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Bridging The Divide Between Offline And Online Data With Mobile

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Christy Belden is VP Media+Marketing at LeapFrog Interactive, a digital marketing agency.

We live in a myriad of systems, which interact and work with another on a continuous basis. A great example of this is ants. Ants have the ability to communicate information throughout a vast network of hundreds, even thousands, of ants to achieve a common goal. In doing so, they must take in a wide swath of information – temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, movement, smell, sound, proximity to others. They have been doing this for eons with supreme efficiency.

We live in a marketing world of disparate data. An abundance of information can be gleaned from the online world – how individuals move through the site, what sites and content they consume and where they are in the decision process. Traditional marketing gives us even less data. The most information can be gathered when a person makes a purchase, preferably with a credit card or loyalty program. With a loyalty program and/or credit card, information can be ascertained about buying behavior and purchase cycles. Unfortunately, the gap between the point of purchase and online activity is large. If a brand could pair in-store buying data with online user behavior, that brand could speak directly to a consumer. The solution to syncing offline and online data? Mobile.

At nearly every point in the in-store shopping experience, mobile technology can be used to track that customer from the store to the checkout line. Mobile can capture the offline, in-store data with a consumer’s online behavior. Through check-ins and GPS, companies can track users as they move throughout a store. In-store product pictures on a mobile phone can record what a consumer is interested in. Scanned QR codes can reflect what offers are most appealing to the consumer. Purchases can be done through an app and synced with their account.


To Prevent Data Leakage, Embrace 'TANSTAAFL'

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Peter Randazzo is Chief Technology Officer of iCrossing, a global, digital marketing agency

The above headline contains an acronym long enough to strain its credibility as a time saver. TANSTAAFL stands for "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch", and while it may not roll off the tongue, its meaning is indisputable. It is one of those rare axioms that holds universally true across cultural and generational boundaries, and should be heeded by everyone. Consider the following scenario:

You manage an online property of significant scale that is well connected to an active and engaged customer base. Even better, some of your customers are enthused enough to act as advocates, effectively growing the popularity of your brand on their own. Truly, this is an achievement worthy of being proud of, and while you are proud, you have yet to get satisfactory analytics in place to measure, predict and even manipulate their enthusiasm. Traditional web analytics neither approach the problem nor arm you with actionable insight. One day, into your office walks a salesperson with a great new product. Let's call it Leak Central. Just put their tracking tag on your web pages, he says, and Leak Central will tell you why your best customers visit and even offer suggestions to turn them into even more rabid fans. How much would you pay for such knowledge? Well, do not worry about that because the best part is, it’s free.

Is the product above really free? The telegraphed answer is no, of course. Would your answer change if the circumstances were different? Rather than a successful property, imagine you run a struggling site with a minimal budget relegating you to the use of tools with minimal or no upfront cost. Under these circumstances, is Leak Central free? The answer is still no. Move the circumstantial levers any way you want, even imagine yourself to switch from a publisher to an advertiser or vise-versa, and the answer will not change. TANSTAAFL holds true. While our scenario may not involve money changing hands from one party to another, the message is: should you implement Leak Central, each visitor to your site will initiate a siphon extracting value from your business and give it to third parties. The cost that you bear is the erosion of differentiation. For the use of this tool, you are teaching countless others intimate details about the habits and preferences of your customers that only you should know. Data leakage is real because nothing is free, even when it is.


Is Facebook Just Another Ad-Supported Publisher?

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Chris Tuleya, vp of Direct Response at Underscore Marketing, a boutique, digital marketing agency

Who am I to criticize a multi-billion dollar company? On the other hand, criticism is the back-bone of the internet, specifically Facebook, so why not…

Facebook has redefined social media as we know it, however that does not necessarily equate to sustainable long-term advertising success. The foundation of social media is that the consumer is in control of how they consume and share information with people they know. This concept is inherently the opposite of the advertising model that comes with a platform like Facebook.

Sure, at first Facebook advertising was the shiny object du jour, but shiny objects tarnish over time. As we all know, when someone is aware they are looking at an ad, shields go up, regardless of how compelling the offer might be. They might be slightly more relevant than other display ads, but that advantage disappeared when Facebook plastered them all over the site.. If there's a competitor that Facebook ought to take cues from, though, it's Google.

Google has built their empire around providing relevant ads to the world. Go ask someone outside of our industry to identify what element on a search engine results page is an ad. They all are! Each site we visit has a purpose for being. Some make money through sales and others on impressions. So why are people ok with going to a website where the entire page is essentially filled with ads?

Because Google provides relevant listings, fulfills a need, and does not intrude on the consumer's reason for visiting. With maybe one or two minor exceptions, search is the only media channel where people line up, waiting to be served an ad. While Facebook can't claim the same, they can still learn a few things.


Gamification Is Good: How Winning Is Changing the Web

ad agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Alastair Cole, Head of Creative Services of Essence Digital, a global digital marketing agency based in London and New York.

Do you like to be challenged? You should: problem-solving is human nature and our brains have evolved to reward us when we succeed. And it's this challenge/reward dynamic that lies at the heart of the flourishing gamification market.

Despite its ugly name, this new wave of digital features and functions has become an established business strategy over the last twelve months, and the future looks bright.

Why Now?

The main reason gamification is a success today (and why it's not just another fad) is that it's been part of our everyday lives for decades.

Happy hour at your local bar can be considered an 'appointment dynamic' – get there at a particular time and you're rewarded with cheap drinks. When your tenth skinny latte is on the house, you've probably participated in a 'fixed-ratio reward schedule'.

However, uptake has accelerated in recent months and it feels like a new 'gamified' layer has been added to the web as we know it. This is now a major area of revenue-generation following similar successes in the fields of social and geo-location.

Several key factors have combined to catalyze this recent growth including a continued rise of the global gaming industry and its increasing mass appeal. Also, business operations have moved online because it's more cost-effective and that's where customers are to be found. And finally, a front end of some sort (web or app) is now available on just about every device that has a digital pulse.


Give Me Your Big Idea

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Chris Tuleya, vp of Direct Response at Underscore Marketing, a boutique, digital marketing agency.

Everyone who works in our industry has been in this situation before; you get a call from the client/agency/boss that they want your big ideas. And let the scramble and creativity begin! Having worked in both traditional and digital media, I must say this request is significantly more challenging when looking at the digital landscape.

It’s almost counterintuitive, but when it comes to the Big Ideas marketers ask for, perhaps some constraints to help focus our thinking would help rather than hinder.

It can be tough to fashion an executable Big Idea in the digital realm. It’s not just digital innovation that's moving at the speed of light. Timelines move unbelievably fast, too, and many marketers don’t allow enough time to fully think through new and revolutionary digital marketing ideas.  There’s no secret recipe for creating a Big Idea, regardless of what an agency will tell you. It's not that it isn’t feasible to come up with a Big Idea in digital, it's just that having the freedom of a conceptual blank canvas has implications:

  • Measurement invariably becomes the subject of debate, as the discussion focuses around what to measure and how to measure it.
  • Predicting success is a challenge
  • The consumer’s online voice can make or break a Big Idea faster than ever


Attention Audience Buyers: Stop Buying Demographics

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Chris Tuleya, vp of Direct Response at Underscore Marketing, a boutique, digital marketing agency.

In order for audience-based buying to move forward, digital advertisers need to break free from the offline media shackles that come with demographic buying.

Audience-based buying is a model that will benefit digital marketers immensely by letting them discern consumer intent.  This advantage over other media has been a major driver of the success of search marketing since its inception. Search engines are blind to demographics - Type in a search query and websites have the chance to read the intent of the searcher and target appropriately, regardless of the searcher’s demographics. I have been saying for years that if Oprah searches on the same term as you, you will likely receive the same results (yes, I know this has changed slightly in the past years, but you get the point). Search is audience-based targeting at its simplest form. Someone using 'purchase' in their search query is likely looking to purchase, does their demographic profile matter?

Our end objective, regardless of the media channel we use, is to be blind to sex or age, as long as the prospect will be receptive to our message. I care about the end goal; not the demographics of who is raising their hand. With search it comes down to performance on terms - which ones work and which ones do not. Shouldn’t all digital follow the same approach?


Time Matters: The Role Of Real-Time Bidding for Publishers

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Peter Randazzo is Chief Technology Officer of iCrossing, a global, digital marketing agency.

Perhaps no single technology has as much potential to disrupt the advertising ecosystem of online publishing as Real Time Bidding (RTB). For an imperfect but simple 30 second visual primer on what RTB does, click here.  There is a shift happening and the surge of inventory that flooded onto exchanges in 2011 attests to it. As Demand Side Platforms (DSP) became ever more an executional tool of choice for many advertisers, the supply side has been pushed to follow suit and make their inventory available through marketplaces. Thus, the tried and true world of direct and network sales is threatened with disruption and the potential commoditization of inventory.

For small publishers, the advent of real-time, exchange-based marketplaces has been nothing but good. In many cases, it allows their impressions to compete on a level playing field against much more established titles, fueled by the individualized audience and interest information readily available through online data providers.

Large publishers, however, should be concerned that the growing importance and availability of targeting data on RTB platforms separates the importance of context from determining the value of the impression. In other words, if you can know what a person wants specifically, it matters less where you serve the display ad because you do not have to infer quite so much about them from where they are.


The Role Of Real-Time Bidding For Marketers

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Joseph Leon, Managing Director EMEA of Essence Digital, a global, digital marketing agency based in London and New York.

In 2011, the biggest hype, the loudest buzz and the best conversation starter in digital media was without doubt RTB – (Real Time Bidding). Big words, such as revolutionary, seismic and rocket science, were bandied around and based on remarkably similar sales pitches from several leading RTB players, you'd be hard pressed not to believe that half of NASA's scientists had jumped ship to join the digital revolution.

At its most basic, RTB is a mechanism for trading ad space in real time - sellers can essentially hold an auction for each impression and advertisers can assess, price and bid for it dynamically.

The main benefits for advertisers are indisputably cost efficiency and targeting – you pay the right price for what you need and discard what you don’t. But in practice, what does this mean for advertisers?

Today, RTB is predominantly used in trading display advertising, and its effects are being felt in three key areas:


The Buyer And Ad Operations

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Daniel Davies is Director, US Ad Operations at agency trading desk Adnetik.

For eons (at least as measured in online advertising years), the traditional roles of agency buyers and publisher ad ops have been carried out in a very segregated fashion.  Media Buyers hold their plans close to the chest, divulging only the bare minimum to so-called partners on the vendor side.  And likewise, operations folks have tended toward a curtained approach to campaign implementation, offering insight to strategy only insofar as required.  But with the arrival of exchange-based buying comes a fundamental change in this dynamic, operationally, communicatively, even philosophically.

As the availability of data and exchange inventory increases at a near exponential rate, reluctant buyers are finding themselves met with the at times daunting, though increasingly necessary, task of sorting through myriad approaches to harnessing the exchanges.  Now that many agency buying teams are putting heavier budgets into DSPs, trading desks, and the like, their erstwhile partner – the Operations Associate – is being leaned on much more as a true collaborator, in lieu of the old need-to-know basis of years past.  Agencies are finding that they need to be more open, transparent, and involved in what goes on behind the ad operations curtain.

But that door swings both ways; not only will the agency need to be more open, but any DSP/trading desk "ad opper" will need to work much more closely with the buying team, on a daily basis.  Because of the greater complexity involved in exchange-based buys, the agency is going to take a much greater interest than, say, they might have taken in a network buy back in ’07.  More scrutiny, more education, and more collaboration.  In the coming years, the once siloed roles of Ad Ops and Buyers will begin to meld, which will require greater divulgence by both sides.


RTB Is Boring

Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side - and those servicing it - of the digital media community.

Martin Kelly is co-Founder and Managing Partner of UK-based, demand-side trading, specialist firm, Infectious Media Ltd.

There’s a huge change going on at the moment.  It’s an exciting time, but I was really struck by Adam Cahill's presentation talking about how clients don’t really care (here).  Writing on Adexchanger, I’m preaching to the converted but this is a select global audience. The reason that real time bidding (RTB) isn’t getting more mainstream attention is the fact that display advertising, which it powers, is not something new.  When the pay-per-click search model emerged, this was genuinely the emergence of a new channel but online display advertising has been round for a long time.  RTB is actually an infrastructure change, and for that reason, to those outside of the space it’s actually not that interesting.  Impression level media and creative optimisation is a game changer, there is no doubt in my mind but to a large retailer, travel company or telco this is only half a story as we’ve forgotten to tell them the punch line ie how this is relevant to their business.

Marketers challenges are entirely consistent (more revenue, less cost) and whilst new concepts interest them, new and applied solutions to their problems are what excites them rather than theory and hype.  Currently we’re trying to excite people with abstract technology concepts and this is where we need to see change to move forward.  The first type of company that has articulated a tangible and scalable solution in this space is the CPC remarketer.  Built out on RTB infrastructure you will however never see a self-congratulatory sales deck talking about RTB or the new ecosystem.  Instead you will see a compelling story about consumers that click on adverts and buy products – many more so than have done before in a typical display advertising campaign.  Incredibly simple but hugely effective and easy to understand, it ticks every box for the marketeer.