Hewlett Programmatic; WPP Gets A New Chairman

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HP’s Behind The Wheel

HP is on a quest to take control of its programmatic buying and force pricing transparency in its automated dealings, Ad Age reports. HP’s programmatic and media planning business sits with Omnicom, whose Accuen trading desk has come under fire for its lack of transparency. “Hewlett Packard intends to take direct contractual control of their technology partnerships,” the company stated in an RFI, adding that “[f]uture plans include scaling our programmatic deployment across a growing number of marketing programs as well as supporting our ecommerce business geographically." Also raised in the RFI were concerns about ad fraud and the need to protect data privacy. Read more.

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16 Vendors Under The Glass, As Gartner Releases First Digital Marketing Hub Quadrant

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KihnGartner Research’s first-ever Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, released Wednesday, assumes that ad tech, marketing tech and CRM will naturally converge. As such, it pits enterprise platforms like Salesforce.com against ad tech regulars like Rocket Fuel [x+1] and Turn.

No doubt many in the industry will debate whether or not this is fair, or whether Gartner might be jumping the gun using the same criteria to evaluate these very different vendors.

Given Gartner’s parameters, the vendors most commonly associated with marketing clouds – Adobe, Salesforce.com and Oracle – led the pack as “Leaders," gauged in terms of “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”

The “Visionaries”  include ad tech regulars including Rocket Fuel/[x+1], IgnitionOne, Turn, Sitecore and Neustar.

The “Challengers” – vendors that need to match lip service with execution – include IBM and Marketo.

Finally the “Niche Players” – vendors expanding beyond their core backgrounds – include Alliance Data’s Conversant, MediaMath, DataXu, Teradata, HP and Infor.

Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner who co-authored the report alongside fellow analysts Andrew Frank and Jake Sorofman, is aware of the risk comparing apples and oranges.

“Gartner’s putting a stake in the ground and we feel the world of CRM and advertising are no longer separate from a marketer’s point of view,” he explained.

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CEO Shuffle Follows Epsilon's Acquisition Of Conversant

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Andy frawley epsilonOne week after completing its $2.3 billion acquisition of ad tech company Conversant on behalf of its Epsilon subsidiary, Alliance Data Systems has made some C-level org changes.

Epsilon President Andy Frawley has become Epsilon’s CEO, reporting to Bryan Kennedy, the former Epsilon CEO who has been placed in charge of a joint Conversant-Epsilon unit. His title? That's right. CEO of Epsilon/Conversant.

Conversant CEO John Giuliani will remain.

“I wouldn’t say this has always been planned,” Frawley told AdExchanger. “When we announced the acquisition of Conversant, we started talking about the best way to operate the combined companies. It became clear we needed to divide and conquer a little more.”

As such, Kennedy will focus on integrating Conversant more closely with Epsilon and driving cross sales. Integration and exposing mutual clients to joint Conversant-Epsilon solutions are the immediate priority.

As always, integration is a heady task. Conversant – formerly known as the ad network ValueClick – had been working to integrate its disparate technologies even before it was acquired by Alliance Data. Now, Alliance Data must help finish that task, then integrate the Conversant technologies and services with Epsilon’s technologies and services.
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21st Century Fox To Acquire Video Ad Platform True[X] For $200M

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21truexChristmas came early for digital video ad platform true[X].

The ad platform, which serves both advertisers and publishers, revealed Wednesday that News Corp. spinoff 21st Century Fox intends to acquire it. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal pegged that figure at about $200 million. (Read the release).

This acquisition indicates 21st Century Fox has realized the traditional ad model (17 minutes of ads per hour) won't translate to streaming or video-on-demand environments, where content isn't consumed in real time, said Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

The deal comes on the heels of other recent video ad acquisitions, such as German media conglomerate RTL Group's summer purchase of video sell-side platform SpotXchange and Yahoo's recent purchase of BrightRoll.

But Nail said the motivations behind the true[X] deal aren't the same.

"This is very different than some of the consolidation we've seen between ad exchanges and programmatic and technologies and data management platforms," he said.

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Adelphic Racks Up $11 Million In Series B, Plans To Spend It On Tech And Global Expansion

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adelphicfundingAdelphic has mobile programmatic on the brain – which makes sense for a mobile DSP.

The company said Wednesday that it had closed its Series B to the tune of $11 million in a round led by Blue Chip Venture Co., Google Ventures and Matrix Partners, bringing its total funding to $23 million.

Adelphic – which was founded by the many of the same people responsible for iAd, née Quattro – is earmarking the cash for more development around its cross-device targeting solutions, as well as a push into Europe and APAC.

“Right now, most media plans are put together on a channel-by-channel basis – something separate for mobile, for radio, for broadcast, for print, for out-of-home,” said Adelphic CEO Michael Collins. “But there’s a significant shift happening right now from channel-focused buying to an audience-focused approach, where it’s not about buying mobile, it’s about reaching a specific group and having a seamless dialogue with them wherever they consume media.”

Adelphic’s current cross-device identification technology uses a combination of deterministic and probabilistic methodologies to get the job done. It’s not a matter of either/or, Collins said.

“We’re not choosing sides because that can be quite limiting, actually,” he said. “We’re not dependent on any one piece of information. Our method is to get to scale by listening to and ingesting as broad a set of signals as possible.”

What, then, of the value of high-profile deterministic players like Facebook and Google?

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Sharethrough Brings Its Version Of Twitter Cards To The Masses

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SharethroughNative is a bit like awkward teenager – it’s still trying to figure itself out and it just wants to fit in.

Sharethrough is looking to help native advertising blend in a little better with a new unit that takes a cue from the way players like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest display third-party content on their own properties.

Native Cards, available Wednesday, enables brands and publishers to dynamically create ad units that fit into the flow of a publisher’s existing content by entering a URL into Sharethrough’s platform. When a user taps or clicks on on the unit, it neatly expands to fit the screen, allowing them to view the ad content without leaving the site.

Intel partnered with Sharethrough on the launch.

The technology behind Native Cards is an extension of Sharethrough’s existing real-time templating tech, which lets clients to match their ad to the style attributes of any publisher site.

The point is immersion, said Chris Schreiber, Sharethrough’s VP of marketing and communications.

“With ‘Native Ads 1.0,’ the entire focus has been on in-feed ads that only match the colors, fonts and layout of a publisher’s site [and] these ads almost exclusively take users off of a publisher’s page,” he said. “There is still a need for this type of ad unit and type of engagement, but now, with card, we’re ushering in what we’re referring to as ‘Native Ads 2.0.’”

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Data Sharing, Modularity And Video Creative: AOL Platforms Lays Out Its 2015 Road Map

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aol platformsIf data is currency, then it’s no wonder most companies lock it in a safe (unless you’re Sony Pictures Entertainment, in which case you just put it on a Word document somewhere).

But this can be a tremendous point of frustration for brands that want to use the data housed by the big dogs of ad tech – Facebook, Google and Amazon – to optimize their marketing beyond those relatively closed-off portals.

Because it’s unlikely these already-existing walls will soon crumble, AOL has an opportunity to push an open platform vision to differentiate.

Walled gardens send the ad tech industry backward, said AOL Platforms CEO Bob Lord during a programmatic forum AOL hosted at its headquarters Tuesday. As a proof point, he noted that about 50% of brands it works with will likely own their own data-management platform.

“We’re going toward an open stack, an open data strategy,” he said. “We will allow advertisers to import data into our platform and activate that against media, and we’ll share that data with our partners to activate in their channels and put in their CRM.”

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What Programmatic Advertising Could Learn From Tinder

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johnsnyderddtData-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 John Snyder, CEO at Grapeshot.

At the risk of sounding arch or flippant, I declare that the programmatic media community should start copying Tinder.

Yes, that Tinder. The online dating community has captured the imagination of lovelorn smartphone users everywhere. People love its simplicity and appreciate how the technology behind it presents potential new romantic partners based on an algorithm of mutual interests gathered primarily from Facebook profiles.

This form of automated discovery has been lacking in programmatic digital advertising. Traders from both buy and sell sides need better deal-discovery mechanisms than currently exist so they can get beyond the limited circle of traders they already know and with whom they already trade.

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The Publisher’s Guide To Domain Spoofing

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andrewcasaleupdatedThe Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Andrew Casale, vice president of strategy at Index Exchange, by Casale Media.

Commonly and with little difficulty, bad actors are defrauding the digital marketplace. They’re playing tricks to make exchanges think they’re selling inventory from reputable, premium publishers – often at bargain basement rates – when in fact the domain name offering the inventory provides only junk, creating problems for everyone in the business.

We’re not talking about bot fraud here. It’s called domain spoofing. The underlying impressions and users are real. The issue involves taking an undervalued asset – a leaderboard on a torrent site, for example – and masquerading it as a premium asset, such as that same leaderboard appearing on a first-tier news site.

When this topic comes up, discussion normally focuses on how domain spoofing harms the buy side. It inundates programmatic buys with junk inventory, throws off KPIs, violates the implied security of whitelists and effectively steals budgets from marketers. But in reality, the process damages digital publishers similarly.

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Google May Get A Buy Button; Dentsu Buys Rockett Interactive

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Google Seeks Fulfillment

Google is talking with retail partners about a “buy” button and a two-day shipping option for products sold through its shopping platform, the WSJ reports. “Amazon is increasingly running away with online retail in North America, which poses a huge problem for Google,” said Bessemer Venture Partners e-commerce investor Jeremy Levine. “Google has to get in front of this and create a reasonable alternative.” Pair with AdExchanger’s coverage of buy-button mania. E-tail competition heats up!

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