RSS FeedArchive for the ‘Platforms’ Category

Data Sharing, Modularity And Video Creative: AOL Platforms Lays Out Its 2015 Road Map

aol platformsIf data is currency, then it’s no wonder most companies lock it in a safe (unless you’re Sony Pictures Entertainment, in which case you just put it on a Word document somewhere).

But this can be a tremendous point of frustration for brands that want to use the data housed by the big dogs of ad tech – Facebook, Google and Amazon – to optimize their marketing beyond those relatively closed-off portals.

Because it’s unlikely these already-existing walls will soon crumble, AOL has an opportunity to push an open platform vision to differentiate.

Walled gardens send the ad tech industry backward, said AOL Platforms CEO Bob Lord during a programmatic forum AOL hosted at its headquarters Tuesday. As a proof point, he noted that about 50% of brands it works with will likely own their own data-management platform.

“We’re going toward an open stack, an open data strategy,” he said. “We will allow advertisers to import data into our platform and activate that against media, and we’ll share that data with our partners to activate in their channels and put in their CRM.”


Spotify Queues Up Local Targeting, Courtesy Of Triton Digital

spotSpotify is getting into the local ad game, courting brands with a platform that helps advertisers geotarget audiences in the US. The music streaming service will debut its Spot Radio Platform for brands on Jan. 1.

The tool is backboned by Triton Digital, a marketing service to the media industry and a tech provider whose clients also include NPR, Pandora, CBS Radio and rdio. Triton’s tech, Webcast Metrics Local, offers market-level reporting and insights on the listening behaviors and engagement rates of Spotify’s more than 50 million monthly active users.

Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics Local is MRC-accredited, and pulls data from census stats, omitting samples, surveys and panels by measuring listeners’ activity directly.

“Triton can measure on an exact level how many people are attached to a stream, whether that’s nationally or by market, and they can go deeper by ZIP code,” said Spotify’s Brian Benedik, VP of advertising and partnerships in North America. “Unlike the traditional radio measurement, which is panels and surveys, Triton has come to the market with an exact measurement, which is clearly valuable for the digital community.”

Benedik called the release “a natural evolution” of the company’s ad business in the US.

“Up until now, on the digital and on the radio side, we’ve only worked with brands to target national campaigns across the US,” he said. “Whether that’s through media or Spotify’s open API, we’ve been activating audience on a national level.”

“Now, we’re opening up a new demand source by moving in the geotargeted, local game,” he added. “It diversifies us quite a bit and makes us friendlier to the advertising community. And it points to Spotify maturing as a business.”


PageScience Helps Health Marketers Ditch Cookies With Contextual Targeting

psciAdvertisers need to be inventive to adhere to health marketing regulations, particularly since 2011, when the IAB banned health marketers from using cookies to target patients.

PageScience’s approach is to bring contextual, cookie-less targeting to its clients through page scoring. On Wednesday, the company made public its Health Insights dashboard, which lets brands and agencies analyze ad impression availabilities in specific health-condition categories. Grapeshot and Sizmek’s Peer39 both offer similar solutions, though neither focuses on the health and pharma industry.

“With programmatic buying increasing dramatically, agencies, pharma companies, and hospital brands have been asking for an easy way to estimate reach for niche conditions,” said PageScience CEO Bill Jennings. “So we developed Health Insights for ad buyers to quickly determine the maximum avails for their PageScience-scored inventory.”

PageScience, formerly Precision Health Media, specializes in page-level (i.e. contextual) targeting for health and pharma advertisers, and clients include major hospitals like MD Anderson, Mass General, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Moffitt, and Dartmouth Hitchcock. The company has 15 employees, and Jennings declined to comment on the current number of active campaigns.

PaceScience’s tech scans the Web to locate and score the best environments to target specific ailments and partners with AppNexus for execution. This year, the company worked with more than 50 pharma advertisers and 300 publishers in its private marketplace.

“If a page shows up on MS or diabetes, for example, Health Insights checks our data warehouse to see if that page is scored highly, and then it executes the bid,” Jennings said.


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.


Undertone Zeroes In On Its Platform With Hiring Of Former Rovi CTO

undertone eric franchi george durdenWhen Undertone released its programmatic platform Virtuoso in September, the goal, according to co-founder Eric Franchi, was for it to eventually become the primary console of brands and agencies that want to purchase high-impact ad units, or ads that use unique formats designed to snag the audience’s attention.

The onetime ad network has hired George Durden as its SVP of technology to help facilitate this. Durden, who most recently served as Rovi Corporation’s EVP and CTO, will oversee all technological initiatives at Undertone, though his immediate focus is building out Virtuoso.

As AdExchanger previously reported, Virtuoso plans to add an enhanced data and analytics offering in 2015. This is one area where Durden’s experience at Rovi should come into play.

“Rovi, at its core, was a data company at massive scale,” he said. “The skills I established dealing with large-scale data systems and analytics will be important to what we’re trying to accomplish at Undertone.”

Rubicon Project Acquires Two Companies Supporting Direct Deal Automation

rubicon-shinyads-isocketRubicon Project has snapped up iSocket and Shiny Ads, two companies in the rapidly emerging category of automating direct, negotiated deals between ad buyer and publisher. The total cost of both deals is less than $30 million, mostly paid in stock, according to a press release. The bulk of that $30 million likely went to iSocket, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Rubicon's acquisitions will give it access to deep back-end technology built by iSocket and Shiny Ads, along with engineers from both companies familiar with working in publisher ad servers. Rubicon's work on deal automation to date had more been on the front end.

"With iSocket they acquire legitimacy, marquee relationships, and buy-in from big time NY publishers, like Condé Nast and IAC. That publisher buy-in has a domino effect," said Dina Srinivasan, managing director, emerging media for Kantar Media SRDS. "With Shiny Ads, Rubicon is able to quickly increase their foothold in the marketplace. It helps both with optics and marketshare in their efforts against Google."

Post-acquisition, Rubicon should now have pipes in place for 1,000 to 1,500 of the top 2,000 publishers that agencies are most interested in buying direct from, a source familiar with the deal estimated. Another source put iSocket's publisher count at 300, Shiny Ads' at 30 and Rubicon's private marketplace publisher connections at over a thousand -- though the latter isn't strictly automatic guaranteed.


Q3: Rich Media Declines Drag Down Sizmek

sizmek 02Sizmek had another disappointing quarter, with Q3 revenues increasing only 3% YoY to $39.5 million – results that “were lower than we had expected,” according to company CEO Neil Nguyen.

The decline was driven by the company’s faltering rich media business, which decreased 35% YoY.

The ad management company found a silver lining in its core business, which increased 30% YoY. That business includes mobile revenues (97% YoY increase), in-stream video revenues (90% YoY increase) and revenues from data products that include programmatic decisioning and viewability and verification (73% YoY growth).

Unfortunately, Sizmek was hit hard by declines in traditional rich media – which are high-impact ads that use Flash and are being made increasingly obsolescent due to the advent of HTML5.

Rich media was a bugbear last quarter as well, particularly in North America, as clients upped investment in mobile and video – both growth areas for Sizmek this quarter. (Interestingly, the company is introducing products that blend mobile and rich media, having released a tool for rich media ads in social and mobile in early November.)

Rocket Fuel CEO Talks SaaS Vs. Services, As Q3 Revenues Surpass $100M


Rocket Fuel is adding SaaS to its revenue mix, but slowly.

During the company's Q3 earnings call with investors on Wednesday, CEO George John said Rocket Fuel now has 137 "licensee customers" buying through one of its three software-as-a-service channels.

Those channels are: Rocket Fuel's self-serve offering, called Mission Control; the company's partnership with Dentsu subsidiary CCI in Japan; and [x+1], the demand-side and data-management platform company Rocket Fuel acquired in September.

But the company is "somewhat indifferent" to whether a marketer or agency chooses to license its programmatic buying platform or to rely on Rocket Fuel for managed services, John said. He gave the example of two hypothetical customers: One that licenses the platform and operates it themselves and another that writes a check for $1 million, of which Rocket Fuel may keep $500,000 after managing the spend.

"What we really drive the business on is revenue ex-TAC," John said.

In contrast to those 137 SaaS customers, Rocket Fuel has well over 1,000 customers that use it on a managed-services (i.e. insertion-order) basis. The total customer count at the end of Q3 was 1,446, which is up from 938 at the end of Q3 2013 but flat sequentially.


Facebook Marketing Partner SHIFT Integrates With The New Atlas

shiftSHIFT is among the first Facebook marketing partners to integrate with the newly rebuilt Atlas ad platform. CEO James Borow said the company's customers will soon be able to leverage Facebook's data within SHIFT's new platform to reach people in mobile apps outside of Facebook-owned mobile apps.

“The inventory is not just locked within the walls of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” he said. “We’re now serving ads within a mobile display environment, which is outside the walls of the Facebook application.”

SHIFT’s updated platform includes a re-engineered user interface for its dashboard that lets marketers set rules and triggers to govern campaigns. It leverages intelligence built on Atlas’ data, Borow said, in addition to first- and third-party data.

Other updates include an interface to manage campaigns across networks and enhanced data reporting capabilities and visuals.

“This is what the next generation of ad platforms will look like,” said Borow. “We target real individuals, not just cookies, and we can reach our customers across any device, if they’re checking Facebook or Twitter, or if they’re inside an application like Angry Birds. It’s a massive step forward for advertisers.”

SHIFT employs around 100 people, and its customers include brands like AT&T, American Express and Unilever. The company has raised about $14 million and is headquartered in Los Angeles, with an overseas office in London.

WPP media agency MEC uses SHIFT’s software for a number of its clients to power social media buys across several platforms. And though MEC’s North America head of social, Noah Mallin, said he sees the potential in SHIFT’s alliance with Atlas, MEC has yet to fully leverage Atlas.


Google Weaves's Fraud Filters Into DoubleClick Bid Manager

google-spiderAs fraudsters swarm like so many bees at the display advertising picnic, the industry is trying to blunt their stings with a combination of automated and manual solutions.

Google has been among the most proactive ad platform players, hiring legions of real humans to review websites submitted to DoubleClick Ad Exchange. It recently acquired, a UK-based firm specializing in detecting bots and other forms of digital ad fraud, and more recently integrated's technology with its demand-side platform.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Google product manager Payam Shodjai said Google has started proactively blocking ads it deems fraudulent from auctions within DoubleClick Bid Manager. The fraud types include toolbar-injected ads and ads hidden within iframes. Advertisers don't need to turn the feature on, as Google is automatically culling these impressions before they are bid on – resulting in a 2.6% reduction in total inventory exposed to demand.

However, the percentage of that inventory varies widely by exchange provider, Shodjai noted. The below chart shows the fraud rates detected across 16 exchanges, with rates ranging from less than 1% up to about 18%. (more…)