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July 02 2013

01:18

TubeMogul Enjoys International Growth as Automated Advertising Expands

TubeMogul, the video advertising technology platform that provides solutions to agencies and brands who buy media through electronic exchanges, is seeing nearly half its growth overseas with accelerated activity in Asia, says Brett Wilson, CEO of the Emeryville, California-based company, in this interview with Beet.TV

We sat down with him recently to talk about growth at the company which now employs 200, its recent financing, the competitive landscape and trends in the video ad marketplace.

More on TubeMogul in this story in AdExchanger by David Kaplan.

Chicago, July 10 with TubeMogul at VivaKi

Beet.TV is producing a leadership summit about programmatic video advertising at the global headquarters of VivaKi.  The event is sponsored by TubeMogul.  We are not streaming the event live, but will produce several video session highlights and interviews.   Moderating the sessions will be Ashley Swartz, CEO of the New York digital media consultancy Furious Minds.  These are our panelists:

  • Kurt Unkel, President of Products & Solutions, VivaKi
  • Jeremy Straight, VP, Business Development, SpotXchange
  • Chris Paul, General Manager, Audience on Demand,  VivaKi
  • Brett Wilson, CEO, TubeMogul
  • Gian Fulgoni, Chairman  Founder, comScore
  •  Khurrum Malik, CMO, eXelate

 

 

July 01 2013

00:00

The Next Opportunity for Programmatic is Television, Rubicon’s Jay Sears

CANNES – The automated buying and selling of advertising inventory is quickly growing and will soon involve linear television ad sales, say Jay Sears, GM of the REVV Buyer unit of the Rubicon Project.   We spoke with him earlier this month at the Cannes Lions festival where he moderated a roof-top session with most of the top agency trading desks.

Sears also provides an update on developments at the Rubicon Project.

 

 

June 30 2013

23:19

Brand Measurement is Key Focus of Programmatic Efforts at IPG’s Magna Unit

CANNES -  While the move to automated platforms for buying and selling advertising inventory is steadily growing, the industry needs to find a more effective way to measure how all that activity is creating value and impacting brands, says Michael Brunick, SVP for Programmatic at IPG’s Magna Global, in this interview with Beet.TV.

He said his agency is putting considerable resources around this effort.

We spoke to him earlier this month in Cannes after a session of agency trading desk heads organized by the Rubicon Project.

 

June 27 2013

17:46

Accuen’s CEO Jacobs: Digital Is Growing, Not Stealing, TV Ad Spend

CANNES – Some folk would have you believe in a straight, linear migration of dollars from television advertising to online video advertising. But that’s not how ad trading desk software vendor Accuen Media‘s CEO Josh Jacobs sees it.

“We’re starting to have much more interesting conversations with the television buyers saying, ‘How do we engage this consumer regardless of the screen they’re engaging on?’,” Jacobs told Beet.TV in this interview during a Rubicon Project discussion at Cannes Lions.

“Budgets are not shifting from television to digital, it’s expanding to incorporate the digital channels that consumers are playing in.”

Jacobs added: “We’re starting to see television buyers are recognizing the fact that consumers are really engaging with content across four screens.”

Accuen is a unit of Omnicom.

May 30 2013

11:36

The newsonomics of climbing the ad food chain

The numbers are sobering.

While digital advertising has been growing at a 15 percent pace annually in the United States, the digital ad sales of news companies have largely plateaued, struggling to find any growth year over year. The New York Times Company reported digital ad sales down 4 percent for the 1st quarter, while McClatchy managed a 1.5 percent increase in the first quarter. Most news-based companies are significantly underperforming that 15 percent average — in the low single digits, either positive or negative. Meanwhile, the top five digital ad companies, led by Google, increase their share of ad revenue year after year and soon will hold two-thirds of it.

Why are publishers lagging?

Publishers describe their digital ad woe with these terms: “price compression,” “bargain-basement ad networks,” and “death of the banner ad.” Each describes a world of hyper-competition in digital advertising — a world of almost infinite ad possibility and unyielding downward pricing pressure.

Not long ago, news companies believed that their premium-pricing models would withstand the competitive onslaught. Now they’re retooling, trying to speed their adaptation to the new nature of the digital ad beast.

It’s a matter of survival. For some, all-access circulation revenues are a good positive (pushing overall circ revenue up 5 percent in the U.S. last year). All, though, find themselves running as fast as they can to make up both for the freefall of print ad loss and that overall digital ad pricing downturn. “The ground is falling away under you” is how FT.com managing director Rob Grimshaw describes it.

Let’s look at what some of the leading digital ad innovators among publishers are doing to regroup. Let’s look at the newsonomics of climbing the ad food chain, checking in with two global publishers, The New York Times and the Financial Times, and two regional ones, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Digital First Media. They provide a snapshot of a world in ever-spinning change.

Their strategies are all fairly similar: employ a range of new techniques that will justify premium prices. Let Facebook, which controls as much as a quarter of all web ad inventory, sell at 80-cent CPM and make money on scale. Publishers know they will never win that game. They want rates *20 to 50* times that, offering increasingly better targeting of their affluent readers.

Climbing the ad food chain is mainly about three things: technology, creativity, and sales relationships. It is also, overall, about differentiation, the roar of a lion in a crowded landscape.

Grimshaw, a former ad guy, says simply: “You’ve got to be doing something unique.”

Let’s look at each of the areas:

Technology

Digital advertising is all about technology in 2013, and you’ll see lots of talk of the ad-tech stack, and who owns it. Google, of course, owns much of it, through its successive AdWords/Doubleclick/AdMob and more creations, acquisitions and integrations. Its stack is so efficient that many publishers feel compelled to use it, though they are wary of getting their businesses tied ever more directly to Google — or the Google “Death Star,” as some critics call it.

For most publishers, Google is the classic frenemy. They work with it when they think the advantages outweigh the hazards, even as top publishers build their own programs. In fact, expect to soon see U.S. news publishers transition their Newspaper Consortium partnership with Yahoo into something intended to be broader, something that allows publishers to opt into and out of the ad programs of multiple portals — not just Yahoo — harnessing the ad tech of the day.

Six-month-old Smart Match is one of the FT’s latest innovations to stay “premium.” In brief, the content of an advertisement is matched, dynamically, to that of an article. The technology: semantic targeting of both article content and the FT’s current “ad library” for the best matches on the fly, as compared to standard keyword targeting.

Advertisers commit specific budgets for specific time periods, and the FT does the matching. The FT says it gets a major lift in ad engagement with the technology, an average of 9x over its average clickthrough. Ten clients are now live in Smart Match’s soft launch period.

Ad effectiveness isn’t a one-time process; breakthroughs like Smart Match require ongoing engagement with marketers, as publishers work with them to figure out what works and what doesn’t — and to tweak constantly. “Ads can’t be a fire-and-forget enterprise” any longer, says Grimshaw.

The FT is setting floors on pricing and better controlling inventory, testing small “private exchanges” with select ad buyers and agencies, working with Google in the U.S. and Rubicon in Europe. Exchanges have caused publishers lots of headaches, as too much of their inventory — mixed and matched with lots of “lower quality” inventory — helped drive down pricing and deflated the meaning of “premium.” So many have pulled back from exchanges in general; a few are starting to harness the exchange concept, but in a members-only approach.

“We are constantly evolving our approach to the programmatic marketplace, and private exchange activity is one part,” says Todd Haskell, the New York Times Co. group vice president for advertising. “We’ve been using private exchanges for a series of single-client buys executed using private exchange technology, and are now exploring several single buyer/multiple brand programs.”

One big notion here: minimize channel conflict, so that a publisher isn’t competing with itself, making its inventory available at variable prices here and there. Private exchanges are proceeding cautiously. Buyers get more flexibility, but within the control of publishers.

Such private exchange testing follows the adoption of RTB (real-time-bidding), which publishers are honing to get better rates for the ad inventory they can’t sell locally. “We moved away from a remnant inventory model a few years ago with the adoption of RTB and actively manage all of the programmatic demand that we see through the ad exchanges,” says Jeff Griffing, the Star Tribune’s chief revenue officer. “As a single-entity, local site publisher, our strategy is to make sure as many bidders/buyers as possible can transact on their audience impressions that we fulfill on our site.”

Similarly, Digital First Media is moving to add new data — including third-party data from traditonal sources like Experian — into its own systems. “As we move more into the programatic world, with our own Trading Desk and all our own inventory in our private exchange, we keep adding data to all that traffic and match it in a way that enhances the ROI for the small and medium advertisers,” says Digital First Ventures managing director Arturo Duran.

Ad tech is also allowing publishers to do things they couldn’t previously do. The Times is using new brand new ad formats to help marketers gain interactivity. One new program will allow for coupon delivery within an app.

The idea of delivering more experiences within experiences — rather than alongside — can be seen in another recent announcement. Twitter Amplify allows advertisers to deliver videos in-stream — part of a slew of ad-friendly moves, well described by Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch. Among the early partners to sign on: BBC America, Fox, Fuse, and The Weather Channel. The goals here: make ads both more experiential and more lead-generating.

Yield optimization is a term now part of everyone’s vocabulary. Optimization — the better use of data through adjustment of the digital pulleys and levers that adjust what’s offered, at which price points when — has always been a part of the advertising game. Cycle time, and sophistication, though, have markedly moved up. Where the Times used to adjust in 24-month cycles, says Haskell, it now makes significant moves in three-month periods.

There are lots of moving pieces to optimization. The Star Tribune’s chief revenue officer Jeff Griffing describes how his company does it: “The push to premium help us drive our effective yield on pageviews; we’ve established baselines that our different pageviews should meet or exceed and factor in our directly sold campaigns with those indirectly or programmatically filled. We have an optimal formula for how will fill inventory and have set up systems that make sure we’re delivering maximum revenue across all ad units.”

Of course, publishers have long adjusted based on supply and demand. Today, though, the complex external development — various sales partners, through networks, private exchanges and more — requires fine tuning to get the highest possible price for fleeting inventory.

If this all seems like four-dimensional chess, mobile adds a fifth dimension. Haskell recalls the boom in second-screen tablet usage found on election night last November. That development provides a new place for the text-, numbers-, and analysis-driven Times to play in what is usually an immediate TV story. Consequently, it opens up new ways for the Times to exploit the tablet as a second-screen, timely ad vehicle.

The tablet (and mobile, generally) is quickly moving from niche to main play for the Times and others. Of its 43.6 million U.S. unique users in March, 18.3 million arrived via mobile devices, the Times says.

There’s targeting — and then there’s super-targeting. So the Times is selling what Todd Haskell calls “super premium.” It is able to target, through its growing audience database, readers with certain job titles, reading certain sections of content. That kind of targeting drives higher rates, and it’s part of the Times’ plan to move up on the food chain, just as the middle and bottom of that chain widens infinitely.

Creativity

Over the past year, publishers have reawakened to the notion of commercial storytelling. They now see it — a cousin to editorial storytelling — as a core competence, and one that many marketers envy.

“Agencies and many advertisers don’t know how to do it,” says Grimshaw. “There’s a constant need for fresh [marketing] content.”

Enter content marketing, which I recent covered in depth in “The newsonomics of recylcling journalism.” The Star Tribune’s Griffing points to his company’s first big foray into the field, a Kids Health site. Sold to a single sponsor for one year, Children’s Hospital, the new content was produced by Star Tribune staff and is a prototype for products to come. Griffing says the company’s innovations, overall, have pushed year-over-year digital ad growth into the teens.

2013 is the year of content marketing, from New York to D.C. to Minneapolis to Dallas to San Francisco. The creative spark comes from a combination of old-fashioned journalism skills, both editorial and marketing. Sums up Rob Grimshaw: “Publishers have tremendous assets that have never been exploited.”

Now, often, the creation and placement of “native advertising” are inextricably tied. As with the Times’ IdeaLab, the Washington Post’s Brand Connect, and Atlantic Media Strategies, global publishers have asserted their high-end editorial skills, applied to other people’s storytelling, and are packaging that skill with an ad buy. Haskell points out that the creative costs can be built into the ad buy itself, if the buy is big enough. “We’re not looking to make money on the creative,” he says.

That combination of the creative and the buy shows the newness of it all, and the early flux in the content marketing craft. Over time, we’ll likely see a greater cross-title placement of above-average creative, saving on creation costs. How then will the various content marketing works of a Times, an FT, a BuzzFeed, or an Atlantic Media compare? Which will become go-to creative companies, and which will return to the old comfort area of selling placement?

Video creation has also unearthed new creativity among the formerly ink-based wretches. In fact, most companies tell me that video ad demand, at anywhere from $25 to $75 cost per thousand rates (many multiples beyond display ads), is still outstripping supply.

The Star Tribune’s Griffing puts it this way: “This one is simple. We are selling as much video inventory as we have; 1.2 million plays per month, which is significantly more than the next closest competitor, a local TV station. That said, until we’re doing 10M plays a month, revenue for video will be relatively small.”

In a nutshell, that describes the dilemma. The New York Times recently hired Rebecca Howard, late of AOL/HuffPo, to expand its sold-out video inventory.

For Digital First Media, a pioneer in local news video through the Journal Register Company, new video formats offer premium possibilities. It’s going short, and long. “For short format we just closed a deal with Tout.com, and we are deploying their player in all our sites.” DFM journalists will take videos, through Tout (“The newsonomics of leapfrog news video”) and place them quickly on the sites, says Digital First’s Arturo Duran. “Some of those ‘Touts’ are embedded inside the articles. This is following what the consumers are doing, and the tests by WSJ and BBC. They have created snippets of 15 seconds of information that feed their sites with real time information on events. For end users, it’s a faster, easier way to watch it. There is a big play in the mobile arena, specially smartphones, as end users are watching more video in this [short] format than any other.”

Longer-format video is still in the planning stages for DFM, says Duran, pointing to the potential of live events, interviews with personalities, direct chats with readers, and more. It’s noteworthy that despite the success of video advertising, text-based sites still haven’t mastered greater quality production of greater scale and aren’t well-using third-party, “higher quality” video to satisfy ad needs.

Sales relationships

In an age of self-service, spawned by Google’s paid search products, the sales channel is still multi-tiered. Self-service works profoundly for some products, but telesales and in-person, feet-on-the-ground sales forces are finding new life.

Blame complexity. The choices advertisers now have are endless. Top-tier advertisers are served by such specialized teams as the FT’s “strategic sales” unit. The group works matches the complexity of FT’s analytics-fueled approaches to marketing with advertiser needs.

At the other end of the spectrum, the burgeoning marketing services business (“The newsonomics of selling Main Street”) is bringing these new approaches to smaller, local businesses. The Star Tribune’s Jeff Grilling, a major proponent of the marketing services business, has already learned some lessons from his company’s Radius marketing services foray.

“I’m finding more similarities than less, to our traditional sales approach. I’m finding that we are only as good as our sales people and the relationship they create, and that many small business customers have been approached by some sort of digital solutions vendor in the last few years. Make no mistake, there is no easy money in the SMB digital solutions business — it is very competitive and customers have are typically skeptical because of weak solutions they’ve experienced by other vendors in previous years. So if it’s a quick and easy revenue stream that a media company is looking for, I would look at options other than SMB digital solutions. I do still believe, however, that if your intention is to genuinely help local businesses grow, and you have the stomach for investment, strategy, execution, and patience, SMB digital solutions can be a viable product line.”

That tells you how long a haul this digital transition remains, and how many twists and turns even the innovators must endure.

Photo by NJR ZA used under a Creative Commons license.

April 08 2013

15:44

Real-Time Bidding To Comprise 25% of Online Video Ad Spend in 2014. Report

Programmatic buying and real-time bidding will account for about 25% of all online video ad spend in 2014, according to a new report released by Forrester and commissioned by SpotXchange, a global ad marketplace.
Real-time bidding more then doubled from 2011 to 2012, representing the fastest growing segment of the online video business, Forrester says. The sector is slated to grow more than 70% this year. The study also dives into how publishers are using private marketplaces. At the Beet.TV retreat earlier this year, Forrester analyst Joanna O’Connell sat down with Shehan for a deep dive discussion on the ecosystem of real-time buying and private marketplaces.
In the last 18 months, SpotXchange has grown from zero to about 40% of all its impressions in the real-time bidding variety, says Mike Shehan, CEO of SpotXchange in this video interview. He adds that SpotXchange works with about 50 buyers for real-time bidding including DSPs and agency trading desks. “With programmatic, you’ve automated everything — the connections, the RFP process, the reports, the billing, the delivery.”
-Daisy Whitney

April 03 2013

01:28

Programmatic Buying is the “Biggest Push” at WPP, Christina Beaumier

Programmatic buying of media including display, video, radio and soon digital out-of-home, comprises the “biggest push” around media buying at WPP’s giant media agency GroupM, says Christina Beaumier, VP at GroupM’s Xaxis unit, in this interview with Beet.TV

Beaumier explains how data around consumer behavior is driving effective media buying in real-time – and how this is becoming an essential element in the growth of digital video.

We spoke with her in February at the Beet.TV executive retreat in Vieques.

 

 

 

 

August 13 2012

18:38

Forrester's O'Connell: Programmatic Buying of Video Inventory "Will Become the Norm"

The emergence of real-time bidding solutions for online video ad buying, which are employed by ad agencies, will replace the ways buying is done today, says Joanna O'Connell, Senior Analyst, Interactive Media at Forrester Research, in this interview with Beet.TV

She says automated buying "will become the norm"

She foresees a bifurcated media buying scenario where there will be some media buyers working in programmatic buying and another group focused on custom brand experiences.

O'Connell was a founding member of Razorfish's ATOM Systems agency trading desk

 

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