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As Metrics Fragment, Data Ownership Issue Gains New Urgency

broken-analyticsThis is the first in a series on what's broken in the analytics space. Part one deals with data ownership, part two will address technology and part three will focus on people and processes.

Like a sports car missing a few key parts, marketing metrics look tantalizingly complete from an outsider's perspective. But ad tech mechanics are turning up discrepancies.

Only about a third of CMOs give marketing analytics a high mark for contributing to their company's performance, according to a recent survey of senior marketers from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. In spite of increased data collection across all marketing channels, or maybe because of it, businesses today are struggling to create a complete data picture that can guide advertising decisions.

"Most marketers would say that they’re incredibly data-rich but insight-poor into the fundamental big questions around what’s actually working across all of those things that we’re doing," explains Jennifer Zeszut, CEO of Beckon, a marketing performance SaaS provider.

The biggest question lies around the interplay between channels. As Zeszut puts it, talk to any marketer and they'll tell you, "I know everything I need to know about every single one of my channels."


Integral Ad Science Buys Simplytics, Adding Mobile Ad Fraud Verification

Scott-KnollAdvertising intelligence provider Integral Ad Science has acquired Simplytics, a UK-based mobile ad server and analytics platform. The deal brings mobile verification capabilities for in-app and mobile Web campaigns to Integral's existing verification services for video and display ads.

“We’re very excited because Simplytics is complementary to what we do and once we add our fraud capability to it, we’ll be able to measure fraud in all three channels: video, display and mobile,” said Integral Ad Science CEO Scott Knoll.

By analyzing traffic patterns and other signals, Integral's technology is designed to flag suspicious traffic in real time and prevent advertisers from serving ads to it. It also offers metrics on the number of ads that were viewed and which ones had the highest viewability rates.

Simplytics is a UK-based startup with about a dozen employees. It offers a mobile ad server and analytics platform for managing ad campaigns across smartphones, tablets, in-app ads and mobile Web. Its clients roster includes Microsoft, Peugeot, Samsung, Starbucks and Virgin Media.


PopSugar Insights Keys In On Core Audience

Rob McLoughlin, PopSugar InsightsWhile publishers have been getting deeper into the integrated marketing business, female-focused celebrity news and pop culture media platform PopSugar is trying to go one step further by starting an analytics business.

PopSugar Insights' ambition is to become a daily repository of data and trend analysis of women 18-40, the company's core audience, said Rob McLoughlin, who previously served as SVP of consumer insights at SpinMedia and who was brought in this month to run PopSugar Insights.

"Traditionally, researchers have always focused on publishing their findings and waited for users to come them and find it,” McLoughlin said. “We're taking a different approach. We want this to be a day-to-day resource that gets shared and talked about, allowing anyone to see what trends are emerging against a variety of verticals."


Umbel Aims Publisher Data Services At Offline Media, Events

Higinio "H.O." Maycotte, UmbelAs publishers have become more comfortable with the idea of programmatic direct for their online sales, sell-side-focused analytics provider Umbel is trying to get sellers to expand that comfort zone to include audience targeting around offline media and live events.

The 2-year-old Austin, Texas, startup's pitch to publishers has rested on the idea that they need to take greater control of their first-party data. That has long been the view of other analytics providers like Quantcast and Krux, but Umbel CEO and founder Higinio "H.O." Maycotte emphasizes the company's interest in powering programmatic-direct deals as opposed to unsold inventory funneled through real-time bidding and private exchanges.

Umbel wants to build on the ties it's developed with publishers like Vox Media, which operates tech news blog The Verge, sports site SB Nation and local entertainment listings app Yplan as proof it can create custom audiences for nondigital ad sales. Vox has been one of its bigger clients during that past year and Maycotte believes the digital-only publisher's success is predicated on it not being encumbered by an existing media legacy.

"Umbel is completely aligned in our view that high-value, premium content attracts high-value, premium audiences," said Ryan Pauley, Vox's executive director for revenue operations. "The Umbel team helps us spread that message, and it's what sets them apart."


Discovery Pricing System AdFin Expands Beyond RTB Inventory To Include Direct-Sold Analytics

Jeanne Houweling, CEO, AdFinDigital analytics operator AdFin was officially launched this September with the promise of serving as neutral provider of real-time online ad prices across the entire ad exchange marketplace. The company is now moving to cover direct sold inventory as part of its broader expansion plans. The company raised $6 million out of the gate and CEO Jeanne Houweling, who was previously PubMatic's CRO, is now looking to expand to overseas markets.

Houweling spoke to AdExchanger about the quick evolution of the company.

AdExchanger: What was the purpose behind forming AdFin?

JEANNE HOUWELING: The original idea for AdFin was based on the fact that there was all this talk about big data. And yet, at the same time, there was so little access to ways of making that data meaningful and actionable. Everyone from publishers to buyers at the major agencies were saying that they don't have visibility into how dollars are being spent across all the different sales channels and media sources. As a result, there was a real lack of understanding of being able to know in real-time what was performing well and what wasn't.

The original concept, for lack of a better analogy, was "Where is the Bloomberg Terminal for digital media?" In other words, where's the central, neutral party that can gather multiple sources of data and present it back for pricing analytics adapted for the digital media space.


ComScore Seeks To Crack Publisher Viewability Resistance

Jeff Hackett, EVPWhile publishers generally concede that brand advertisers will pay higher CPMs for "in-view" ads, there’s less acceptance around the different tools, like Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings or comScore’s Validated Campaign Ratings (vCE), designed to determine viewability.

The big problem is that the viewability solutions have so far tended to focus on the advertisers, leaving publishers in the dark to some extent.

"Technology partners that aid in viewability help the industry at large and need to be careful to focus on both sides of the transaction, aiding both the advertisers and the publishers equally," said Alanna Gombert, general manager of CatalystDesk at Condé Nast.


Viewability Is Just A Beginning, Not An End

Jonah Goodhart, CEO, MoatLast summer, analysts and industry players predicted viewability would become the standard metric for display branding performance. But for Jonah Goodhart, CEO of analytics services provider Moat, viewability is a starting point to determine the value of a display placement instead of the tool that will kill the clickthrough.

"Two-thirds of all the world's ad spending is on branding, but in digital, only a quarter is devoted to promoting awareness and affinity," Goodhart said. "One of the reasons is that there are no consistent standards of success for brands."

The Web is more of a direct response medium as opposed to branding one. For a CPG business like Procter & Gamble or a soft drink company like Coca-Cola, there's no way to truly measure online ad success, Goodhart said. Yet ecommerce sites like Gilt Groupe or a web-based businesses like Netflix  clearly see if their ads work: Prospects are driven through a landing page process, the sites drop a pixel, and the companies see how many people converted.

"People don't buy Coke on a website, we don't buy individual grocery brands online," Goodhart said. "The brands with the most ad spending in the world have the biggest challenge when it comes to figuring out ROI."


Nielsen's Effort To Connect TV And Online Metrics Revolves Around Defense Of The GRP

Eric Solomon, NielsenAfter several months in beta, Nielsen is finishing its decadelong project to combine audience measurement of TV, online and mobile with its Digital Program Ratings (DPR).

The company is winding down a pilot test, running since May, with nine major clients: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW, A&E, Discovery, Univision and AOL.

DPR’s public debut next year will be a big test of Nielsen's relationship with publishers, who have worried that Nielsen’s measurements undervalue niche audiences. On the flip side, advertisers have complained that Nielsen’s products — like its Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) — lack predictive power.

DPR is the latest Nielsen effort to soften these complaints. Previous attempts involved connecting OCR to media and data partners like Facebook and Experian Marketing Services, and introducing Twitter TV Ratings to round out its suite of social tools by ranking broadcast and cable shows based on tweet volume.

AdExchanger spoke with Eric Solomon, Nielsen's SVP of gobal digital audience measurement, who was recently charged with overseeing OCR and will oversee the release of DPR.


Adobe Analytics Adds Real-Time Visualization And 'Anomaly Detection'

BillAdobeA significant update to Adobe's Analytics suite seems almost on cue from Google, which recently formalized data-driven attribution modeling for Analytics Premium users.

One new feature, Anomaly Detection, helps users identify statistical anomalies in their marketing data --  useful for incident detection or to expose new areas of opportunity.

“The more advanced feature we’re announcing is moving closer to the concept of data science,” said Bill Ingram, VP of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Social, two pieces of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Adobe is introducing a visualization feature in Analytics Premium that will help customers model data better and overlay standard metrics with statistical data. There's also a way to dig into isolated metrics, such as close monitoring of daily deal performance.

Ingram said customers want advanced visualization with automatic resizing for mobile and tablet displays.

To take one use case provided by Ingram, a media company may wish to look at the dichotomy of engagement with content in-app vs. the Web,  It could do so through new in-app conversion analysis and a mobile app SDK for developers.


As Staffing Levels Double, Metamarkets Brings In Criteo's Ross As First CRO

Jacob Ross, MetamarketsAnalytics provider Metamarkets has named Criteo Managing Director Jacob Ross as chief revenue officer, a new position as the company has doubled its staff in the past year.

Jacobs' hire, which gives Metamarkets 40 employees, comes after two other additions at the executive level in August, when the company brought in Rubicon's Ron Claypool as VP of client services and Google's David Hertog as VP of marketing.

It has become harder for companies to differentiate themselves based on the promise to turn "big data" into "smart data" that advertisers can actually use. But Metamarkets believes that by tailoring and packaging data for exchange operators and publishers, it can deliver ROI and find a niche where it can be recognized.

Ross leaves a role overseeing Criteo's North American expansion after two years.

"I was bitten by the early stage startup bug," he said, noting he is still a shareholder in retargeting specialist Criteo, which last month filed its IPO with the SEC. "Metamarkets isn't just a data company. It represents the marriage of technology and advertising. Its primary focus is on real-time advertising and powering exchange operators like MoPub and OpenX, as well as publishers like the Financial Times. The promise of visualizing programmatic trends in real time is what made this an exciting prospect for me."