AOL, Havas Strike Programmatic Platform Deal

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AOLartThe strategic deal struck Monday between AOL Platforms and French agency Havas’ programmatic trading desk Affiperf benefits both parties: AOL Platforms gets sell-in with Havas’ clients and Havas can unify media assets for marketers in a central hub – ONE By AOL.

This is AOL’s second major agency deal since March, when it debuted ONE and revealed a charter partnership with IPG Mediabrands.

“Havas via Affiperf has obviously been more and more aggressive with leveraging programmatic at a global scale,” said Toby Gabriner, head of Adap.tv and ONE by AOL. “As they started to think about how they wanted to activate programmatic across multiple channels, the conversation… led to a deepening of our relationship.”

AOL positions its ONE platform as an open ecosystem. Brands and agencies can either implement their own tech or use pieces from AOL’s suite, which includes video through Adap.tv, mobile and display via the AdLearn Open Platform, attribution from Convertro or supply-side hooks to AOL’s Marketplace.

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DIY Amazon: Buy-Side Versatility The Basis Of Agency Dealings

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venutoAmazon’s enterprise self-serve ads platform, designed for agencies and brands, is intended as a programmatic complement rather than a replacement for direct-sold inventory.

Publicis agency VivaKi is the first and only agency Amazon Media Group is working with at present for the self-serve platform rollout.

Over the last three years, Amazon has spoken with agency holding companies to diversify access to its ecommerce-centric supply, according to a report that ran last week. Like Google and Twitter, Amazon is courting advertisers who don’t necessarily want to commit to a managed service (although there is the option to do a hybrid of both).

“It’s about giving agencies control over their Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) campaigns, which in turn helps improve performance and better end-customer experience,” said Seth Dallaire, VP of North American sales at Amazon Media Group (AMG). “Adding an enterprise self-service component means agencies can create and manage their AAP campaigns directly, optimizing at their own frequency, without the aid of managed service.”

A couple of factors drive Amazon’s agency dealings. As AdExchanger reported, brands that use Amazon as a media partner want greater insight into data and campaign attribution.

“We want to stand behind the products and services we offer to clients and this will [allow us to give] brand advertisers the reassurance that their message will reach the right consumer with premium content whether in video, mobile or display,” said Domenic Venuto, global president of data and technology at VivaKi.

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RuTarget: Harnessing Russian Data And Why Global Companies Struggle Penetrating The Market

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Eugene QA Image_edited-1This is part of a series on companies advancing programmatic buying in Russia. Read our recent Q&As with YandexADFOXAiData, HubRus and Between Digital.

Even with a growing Russian programmatic market, RuTarget’s founder and CEO Eugene Legkiy claims its greatest competition comes from without – from global players like IPONWEB, OpenX and AppNexus.

Global companies trying to make inroads are struggling, he said, because of language barriers and because business opportunities are biased toward local and regional players.

But this will eventually change.

In the meantime, the 15-employee strong RuTarget, which launched in 2011, will work to extend its business providing data management tools for demand-side platforms (DSPs), ad networks and agencies.

"RuTarget develops programmatic solutions, mostly on the demand side and less on the supply side," Legkiy said. "We work to analyze big data [and] predict new trends and behaviors based on the data and then target communications based on that data."

He added that RuTarget processes "more than 1 billion data points locally in Russia and we see each and every person online in Russia more than 30 times a day."

Legkiy spoke to AdExchanger about the work RuTarget's plans for growth for the company and how international players are moving into the Russian programmatic space.
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ChoiceStream Raises $7.5 Million To Support Sales And Ad Tech Build-Out

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Eric-Bosco ChoicestreamChoiceStream, which began as a product recommendation engine before three years ago shifting to programmatic ad tech, has raised $7.5 million in Series B financing from Fred Alger Management.

The financing will help ChoiceStream grow out its sales capabilities, with the remainder going toward the build-out of its demand-side platform (DSP)  technology.

CEO Eric Bosco said he believes ChoiceStream’s roots in recommendations, namely its “intellectual property inherited from the personalization business,” gives the company an edge in the crowded DSP space.

The DSP is also designed to serve dynamic creative in real-time, for instance letting weather forecasts influence which products show up in the ads.

Technologies from ChoiceStream’s other assets, like its survey site Pollshare.com, can also be applied to its DSP. For instance, Pollshare can be used to find hard-to-reach audiences. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts released coffee pods for Keurig machines and requested ChoiceStream  target Keurig owners – which is not typically captured through cookies.

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Horizon Media, Largest US Indie Agency, Hits Reset Button On Programmatic

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horizon-donnie-adamHorizon Media, the largest standalone media agency in the US with some $4.5 billion in ad spend across 100 clients, has not been a major participant in the programmatic trend. But that may be changing.

Horizon is rolling out a programmatic division, dubbed HX, to handle its machine-driven ad buys for clients. The initiative, supported through relationships with four demand-side platforms (DSPs), expands on a two-year foray into programmatic that initially supported Adap.tv. However that effort failed to produce the desired scale, as clients resisted trafficking ads on unknown sites.

"We were contending with the same challenges that certain pockets of the marketplace have today. There's still network buying and perhaps limited visibility. You don't necessarily understand where impressions are," said Donnie Williams, chief digital officer. "It felt like we were another network, talking about the value all these tools brought to properties that in and of themselves were not valuable. It was a tough hole to climb out of."

But climb Horizon did. Partly because of the challenges Williams describes, transparency is the rule at HX. The unit charges a flat markup on working media and discloses that margin to clients.

"There is no arbitrage or resold media," according to Adam Heimlich, SVP Programmatic at HX.

HX has formal agreements with Turn, The Trade Desk, Adap.tv for video inventory and Adelphic for mobile and cross-device. Heimlich and Williams say the agency will integrate additional technologies as required by clients.

Despite Horizon's scale, its version of the trading desk has more in common with a small agency solution than it does with the large centralized hubs popularized (or not, as the case may be) by holding companies such as Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe. HX employs just eight employees, with plans to increase that number to 20 this year. It has recruited from the likes of Maxus, Accordant and Publicis-operated VivaKi Audience On Demand. That's tiny by comparison to the hundreds working for WPP Group's Xaxis and AOD, for instance – and a drop in the bucket of Horizon's nearly 1,000 employees.

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Does Online Advertising Actually Work?

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tim-gough"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 Tim Gough, vice president of media solutions at dunnhumby.

As the IAB announced $11.6 billion in online advertising spending for the first quarter alone this year, the inevitable question arose: How is that working out for advertisers?

There are many factors in deciding whether Internet advertising works. With more marketing dollars funneling into digital advertising, we are absolutely right to question the extent to which it does. We have all of the data we need to quantify that, yet we still leave ourselves open to headlines such as “A Dangerous Question: Does Internet Advertising Work at All?

What’s going wrong? Are we failing to measure digital advertising correctly, or are we not executing it correctly?

Unfortunately, the answer is both. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Google To Buy Twitch; Advertisers Trading Desk Issues

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

More Video Ad Inventory

Google is buying Twitch for $1 billion, VentureBeat first reported on Thursday. Twitch is an aggregation site for streaming video games in real time (think YouTube for serious gaming enthusiasts), where users can broadcast their desktop, Xbox One or PlayStation 4 sessions to online viewers. A quick visit to Twitch will either confuse or thrill you, depending on your interests. But the site is clearly ad-heavy already, and could be a major platform for Google’s programmatic video ad strategy. The San Francisco-based startup hosts more than 50 million monthly users, and the company has raised about $35 million to date. The terms of the deal and official purchase price were not disclosed. The acquisition further expands Google’s video ad inventory beyond YouTube.

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Evolve Media’s Evolution Into Video

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BrianFitzgeraldLifestyle content and blog network Evolve Media is evolving its ad formats along with its publishing assets.

Evolve historically competed with such vertical media and ad services hybrids as Say and Federated Media. Over the last 15 years, it has acquired 50 vertical interest and publisher assets (sites like Crowd Ignite and BabyAndBump), according to its cofounder and president Brian Fitzgerald, investing also in performance marketing and publisher technology.

Evolve will likely acquire more content providers generating between $5 to $15 million in revenue, Fitzgerald noted. And it will increase its emphasis on video. In 2011, Evolve Media rolled out an ad-supported video distribution platform and services group, SpringBoard Video. As part of that platform, Evolve is beta-testing a native video ad format, called INgage, with three advertisers. The format launched last Wednesday.

“You have such a march to market by agencies and advertisers to buy and audit on a viewability metric that many are utilizing multiple vendors and they’re asking publishers to be judged by or held accountable to methodologies, measurements and results that are completely independent or unverified,” Fitzgerald said.

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Math For Marketers: Why Attribution Is Upside-Down

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kevin-geraghty“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 Kevin Geraghty, senior vice president of advanced analytics and decision sciences at 360i.

There’s an old space race story that NASA spent $2 million to develop an anti-gravity pen, while the Soviets just used pencils. The story serves as a reminder that sometimes you just need to look at a complex problem differently to find a better solution.

Marketers face a similar problem with attribution. They are consumed by too narrow a problem – attribution – when they need to rethink the whole equation. The difficulties with attribution extend beyond the commonly recognized issue of a last click getting all the credit. Companies turn away profitable business because they base their media investment strategy on upside-down math.

There is a structural mismatch between how we buy media – partner by partner – and the customer journey toward a purchase, which includes multiple partners and touch points. Determining ROI for each partner or touch point to make better budget allocation decisions is difficult, but it can be achieved through marginal contribution analysis.

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Trouble Shared Is Trouble Halved? Data Co-Op Aims To Help App Developers Stay Ahead Of The Game

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You don’t have to be good at math to know that if you only get $3 back on a $4 investment, then there’s something painfully wrong with whatever you’re doing.

No one’s more aware of that than game app developers, some of whom spend thousands of dollars on user acquisition daily — though the truly big players shell out way more than that. Take Supercell, creator of “Clash of Clans,” which sinks about $1 million a day on app marketing.

Of course, Supercell can afford it because the math works. Midia Research found that the game company makes $5 million in revenue every day. The more you test, the better your chances are of snagging the right users, and the more you make, the more you can test.

But smaller or mid-size app developers attempting to navigate the murky waters of the app-install economy are often met by a landscape populated by middlemen, unqualified audiences, and bot-infested ad networks.

It’s something Think Gaming co-founder Tim Ogilvie has thought a lot about and it’s the motivation behind the gaming company’s new mobile advertising data co-op, which he says will help game developers pool their experience and share intelligence in the ongoing quest to find the most valuable users.

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