The Rise Of The Programmatic Media Specialist

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paullongo“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Paul Longo, managing director at Accordant Media.

A media agency’s core DNA has traditionally fed a model built around the media planner. In recent years, agencies have received much criticism for conferring too much responsibility of their strategic media efforts on young planners in their 20s.

Certainly, many shops are still mired in that old mindset. And while it seems that agencies acknowledge that the planner’s role must be transformed to realize the potential of always-on marketing, there needs to be a quick shift to action to meet current planning realities and changing client needs.

To fully appreciate, it could be instructive to take a historical view of the evolution of agencies in the past 15 years. Until the aughts, most media planners focused on traditional planning – including target audience preparation, strategies and tactics – just once a year or quarterly. Once that planning was complete and campaigns were set in motion, things would ramp down. Optimization was a maintenance endeavor that took up no more than 30% of agency media folks’ time.

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AOL UK Automates Reserved Inventory; SimpleReach Raises $9M

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Automating Reserved

On Tuesday AOL UK announced that “all reserved inventory” is available programmatically across its owned and operated sites available –through AOL's demand-side platform. This includes The Huffington Post, Engadget, Parentdish and more. AOL UK's managing director, Noel Penzer, said the decision reaffirmed the company's commitment to automation and signaled AOL UK's belief that programmatic advertising will continue to drive digital budgets. Read the press release. As tech gets commoditized industrywide, having exclusive access to inventory may be an increasingly important consideration in choosing an ad or marketing tech stack.

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Flurry: What It is, Where It Stands And Why Yahoo Wants It

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confusedaboutflurryWhat does Yahoo’s deal to buy Flurry have to do with Twitter’s purchase of mobile exchange MoPub last year? Nothing and everything.

But first, let’s define our terms.

What is Flurry, exactly?

Flurry has a grab bag of solutions under its umbrella: analytics, ad network capabilities and ad exchange functions. But at its core, Flurry is an analytics company that maintains direct relationships with 170,000 individual app developers, all of which have installed Flurry’s SDK, meaning the company can track customer behavior on more than 542,000 mobile apps.

Flurry uses that rich source of first-party data to power AppCircle, which acts like an ad network, helping app developers target audiences and encourage app downloads. Same goes for video.

On top of all that, Flurry launched an RTB marketplace last year, which CEO Simon Khalef at the time told AdExchanger is meant to be an extension of its buy-side business and performance marketing. Several sources, however, suggested that Flurry’s programmatic capability is far less robust than an exchange like MoPub.

One source who spoke with AdExchanger, the CEO of a major mobile app measurement company, said AppCircle is responsible for the bulk of Flurry’s revenue, noting that the app inventory available on Flurry’s exchange is thin.

Interestingly, multiple sources in the app ecosystem approached by AdExchanger weren’t aware that Flurry even has an exchange, which may indicate Flurry’s exchange hasn’t yet made much of an impression on the market.

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LinkedIn To Acquire Bizo, B2B Display Ad Platform For $175M

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BizoLinkedIn will buy Bizo, a B2B display ad platform, for $175 million in cash and stock, the companies said Tuesday.

"It's exciting for us to bring Bizo's expertise and technology into our ecosystem," said Deep Nishar, LinkedIn's SVP of Product and User Experience, in a statement. "Our ability to integrate their B2B solutions with our content marketing products will enable us to become the most effective platform for B2B marketers to engage professionals."

The acquisition will be funded through a combination of cash (90%) and LinkedIn stock (10%) and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.

Read LinkedIn's blog post. And, the press release.

LinkedIn is ramping up its marketing solutions. It hired longtime ad exec Penry Price as VP of marketing solutions, and recently outlined methods to monetize content with a premium business audience on its platform.

Bizo's acquisition should also come as no surprise. Founded in 2008 as a platform to enable B2B marketers to track and reach new business users, it's easy to see what made the company an attractive target this year. In Q4, Bizo cited revenue of $12.4 million at a $50 million run rate with media costs that average in the 35-40% range.

The company has also released numerous products and enhancements. Last fall, it launched Bizo for Marketing Automation, a product with a "multi-million dollar" trajectory, according to Bizo's CEO Russ Glass. Months later, Bizo released "Multichannel Nurturing," a tool that promised marketers greater lead-gen capabilities across email, display and social advertising.

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BlueKai’s Tawakol Spearheads Oracle Data Cloud Effort

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OmarTWhen Oracle acquired data technology and services company BlueKai in February, the product roadmap seemed to split. Down one avenue, BlueKai’s data-management platform (DMP) would plug a hole in the company’s Oracle Marketing Cloud stack. The second avenue circles BlueKai’s vaunted data exchange, Audience Data Marketplace.

Marketing Cloud SVP and GM Kevin Akeroyd was the immediate beneficiary of the DMP, which is being integrated with the other technologies in the stack including email marketing from Eloqua, campaign management from Responsys and content marketing from Compendium.

But Oracle’s head honcho, cofounder and CEO Larry Ellison also wanted to know what would become of the data exchange.

“At the time the acquisition happened, it was originally driven by Oracle Marketing Cloud pulling the BlueKai DMP into the stack,” said Omar Tawakol, BlueKai’s CEO and now GM of the Oracle Data Cloud. The data marketplace, Tawakol and his colleagues realized, “could add a third leg to the stool.”

If Oracle’s first leg is software and its second leg is hardware, then its third leg is Data-as-a-Service, hooking the BlueKai data exchange into enterprise use cases beyond marketing, like sales and commerce. As GM of Oracle Data Cloud, Tawakal is leading the centralization of some of Oracle’s social marketing acquisitions (such as Vitrue and Involver), BlueKai’s Audience Data Marketplace and “groups that were natively built within Oracle for data-as-a-service, such as sales and talent management,” Tawakal said.

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Omnicom Reports Strong Q2, With Assist From Trading Desk

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Omnicomq2Agency holding company Omnicom Group reported Q2 revenues above analysts' estimates, due in part to growth in its programmatic buying unit, Accuen, as well as growth in the retail and telecom sectors. Its rival, Publicis Groupe, with whom it once planned to merge, had a weak quarter by contrast.

Omnicom’s global revenue increased 6.4% to $3.9 billion from $3.6 billion in 2013's second quarter, with domestic revenues hitting $2.1 billion.

Paris-based Publicis reported decreasing revenues of $2.37 billion, compared to $2.41 billion in 2013's second quarter. Analysts estimated that Publicis’ earnings would reach $2.53 billion, and the company said negative foreign-exchange movements had a large impact on its sales figures.

Omnicom’s Accuen unit is taking a portion of the media it buys and sells, which the company disclosed to investors for the first time. The company reported $40 million in growth due to its programmatic buying unit, but did not say what margins it takes.

“We’re taking a principle bet,” Omnicom CFO Randall Weisenburger said during the call. “We’re buying specific media and reselling that at hopefully an increased price in most circumstances, since our revenue is based upon the difference between the purchase price in media and the sales price. We then have to provide all of the services, all of the underlying technology, build the platform, do the insights and take all the risk.”

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Predictive Marketing Platform Quantifind Raises $12 Million

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AriTuchmanQuantifind, whose technology is designed to find relevant marketing signals amid the noise of unstructured data, has raised $12 million in a strategic growth round led by Comcast Ventures and Iris Capital.

The company had raised about $10.5 million in the last eight months, according to cofounder and CEO Ari Tuchman, although this does not represent the totality of the company's financing. The funding will be used to scale Quantifind's technology and ramp up sales efforts into new verticals and use cases.

Cofounders Tuchman and John Stockton, both PhDs in physics, noted early Quantifind media and entertainment customers had run into walls when they looked to extract meaningful ROI from social data feeds, thus identifying the marketer pain point they first wished to solve.

“Going back a couple of years, the 100 or so social listening companies… [solved buzz and sentiment] but neither of those had a correlation to how a movie actually performed at the box office and, therefore, wasn’t giving the company anything actionable to steer results at the box office,” Tuchman said.

Quantifind charges on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis per brand per month while offering “guidance on both media optimization and creative strategy,” Tuchman said. “All the incredible work in big data storage and programmatic and optimized targeting and this ability to reach an audience at a very specific level is awesome work we’re building on to help you act on data more quickly.”

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Centro Hires A CFO And Looks To Investors

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shawn-riegseckerIt's hard times for late stage advertising technology companies. Many public and private investors are gloomy on ad tech, and older startups needing new funds lately find themselves forced to choose between unattractive options, such as going public or raising money at a lower valuation, a painful event sometimes referred to as a "down round."

These are problems Chicago-based agency workflow platform Centro, which hired Michael Bruns as CFO this week, has been blessed to avoid.

CEO Shawn Riegsecker said this is due to Centro’s relatively low cash requirements to date. The company's only investments have been a $22.5 million Series A round completed in 2011.

But Bruns’ hiring shows the company has its eye on its future cash needs.

Bruns is well versed in SaaS-based companies, after running finance for two such companies and selling one of them (ClearTrial) to Oracle in 2012. Oracle, of course, is one of the top four strategic buyers in the ad tech space, alongside Adobe, Salesforce and Google – a fact certainly not lost on Centro management.  The company's previous CFO, Leo Brubaker, was named chief operating officer last year but the company has only just found his replacement.  According to Riegsecker, the hire was time-consuming since Centro needed someone experienced in public capital markets as well as in private fundraising.

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Who are Programmatic’s True Constituents? It’s Not Just the Brands

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daxhamman“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Dax Hamman, chief product officer of Chango.

When we think of programmatic and whom it’s supposed to serve, we tend to focus on the brands. What are their goals? And how can we help clients achieve them?

And as service-oriented businesses, media agencies and RTB platform providers, including DSPs and trading desks, have a knee-jerk reaction to do whatever is asked, even if what the brand manager asks for isn’t quite what he or she really needs in order to find new customers.

For a programmatic advertising campaign to really succeed, which is to say for a campaign to deliver meaningful insights that marketers can use to make strategic decisions, we need a bigger lens.

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Verizon's Tracking Tradeoff; Purell Bets On Loyalty

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Verizon’s Tracking Tradeoff

Verizon made headlines on Monday with promises to upgrade upload speeds, but also announced an interesting development for advertisers. The company is launching a rewards program centered on tracking data, through which Verizon subscribers can earn points for every dollar spent on wireless services, including on Verizon products and gift card offerings. What's in it for Verizon? Subscribers will have to consent to releasing their location data, which is valuable information for marketers looking to serve targeted ads. Read more at the News & Observer. This is reminiscent of business models such as Enliken’s.

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