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Presentation – IAB UK Content Conference

I presented for Unanimis at the IAB UK Content Conference on July 24th. The event brought together, in roughly equal parts, advertising brands, agencies, publishers, and tech companies.

I chose to look at ways in which the online ad industry can scale up native to be able to deliver on it. Core to the presentation was that publishers and advertisers need to look at why Facebook and Twitter have been so successful as scaling up native so quickly and apply that to their people, process, and technology.

First, I set up an working definition of Native. This was:

  • Is it a piece of paid content, i.e. was it paid for by an advertiser?
  • Was it produced, at least in part or in coöperation with, the advertiser
  • Does it run on the publisher’s domain and does engaging or clicking through the content keep the user on the publisher’s site

Using this definition, I examined how publishers can use stories, posts, videos, and other content in a native, responsive, in stream manner. I asked attendees to question their systems and processes, to leverage existing assets, and to ensure they weren’t duplicating work in setting up a native solution.

The key takeaways were:

  • As yourself, what’s your definition of Native?
  • Do you have an internal Native Champion who shows a natural passion for the subject?
  • Is your native solution keeping your viewers on your site or taking them away? What’s the cost of driving a user off your site?
  • What skills sets are missing in your commercial, operations, and tech teams to deliver a successful Native product offering
  • How many systems or platforms do you need to use to successfully deliver a Native campaign? What’s the cost of these systems?
  • How, other than direct sales, are you sourcing demand?
  • Are you able to offer the full capabilities of a 2014 ad system in Native?
    • Programmatic
    • Scalable
    • Rich targeting & reporting
  • Tech / People / Process Scorecard for Native? How do you rank?

I will be writing up a longer post on the topic but thought I’d share this for now.

A Start-Up With a Way to Filter Botnet Traffic Gets Funding – NYTimes.com

News that White Hat has revived $7M in funding says a bit more about their press profile and media presence than it does about the ingenuity of their underlying tech. I don’t see anything particularly new or ground breaking here.

Perhaps this piece in nyt (blog) gets the tech wrong, but a solution reliant even partially on flash would appear to fatally flawed. White Hat aren’t the first to offer such a service and others do it without relying on a bloated, outdated, and increasingly blocked technology.

Why all the attention to this company? Why now?

A Start-Up With a Way to Filter Botnet Traffic Gets Funding – NYTimes.com.

With Its “Demand Fusion” Tech, OpenX Helps Publishers Take A Smarter Approach To Real-Time Bidding | TechCrunch

My news feed this morning was topped with not one, not two, but three headlines heralding the launch of OpenX’s new RTB + Networks solution, "Demand Fusion".

OpenX Display FusionThe key development here is adding in an additional supply query to the networks, which may be offering a higher price for the impression and therefore delivery higher value to the publisher (supplier). In addition to the incremental revenue, Demand Fusion helps to reduce or eliminate daisy chaining on the ops side — a burdensome task for ops teams.

As described an OpenX press release earlier this week:

It’s rather simple. If a network accepts an impression at a price that is higher than the RTB bid, then by all means, give that impression to the network. But if that network defaults and the next highest price is an RTB bid, then sell it to the RTB bidder rather than simply passing it to another network without regard for the RTB bid.

From Tech Crunch:

SSPs will usually compare the ad network with the highest CPM to the highest bid from RTB. The approach seems to make sense, but the problem, as explained by Pranay Gupta, OpenX’s director of sales engineering, is that ad networks can say no to a publisher. At that point, however, the SSP is committed to the ad network route, so they’re forced to “daisy chain” through ever-cheaper ad networks until they find a taker — which means that they might make significantly less money than if they’d gone with the bid from RTB. “Daisy chaining is the bane of any ad operations person,” Gupta said.

While Demand Fusion sounds like a positive development, I’m not convinced it’s a ‘game changer’ as some people are claiming. However, it’s certainly picking up a lot off buzz this morning!

With Its “Demand Fusion” Tech, OpenX Helps Publishers Take A Smarter Approach To Real-Time Bidding | TechCrunch.

eMarketer Raises Its Programmatic Ad Spend Estimate, Again | Digital – Advertising Age

These programmatic numbers keep going up and up! Good thing my presentation is done at 12:20 PM today. It’s getting tough to stay on top of the upwardly-adjusted forecasts and estimates that are coming out.

The revision, which comes via an analysis of multiple studies performed by eMarketer, estimates advertisers will now spend 75.3% more on programmatic advertising in 2013 than they did last year. The previous estimate, a 73.9% increase, was apparently not ambitious enough. In dollars, that means $3.37 billion will be spent on programmatic in 2013 and $4.66 billion in 2014.

eMarketer Raises Its Programmatic Ad Spend Estimate, Again | Digital – Advertising Age.

How to Fix Ad Fraud and Why Publishers Should Pay | DigitalNext – Advertising Age

Charlie Fiordalis, managing director-digital at Media Storm, makes a pretty blunt case for dropping the bill for fraud prevention on the publisher’s front door. I can sort of his point but his suggestion to publishers to look at it as a form of insurance leaves me a little bit uneasy. I’m not sure it’s as cut and dry a case as he puts forward.

Who pays?Why shouldn’t it be more even-handed across the industry with buyers putting pressure on pricing by not paying as much for blind, non-transparent inventory and paying more, i.e. rewarding, the behaviour they want. There must be a market force from the buy side that can be brought to bear on this issue. Further, I’d think that the lions share of the burden needs to sit with the networks (DSPs and SSPs) to vet the inventory they are managing. They’re the ones that are building billion dollar businesses here and there should be some costs involved in ensuring that what they are brokering is what it appears to be. Finally, the publishers, who it would be hard to say have been the big winners in the online ad revolution, for their part should bear some responsibility for keeping a ‘clean’ site and, in particular with regards to viewability, offer up the most desirable inventory to buyers.

…The buy side has operated with the assumption that we are getting what we have purchased. Ad fraud is a threat to that assumption, and I think the responsibility for direct payment should come from the publishers. There, I said it. Someone had to. I realize this may not be what the publishers want to hear, but they can look at it as a form of insurance on their side. —Charlie Fiordalis

How to Fix Ad Fraud and Why Publishers Should Pay | DigitalNext – Advertising Age.

Financial Times kicks off trials to sell advertisers ‘blocks of time’ to tackle industry’s viewability issue | The Drum

This is an interesting concept but sometimes it really feels like we take two steps forward and one step back in this industry. Our greatest strengths — measurability, laser-targeting, accountability — are also our greatest weaknesses.

“We can now report back to a client and say ‘we served you a thousand ads, and of those, 500 were seen for one second, 250 were seen for 10 seconds and 250 were seen for 30 seconds,” Slade went on. “The next obvious step is to sell blocks of time.

“We can sell a thousand hours of exposure to a chief executive audience in Germany, for example, or we can give clients 500 hours of exposure to finance directors in Belgium. That currency has a lot of merit.

via Financial Times kicks off trials to sell advertisers ‘blocks of time’ to tackle industry’s viewability issue | The Drum.

The Truth About Online Ad Fraud | ExchangeWire.com

All the noise around the RocketFuel and Mercedes-Benz fraud issue may be just that — noise but the problem of online ad fraud, particularly in relation to RTB and programmatic trading, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Online Fraud
"Decipticons" can spoof your lookalike targeting.

One of the reasons I’m so excited to be working the ridiculously clever team at Pixalate is that they saw this issue coming from a mile away. They were building solutions to help buyers and sellers combat the effects of fraud before all the hype. In a way, they were fraud-fighting hipsters, battling the bots before it was cool.

Jalal Nasir, co-founder and CEO of Pixalate, has a great piece, complete with some very funny terms for the types of Fraud his platform can detect, in this week’s ExchangeWire.

Forecasts suggest ad fraud could cost marketers as much as $11bn in 2014, a 22% increase over 2013. Notwithstanding any unintentional inflation in these stats, it’s clear that ad fraud is running amok. At the same time, RTB display advertising continues to grow quickly. Jalal Nasir, co-founder, Pixalate

The Truth About Online Ad Fraud | ExchangeWire.com.

Get in touch

If you’d like to talk to me about Pixalate, I’m their exclusive representative in Europe. Either drop me an email, grab at Digiday’s EU Publisher Summit in Barcelona.

Online Ad Spending in Europe Topped €27 Billion in 2013 – eMarketer

A very timely piece of research and data to be released as I put the final preparations on my deck for Digiday’s European Publisher Summit. Strong growth across Europe and the the mobile tide is coming in as fast, if not faster, than the soothsayers were forecasting.

Very interesting to see that:

Spending on display ads continued to gain momentum, logging higher growth than any other format, at 14.9%, and a total value of €9.2 billion ($12.27 billion)

Although I must wonder how much of that is Facebook.

Online Ad Spending in Europe Topped €27 Billion in 2013 - eMarketer

Online Ad Spending in Europe Topped €27 Billion in 2013 – eMarketer.

Great News For Native: The New York Times’ Sponsored Content Is As Popular As Its Editorial | The Content Strategist, by Contently

Granted, this piece is authored by someone with some skin in the game (and, full disclosure, so do I) but still, some compelling stats. Paid content as engaging (on a click basis) if not more than ‘straight’ editorial. Just because it’s paid for doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I mean, just look at the Lego Movie for the ultimate example of this.

A United Airlines interactive graphic—produced in partnership with The Times—that showed how far athletes traveled to compete at Sochi. The result was nearly 200,000 clicks—well above the average editorial article.

Great News For Native: The New York Times’ Sponsored Content Is As Popular As Its Editorial | The Content Strategist, by Contently.

Programmatic advertising’s audience addiction

This article is very relevant to my upcoming presentation at Digiday’s first EU Publisher Summit in Barcelona. This ‘race to the bottom’ factor is and seems to remain, one of the fundamental risks of an an ever-larger programmatic marketplace. How are premium publishers taking steps to protect their audiences and their inventory?

The ecosystem optimizes for clicks, and we lose the value of branding in the process.  We’re making a similar mistake with audience buying.

via Digiday | Programmatic advertising’s audience addiction.