping Tesco in Malaysia with a digital transformation roadmap.

He commented: “The single biggest challenge is complexity and some in the industry seem to have a vested interest in keeping complexity alive.”

Much like Vasudev’s point of view, he said the market should be helping to reduce complexity for the brand, which would allow them to focus on real business outcomes, not the technology and terms.

He also added that complexity was not just about losing money to margins and ad tech costs: “At the early stage, if the client is bogged down by operational issues and the agency teams are bogged down, you lose sight of larger strategic picture. Complexity is not just about operational cost, it is about what being bogged down by complexity and chaos does to creating the future; you lose sight of insights and ideas. Each time a marketer tries to do agency work, they do less of a marketer’s work.”


Three Major Omnichannel Challenges Today

August 4, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears in DMN News.

Omnichannel has been top-of-mind for marketers since the advent of digital media, and it’s hard to argue with the progress businesses have made in omnichannel marketing over the last decade or so.

Indeed, the industry has come a long way from extolling the benefits of omnichannel to today’s world, where businesses not only understand the benefits of omnichannel marketing, but are increasingly facing pressure from customers and partners to be omnichannel as a standard.

“Today, omnichannel marketing across all addressable channels and inventory, coupled with identity resolution and machine-powered optimization are table stakes for all media buyers and as a result, enriches the consumer experience,” says Dan Rosenberg, chief strategy officer at MediaMath. Not only does omnichannel execution allow you to manage the frequency of ads… but by adopting a more audience-based approach, marketers will be able to consolidate as many addressable channels as possible to enable one-to-one storytelling and messaging, no matter where a customer is connected.”

There are a few key areas of contention that continue to challenge omnichannel marketing as a concept, and marketers will likely grapple with these for the next few years.

Managing the customer journey

The customer journey is extremely difficult to track these days. It’s harder than ever for marketers to distil the customer journey down into the neat funnels that were once standard to the marketing process. Still, marketers are going to have to figure out how to engage customers across disparate channels as best they can.

“Managing consumer data across channels is a challenge with teams that are historically silo’ed and not incentivized to share data. Marketers need to understand the 360-degree customer journey, so that a marketer can address a given consumer’s concern in the moment,” Rosenberg says.


As is the case for practically all digital media, privacy and data ownership will continue to be big concerns for brands doing omnichannel marketing, particularly because of the multiple channels and touchpoints involved.

“As part of privacy, marketers should be good stewards of consumer data, and not advertising too aggressively or invasively with the use of frequency caps. Using frequency caps across channels curb the number of times a consumer sees advertisements from a given marketer on any device,” Rosenberg says.


Similar to privacy, marketers doing omnichannel have a vested interest in the advertising industry’s battles with fraud.

“Fraud has been a longstanding issue within advertising where marketers are realizing that fraud is susceptible across all channels including fake bot data, fake social media profiles and not just an ad tech,” Rosenberg says.

There’s little in the way of best practice here, as these are issues that affect all of marketing, not just omnichannel, and the progression of technology advances and exacerbates problems like privacy and tracking the customer journey.

In the end though, omnichannel is well worth the effort.


The Power Of Agency-Tech Company Relationships: A MediaMath Case Study

July 11, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on

Recently, MediaMath, partnered with digital agency PMG to help a global beauty brand address struggles they were experiencing when trying to connect with customers, in real-time.

The brand wanted to deliver its ads to high-affinity audiences in ways that were optimized and personalized. By working together, PMG was able to construct audience profiles in a way that would allow them to target new and dynamic users. The company collected past data into a centralized platform to create current audience profiles built on the history of the customer’s actions. The result was improved ROAS and proof that marketers can improve the user experience of online advertising for greater efficiency for brands.

This represents the potential future of relationships between agencies and tech providers. Lead by CEO Joe Zawadzki (pictured top left), MediaMath believes that by customizing approaches and developing a strategy, a partnership leads to better results for all involved. Agencies must embrace ad technology to stay ahead of their competitors, and by partnering with ad tech providers on a strategic level they can make sure to meet the goals of the brands they are working with. Download the case study, A Triumvirate Approach to Helping a Global Beauty Brand Target New and Dynamic Users in Real-Time.

Adotas explored to subject in a Q&A with Chris Keenan, Director Product Management at MediaMath (pictured left).

Q: This PMG case study, mentions that marketers struggle to connect with customers “due to audience pools that are incomplete, inaccurate, and siloed from activation.” Why does this happen and why is it so commonplace?

A: Incomplete and inaccurate audiences that are siloed from activation are the primary drivers for marketers moving to platforms that have tightly integrated demand side and data management platforms.

We have found that when pushing audience segments from standalone DMPs to DSPs for activation, there is a 10-20% loss in reach due to the cookie sync required. This is particularly troubling when marketers have a granular, niche segmentation strategy. Losing any portion of your low-recency, high-frequency, high-value users results in lower campaign performance.

In addition, cookie-less identity resolution has become a “must-have” as mobile is exploding and the cookie is going away. Three years ago, you could reach 75% of a user with desktop cookies alone. Today, that number is less than 40%. For mobile, you will miss 80% of available RTB impressions without a cookie-less identifier.

A common complaint I hear from friends when I tell them I work in the online advertising industry is “Why am I followed around the internet with ads for a product I purchased days ago?” Another complaint I hear when speaking with marketers is that frequency caps set at the audience level are not respected. This happens when DMPs only update their segments in batch, as opposed to real-time. DMPs that evaluate segment membership in real-time will immediately remove the user who just converted or the user who just received their 8th impression. Not only does real-time segment evaluation drive performance, it also leads to a more positive user experience.

Q: Can you talk more about the pixel resolution/limitations of this client and why they prevented audience targeting?

A: Like many online retailers entering the holiday season, the client had entered a ‘code freeze’ period where they were not able to make any modifications to their existing or place new tags onsite. Code freezes are enforced as a precaution against changes having unintended, negative consequences during historically busy periods that could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue in a very short amount of time.

Fortunately, the client already had global footer and conversion tags placed. From these tags, we were able to ingest standard retail variables, such as Product SKU, Product Brand, Product Price, Search Phrase, Cart Value, and Order Value. These variables, in conjunction with Page URL, were used to develop a granular audience profiling strategy.

Q: How are sophisticated agencies and brands utilizing data to drive campaign performance?

A: Everyone has heard the phrase ‘the right message, to the right person, at the right time’ before, but how do marketers position themselves to deliver on that principle? I have been fortunate to speak with our clients around the globe and here are two common themes amongst the most sophisticated marketers:

• Eliminate latency
DMPs need to have an incredibly tight feedback loop with their DSP counterparts to remove latency between the two platforms. The propensity for users to convert is highest within a few hours, but if your DMP is only syncing your audiences to your DSP once every 8 hours, or worse, once a day, you are losing the opportunity to reach your audience during the most optimal time. Then, once those users have converted, you will still be wasting your media budget on those users until the next time your segments are re-synced.

By eliminating this latency, tightly integrated DMPs can reach the user with a message for complementary product offers instead of wasting the impression with a creative for the product they just purchased. It also allows for capabilities like accurate global frequency capping and sequential messaging.

• Act quickly and decisively
Today, many marketers are waiting for campaigns to run for at least a few days before looking at any analytics regarding the audiences they are targeting. By storing the raw event, impression and click level data, modern DMPs will be able to tell you how your newly created audiences would have performed against prior campaigns, without spending any media dollars against those audiences. If there is not enough 1st party data available, smart marketers generate similar performance reports to determine which 3rd party audiences will help them accomplish their reach goals in a performant manner. These tactics allows marketers to test their hypotheses without burning through their media budgets; further improving their ROAS.

Another benefit of working with a DMP that stores data at the raw event level allows marketers to define an audience segment that is fully populated and ready for activation immediately. The days of creating a segment, waiting for the audience to populate before activating it in a campaign are over. This is particularly valuable unplanned budget is made available and needs to be spent against while still meeting high performance goals. It also means that you can redefine your segment definition on-the-fly while your campaign is still in-flight with your latest learnings/needs (e.g. drive additional reach vs. improve performance) without having to start from scratch.

Q: Beyond Adaptive Segments, what other tech innovations would you recommend marketers and publishers use to accomplish their goals?

A: One innovation that has had implications for both marketers and publishers, and become a hot topic within the last year, is header bidding. For those not familiar, header bidding allows publishers to run a unified auction across their demand partners (e.g. direct sold vs. RTB) for each impression and the highest bid wins. Header bidding provides a level playing field opposed to the legacy, waterfall method where demand sources would be ranked in priority order and only get the opportunity to win the impression if the partners above them passed on that impression first. This means that the publisher’s ad server would serve the $5 CPM direct sold campaign even when there was an RTB partner willing to pay $15 CPM for that same impression.

Q: What does this mean for publishers and advertisers?

A: For publishers, the primary benefit is an increase in revenue due to the increased the “true value” of each impression being recognized. Publishers commonly report a 30%+ increase in revenue after implementing header bidding. This increase in publisher revenue translates into higher media costs for advertisers. However, advertisers now have access to premium, first look inventory allowing them to scale their campaigns in ways that would not be possible in the waterfall world. While media cost is certainly a metric that marketers should pay attention to, they should ultimately be focused on outcome oriented metrics such as CPA and ROAS. Header bidding has the potential to create a win-win for publishers and marketers alike and is an innovation that I’ll be closely.


Why Multi-Touch Attribution Adoption Will Change More Than You May Think

June 29, 2017 — by Laura Carrier0


Most people know that last-touch attribution is flawed. Yet it remains the leading gauge for channel performance. This ignores the fact that giving the last ad viewed credit for a sale or desired action is like giving the MVP award in a basketball game to the person who scores the final basket.

But last-touch has remained viable because it’s better than nothing. The alternative — multi-touch attribution — historically has been hard to implement.

It’s still hard, but organizations are making great strides toward making MTA a standard. In 2017, most top-tier marketers are working on fully implementing MTA. When they do have this completely up and running (and here I mean as more than just as a reporting mechanism), this will usher in profound changes for both digital marketers and for the organizations they service in terms.

Spending will change

The first change we’ll see is increased growth in programmatic spending. Consumers are spending more and more time online researching and purchasing. As a result, digital marketing spending, specifically programmatic, will continue to rise — eMarketer expects programmatic display spending to jump about 28% this year. MTA will help marketers better understand which forms of digital media are contributing to brand health, to an incremental sale or other desired customer behaviors.

Equally importantly, MTA will illuminate what the value is of each of those marketing channel contributions. Programmatic as both a cost-efficient and customer-focused method of marketing will continue to grow as incremental performance and percent of contribution become more refined.

MTA will also prompt less spending for channels which overly benefit from last-click attribution models, specifically social media and search. Though both are very important in the customer journey, they have overly benefited from last click measurement, for many reasons.

One reason is “Tab Distraction.” For example, let’s say you’re in Chrome and you have several tabs open. (Quick: How many do you have open right now? A lot, right?) So you’re at J. Crew’s website and about to buy something, but then you decide to visit Facebook before completing the purchase (because you get distracted by another tab). When you open the page, you are very likely to see a J. Crew retargeting ad. You then go back to continue completing your purchase on J. Crew. Even though it didn’t help make the sale in this case, Facebook will get credit for this sale on last touch models. It will also get future marketing spend as a result of this (distorting both that customer’s true behavior and media relationship).

Because most marketers who use last touch models are also still using clicks as the indicator of engagement for all digital channels, those channels where customers do actually click as the biggest sign of engagement are also the beneficiaries of last click models, meaning more budgets are dedicated to them than should be.

Not surprisingly, the channels where clicks are a strong indicator of engagement are search and social. Once marketers grok the fact that customers engage with them differently on different digital channels and understand which of those engagements correlate to improved brand health and return on ad spend, then marketing budgets will right-size. Of course, search and social are important channels in the customer conversation, and we are still in the period where customers are increasing their use of both. But once fully implemented, I believe MTA will show that many clients are overspending on channels where clicks are the predominant indicator of customer engagement.

Organizations will change

Additionally, MTA will herald significant changes to the planning and activation processes that generate marketing plans and performance measurement frameworks. Most organizations have separate siloed marketing channel teams i.e. email, social, search, display, etc. That means each of those teams is goaled based on their particular channel’s reported performance.

Without MTA, each team claims credit for as many of the sales as their channel contributed to, but they claim credit for 100% of that sale, so total sales credit claimed adds up to much more than 100% when each team’s “performance” is added together. Once implemented, MTA will continue to give credit to each channel which deserves credit, but will assign partial, not full credit. This is not a minor change in terms of reported sales by team.

In the case of retail, the industry average is seven marketing touchpoints before a conversion, so MTA will apportion each of those seven marketing touchpoints with (for instance) 1/7th of the credit that they were claiming prior to MTA. This means that marketing, finance, HR, merchants and all related teams will need to work together to goal marketing against new benchmarks. That will require new processes for media planning, channel performance measurement frameworks, and new frameworks for defining and rating employee reviews and goals.

There are many reasons that MTA is difficult for organizations to implement — technology constraints, data connections, internal skill sets, required process changes, costs. Even though LTA is flawed, it is The Way It’s Always Been Done and that’s hard to fight. But strategic organizations have realized that the rewards of MTA are big enough to overcome both this inertia and the other significant obstacles. Right now the main barrier to full implementation is still siloed data, so smart marketers are spending 2017 getting their data house in order to make way for full MTA implementation. And when they do, we are going to see that increased understanding of complete customer behaviors will lead to correction in the marketing spend for click-based channels and significant organizational changes.


How to Add Ads and Then Add Some More

June 28, 2017 — by Felix Sargent0


You’ve built a new social network called Minivan, for soccer moms and dads. You’ve signed all the soccer moms on the eastern seaboard and they’re sharing content. Your user numbers are soaring, but you’re not making money. Some of your soccer moms are leveraging the platform for their businesses and want your help to reach new markets for their locally made sports gear. Unfortunately, making a full-featured advertising platform isn’t something your small engineering team can do overnight, especially not while you’re still trying to get funding yourself.

It’s not hard to create an individual advertising campaign nowadays. There is a large set of platforms and services where you can get started with your first ad. Facebook and Google AdWords are fantastic at getting first-time users to create their first ad on their platforms. But, as your business scales up and you want to run thousands of campaigns targeting segments of your customers, those platform tools slow you down, forcing you to make campaigns one by one.

Let’s go up a level. You’re an agency — you manage a variety of brands. Keeping all the campaigns in check, performing well, and keeping clients happy is a feat. You’ll need custom software to manage everything. Enter the Demand-Side Platform. DSP is a service that manages advertising campaigns. That’s what our programmatic advertising platform does. You probably knew that, arriving on our blog.

But let’s go up another level. MediaMath is designed to be API First. What does that mean? Everything in the platform is built on top of our API services. If you’re in our T1 platform and creating a campaign, that’s a series of API calls your browser makes to our services. The T1 platform is a shiny facade to the gritty advertising workshop inside.

Let me break that down with an analogy:

If you want to buy a chair, you go to a chair store, and pick one up. If you have custom needs, you can reach out to a chair factory who will custom build one for you. As of now, we’ve had lots of companies willing to customize the campaign to your needs. But what if you need more? What if you want the factory itself?

This is the idea behind MediaMath’s developer platform. The engineering team at Minivan, for instance, can build MediaMath’s DSP directly into Minivan’s system letting your users create their own campaigns to target their ideal audience. Now, instead of seeing car ads on your service, your customers are marketing to each other. Such ads can be distributed on the wider web as well.

APIs don’t just allow individual actions — they give users an ability to franchise their services, allowing deep integrations into new markets. This, at least, is one road that Minivan can take.

To learn more about MediaMath APIs, click here.


The Role of Viewability

June 23, 2017 — by Michael Neiss0


Over the past few years there has been a lot of discussion about viewabilty. Does viewability really matter though? The answer is a frustrating “yes, but…”

Viewability tends to matter less for direct-response advertisers. Because such marketers have no trouble measuring the outcome they’re trying to achieve, they can afford to treat viewability as a means to an end rather than an end unto itself. DR advertisers care whether their ads are visible, but the visibility (or lack thereof) will manifest in incremental sales, which is the bottom line.

But brand marketers are in a different position. They often don’t have the luxury of an easy-to-measure success metric because the bulk of their sales take place in an environment that’s hard to attribute to digital marketing (such as a brick-and-mortar supermarket) or relate to a product with a very long consideration cycle (such as a car). If it’s hard to directly attribute media spend to the outcome you care about, measuring the quality of that media is the next best option. So for brand marketers, the primary goal is usually just to ensure that they convey an engaging, impactful message to the right audience. That makes viewability a natural fit.

Is Maximizing Viewability a Good Idea?

It might be tempting to aim for 100% viewability, but this probably isn’t achievable for most digital campaigns. That’s because you can’t know in advance whether most impressions will be viewed before they’re served. Most pages tend to load all of their content and advertisements at once, which means you have to bid on the impression before knowing whether the user will scroll to the middle of the page where it renders. As a result, advertisers usually shoot for somewhere in the 60-70% range.

Even if you could achieve 100% viewability, should that be your goal? If the campaign only reached a handful of users or bought inventory at an exorbitant cost, it would be tough to consider it a success. That’s the challenge with using viewability as the sole measure of a campaign’s performance. All things being equal, it’s better to reach 1,000 people in a campaign with 70% viewability than 500 people with 100% viewability. Cost per viewable impression (aka viewable CPM) might be a better metric than viewability in many cases.

Optimizing Viewability

With MediaMath’s viewability solution, you can select a third-party partner to verify whether impressions were viewable and use their measurement as the success metric for algorithmic optimization. Harnessing machine learning is critical—studies have shown that many variables influence the likelihood that an ad will be viewed, and the impact of these variables varies by vertical. We update our models every 24 hours to ensure we’re capturing up-to-date changes in inventory and performance.

And we offer these tools because our customers ask for them. But assigning the importance of viewability is every marketer’s individual judgment call. In other words, how much viewability matters varies depending on who you are and what goals you’re trying to achieve.


Why MediaMath, Why Now

June 21, 2017 — by Lewis Rothkopf0


We’re living in challenging times. Publishers are fighting to win back media spend that has largely fled to a small handful of players. Buyers are fighting to make sure that they don’t run against unsafe — or untrue — content. And ad enablement platforms are fighting to justify the share of media dollars that they take out of the ecosystem. The result is an overcomplicated, often irrational framework that sits between marketers and consumers.

We would all agree that there’s got to be a better way.

In my view, buyers aren’t shunting the lion’s share of budgets to those few players because they necessarily want to king-make an oligopoly — rather, buying on those properties is easy to do, and carries an ostensible halo of brand safety. If you believe that premise to be true, then it naturally follows that if another entity were to offer equivalent levels of ease, brand safety, addressability and scale, it would create a compelling alternative for media buyers to consider.

Historically the task of curating inventory has fallen to individual exchanges and publishers. What that effort offers buyers is incomplete at best — it checks the safety box but doesn’t necessarily address ease and scale. Seeing this behavior across the industry, MediaMath is radically innovating around media curation and addressability.

In my conversations with members of the MediaMath leadership team, I was immediately struck by how much respect the organization has for the supply side. The company makes its money by selling to advertisers, of course, but is keenly aware of the critically important role that high-quality inventory plays in its ongoing success. Having run supply businesses at display, video and mobile platforms, I saw an acute connection between the passion I have for empowering publishers and making digital advertising simpler, and MediaMath’s core values.

Most would agree that programmatic in its current form needs improvement. MediaMath’s first major step was to introduce the Curated Market product — easily accessible premium, audience-informed, hand-picked inventory with a brand safety guarantee. Next comes addressing operational inefficiencies inherent to OpenRTB — bidding against yourself, dynamic floors, low win rates and unnecessarily high eCPMs. Taking these steps will permit the company to meet buyers’ needs while helping restore budgets to a diverse array of premium publishers.

We’re here to make programmatic a cleaner, safer, simpler, more cost-effective experience for buyers, and to help publishers take back control over their futures. I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this team, and to work with so many of you as partners.