Dear Apple: So, You Want To Be A Programmatic Player? Listen Up

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programmaticadviceWhile Apple arguably can do whatever it puts its hand to, its recent move to bring programmatic to iAd doesn’t have everyone impressed.

JUICE Mobile president and CEO Neil Sweeney didn’t mince words: “They should have done this five years ago.”

And that, Sweeney said, begs two related questions. One, Is Apple going to be doing anything truly different here? And two, is Apple actually committed to its advertising business?

At the moment, Apple’s iAd API – which enables developers and mobile ad companies to create and manage their campaigns in a private exchange environment – will only support standard banner ad sizes. [Emily Del Greco, VP of sales at Adelphic – one of Apple’s iAd API approved demand side launch partners – told AdExchanger that Apple plans to add video in early 2015, as well as capabilities around tag level data.]

“If there weren’t enough nails in the old ad network model, having Apple make the switch to programmatic is one more,” said Adelphic CEO Michael Collins. “The last big holdout has moved to audience buying.”

But Apple’s over-cautiousness is somewhat baffling to Sweeney, who wondered why the company’s tardy move into the programmatic space wasn’t more “progressive.”

“Apple is about launching never-been-done-before functionality and extremely well-designed handsets,” Sweeney said. “They have the watch now and they’re flirting with beacons – and then it turns out that they’re getting into programmatic RTB. Really? This is what one of the world’s leaders is doing?”

Evan Schwartz, CEO and founder of mobile app retargeting company ActionX, was a little more forgiving.

“Sure, it would have been great if Apple had focused on this a couple of years ago, but now that it has, this is a game changer,” Schwartz said. “It would have been one matter if we were talking about some random ad network or exchange launching this, but we’re talking about Apple. iAd still has some of the best premium inventory out there and some of the strongest datasets for targeting, including rich data from iTunes and from app store activity. And that, combined with programmatic, is kind of big deal.”

The Apple Of Apple’s Eye?

Although iAd has managed to break into the top ten when it comes to mobile ad revenue, its 2.6% of market share lags significantly behind leaders like Google (37.7%) and Facebook (17.9%), according to numbers from eMarketer.

Now that Apple has some skin in the programmatic game, that could change. But just because it has all of the ingredients to make programmatic pie – rich audience data, clean inventory and its inherent distribution advantage – doesn’t necessarily mean that the end result will be delicious.

iAdvice For Apple

If Apple wants to succeed with iAd take-two, it’s going to need to prepare itself to share some of its much-lauded audience data, including iTunes, app store and iTunes radio data – namely email addresses, purchases, preferences and downloads – and verified age and gender data, which Del Greco noted is often hard to come by in the mobile space. That doesn’t mean playing fast and loose with customer privacy, but it does mean opening up to its DSP partners and their buyers.

“Programmatic is data-driven and if they’re going to hold onto that stuff and keep it in a walled garden, that’s not going to work,” said Julie Preis, SVP of product management at PulsePoint. “It’s all about them being open. They need to be open.”

And openness means transparency, said Preis, who gave Apple points for adding audience retargeting capabilities via iAd in iOS 8, but noted that iAd should consider make its clean, verified data available via an open exchange model sooner rather than later.

“That will provide scale on both sides of the equation,” she said. “iAd has access to data and a true understanding of its supply since Apple has to approve every app before it goes into the app store, so it has a real opportunity to drive programmatic and the open exchange model.”

iad-logoTake a high-profile brand like L.L. Bean, for example, which announced tests on iAd through a partnership with MediaMath. “It’s great to be able to buy a limited audience across a handful of high-profile apps in iAd, but it would be another thing to be able to find audiences across huge swathes of brand safe and viewable inventory.”

In terms of Apple’s super-clean app ecosystem, Sweeney would advise Apple to get in front of two of the hottest topics in ad tech right now: brand safety and viewability.

“I would have positioned this completely differently,” said JUICE Mobile’s Sweeney. “Fraud is the biggest thing to happen in digital this year. It’s great that Apple is joining up with a bunch of DSP partners, but it would have been better to have said, ‘If you want to buy in a 100% fraud-free, premium environment, then iAd is the place to do it.’”

Although it’s unclear how Apple will ultimately tackle the overall cross-device opportunity, it could be poised to take on Facebook and Google if the company decides to go down that route.

“Cross-device is still a challenge and it often revolves around deterministic IDs,” said Preis. “But Apple has the iPad, the iPhone, even the Macbook, and it would be possible to look at folks’ behaviors across all of those screens. Facebook can do that, but it doesn’t have the depth of understanding that Apple might have because Apple owns the device. And on the privacy front, a user’s device ID can be absolutely obfuscated so no one can figure out who it is. It’s doable.”

Apple could eventually have a cross-device advantage over Facebook, but Facebook – despite its seeming unwillingness to compromise on data ownership – has an ad server, the revamped Atlas. Apple doesn’t – and it’s something Adelphic customers have been asking for. As it stands, reporting and tracking through the API comes through Apple. Third-parties trackers are not yet supported.

“Right now, most buyers use third-party ad serving tags and third-party attribution and conversion tracking, and Apple’s API doesn’t support that,” said Adelphic’s Del Greco. “Facebook has gotten away without doing it fully, but it’s kind of a show stopper. We’ve heard that from multiple buyers, including a major automotive OEM.”

But, at least to Sweeney’s mind, that’s all part of a been-there-done-that model.

“If it were up to me, I would probably have focused more on where the industry is going, not where it is now,” he said. “What’s the advertising model for wearables? What’s the monetization model for proximity? Knowing that Apple is strong in location, could they not have created a more unique model around that?”

For his part, ActionX’s Schwartz said he’d like to see Apple connect Apple Pay data with iAd to “drive smarter campaigns.”

“It would be an amazing tool for tracking offline conversions that started with a mobile ad,” Schwartz said. “We’re willing to pay more for an impression if we know it’s going to be served to someone with Apple Pay because we know the conversion rate is going to be much higher.”

But all of that said, it’s not Apple’s job, as Sweeney put it, to “out Facebook Facebook or out exchange the exchanges.” Then again, Apple shouldn’t assume that its reputation alone is enough to bring in the business.

“It seemed like in the past Apple was saying, ‘We’re Apple. We don’t necessarily have to share shata and brands will just spend millions of dollars anyway, just to be associated with us,” said PulsePoint’s Preis. “But at the end of the day, that was not the case.”

Then again, although Apple is entering a space where it’s not the market leader – it’s still Apple, after all.

“Can Apple really be successful here if it’s not all in on advertising? That’s a big question I would ask Apple,” Sweeney said. “Apple is getting into a space which is fast and loose and it’s not their core. But I’m not in the business of betting against Apple. That would be stupid.”


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The Secrets Publishers Don’t Tell You About Redesigns

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neilvogelThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community. 

Today’s column is written by Neil Vogel, CEO at About.com.

2014 is proving to be the year of the digital redesign. From Fortune to Cosmo, The New Yorker and Quartz, premium publishers are making bets on the best way to make a beautiful product that improves user experience and increases monetization.

Among the millions of questions publishers ask themselves – How should we feature content? How big should we make the images? Font size? Native? Responsive? Infinite scroll? – the only question they should be asking is, “What’s the real opportunity here?”

This is the opportunity: A redesign is the single biggest chance to redefine a brand to all stakeholders, including users, advertisers, employees and investors. It’s a direct reflection of a publisher’s beliefs and value proposition. It’s also a direct reflection of the company’s culture. If a culture is fearful of change or anchored in old ideas, the product will be a direct reflection of that decision. Deciding to not change is an active choice.

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MoPub CEO Leaves; Tumblr Install Ads

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nopayneHere's today's AdExchanger.com news round-up... Want it by email? Sign-up here.

No Payne

Twitter’s game of musical chairs continues with the partial exit of MoPub CEO Jim Payne, AdAge’s Mark Bergen reports. Read it. Payne will serve as an ad tech advisor to CFO Anthony Noto, but will no longer run Twitter’s programmatic exchange. That job falls to Janae McDonough. Related: In a Tuesday DM slip-up, Noto signalled his intent to acquire a mystery company. Re/code speculates Drawbridge could be on its short list. Read it.

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Twitter Loves #Commerce, Launches Card-Linked Offers

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TwitterOffersFollowing on the heels of its buy button announcement and its recent CardSpring acquisition, Twitter announced the introduction of what it’s calling Twitter Offers – another step by the social network to add more commerce functionality to its offering.

Twitter bought CardSpring back in July. The platform enables the creation of payment applications, a clear complement to Twitter’s commerce aspirations.

Advertisers will now have the ability to create card-linked promotions that they can share directly with Twitter users, who will be able to link their credit or debit cards to offers that appears in their timelines. Twitter will then keep a user’s credit or debit info on file for future transactions on Twitter.

Combined with the buy button, which allows users to transact directly from a tweet, and Twitter's lead gen card product, Twitter Offers will ostensibly make ads on Twitter more actionable and self-contained within the Twitter universe – a play that could be in part an effort to help increase Twitter’s sagging user growth numbers, as well as a move to endear itself to brands.

As Twitter CFO Anthony Noto (the same Noto who misfired a tweet today, seemingly leaking information about a potential upcoming acquisition) observed during the company’s Q3 2014 earnings call: “We continue to drive nice growth and spend per advertiser as we improve the ROI we provide for them and offer new advertising products.”

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Voya Financial Taps Twitter As A Brand Marketing Vehicle

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AnnGWhen you’re tweeting, the last thing you’re thinking about is your retirement fund. But that was precisely why insurance provider Voya Financial used Twitter for an ongoing brand campaign.

Voya’s goal was to introduce its new brand – the company had been renamed in April after it spun off from Dutch bank ING Groep and debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. Consequently, Voya invested in paid media, both online and on television said company CMO Ann Glover.

“When we said goodbye to the ING name, we had to go above and beyond to drive awareness,” said Glover. “Beyond the overarching awareness goal, we also aimed to connect our brand to retirement in people’s minds.”

Thus, Voya looked to Twitter for the brand awareness the platform promised. Despite Twitter’s ongoing developments in direct response and lead-generation, some of its ad products such as Promoted Trends and Twitter Amplify are more conducive to the upper-funnel demands (and budgets – Promoted Trends cost, on average, $200,000 a day) of a public company like Voya.

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Mobile Data Platform Zeotap Taps $1.3M In Seed Cash

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zeotapMobile carrier data is rich data – it’s deterministic, it’s first-party and it has cross-screen potential.

Berlin-based data company zeotap is looking to help mobile carriers capitalize on that richness.

Founded earlier this year, zeotap has secured $1.3 million in seed funding from HitFox Group and several angel investors, which it plans to use to hire an engineering team in the Bay Area in Q1 2015– the company just brought on a chief technology officer for its new San Francisco office – and to fund an upcoming expansion into Asia, where the mobile advertising market share is above 30%.

zeotap, whose headcount now stands at 11, is working with three large carriers in Europe and is in what zeotap cofounder and CEO Daniel Heer called “very advanced talks with one of the largest carriers in the US.” Heer, himself a former Vodafone Deutschland executive, where he held various senior sales and marketing roles, declined to name the specific carriers zeotap is partnering with.

In essence, the zeotap technology centers on helping mobile network operators (MNOs) monetize their first-party data. Publishers, in turn, can use the data for yield extension and audience building, while players on the demand side can get better targeting and post-campaign reporting.

Although company co-founder and chief product officer Projjol Banerjea told AdExchanger he was hesitant to go into detail about how the patent pending tech actually works, he did stress that zeotap takes privacy very seriously.

“[Our technology] allows us to match user data from MNOs’ systems to prevailing mobile identifiers, such as Apple’s IDFA or Google’s Advertising ID, without breaching platform policies or flouting privacy regulations,” Banerjea said.

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The Future of Buying 'TV' Everywhere – What Does That Mean?

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joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. This week it is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research

If you’ve seen the agenda for AdExchanger's upcoming Industry Preview conference in January, you may have noticed that I’ll be giving a presentation on “The Future of Buying ‘TV’ Everywhere.”  In advance of that talk – which will coincide with the release of an underlying research report - I thought I’d give some context on what I plan to address.

Spoiler alert: It’s not going to be research on “TV Everywhere” (notice where the quotes are), “a business model wherein television broadcasters—particularly cable networks, allow their customers to access content from their network through internet-based services—either live or on-demand, as an aspect of their subscription to the service.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

It’s going to be about the broader evolution of the buying and selling of sight, sound and motion advertising – whether on a television set, a desktop, a tablet or other handheld device.  Because I think – whether you want to call it “television” or simply “video” advertising – this is the next frontier for programmatic disruption.

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Publisher-Agency Hybrids Will One Day Take On Facebook and Google

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christophecamborde"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 Christophe Camborde, CEO at Ezakus.

In the wake of Publicis Groupe’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Sapient Corp., I have to give Publicis CEO Maurice Levy much credit. He dusted himself off in the aftermath of the failed Omnicom merger and reasserted his place as a mover and shaker in the agency world.

What’s even more impressive is how SapientNitro recently positioned itself as a next-generation agency that combines traditional creative and media planning and buying capabilities with technology and analytics services. It’s a direct challenge to management consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture.

This powerful and undeniable symbol illustrates how the ongoing advances in marketing and advertising technology spark innovation in entrenched business models that recently seemed set in stone. These shifting paradigms in our industry have inspired me to make a bold prediction.

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How Online Data Will Remake Offline Marketing

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tommanvydasupdated"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 Tom Manvydas, vice president of integrated marketing services at Experian Marketing Services.

Marketers are increasingly taking advantage of the richness of CRM, purchase transactions and other offline data sources for online advertising. Yet, so far, it’s been a one-way street: There is very little being done with online data to improve offline marketing programs.

That will soon change. With the continued growth of data from the connected world, it is only a matter of time before we see offline marketing practices influenced heavily by online data.

There’s a ton of it. In May 2013, some estimated that more than 90% of the world’s data had been created in the previous two years. While the value and usefulness of all that data is debatable, Google has proven that too much is not a bad thing.

Data is the tool that is changing the marketing landscape. There are some great programs that measure the online impact of offline marketing, primarily by directing consumers to online response channels, such as email addresses or social media content. Broadcast advertising is becoming more like addressable marketing with the growth of digitally powered screens and satellite radio technology. And while the reverse – applying online data to offline marketing – is not widely used yet, some key drivers will accelerate this trend.

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Forrester On Brands Sharing Data; Outbrain's API

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brandswithbenefitsHere's today's AdExchanger.com news round-up... Want it by email? Sign-up here.

Data Sharing Is Data Caring

A Forrester report released Monday examines how brands share data with each other, and what benefits they derive from doing so. The key advantage of so-called “second-party data,” in brief, is that it’s not as scarce as first-party data but it provides unique insights not always available in third-party data sets. “Dell and Intel ... share data so Dell can benefit from Intel’s demand generation marketing activities and close the sales loop.” As always, there are issues with sharing, including finding compatible partners and the fact that the practice might freak out consumers and regulators. Get it. [Paid download]

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