Lost In Translation: Gaining Clarity Around Adtech Transparency

October 12, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears in The Drum. 

Right now, ‘transparency’ is the predictive text after adtech.

It is the latest and likely the most enduring concern to hit the advertising industry in recent times. Adtech players have been scrambling to take the lead in defining to their benefit what transparency should mean in programmatic advertising.

In recent months a number of header bidding partners have flooded the marketplace — threatening conventional auction dynamics, launching products that promise choice and fairness through first-price auctions, and forming collectives that aim to work towards standardization in auction set-ups.

To make the bidding process more transparent, OpenX, has launched a new product which explicitly offers bidders a first-price auction option for buying programmatic media. Meanwhile AppNexus, PubMatic and Rubicon Project have joined forces to launch, an independent organisation with the aim of improving the performance of header bidding solutions for premium publishers.

Little wonder then that transparency has quickly become the new buzzword.

But what is really meant by the term? It can be argued that the meaning of transparency has been lost in translation. Depending on a key player’s position in the ecosystem, it can mean a variety of things. The Drum, in partnership with leading global advertising technology company, decided to get to the bottom of this confusion by comparing what transparency means from each of the key players in the market.

What does transparency mean anyway?

It is challenging to be “transparent” in an industry rampant with undisclosed fees, unfair auctions, data leakages, and agencies hiding rebates.

Transparency in fees across the supply chain: The seriousness of how money is channeled throughout the media supply chain and who eventually pockets what was recently brought to light with The Guardian’s dispute with ad tech firm Rubicon after claiming it failed to disclose fees earned from advertisers that appeared on the publisher’s site. An IAB study from 2015 revealed that less than half (45%) of programmatic revenues in the US reached publishers, while adtech firms ate up the rest.

Transparency in opportunity: In a fully transparent world, all parties have an equal opportunity to respond to every bid with no preferential treatment. Marc Pritchard has implored all facets of the industry to “come together, put down finger pointers, and solve these problems.” But cleaning up one’s actions requires full disclosure about their participation in the problem, according to’s chief operating officer, Namit Merchant.

“Let’s start by acknowledging complicity and the fact that programmatic can never be like the stock market it is often compared to because all of the participants (publishers, DSPs, exchanges, networks, and marketers) do not disclose how they operate in order to take advantage of the spread,” he says.

Transparency in placement and viewability: To make progress with the ad tech opacity problem, every player in the digital ecosystem needs to be speaking the same language. Ad placement and viewability rates need to be clear. For Ben Walmsley, digital commercial director of News UK, this means everyone should be clear about how advertising is measured.

“Transparency to us means that everybody should be graded by the same standard. There needs to be some clarity and consistency that applies to everybody and publishers have an obligation to accept the standards that they have agreed upon,” he says.

Tom Shields, chief strategy officer at AppNexus agrees. For him, transparency means being able to see exactly what is happening with your transactions in the marketplace, “where they go, if they were viewed, and who gets how much of the spend.”

Transparency in auction dynamics: According to MediaMath’s SVP of business development, Greg Williams, transparency is about looking at it holistically.

“This means looking at the entire supply chain and includes things like ad quality, load time, and latency that impact the customer experience. Is data represented in the right way? From the buy side, it means understanding auction dynamics, how you bid in those environments and what that looks like,” he explains.

If only it was that simple

But in the complicated programmatic supply chain, it is extremely difficult to be certain whether transparency is being honoured. As Williams notes in the context of fraud “it’s a game of cat and mouse in a system of bad actors that are trying to get around the system.”

Buyers feel plagued by hidden fees because ad exchanges and SSPs can use their undisclosed insights into the gap between winning and clearing the bid to arbitrarily inflate the buy-side fee they charge, on an impression by impression basis. This means potentially rigging the model of second-price auctions.

Moving forward, how can the industry adapt a more transparent model? For Walmsley it’s very simple: “The publisher has to take primary responsibility for investigating the contracts. Practices like soft flooring or dynamic flooring of programmatic pricing need to be understood and couched in a language that the buyer and seller understand, and are happy with.”

Merchant refers to the power of data — data that can fuel programmatic revenue and lead to significant yield optimisation.

“Your adtech partner should not just allow for but foster a practice of openness with data. A partner that gives you visibility into buyer and bidding data and works with you to build upon it can deliver real value. But that is exactly what is missing – enough players that encourage end- to-end transparency.”

To read the rest of the article, click here. 


Monthly Roundup: Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts for September

October 2, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


Check out our most popular pieces of blog content below:


Always a Startup: 4 Major Brands Tell Us Why They’ll Never Lose Sight of Culture

September 12, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on Built In NYC. MediaMath talks about how it keeps a strong culture as a larger startup in NYC.

Many people we’ve talked to in the startup space refer to their teams as “families.”

But what happens when your family rapidly expands in size across multiple markets around the country? Much like maintaining any kind of long-distance relationship, startups can have a tough time staying grounded while they scale. Here’s how some of the larger startups in NYC have managed to keep their cultures strong.

MediaMath started back in 2007 in NYC as a way for marketers to engage in real-time media buying. Since then, the team has expanded to 16 offices across North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. SVP and global head of professional services Jenna Griffith joined the team in 2008 as employee number eight. The team is now 750 employees and growing. She told us what the team does to keep everyone feeling the way they did 742 employees ago.

How do you retain a startup culture despite having grown so quickly?

The ability to not only share new ideas, but also put them into practice and try them out within a short period of time was a major reason why I joined MediaMath almost 10 years ago, and I want to provide others with that same ability to innovate. My team has found success in keeping this culture alive through frequent and informal all-hands meetings, both in and out of the office, as well as consistent transparency to the team on what’s working and what needs improvement. Further, fostering global mobility across roles and regions keeps a high level of excitement and knowledge sharing embedded in the day-to-day. In short, the right people combined with a high level of communication, transparency and mobility has been key to continual innovation and a fun and open culture.

Why is it important for your company to keep its small startup feel?

One of the key outputs of a startup is constant innovation, which I have always known as a good thing for company health. Without fostering the culture described above, innovation can quickly be snuffed out by process, often leading to people feeling out of touch with the company and its goals.

What are some challenges you’ve faced when trying to keep a strong culture with such a large team? How do you overcome them?

There are always challenges when you are running a large, global team. People in remote offices can feel cut off from what is happening at headquarters. You can’t help geography, but you can do things to bridge the gap. Ensure regular visits by and to teams in other offices; keep multiple channels of communication open across email, phone, HipChat and other telecommunication and collaboration tools; schedule meetings at times where most global teams can join; regularly solicit input from these teams so they know their voices are heard from afar; and ensure you are developing and recognizing talent no matter which office they are in.

Read the rest of the article here.


MediaMath: On Track for Compliance with the New GDPR Law in Europe

September 8, 2017 — by Alice Lincoln1


On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect in the European Union. The GDPR was created to strengthen consumer privacy protections and contains a number of important requirements for businesses that collect and process data about EU and EEA consumers.

MediaMath has a long history of compliance with European data protection standards and is actively preparing to be compliant with the GDPR when it comes into force. Our Data Policy & Governance and Legal teams are working with external counsel, industry groups and other companies to assess the GDPR’s requirements and design the right mix of administrative and technical solutions to support our clients. We have also taken on an industry leadership role as chair of the IAB Europe Working Group on Consent, to bring together advertisers, publishers and technology providers to develop effective compliance solutions for the entire digital marketing industry. In addition, we have designed, built and deployed our products and services to help businesses comply with applicable European regulations while achieving true business outcomes.

MediaMath supports the fundamental aims of the GDPR and is committed to working with regulators and self-regulatory organizations to meet the GDPR’s requirements.  We will help marketers continue to deliver customer-centric, relevant and meaningful marketing experiences across channels, formats and devices, in ways that protect consumers’ personal data.

MediaMath encourages its clients to start planning for the GDPR as soon as possible. If you have questions about MediaMath’s approach to GDPR compliance, please refer to the Knowledge Base or ask your MediaMath account manager to share your questions with our Data Policy & Governance team.

Certified industry organizations, codes and frameworks of which MediaMath is a part:

  • EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shields
  • European Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA) and its counterparts in the US (DAA) and Canada (DAAC)
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, the US and the UK, and serves on the IAB UK Board of Directors
  • Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW)
  • Direct Marketing Association in the UK and US
  • Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)
  • Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)


Back-to-School Starts Early for Marketers

September 6, 2017 — by Laura Carrier0


This article originally appears on MarTech Advisor. 

Back-to-school is just around the corner, and spending is projected to go up by 9.4 percent from last year. To help ensure advertisers are targeting and reaching back-to-school shoppers this summer, MediaMath put together tips and trends to help them optimize for their campaigns before school’s back in session. Laura Carrier, VP, Vertical Strategy, Measurement at MediaMath explores these tips and provides the best ways to fully optimize a campaign through an audience based, omnichannel, brand safe approach. 

Back-to-school shopping is the second largest online retail season in the US, after the winter holidays. It serves as an essential revenue generating period that can help retailers get ahead of their revenue targets before Q4. The National Retail Federation projects that back-to-school spend will go up by 9.4 percent from last year and 54.8 percent more than a decade ago.

We looked for patterns in the way that our best brands made the most of this fruitful season, including the way they think about timing, budget, media, targeting, data and more. Here are a few of the best practices that our advertisers use to get the most out of the back-to-school season:

Know your Audiences

It has always been the case that marketers need to understand who they are targeting to inform creative and targeting decisions. And the digitization of retailing has allowed unprecedented understanding of who your marketing audience is, where they are and what their interests are. There are two cohorts of back-to-school shoppers, each of whom exhibit very different shopping behavior. Parents of K-12 students are the biggest spenders of the season, responsible for a projected $75.8 billion total spend in 2017. They are volume shoppers that focus on clothing and shoes. The other cohort of back-to-school shoppers are the parents of college students, who are responsible for less overall spend at $45.8B, but have larger budgets for electronics. The average college student parent spends approximately $899.19/person, more than $200/person –  higher than the average K-12 student parent budget.

Marketers should understand which audience, or percentage of each audience, to target based on their product category and industry. It will inform your media and data strategy to find the right way to reach them, and should be essential in the creative that you use to reach the audience. Remember that you are advertising to very different sets of parents, even for the same products!

It’s Still Not Too Late to Start

The main back-to-school shopping season kicks off after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but conversions do not begin peaking until around July 22nd, and they remain at their highest volume through the end of August. Marketers should plan to have their campaigns launched and at full force from the last week of July through the end of August.

How marketers time these strategies will also depend on which cohort they target – college parents complete their shopping by the Labor Day holiday, while K-12 parents continue making last minute school purchases all the way through October.

Summer is For On-The-Go Shoppers

The last place that anyone wants to be in the hot summer months is in front of their desktop, at home or in the office. During most of the year, desktop site traffic is significantly higher than mobile traffic. But during the summer period between July 10 – August 28, site traffic is just as likely to come from cellular devices as it is desktop site visitors, a major shift that’s sustained for almost the entire summer holidays.

If marketers are not taking an omnichannel approach to their back-to-school strategy, they are leaving even more money on the table than usual. Optimize across channels so that you reach people who are even more on the move than usual.

Understand the Importance of Digital Influence

Back-to-school shoppers overwhelmingly purchase in stores, however the influence of online marketing and research on offline purchases is continuing to increase. This is important for marketers to understand with respect to the ensuring continuity of conversation: if you are not speaking to your customers online, then you are missing more than half of the conversation they are looking to have with you, and you are missing the start of the customer journey. Not only do most customer journeys start in a digital channel, but digitally influenced offline store sales are much greater than all of e-commerce sales. Brands must understand this in laying out their digital strategies, such that they are building up their online and offline presences to act in concert together, not as wholly separate strategies. Creating relevance for back-to-school shoppers is about understanding that a retailer’s physical presence drives online conversions, and additionally their online presence drives offline conversions – customer journeys flow across the entire “phygital” world.

Quality Counts

Brand safety concerns should be especially important when running a campaign targeting parents who are shopping for their children, and marketers are becoming more aware than ever of where their brand appears. In looking at back-to-school campaigns, however, we also saw that ads served on premium, curated media had a 2X response rate compared to all media during back-to-school campaigns in 2016. Marketers should test some strategies on whitelists or premium media marketplaces to see if overall engagement and performance works for their audiences – those higher CPMs are certainly worthwhile if they are justified with higher quality brand experiences that drive conversions!

The second largest shopping season is nothing to sneer at – summertime is a perfect period for retailers to get ahead of their revenue targets ahead of Q4. Also, since the holiday season is just around the corner, it’s a great opportunity to implement new technologies and sharpen best practices.


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 Gosling1


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: