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FTC Big Data Workshop: More Transparency, Please

FTC ImageThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to know what marketers are doing with segmentation profiles like “urban scrambler” and “ethnic second city struggler.”

The potential for advertising segmentation to exacerbate inequality was a central topic at Monday’s FTC workshop, “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” The Washington, D.C., event included representatives from advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the consumer side and the National Retail Federation (NRF) on the marketers' side, as well as data companies like Epsilon.

While the FTC has proposed legislation to address issues in data marketing, the workshop also served as a forum for how the industry, especially data brokers, should self-regulate.

“There needs to be more accountability throughout the ecosystem,” FTC Commissioner Julie Brill told AdExchanger at the event. The FTC has already made legislative recommendations regarding data brokers and data security. Some are outlined in an FTC report, “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability,” released in May. (more…)


Presto, Programmatic Player Chango Taps Microsoft Vet To Accelerate Sales

KeithLorizioChango’s new CRO, Keith Lorizio, has an ad tech CV as long as your arm – but it was only a short while ago that he became a convert to the gospel of programmatic.

“I wasn’t a fan of programmatic about three years ago back when I was a rep with a big publisher working on things like MSN and Xbox,” said Lorizio, who most recently held a post as VP of US sales at Microsoft (he left in February).

Before that gig he built the Yahoo mid-market sales team from scratch, growing revenue to about $350 million, and before that Lorizio spent time as VP of the East Coast and inside sales at early search engine AltaVista.

“Back then, the ability to buy inventory at cheaper rates felt like it would only hurt overall revenue – but now it’s a totally different world,” Lorizio said. “Programmatic isn’t just about buying inventory. … It’s about procuring that inventory at the right price and generating better results.”

Founded in 2008, Chango's technology uses intent data to help advertisers build more timely campaigns. Its client list includes Clorox, eBay, Sears, Sprint and Toyota.

The Chango sales team now stands at a little less than 40 people, and Lorizio has been given license to roughly double that in the next six months.

AdExchanger caught up with Lorizio.

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For Old-School Epsilon, Conversant ​Buy Will Bring Tech And New Channels

alliance convertroAlliance Data Systems’ (ADS) intent to acquire Conversant (formerly ValueClick) for its Epsilon subsidiary might seem like a change in direction. R Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder at Constellation Research, described the intent to acquire as “the right move” to make Epsilon “a legit…tech company.”

On a first gloss that seems like a pivot. Epsilon has until now considered itself a marketing services company with a strong partner ecosystem. Does integrating Conversant’s tech push Epsilon from services to tech provider, like what rival Acxiom is trying to do with its Audience Operating System (AOS) platform?

To Pivot, Or Not To Pivot

Not so fast, said Epsilon CEO Bryan Kennedy. “That might be a little bit of a mis-representation,” he told AdExchanger. Epsilon’s heritage, he said, is around managing data and databases and building multichannel marketing campaigns; Conversant’s tech will strengthen the company’s ability to execute. “This is less about getting into the ad tech sector and more about having scale and rich capabilities in display and mobile channels,” he said.

$2.3 billion might seem a lot to pay for enhancements, but for Dan Salmon, equity research analyst at BMO Capital Markets,  it’s money well spent.
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Fraud-day With Dstillery: Everyone Is Responsible For Fighting Fraud

fraudThis is the seventh in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include Moat, Telemetry, Sizmek, comScore and Asia RTB. Read previous interviews with DoubleVerify, Forensiq, Integral Ad Science, PubChecker, Videology and White Ops.

The battle against botnets is ongoing. Ad tech firm Dstillery knows that firsthand.

Back in 2012, Dstillery, which then went by the name Media6Degrees, noticed something decidedly odd about the clients of its marketing partners – they were all acting the exact same way.

It’s like this: There’s always going to be a certain amount of audience crossover between traffic on related sites. It makes sense that the kind of person who visits nytimes.com is also likely to visit cnn.com. If you visit ebay.com, it’s not statistically unlikely you’d also hit up ebaymotors.com.

But what if the customers for Verizon, Allstate and Williams-Sonoma all suddenly started hitting up the same websites in droves – websites you’ve probably never even heard of. The situation was certainly fishy.

“One of the sites was a Chinese news site, another was a women’s health site, another was a DIY website – it made no sense,” said Dstillery COO Andrew Pancer. “It was really screwing up our models. We knew something was up, but we couldn’t figure out what it was.”

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Alliance Data Buys Epsilon a $2.3B Present: Conversant

epsilon conversantWondering about Conversant’s future? Wonder no more, as the ad network turned ad tech company will be acquired by Alliance Data for $2.3 billion in cash and stock. Conversant (formerly known as ValueClick/Dotomi) will be folded into Alliance’s marketing services division Epsilon. Alliance hopes to close the deal by the end of the year.

From the release:

    "Conversant projections for 2015 are revenue of $670 million (+8 percent) and adjusted EBITDA of $230 million, or mid-30 percent adjusted EBITDA margins. Organic revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth rates have trended in the high single-digits range in the past with similar expectations for the near term."

“It’s about filling up the toolbox to the brim with a very, very compelling set of products and services that will put us at the table of any CMO that’s out there in the global 5,000,” said Alliance CEO and president Ed Heffernan during a conference call announcing the acquisition.

So what was missing in Alliance’s – or Epsilon’s – toolbox? Per Heffernan, while Epsilon was bullish about its digital messaging platform Harmony, it was “subscale” in key areas like targeted display, video and mobile. These are all areas of concentration for Conversant.
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The New Rocket Fuel: Questions For CEO George John And [X+1] CEO John Nardone

george-john-nardone-rocket-fuelRocket Fuel closed on its acquisition of [x+1] Friday, transforming itself from what was primarily an ad network company into a credible platform play focused on the software-as-a-service opportunity in programmatic marketing.

The new Rocket Fuel has far more of the attributes of a "programmatic marketing platform" than the old one, providing clients with the ability to centrally manage their data and use it to message across a range of paid and owned channels. [X+1] brings these capabilities via its data-management platform (DMP), demand-side platform (DSP) and site-side optimization capabilities. These will augment Rocket Fuel's "artificial intelligence" approach to exchange-traded media buying and optimization.

For more on the deal and its details, AdExchanger spoke with the men in charge of the two companies: Rocket Fuel CEO George John and John Nardone, the former chief at [x+1] whose title is now EVP and general manager at Rocket Fuel.

AdExchanger: Talk about the fate of [x+1]'s Origin Marketing Hub vs. the much younger Rocket Fuel DSP. Do you maintain separate platforms or migrate all your customers to one and shut down the other?  

GEORGE JOHN: It's more of a blend than it is keep one, shut down the other.

[X+1]'s Origin platform is beloved by customers for the ability to put in the marketing rules that the teams would prescribe around what products to recommend in which situations, and how to make that consistent across channels. The value is around involving the people more in that process and then being able to integrate with multiple touch points, once that decisioning is prescribed.

Rocket Fuel's strength was, given a precise goal, letting the AI run with it and managing the petabytes of data that the AI works on top of. As we blend, you'll see a lot of the workflow, a lot of the user interface around decisioning and rule logic from the Origin platform. And we'll be able to leverage their existing technology for the channel integrations, the touch point integrations. You'll see that get augmented with Rocket Fuel's AI. Given the constraints that the marketing programs have, within those constraints there's just oceans of optimization to explore. We'll be able to set the AI free on that and deliver some added ROI.

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Marin Software And Yandex Hope Hook-Up Opens New Markets

yovanno-marin-usethisAd management platform Marin Software has partnered with Yandex to let its clients automate and manage paid search campaigns on the Russian search engine giant.

Basically, if those clients have similar advertising campaigns running on other search engines, they can clone those campaigns and pop them into Yandex.

“We have more global clients looking to leverage the campaigns, all the conversion and apply that globally,” said Marin CEO David Yovanno, adding that Marin has 25% of Fortune 500 companies – global brands with Russian operations.

So while Marin gets to hit up the Russian market, Yandex also gets access to advertisers using Marin’s platform, which has been modified to enable smaller search publishers to write to Marin's API.
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Fraud-day With White Ops: Cut Off The Money, Cut Off The Fraud

fraudThis is the sixth in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include Moat, Telemetry, Sizmek, comScore, Dstillery and Asia RTB. Read previous interviews with DoubleVerify, Forensiq, Integral Ad Science, PubChecker and Videology.

When it comes to catching bots, higher walls and better locks aren’t going to cut it.

So says Michael Tiffany, CEO of White Ops, which snagged $7 million in series A funding back in June. Tiffany told AdExchanger several months ago that he’s on a “messianic mission” to help the industry truly understand the threat posed by online ad fraud.

Online fraudsters do what they do because it’s lucrative. If digital ad fraud becomes less lucrative, the bad actors will move onto something else. That’s the core conviction by which White Ops operates.

“The bad guys are motivated by financial rewards,” Tiffany said. “We’re exploring what happens when we decrease the dollar amount available to these criminals.”

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Ghostery and IPONWEB Team Up To Bring Fraud Detection To RTB

GhosteryAd tech companies Ghostery and IPONWEB have combined their technologies to launch an antifraud service Thursday called Ghostery Verified Domains.

The service, designed for an RTB environment, enables advertisers to allocate campaign dollars based on the perceived level of legitimate traffic. These levels include verified, masked, suspicious or unknown.

“It’s creating an extra data layer for advertisers for inventory selection,” said Ghostery CEO Scott Meyer. “[Advertisers can] take a calculated risk that [certain impressions] might not be a real user or publisher, but decide that at a certain CPM, it might be something you’re able to buy.”

While Meyer described the service as “complementary” to other fraud-detection offerings from the likes of Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify, he added that those existing solutions differ in two respects. They may rely on synthetic data, which doesn't come from real users, in order to validate the traffic.

Others only offer post-campaign assessments “after the dollars are lit on fire." That’s great for direct buys, noted Mike McMaster, Ghostery director of custom solutions sales, but not for real-time bidding: “You need the information at bid if you’re going to rely on programmatic.”

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Hear This: Triton Digital Rolls Out Supply-Side Audio Platform, Readies For Demand Side

ben tritonTriton Digital, which builds ad tech for digital and broadcast radio, unveiled its supply-side offering, Triton Advertising Platform (Tap), available in two flavors: one for traditional broadcasters and an on-demand offering for Internet-based radio stations.

Over the next 18 months, Triton is going to onboard its roughly 6,000 stations in the US, EMEA, LATAM and parts of Asia onto the Tap platforms.

“It’s a rethought system, based on what a publisher would want in 2014,” said Benjamin Masse, Triton’s SVP and GM of advertising. “We’ve been working on it for about three years.”

CBS Radio, Cumulus, Rdio and RadioIO are already using the platform, according to a release.

The system is designed to give audio publishers the ability to forecast available inventory and to smarten it up with audience data, such as geographic information or user registration information.

As such, Triton’s “rethought” Tap system adds significant new capabilities around targeting (like one-to-one delivery of an audio spot) and tracking.
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