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If the Gray Lady Believes in Programmatic, Who’s Left to Doubt?

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.  

The news last week that the New York Times is opening restrictions on programmatic access to its inventory made a big splash – understandably, given the Times’ fits and starts in this area over the last couple years.

Though it’s easy to pick on the Times for being slow to move in programmatic* (which isn’t necessarily right, by the way – it seems more accurate to say that they moved too early relative to the market, a couple years back, felt they got burned and pulled back as a result), the reality is that this is great news: if the Gray Lady recognizes that this thing called “programmatic” is much more than just real time bidding in an open exchange, but rather a new mode of conducting business transactions and operationalizing some key facets of ad buying and selling, well, who’s left to doubt?

It reminds me of one of my findings from the “State of Programmatic Media” survey we fielded (the results of which we presented at Programmatic I/O, as many of you may recall, and which is currently being turned into a report, as I’ve mentioned before). Specifically, when I asked publisher respondents to rank the benefits of “programmatic selling” from most beneficial to least, they overwhelmingly favored “operational efficiency” and, I was happy to see, “better sell through.”

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Navigate Through The Privacy Fog, For Your Own Good

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.  

I attended an eye-opening session on “the state of privacy” at this year’s Adobe Summit that reminded me of something I sometimes choose to ignore in all my excitement for what we can now do in digital marketing: In today’s world of hyper-targeting, building and managing robust profiles, delivering unified consumer experiences across the customer lifecycle, we’re standing on a shaky foundation, and most of us don’t really know it – what’s happening under our feet, what it means, and what to do about it.

The session, led by Adobe’s VP, Chief Privacy Officer, Associate General Counsel, MeMe Jacobs Rasmussen, was intended to help companies “navigate through the privacy fog.” The woman clearly knows her stuff. We took a look at a few hot topics in digital marketing through a privacy lens, though my attention was most captured by the discussion around cross device tracking and targeting, "Do Not Track," and the larger 3rd party cookie question.


The State Of Programmatic Media

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.  

On Monday I presented the findings of our recent “State of Programmatic Media” survey at our bi-annual Programmatic I/O conference.  For background, we fielded a survey over a several week period in Q1, with a goal of gathering data from the full range of players in the programmatic ecosystem: marketers, agencies, publishers and technology players.  Response was strong, with over 400 completed surveys from nearly 50 marketers, nearly 100 agencies, another 100 publishers, and more than 150 tech vendors.

For those who weren't able to join us in person, I thought I’d share one or two interesting tidbits from my research.

First, I’ll state the obvious, which, although we in the industry all love to crow about, I found in fact to be true: big marketers are embracing programmatic, and are big spenders, bigger in fact than you may think.  Specifically, we found that more than 60% of this group are managing 20% or more of their digital media budget programmatically this year.  And they are bullish on near term future investment: in the next twelve months, the majority (66%) plan on spending at least 40% of their digital media budget programmatically, with a whopping 25% planning on managing at least 80% of their digital budget this way. Big numbers. Exciting stuff. (more…)


Top-Down Support Drives Successful Change In Marketing

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.  

As part of my ongoing look at companies’ migration toward a customer lifecycle management approach (or not, as I must always point out, as this is by no means a universal trend), I’ve spoken with senior marketers at dozens of brands in different phases of marketing evolution. During this process, I've noticed some organizations exhibit a belief at the highest levels that future business success necessitates a company-wide commitment to change.

Below are some quotes from marketers I have interviewed that hammer that point home, and a little bit on what kinds of things they’ve been able to accomplish as a result:

  • “From the top of the organization, we know we want to be there. Sharing data needs to happen. We’ve recently reorganized, so we now have one group gathering all data across all functions.” Having a more uniform approach to data collection is allowing this organization to clearly identify gaps and breaking points in data gathering and data flow. (more…)

Is One-To-One Communication Worth It?

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.  

For all our industry’s talk about 1:1 communication between companies and consumers, the question – “Is it worth it?” - still looms large for many marketers.  This was an unexpected finding from my interviews with marketers for my ongoing customer lifecycle management research.

I had been assuming – naively, it seems, in hindsight - that everyone saw the same inevitable end state that I do, one where consumers come to expect that everything they experience, from content to advertising, is tailored specifically to them. Not as in that classic scene from Minority Report where the approach feels aggressive and overwhelming, but in a more natural (arguably helpful!) way, such as, in my case, receiving a text message from Dover Saddlery alerting me when I’m within 10 miles of a store where there’s a sale for the specific kind of stirrup leathers I like but haven’t purchased in at least 2 years; or getting an interactive in-page ad from Wayfair.com that helps me match furniture items to the rug and coat rack I purchased from them over the last couple months.  These are things that matter to me, not simply because I am a part of a segment, but because I, Joanna O’Connell, have very specific needs and interests.


What Oracle Gets With BlueKai: Talent, Data, And Scale

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.  

You can sign up for Joanna's "Marketer's Note" email newsletter here.

The rumor mill exploded late last week, with talk of a BlueKai acquisition by technology giant Oracle, and today, Oracle made it official. Extending the thinking from a recent post I authored on the inevitable merging of traditional marketing technology and ad technology players, here’s why an acquisition of a digital data management platform (or DMP) by Oracle makes sense:

  • It provides Oracle instant access to the digital advertising ecosystem. BlueKai was born in 2007 as a 3rd party data provider in the burgeoning display audience targeting space. But it rapidly evolved into a well-recognized data exchange (a one stop shop for a wide range of 3rd party data segments) and has spent the last seven years building relationships with all manner of technology players in support of its data marketplace - DSPs, ad networks, exchanges, other DMPs, data providers and more. These relationships are both business-based (think pricing models) and technology-based (think server-to-server integrations with all those capable; continuous ID mapping across the ecosystem), giving BlueKai massive scale (i.e. reach to users) in the digital advertising universe. And scale matters. Whether marketers are looking to reach modeled look-alike audiences, their highest performing 3rd party segments, or their own customers across the ad ecosystem, one of the most consistent challenges I hear about is doing this “at scale.” BlueKai’s considerable effort in this arena - in both business development and engineering activity – immediately provides its acquirer Oracle with just this.

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Pulling Back the Transparency Curtain on Programmatic

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.  

You can sign up for Joanna's "Marketer's Note" email newsletter here.

I recently spent the morning with a group of senior level marketers who normally spend their time thinking about media – the pricing of it, the technologies required to buy it, and the relationships (with agencies and others) needed to provide the necessary strategic guidance and day to day operational manpower to manage it. Our goal was to talk through programmatic in real terms – what does it really mean (today versus tomorrow), who are the relevant players, where and how does the money flow, and the like.

My ongoing experience in the space continues to remind me that one of the biggest issues continuing to hamper whole-hearted adoption of programmatic is transparency – both the perceived and real lack of it. And while this may be a topic no one feels like talking about anymore, the reality is that when talking about programmatic with the highest-level media decision-makers within marketing organizations, it’s not adequate to say, “trust us, we’re experts”, price on a flat CPM and provide a pretty monthly report. (As an ex-agency person, I do not say this flippantly.  I understand that this model of media management is well developed  -- some might say hard-wired -- within agencies for some very defensible reasons).
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Web Ads, Still Seedy After All These Years?

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.  

You can sign up for Joanna's "Marketer's Note" email newsletter here.

I’ll start by saying I didn’t watch last night’s Super Bowl game, but, as any good student of advertising, I did watch the commercials (after the fact of course; thank you, internet).  It was a hodgepodge of the funny (thanks, T Mobile for actually telling the truth about Super Bowl ads in this simple, straightforward little ad), the boring (BudLight Cool Twist) and the strange (Scientology).

There is one commercial I wanted to highlight because it had such a visceral effect on me: this Squarespace commercial that features a dystopian “Total Recall”-esque internet. While the ad itself didn’t make a lot of sense to me (what was it trying to tell me Squarespace does exactly?), there were a couple moments that really stood out to this long-time member of the digital advertising industry: first, the bodybuilder with the “CLICK HERE!” belly button; and second, and more memorably, the “people who bought this also bought this” robot. Yes, it was an easy shot at the state of today’s crowded, messy internet. But it was also a reminder of what most people really think of most digital advertising today: loud, intrusive or just plain creepy.  What this ad told me, loud and clear, is that we’ve still got a major image problem in digital advertising.  It reminded me of something Bob Lord, AOL Networks CEO, said, when we were chatting on-stage at Industry Preview a couple weeks back: “I’m trying to get AOL not to talk about ad units. I’m trying to get AOL to talk about ad experiences.”  That is a great start in working to change the conversation from intrusive ads to interesting, immersive ones. But the creepy question – what are we doing to address the creepy question? I’d argue still not nearly enough.

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Customer-centric? You Need Organizational Change Management

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.  

You can sign up for Joanna's "Marketer's Note" email newsletter here.

There was a great deal of talk at last week’s two-day Industry Preview conference about the necessity of delivering more relevant experiences in a world that’s increasing wired and multi-device. (The New York Times’ Nick Bilton talked at length about new connected technologies – including a growing range of wearables – that are either available today or just around the corner.)

Speakers generally agreed that what's needed most to enable more effective, relevant marketing is change management. Many companies continue to rely on outmoded organizational models and dated assumptions about the roles of “advertising” and “marketing,” rather than structuring themselves around “people” (aka customers, current and future). As Brad Rencher, SVP and GM of Adobe’s digital marketing business unit, aptly stated, “We must bridge the church and state of advertising and marketing.” I couldn’t agree more.

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The Push/Pull Balancing Act Of Content And Customer

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.  

You can sign up for Joanna's "Marketer's Note" email newsletter here.

I had a really interesting conversation with a Director of Digital Marketing at a financial services company recently as part of my “customer lifecycle management” research (which I’ll be presenting during day one of Industry Preview on Jan 21st), that got me thinking about the balance marketers are increasingly being asked to strike between, a) pushing their brand’s ideas to consumers versus, b) delivering what consumers are asking for based on two way conversation.

This rumination was born out of a seemingly simple question – Do you think your company needs a “Chief Customer Officer“? Her response was interesting: “I don’t think of it as a Chief Customer Officer.  I think of it as more of a Chief Content Officer – how do we disseminate our assets?”

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