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Sridhar Ramaswamy Makes His Mark On Google's Ad Business

ramaswamy-story-artIt's been nine months since Susan Wojcicki was named CEO at YouTube, clearing the path for Sridhar Ramaswamy to take full control of Google's $50 billion-plus advertising business.

As org changes go, it was a doozy. YouTube would get a proven leader to take it to the next level – by investing in talent and courting new audiences outside its core millennial user. Additionally, YouTube advertising would begin reporting into the display ad group. All Google ads (search, display, YouTube) would live under one umbrella for the first time.

The guy holding that umbrella, Ramaswamy, is an executive whose methods and management style contrast sharply with Wojcicki. Numerous sources describe him as a highly technical executive, and far more hands-on than she ever was.

Indeed, the obsession with details exhibited by Ramaswamy and his handpicked lieutenants has rankled some senior technical staff. Joerg Heilig, for many years Google's top engineer on display ads, left earlier this year over differences with Ramaswamy. And others are said to be looking as well.

Not everyone is grumbling, however. By multiple accounts, Ramaswamy has a good relationship with Neal Mohan, Google's high-profile VP for display ad products. He has largely endorsed Mohan's product vision, even as that vision continues to evolve.

Two Leaders, One Organization


CPG Spend Is Up – And Fraudsters Are Taking Notice

CPGfraudBy now it’s a cliché to say that fraud follows the money – but it’s true.

And with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies slated to represent $4.2 billion in digital ad spend this year – a number eMarketer predicts will hit more than $7 billion by 2018 – bots, and their human creators, are starting to add CPG brands to the top of their shopping list.

Ari Jacoby, CEO of digital ad company Solve Media, noted Q2 2014 had significantly higher amounts of bot activity among CPG brand advertising largely due to US mobile-based bot traffic, which was 40% higher than what Solve has seen in the past. Global mobile bot traffic was up a little more than 20% – a phenomenon corroborated by Andy Fan, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based fraud detection solution RTB Asia.

“CPG vertical campaigns have a higher percentage – possibly the highest – of bot-related fraud over travel, gaming, auto or financial services,” Fan told AdExchanger. “In China, the goal of most CPG vertical campaigns is branding, not direct response or ecommerce, and this usually leads to loose goal measurement, which makes CPG advertisers less likely to notice fraud.”

Spend on search and desktop display is up among CPGs – there's been a roughly 11% year-over-year increase, according to Kantar Media – but it's mobile that's going to be the future bugbear, especially as CPG brands start to spend more on mobile programmatic.


CPG For The Programmatic Win In Q2

CPGspendLast quarter, not a single CPG broke into the top 25 list of brands spending on programmatic desktop display.

This quarter, according to Casale Media’s Index report for Q2, two made it into the top 10. Kellogg’s and Mondelēz took the sixth and eighth spots, respectively. (Data for the report was pulled from Casale's Index Exchange SSP.)

It’s a trend that’s not relegated to display. As AdExchanger reported at the end of August, mobile CPG spend was also up in Q2 across multiple exchanges.

“About 90% of what we do today is still display, but the increase of CPG mobile spend is indicative of the cross-screen trend,” said Andrew Casale, VP of strategy at Casale Media. “The rise in CPG spend is happening everywhere.”

CPG was the second-biggest sector in terms of programmatic spend in Q2 at 14%, behind retail at 26% and financial at 12%. Casale Media came to its findings by indexing all of its impressions for the second quarter, roughly 300 billion across 50,000 brands.

Casale also noted that more brands appear to be willing to get down and dirty with programmatic, bypassing agencies, trading desks and other managed service providers. The share of spend coming from the marketer community increased from 11% in Q4 2013 to 12% last quarter.


FreeWheel Cofounder On The Profound Differences Between Programmatic TV And Display

JonHellerThis upfront season, a number of media conglomerates flirted with programmatic TV. ABC, for instance, is beta testing data-driven ad sales via video ad server FreeWheel’s new FourFronts Programmatic tool. Likewise, NBCUniversal’s ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino has spoken of opening up portions of premium network inventory to programmatic sales.

As marketer and media company interest accelerates, Jon Heller, cofounder and co-CEO of FreeWheel, spoke with AdExchanger about the realities of programmatic in TV and where FreeWheel now stands in light of the Comcast acquisition.

AdExchanger: Can you give an update on Comcast and whether your current partnerships (such as Amazon) will continue?

JON HELLER: There’s no change because we’re still FreeWheel, we have the same people running the company and will be for some time. The whole reason we thought the deal with Comcast made sense is because television is a supply chain. There’s sports leagues and music labels who need to work with programmers or studios to curate and source content and then they syndicate it and distribute it across MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributor) and Web portals and then there are seven [or so] companies that bring you the Oscars or NBA basketball and they all have to play very well together, which means the vendors inside the supply chain have to play together.

If you make things work really well across that whole supply chain like we’re doing with our programmatic initiative and buying technology, then the whole sea rises and it brings up all ships. There is no change in what we’re trying to do.


Marin Software CEO Hire Is A Bid For More Display Dollars

yovanno-marin-usethisIncoming CEO David Yovanno says Marin Software has unfulfilled potential to support execution of display media buys alongside search, and he wants to help it get there.

“In search, which represents roughly 50% of total online marketing spend, Marin Software is a leader,” he said. "As the company grows, there’s an opportunity to leverage this strong presence in search to drive a leadership position in other marketing channels such as display. I believe I can help achieve this.”

Marin hired Yovanno from display and affiliate marketing company Conversant (née ValueClick), where he served EVP. He replaces founder Chris Lien, who will serve as executive chairman.

Yovanno, who has almost 20 years in advertising technology, put in more than 11 years at Conversant – with a two-year interlude as CEO of Gigya.