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Cannes Postscript: Marketing At The Crossroads Of Data And Creativity

The ad sector's creative apparatus has a good deal of work cut out before it wraps its head around data to the extent media and digital agencies have. But to hear some tell it, analytics - or "insights" as many prefer - has begun to permeate campaign ideation.

In Cannes last week, AdExchanger talked with dozens of folks from all corners of the ad ecosystem, and the conversation often turned to how measurement (not to say "performance") thinking can be married to creativity without cramping the "big idea."  Read on for excerpts of those discussions.

Creative Analytics

Some performance-minded execs inside big creative agencies – yes, they exist - are working to extract business value from brand metrics, and then feed that back into the creative process. One such person is Marc Schwartz, who came up through digital agency SapientNitro to become global performance director at old-line agency McCann Erickson.

Here's how he describes his approach:

"Previously everything has been evaluated by channels, and optimized for channels, but the customer experience isn't within a channel. It's amongst and throughout the channels. We realized this years ago in the digital space; the interrelationship between display and search is really clear. [So too] the interrelationship between paid and social conversation.

It's trying to take it to a different level and say, what are the influencing KPI factors that actually drive the total brand experience. That's where we as a creative agency can drive differently and uniquely.

I don't want to do media mix thinking. I want to do brand performance architecture thinking. I want to do attribution at the broadest level of that definition. I don't really care about channel. I care about message, and content, and experiences. It takes multiple experiences to create conversion, not just multiple channels."

Schwartz is among a comparatively tiny group of execs at creative agencies tasked with demonstrating brand value across channels and messages. Of course the analytics tradition is better established within the creative departments at digital agencies. At Organic for instance, data frequently informs creative, and sometimes even learns from it.

Steve Kerho, Organic's SVP strategy, media and analytics, puts it this way:

"Between analytics and creative and strategy, there's this nice trifecta. We've had times when someone on the analytics team comes up with an idea for a campaign, and the creative team will run with it. And the creative team has come up with some great analytics measures, ideas for new models, and the analytics team runs with that.

Over time the creative team has finally learned that the analytics team is not there as some overlord, judging and taking the bad idea out of the mix. There are lots of times where, we come up with two campaigns and present them to the client, and the creative team feels very passionate about one of the ideas. The client decides to go with the safe one. Then my team will come back and say, "Let us take 15 percent of the impressions. We'll create this campaign on our own dime. Let's define what success looks like, and you just agree if we run this for a couple days, and this one's performing better, you'll let us go with that."

That symbiosis between the idea makers and the information reapers is easier with an iterative marketing project, such as a website or app, than it is with a cross-channel ad campaign propelled by a big idea. Indeed, many "traditional" creative leaders frankly reject the idea that measurement should factor heavily into what they do.


In Shift, Ad Technologists Flock to Cannes

Cannes LionsAd platforms are coming to Cannes in force this year, and AdExchanger will be there to observe how the ad tech ecosystem plays in the Cote d'Azur.

Tremor Video, Mojiva, Turn, Velti, AppNexus, Simulmedia, and Vibrant Media are among those planning a presence at the Cannes Lions advertising festival (officially the "international festival of creativity"), which kicks off Sunday. Many are going for the first time, attempting to join digital stalwarts Google, Microsoft and Yahoo who have prioritized the event for years. They'll mingle, sponsor beachside cocktail mixers, and in some cases, deliver coveted presentations to the event's 9,000-plus creatives (plus a few hundred media agency and client-side execs).

Also this year, Cannes has introduced new formats for digital content, including an all day mobile mini-conference hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and a series of "Tech Talks" with execs from PubMatic, Break Media, Brand Regard and others.

Whether they can speak the same language as Joe Creative (or Sven, as the case may be) is an open question.

Why Now?

Colleen DeCourcy, CEO of Socialistic, is a digital agency vet with six years at Cannes under her belt. (She chaired the Cyber award jury in 2008, when she was chief digital officer at TBWA Worldwide.) She sees a range of factors causing ad tech to surge at the festival, including the embrace of its vernacular by mainstream tech blogs like AllThingsD and TechCrunch. There's also the growing presence of client-side marketers at the festival.

"The clients are flocking to see what the winning work is," she says. "They're meeting with vendors. They're doing the peripheral business around the creativity. There's lots of opportunity for someone to get seen, and have someone say, oh that's an interesting technology."


Pepsi Campaign to Inject 'Real-Time' Creative Into Display, DOOH Ads

Pepsi PulsePepsi's new global campaign, "Live for Now," is all about immediacy, or as its creators would have it, “the excitement of now.” So it seems fitting that the effort’s main digital ingredient is a cascade of recent Pepsi-themed tweets, brand-created content, and miscellaneous scraps of trending content.

For now this interactive experience, known as Pepsi Pulse, lives only at, but CPG brand websites have limited reach -  even sites for well-liked fizzy drinks. Pepsi and its agency partners know this, and so are planning to extend the content interface into display and digital out-of-home placements.

Digital agency Organic, one of six Omnicom-owned shops that created the global campaign, tells AdExchanger that the digital ad experience will replicate aspects of the website interface - including curated content and Twitter updates - within online display ads and interactive billboards. Those placements will follow the U.S. launch of the campaign, which kicks off this week.


IPG Media Research Team Discusses Display, The Big Ads' Ad Network And More

IPG MediaTim McAtee, Research Director, IPG Media Labs, and Brian Monahan, Managing Partner, MAGNA Global Intelligence Practice, recently worked on research for the IAB Rising Stars ad units and the expansion of the IAB's standard ad unit portfolio. Read the release, and see the units.

Monahan and McAtee discussed large format, display advertising with AdExchanger including the Portrait ad unit that they helped develop with Aol.

AdExchanger: Regarding the development of the Portrait ad, any surprises when you look back to the research and development of that display ad unit?

Tim McAtee: The surprise for me was something really simple - people read from top to bottom and left to right, which is one of the thing's that's so obvious that you shouldn't need research to figure it out. Yet, it took a bunch of eye tracking to actually come to that conclusion and start thinking about the interplay of content and ad space on the screen - in the context of a linear consumption pattern and not a static square.

Brian Monahan:  The other thing that was a surprise is that the ad product can bring you the eye. It can hold the eye. The more functionality you offer the users, the more it draws users into the ad. But at the end of the day, when it comes to moving lower funnel metrics, it's really up to the creative.

We’re starting to realize how far the ad product can push the value of that impression, and then where the hand‑off with the creative execution needs to take over to maximize the value of that instance so that the unit can get to the eye. The functionality can get people involved, but the unit can't make up for bad creative.


Creative Ad Tech Firm Gazehawk's Founders Moving To Facebook

Gazehawk's founders are moving on to Facebook.

The company's technology was recently featured at the IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting for the insights its tech provides into the performance of creative - specifically its heat mapping technology to measure users' visual engagement with ads.

The company's founder Joe Gershonson and Brian Krausz announced the news on their site. Joe Gershonson tells AdExchanger that the the company's tech and intellectual property will be sold separately.

"GazeHawk Team Joins Facebook

When we founded GazeHawk, we chose to attack a truly difficult computer vision challenge. Our team took a problem that many thought to be impossible - using ordinary webcams to determine where volunteers were looking on their computer screens - and turned it into a powerful product with real potential. While we're still excited about the future of this technology, the time has come for us to move in a different direction.

While working on GazeHawk, we attracted the attention of the Facebook team, who were impressed with our ability to build out a powerful technology and platform. Likewise, we were impressed by the compelling story going on at Facebook today. As a result, we're happy to announce that we will be joining the Facebook team. There's a great culture at Facebook, focusing on fast, bold, innovative solutions, and we're looking forward to being a part of it. We'll be working on projects unrelated to GazeHawk, most likely on product and backend engineering.

GazeHawk's product and technology are not part of the acquisition and will remain completely independent of Facebook. GazeHawk has developed a best-of-class technology that does not exist anywhere else, and is committed to seeing it continue to provide benefits to others. The team welcomes suggestions and thoughts on potential options at

A huge thanks to Y Combinator, our other investors, our advisors, and everyone we've worked with over the last two years. It's been an amazing journey, and it wouldn't have been possible without you!

-- Brian & Joe"

Visit the site.

Though an acqui-hire of sorts, no doubt Facebook sees the need to speak to brands regarding insights on effective, premium advertising through the Facebook platform. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Gazehawk was a Y Combinator company and presented at last September's ad tech event.

Read more about the research that Gazehawk performed as part of the IAB's new portfolio of larger, "premium" ad units here.

The Business Insider says the Gazehawk team starts at Facebook next week.

By John Ebbert

True Action Network Chief Creative Seabrook Seeing Data and Performance Driving The Creative

True Action NetworkBilly Seabrook recently became Chief Creative Officer of True Action Network, the full-service ecommerce and digital marketing agency arm of GSI Commerce which is wholly-owned by eBay. Seabrook comes from Publicis' agency Digitas where he was the executive creative officer. Read the release.

Seabrook discussed his new role, "the big idea" and the shifting creative landscape with AdExchanger.

Click below or scroll for more:

AdExchanger: How would you say digital is transforming culture in creative agencies today?

BS: It's an interesting question and it relates to True Action because it was one of the motivators for me to join the agency.

One of the biggest trends that's happening – and a lot of people have recognized this, especially the creative - is within the agency holding company model, there's an unfortunate reality that a lot of the agencies tend to compete against each other.

This competitive culture that's built into the structure ultimately has consequences on the creativity and the deliverables to clients. There's a lot of land grabbing going on, if you will. And how it relates to True Action is interesting because it's unique in the marketplace -especially with the relationship with eBay - in that, all of the agencies within the fold are designed to be compatible and complementary. So you can build off each other and apply the skills and share business across multiple agencies within the family, which is mutually beneficial. I think that type of culture inspires people and creative, in particular. Ultimately, it delivers great work to the clients because there's nothing getting in the way of a good idea.

Can you see marketers starting to bring creative in-house? In some ways, does True Action represent that sort of shift?


How Do Search Marketers Overcome The Creative Challenge In Graphical, Display Advertising?

Display Creative and SearchIt is well-chronicled that the "creative" element among the optimization triad of audience, context and creative remains the biggest wildcard when driving a campaign's performance. And for search marketers moving into display, addressing "creative" isn't just about text ads anymore as they must deal with the nuance and complexity of creating compelling graphical display ad units.

So, asked a group of industry experts from the search side of the ad ecosystem the following question:

"How do search marketers overcome the creative challenge in graphical display advertising?"

Click below or scroll down for more to read the answers:

Kirstin Peters, Director, Performance Innovation, Performics (Publicis)

"The creative elements to graphical display advertising are definitely more of an opportunity than a challenge for search marketers. Search marketers thrive in testing and optimization environments, so moving from limited character text to larger ad units in multiple sizes and formats means more components within the ad to test/optimize and add unique value.

Dynamic creative optimization tools will be key in enabling marketers to do this efficiently and without an army of designers and traffickers. Headlines, images, products, and calls-to -action can be tested individually and/or as part of a composite ad unit, giving search marketers a high potential for optimization over CTR. Dynamic creative units can also be optimized against specific audience segments, providing even more optimization opportunity.

Ultimately, marketers taking a search-like approach to biddable display (via DSPs) should be able to integrate dynamic creative optimization with audience buying and real time bid decisioning, which offers search marketers unprecedented potential to impact conversion/ROI via display."


Collective To Acquire Dynamic Creative Tech Company Tumri

Collective and TumriAccording to multiple sources, and the company itself has now confirmed, Collective will announce the acquisition of dynamic creative ad tech company Tumri shortly as the ad tech ecosystem M&A has continued to accelerate in recent weeks (AdMeld by Google on June 13, Performable by Hubspot and MediaMind by DG on June 16).

After competitor Teracent was acquired by Google in November of 2009 - as well as Adroit Interactive by MediaMath, Dapper by Yahoo! and ADISN by CrowdGather in 2010 - Tumri has gone through a change in management and a strategy shift which moved the company towards providing multi-variate, creative ad tools versus services.

Last September, Tumri CEO Hari Menon told ( Q&A), "Going forward, we believe that value will come much more from our clients using our software and less from Tumri providing direct services to those clients. Either way, what is important is that the advertiser sees the value of our solutions and achieves their objectives."

With this announcement, Collective will have made its third acquisition of the year after buying Oggifinogi, a rich media ad tech company focused video ad creative, in February, and UK-based WebTV Enterprise, a video ad network, in March. Tumri not only brings display ad multi-variate tech in-house but additional staff familiar with the details of today's display advertising challenges and opportunities.

In general, dynamic ad creative tech has been increasingly seen as a "point solution" within a larger media buying, ad tech platform or end-to-end marketing stack which Collective appears to be building.

According to CrunchBase, Tumri had raised $31 million since its founding in 2004. Investors include Time Warner Investments and existing investors Accel Partners, Shasta Ventures and Tenaya Capital.

UPDATED at 1:30 p. ET: Collective formally announced the acquisition of Tumri. Release is below:


CEO Kartzman Sees Growth For Spongecell, Continuing Fragmentation For The Industry

SpongecellBen Kartzman is CEO of Spongecell, a creative ad technology company.

Click below or scroll for more: How much has the company changed - or not - in the last year?

BK: We've significantly expanded the team - 35 today. And, we're starting to look at a bigger opportunity here - not only on the product side, but also the global sales opportunity for us, too.  We've got more clients, and those clients being big brands domestically.

It's interesting that you added the “how much has it changed or not.”

Part of the core mission and product hasn't changed all that much in that we've stayed focused on building a technology platform that allows ads to be very professional, curated by creatives, yet can be built in a short amount of time.

I think we've stayed true to the mission and will continue to focus on enhancing the product, but at the same time build the architecture so it can scale.

What trends have you noticed on the client-side in the past year?

People are starting to realize that display is working for them, and it's a part of the media mix that is increasing.


BoostCTR Creating Effective Copy At Scale For The Marketer Says Co-Founder Lenderman

BoostCTRRob Lenderman is Co-Founder, CIO-CMO of BoostCTR, a crowdsourced marketplace the optimization and testing of online ad creative. Where did the idea come for "BoostCTR"?

RL: A few years ago I was working at a company that inherited an AdWords account for a multi-million dollar company. They had not had a single text ad changed in three years.  We knew the leverage that you get from a better ad, so I started an internal contest at the company to see who could write the best ads.  I was so overwhelmed with my other responsibilities that I needed the help and figured a contest was the fastest way to get help and make it fun. We had 10 people from the admin to the VP write.  It was taking forever for me to get the ads, put them in the account, analyze the data, etc. so David and I had the idea of creating a tool to automate this. That was the first part of the idea.

It also turned out that I won the contest and some of the other marketing people involved actually wrote some of the worst ads, which was unexpected.  The admin finished in the middle of the pack. At that point David and I realized that the best person to write is not always the one managing the account: it’s generally the best writer with the best skillset, and sometimes just someone with a fresh perspective.  So the idea of creating a network of professional writers was born.  When we put the network of writers together with a tool that saves the SEM manager hours a week you have