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How Cox Media Group Powers Dynamic Messaging With Surveys

HeatherBlytheWhether one considers the survey time-tested or old-fashioned, advertisers and media companies still use voice-of-the-customer tools and techniques to tweak their messaging.

Atlanta-based Cox Media Group, for instance, operates 80 websites, four major newspapers, 11 television stations and a slew of radio stations. The media company, which relies on a range of analytics tools including Google and Adobe Analytics and Chartbeat, needed a dynamic survey tool in order to create and optimize content based on individual visitor interest.

“We wanted to get our research responses into Adobe Analytics, so we could slice and dice hairs on-site, and we were one of the first clients to push (dynamic survey vendor) Qualtrics for an integration (to the analytics platform),” said Heather Blythe, senior manager of analytics and insights at Cox Media Group.

In addition to tag-based site discoveries that help with ad effectiveness, visitor intent, behavioral prompts and customized messaging, Cox applied the dynamic survey tool Qualtrics SiteIntercept to drive mobile app downloads for publisher sites.

As part of a series of roll-outs for premium subscriber sites, Cox newspaper groups launched a number of replica and breaking news apps for iOS and Android devices.


From The Mouths Of Tech CEOs

LiarAs and Oracle CEOs Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison demonstrated last week, what CEOs say in public can rarely be taken at face value.

Following a bitter rivalry and lots of name-calling, Oracle and announced a nine-year partnership to integrate’s CRM software and Oracle’s cloud-hosted human resources and financial applications. There was no shortage of glad-handing on a recent conference call discussing the deal.

Benioff and Ellison aren’t the first CEOs to do an about-face, of course. Here are other examples of CEOs changing their tunes, sometimes dramatically.

AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley on mobile RTB:

"We’ve been supporting mobile RTB since 2010 but it’s really not significant. Mobile advertising that’s not search is something like 3 percent of display. It’s tiny."—January 2013, PandoDaily

"The idea is to port our entire platform to mobile. To have one platform that does display and mobile seamlessly, as opposed to this current divide which is one display ecosystem and one mobile ecosystem.”—April 2013, AdExchanger CEO Marc Benioff on Email:

“How are you connected with your customer, your partners, your employees. Email? Those days are over.”—January 2013, CES keynote

“The addition of [email marketing provider] ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts in the pole position to capture this opportunity.”June 2013, press release

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on cloud computing:

"Unless the board removes me from my job...over my dead body will we sell our applications to other ASPs [application service providers]."—July 2000, Internet World press conference

"Oracle's got 100+ enterprise applications live in the #cloud today."—July 2012, Ellison’s first tweet


Survey: Pharma Marketers Ramp Up On Multi-Channel Ads

medical-technicianMarketing executives for pharmaceutical companies are stepping up their use of digital technologies and analytics to save money and fine-tune their targeting efforts. That includes hyper-personalization through retargeting and other digital ad technologies.

According to a recent survey by management and tech consultant Accenture, more than 80% of the 200 executives surveyed named cost reduction as their top priority. Following cutting costs, 70% indicated they would be investing in more multi-channel marketing over the next two years, along with improving the use and effectiveness of digital interactions (60%) and exploiting analytics (56%).

The survey does not break down the types of advertising pharmaceutical companies are investing in, e.g. mobile versus display versus social media. But according to Craig Robertson, North American managing director of Accenture’s Life Sciences’ sales and marketing practice, the results show a greater focus on patient services and the use of additional channels to provide reimbursement navigation support and product information.


Starwood Hotels Finds 'When' Matters More Than 'Who' In Display Ad Performance

starwood-usethisWinning a hotel guest takes more than a swimming pool and a spa package. Like its competitors, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide looks for opportunities to give its accommodations an edge over other hotels.

With more than 1,100 properties in nearly 100 countries across nine brands, the company has strong brand awareness. But that isn’t enough, Grazia Ochoa, director of global digital marketing at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, told AdExchanger.

“We’re always looking for better ways to put our marketing dollars to work,” Ochoa said. “We’re driving engagement and then there are the immediate needs of driving heads in beds at a profitable rate.”

To tip the scales in its favor, Starwood turns to big data insights. The hotelier partnered up with Sojern, a company that serves targeted ads to travelers based on more than 100 million anonymous traveler profiles and other travel-related data.

San Francisco-based Sojern  receives this data through partnerships with airlines such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and U.S Airways. The company helps clients like Starwood find new customers who are about to go on a trip and shows them display ads that are tailored to the city they are visiting and even the dollar amount of the ticket they searched for and purchased -- for instance first-class ticket holders. Sojern’s other clients include Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Wingate by Wyndham, Disney, and American Express.


Guardian Merging Yield Metrics For Print And Digital With Operative Says Beale

Guardian and OperativeIn November, Guardian announced a partnership with Operative where Guardian's "print and digital media businesses, including, as well as The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, will all be running from the same platform – Operative.One – in the first half of 2012." Read the release.

Andy Beale, Technology Director at Guardian News and Media, discussed the deal and its implications.  What was the turning point for bringing the print and digital operations together into one ad platform?

AB: If you go back to the start, it was driven initially by efficiency. What can we give the sales teams to make their lives easier and make them more efficient in a sales process? That was the initial driver. We had practical issues around the age of the system too. With nothing else going on, we needed to look to modernize. But the philosophy for the project changed about three years ago as it became more about supporting the growing digital revenue than it was about simply integrating systems, and then making those systems efficient. It became a revenue-driving project.

How does the revenue breaks down for you all in terms of digital versus print - especially over time?

The real story there is the direction the arrows are going. We still make a significant proportion of our revenue from the combined sale, but a lot is still from our print products. But digital is a growing area. And that is a structural position that is not going to change. Regardless of the detail, it's about supporting our growing revenues. The actual product that we are providing our clients, in terms of that monetized audience, is a combined cross‑platform package almost always now. It's not quite from a revenue perspective. Print versus digital - they have symbiotic relationship.


Cloudy Computer Future Is Good For Ad Exchanges

Ad Exchanges and Cloud ComputingToday's announcement that Steve Perelman's OnLive may have potentially disintermediated game console providers has the blogosphere a-chirping.

The company has created a new compression which allows data used for online game services to be computed on distant servers - cloud computing servers - instead of through a game console or speedy, local computers. 

Considering the future of ad exchanges, the cloud architecture makes sense as expensive infrastructure is "outsourced" to cloud computing specialists such as AppNexus, Amazon EC2, GoGrid, EMC and others who can provide the exchange backbone and enable data providers of targeting, analytics and more for ad traders on the exchange.


Schmidt on Google Ad Exchange; Yahoo! Premium Display Stabilizes

Google Ad Exchange StrategyGoogle CEO Eric Schmidt made an appearance at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco yesterday.

During the on-stage interview with Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, (a little) more information dribbled out on Big G's ad exchange and display advertising strategy.

From CNN:

Schmidt also said the search advertising company has a good opportunity to apply the "Google magic" to the display advertising business. He noted that Google is in the process of building an online advertising exchange, replete with measurement tools that will help display properties figure out which ads to show where and when.

He also said display ads must evolve into rich, dynamic spots that have value to consumer. A third challenge for Google will be to build the business relationships with large advertisers.

Silicon Alley Insider was live blogging the event and captured the following:

"Where is next source of revenue? Next source is current business functioning better. Next and adjacent is a set of display businesses and an exchange being built from DoubleClick business. Display not uniform; Balkanized. By hand or poor quality spreadsheets in many cases; think we can work Google magic on that."

And then later from SAI's live blogging:

"What are 3 things that need to get done to get display to become part of business? First problem if you have a display property, multiple vendors building ad exchange. Heuristics are terrible. Standardization of ad formats. Need more. Especially around interactive and video ads. Future is an ad that brings you in, tells narrative. Best ads add real value. Video, story, narrative, etc. Third is construction of business relationship with large advertisers, which we're still working on."

All in all, it's difficult to say that anything new was learned other than an ongoing focus by Google on the online display advertising business and that Schmidt believes the number of ad formats currently in play is ridiculous and needs to be standardized.

At this point, it's too early too tell who offers the best exchange model - and, of course, liquidity is key - which is currently nothing compared to a year or two from now. It would seem likely that Google may take out a smaller player or two who offer compelling exchange technology.

But, more than likely, Google will attempt to step on everybody else and try to become the standard for ad exchanges bringing together their Google AdSense Exchange (which David Rosenblatt discussed at IAB), DoubleClick's AdEx Ad Exchange and Google AdWords. Google wants to be THE exchange, of course.

Look for self-service access to a Google ad exchange arriving through APIs and an ASP model, a la AdWords, by year end. From Eric Schmidt's comments, it appears that new analytics tools are in the offing as well which could help marketers and publishers gain further insight into their exchange, display ad buys as long as they're willing to share their data with the Big G diablo.

To listen to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's complete interview, click here.

Yahoo!'s Premium Display Ads Pricing Stabilizes

Meanwhile from The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog comes word that premium display ad pricing is "showing signs" as Marv Albert would say.

...Yahoo’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen hinted at some promising economic news. Pricing on a major piece of Yahoo inventory – the graphical ads Yahoo sells with the guarantee they’ll appear in particular spots like the Yahoo homepage – has stopped sliding, he said. Those ads, which Yahoo calls “class one” inventory have been harder hit by the downturn than Yahoo’s class two inventory, which are cheaper ads that aren’t guaranteed to run on certain properties.

“We have seen our own class one stabilize through the fourth quarter,” said Jorgensen. Yahoo announced last week that Jorgensen will leave the company once his replacement is found.

Well, whaddya know? Good news in the world of online display advertising!

Click here to listen to Yahoo! at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference.

When The Marketplace Has A Virus - First DIBZ Tickets

ad-exchange-regulationThe online ad exchange marketplace has not evolved to opportunities for insider trading and $50 BILLION scandals - let's hope rules are in place to stop illegal trading as liquidity increases. But, other marketplaces are already feeling the pinch which should serve as reminder that it's not too early to begin thinking about regulation for ad exchanges.

From the Chicago Tribune comes word of First DIBZ, an online marketplace for the selling of sporting event tickets, and the recent, unfortunate appearance of traders offering bogus playoff ticket inventory on their exchange this past weekend.

First DIBZ allows fans of sports franchises to buy "options" on future playoff tickets from sellers who are required to deliver the tickets at the option price if the team makes it to the Major League Baseball playoffs, for example. Ticket brokers and others looking to make a profit off the buying and selling of playoff tickets also partake. Over its 8 years of existence, the company has had only 8 instances of complaints to the Better Business Bureau according to the Tribune.


AdWeek Claims Display Can Be Like Search - Just Add Self-Serve

AdWeekThe suggestion in last week's AdWeek article by Brian Morrissey, "Can Search's 'Beautiful System' Extend to Display?," is that all any advertising exchange or ad network needs is a self-service system which allows advertisers to easily create graphical display ads and, poof!, you've got nearly unlimited inventory available with search advertising-like revenue potential.

Even the oft-quoted Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence gets on the bandwagon saying, "There isn't a reason that (self-service ad platforms) couldn't happen to display, except that display is more involved," said Greg Sterling, an industry analyst with Sterling Intelligence. "There's layers of complexity for display that haven't existed in the search marketplace." This is the wrong direction - it's not about making pretty banners, it's about the analytics that show ROI.

As we've said before, for Display to truly become a powerful tool and scale revenues for web publishers - analytics which can be tied across multiple campaigns and user activity will be necessary to prove Display is worth investment for advertisers.


Promotion for Right Media's Michael Walrath?

It has been two weeks since Valleywag offered up the news that former Right Media Exchange CEO, Michael Walrath, was loading up his truck and moving to arid Sunnyvale, California, where - rumor has it - he'll be getting a promotion.

Certainly his genius in getting Yahoo! to buy the Right Media advertising exchange for approximately $700 million says something very positive about his leadership and deal-making abilities. It's the type of creativity that Yahoo! needs in the home office.

In light of recent defections by the executive minions, Sue Decker and Hilary Schneider need all the help they can get.

If you haven't seen it, here's Mike Walrath's birthday greeting from a man in a chicken suit. Great moment for all involved: