Tag Archives: privacy

Cookies, The President, and Ad Tech

There is lots of chatter in the government and the digital advertising industry around privacy and cookies.  You can do a simple Google search and get all the details about self regulation vs. government reform.  I even created a Slideshare document on this back in October 2010.

I wanted to write this post to document something:  if the government steps in to intervene in the privacy and cookie war in the digital advertising industry, lets look at what President Obama used to help win his re-election.

Obama has at least 30 providers of marketing & advertising technology working for him.  Romney as of 12:19PM ET today (11/7/12) has 18 trackers.  This Obama screengrab was taken at 11:55pm ET last night on his official homepage.  Ghostery provided the insight on the right of the screenshot and we can see many cookie-enabled technologies.

Next time you hear about the government coming down hard on cookies & privacy, remember this post.

(This post is not supposed to be a political ding in favor of one party over the other.  I’m one of the least vocally political people in the USA.  It is supposed to provide insight into cookie use for political candidates, in this case, the President Obama.)


Ghostery, Google, and Privacy

A couple of months ago, I wrote up a report that talked about the marketing technology behind $35 billion in 2011 holiday e-commerce sales.  I pulled the data from Ghostery, a browser plug-in that allows users to understand what trackers and beacons are on individual websites.  After I released the report and got some initial traction, Evidon, the owners of Ghostery reached out and asked me to be a guest editor for their Global Tracker Report.  Fast forward to today, their first report is out and you should download it.  Also, the New Media Age wrote a solid piece on the report.


Not only is it a good read about the current state of privacy, advertising technology, and data, it’s a piece that both the novice and advanced marketer can understand.

Based on the data, the top 5 most prolific trackers are owned by both Google and Facebook.  Google has 3 of the top 5 including Google Analytics, Google Adsense, and Google +1.  Facebook includes both Facebook Social Plug-ins and Facebook Connect.  It’s amazing to see the dominance of Google on this list, as their Google Analytics tags are down on a disproportionate amount of websites scanned by Ghostery.

I’ve recently stated on this blog that Google is both the house & the card player (in relation to a casino).  They know the odds, the cards in the deck, in the current hand, and are playing the game.  The more and more data that Google has access to, the more they can optimize for a Google beneficial outcome.  Note however, this argument falls a bit when you realize that Google can do this short term, but will lose advertisers long-term if (Google) only optimize outcomes for themselves.

If you have a second, download the report to learn more.

Life Recording & me

When I was first asked to blog, I turned it down.

When I was first told about Twitter, I smiled and said no thanks.

When I just read about Life Recorders over on TechCrunch, I said no way.   There was a poll at the bottom on the TC article that asked users to vote whether or not they would use a Life Recorder and the results were astonishing (at least to me).  See pic of the poll below.  Apparently MSFT has been working on a project that is considered one of the first Life Recorders, called SensaCam.

Life Recorders Astonishing may be a big word, but people who would record their life using a small piece of technology make up about 47% of this sample.  Note, this sample has extreme bias towards the technology influencer and geek crowd which is in no way statistically relevant to predict the actual outcome of this.  Still, with the stat-language said, I’m still surprised it’s so high.

As for now, I do not see myself carrying around a device that passively takes pictures at a defined interview nor passively records all sound.   I do however carry my iPhone and one could argue that I currently Life Record with my accounts on Twitter, WordPress, Flickr, Posterous and more, but I only do that actively, not really passively.

However, I didn’t think I’d be on Twitter or have my own blog, so lets re-read this post in 5 years and see if we’re laughing.

Agency Demand Platforms

My friend Jay Sears (@jaysears) sent me an invite to the AdClub/ContextWeb event on Agency Demand Platforms a few weeks ago and was impressed to see the high caliber speakers but was bummed out that MDC/VMM was not asked to participate as well, as, my friends at Havas.

The event was packed – almost every seat taken in the beautiful NY Times Center and quickly got underway by a speech by Carl Fremont about the Digital Action program of the AdClub.  Digital Action is actually really cool – publishers donate inventory and the AdClub gets to sell it and keep the money to provide scholarships for their students.  We’re working on a deal which should hopefully provide some dollars to the AdClub so I was excited to see Carl speak about it.

Bant Breen (Initiative), Sloan Broderick (Mediacom Interaction), Greg Green (VivaKi), Matt Spiegel (Omnicom), Ross Sandler (RBC), and Wenda Harris Millard (MediaLink) all participated on the panel and had a healthy discussion that to industry outsiders may have been fascinating, but to industry insiders, was much of the same fodder we hear each day.  For those interested in reading the play by play of the event, AdExchanger has a fantastic writeup and I recommend checking it out.

I want to use this blog post to talk about a few of the issues/hurdles that affect Agency Demand Platforms and their roll-out to advertising agency holding companies such as IPG, WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Havas, and MDC Partners.  Many of these thoughts come out at lunches or dinners I have with my peers at other demand platforms but I thought that publishing them online may spark a larger conversation with all industry constituents:  investors, agency execs, media folks, technologists, startups, PR, etc.

What is a Demand Platform?   This term is thrown around with increasing frequency but I’ve not seen a solid definition around it.  AdAge wrote a piece on all of our agency platforms that we are building and this comes closest to what I define as a Demand Platform:  a technology solution with a front-end interface where agencies (media, creative) have access to procurement, optimization, warehousing, and analytics.  All of us are building something within this vein but each of us has our own cupcake with different sprinkles.

I do not think that Demand Platforms have to be limited to single supply sources such as advertising exchanges.  It seemed as if the majority of the AdClub/ContextWeb event was based around exchanges, but supply sources can be various.  Currently, we are seeing typical ad networks, publisher exchanges (i.e. FimServe), reservation systems such as Apt, broad exchanges (e.g. RMX, AdX) and sites direct are able to plug into Demand Platforms.  Personally, I look forward to the day when inventory goes beyond OLA into search, mobile, print, radio, television, and OOH.


Agencies vs. Technology Companies: Agencies have always adopted technologies tactically, but if they are to roll-out a Demand Platform, to be successful, it must be strategic.  Most agencies are not staffed up with technologists (broad term for many different types of technology people) and most management in agencies are not trained in running technology companies.   Technology companies also invest in R&D and top talent, as what they build has scaling capabilities and they can recoup these dollars.  Agencies are a staffed differently and generally never hire beyond revenue.  Depending on the agency, holding company, and timing of the financial markets, agencies wanting to become a technology company may be a far dream (if building their own tech).

I predict most agency holding companies are going to work with strategic partners to roll-out their Demand Platforms as for the aforementioned reasons.  There are a few partners in the market today that are getting some nice publicity and traction such as MediaMath, Invite Media, Triggit, AdChemy, X+1, DataXu, Brilig, and others.  The question is whether to go exclusive or remain independent and this is a major question for many of us.   The partners above service the ad-serving & algorithmic optimization space but there is also data warehousing, data aggregation, and creative optimization that plays within here too and there is a whole host of other partners to deal with there.

Changing Media Culture:  Media planners and buyers have applied the human element to optimization for the past 15 years or so and are used to buying sites as a proxy for audience.  Most of our Demand Platforms focus on buying “audiences,” which is fundamentally different than purchasing sites in themselves, so re-educating the entire media planning and buying world about this new paradigm will have to occur.  Technology is going to strategically penetrate agencies if this happens and the education process is going to take a while and not only are we going to have to educate internally to our agency staff, but also, to our clients.  As always, there are going to be conservative clients/agencies and progressive which means that most people will fall in the middle.  I can’t stress enough how much of a barrier this is for the industry.  Changing culture is not easy and the visionaries will have to be in place in the agencies and clients must remain open minded, as the way they have purchased digital media in the past will change.

I am not stressing that media planners and buyers are going to be out of a job, as one can read the above paragraph and deduce that.  I hypothesize that we are going to have a something like a performance display group and an integrated team.  All IAB/OPA standard units will run through the performance group through a Demand Platform while the media/creative staff’s time will be freed up to create big brand experiences.   For publishers, read my “Goodbye Media Sales Execs” post.

Business Terms/Pricing:  I’m going to attack this dead-on as all too often, this question gets avoided.  In the USA, agencies typically do not take posession of media (unlike Europe) and sell back to their clients, but rather make a scaling commission on all of the media that is purchased on behalf of clients.   With Demand Platforms and the ability to purchase on Advertising Exchanges, there are similar models to SEM (search engine marketing) emerging:

  • Cost Plus – this model takes into account of the cost of the media plus a standard consistent markup for the “secret sauce” (optimization, data, research, analytics, etc)
  • Blended/Arb – this model is where the agency takes posession of the media and prices it back to the client at their discretion
  • Pass Through – media agencies will just take their typical media buying or success comission/compensation for OLA planning

Most of the players including VivaKi, Cadreon, B3, Adnetik, VMM do not publicly disclose their business models and that’s valid and fair.  I’d assume however that most models are based on one or multiples of the three scenarios above.  If there is another scenario that I’ve missed, I’d love to know about it.

Note:  as explained above, agencies in the USA cannot take positions on media and sell back to clients.  This is why seperate companies have been set up to provide church/state seperation.

Real vs. Near-Real vs. Non-Real-Time:  I don’t know how this is a hurdle, but I want to point out that saying “real-time” is the “cool” thing to say right now but there is almost no substance behind it to the trained eye.  There are less than a half dozen exchanges who can support real-time, and of those real-time exchanges, they are dwarfed in scale from the big guys.  There is no doubt that real-time is going to be interesting in the future, but as of July 14, 2009, this is purely an ego play.

The Agency Demand Platform Ecosystem

While working on the Agency Demand Platform project, an entire ecosystem is impacted and innovated upon.  The following business areas are affected by these new Platforms (depending on the particular platform of course):

  • Dynamic creative
  • Analytics (insight)
  • Data warehousing
  • Decisioning and processing
  • Visualization
  • Algorithmic development
  • Yield management
  • Ad operations (trafficking, pixel implementation)
  • Data privacy
  • Media planning & buying (communications planning)

Want to share your viewpoint?   Did I miss something?  Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @dherman76

White Paper: Disintermediation of Online Display Advertising

I spent much of 2007/08 exploring the world of online ad exchanges and data.  If you are a regular follower of this blog, you were with me for much of the journey as I wrote quite a bit about it.  After digging deep in the industry, I wanted to put together a White Paper that outlines where we have come from, where we currently are, and where we are heading.

The first part of the paper is a primer (101) on online advertising and the rest of it talks about ad networks and exchanges.  I went through multiple titles for this paper but settled on “Disintermediation of Online Display Advertising.”  The “disintermediation” part comes from the power shifting from ad networks to the large ad agencies and brands themselves.    Why/how this happens is talked about in the document.

Link to PDF: Disintermediation of Online Display Advertising

A follow up to this post/document will be to talk about the data portion of this industry and the current differences in the providers.  Stay tuned.  I’ll be posting a bunch on Twitter (@dherman76) about this.

For those people who want to learn more about this industry, I have written quite a few of the names of companies participating in no particular order:

Privacy & Culture

Preface:  this post has been brewing for a while now and I finally got around to posting it after deciding how to phrase it while at the gym this morning.

There has been lots of talk about how data portability is the new walled garden.

Privacy is dead and Scoble shares his thoughts on this in his most recent rant.

Step away from the Internet for a second.

Privacy is dead.

Culture is fundamentally going to change.


I’m not sure, but I’m surely interested.

If privacy is dead, then everyone with a little baggage is going to be impacted.

I’ve learned that everyone has some type of baggage or another.

What’s in store for us?

Time will tell…