AIG’s Travel Division Talks About Its IgnitionOne Journey


IgnitionOneAIGWhen it comes to performance metrics, AIG’s online marketing chief Daniel Loebl isn’t joking around. 

“In my work, we don’t have soft metrics,” said Loebl, whose official title is assistant VP of the digital center of excellence at AIG in the US. “I don’t allow them in my spend. Something either gets conversions or not.”

As a multinational insurance corporation – the company was ranked as the 40th largest on the 2014 Fortune 500 list – AIG has certain legislative restrictions and regulatory hoops it has to jump through in order to take advantage of its data, all of which needs to be stripped of personally identifiable information before it’s ready for advertising prime time.

Travel Guard, the travel insurance division of AIG, has been working with digital marketing tech player IgnitionOne – whose other clients include Bridgestone, CenturyLink, Fiat and GM – for the last five years in the US to manage its online marketing budget, run its pay-per-click and display campaigns, measure organic traffic and calculate attribution.

Travel Guard also feeds non-PII first-party data into IgnitionOne’s data-management platform. All in all, AIG takes advantage of the majority of the offerings within IgnitionOne’s Digital Marketing Suite, the most recent iteration of which was released Thursday.

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UK Media Auditor Takes A Crack At Viewability


viewabilityThe 50% viewability standard might fly (sort of) in the US, but it’s not yet considered to be a viable currency in the UK.

But UK-based media auditing body ABC – think of it as the equivalent of the Alliance for Audited Media in the US – released a report and related vendor certification Wednesday aimed at getting Team GB one step closer to an acceptable viewability standard. [Download the report.]

DoubleVerify, comScore, Integral Ad Science and Moat are the first solution providers to earn ABC’s stamp of approval for their viewability services. London-based viewability vendor OnScroll is on deck. The process, like MRC accreditation, is voluntary.

ABC put those players to the test using a set of principles created by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS), a coalition of seven UK trade bodies, including the UK arm of the IAB, the Association of Online Publishers and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.

The JICWEBS didn’t pull any punches in coming up with its core principles: What percentage of an ad can a product measure? Was the content able to be seen at all? How long can the product measure and view the content in question? At what point during the rendering process does viewability measurement begin? Etcetera.

“We’re trying to encourage realism over idealism,” said Richard Foan, group executive director of communication and innovation at ABC UK. “We’re breaking down the issue into manageable steps.”

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The Next Web Sells Drones (And Other Things) To Merge Commerce and Advertising


TNW dealsNot every publisher sees selling drones as a natural extension of its business.

But converting readers into customers is the next goal for The Next Web, an online tech magazine that has 6.6 million unique monthly visitors.

For the past three months, the company has been using StackCommerce to power its e-commerce store, called TNW Deals, which features a huge variety of products, including drones, mobile chargers, and boxed sets of whiskey. In other words: “The coolest things we can find,” said Rey Caacbay, senior business development manager.

The site now drives 10% of The Next Web’s total revenue.

Pairing content and commerce has unlocked data that The Next Web applies in other areas of the business, including advertising. For example, shopper data is a valuable asset for advertisers interested in buying sponsored posts. And blog posts and social media updates highlight products, which the site curates to ensure they align with audience interests.

“We can show our customers the information we’re getting from the e-commerce side, the conversion rate, how our audience interacts with the deals,” Caacbay said. “Now we have the numbers to back up the fact that our audience is creative and entrepreneurial, and buys a lot of e-learning items.”

Advertisers can participate in The Next Web articles in one of three ways: underwriting an article, sponsoring posts that mention their brand, and performance posts, which are designed to sell products.

“Because of TNW Deals, we have the data to give back to [advertisers] so they can build a performance model,” said Juan Buis, partnerships manager. “We can actually show them what we expect in terms of CTR or conversion rate.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bridge The Artificial Divide In Digital Commerce


yarivdrori"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Yariv Drori, CEO at AY Digital.

The view of digital marketing service industry from 1,000 feet reveals a patchwork of technology vendors. Some offer service layers that are highly tailored to their specific technical solutions. Others simply expect brands to adopt self-serviced platforms.

Ascend to 10,000 feet. You’ll find the patchwork split between services geared toward customer acquisition (media) or conversion (ecommerce).

As a result, brands are often forced to manage separate lines of engagement with their audience. One involves reaching out and bringing visitors to their site and the other converts those visitors into customers. It’s an artificial split because, from a customer standpoint, the engagement with a product or brand is continuous and ongoing.

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Software vs. Services: Is There Really A Difference?


martinkihnData-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner.

The fast-twitch distinctions between agencies and marketing software, low-margin analysts and high-margin code, are rapidly disappearing.

Inspired by their investors, software startups trip over themselves to show how hands-free they are. Meanwhile, many solutions are sold to customers who either staff up to support them or pay agencies to run them, making data scientist the "sexiest job of the 21st century," according to the Harvard Business Review.

The software providers themselves have hardly succeeded in keeping humans off their books. Many of the more interesting companies are primarily managed services, from social analytics firm Synthesio to ad server Trueffect. Even quintessential software-as-a-service (SaaS) shops like Google quietly offer on-demand professionals to support higher-end products, such as Google Analytics Premium and rich-media creative units. And the fastest-growing teams at digital marketing startups are customer care representatives, who are essentially consultants.

It turns out there is probably no enterprise software worth using that is so simple anyone can run it.

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Yahoo Still Shopping; Nielsen Measures Streaming



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Yahoo’s Appetite

Marissa Mayer is still shopping for ad tech in the wake of Yahoo’s BrightRoll and Flurry deals, and she’s cast an acquisitive eye on a few demand-side players, including MediaMath and Turn, writes Re/code's Kara Swisher. Her piece also mentions RadiumOne, whose founder Gurbaksh Chahal sold Blue Lithium to Yahoo for $300 million in 2007. (Chahal was removed as RadiumOne's CEO earlier this year.) Separately, Swisher cites the possibility of a much larger deal to buy Research In Motion. Why? Aside from giving Yahoo a mobile device to play with, a RIM deal could alleviate the company’s tax burden resulting from its Alibaba gains.

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iAd Starts Selling Programmatically


iadApple’s iAd inventory will be available programmatically through open exchanges.

Rubicon Project is one of “several advertising technology companies” that will be selling the inventory, according to a press release. MediaMath is among the other partners, according to an AdExchanger source.

iAd hasn’t been a star for Apple so far. "This partnership means that Apple is conceding that its current advertising strategy – going against market trends using a premium model targeting high spenders – has not worked," said Sigal Bareket, CEO and co-founder of Taptica.

iAds' market share of 2.6%, while substantial enough to place it in the top ten, pales in comparison to the market leaders. Google has 37.7% of US mobile Internet ad revenue and Facebook has 14.7%, according to figures from eMarketer.

“iAd has been a neglected asset,” said Dan Laughlin, VP of business development at HyprMX. “But with the right attention, it can become a significant player given its inherent distribution advantage and its ability to profile users based on their app usage."

iAd has more than 400 targeting options for advertisers. Its audience is also validated, since users must create an iTunes account in order to download apps. With the release of iOS 8, Apple announced that those Apple IDs could be used by iAds advertisers to retarget users across their devices. Those capabilities make it a good fit for advertisers doing audience-based targeting, who often prefer transacting in programmatic channels.

iAd has scale: "Apple iAd’s sell-side SDK is one of the most penetrated SDKs in the industry," said Michael Oiknine, CEO of Apsalar. "They now have added iTunes radio inventory, so it’s a smart yield maximization strategy for Apple and is akin to Facebook strategy, which maximizes inventory sales via FBX and PMDs."

Selling programmatically will fix iAds biggest mistake, which was selling its huge network of thousands of apps for premium prices. That didn't make sense to many media buyers, who passed on inventory they could get cheaper elsewhere.

"There was no real premium inventory offering to justify the pricing model," said Eric Bosco, CEO of ChoiceStream. "Advertisers are savvy enough to know that in mobile they can get more competitive rates via other providers to appear on the very same apps that Apple was selling."

“The network model is outdated,” said Julie Preis, SVP of product management at PulsePoint. “Partnering with someone like Rubicon gets [iAd] access to the ecosystem of automated buyers.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Google Steps Out Of Its Black Box With YouTube Attribution


YouTubeattributionApp developers are test-obsessed. They don’t spend a dime without knowing how it’ll turn out.

That could be part of the reason why they haven’t done much spending on in-app mobile YouTube pre-roll. Until recently, Google Analytics provided developers with feedback on things like rate of install, AdWords performance, how often an app is opened, the number of app sessions and other related information – but attribution was a challenge.

It’s one thing to know that a person installed your app – but it’s another thing to know where that person came from.

Google recently issued documentation that enables third parties to plug in and offer independent attribution for mobile video ads on YouTube. App attribution company TUNE, which rebranded from HasOffers in July, answered the call with an attribution solution for YouTube TrueView campaigns for iOS apps through an integration with Google AdWords. Other providers are sure to follow. [TUNE also offers iAd attribution, which rolled out in April.]

The tech is fairly simple: Once a campaign is running and an install occurs, TUNE’s MobileAppTracking platform pings YouTube, which in turn sends a postback over to TUNE to confirm the provenance of the install as coming from a particular YouTube ad. It fills a niche that needed to be filled, said TUNE's CEO, Peter Hamilton.

“If I’m an app marketer, I can follow a person throughout their lifetime on my app and see important things, like how active they are, whether they make purchases, etc., but there was no way to reconcile their advertising across AdWords, YouTube and all of their other channels,” Hamilton said.

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Kik Messenger Bets GIFs Are The Future Of Mobile Advertising


gifsPopular messenger app Kik, which hosts a colossal 185 million users, revealed it had snapped up GIF messaging firm Relay on Wednesday for an undisclosed sum. Additionally, the company secured a $38.3 million round of Series C funding, which it will use to invest in new-product development and expand its engineering and business-development teams.

Relay will discontinue its service on December 15 and its tech will be rolled into Kik.

“Chat is the core application of the smartphone era,” Kik co-founder and CTO Chris Best told AdExchanger. “Messages are the gateway to mobile, not just for usage and eyeballs, but also for commerce and general product discovery.”

Kik has already tried to monetize via a feature called Promoted Chats, Best said, and is looking to do more in the future. Its partners include ad platform Adaptly, retailer AERO, online comedy site Funny or Die, the magazines VICE and Seventeen, and headphone manufacturer Skullcandy.

While Kik plans to build more advertising products, Best said it first needs more resources. That said, the Relay acquisition is a clear signal of where Kik’s monetization strategy may be headed.

“We believe the GIF is the advertising format of the future,”said Relay co-founder Jon McGee.Since GIF files are small and play on a continuous loop, he added, they could be packaged to advertisers as the perfect mobile video format.

When asked if Kik might offer something like promoted GIFs or advertiser-sponsored GIF messaging through Relay, the company declined to comment, but conceded that the Relay acquisition gives it all the pieces it needs to make that happen.

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ShareThis Appoints A Programmatic VP


KurtAbrahamsonShareThis, the purveyor of a social share button spanning a wide swath of publisher sites and channels, on Tuesday appointed Wade Rifkin as its VP of Programmatic Partnerships. Rifkin came from agency DigitasLBI, where he was VP of Programmatic. (See the Q&A on his transition).

Rifkin’s relationships with trading desks and agencies should come in handy, particularly since ShareThis has a longstanding partnership with Publicis agency Starcom MediaVest, which augments ShareThis’ Social Quality Index metric (a measure of clicks and shares across ShareThis publisher sites) in its ad buys.

When asked what programmatic entity would immediately benefit from ShareThis’s data, Abrahamson said exchanges and supply-side platforms are all options.

“Using the data to inform ad buys and ad targeting is certainly one option, but so is figuring out how to take [some of the internal the insights] and marketing them to agencies and brands,” he said. “We haven’t committed to a specific action plan yet on the programmatic side, but Wade will help us evaluate the landscape.”

ShareThis sees consumer intent signals across a network of almost 3 million publisher sites, which is a 15-20% increase from one year ago. The company generally sees about one billion to one and a half billion sharing events per month.

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