Supply Chain Excellence: How to Get Results, Avoid Fraud and Boost Your Total Buying Power

January 15, 2019 — by Julia Welch0


Right now, marketing isn’t working for a lot of people.

It definitely is not working for marketers who, even now, more than two decades into digital and more than a decade into programmatic, are still left to wonder which half of their ads will work. Not publishers, who are getting squeezed from every direction. Not consumers, who recognize that they are the product.

Legacy infrastructure and legacy processes are part of the problem—the Internet as constructed was never intended to sensibly connect the diverse and complex technologies brought to bear by the myriad, diverse constituents in our industry. Many of the longstanding problems we’ve confronted—fraud, lack of transparency—are a direct result. And consumers have gotten the worst end of the deal, with clunky, irrelevant experiences and mystery surrounding the use of their data.

But there is a way forward that lets marketers maximize their investments without sacrifice and without compromising their values, lets publishers create the content that consumers want and the independent journalism that the world needs and lets consumers defend their right to a free and open Internet. It all starts with recognizing, understanding and respecting the consumer, and then reaching high-value audiences through access to high-quality supply. We’ve focused on the second part of the equation in our whitepaper, in which we share how marketers can make better decisions about their supply strategy, taking a holistic approach to get the outcomes they want and deserve. Our analysis is supported by research from our own demand-side platform.

Supply Chain Excellence: How to Get Results, Avoid Fraud and Boost Your Total Buying Power

Download this report to learn:

  • How a misaligned supply strategy can lead to wasted time and budget, a lack of quality and a higher risk of fraud
  • The ideal scenarios in which to use private marketplaces, preferred deals or programmatic guaranteed
  • Three approaches for effective deal management that maintain the benefits of privilege and keep the true costs of media management low

Today’s media buyers want—and deserve—results. They want promises, and they want to be recognized for their total buying power over time, not just the fleeting auction-of-the moment. We can work together to make that a reality.


The Real State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing By the Numbers

December 6, 2018 — by MediaMath0


In September, we released Dream vs. Reality: The Real State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing, our research in partnership with Econsultancy that assessed the gap between marketers’ desire to deliver compelling, privacy-compliant experiences and what they’re actually doing in practice. Econsultancy surveyed more than 400 global marketers about everything from adtech and martech integration to AI and shared the results in a 36-page report. For anyone who hasn’t read the report or is short on time, we’ve distilled the main highlights into a one-page infographic we’ve released today.

Download the infographic to find out:

  • The gap between how many marketers see the importance of putting the consumer first and how many actually are
  • The benefits integrated tech could bring to marketing
  • The least important benefit of integrated tech, according to respondents


It Takes a Village to Take Down Ad Fraud Schemes

November 30, 2018 — by Daniel Sepulveda0


The global internet and the digital economy have created immense opportunity for advertisers and marketers to leverage economies of scale to help fund and fuel the development of digital services on the web and around the world.  We marry buyers of ad space to sellers, with billions of dollars transacted in the process every day.

But along with immense opportunity have come new threats.  In the process of building a global platform for innovation and wealth creation, we have constructed an economic target for criminal enterprises to infiltrate, and they have taken advantage of it.  This week, we saw American law enforcement, in cooperation with the private sector and law enforcement abroad, take the first significant step to signaling that the jig is up.

After two years of investigation, the Department of Justice announced its first significant takedown of two global criminal ad fraud schemes.  Those schemes used servers and malware to violate the security of millions of computers and trick advertisers into buying access to non-existent consumers on fake websites.  In the process, they stole $36 million dollars from legitimate businesses.

Multiple individuals were charged and taken into custody abroad.  Domains and servers were seized.  And those schemes have been shut down.  This is more than good news. It signals the increased maturation of the global digital economy both as a tool for crime and as a focus for law enforcement in its efforts to deter abuse of access to a global, open internet.

As societies and jurisdictions around the world grapple with a borderless internet, accessible to the law-abiding and criminal alike, there are important lessons to take away from this case.

First, a communal interest in eliminating fraud allows for industry cooperation.  MediaMath was just one of a group of about 30 advertising technology companies that worked with the DoJ to help them understand how the programmatic advertising system works and where and how to capture illegal activity.  Ad fraud threatens advertiser trust in the digital economy, in programmatic advertising and in consumer faith in the legitimacy of the system as a whole.  It is in all of our interests to cooperate to end it, because none of us alone can do it.  And none of us want to be part of financing criminal enterprises.

Second, we learned that law enforcement needs private-sector expertise and information to enforce the law.  The expertise of the DoJ and the FBI’s cybersecurity teams is growing exponentially.  But as the operators of the private networks and systems over which fraud is executed, the industry has insight and access to information that law enforcement does not.

And third, we learned that law enforcement has to be able to cooperate across borders to stop crime on a borderless internet.  The internet is global, and cooperation must be global to work. The list of cooperating law enforcement agencies and entities involved in this takedown ranged from Malaysia to the United Kingdom.

We take the global internet for granted.  We shouldn’t.  The only way it will continue to grow and thrive is if we can all trust in its security and governance.  Our industry can and should support funding the development of skills and capacity-building related to cyber security for law enforcement at home and abroad.  We welcome continued cooperation with law enforcement at home and thank them for their service.


It’s Time to Make Noise About Audio-Based Targeting

November 15, 2018 — by Karen Chan0


How do you reach consumers who are chilling with Netflix and blocking ads on mobile and desktop?

One attractive option is programmatic audio. Even consumers who are expert at tuning out ads elsewhere find that audio advertising is not only unavoidable, but welcome. A 2017 Nielsen survey found that 57 percent of podcast ads outperformed pre-roll video ads.

Overall, marketers spent $1.6 billion on audio ads in 2017, a 39 percent increase from 2016, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. There are many reasons for audio’s growth. In addition to being an effective way to reach otherwise unreachable consumers, many consumers consider audio ads to be less interruptive than other types of advertising. Some even make a point of supporting advertisers who support their favorite podcasts. Audio’s unique ability to reach consumers in a brand-safe and amenable way makes it a solid addition to an omnichannel campaign.

A different type of advertising

While commercial radio advertising revenues fell 2 percent last year, audio-based media is experiencing the same splinterization that has occurred in TV. There are two primary ways of enjoying audio in the digital age—streaming or downloaded audio.

In the case of streaming music on Spotify or Pandora, consumers who hear ads are doing so because they opted not to pay for a premium version of the service. This means that such ads are analogous to opt-in ads, which reward consumers for watching an ad (usually by unlocking a level in a game or receiving tokens). For podcasts, ads are received in a similar fashion; most podcasts are free, and listeners realize that ads support the shows to which they listen.

That may explain why audio ads do so well. An analysis of 36 Spotify campaigns found audio drove a 60 percent lift in ad recall, on average. A recent NPR survey also found that 88 percent of podcast listeners have taken action because of a sponsor announcement.

The big change: programmatic advertising

In the past, programmatic audio has been slow to take off because there wasn’t enough inventory, but that’s changing as platforms like MediaMath aggregate opportunities for digital audio placement. An industry shift from cookies to mobile IDs is also advantageous to digital audio, which is more of a mobile phenomenon than a desktop one.

For advertisers, it’s imperative today to execute omnichannel campaigns. While digital and TV are prime elements, audio is a great platform for reinforcing messages elsewhere. Since the average consumer uses four devices, advertisers need to consider all touchpoints. Now that it is easy to integrate such buys, it’s time to make some noise about digital audio.


How Uber Started Making Ads People Love

November 13, 2018 — by MediaMath0


How does a brand with a large focus on mobile marketing drive transparency and incrementality on what is normally a very fraud-prone channel?

For Uber, it took changing its programmatic operating model to shift what its internal team, agency and tech partner were focused on to drive real outcomes for the brand. During AdWeek New York, Bennett Rosenblatt, programmatic display lead at Uber, sat down with Anna Grodecka-Grad, SVP, global head of professional services at MediaMath, to talk about this transformation in the session “How Uber Disrupted the Traditional Media Buying Model.”

In Uber’s case, the brand decided to transform its operations when it began to hit a saturation point with riders. “We’ve pivoted now to running reengagement as our No. 1 tactic for riders in North America,” said Rosenblatt. “Running static banners, hitting users with 20 or 30 ads a week just is not incremental for us.”

In general, Rosenblatt said the brand was often looking for help in navigating the digital media ecosystem. MediaMath helped fill that void.

“MediaMath began to lean in and run those campaigns on our behalf and began to give us those in-house learnings, telling us what was working and what wasn’t,” said Rosenblatt. “And that was really valuable for us.”

The brand migrated to a strategy of in-game ads aimed at low-frequency riders that are likely to get a response. One unit, for instance, is aimed at San Francisco Uber riders and is a lookbook for the top five restaurants for Uber riders in the city.

“Even though we’re Uber and we have 18,000 employees, we don’t have the resources to go super-deep on every campaign. If you’re working with a partner, you should trust them.”


Dan Rosenberg Talks to TechBytes on Consumer-First Marketing

October 25, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Last month, we published a report with Econsultancy called “The State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing” that surveyed more than 400 marketers from around the world on everything from AI to GDPR compliance. A big focus of the report was on how marketers are aspiring to, but falling short of delivering, true consumer-first experiences that both respect privacy and delight with coordinated, cohesive messages across channels and devices. Dan Rosenberg, our chief marketing & strategy officer, recently talked to TechBytes editor Sudipto Ghosh on our research and how marketers can make martech-adtech integration a goal for 2019.

Why did you decide to publish the report “The State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing?”

We decided to call out our consumer-first philosophy as a market theme at the start of this year as we saw the rise of adblocking, mistrust of advertising and impending GDPR legislation as symptoms that we are not delivering the best advertising experiences to consumers. We believe that consumers can love marketing again, but first we need to understand what is turning them off from the ads they see and figure out how to both respect them with the right approach to identity and data privacy and delight them with personalized experiences coordinated across channels and devices at the right frequency and sequence, accounting for their recent and past behaviors and actions. Our report, in partnership with Econsultancy, examines how global marketers are responding to this dual challenge and opportunity so we can help them identify how to rise to the occasion to put consumers first.

Why should a CMO read the report? How does it help CMOs build or buy a technology stack?

CMOs should first read the report because the respondents that took the survey are their peers — more than half are senior-level marketers from around the world. It’s a true window into how their peers are thinking about marketing best practices, media channels, identity, omnichannel and emerging opportunities such as artificial intelligence.

The report can help them plan key functions by highlighting the gaps in their current technology stack. We consistently found in the results that marketers want to do so much more but are being held back from being able to execute. For instance, the ability to dynamically segment audiences was identified by 67% of respondents as one of the top three capabilities they hope to have over the next five years when it comes to improving the advertising experience for consumers. But they are not actually prioritizing the data quality improvements or technology integration required to enable this capability — reduced data loss and latency ranked lowest in the report when it comes to the perceived benefits of integrated technology. Dynamic segmentation through an integrated platform lets you connect the right message to the right consumer more quickly and seamlessly across touchpoints. In general, any data loss, which can occur when data management is siloed from media buying, decreases the accuracy of audience segments, often resulting in consumers being shown an ad for something obviously irrelevant to them or, on the other extreme, something they already bought — one of the reasons for their frustration with advertising.

What metric should one rely on to decide on the ‘satisfaction level’ of technology for Marketing and Advertising?

Our mission is to empower marketers to delight their customers and drive real business outcomes. The metrics will be different depending on their goals, but we commit to helping marketers identify the true KPIs that will drive true outcomes such as sales.

Read the full interview here.


Video, Mobile and Native, Oh My! Tips for a Successful Omnichannel Holiday

October 11, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Written in collaboration with native advertising partner Sharethrough.

It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas—at least at some stores. Not content to wait for Halloween, many retailers this year began putting up their holiday decorations before Labor Day. Christmas is closing in on summer!

The data shows they’re on to something. Some 8% of consumers begin making holiday purchases in September (and another 8% before that), according to the National Retail Federation. Even if they’re not yet purchasing, many shoppers are starting to research items in October, often browsing on their mobile devices. Keep reading to understand the top trends helping marketers capitalize on the evolving shopper journey across devices and the funnel to drive the most impact this Q4.

Mobile merry-making                

Not surprisingly, much of the spending we see in MediaMath’s platform is clustered around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and a lot of the action is occurring on mobile devices. According to MediaMath analysis of 2017 holiday campaigns across the globe, desktop and mobile traffic both spiked during those key days, but there were more uniques on mobile. A good strategy then is to go heavy on prospecting tactics on mobile and use desktop for remarketing where consumers are doing more shopping research. November is when both researching and purchasing spike (at 33% and 36%, respectively) according to NRF, but more people research in October (25%) than in December (11%).

When it comes to the type of ads, in-feed native ads should be on every marketer’s wish list. Some 70% of people use their phones to make purchase decisions during the holidays. In-feed native ads drive 29% higher purchase intent than standard banners. One ecommerce retailer saw a 79% jump in conversions with native compared to display strategies with identical targeting.

The good thing about native is it fits anywhere in the funnel and works for brand objectives ranging from raising awareness to driving conversions. Some 39% of consumers will search a brand online if they see it in a native ad headline. Marketers can purchase native directly in MediaMath’s platform workflow leveraging inventory from partners like Sharethrough.


Video can help you capture the emotions and attention of your target shoppers early in the awareness phase. You can follow up video branding campaigns with native, display and other formats to bring consumers down the funnel. Ideally, you can seamlessly integrate video creative alongside other ad formats for your holiday campaigns, reaching your audience with multiple ad formats to build brand storytelling and eventually lead consumers down the purchase funnel.

According to the native advertising specialists at Sharethrough, a few best practices for native creative will go a long way toward improving the story that your brand tells consumers. For instance, while you might assume that shorter headlines do better in this environment, headlines need to tell a story. “Thanksgiving Recipes” gets the point across, but is too generic to prompt anyone to click. But “10 Mouth-Watering Recipes That Everyone Will Love” all but dares you not to click.

Thumbnail images should also tell a story. Don’t just show a product—present a slice-of-life moment where the product is being used. For instance, a picture of a virtual reality headset is dull, but an image of someone engaged with the device as friends look on is more engaging. Finally, on a practical level, avoid using text in images because it might get cut off. If you must place text on images, then make sure the text is centered.

Make your list (and check it twice)

Since many consumers begin thinking about their gifts in October, leverage granular targeting based on real-time browsing when possible. It’s important to reach these consumers early because CPMs spike in December, when everyone else is trying to target the same consumers. The messaging a marketer employs to reach these consumers depends on the industry. CPG brands need to reach consumers when they’re in store, while jewelry retailers might use addressable TV to reach their target consumers.

Wrapping up

This holiday season, marketers have an opportunity to use multiple touchpoints to reach consumers before they click “buy.” In addition to mobile, video and in-feed native, marketers can also employ audio and digital-out-of-home ads to influence target consumers on their list. The trick is to get started sooner than the competition when CPMs are lower and consumers are more open to messaging.


MediaMath and OpenX Talk Cleaning up the Supply Chain At Advertising Week NY

October 5, 2018 — by MediaMath0


It’s been a busy week for MediaMath and some of our clients and partners at Advertising Week New York! Our subject matter experts participated in four MediaMath sessions and three partner sessions. One of those sessions was a fireside chat with our partner OpenX on opt-in video with MediaMath GM of Media and Growth Channels Lewis Rothkopf. Lewis later sat down with OpenX Co-founder Jason Fairchild to talk on video about our strengthened commitment to policing fraudulent supply partners and what steps we are taking to ensure quality in our platform (read more in coverage by AdExchanger). Watch the interview below.


Blockchain and Adtech: First Things First

October 4, 2018 — by MediaMath0


This byline by Underscore CLT President Isaac Lidsky originally appears on MarTechSeries.

Let’s not get way out ahead of ourselves.

Yes, blockchain will solve many of digital marketing’s longstanding structural challenges. Far better, it will usher in a new wave of innovation. Publishers, marketers and their customers will benefit greatly, with more meaningful interactions that engender trust and loyalty—and produce better results at lower cost.

But first things first.

The mere availability of better technology does not yield the will to adopt better business models that leverage that technology. Quite the contrary, prominent wrinkles emerge whenever technology forces an industry to consider “better.” Better for whom? Better how? Better when? To be extreme about it: those who perpetrate fraud will resist technology that detects fraud. To be less dramatic: innovation is as much threat as it is an opportunity, and it’s often unclear initially which is which.

Here we arrive at a chicken-and-egg problem: Do we blame the internet’s legacy “pipes” for the opacity, complexity and intolerable friction in digital marketing? Or do we blame entrenched interests in the industry for failing to deliver something better?

Either way or both, ours is an industry that has tended to meet intermediation and complexity with more intermediaries and greater complexity. The result is, unsurprisingly, a mess.

Far too often, there is a disconnect between (1) value provided and (2) cost.

A disconnect because thorny, practical realities can impose economic risk or other challenges. A disconnect because pricing models can obfuscate practical realities (with good intentions or bad). A disconnect because obfuscation is an invitation to exploitation—”where there’s mystery, there’s money,” as the saying goes. A disconnect because some deliver too little, charge too much or both.

A disconnect because most ad impressions these days involve numerous companies, and as the circle widens, complexity grows exponentially, and with it the number and extent of…disconnects.

The business of digital marketing is a bizarre poker game in which some folks cheat, everyone bluffs and neither the number of players nor their identities is necessarily known to all the contestants. As advertised, it’s a mess.

Now we have blockchain to help clean up the game, but it has entered the poker room at an awkward time. We’re mid-hand, towering stacks of chips around the table, many players deeply invested in the status quo and champing for another deal.

“I’ve got a great idea,” says blockchain. “Let’s turn up the lights all the way, identify ourselves, flip over our cards and play everything straight. The chips are far more valuable if we work together—let’s divvy them up ‘fairly.’”

Because blockchain is the anointed harbinger-du-jour of transparency—in business practices, economics, functional value, etc.—the poker players are expected to celebrate the suggestion. Make the pie bigger instead of fighting for a bigger slice? Everyone must love that idea. Force out all the bad actors? You’ve gotta want it bad unless you’re one of them (and you’re not, of course). Put down your cards mid-hand and (truly) partner with your committed opponents in a new, as-yet-undefined endeavor? In the name of transparency, we demand an enthusiastic “yes!”

We’ve not been disappointed; the lip service is impeccable. From all corners of the industry, we hear the cry of “blockchain!” Now the buzziest of buzzwords, the message is clear: it’s here and it’s happening, so even if you don’t understand it, don’t believe it or don’t want it, you’d better pretend that you do. There’s a lot of pretending going on.

We know better. In actuality, the thieves lurking in the corners are wondering whether they should run away, cop to their cons, protest their innocence, cook up new hustles, work the old ones a few more times before the curtain falls or all of the above.

Many of the players simply want to keep playing the game they showed up for—or at the very least, to finish the current hand!

Those with the biggest stacks of chips aren’t too excited about redistribution, and those with dwindling stacks are similarly reluctant to let any of their chips go. And yes, bluffing is part of the game. But if you play well, you’re rarely caught doing it. It’s one thing to be suspected in general and another thing entirely to be caught red-handed deal after deal.

Blockchain will not be universally embraced anytime soon. Its adoption is an existential threat for some, a temporary crisis for others, a strategic dilemma for most and a complex reordering of business relationships for everyone. It’s this challenge—the business implications of the technology—that we now confront. We miss the forest for the trees if we see blockchain as a technology. It’s not; it’s a momentous opportunity to improve the way business is done.

  • Are you willing to change the way you do business?
  • Are you willing to carefully confront the real-world practicalities and complexities that have led to this moment—to understand how they’re accommodated today and ask how blockchain can help us do better tomorrow?
  • Are you willing to expose to your customers how you charge, for what, when and why? Are you willing to show your cards, stop playing poker and start rebuilding the industry?
  • Are your partners, vendors, clients, and competitors willing to join you?

Blockchain has already given us magical technological achievements to celebrate, and there will be many more, in our industry and others. But first things first: are you really ready to use it?


MediaMath Pens An Open Letter to SSPs About the Way They Conduct Business

October 3, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Today, MediaMath sent an open letter to our 50 directly integrated suppliers telling them that we will stop buying from partners that play auction games. The announcement of our rollout of policies and procedures in the name of creating an economic incentive for fair, transparent programmatic auctions is covered in AdExchanger with commentary from MediaMath GM of Media and Growth Channels Lewis Rothkopf and Director of Product Management, Supply Anna Hewitt. An excerpt of the letter is below—read the full article here.

It’s been a challenging time for our industry, and for digital media more broadly: Congress continues to probe the activities of social media giants, again putting tech companies in the hot seat. The role of the “platform company” was spotlighted yet again as part of the seismic shift taking place in the marketing world. You can see aftershocks of this throughout ad tech: although not social platforms, our respective companies happen to be platforms as well, and we each have a critical role in maintaining the integrity of our own market. At risk is the ongoing sustainability of our industry. We can’t wait for government intervention to bring about true transparency and accountability.

Fighting over market share has diminishing returns when the pie starts shrinking due to an erosion of trust. Look elsewhere for an analogy: who “trusts” the cryptocurrency markets right now? We are facing a choice: clean up our act as an industry or hand the keys over to the Walled Gardens, who can apparently afford to apologize and move on when they experience lapses.

Marketers are tired of games, and don’t want to hear yet another explanation about something obscure in the auction that has inadvertently subtracted value from their marketing efforts. In response, MediaMath is rolling out policies and procedures to make even more clear our current prohibitions against auction manipulation, and any supply-side tactics that solely exist to unduly disadvantage other SSPs. We believe that SSPs can add the most value when they put their energy towards improving marketer outcomes, instead of myopically focusing on killing each other at any cost.