Market Forces Drive Addressable TV To Become Reality

August 30, 2017 — by John DeFilippis0


This article originally appears on MediaPost. 

YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix all have mountains of data on their users. They are also digital natives that operate on the backbone of the Internet.

For these companies, content delivery is automated, data-driven, smart, fast and on-demand. It is of course no surprise to see those that are ad-supported set their sights on TV ad dollars. For all of them, digital video and originals are at the top of the priority list and this is what will finally drive the industry to broad addressable TV solutions.

For years, addressable TV advertising has been an ideal that was often theory more than reality. Rather than place a television buy that reached tens of millions of households, but would only appeal to a small minority of those households, the addressable buy promises to largely remove the waste.

On its face, the appeal of such a targeting mechanism is clear: efficient marketing meant to drive higher ROI.  In the digital world, if a  campaign was targeted to people in the market for a new car, the TV buy could follow suit instead of relying on broader targeting aimed at everyone who was watching the same TV program at the same time. (Of course, addressable targets by the household meaning if a family of four resides there, no one will be sure if the target consumer will be watching at any given time).

What has made the prospect of addressable TV advertising frustrating for many marketers is that while it is technically achievable, the economics are sometimes difficult to balance.  Meanwhile, tapping data from third-party sources requires extra work for  marketers and it may not always be worth the effort.

But there may be a real shift in the market coming soon. The highly targeted audiences that are and will be available from the media giants mentioned earlier will (eventually) attract marketer budgets that are earmarked for traditional TV — cable, networks, local, etc. Traditional TV, the incumbents, will not passively stand by as the market shifts. The stakes are too high. So this is one of the primary market forces having an impact on change in the traditional TV industry. The other is a change in consumer behavior. Consumers want top quality programming, this is nothing new, but they want it on-demand and on all devices, which is an inherent characteristic of digitally delivered content today. Evolution is inevitable.

As a result, I expect to see a  rise in addressable TV advertising, but it will remain a relatively small slice of the market for the next few years as the industry sorts itself out.

The current state of addressable

At this writing, tens of millions of homes in the U.S. are able to receive addressable TV advertising and some 70 million will be able to get it by 2020.  But just a fraction of homes are actually being served ads this way. According to eMarketer, addressable TV accounted for just 1.3% of the total market in 2016, a figure that the researcher predicts will jump to 3% by 2018.

As those numbers indicate, addressable has been used more for experimentation than a  regular line item on media plans. So far, carmakers have shown the most interest in addressable. For example, Toyota promoted its Prius Prime to 18-49 year-old tech savvy consumers with annual incomes of $75,000-plus last year. Hyundai placed a similar addressable buy to promote its Genesis model, targeting consumers with annual salaries of $100,000 or more.

Marketers, looking to gain more of a 360-degree view of their customers, are also clamoring for more data so they can connect all of their audience buys across all screens. Ultimately, driving outcomes that build a business is the goal and knowing what budget to spend and where to spend requires a holistic planning, execution, measurement, and optimization effort. That said, I don’t expect the addressable TV market to crack wide open too soon. There is much invested in the history of the industry; cable operators, for instance, are likely to keep experimentation on the edges until they see a clear benefit.

But the momentum is moving toward an addressable world. That means that even though addressable TV has been on the table for years and the pace of progress, for some,  has been a source of frustration, marketers may soon start achieving what until now has merely been an idea.


Let’s Make an Ad!

August 24, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


Over the past few weeks we have explored some of the exciting opportunities but also limitations of being creative in a programmatic world. The potential for delivering a perfect ad is there. Who knows what the future really holds? But today I want to get real and look at actually making an ad. Specifically an animated banner ad.

In the past, there was really only one option, Adobe Flash. If you ever wanted to do anything more advanced than a static image, or animated GIF, then Flash was where you went. Today, HTML5 is the default and things aren’t so simple.

One of the greatest benefits of HTML5 is that it is totally open and uses web standards of HTML, JS and CSS. Each HTML5 banner ad is essentially a little self-contained webpage. As such it can be authored in any way that you would make a standard web page. This naturally brings a lot of benefits, but also challenges. There are so many options for creating HTML that it can become overwhelming to know the best way to do it.

The Construct of an HTML5 ad
Before getting into some of the options for producing an ad, it is worth explaining exactly what goes into making one. From a tech POV there are four main elements: HTML, CSS, Java Script and Images.

  • HTML
    Typically named index.html – this is the core structure for the ad. This is the file that is initially loaded and all other components are pulled into this file. Learn more here.
  • CSS
    Cascading Style Sheets are the rules that are applied to the HTML content to give it its look and feel or ‘style’. Everything from font size, family, weight, color, positioning, line height through to page positioning, image placement and all other visual rules are defined by the CSS file. Learn more here.
  • Java Script
    The interactive functionality and animation of elements is typically handled by the JS file. Typically, the content of the HTML and the styles of the CSS can be controlled and manipulated by the JS file. (I say typically as JS can inject content, and CSS can also handle some animation). JS is really the code that makes the ads do something more than just be a static page layout. Learn more here.
  • Images
    While you can achieve a lot with just code in HTML, CSS and JS, more often than not you do require some kind of image in your ad. Typically a JPG, GIF or PNG. A lot of what makes building ads hard is file size requirements and limitations, most of which comes from images. The IAB has standards that ad servers adhere to, so always worth checking what the latest is, but as a rule of thumb it needs to be under 200kb. For photography, and images with gradients or a lot of colors, I use JPG. For anything with just a few colors, use GIF and if you need the image to have transparency, then you have to use a PNG. Learn more here.

So, that covers the technical building blocks. But when it comes to making a good ad, you also need the ad to work creatively. At a minimum, this includes a well-written headline, compelling supporting imagery and a strong CTA (Call to action). An ad creator won’t always have control over all components, but as stated in previous posts, the importance of having the creative as part of the discussion as early as possible is paramount to the campaign’s success.

Great, now we know what we need. What do we use to put it together? I see three main options for the production:

  1. Free software
    You can make HTML5 ads in a text editor, but honestly that would be silly. If you want to make an ad, you can get started with Google’s free Web Designer Software. It is an open Beta project and offers users a familiar interface to generate the required code. It is built very much with Google’s own products in mind, as most of the widgets and options are designed for use with their own ad tech. But you can produce pretty sophisticated HTML5 ads, and export them for use on any ad server.
  2. Paid software
    As you may have read, I am a self-confessed Flash lover. So, if you spent a lot of time with Flash and wish to continue, then Adobe Animate is available. You will of course need a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, but Adobe Animate brings the well-established and powerful Flash authoring environment to modern standards, allowing you to build very sophisticated ads and export to HTML5.
  3. Ad Platforms
    If you are making lots of ads consistently, then ad platforms offer huge benefits to designers. There are a number of ad platforms available, but essentially all offer the ability to streamline the process of building ads, especially when it comes to making variations of sizes and messages. This leads onto DCO, which you really have to use a platform for to offer any kind of sophistication. At MediaMath we use SpongeCell and its self-service platform allows for easy creation of ads, multiple variations and additional functionality to all be built in the platform. To get access to these advanced tools there is of course a cost, and often they have associated ad-serving fees, but when you need to support a campaign with a dozen different variations in a dozen different sizes, then this cost quickly becomes irrelevant!

In part two of Let’s Make an Ad, I will do a screen capture of making a simple, animated HTML5 ad in Google Web Designer. This will hopefully show people unfamiliar with the process what it actually takes to make an ad!


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!


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?


Monthly Roundup: Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts for July

August 3, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


Month eight of 12. Welcome to August, folks. With another month behind us, we look back at our top performing content on the blog for the month of July:


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.


TV In 2027: Everywhere, Granularly Focused

July 17, 2017 — by John DeFilippis0


This post originally appeared on MediaPost. 

With consumer behavior changing, new technology, and new entrants in the TV industry, it’s more difficult now than ever before to define the term “TV.”

This shifting definition also makes it hard to answer the question “What will TV look like in 2027?” The short answer is “very different.” The long answer is this:

TV advertising will be granularly targeted, bought and sold programmatically and available from more sources. Programming creation/distribution will become more fragmented and come from everyone, from retailers to social networks to programmers directly.

Meanwhile, a central user interface will be at the core of finding content across all of the many sources. New viewing occasions will include watching programming with the family during long trips in your self-driving car.

Over time, as the traditional definition of TV dissolves, the most crucial detail will be whether a viewer is going to watch a show with others or watch it alone. This factor will define the video experience and ad opportunity just as significantly — and maybe more so — than the device or content.

TV ads: super-targeted, with quantified results

In the continuing evolution of the TV industry, most TV ads in 2017 are still served to masses of households and based on demographic data. Programmatic is making inroads into the business, though. In 2018, some 6% of TV ad spending will be executed programmatically, according to eMarketer.

While the industry is working in 2017 to link TV activity to consumers’ media use on their various devices and purchase activity in a seamless way, by 2027 it will be common practice to leverage a consumer’s cross-device identity. That means if a consumer has been researching new tires for her car on a VR device, then visits a physical store location, that tire manufacturer will know about this activity and be able to serve her TV ads that will remind her to make the purchase on her mobile device in her hand.

New programming from unexpected sources

The traditional TV and cable networks in 2027 will be competing with content from many other sources. In 2017, we no longer think it strange that a retailer (Amazon), a social network (Facebook) and a telco (AT&T) create or distribute “TV” programming.

Given the flood of content, the market will demand a better discovery mechanism. Rather than choosing between icons for Netflix, Hulu, the networks and Amazon, viewers will use an interface that surfaces content holistically, making access extremely simple. While viewers will still seek specific shows they want to see, they’ll also be able to just turn on the TV and see what’s on, browsing across all of the many sources that will exist in the future.

Other changes we can expect in 2027:

  • 5G will become widely available. Since its speeds are effectively comparable to today’s broadband, consumers will have a new reason to consider cutting the cord with their cable companies and rely instead on super-fast wireless broadband.
  • Addressable TV will be fully up and running. In 2017, addressable has taken off faster than many thought it would and cable companies are starting  to offer better targeting so they can compete and win against the new entrants, like YouTube and Facebook, and other players who are coming into their space offering granular audience targeting.

Who knows what else we’ll see? Elon Musk recently launched a startup that hopes to link the human brain to computing devices, and Facebook is researching technology that will let people text via their thoughts.

There are so many tangential developments that will impact the industry, it’s tough to scratch the surface of possibilities. Ultimately, what marketers want is their audience, everywhere — and the blurring of lines between screens and delivery is well on the way to making this happen.

For more insights on programmatic’s past, present and future, check out our #10Then10Ahead Content Hub!


Meet The New Chief Growth Officer

July 12, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on

The advent of technologies that enable marketing to demonstrate its impact on the top line are clearly a benefit to both the function and the larger organization. But the ability to connect the dots between marketing efforts and revenue generation has shone a spotlight on CMOs and their teams. There is an increasing expectation that marketing will serve as the growth engine for companies.

“We clearly have technologies that allow CMOs to take a level of revenue responsibility they have never had before,” said Debbie Qaqish, partner with The Pedowitz Group and author of “The Revenue Marketer,” in an interview with

Arun Pattabhiraman, CMO of mobile advertising startup InMobi, one of India’s first so-called unicorns, has experienced that shift from marketing being the “make-it-pretty” cost center of a company to its primary driver of growth. A few years ago, marketing was “purely a brand enabler—a creative function that was responsible for shaping the company’s perception globally through traditional marketing tactics,” Pattabhiraman said in an interview with “While that responsibility has only grown, marketing is increasingly collaborating with sales and product organizations to figure out meaningful ways to impact revenues directly.”

At analytics software maker Looker, marketing delivers 90% of overall revenue targets with the qualified leads it delivers to sales, and the appetite for revenue-generating insight is insatiable. “CEOs expect that CMOs can easily analyze exactly how marketing is contributing to the bottom line,” said Looker CMO Jen Grant, in an interview with “When CMOs have access to data, everything changes.”

But while corporate leaders are looking to the CMO for growth opportunities, the marketing function certainly does not own all of the organization’s growth drivers. As many as five C-level executives are responsible for driving new revenues, according to a recent Accenture Strategy report. However, CEOs are most likely to hold their CMOs accountable for missed growth targets.

“The CMO as chief growth officer is a tough expectation to live up to because CMOs have to do it with one arm tied behind their backs,” said Robert Wollan, Accenture Strategy’s senior managing director, in an interview with “It’s a tough job.”

Taking responsibility for revenue generation is a big risk for CMOs, but one with equally outsized rewards for those who can figure out how to navigate this new terrain. talked to marketing leaders for their thoughts on how to meet the new growth imperative.

1. Launch An Internal Revenue Marketing Campaign

CMOs need buy-in from the entire organization if they hope to influence those revenue drivers they don’t control. “Marketers can make this shift,” Qaqish said. “But they have to change others’ perspectives about what marketing can be.”

Communication is key to getting stakeholders to cooperate on the growth agenda. CMOs already have the skills required in creating personas and messages that resonate. The head of sales wants to know how marketing can help him meet quotas, shorten sales cycles, or increase deal sizes. The CFO wants to know marketing will demonstrate returns on investment.

“New technology alone won’t do it,” said Qaqish, who has worked with Microsoft to make this transition over three years. “It’s an educational campaign.”

Even at MediaMath, a marketing tech company built on the idea of marketing as revenue-generator, CMO Joanna O’Connell has had to update assumptions about marketing’s role. “You may find that some have very traditional notions of marketing and others have no idea at all how to make sense of marketing,” O’Connell told, adding that she has developed a closer relationship with her CFO. “Rather than assuming, show them. Turn skeptics into allies and advocates using data and storytelling.”

2. Break Down Barriers
The more siloed a company’s functions are, the harder it will be for marketers to “put their arms around all the pieces” to spur growth, Wollan said.

“To activate the key combination of creativity and data produced by your business, CMOs must partner with the sales, finance, and IT departments in deeper, more meaningful ways,” said David Gee, CMO of subscription billing company Zuora, in an interview with

The marketing-sales relationship can be tricky. “Building out a framework where marketing begins to impact the bottom line can make other functions feel uncomfortable or threatened,” Pattabhiraman said. “But the more marketers talk openly and objectively and evangelize the vision behind the transition, the more sales teams begin to perceive them as a valuable partner.”

O’Connell said she works closely with commercial and product leaders. “If we understand each other’s business goals, challenges, structure, resources, and assets,” she said, “we can work together toward shared goals.”

For more, read the full article here.