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Report: Financial Marketers Surge In Programmatic

indexFinancial marketers notably increased their investment in programmatic media during the third quarter, according to Casale Media's Index Exchange.

Programmatic spending by financial and brands increased 53.2% over the previous quarter in Q3 2014, the company said Thursday in its quarterly programmatic spending report. Casale/Index Exchange was unable to provide YoY change in financial industry spending.

American Express, Citigroup and Progressive Group were among the top spenders on programmatic within the financial sector. Casale said the surge is related to programmatic dabblers – particularly Progressive – getting serious.

"Those who have been historically involved are now allocating more, in a more meaningful way. And their competitors are now all recognizing the potential and are following suit,” said Alex Gardner, VP of platform solutions at Index Exchange.

“Progressive has not historically been among the top financial spenders, but they’re now representing meaningful spend, not only within that specific sector but more broadly across sectors,” Gardner added. “Overall, there’s an increasing level of competition.”

The sequential increase was not limited to finance. Investment in automation increased across all verticals except business, which remained flat relative to Q2, with a notable uptick in spend from the financial sector.


How Facebook's Security Team Is Calming Marketers' First-Party Data Fears

facebook-cso-cioThe second coming of Facebook's Atlas ad server was probably the biggest ad-tech development of 2014. Marketers could for the first time upload their first-party data for accurate measurement, de-duplication, and targeting across devices. Other platforms will follow (read: Google), but Facebook broke the tape.

The "people-based" marketing opportunity will not fully materialize, however, until companies – many of which are just starting to get comfortable with letting the marketing team touch customer records – are sure that data will not be mishandled.

Facebook is working hard to calm those fears. In a recent conversation with AdExchanger, Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan and Chief Information Officer Tim Campos talk about how Facebook is working to win over skeptics.

AdExchanger: What created this situation where Facebook had to protect the first-party data of its advertisers?

JOE SULLIVAN: Advertisers used to just come to Facebook and say, "I want to target…" and they would identify some characteristics. When most of us think about Internet advertising, we think it's like that still. You show up and you say, "I want to target white guys in California who drive Porsches with this advertisement for cigars," and you get that audience, but most of the time now advertisers already have a list of customers and they want to engage those people specifically, or a subset of them. Our more advanced advertising tools allow them to do that.

With custom audiences, they can bring their customer list to Facebook, but they don't want to leave their customer list with Facebook and they don't want us or their competitors to benefit from it. Over the last couple of years, as these products have evolved, there's been a lot of scrutiny by us and by our partners on how we make this work securely and in a privacy-sensitive way.


CPG Data Specialist Dunnhumby Sees A Future Forging New Currency

LungHuangDunnhumby, British grocery giant Tesco’s data science subsidiary, sits at the intersection of online and offline retail data. It mashes up CRM files and loyalty card information, which brands can use to prove sales uplift.

Tesco isn’t the only retail outlet to supply this service. Walmart, for instance, turns in-store and online transaction data into useful intel for its own suppliers, as in, what channel or message moved product in which store.

But will Dunnhumby remain part of Tesco? Reuters reported in early October that the data insights unit might be for sale.

To this point, however, Dunnhumby itself has been acquisitive on the shopper marketing front. It acquired digital retargeter Sociomantic for about $200 million last April and previously purchased both word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent and advanced analytics shop Standard Analytics.

Lung Huang, the company’s VP of digital advertising and global partnerships, spoke with AdExchanger about the company’s focus in the wake of the Sociomantic acquisition.

AdExchanger: When you’re selling Dunnhumby’s services, who do you talk to?

LUNG HUANG: We’re definitely a buy-side business because we serve two major client bases: the retailers as well as the brands. When I say brands, it’s primarily CPGs that sell within our stores. From a retail standpoint, whenever we build an engagement, we typically [work with the largest] grocers, which is our heritage, but we do consumer markets and others.


Google Viewability Benchmark: More Than Half Of All Ads Aren’t Seen

viewGoogle revealed on Wednesday key insight on how consumers see ads online, pooling data from its advertising platforms over June and July.

The company compiled the results in a study called “The Importance of Being Seen: Viewability Insights for Digital Marketers and Publishers.” Get the PDF here.

“We've had Active View available on the Google Display Network for about a year and the ability to measure viewability in DoubleClick for about six months,” said Google group product manager Sanaz Ahari. “So we now have enough data to get a snapshot of viewability across the web and be confident that it'd be accurate.”

Defined by the Media Rating Council, a display ad is viewable when 50% of its pixels appear on screen for at least one second. In the study, Google described ad viewability rates, or the percentage of ads that are considered viewable out of the total number of ads measured. Google did not disclose this total number.

Google’s data puts the average publisher viewability rate at 50.2%.

“All data is aggregate so we didn't break out what specific publishers fell in that group,” said Ahari. “These figures are meant to serve a benchmark that advertisers and publishers can use to evaluate viewability rates.”

This data, Ahari said, is a benchmark – the first time Google has scrutinized publishers in this way. He added that over time, Google will look at changing trends around viewability as publishers invest in more technology.

In total, 56.1% of ads weren’t seen at all, a figure that didn’t surprise Neil Sweeney, president and CEO of JUICE Mobile.

“Viewability and fraud are the two biggest issues of 2014,” Sweeney said. “And the reaction from the publishing side to these figures should be that they need to get on top of viewability and correct it.”


ShareThis Appoints A Programmatic VP

KurtAbrahamsonShareThis, the purveyor of a social share button spanning a wide swath of publisher sites and channels, on Tuesday appointed Wade Rifkin as its VP of Programmatic Partnerships. Rifkin came from agency DigitasLBI, where he was VP of Programmatic. (See the Q&A on his transition).

Rifkin’s relationships with trading desks and agencies should come in handy, particularly since ShareThis has a longstanding partnership with Publicis agency Starcom MediaVest, which augments ShareThis’ Social Quality Index metric (a measure of clicks and shares across ShareThis publisher sites) in its ad buys.

When asked what programmatic entity would immediately benefit from ShareThis’s data, Abrahamson said exchanges and supply-side platforms are all options.

“Using the data to inform ad buys and ad targeting is certainly one option, but so is figuring out how to take [some of the internal the insights] and marketing them to agencies and brands,” he said. “We haven’t committed to a specific action plan yet on the programmatic side, but Wade will help us evaluate the landscape.”

ShareThis sees consumer intent signals across a network of almost 3 million publisher sites, which is a 15-20% increase from one year ago. The company generally sees about one billion to one and a half billion sharing events per month.


Not Your Daddy’s Database Manager: KBM Group Wants To Be A Strategic Partner

william burkart kbm groupKBM Group might be the data services unit of WPP agency Wunderman, but don’t think of it as just a database manager.

“Our job is to provide strategic leadership, not simply be a database vendor when clients need one,” said William Burkart, who became KBM Group’s president and COO in late September.

So if you need someone to manage clumps of data, sure, call KBM Group, but Burkart is trying to position the division as a strategic partner, not as a database manager.

“Our clients expect us to be a leader as it relates to CRM initiatives,” he said. “They’re looking to us to provide answers and recommendations proactively. You’re familiar with the whole Lumascape world. Clients are trying to navigate that and figure it out.”

Burkart comes from Acxiom, a marketing data provider trying to shift into a major ad tech player. As VP of Acxiom’s global agency, he cut his teeth integrating email and direct mail into databases.

“My responsibility at Acxiom was in the deployment of email and direct mail to the platform as well as partnering with other email platforms,” he said. “We connected the one-to-one channel of email to the broader database, using the database intelligence to drive a relevant email or SMS communication.”

Of course, marketers today need strategies that go beyond those channels, delving into paid media across the web, mobile and social channels. A large part of Burkart’s purview will involve expanding the capabilities of Zipline, the data-management platform (DMP) it inherited via the 2010 acquisition of i-Behavior.

[KBM Group has] all of the components,” Burkart said. “We will be absolutely leveraging what we have today. It’s not a situation where we have to buy another company or make a multimillion dollar investment.”

While KBM Group declined to reveal its headcount, citing the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, it has 36 offices in 22 countries.

Burkart spoke with AdExchanger.

Acxiom Pins Its Hopes On AOS Amid Another Down Quarter

acxiomearningsIn recent quarters, Acxiom’s financial narrative has focused on its struggle to redefine itself. Whereas Acxiom was once – and still is – known as a provider of data for marketers, it’s seeking to become a neutral provider of data infrastructure via its Audience Operating System (AOS) platform and LiveRamp, the data onboarder it acquired in July.

This transformation, CEO Scott Howe has often said, requires patience. And in its Q1 in August (the company’s fiscal year ends in March), CFO Warren Jenson warned of “transition and heavy lifting” in the coming year.

The transition and heavy lifting clearly continues, with total fiscal Q2 revenue down 3% YoY to $260 million. This is mostly due to a 17% YoY decrease in Acxiom’s IT infrastructure management services division, which bagged only $56 million in Q2 revenue.

Its marketing and data services unit eked out $204 million, a 2% YoY increase.

During the earnings call, Howe insisted the plodding growth rate for this sector, much of it “governed by long-term contracts” with opportunities to upsell additional products, should be expected: “Count on low single-digit growth. Not remarkable, but inherently predictable.”

What’s In The Cards For Cardlytics? A $70M Series F Round

CardlyticsFundingThere’s a time to invest in tech and there’s a time to invest in marketing – for Cardlytics, it’s time to do the latter. 

The card-linked ad tech company, which enables advertisers to send targeted offers to consumers directly embedded into their online banking experience, announced Wednesday that it’s raised $70 million in Series F funding led by Discovery Capital.

Although some of the money will be invested in product development, a large chunk of the new cash, which brings Cardlytics’ total to a bit more than $170 million, will go towards spreading awareness about its existing product line, said president and COO Lynne Laube.

“We’re one of the biggest companies that nobody’s ever heard of,” Laube said. “People don’t believe how much data we have access to. We’re going to use this money on marketing. We can deliver our services at scale – we just need to create the awareness.”

When Cardlytics partners with a bank, it provides a piece of software that sits on the bank’s own server behind a firewall. Transaction data is fed back to the bank on a nightly basis. A separate piece of software managed centrally by Cardlytics allows advertisers to create segments by interacting with the bank’s software.

For example, an advertiser could ask: How many consumers are there in the system who have spent more than $100 in my store over the last three months? The Cardlytics software would then communicate with the bank’s software to come up with a number. From there, the advertiser could issue a command, such as: Track those high value consumers identified by the software for 30 days to see how their spending shifts.

In that way, a consumer’s personally identifiable information never leaves the safety of the bank’s environment and individual information doesn’t have the chance to leak out.


Annalect Goes For The “Golden Nugget”

Charles Butler Annalect v2A change is on the horizon for Annalect, Omnicom's analytics and marketing technology arm.

Omnicom agencies – both its media traders and its creative firms – use Annalect when they need data-driven expertise for their clients’ campaigns.

As such, Annalect has a wealth of data scientists and technologists, 250 relationships with third-party data sources and a host of technologies including the Neustar-Aggregate Knowledge DMP. Annalect also houses the trading desk Accuen as well as search and social agency Resolution Media.

But the data world is transforming, and Annalect – in order to transform with it – is in the midst of integrating its disparate tools so it can adapt to changing client needs at scale.

“We’re going more toward a platform solution,” said Annalect’s new CTO, Charles Butler, who started in late September.

Butler knows something about navigating ad stacks. He previously served as VP of technology operations at AOL Platforms and has a specific vision for Annalect’s technologies: “We’ll cut out lots of unnecessary point tools and simplify around our combination of limited commercial tools and proprietary solutions.”

Streamlining will drive Annalect’s ability to adapt to client needs at “mammoth scale." It's a necessary adjustment so it can harness rich new data sources from clients.

"The opportunities are huge … [because of] all the data that can be in play. The CRM data is the golden nugget right now," Butler explained. “When you look at the available sets of data that can come from the client, as well as what’s available in the third-party marketplace, creating an infrastructure … and a repeatable practice that’s understandable and efficient for the client is a big deal.”

He spoke with AdExchanger.

Track No More: Why Google Wants To Quench Pixel Firing On The GDN

google dmpWhat exactly is going on with Google and the providers of data-management platforms (DMPs)?

As AdWeek reported in early October, Google will begin enforcing a rule prohibiting DMPs from firing tracking pixels on ads running through the Google Display Network unless that DMP also owns the demand-side platform (DSP) buying the impression.

This rule is listed in Google’s support page for third-party ad serving and states that tracking mechanisms from certified third-party vendors may be used for certain purposes, but “[c]ollecting impression-level data via cookies or other mechanisms for purposes of subsequent re-targeting, interest category categorization, or syndication to other parties on Google Display Network inventory is prohibited.”

As it affects DMPs, a DMP-DSP hybrid, like Turn, could fire a tracking pixel without a problem. But Turn’s DMP cannot fire that tracking pixel if another vendor’s DSP makes the ad buy, since that requires the DMP send data to another party – the DSP.

This means DMPs that don’t bundle with DSPs, like Krux, Neustar, Lotame, BlueKai – really, most of the DMPs on the market today – will have blind spots on the Google Display Network. And companies like Turn will, too, since many of its clients use DSPs from other providers.

Google began notifying vendors of its decision Oct. 1, giving three months of prep time before it begins enforcing the rule, according to DMP providers affected.

Whether one characterizes Google’s decision as a change in policy (DMP providers’ point of view) or as tightening enforcement of existing regulations (Google’s point of view), certain vendors who thought they were in compliance will find by Jan. 1 that they aren’t.

Or, in the words of Krux Chief Solutions Officer Mike Moreau: “There are a lot of pixels that have been certified that will be decertified as of Jan. 1”