"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.
I don’t think I am alone in saying that the digital marketing ecosystem has always had mixed feelings about Rocket Fuel.
From a performance standpoint, I’ve heard buyers (whether marketers or agencies) say it’s always been a solid, often great, player. And that matters. A lot. It brings buyers back time and again. From a business model standpoint, however, it’s faced more suspicion and criticism. As its programmatic media brethren – MediaMath, Turn and the like – have increasingly weaned themselves off of “managed service” deals - programs run, for all intents and purposes, as black box ad network campaigns of old – Rocket Fuel has continued to operate primarily as a managed service company. So while it’s often referred to in the industry as a demand-side platform (DSP), I’ve always argued that this is wrong – a platform that isn’t accessible to the end user for direct management of campaigns is not a true DSP (something I formalized through the DSP Wave several years back, while still an analyst at Forrester). And I’ve not been alone in this sentiment. Calls by agencies and, more importantly, marketers for “transparency” and “control” in their media management get louder by the day.