How To Measure Native Advertising Performance

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

Todays column is written by Steve Wick, founder and president at MobSoc Media.

Native advertising is one of the fastest growing, most promising new methods of online marketing, but many brands are still trying to figure out the best way to measure its performance.

Does native advertising really work? How do we know what metrics to use?

One of the most common metrics used by publishers and advertisers to measure performance of native ads is engagement, which may include page views, clickthrough rates or time spent on the article. Others use traffic, social media sharing, brand lift and cost per click.

There are limitations to these methods of measuring native-advertising performance. Engagement does not always provide an immediate and measurable increase in sales or conversions. There are a few other methods to improve and measure bottom-line native-ad performance.

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Northern & Shell Invests In Programmatic; IBM Integrates Twitter Data

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Publishers For Programmatic

Publisher Northern & Shell is investing heavily in programmatic, digital channels and its CRM systems, The Drum reported. “Everyone’s completely behind digital and programmatic within the business. There are a lot of new skill sets needed from traditional media, so there’s been a bit of a shift,” said Ben Hancock, Northern & Shell’s head of programmatic. “We’re making a huge investment in our own CRM platforms here – one of the most valuable things we have around is data, and it’s something we need to be careful with, a key strategy around our monetisation.” Though Hancock refrained from detailing exactly how much of its advertising is happening programmatically, he said the percentage is “significant.”

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Starcom On How RUN Is Helping Publicis Bust A Move Into Ad Tech

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LisaWeinsteinStarcomMediaVestGroupHe who has the gold makes the rules. But the in-house trend doesn’t just apply to brands – agencies are starting to buy up ad-tech vendors, as evidenced by Publicis Groupe’s acquisition Tuesday of mobile programmatic vendor RUN.

Publicis has been dipping into the ad tech waters for a while. The holding company bought up 20% of Israeli performance media player Matomy Media Group earlier this month, and its tech and media unit VivaKi has been doing a bit of investing through its VC arm, VivaKi Ventures. But the RUN purchase represents Publicis Groupe’s first real ad-tech present to itself.

Considering what the competition is up to, it’s a necessary move. WPP just poured $25 million into a data-management platform (DMP) for its trading desk, Xaxis. And Omnicom’s tech arm Annalect is trying to turn itself into a platform.

RUN, at least for the moment, will retain its name, management and operational structure. The technology will operate as a standalone unit within Publicis as part of its media planning and buying arm, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), rather than as part of VivaKi.

“RUN is an owned asset of our group, but we want them to have a robust business, not just with us, but within the general marketplace,” said Lisa Weinstein, SMG’s president of global digital, data and analytics. “While we expect to see their business to continue to grow, their technology also aligns to where we are and will help us get to where we want to be – people-based targeting.”

However, that doesn’t mean current Publicis Groupe clients need to be wary about being obligated to use RUN’s technology, said RUN CEO Seth Hittman.

“We’re going to continue to build our business and our product suite so that the brands that work with Publicis feel more confident about the future,” Hittman told AdExchanger. “But there is no mandate. That’s not the spirit here.”

Weinstein spoke with AdExchanger following the RUN acquisition announcement.

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As Election Nears, Location Targeting Can Help Deliver The Right Political Ads

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

Todays column is written by Loren Hillberg, president at Thinknear by Telenav.

Geography and gerrymandering have conspired to create 435 congressional districts of distinctly irregular shapes and sizes, with extremely diverse populations.

Winners of The Washington Post’s 2011 “Name that District” contest, for example, christened Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District “The Praying Mantis” for its elongated shape and bulbous appendages. Other oddities include Pennsylvania’s 7th (“Goofy Kicking Donald Duck”) and Texas’s 45th (“The Upside-Down Elephant”).

These districts, which are holding elections next month, cause complications for political marketers as they reach out to citizens in the final days of the campaign. With Election Day upon us, digital marketers working in the political sphere need to be hyper-focused on targeting the right voters with the right ads.

Traditional advertising means taking a blanket approach to political ads based on the greater metropolitan area. That’s why someone in Manhattan might see TV ads for a congressman running for re-election in North Jersey. But digital advertising, specifically mobile, doesn’t operate on such a broad geographic boundaries. Mobile location tells us exactly which congressional district a person is in, at the exact moment we want to reach out to them – assuming they have enabled location tracking. Shouldn’t we use that information to target voters?

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Remedy Health Pairs Data With Emotional Content

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Health CentralWhen targeting ads and content, health publisher Remedy Health Media, whose network of sites attract 16 million unique visitors a month, faces greater challenges than most digital publishers.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains a privacy rule regulating the use of consumer health data, making it more difficult to personalize content and target advertising. The FDA regulates the messaging of the pharmaceutical companies that are the majority of Remedy Health’s advertisers.

But despite those challenges, Remedy Health has moved into two areas of innovation among publishers: sponsored content and data-segmented selling.

Sponsored Content

 Combining data with emotion is a key part of the way Remedy Health’s site HealthCentral.com positions itself in the market, explained CRO Jim Curtis. “Content has to strike a chord before the data means anything,” he said.

HealthCentral, the most heavily trafficked site in the Remedy Health family (which includes wellness site BerkeleyWellness.com and HIV/AIDS resource TheBody.com), collects inspirational stories from patients who are also experts about their conditions.

Because of FDA regulations, HealthCentral has a unique native advertising strategy.

“You can’t do native advertising anywhere without a long medical review,” Curtis said. “Pharmaceutical companies are less likely to use the most innovate tactics to speak to patient base, because it hasn’t been vetted through the FDA or approved.”

The editorial team creates a personal story, which brands can exclusively sponsor, about the conditions HealthCentral covers every year.

When HealthCentral created a graphics-heavy, multimedia piece about a mountain climber who almost died from Crohn’s disease, it supplemented the story with banner ads from Humira, which produces a Crohn’s medication. Read the rest of this entry »


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Consolidating In-Store: Brickstream Acquires NOMi For Offline Analytics

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NomiBrickShortly after NOMi – a company that bills itself as the Omniture of the brick and mortar store – acquired cross-device startup Media Armor, NOMi itself has been acquired by in-store analytics competitor Brickstream.

Apple delivered a major blow to a core part of NOMi’s business when it revealed this summer that it would begin randomizing Media Access Control (MAC) addresses for mobile operating system iOS8. This basically meant any WiFi-based tracker that relied on the MAC address to identify recurring visits in-store now had a scramble of digits to show for it.

Although this was a boon for consumer privacy, it left some, like NOMi, in an operational tangle.

Re-code reported in August that NOMi, which previously deployed video in addition to WiFi-based tracking methods, would ramp up its investment in the former and in beacon-based technology. Consequently, because WiFi installations were more labor intensive than iBeacons, there were subsequent staff cuts at the company, which Re-code pinned around 20 out of a 60-person total.

With NOMi halting WiFi sensor installations, it unsurprisingly saw “bluetooth and beacons increase in adoption,” CEO Marc Ferrentino told AdExchanger. “We saw the customer [cared less about the method of detection] than they did about getting the value and information they need for a better customer experience. … The Brickstream deal makes a lot of sense for us” looking long term.

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What’s In The Cards For Cardlytics? A $70M Series F Round

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CardlyticsFundingThere’s a time to invest in tech and there’s a time to invest in marketing – for Cardlytics, it’s time to do the latter. 

The card-linked ad tech company, which enables advertisers to send targeted offers to consumers directly embedded into their online banking experience, announced Wednesday that it’s raised $70 million in Series F funding led by Discovery Capital.

Although some of the money will be invested in product development, a large chunk of the new cash, which brings Cardlytics’ total to a bit more than $170 million, will go towards spreading awareness about its existing product line, said president and COO Lynne Laube.

“We’re one of the biggest companies that nobody’s ever heard of,” Laube said. “People don’t believe how much data we have access to. We’re going to use this money on marketing. We can deliver our services at scale – we just need to create the awareness.”

When Cardlytics partners with a bank, it provides a piece of software that sits on the bank’s own server behind a firewall. Transaction data is fed back to the bank on a nightly basis. A separate piece of software managed centrally by Cardlytics allows advertisers to create segments by interacting with the bank’s software.

For example, an advertiser could ask: How many consumers are there in the system who have spent more than $100 in my store over the last three months? The Cardlytics software would then communicate with the bank’s software to come up with a number. From there, the advertiser could issue a command, such as: Track those high value consumers identified by the software for 30 days to see how their spending shifts.

In that way, a consumer’s personally identifiable information never leaves the safety of the bank’s environment and individual information doesn’t have the chance to leak out.

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How Publishers Are Seeing The Light On Ad Blindness

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gregmasonsellsideThe Sell Sider is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Greg Mason, CEO at Purch.

Move over, programmatic and native. Ad fraud and viewability have become the two biggest buzzwords in the digital advertising industry.

At the center of both is the issue of being seen. In a nutshell, ads need to be seen – by actual people – for ROI and engagement to occur. Makes sense, right?

Candidly, though, seeing an ad isn’t the industry’s problem. There real issue is “ad blindness,” the tendency for audiences to completely ignore ads, even if they’re clearly visible. Last year, 60% of consumers said that they weren’t able to remember what the last online ad they saw was about, while 80% of those who did remember said the ad wasn’t relevant to them.

So having an ad that’s viewable to people – not bots – is great. But if it’s just ignored, what’s the point?

In the late ’90s, when the term was first coined, ad blindness was largely caused by the fact that ads were literally too small to be seen. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, the industry got serious about creating ads with more impact, and so larger, more creative-centric new formats were born.

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Matomy Media Group To Buy MobFox; Marissa Mayer's Hiring Desires

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Buying Programmatic

Tel Aviv-based performance marketing player Matomy Media Group snapped up mobile programmatic ad platform MobFox for $17.6 million. “The impressive growth of programmatic and mobile advertising has made it clear that both will form an important part of the future of digital advertising,” said Matomy CEO Ofer Druker. Read the press release. The deal follows a stock sale giving Publicis Groupe 20% of Matomy. Pair with Publicis’ acquisition of ad platform RUN (AdExchanger story). Publicis, ad tech owner!

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Facebook's Q3: Sustaining Ad Revenue Growth, And Seizing On Ad Tech

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facebook-earnings-q3-2014Facebook's Q3 ad revenue grew 64% in the third quarter, beating Wall Street expectations during a period when the company rapidly pressed its advantage in advertising technology.

Between July 1 and September 30, Facebook announced plans to acquire video sell-side platform LiveRail, ramped up volume on its Facebook Audience Network,  and rolled out a cross-device identity solution baked into its rebuilt Atlas ad server.

None of those investments, with the possible exception of FAN, had a major impact on Facebook's revenue during the period. Similarly, Facebook has yet to scale auto-play video ads in the News Feed. So it would seem the company has considerable room to run from an ad revenue standpoint.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg emphasized that Facebook is playing a long game in ad tech.

"We recognize that by staffing engineers in these strategic ad tech areas, we forego shorter term product improvements which would generate revenue more quickly. We believe this is the right decision,' she said.

Sandberg said the company's interest in ad tech was driven by a need for better tools in mobile.
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