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MRC Standards Are Only A Starting Point For Viewability

ViewableWhen the Media Ratings Council (MRC) last week lifted its advisory against buying and selling display ads based on viewability, it marked a milestone in determining whether an ad was actually seen.

However, a number of industry execs say the problem is far from solved in display (let alone video, which still lacks a common standard) as measurement discrepancies still exist.

“There are [11] providers accredited by the MRC [to provide viewability metrics] and their numbers are all different, but the idea of how are they doing it – whether they are using geometric vs. browser optimization – is a really important distinction to make,” said Chris Louie, a VP at Nielsen, during a viewability roundtable discussion hosted by Integral Ad Science earlier this week.

The process by which vendors measure viewability should ideally answer some basic questions: “How much Web activity can you cover?” and “What is the quality of that coverage and what are the dimensions you want to use?”

There are three forms of measurement that when used in conjunction with one another, may yield the most effective measure of viewability. These include friendly iFrame measurement, page geometry (determines the ad’s positioning based on page layout) and browser optimization (determines whether the browser renders the ad). Unfortunately, these measurements often contradict each other.


Dell Streamlines Marketing Spend Through Attribution

dellOne of PC giant Dell’s first steps as a private company is overhauling its marketing spend. Dell executives unveiled results from its work with marketing attribution firm Visual IQ on Thursday at Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders.

“Our goal was to understand the optimal ways to reach our customers through all the channels that we use to communicate with them,” said Drew Miller, executive director of global analytics and insights at Dell.

Visual IQ offers a SaaS-based solution, IQ Intelligence Suite, that uses data collection, machine learning and analytics to help companies better allocate their marketing spending across different channels.

Dell tapped Visual IQ to help it analyze its marketing spend across online channels such as email, display advertising and search in its North American consumer business. (more…)

Ben Edelman Vs. Blinkx, Round 3

ben-edelman-blinkxBen Edelman and Blinkx can't get enough of each other.

Three months after Edelman – an associate professor at Harvard – swatted ad tech firm Blinkx for allegedly deceptive adware install practices, and three weeks after Blinkx hit back with a point-by-point rebuttal that also called out Edelman's financial ties to clients who have shorted the company's stock, the bell has dinged again and we're into round three.

In an article published Thursday, Edelman documented some additional business activities ascribed to Blinkx and its partners. Those activities include bundling Blinkx ad-supported software in ways that allegedly mislead the end user. For instance, Edelman writes that one software bundle called "Flappy Bird," after the popular mobile game, contained two Blinkx adware components but was missing the flagship product.


ZenithOptimedia: 2014 A 'Banner' Year Thanks To RTB, Display Will Eclipse Search By 2016

power-displayWith the rise of video and native ad formats, traditional display ads don't get a lot of love in media buyer circles. But they do get plenty of money, as a new ZenithOptimedia forecast makes clear.

Spending on standard display ads (i.e. desktop banners) will rise 16% in 2014, "boosted by the revolution in programmatic buying," the Publicis-owned media agency states in its latest media spending forecast.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Dan Salmon made a similar observation in a research note today, writing, "real-time bidding is working its way through the IP advertising ecosystem at different speeds and only one addressable market -- static banner ads -- is anywhere close to full penetration."

Strength in the old-school banner – largely the result of programmatic going mainstream -- will help the whole display category whiz past search within two years. Zenith predicts spending on all digital display formats (traditional, video, social, etc.) will hit $74.4 billion in 2016, to search's $71.1 billion.


MediaMath Plugs Into Yahoo, Microsoft And Others For Guaranteed Inventory Access

mediamath GregMicrosoft and Yahoo are loosening their stranglehold on their premium display inventory.

MediaMath has set up a buying program that includes guaranteed direct buys in a programmatic environment. The program is enabled through partnerships with publishers Yahoo and Microsoft, along with technology partners Shiny Ads, iSocket and Yieldex.

The partnership represents the latest industry attempt to execute guaranteed deals in programmatic.

“Traditionally this inventory that’s available isn’t in the RTB (real-time bidding) or open auction markets,” said Greg Williams, SVP of MediaMath's OPEN Partnership program (an initiative designed to educate marketers about programmatic). “We’ve built out the infrastructure and capabilities for our clients to make guaranteed direct buys in a programmatic environment.” (more…)

Disqus Releases Its Second Advertising Product: Sponsored Comments

disqus copyWant to buy a comment?

Commenting platform Disqus released Monday a featured called Sponsored Comments, following a month-long beta testing period that included The New York Times, Yahoo and Xerox, among others.

This is not Disqus’ first foray into advertising products. Sponsored Comments arrives roughly one and a half years after it released its first ad feature, Promoted Discovery.

“Once we saw the Disqus audience was receptive to advertising, it set us off into advertising as how we will sustain ourselves as a company,” said David Fleck, Disqus' general manager of audience. (A blog post by company CEO and co-founder Daniel Ha detailed some results shortly after Promoted Discovery’s release in late 2012.)

Those not familiar with the Disqus name (it’s pronounced Discuss and originated in 2007) have likely seen or interacted with its software, as it powers the commenting features on publisher websites like CNN, National Public Radio and IGN. The system is on roughly 3 million websites and Disqus’ user base (made up of 1.3 billion uniques, according to Fleck) is linked to its broader community. Click on the name of a commenter and you’ll see a thread of her comments across other publishers using Disqus. (more…)

Netseer CEO Talks Contextual Ad Targeting Trends, New Viewability Tool

John-MracekAd-targeting company Netseer is one of the pioneers in contextual ad targeting, but as advertisers changed their focus from placements to audiences, the 8-year-old company knew it had to keep up with the times.

Netseer’s products include media-buying services and a contextual links ad network. And this week it launched a viewability solution called the Predictive Viewability Engine. AdExchanger spoke with CEO John Mracek.

AdExchanger: How has Netseer’s strategy changed since we spoke with you in 2011?

JOHN MRACEK: When we talked a few years ago, the media was focused on contextual placements. But in the environment of programmatic, there is a greater focus on pursuing cookies, retargeting, lookalikes and other types of audience-based models.

We used the same technology from our Concept Graphs [technology that analyzes search queries and Web page content to optimize placements] and applied the same intent engine to people as well as pages and so our offering has gotten much broader where we have a brand product focused more on content adjacency and a response product where the client wants to achieve a particular response goal.


MRC Gives Its Blessing To Viewability Vendors

ViewabilityThe Media Rating Council (MRC) on Monday lifted its advisory against buying and selling display ads based on viewability metrics.

“The state of viewability measurements is much better than it was 16 months ago and viewability vendors have greater insight into the range of ads that are served in campaigns,” said David Gunzerath, SVP and associate director of the MRC.

The MRC had cautioned advertisers and publishers against using viewability solutions due to discrepancies in the solutions’ abilities to determine whether people had seen an online ad.

Cross-domain iFrames, for example, inhibited marketers’ ability to measure display ad viewability. Ad tech firms have since developed add-on solutions or improved their technology to address these issues.


White Ops On A Mission To Root Out Ad Fraud

whiteops-tiffanyDigital ad fraud has lately gained mainstream awareness, and many marketers at leading brands now realize the threat that fraud poses to their ability to track online advertising.

A Wall Street Journal piece last week chronicled concerns at organizations like L'Oreal, General Motors and Verizon Communications. Fortunately for marketers, as the bad guys are shifting their sights to digital advertising, so too are the information security gurus.

Michael Tiffany and Dan Kaminsky are well-regarded in the IT security community and have long histories tracking online criminal behavior. The two took advanced fraud-detection technology they had designed for banks and trained it on the online advertising space.

Their technology forms the bedrock of White Ops, a company that Tiffany said is on a “messianic mission” to help the ad world understand that fraud is "not a passive problem at the edges" of the industry. According to the firm's estimates, last year criminals made off with $6 billion from online fraud in the United States alone.

Putting the brakes to that kind of criminal activity is a bold mission for two security geeks who started with no contacts in the advertising space. But with some early attention from the right people placed within the industry – including Jon Bond of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners fame, who now serves on White Ops' board, and Erica Bartman, formerly of AdWeek, who works as the firm's chief revenue officer – has helped propel White Ops into the mix with a number of large brands, including GE.

AdExchanger talked with Tiffany, White Ops' CEO, to discuss the technology and why digital advertising fraud matters not just to everyone involved in the advertising world, but also to the long-term viability of the Internet.

AdExchanger: Why are criminals turning to ad fraud instead of attacking financial institutions?

MICHAEL TIFFANY: Because ad fraud is, in some ways, a better crime. No matter how stealthy your tech stack is, or how awesome your root kit is, once you steal the money, someone tends to notice that it’s missing. When you succeed at ad fraud, by its very nature, no one notices. If it succeeds, it completely flies under the radar. You just collect money. You don’t need money mules for sending anything via Western Union. The people who are developing these tools are the world’s best, and make an astonishing amount of money. They’re primarily going head to head with the best big data analytics that an ad company can buy. That’s just a huge mismatch.


Why Programmatic “In-House” Is Gaining Favor With Marketers

ProgioArtSelf-serve programmatic media buying is gaining favor with the in-house marketing set.

That was a key trend that emerged at AdExchanger’s Programmatic I/O conference in San Francisco Monday, where approximately 500 marketers and data-driven tech companies convened to share how programmatic media buying is changing advertising.

At the outset of the show, AdExchanger Director of Research Joanna O’Connell shared results from AdExchanger’s Q1 State of Programmatic Media Online Survey, which consisted of responses from 44 large-scale marketers in addition to agencies, publishers and vendors; one such data point hinted at the rise of the in-house programmatic marketer who is strongly in favor of working directly with a single platform.

Specifically, more than 40% of the marketer respondents used one general DSP such as MediaMath, DataXu or [x+1] to manage programmatic media across all channels as opposed to tapping multiple DSPs or vertical data management platforms (DMPs).

It's one thing for marketers to want more conversions, said Konrad Feldman, cofounder and CEO of audience measurement and real-time data processing platform Quantcast. However, "it’s another thing altogether to say we want a different 'type' of conversion. Marketers have that data."