What is the Perfect Ad? : Part 2

August 17, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


In part one we explored five different factors that would result in a perfect ad. Perfect defined as every impression leading to a business outcome. This required suspending belief at a few points, but overall each of the elements ARE technically possible. But, the actual creative asset needs to do a lot and be specific to each person viewing it. It is unrealistic to make a different ad for each impression so, logically, we need to make the ads dynamic.

Before going deep on the issues, let’s highlight what I am talking about. Imagine one ad unit, in this example a simple 300×250 display ad, (but dynamic can and should be applied to all channels and formats). This particular ad has a background image, a heading, the company logo and a call to action. In a traditional work flow, a designer uses software such as photoshop or illustrator to design the initial version of the ad, get necessary approvals and then make different variations. Dynamic units, have a similar starting point, but all of the variations are done dynamically from a feed. In the graphic below you will see how a simple ad unit can be broken down into its core components, all of which can then be variables loading in different assets depending on what we know about the target user.

This is a very simple example of what can be done today.  So, again why aren’t all ads dynamic? The reasons are various and complicated. Way too in-depth for me to explain, but there are many smart people discussing some of them here:

  • Media planning and creative separation. The designers should be involved in the targeting conversations.
    “But media and creative agencies don’t always agree who owns dynamic creative as a service for clients. Dynamic creative emerged at media agencies because they had the skills to do audience-based targeting. But as the technology has evolved to use machine learning to deliver personalized messages to individuals, it will benefit from more creative thinking, said Diaz Nesamoney, CEO at Jivox.”
  • Overwhelming amount of data. Creatives need to able to understand and take actionable insights from all available sources.
    “There is more data than ever before, and it is only as good as what you do with it. And creativity is still the best way to solve really chunky problems. There has to be more of this marriage.”
  • Historical processes limiting the advancement of new technologies 
    “…many traditional marketers and their creative agencies are still largely inclined to make ads that tell the same story to the whole country or planet. And the disjointed nature of ad agency holding companies are a big obstacle to advancing programmatic creative”

Progress is being made and the IAB has outlined a Dynamic Content Ad Standard that will help standardize production. But we still have a long way to go. I would like to keep the dream going and believe that all ads will be dynamic. But not necessarily in how we see them today. Right now, dynamic creative assembles ads from multiple pieces. Pulling from a pre-defined list of messages, images, call to actions and information to assemble what it believes is the ad you are most likely to engage with. This could be a product image, or a different background, or even something like sports scores or if it is sunny outside. The ads are templates that fill in the placeholders from a set of options. This can be very effective and gets us close to truly personalized ads. A great example of this comes from  SpongeCell who produced a campaign for Tennessee Tourism that pulled together video clips dynamically and made a custom spot for you. It is a great example of what is possible today. But even that Cannes Lions-winning awesomeness was compiling an ad from a bucket of pre-made assets.

Perhaps, that is good enough? — You could argue that if there are enough combinations available to make a personal connection to every single person, then we’re pretty close to reaching that perfect ad we defined earlier. But I believe to really get there, we need to go further. TRULY dynamic ads, would generate the imagery and messaging in real-time, based on the thousands of inputs available to them. The closest example I can use to illustrate this is how far video games have come in the last decade.  Rendering a scene as you are playing and changing the visuals depending on what is happening. Graphics and processing power are at a point now where it’s photo-realistic and fast. So, if you are a sports brand selling sneakers – rather than making hundreds of image files of different combinations of how the runner looks (male/female/young/old) or what type of shoes they’re wearing (running/gym/casual/fashion) in a different environment (indoors/outdoors/city/countryside) instead of making all of those possible variations, the ad can ‘generate’ the right image based on all of the information it has about the user and the brands business objectives. You program the ad to deliver the right combination. I’m excited about dynamic creative, not because I can show you a different image based on if it is sunny outside, but by the thought that the role of a “creative” (a designer and the ad itself) in the future will not be limited by what combination of pixels you can put together in software. But by what your knowledge and imagination can communicate to a machine, that will then create something, checking all five of the boxes we outlined earlier. Producing the perfect ad… well, set of ads, there really is no such thing as a perfect ad as everyones idea of perfect is different.

Programmatic advertising isn’t killing creativity — it is opening it up to a new world of possibilities.

Phew! — ok back to earth… next week will be more real. I’m gonna make a simple ad in HTML5 using three different tools and show you how I did it. For me, today’s reality is exciting, but tomorrow’s potential is freakin’ incredible!

Next week: Let’s make an ad!


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.”


What is the Perfect Ad?

August 9, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


What is the perfect ad? I’ve set myself up for a tough one here! Let’s suspend reality for a moment and get comfy. This one’s gonna get a little deep…

You’re reading the MediaMath blog, so it’s safe to assume you are into digital marketing, unless you’re reading this because I begged you to (hi friend!) But let’s assume you have been working in marketing for some time and have come to terms with all of the industry slang and acronyms and you’re up on all of the latest bells and whistles that we can feel good about.

You might ask yourself why are we here, and why are so many people spending so much time and money on making advertising better? And what for that matter does better even mean? Selling more stuff is the goal, right? So, the best ad sells the most stuff.

Is it that simple? If a banner ad was served 1,000 times, and 1,000 different people clicked it and bought the product, then that would be perfect, right? If you bought 1,000 impressions and sold 1,000 products. You’d say “Yes – Pete, that sounds pretty freaking perfect. So now we have a definition of perfect; an ad that has zero waste. Every impression generates a business outcome.

Great, now how do we make that ad?

Well, keep suspending belief with me a little longer. Let’s say we’re trying to get 1,000 different people to buy a product from our ad. This ad would need to be something special, we would need to know a lot about these people so we don’t waste any impressions.

Which 1,000 people should see this ad? Since we have no room for error, we need to be confident about the following:

  1. We need to make sure this person needs or wants the product.
  2. We need to make sure this person is ready and willing to buy this product.
  3. We need to make sure this person actually sees our ad.
  4. The ad needs to provide some form of value to the person.
  5. And finally, we need to make sure the ads message resonates with this person.

Sound familiar? For those smart marketers out there, I’m sure you already understand the adage of right person, right time, right place, right message, right blah blah blah.

But it’s safe to say, that if we managed to check the box on all five of the above, the person would buy the product.

The exciting thing for me about all of this, is that every one of those five things is totally doable! It’s hard as hell, especially at any form of scale, but we live in a world where technology is so awesome that we can make a theoretically perfect ad. Here’s how:

  1. We need to make sure this person needs or wants the product
    Data about this person, pulled from a magnitude of available sources, can tell us if this person is interested in a specific product.
  2. We need to make sure that this person is ready and willing to buy this product
    Wanting or needing something isn’t enough. We need to be sure that this person has the means and is ready to purchase. Again, much smarter people than me are able to look at available data to make this assumption.
  3. We need to make sure this person actually sees our ad
    Anyone else love the word viewability? Feels so deliciously made up to solve a self-inflicted problem. But the reality is that our theoretical consumer could be on any device looking at any number of different types of content. She could be distracted, working on multiple things at once, and on multiple devices at once. So, we need to make sure that she sees it. This is arguably the hardest of the five and the most important as we could put all of this work into our ad, and it doesn’t get seen! Just think, our poor little ad spent its whole life working up to this moment, researching and training for its performance, only to do its show completely alone. This makes me irrationally sad. How do we make sure it’s seen!? Well – that’s where tech comes in, and we have some ways to go, but great progress in cross-device targeting, viewability (yum) and the other 300+ ad tech solutions that are out there to solve for this play their part, and eventually it’ll get there.
  4. The ad needs to provide some form of value
    OK, our brave little ad has been seen! The person is interested in the product and ready to buy, but the ad needs to provide some type of value, otherwise the person would have just gone and bought the product already. Maybe it’s a discount, or promoting a new feature they were unaware of that pushed them over the edge, or maybe it was seeing the product being used by a celebrity they love, or it made an emotional connection with them they hadn’t had before. Whatever it is, there has to be value.
  5. And finally, we need to make sure the ads message resonates with this person
    In addition to value, the messaging needs to speak to them directly. This is where creative comes in. (Sorry it took so long.) But this is the part that can make or break our little ad’s chance of being perfect. Don’t F it up! We have them on the hook, just seal the deal. You may have a product that an old lady and a young boy both want, but unless it is communicated correctly the ad will fail. Remember we’re going for a perfect ad!

So, to check yes against all five of these we need the actual creative asset to do a lot. It needs to be specific to the person viewing it. You could make 1,000 different ads and target them to 1,000 different people or you can make the ad dynamic!

Awesome, right? So why aren’t all ads dynamic!?

In part two we will explore what is possible with Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) today, some of the reasons why it isn’t used more and what the future could look like in Part two of What is the Perfect Ad?


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.


Flash, a Love Affair

August 2, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


So, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I freaking love Flash.

Flash – for the uninitiated, is a software platform used to create animation and rich media ads, among other things – has been dragged through the mud so much over the past decade.  But I am proud to say I miss it. Often the butt of web developer jokes and the reason why advertising is so hated, Flash was an incredible tool for making animated and interactive content, and I for one mourn it’s passing. Ten years ago, the iPhone was the real beginning of the end for Flash. Refusing to allow Flash Player within the iPhone’s browser, Flash’s future was set. Fast forward to June 2017 when Google stopped serving Flash ads entirely, and just last week Adobe announced it would “stop updating and distributing the Flash Player,” marking the definitive end to the decade-long decline of Flash.

My love affair with Flash goes back. As a teen, I used to make stop-motion animations in my room, starting with a Super 8 camera (I’m not that old, but love old school toys) and then with a video camera plugged into my computer. That’s when I started to play with Flash. This was back when it was owned by Macromedia before Adobe bought it. I admit it took my simple brain some time to get used to movie clips, symbols and instances, but I knew this was something I had to learn.

As a 2D animation tool for making fun web cartoons it was amazing. I was a huge fan of old sites like Weebl & Bob, Bitey Castle and Homestar Runner. I toyed around making animations but it was when I started to learn Action Script that the real infatuation with Flash began. Being able to make cartoons interactive was a mind-blowing experience for me. After graduating, I started working at a small agency making animated banner ads in 2004. I convinced myself it was not selling out and I was actually working as an animator, but I really was just making obnoxious banners! There was no ad server or tracking pixels or anything like that. These ads were so basic that the click through URL was actually baked into the Flash unit. We did start using ClickTAGs soon after and then got a proper ad server set up and so on, but the very first few, looking back were the equivalent of a Flintstones car pulling up a long side a Tesla Model S.

For years, Flash was a cornerstone of online advertising. It allowed you to make animations, but also embed video and layer in interactivity. But even back then Flash had a reputation for being the scourge of the Internet. This was a time where sometimes entire websites were built in flash and they were insane. It was such an exciting time as pretty much every website was different and some were just crazy. It was awesome. But because of Flash’s relatively easy interface, there were a lot of people using it to make websites that really didn’t know what they were doing and thus, Flash got a bad rap.

Then came the iPhone. Apple’s decision to not allow Flash was based on security and battery life concerns (to run Flash you had to have a SWF player embedded on the page that used a lot of the phones power).  There were also many reports that Apple didn’t want Flash on the phone to protect the new Apple App Store. Flash game sites like were huge online and Apple didn’t want to risk having developers produce games in Flash or other free content that would work on the phone rather than using an app or iTunes. That really knocked over the first domino. Over the years more dominos fell with the explosion of smartphones, tablets and Google’s Chrome browser at first making you activate flash each time it was displayed, to then killing it off entirely.

So, what is a designer to do now? How do we create rich media units and embed videos and make animations? Well, the answer is of course HTML5. Or, in many ways going back to the older web standards of HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Before Flash, banner ads were static images or animated GIFs. Then Flash came along and we started making animations, and embedding video and other cool rich media executions. Then Flash was exiled and HTML5 started to take over. But many people didn’t know how to make HTML5 ads or it cost too much, or ad servers couldn’t serve them and publishers couldn’t accept them, a lot of people just started making static images or animated GIFs again!

HTML5 will certainly catch up and surpass what Flash could do. But right now it does feel like, in moving to a new technology, the sophistication of the ads being produced has taken a step back. In a future post, I am going to review a few of the most popular methods for creating HTML5 ad units, including Adobe’s rebranded version of Flash, Adobe Animate. There are many visual tools like this that streamline the process of making ads, and HTML5 is vastly superior in many, many, ways than Flash ever was. I will detail these benefits then, but for now pour one out for Flash and all the insanity it enabled.

Next week: What is the perfect ad and will DCO deliver it?


Focus Your Brand Marketing on Problem-Solving, Not Demographics

July 31, 2017 — by Parker Noren0


This post originally appeared on MarTech Advisor

Marketers and the digital ecosystem have fine-tuned activation methods that best leverage digital platforms and programmatic technology for direct-response campaigns (i.e., those focused on driving immediate ROI as the primary goal). At the same time, they’ve largely replicated what worked in linear channels, like TV, for branding campaigns. This approach commonly includes focusing activation on maximizing reach against a demographic, executing an unsophisticated supply strategy and failing to leverage measurement against real marketer outcomes to adjust in-flight.

It’s time to move past an approach for branding campaigns that in many cases embrace the lowest common denominator – a holdover from a time when the limitations of traditional channel targeting and execution constrained such campaigns. Every shopper has a problem. The purpose of our branding campaigns is to demonstrate how we solve that problem – reaching consumers who are likely to experience it and maximizing internalization of the message via tactical execution. We will better accomplish this by fully embracing the technological capabilities of programmatic for branding campaigns.

Overhauling Approach to Audience Targeting
The most notable example of replicating practices of traditional branding campaigns in digital is buying audiences and measuring success based on demographics. In traditional channels, this focus was rooted more in history than utility—demographics were the universal mechanism for buying media.

The emphasis on demographics is misplaced. When trying to build perceptions, marketers should target consumers who have a struggle that their product can uniquely solve. That is rarely something bound by demographics. Instead of aligning targeting to the constraints of linear buying, marketers should leverage the full suite of programmatic targeting capabilities to reach consumers likely to experience the struggle they solve for. This includes understanding of consumer interests, where they’ve been, who they are and what they’ve previously browsed/purchased.

Developing a Strong Supply Strategy
There is a belief that branding equals video in digital. As a result, many campaigns are executed in channel silos. For all campaign types, supply selection should be driven by the alignment between inventory type characteristics and the requirements of the brand-consumer interaction.

In most cases, this means video has a primary role in branding campaign execution because of its characteristics as a supply source. Video provides the opportunity to story tell and dramatize the brand’s solution to a consumer frustration or struggle. However, other inventory still has a role under a sophisticated supply strategy. For example, display inventory can play a vital role in fighting message recall decay when sequenced off a video touchpoint.

Better Measurement for In-Flight Optimization

What a marketer selects as the measurement criteria for a campaign has a profound effect on how the campaign is optimized. Common branding campaign measurement has no relationship to the marketer’s strategic intent, including click, completion and demographic metrics. Especially in the case of brand-building campaigns, interim reads from brand-lift research should be the primary criteria by which the campaign manager makes decisions and a marketer judges success. Those audiences and tactic structures that are producing the biggest perception change should prompt bigger bets over time. Percent on demographic target as a success criteria, meanwhile, should be used sparingly or relegated to the past.


A Creative in a Programmatic World

July 26, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


The first time I heard the word “programmatic” referring to advertising was in an all-hands meeting with the head of sales for my former employer, I managed the team responsible for building custom creative VPAID pre-roll units. We were actually doing some really cool stuff — media planners would use us as part of their client’s campaigns, giving us assets provided by their creative agency or whoever, and we would make custom versions of those ads. That meant adding games, store locators, video carousels, car customizers, content based on the category of video you were watching – lots of interactive and often dynamic functionality. They were built specifically for our own video player and website, VPAID was a standard, but it was still early in terms of its adoption. It was kind of the Wild West of custom video pre-rolls.

So, it felt odd when the sales guy said, “I hope you all know what programmatic is, as we’re going to start doing it.” As soon as I got back to my desk I googled programmatic and started learning about it. This was around 2013. From what I could tell, programmatic was mostly about filling remnant back fill, like unsold inventory. It seemed a little weird that we would start doing this. It was also very hard to find a clear definition. The main takeaway I had was that programmatic allowed ads to be sold automatically without the involvement of a sales person.

Obviously, I didn’t know much about it at the time!  Today it’s a no brainer, but back then the deals were sold directly by our sales team and it was all very custom. It didn’t seem to make any sense for us, as we had issues matching the demand our sales guys were already bringing in. Video advertising was (and still is) a hot commodity and finding premium content at scale was difficult. So why would we want to sell non-existent unsold inventory?

Long story short, Blip was acquired by Maker Studios, a MCN (Multi-channel-network) that basically got tens of thousands of YouTubers to give over their Ad Sense logins for the promise of production help, marketing and other community support. Maker Studios was completely reliant on YouTube and wanted Blip’s tech and own proprietary player to start building an audience off of YouTube. After all, Google took 40% of all ad revenue, so it was hard to build a profitable business. In the end it didn’t work out, the economics of it all were not good, and getting people to view content outside of YouTube was really hard.

But the memory of my original Google search around what the hell programmatic was stuck with me and despite not really knowing what it fully meant, excited me with the thought of what it could do. So, when MediaMath posted a position for a creative director early 2014, I jumped ship and embraced the world of ad-tech and programmatic advertising!

Programmatic today
Today programmatic is much more than just remnant advertising.  It’s a promise that all marketing can be addressable and therefore optimizable. And we can do incredible things with targeting users, with data and segmenting and machine learning to optimize campaigns and there’s an insane amount of value in all of this. But at the end of the day, all of this exists to serve, in one form or another, an image, animation or video.  The amount of time, resources and money spent on optimizing the who, the where and the when is significant compared to the relatively small amount of time spent on the what – the creative itself. This is an underutilized opportunity. Thunder Technologies, for instance, estimates the industry wastes some $6 billion by not including the right marketing messages with the right placements.

In the last couple of years people have certainly been trying to address this topic. But the questions around creative in programmatic are very interesting and I feel as an industry we get caught up in this bubble of technological advances and minute details of capabilities, and often lose sight of the reason this all exists, which is to display an image, moving or still to someone that would benefit from seeing it. The creative itself really does the actual job of selling to the user and if we don’t keep that top of mind at all times, then we’re kind of missing the point.

This is the first in a series of blog posts exploring how creatives, in every sense of the word, can truly embrace programmatic advertising so that it lives up to its full potential. This journey is just beginning.

Next week: Flash, a love affair.


Choose Omnichannel. Here’s Why…

July 24, 2017 — by Christina Dittmann0


As I sit down to write this blog, my laptop has Outlook, Excel, Word, Chrome and Evernote open and my phone is going off with texts and emails. It’s easy (too easy) to toggle between my desktop browsers while checking the latest urgent ping on my phone. But it’s a sign of the times! With the ever-increasing ways we’re consuming information, now more than ever, marketers have the opportunity to great customized, customer-centric conversations across all of our devices, which for the average person is more than four on a given day.

We here at MediaMath have believed omnichannel media buying is the most effective way to create customer-centric marketing across every channel. We know that marketers that create one-to-one conversations with customers get a better ROI on their advertising. But until recently, we had not formally tested the quantifiable way in which an omnichannel approach to digital media can improve the marketers bottom line.

We enlisted Forrester Consulting to help us understand what benefits (both quantifiable and qualitative) our clients saw by using our programmatic platform to buy across channels. More specifically, Forrester tested whether omnichannel media-buying is more efficient than using point solutions for video, mobile, social and display advertising. Spoiler alert: the brand and agency clients Forrester interviewed overwhelmingly found it effective.

Forrester’s renowned Total Economic Impact (TEI) methodology is a multi-step process, kicking off with due diligence about the product, surveying customers and then constructing a financial model accounting for certain risk factors. Forrester caps off the work with a comprehensive study detailing its findings, including client stories and financial results.

The results were overwhelmingly positive. The increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) our clients saw reflects how the various channels reinforce each other and understanding consumer pathways pays off in investment. Our clients saw many benefits to consolidating onto a omnichannel platform, versus using disparate point solutions including:

  • Improved profitability. Brands reported 80% better profitability on MediaMath versus alternative platforms due to increased margins and reduced CPA. Profitability is calculated as a function of customer lifetime and margins.
  • Increased return on ad spend (ROAS). Marketers using MediaMath’s platform were able to double their return on ad spend though cross-channel optimization, fluid budget allocation and reallocation, holistic frequency capping and other tools in our platform.
  • Maximized operational efficiency. Interviewed organizations saw a 30% increase in productivity, improving workflow and process efficiency by consolidating to MediaMath’s platform.

The organizations interviewed also experienced qualitative benefits such as increased transparency with full visibility into media spend, improved reporting, ability to tap into premium inventory, better customer service with the consolidation and delivery of better end-customer experience.

So with the average person owning 4+ devices, multitasking is here to stay. But at least as a consumer, I can expect a more consistent message from my favorite brands across my laptop, cell, computer, and VR glasses.

To download the full TEI report, click here.