RSS FeedArchive for the ‘Marketer’s Note’ Category


Garbage In, Garbage Out: Why Smart Trafficking Matters So Much

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

Last week, I had a wonderful conversation with an interactive lead at an independent agency as part of my ongoing “When and How to Take Programmatic In-House” research (for which I’ll be presenting the findings at our September Programmatic I/O conference), which reminded me of the hugely important, but wildly undervalued, importance of well organized operational efforts in effective media programs.

What do I mean by that?  Well in this instance, I’m talking specifically about naming conventions in campaign and placement set-up.  What this agency executive told me was:

“Analytics and operations are inevitably tied together. The operations side of it is super important: what you traffic in is what you get out. You must be really methodical in how you traffic things – you’ve got to be able to codify it in some way shape or form – which publisher, what placement, which audiences. We have an ability to meta-organize the data because of the way we have folks setting things up.”

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Time To Grow

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.

So many fascinating questions, trends and technologies to research, so little time!

Thankfully, I’ve now got some help. I’m pleased to announce that Lizzie Komar has joined the AdExchanger Research team as Associate Analyst.

Lizzie was most recently with Forrester Research, serving Marketing Leadership Professionals and focusing on best practices in search and email marketing. She also has research experience in digital media buying, advanced digital measurement, agencies, mobile advertising, and social marketing.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have her on board.

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Let’s Not Lose Sight Of The Real Power Of Programmatic

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.

Call me naïve but I believe in the open exchange model. I always have. Something about the battle of wits it promises always spoke to me: The buyer who actively seeks out data, and who knows how to make sense of it, will make the smartest real-time bidding decisions – whether it’s bid/no bid or a really smart pricing decision – that add up, impression by impression, to the most optimal media spend, beating out its competitors in the process. In this model you don’t have to be the biggest agency or marketer to succeed; you simply have to be really hands-on and smart. Whoever is smartest with data wins.

I’ve keenly watched, therefore, the evolution of direct programmatic deals over the last several years, with a tinge of sadness, I admit. Sadness, because these deals are not so much about intelligence driving competitive advantage as they are about buying clout ruling the day, i.e., the biggest buyers can bully sellers on price because they control big piles of money – programmatic, then, just serves as the transactional mechanism. In this model, the bigger you are, the “better” you’ll do.

I’d argue though that simply getting the best rates isn’t enough. That’s media buying circa 2002. We’re smarter than that now, and we should act that way. I don’t dispute that there are many, many large buyers who are also smart – they are bringing proprietary data (or data models) to bear on those direct deals to help them make the most intelligent decisions possible. But I would bet you there are plenty of big buyers who are still primarily focused on price – on banging programmatic sellers down on rate and calling it a win.

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Who’s Really Winning If CPA Programs Rule?

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

I was inspired by this week’s AdExchanger comic, which features “Mr. CPA” on the top of the mythic Mr. Universe winner’s podium, to comment on the market’s continued obsession with CPC and CPA programs.

When I was a media planner and buyer back in the mid-2000’s, and I had a very aggressive direct response client who demanded high volumes of sign-ups and high expenditures of budget, I found myself laying down vast amounts of money to dozens of ad networks at a time to meet my client’s requirements. CPM, CPC, and CPA programs were all in the mix. I really had no idea what was being done behind the scenes, I just knew that I was meeting my client’s goals. Of course, when they asked me why something was working, or, why all of a sudden something wasn’t working, I had no idea.  I had no visibility and no control.  Who knows, maybe one of my CPA partners turned remarketing back on to up their performance, even though I’d told them not to, or one of the ops guys managing my campaign went on vacation and left no one at the helm of my program, leaving it to tank.  Frustrating, yes, but this is what was available to the buying community at the time.

Today, we the buyers have platforms that allow us to accomplish many of the same things, without necessitating the use of CPC and CPA programs. We can access wide swaths of inventory – through both open exchanges and direct publisher deals – point our technologies to optimize toward specific campaign goals, and make as many real time changes as are warranted, all with an eye toward driving meaningful conversions which are being carefully tracked using an advanced attribution system. (Yes, I said it!  Down with last click!) In fact, ideally that post-attributed data is then being pushed right back into the buying platform to create a closed feedback loop of buying, optimization and performance assessment.

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Why I Worry for Agencies

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.

Is it just me, or are there an awful lot of great folks leaving their agency jobs these days?

  • I followed the news closely when (my former boss) Curt Hecht left his role within the Vivaki Nerve Center, a division of the Publicis holding company, back in 2012 to join his former agency colleague David Kenny at the Weather Company.

I think it’s safe to call this a pattern.

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Customers First, Company Needs Next, Individual Agendas Last

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

I had a wonderful conversation with Renee Horne, AVP, Social Business at USAA, at last week’s Merkle CRM Summit, in which she noted something that could make a great guiding principle for us all – she said, “We focus relentlessly on always putting the member first. We are mission-based: it’s about serving our members.”

“I like to use this framework to think about it: think about the member first, then think about the company’s (e.g. USAA’s) needs, then it’s about the individual teams - all the individual agendas come last,” said Ms. Horne  But here’s where the rubber meets the road when companies follow that model – as she puts it, “There is not an option other than to work collaboratively, which we do very well at USAA. We have to bring enterprise-level stakeholders together to make it all happen.”

As David Williams, Merkle Chairman and CEO, aptly bemoaned while speaking to the broader group (there were several hundred of us in attendance – mostly marketers), “This industry needs to stop buying capabilities. There’s too much focus on capability, capability, capability. Everyone is getting bombarded by ‘capability’ companies. In reality, it’s not a capability game anymore. The capabilities are there. [The real issue is] people not creating real operating leverage from all the capabilities they have - the operating model of the organization needs to change.”*

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Publishers, Let’s Talk Programmatic CPMs

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

I just had a very interesting conversation with a reporter who’s trying to understand why so many publishers link “programmatic” to declines in ad revenue and/or profitability in their quarterly earnings statements. I have strong suspicions on what might be happening, but I don’t yet have a firm answer on what’s really happening, at least not yet. 

Certainly, publishers will indicate that the volume of impressions they sell programmatically outstrips the revenue associated with those impressions (at least that’s what I found in my State of Programmatic Media report). But that isn’t a surprising statistic, nor is it a new phenomenon.  Certainly, this was the case when publishers relied on ad networks for indirect inventory sales.

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The Second Party Data Opportunity

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

I had an interesting conversation about the “second party data” opportunity with some senior level publishers not too long ago, and it got me thinking about this subject anew.

I’ve always seen these kinds of relationships – where a marketer (or agency on a marketer’s behalf) has a direct relationship with a publisher where data is the thing being negotiated over (e.g. second party data… Get it? The marketer is the first party and the publisher is the second party) – as a huge opportunity to be explored. Back in the early agency trading desk days we had the idea that, within the walls of our agency, we could create symbiotic marketer to marketer data relationships (in this case the second party provider is another marketer, rather than a publisher). Think of a travel company with flights to tropical locales and a retailer selling resort-wear. But at the time, the tools that would enable such relationships just weren’t there.

Today, they are, at least if leading DMPs are to be believed. Just look at the recent panel I moderated, during AdExchanger’s inaugural Industry Preview conference, where second party data was heralded as the big opportunity to be explored in 2014. (Side note: AdExchanger got in on the fun just about one year ago today, with this comic strip on the subject: “Come on in to the data party, publishers!  It’s great in here!”)

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Programmatic: Not 'When' But 'What Next?'

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

Today marks the release of AdExchanger Research’s inaugural State of Programmatic Media report. Based on data gleaned from more than 450 completed surveys and a range of in-depth interviews, this report takes a deep look at the programmatic ecosystem through the lens of marketers, agencies, publishers and technology providers.

The primary goals of this research were two-fold: first, cut through the rhetoric and get a real sense of what’s happening on the ground in terms of programmatic spend and ad sales, channel adoption, approaches to service and technology questions, obstacles to continued growth and more; and second, to lay the foundation for benchmarking the programmatic space over time. (Read: look out for an updated version of this report – with longitudinal comparisons – down the line!)

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You're So Transparent: Retiring Programmatic's Biggest Stigma

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

As I round out research interviews for my forthcoming State of Programmatic Media report, I had a really interesting conversation with a senior-level operations person at a major agency holding company that struck me as worth sharing.

As with many people on both the agency and client side, he placed high value on the audience targeting that is enabled through programmatic. Yes, check. And he placed low value on “lower CPMs,” wholeheartedly sharing my long-standing point of view that efficiency and cheapness are not synonymous. (If the ROI on $27 CPM impressions is better than the ROI on $.27 CPM impressions, why on earth wouldn’t you just pay the $27 CPM for those impressions? I always thought that de-averaging pricing was one of the coolest benefits of buying media programmatically.) Again, check.

What particularly caught my attention was our discussion around transparency, at which point he noted, “I rank this lower [as a benefit of programmatic] because I don’t want to have to rely on this being the reason I know where I am running.  It’s an industry question, not a programmatic question.”  This was a view shared by another senior-level agency person to whom I spoke for my research, who, during our discussion on programmatic challenges told me, “There are a lot of people who have a bias against doing things this way and are looking for reasons why they shouldn’t. ‘Transparency’ and all those other things are excuses. It’s more like, ‘This isn’t how I was trained and I am less useful in this world.’”

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