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IBM Needs A Demand-Side Platform


Is a demand-side platform next for IBM? It would seem logical.

Check out today’s latest IBM news as its Coremetrics unit is planting itself right in the middle of the media buying and planning business with an analytics product called Coremetrics Lifestyle. “Commerce” (meaning e-commerce) marketers will get to track it all according to the press release:

“From customer acquisition to retention, marketers can make the most of their interactions with prospects across all online marketing channels, including email, display advertising, search marketing and social media, based on real customer behavior.”

See a sexy screenshot of the analytics dasboard – you’ll get the idea.

Yes, it’s that up-and-down the purchase funnel stuff (“lifecycle” says IBM) that everyone is talking about. IBM’s Coremetrics unit is analyzing cross-channel, too.

You can go up-and-down and you can go across in ads.

Given the analytics capabilities, it would seem that an actual buying function would make sense and take a little bit more friction out of the system with an integrated attribution and buying offering. Enter a DSP. Grease those traffic acquisition costs I say!

This is certainly what Adobe’s Omniture unit is thinking as it ponders its next purchase -likely a small to mid-sized demand-side platform or ad network (clarification on “ad network”: one that is data-driven and using DSP functionality, exchanges, algos, buzzwords, etc…). Adobe thinking might be: “We’ve got the analytics, the data management platform, Omniture first-party pixels all over the place -now we’ll add the buying.” And the DSP buying isn’t going to just be for display, it will integrate all possible channels eventually – even offline.

More Big Data Flows

Late last week, MediaBank made its first step into leveraging its big bad back-office, agency systems with the DSP world of online display. Here, too, the company looks to go up-and-down the purchase funnel and across channels.

At first glance, with a business like MediaBank’s and Donovan Data Systems, it would seem that having all those agency dollars pulsing through is the end game because it is no easy task for an agency holding company, for example, to switch to another company given the costs involved. Therefore, the agency systems model is printing money but at razor thin margins. Yet, if you’re MediaBank or DDS, who cares about those margins? With all of that cross-channel buying data swirling about it’s time to build something!


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The next opportunity for MediaBank and DDS is to add more services by sucking them away from inefficient agency infrastructure – leaving the idea generation and next gen campaign management for math-focused agency analysts.

Agency tacticians: goodbye free sneakers, hello slide rule!

Adding The Campaign Data

MediaBank clearly stated that they want to displace ad networks and demand-side platforms who are currently servicing the agency trading desks (IPG’s Cadreon, Omnicom’s Accuen, Vivaki’s Nerve Center/AOD, WPP’s The MIG, etc.). Some DSPs and ad networks likely scoffed at this notion as they are bigger, provide a deeper and broader offering, and have been more well-funded than AdBuyer. But, this is baby steps for Mediabank as it and Donovan Data Systems have a huge asset today that other DSPs and ad networks do not – all of that cross-channel agency buying data and the agency people who use their system.

With AdBuyer, Mediabank indicates that it will be layering in digital campaign data for display and probably search with print and look for “connections” a.k.a. attribution – where you can see a print buy affecting performance of a search buy, or display affecting a print buys performance, etc. This would be an exciting tool for the agency if it can be pulled off – but it’s eventually going to need to go across many more channels. And, this will take a while.

Also, it would seem a heavy duty analytics piece is still to come for MediaBank – something that looks like the IBM screenshot. No doubt that will be something that AdBuyer’s Tim Ogilvie will be charged with in his new role. By the way – I would imagine that Ogilvie and his team received all stock in the acquisition with a clear story from MediaBank that his company and its team is looking at a much bigger pay-off potentially down the road…

Does anybody think a MediaBank or DDS would be an interesting target for IBM?

Was that what Bill Wise really was saying in an article last year on AdWeek? “Buy Me”?

By John Ebbert

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