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Gaming The Attribution System

sephzdarko“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 Seph Zdarko, head of attribution initiatives and partner strategy at Quantcast.

Attribution models were designed with the best of intentions: to help advertisers understand which ads lead their users to convert and to inform which tactics effectively grow their business. While advertisers work hard to use attribution properly, they often unknowingly incentivize the wrong behavior from vendors, leading to ineffective spending of their budgets.

It’s a dirty secret of today’s digital ecosystem. I call it “attribution gaming.”

The main reason gaming is so prevalent in display advertising today is the widespread use of last-touch attribution, a model in which 100% of the conversion credit goes to the last ad served before a conversion. With today’s cluttered ad ecosystem, the problem with the simplistic last-touch model is that it is easily gamed and lends itself to manipulation.

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Cross-Channel Video Ad Campaigns May Be Key To Millennials’ Hearts

martinkogan"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 Martin Kogan, co-founder and CEO at Headway Digital.

I have a piece of vital advice for brand marketers everywhere: It is time to embrace programmatic video campaigns, or risk going out of style in a world increasingly run by millennials.

This may sound extreme, but I believe there is strong evidence that this advice could be the difference between success and total extinction.

Millennials are like no generation before them. They use their cell phones to text, not talk. They watch TV on their computers and tablets, not television sets. Having grown up fully immersed in a digital world, they’re accustomed to consuming whatever content they want, whenever and wherever they choose.

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Does Online Advertising Actually Work?

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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Math For Marketers: Why Attribution Is Upside-Down

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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Do Digital Media Agencies Have a Plan?

Chris-O-HaraData-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 Chris O’Hara, co-founder and chief revenue officer at Bionic Advertising Systems.

Digital agencies used to get paid for unpacking an incredibly complicated digital landscape for marketers. Faced with all kinds of new marketing opportunities, advertisers turned to savvy digital agencies to figure out where to spend their money, and how much of it to dedicate to display, mobile and social channels.

The dingy little secret was that the agencies didn’t really plan much of anything. The way it worked was that agency planners would make an Excel template, create an RFP document, instruct the media owners to send back all kinds of creative ideas and fill out the media plan template. RFPs sent publisher teams spinning into action, churning out exciting-looking PowerPoints with screenshots and suggested spending levels.

Not much of this was scientific. Publishers often promised more inventory than could be delivered, knowing they would never get the full budget allocation. Agencies asked for various “budget levels,” knowing they would allocate only $50,000 per publisher – but asking to see $200,000 plans to get a better sense of where CPMs might be negotiated.

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With Display In Decline, Marketers Are Searching Elsewhere

peter-davies"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 Peter Davies, chief revenue officer at ROKT.

Digital is constantly changing. The promises of programmatic Internet display advertising are not being fulfilled, according to my conversations with marketers around the world. As a result, marketers are looking to reallocate budget to alternative digital channels where effectiveness and conversion rates are higher and more transparent.

That’s not to say that display is dead. It won’t die any time soon. Internet display advertising will overtake paid search for the first time in 2016, predicts Zenith Optimedia. Programmatic marketing and automation drives this growth as businesses seek the marketing nirvana described as “one-to-one marketing and storytelling at scale” by Dennis Buchheim, Yahoo’s vice president of product management.

Unfortunately, progressive marketers realize programmatic display – at least in its current form – is not the pathway to this nirvana, despite the industry hype and raft of investments in technology and systems over recent years. There are four reasons why, including consumer behavior, bottom-of-the-funnel metrics, a lack of transparency and the cookie issue.

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The Rise Of The Programmatic Media Specialist

paullongoupdated“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 Paul Longo, managing director at Accordant Media.

A media agency’s core DNA has traditionally fed a model built around the media planner. In recent years, agencies have received much criticism for conferring too much responsibility of their strategic media efforts on young planners in their 20s.

Certainly, many shops are still mired in that old mindset. And while it seems that agencies acknowledge that the planner’s role must be transformed to realize the potential of always-on marketing, there needs to be a quick shift to action to meet current planning realities and changing client needs.

To fully appreciate, it could be instructive to take a historical view of the evolution of agencies in the past 15 years. Until the aughts, most media planners focused on traditional planning – including target audience preparation, strategies and tactics – just once a year or quarterly. Once that planning was complete and campaigns were set in motion, things would ramp down. Optimization was a maintenance endeavor that took up no more than 30% of agency media folks’ time.

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Who are Programmatic’s True Constituents? It’s Not Just the Brands

daxhamman“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 Dax Hamman, chief product officer of Chango.

When we think of programmatic and whom it’s supposed to serve, we tend to focus on the brands. What are their goals? And how can we help clients achieve them?

And as service-oriented businesses, media agencies and RTB platform providers, including DSPs and trading desks, have a knee-jerk reaction to do whatever is asked, even if what the brand manager asks for isn’t quite what he or she really needs in order to find new customers.

For a programmatic advertising campaign to really succeed, which is to say for a campaign to deliver meaningful insights that marketers can use to make strategic decisions, we need a bigger lens.

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Last-Click Attribution Is Not A Hard Habit To Break

jaystocki"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 Jay Stocki, vice president of digital services at Experian Marketing Services.

It’s been said that the easier the habit, the harder it is to change. That must be why nearly every day I find myself explaining to marketers why last-click is rarely an effective form of attribution for display advertising yet it’s still being used like a bad habit.

I can understand how the habit forms. Last-click is the easiest form of attribution, it can be quickly explained to senior executives and it does not require cooperation from other parts of the marketing organization. But please just say no. Last-click is a terrible habit.

Case in point: Just 13% of marketers surveyed in an eConsultancy and Google study believed last-click was a very effective method of attribution. Yet 54% said it was their most common form of attribution.

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Apple’s New Push To Randomize MAC Addresses: What’s The Impact On Ad Tech?

devinguan“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 Devin Guan, vice president of engineering at Drawbridge.

In the weeks since Apple previewed iOS 8 in June, there has been a lot of talk in the digital advertising industry regarding one ostensibly small change that Apple announced. Beginning with iOS 8, slated for release this fall, Apple will randomize MAC addresses when scanning for Wi-Fi networks. Naturally, there are a lot of questions about what a MAC address is, and what this means for our industry.

MAC addresses are used as reliable ways to identify devices by many ad tech vendors. Some even leverage MAC addresses to match devices and establish cross-device identity. The initial concern was that without reliable MAC address information, can there be reliable cross-device information?

Though some ad tech vendors may face growing pains as they react to this shift, overall Apple’s decision will be a good change for the industry, as it gives users more control by removing a deterministic feature that some ad tech vendors rely on to establish cross-device identity.

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