Tag Archives: media buying

Attention Minutes

Earlier this morning, one of my colleagues sent around a note to a bunch of us pointing to a post by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress (and many others).  In his post, he talks how the Knight Foundation has granted Grist.org monies to build an open-source WordPress plug-in to measure Attention Minutes.

As someone who straddles technology and marketing/advertising, I wanted to talk about why this is particularly interesting.

Note however, WordPress is not the first to go down this path, mentioned in the comments of the post are Upworthy and Parse.ly, two companies who are dabbling in this space too.  I’m sure there are many others.

Lets break down Attention & Minutes.

at·ten·tion (noun)

The dictionary describes attention as the act or faculty of attending, especially by directing the mind to an object.  Since the invention of Internet marketing, attention has been one of the key drivers of increased economic growth…. because it’s measurable.  If you can measure attention by different proxies, you can understand if it’s working or not for you or your brand and can then make rationale decisions as to investing more or less.

Attention KPIs focus around engagement.   CTR is a signal of attention.  Hovers/Mouse overs are a signal of attention.  Purchase is a signal of attention.  Commenting is a signal of attention.  Creating is a signal of attention.  You get the idea.

min·ute (noun)

The dictionary defines a minute as the sixtieth part (1/60) of an hour; sixty Minutes are super important in advertising because much of the ecosystem trades on time based measures such as Gross Rating Points (GRP).  The GRP delivers of the answer of what % of the population is reached during said time period, with some form of content… usually television.   There have been movements to bring the GRP to digital media and I’ve certainly been vocal about this subject in the past.

Attention Minutes

Attention Minutes are interesting to me.  I don’t immediately dismiss them like I do with GRP’s.  I like the idea of a measurable attribute/KPI with some form of time period.  This seems reasonable and something that I’d like to learn more about.  How is it bought?  How is it sold?  What tools measure it?  How can you purchase attention minutes in the programmatic world?

One of my close friends and former boss used to tell the world he’d like to purchase Instantaneous Awareness for his brands.  Maybe we’re coming closer to that?

 

Constantly Changing Ad Products Does Not Help Adoption

For good or for bad, Madison Avenue takes a little bit of time to adopt new features and services en-mass.  Dollars flow into ad units and products once there is a comfort level with them.  Yes, sure we’ll buy the one-off sponsorship or launch that costs a couple million bucks, but beyond that, we probably won’t be back for repeat business.

But your investors and the street want and expect repeat business.  Recurring revenue.  Having a new ad product launch each month and getting a launch advertising sponsor each time dilutes over time.

Constantly changing your ad strategy actually hurts, IMHO.  It takes time for creative and media folks to ramp up knowledge of ad unit specifications and availability – and if they are ever changing, then we do not have enough time to do each unit justice.

I agree consumers like new things.  And brands like being fresh.  And in this whole world of digitally delivered content, being new and fresh is the whole point.

But for a publisher or platform, please be consistent with your offerings.  Don’t keep sunsetting what we’ve gotten good at buying and executing against.  Introducing new ad products every 6 weeks and wondering why others are not getting adoption isn’t rocket science.

This post was in reaction to this piece re: Facebook.

Stuck In A Rut of Incremental Innovation

I have been in the digital media marketing ecosystem since its inception.  The first documented digital advertising was born as banners and buttons (1996) that lived on webpages.

Ad servers were built to deliver these banners.  Incrementally better ad servers were built to better serve these banners, video, and buttons.

Sites federated together to create ad networks.  Incrementally better ad networks were built around technologies such as contextual, behavioral, semantic, etc.

Boxes on websites were created to house advertisers’ creative.  These lead to banners.  Incrementally better banners were created that yielded rich media units.

Search engine marketing solutions were built to manage and optimize voluminous keyword lists.  Incrementally better SEM platforms now include Facebook buying

Lots of incremental-ism.  Being incrementally better sounds like a rat race.  Or the cold war.  I’m better today.  You’re better tomorrow.  Its a no-win game and becomes all about marketing and salesmanship where it should be about the product and performance.

So where is the 0-1 going to happen in this industry?

Maybe we focus so much on going from 1 to n because that’s easier to do. There’s little doubt that going from 0 to 1 is qualitatively different, and almost always harder, than copying something n times. And even trying to achieve vertical, 0 to 1 progress presents the challenge of exceptionalism; any founder or inventor doing something new must wonder: am I sane? Or am I crazy? (Blake Masters class notes of Peter Thiel CS183)

Its happening.   But it’s not overly obvious to all.

The social marketing space inclusive of content creation is unbelievably sloppy and inefficient right now, but I propose we will see tomorrows DoubleClick-like, Advertising.com-like and Google-like come out of the social landscape.

Why?  Because it’s fundamentally different.

There are no banners or buttons.  The way we’ve acted in the past is not the way we act in the future of this space.

Communication does not scale.  We need to re-think the way we communicate and participate in this space.  The role for earned and owned media becomes just as important as paid media.

The 0-1 innovation is going to come from the social places in ways we cannot imagine today (or some people already are).

 

* Note, I’m not down on paid media buying.  I’m all for it.  I work in it. It’s evolving quickly and there are some fantastic companies participating in the space.  But when looking out across the marketplace, and looking for disruption, this (s0cial) area is ripe.

 

 

 

 

The Bloomberg Advertising Terminal

(originally posted on Google Plus and then picked up on PaidContent)

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about data recently and it’s become the central investment thesis for kbs+p Ventures, our go to market approaches for The Media Kitchen, and how kbs+p communicates vision. My friend and entrepreneur extraordinaire +Jon Steinberg says it extremely well, advertising is becoming “guided by math, but moved by art.” For many folks in direct mail or other quantitatively driven marketing disciplines, this has been the norm, but I’m loving how this new norm is playing out across all of marketing.

Data isn’t new. Data allowed ancient salt traders to make important investment decisions in Egypt. Data allowed Christopher Columbus to accidently find the Americas. Data allowed Babe Ruth to know which pitches to throw to which batters. It’s been around.

Why it’s become a central thesis to us now is because it’s more actionable than ever because it’s become almost tangible and tools allow it to be ever more moldable. As a focus group of one, I use data to optimize my fantasy football teams thru +Nik Bonaddio‘s Numberfire platform, I use data through our Trading Desk, Varick Media Management, to optimize our biddable media campaigns, and I use data to help me understand where to invest my personal capital to help drive returns that can pay for my kids college tuition and my wife & I’s retirement.

As above, “data” can be used for many different uses.

One area of use that I’d love to see built out (and maybe I’ll pursue it) is legitimately, The Bloomberg Terminal for Advertising Data. If you are in the advertising technology ecosystem, then you’ve probably heard a million pitches with the words, “Bloomberg Terminal” but I think this is a huge opportunity around a very structured product. Let me explain.

Fact: hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions) are being invested in media impressions thru biddable media sources

Fact: brands and agencies are building RTB advertising technologies to take advantage of market opportunities

Fact: publishers are going through an evolutionary period in which they transact their “wares”

Fact: agencies are in an evolutionary period in which they structure their buying decisions and put data front and center

In my theoretical world that I like to play out in my head every now and again, and run past trusted sources, I play out a scenario in which Advertising Traders have multiple screens on their desk, similar to a Bloomberg Terminal in which software is running showing the market dynamics and pricing. This Bloomberg For Advertising will show specific marketplace pricing (AdX, RMX, Rubicon, etc) indexes, demand volume, specific data asset pricing & demand (3rd party data), and the like.

To create this and carry out the vision, I believe as of now, but could be convinced, that this needs to be executed by a unbiased 3rd party company who isn’t tied to media or data volume. They purely are (profitably) motivated thru licensing of their Bloomberg for Advertiser software.

Why is this important?

1. Data assets as simply described above are going to become increasingly important for investment decisions in the near and mid-term.

2. Publishers need access to this information the exact same as advertisers to help drive their businesses forward.

3. Regulation of markets is a commonplace in the USA and the advertising marketplace is heading in this direction, at least at a preliminary level, especially as we increase our usage of spot and forward markets.

I believe there is a very large opportunity to be this for marketing and advertising. If you are out there building this or have a viewpoint similar or dissimilar, I’d absolutely love to hear from you.

Advertising For Startups: Day 1

This post is part of a 5 day series where we lay the groundwork for a startup to generate advertising dollars from agencies or brands.  Note:  while this is focused on startups, it could apply to any company of any size.  The first post that sets up the series is located here and it’s based on this presentation.

Day 1:  Understanding the ecosystem of ad technologies and the two ways to approach agencies for ad dollars

The advertising technology ecosystem is very complex.  If you’ve never seen the Luma Partners (Terry Kawaja) slide, then I highly recommend you print it out and study it as it’s used pretty much by all the bankers, vcs, and industry folks as it’s one of the most comprehensive.  But how do you navigate this?  How do you understand the differences between demand side platforms, trading desks, sell side platforms, data management platforms, audience extension partners, search re-targeting partners, etc?

Luckily, you do not have to… at least for now.

If you are a startup who is looking to generate advertising dollars, you basically have to make a choice around what types of units to offer.  If they are IAB/OPA standard units, then recognizing revenue immediately shouldn’t be too much of an issue as the industry is built to scale quickly there.  If you are building unique units that are proprietary to yourselves, then this is OK too, but you’ll have a harder time finding your first couple of advertisers because you’ll need to educate the industry based on these units.  More on this in forthcoming days.

Whether or not you use ad technologies now, you need to at least understand that you will need to know it in the future.  You can staff up around it or outsource it eventually.  Again, it’ll be covered in a day or two’s post.

2 Ways to Approach an Agency

Historically, there was really one way to approach an agency.  It was by picking up the phone and calling and arranging a meeting.  You’d meet in person, present your wares, and if lucky, you’d be brought back and become RFI/RFP’d.  From there, you’d potentially make the media plan and all would be rosey.

Now, there’s a whole other way to make it into the agency and that’s thru the agency trading desk/demand side platform.  By doing this, you now have access to a smaller amount of money that you can get from calling the agency, but it’s growing significantly and will become the advanced media buying way for standardized units.  In just 3 years, over $200MM is spent via trading desks of major agencies and it’s probably increasing at a significant rate.  Instead of a typical sales rep calling on the trading desk, it’s much more of a business development conversation with technical integration.  Varick Media, Cadreon, VivaKi, Dataxu, Accuen and others are the major respective trading desks.

Remember though, an unhappy client can’t call a server or algorithm and have it apologize.  It will always take people to manage and oversee these campaigns.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss where to start:  do you hire a rep firm, outsource to an ad network, or sell media directly.    Very timely as Mashable just separated from Federated Media.

Social Media & Optimized Display in the Same Post? Recapping 2009

Unless you live under a rock, the economic environment impacted brands and agencies this year and the whole publisher ecosystem that goes with it (media cos, ad networks, etc).  Full-year 2009 will mark only the fifth spending drop since Ad Age began ranking the 100 Leading National Advertisers in 1956.

Holding Co. Stock Chart As you can see from this chart, holding company stocks (MDCA, IPG, OMC, HAVSF, PUBGY, WPPGY) all tanked along with everyone else during late 2008 but have started to bounce back in 2009.

In the digital trenches, I witnessed an interesting divide really start to occur:  this “social media” phenomenon and hyper targeted and optimized display advertising.  If you put a social media “guru” in a room with a data and targeting company, the conversation would probably be as bad as one of my dates when I first moved to Manhattan.

Social Media
I put “social media” in quotes as I fundamentally do not believe that this exists in itself.  I believe that all media can be social and it’s not new.  Anyway – this year saw a continuation of thousands (over 15,700) of social media experts pop up on Twitter and even carve out little businesses for themselves as consultants/agencies to a few brands.  The common question in 2009 that came across my desk was “what should be my social media strategy?”    Twitter’s constant presence in the news in early 2009 and Facebook’s dominance in the social networking/graphing space has contributed to this “social media” trend.

Recently, Pepsi announced it was going to forgo its advertisement in the Super Bowl which we’ve grown accustomed to each year and put those dollars to work in a rather large social media campaign.  I applaud their efforts to generate PR, but is this sustainable for them?  Meaning, they are essentially putting the money to work in a cause marketing campaign… will this have impact?

2009 saw Dell racked up over $6.5 worth of sales directly attributable to Twitter and the almost-too-hyper/passionate Gary Vaynerchuk climb to 848k followers.

Hyper Targeting & Optimized Display
There has been a trend in the display space towards audience driven media.  If you can identify an audience based on different characteristics stored in computer cookies, why not advertise to a handful of extremely targeted users? Data facilitators/providers like BlueKai, Exelate, Domdex, TargusInfo, Media6, Lookery, Rapleaf, Peer39, LucidMedia, Quantcast, and many others became front and center this year.  Demand Side Platforms (DSP), or technologies that allow the dollar holders (typically agencies) get closer to the media (through exchanges and other sources) also became popular and a few closed significant funding rounds.  AdExchanger popped onto the scene and started covering this entire space rather comprehensively.  If you have not read their 2009 year end report, download it now.

2010 should be interesting for this industry as the government is looking into online privacy.   Because much of the targeting is done through accessing anonymous cookies, this whole industry could be hampered or shut-down depending on legislation that is passed around ad targeting.  There are a few startups, particularly the Better Advertising Project focusing on helping congress solve these issues.  Personally, this would be a big bummer as I believe that if we can offer a much more targeted advertisement to users, then their overall experience could be much better.

Recap
Any media planner or buyer on Madison Ave has put a few social elements and optimized display on a media plan in 2009.  I’m sure that this will still occur in 2010 but I’m going to hypothesize that the gap between optimized display and social media may widen and you might start to see shops specialize in one or the other (i.e. CPMAdvisors vs. Crayon).

The one thing that’s consistent is that the audience is in the center of all planning AND buying both in social and optimized display – the more we can learn about our audiences and serve highly relevant messaging to each audience segment will allow us to create better relationships.  Better relationships between users and brands, means a mutually beneficial relationship for the agency and advertiser.

If you are interested in the Optimized Display & Hyper Targeting area, I’ve put together a Twitter list of thought-leaders in this space.  You can subscribe to it here.

I'm the client, what questions should I be asking my agency?

The inspiration for this post came from an adhoc face-to-face meeting with one of our senior clients.  We began speaking about digital in general and then he dropped a bomb, “Am I asking the right questions?”

I had two options here.  I could have said yes (even though this was not the right answer) or I could have said no (with risk of upsetting him).   I gave the direct answer of “no” but then started to give him pointers and then thought to myself, that this is an amazing topic/question for a blog post.

While I am not going to cover every single question that one could think of for their ad agency, I thought I’d write a few that strike me as important these days:

Campaign Operations

  1. Are we using a third party ad serving system and if so, is my [brand’s] site setup properly with Atlas Universal Action Tags or DFA’s Floodlight tags?
  2. How are we scoring users as they consume my site’s pages?
  3. Are we creating individualized re-targeting segments?
  4. Are we taking advantage of dynamic landing pages triggered by either search (paid and organic) or display activity?
  5. What are the attribution windows for post-view & post-click?

Media Plans

  1. If we are using ad networks, where is their inventory coming from?
  2. How do we plan on frequency capping across multiple networks?
  3. Even though it’s sexy, does it pay to use rich media?
  4. Are we geo-targeting our campaigns (even at the USA level)?
  5. If the plan is multi-dimensional (search, display, social media, etc), are all of the pieces cohesive?

Creative

  1. Does the creative match contextual placements?
  2. Is the creative pulling dynamic information from the pages they are on, or the actions the user is taking?
  3. Has the creative been tested pre-launch?
  4. If we are using web properties with social features (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc), what happens when the campaign is over?
  5. How many creative refreshes will be needed for the campaign?
  6. Where is the creative driving people once they engage?

Measurement

  1. How are we measuring the digital media plan both quantitatively and qualitatively?
  2. Is digital receiving the correct attribution for overall impact to my brand’s sales?
  3. Who is optimizing?  Humans or technology?  If humans, what is the schedule?
  4. What is the primary KPI and is that metric being carried through to all measurement and optimization?
  5. Are we moving beyond the click?
  6. If we’re optimizing on a CPA-type metric, have we drawn a yield curve to figure out the most optimal efficiency metric that yields significant quantity of actions?

I could write a blog post on each question here and over time, I’ll be sure to answer them.  These are purely thought starters and hope that you start questioning your agency for your brands’ future in the digital space.