Media Fragmentation Should Be On Every Marketer’s Mind

OmniArtThe director of ad technology for Netflix, Tony Ralph, and director of marketing for Abe’s Market, Michelle Goldstein, will appear at AdExchanger’s Omni.Digital conference on Sept. 10, an event designed to educate marketers on advanced solutions for building seamless cross-channel brand experiences. Cross-channel attribution will be one topic discussed at the conference.

As Netflix’s director of advertising technology, Tony Ralph sits between the company’s marketing and engineering teams.

He’s the guy who decides whether to buy tech or build it in-house. For Netflix, which was early to the programmatic in-house party, breaking down technological walls and encouraging open APIs was a key strategy.

But despite technological flexibilities that encourage seamless data flow, media fragmentation – and the proliferation of platform walled gardens – create clogs in marketers’ cross-channel attribution efforts.

“Facebook had so much momentum in its own ecosystem that they didn’t need to adhere to how others were playing,” Ralph said. “We saw Google taking YouTube away from other exchange buyers, which was a clear counter reaction to that. You also see other social platforms like Twitter and Pinterest saying, ‘If you want to reach our users and use our data, you have to use it within our confines and within our rules.’”

If publishers withhold valuable audience data, advertisers will face long-term roadblocks in targeting effectively across devices and apps.

“We don’t know specifically what users we’ve contacted via mobile vs. desktop when inventory is split across Google, Facebook and other smaller ecosystems,” he said, complicating its ability to measure the influence of one on another.

The difficulty with walled gardens is they inhibit message sequencing, cross-device targeting and the ability to understand reach and frequency outside of their own networks.

While companies with logged-in user data like Google, Facebook and Amazon can provide scale, marketers like MetLife feel their existing segments go “out the door” when buying on Facebook, which hurts horizontal attribution models they’ve already constructed.

Facebook certainly offers unparalleled prospecting across its own unique segments, which the insurance giant matches to CRM or online impressions to determine things like sales impact. But it’s hard augmenting those insights within the rest of its marketing activity.

Other marketers agree.

“The key challenge is that each social platform requires a different acquisition strategy,” said Michelle Goldstein, director of marketing for Abe’s Market, an online natural foods marketplace. “One of the biggest challenges [we face] with digital attribution is customers are not only using multiple channels to make purchase decisions, but also multiple devices.”

While tighter insulation of inventory may ultimately improve the quality of advertisements consumers do see in those respective environments, Rob Griffin, EVP of media futures and innovation at Havas, noted “it does impose challenges on attribution.”

So how do marketers mitigate these cross-channel concerns? Technology could ultimately play a role. Ralph predicted a large platform could come to market that publishers would use to share data anonymously and safely, while still benefiting the marketer.

Of course, that’s also the purview of an agency, noted Steve Katelman, EVP of global strategic partnerships at Omnicom Media Group, one of the early partners for Facebook’s relaunched ad server, Atlas.

“We have great relationships with all of the walled garden tech companies since we work with them on a daily basis. You need a neutral third party. [For marketers] the challenge will be to illustrate their impact from the advertiser’s sense rather than within the self-contained environments that are being constructed.”

While Facebook and Google generate a lot of ad inventory presently, he predicts that as Amazon and Verizon/AOL’s respective products mature, “there will be a real need to create continuity there too.”


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