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VIEQUES, PR — Don Draper is going through a mid-life crisis. That is to say, the ad agency business is undergoing profound change, as the rise of technology and data-driven marketing continues turning the industry inside-out.
Many people in the furnace of the fire know this much. But how exactly is the business changing, and what does that mean for ad agencies and how they must step up to the plate?
Doug Ray, an agency veteran who helms Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat in the US, observes: “I think we are in a point of inflection, and I think we’ll continue to be in that point … at least for the next five, potentially 10 years.”
For Ray, the old agency business was about amassing agency scale sufficient to wangle preferential pricing for ads, thereby competing for client business on price. But consolidation and technology have rendered pricing mere “table stakes” as a USP.
“What I’m now seeing is that the ability to be clever and smart and to leverage data in a way that brings value, less about extracting costs, but more about creating better performance, is where we’re going,” he says. “It’s more about now having a very strong point of view about where that client needs to go.”
The whole agency evolution came in to sharp focus in 2015 amid so-called “Pitchapalooza”, a confluence of brand-agency account renewals when a reported $25bn in business was up for renegotiation – and from which Carat, Ray has previously said, emerged with $1.8bn in new business.
He says brands will make agency decisions in the future based on three criteria other than pricing:
VIEQUES, PR — Video ad-tech platform Coull is ready to play a bigger role in the video advertising value chain after launching its own ad exchange and supply-side platform.
“We’ve been building out our own video platform, comprising of an exchange and an SSP,” CEO Irfon Watkins tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “We believe that the industry needs a next generation of platform that’s faster, more efficient, and more transparent and really that’s what we’ve been building out of the last couple years. Now we’ve built our own technology stack out, really it’s all about expansion.”
The company announced its feature launch earlier this month along with a new $6.3m funding round that comprises new investors.
Coull, a Bristol, England-based startup that is also located in New York, aims to help advertisers by better understanding the true content of video in order to produce better contextual targeting.
“At the moment we’re processing about a billion and a half videos a day through our system,” Watkins said.
“Our basic role in the ecosystem is to work very closely with publishers and make sure that their inventory is correctly identified and then present it so that it can be sold for the best price.”
VIEQUES, PR — With ad buyers freaking out about fake video ad plays, ad-tech vendors are racing to quantify how many are truly being viewed by a human user, not just a line of bot code.
Truth is, that race may already have been won. Integral Ad Science is amongst the outfits saying ad buyers now need more granularity.
“The baseline is, ‘Was my ad viewed by a human, and was it safe?,” Integral Ad Science video GM Kevin Lenane tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “But beyond that is, ‘Is the ad actually being watched?’?
“The difference between ‘watched’ and ‘viewed’ is kind of how we look at impact and quality. We know it’s being viewed by a person – but is it actually being watched?”
Lenane says Integral, which just published its latest, interesting quarterly report on fraudulent ad buys, will be releasing features in Q1 and Q2 to add these kind of impact metrics to basic viewability measurements.
VIEQUES, PR — By now, brands are used to buying ad inventory in real-time. But what if you could adjust a content marketing campaign mid-flight, too? That’s what Jun Group wants to accomplish this year.
So far, the New York-based ad tech startup has made a business of helping brands plant native ads in publisher content.
“We also see an opportunity to grow on adaptive marketing, adaptive research,” Executive Vice President, Media Sales, Dan Frisbie tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “We can give advertisers and brands the ability to reach about 500,000 consumers within a couple hours and provide instant feedback.”
What does “adaptive marketing” look like in practice? Frisbie explains:
Jun raised $28m last year and staffed up its sales team as it continued to sign brand advertisers.
VIEQUES, PR — Perhaps better known to many professionals as an ad-tech analyst, now Joanna O’Connell has gone inside, joining MediaMath as chief marketing officer, to tell the world about the company as it nears its decade in business.
O’Connell spent three years advising marketers as a Forrester analyst before building out AdExchanger‘s research and analysis capability. Joining a technology vendor may seem like a step change – but O’Connell wasn’t always an external observer, having earlier held senior roles at Razorfish and VivaKi. Now she wants to spread the word about MediaMath.
“It’s an incredibly smart, innovative company with sort of the right ideals about what marketers and agencies need and the right vision for the future,” O’Connell tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “But they’re a little too insular in the way they think about MediaMath and the outside world. So I’m there to be a storyteller, I’m there to publicize the awesomeness.”
Arguably, companies in the advertising and communication space, ironically, have a challenge conveying their product offerings and differentiators, often falling back on using the same, insider acronyms as each other in what is a crowded space.
So, what exactly is MediaMath’s ‘awesomeness’? MediaMath began in 2007 as a bid manager to connect ad buyers to ad exchanges, and has since gone on to help advertisers target users and track campaign performance using data.
“It’s a company that I’ve loved since the day I was exposed to the concepts of programmatic,” O’Connell says, recalling how the co-founders “blew my mind” during her first meeting with them at the company’s formation. She says its approach to “deaveraged pricing at the impression level, true data-driven marketing and putting control in the hands of the buyer” excited her.
MediaMath is now up to more than 750 staff in cities around the world. It’s an outfit that continues to draw affection from professionals back in O’Connell’s analyst community – last month, Gartner named MediaMath a “visionary” company for digital marketing.
VIEQUES, PR — What once was a side project could be about to boom after Cupertino refreshed its Apple TV box last fall, with one Wall Street analyst forecasting shipments of the new model to more than double this year.
That, finally, is spurring ad-tech vendors to cater to advertisers’ new-found desire to be on Apple TV – a promise that, previous to the new model’s new app paradigm, was barely possible.
“That’s one of the most exciting areas of growth and opportunity,” says ad-tech platform SpotX‘s platform SVP Sean Buckley. “With the recent changes in the Apple TV ecosystem, I think it’s going to create an immense democratization of video content in the living room. We’re really excited about content publishers and their ability to now reach users in that environment.”
“Whatever connectivity the user is trying to get to the content, we want to be there and supporting our publishers,” Buckley added.
VIEQUES, PR — Target sees 2016 as a watershed year for the retailer to leverage programmatic advertising for both CRM and to enable vendors to better engage with its customers, says Patrick Reiter, Senior Group Manager of Digital Marketing & Media.
For managing customer relationships, Target recognizes the need to engage with its “guests” in the best ways possible to meet their ever-rising expectations of relevance, according to Reiter. This means having the right message or content for each person, place and time.
“In order to meet those expectations, you have to automate in some way,” he says. “It’s just not possible to have that many relevant conversations one-to-one in the way we historically think about it. Programmatic allows us to reach scale to our customer base in a way that is both meaningful and relevant.”
On the vendor side, in late 2015 Target rolled out an Alpha Partner program in which a short list of companies was chosen based on digital acumen, openness to testing and forward-thinking capabilities. They were allowed to share in Target’s learning to date from programmatic ads. This year, Target will release a program called Target Guest Access to move the concept forward for more of its vendors.
“Over time, we realized the programmatic capabilities we were building weren’t only useful to Target but they were useful to all marketers,” Reiter says.
VIEQUES, PR — Brands will become more service focused in mobile in the year ahead, says Travis Johnson, Global Head of Mobile, IPG Mediabrands in sharing his four big predictions for mobile. In addition, keep an eye out for these other key trends in mobile — voice controls, amplified TV, and ad avoidance, he tells Beet.TV at the recent executive retreat.
Look for brands to provide more personal services in mobile to help solve real-world problems, he explains. “How can a bank help people find the right home? What the good schools are? Or how can a brand in the CPG space help people cook better?”
In addition, he expects more interaction between the mobile phone and the big screen TV to link the two. Voice controls and conversational interfaces for brands to interact with consumers will play a bigger role in mobile shopping, he adds. Finally, ad avoidance is a key issue. “Think more about native formats. What environment you’re putting the ads in. What value they’re bringing to the content.”
VIEQUES, PR — While robust, the digital video business faces hurdles for growth in the years ahead, but those can be solved with better business tools, and a common language for problem-solving, says Ashley J. Swartz, CEO of Furious Minds in her wrap-up report on the Beet.TV retreat.
But the answers aren’t as simple as more ad load or different video formats, she explains. “This is an industry that is going through a media revolution. We have a great responsibility to figure that out,” she says. “This is about how to help media companies be successful and how to help marketers at the heart of the value exchange. There is a shared value proposition of making audiences happy with content they love and letting brands participate…How do we build an adaptable enterprise solution that allows a media company to look at the entirety of its revenue across its portfolio of products and use its inventory to drive audience?”
The solution may be found in providing better business planning tools to optimize revenue and also to integrate the enterprise more tightly. In addition, many players in the industry, from publishers to media companies, don’t use the same terms, and a common language is needed for growth. These are among the challenges digital video faces, but Swartz is optimistic that these hurdles can be crossed.
VIEQUES, PR — In an age where the media we use give off signals back to advertisers, marketers are being sold on the potential to thread each in to a holistic view of customers and of their ad effectiveness.
But the reality so far is a little different, a panel of advertising tech execs discussed at a retreat convened by Beet.TV:
Merkle programmatic head Mac Delaney
MediaLink data and technology SVP Matt Spiegel
Coull CEO Irfon Watkins
Furious Corp CEO Ashley J. Swartz
“Big-brand marketers are still struggling with getting a lot smarter and more sophisticated with currencies and the metrics available to them,” consulting firm MediaLink’s Spiegel claimed. “We’re still in the early days.”
What’s the hold-up? Spiegel explained: “The technology is there, the ability to look at the data exists. What has not changed is the budgeting process. That’s why attribution has not taken off as many of us thought it would have. It is a process problem at the marketers’ side.”
Ad planning software provider Furious’ Swartz completely agreed. She said marketers are still budgeting on fiscal calendars whilst decisions on ad optimisation at happening at the ad impression level.
She said marketers should heed “kaizen“, the Japanese discipline of “continuous improvement”: “Continually ingesting data an making systems and efficiency greater and greater over time.”
The panel agreed that marketers, amid high degrees of disruption, are clinging to familiar metrics.
“We’re talking about all these transformative things,” said video analytics startup Coull’s Watkins. “But, in the end, it all comes back to knowns – we want safety. We want the revolution – but actually we want a safe one.”
That adds up to what panel moderator Joanna O’Connell has called “the bloodless revolution“, a change which seems profound but which ends up looking a lot like the TV industry in the end.
VIEQUES, PR – Virool, the San Francisco-based video adtech company that provides “outstream” or “in-article” video advertising, is powering its growth with a data management platform that has 450 million uniques, says Brian Danzis, Chief Revenue Officer, in this interview with Beet.TV
He says the company, which had originally focused on building audiences for individual “influencers” has expanded to include mid-tail customers and large global agencies and brands.
The growth of out-stream is being accelerated by the needs of marketers to promote longer form “advertainment” outside of the pre-roll. The IAB recently defined advertainment.
VIEQUES, PR – With television inventory soon to be sold out, there are billions of dollars on the table. Unable to spend more on television, big dollars will go to publishers who can target hard-to-reach voters, says Mari Kim Novak, Chief Marketing Officer at Rubicon Project, in this interview with Beet.TV
She also speaks about the development of Rubicon in the video sector as a “safe” space for both buyers and sellers.
VIEQUES, PR — What are the right length and the right context for a video ad, and can you place them on any and every device? That was the topic of a panel debate, convened by Beet.TV at its retreat, involving executives from major advertising and publishing firms:
If you thought there was a limit to the screens in which video ads could run, Ansable’s Johnson said he is looking at putting ads on connected fridges, and: “We’re working with some auto manufacturers on how they can monetise the operating system within their cars, placing video ads on them is an option.”
Videos – and the ads which fund them – are expanding to fit the medium that hosts them. That is changing how ads should be crafted to achieve best fit and maximum effect.
Facebook’s Dugan said his network’s consumption had boomed toward mobile in just three short years. Now, Facebook is urging advertisers to think differently about how they create video ads for a mobile world.
“On average, we’ve found that people on mobile News Feed spend 1.7 seconds looking at each Post, vs. 2.5 seconds on desktop,” he said. “To have effective branding on mobile, it’s got to be punchy, it’s got to be short, you’ve got to find a way for the first few seconds to break through. We see people interested in long-form content – the trick is, how do you engage people early enough?” The answer, Dugan said, is to include branding early, include subtitles and overlay videos with text for audio-off viewers.
As media change before our eyes, advertisers are challenged to think and re-think about the appropriate ad formats for particular content models.
“You don’t want to put a two-minute ad on 30-second content,” YuMe’s McLernon said, echoing what has become an accepted conventional wisdom. “But that might actually be the place for a native ad.”
Dugan said Facebook is pushing to encourage more video consumption where, otherwise, it might have been challenging, using a save-for-later feature and a suggested-videos, discovery feature.
But, despite fridges and cars, the TV screen still looks like being a hot video consumption format. “A key trend for us for the year ahead is appified TV,” Ansable’s Johnson added, citing the example of Apple TV.
This video was produced at the Beet.TV executive retreat presented by Videology. You can find more videos from the session here.
The panel was moderated by Furious Corp CEO and founder Ashley J. Swartz.
VIEQUES, PR — So-called “programmatic” advertising – techniques for refining and automating advertising trading – grew up around real-time bidding, the instantaneous transactions that seem anathema to traditional upfront ad sales.
But, as the technology has matured, it has also begun to allow for old-fashioned-style upfront buys – with all the added efficiency of programmatic. A panel convened by Beet.TV discussed the topic:
“You can merge programmatic and guaranteed,” MediaMath’s Cox said. “Programmatic is neither real-time nor bidded. You can make a forward commitment on a guarantee on a specific volume, specific value and flight date and hit it.”
Videology’s Castree agreed, saying: “In the US last year, 99% of video sold last year was on a guaranteed, futures basis. Fifty-eight percent of inventory through our platform last year was clients bringing their own upfront deals.”
But the arrival of upfront ad deals also makes some wonder if they are losing the unique advantage programmatic brings.
What was a great decision 24 hours ago might be a poor decision now,” said Target’s Reiter, calling for flexibility. “When I hear ‘guaranteed’, somewhere in there must be some loss of agility.” GroupM’s Kowan said: Maintaining that agility is absolutely critical.”
MediaMath’s Cox said his company strikes the balance by having embraced header tags, allowing real-time data to support guaranteed transactions by having eliminated exchanges.
Separately, GroupM’s Kowan said programmatic is merely a toolset, not a strategy, and does little to change the role that agencies play for brands overall.
And the panel discussed how, with the basics of programmatic now in place, advertisers will soon get to benefit from more – developments Kowan said include “attribution based on in-store sales, and exposure time and session depth, personalisation”.
This video was produced at the Beet.TV executive retreat presented by Videology. You can find more videos from the session here.
This panel was chaired by MediaLink data and technology SVP Matt Spiegel.
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