The Strengths and Limitations of Programmatic

There’s a tendency lately to overrate what the garden variety of  programmatic can do. Indeed, as more and more of the market moves to programmatic trading, we sometimes forget that the highest and best use of programmatic isn’t to attract new customers; it is still for retargeting. Retargeting works.

There are now several forms of retargeting that have evolved over the years.  The first to emerge was search retargeting, which served appropriate ads to consumers who searched on certain keywords. The problem with that? We didn’t get enough scale. Too few users searched for your product.

Similarly, demographic retargeting  has its limitations, as consumers already know. It is best used to retarget existing customers or visitors, and sometimes serves an ad for a product a customer has just purchased. The severest limitation of retargeting — just like search retargeting — is for the development of new customers. Here, a different kind of data is required, and that often comes from the publisher. For customer acquisition and brand building, targeting actual websites with high quality users visiting them is still the best solution. The best targeting for expanding your customer base is still site targeting.

Thus actual site targeting, with ads served while the consumer is on a relevant website or a relevant section of a website, will work best. It works better than data to find the type of users that would visit a relevant site. As an example, if you are interested in a traveller it makes more sense to advertise on the travel section of a newspaper site than to choose the traveller category in a DSP. The DSP is using data to guess that the user is interested in travel. However targeting the travel section of the site removes the guesswork – we know the user is reading about travel. And further the user’s mind is on travel right at the point that he sees the ad. So site targeting works better – though it costs more and is difficult to find.

And that is why with our ZINC platform for media buyers we offer transparent and highly accurate  targeting of websites and sections of websites.  That really works well. Many can’t get hold of this inventory so will say that a DSP’s travel category is better and cheaper- but it isn’t better, just cheaper. ZINC’s transparent list of travel sites and travel sections will work far better – though it costs more it is worth it.

Viewability: In the Eye of the Beholder

As the media industry gets ready to shift from paying for impressions to paying for viewability, knowledgeable observers on both sides have already figured out that it’s difficult for advertisers and publishers to come to an agreement on whether an ad was indeed viewable.  Each side measures viewability from its own perspective. The current situation sorely needs to be resolved by someone who can see things from both perspectives. That’s us here at ZINC.

ZEDO’s geneology is as a publisher ad server, but on its ZINC side it sells high impact formats to ATDs and agencies. As a result, we always know when our publisher partners’ ads are viewable because we serve them. We can always tell whether the actual location of the ad unit is in view. And – as you know – we create ad units for high viewability and are consistently measured as number one in viewability nationwide.  However, because we serve both sides of the ecosystem, we have no troublesome third parties in the middle.  This allows us to get better results for our advertisers’ ad verification  technologies – it gives them better and cleaner data.

Here is what Ad Exchanger says is the weakness in measuring viewability solely from the buy side:

When viewability is measured on the buy side, the viewability solution sits with the advertiser’s ad server. Since the ad server is responsible for serving each and every creative, it’s very easy to know exactly when to start the viewability clock and determine when the creative is rendered for at least one full second.

But due to ad environment challenges, like unfriendly, cross-domain iFrames, advertisers can’t measure every ad unit in every environment, which means some percentage of ad impressions is simply unmeasurable. If a vendor reports that 60% of the ads were in view, with a 70% measured rate, what value do the remaining 30% have? 

The  problem is that the advertiser doesn’t ALWAYS know if the creative was viewable – they can’t always measure. The advertiser’s ad server misses some viewable impressions because it can’t figure out the iframes, read the urls, decipher several stacked ad calls or understand certain browser-device-combinations.

So one side is counting only what they are 100% sure of, and ignoring the rest. The other is counting everything – but why should anyone pay for its (higher) numbers?

Since publishers are measuring fully owned inventory and not dealing with foreign ad environments, they have no difficulty determining whether the location of an ad unit is in view. Put another way, publishers can reliably determine the location of all ad units throughout their web properties virtually 100% of the time.  …

I’ve seen discrepancies … reach up to 20%. 

This is nuts. While one side measures only what they are 100% sure of and the other side with better information measures more, how will we ever achieve a consensus set of measurements?

The only way to achieve better measurement to have your creative  served by a vendor who is also the publisher’s ad server.  That is the advantage of buying from ZINC: one                                           platform from the advertiser end to the publisher end. ZINC provides better viewability – as every agency and ATD finally seems to know.  ZINC allows quality  third parties (e.g. Moat, DV, IAS, Comscore) to better  measure viewability for the advertiser.
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Effective Ad Placement

Where an ad appears on a site can often be a determiner of how well the ad performs. Traditionally ads at the top of a page were assumed to have the best performance. However, advances in both site development and ad formats mean that what was true in the past may no longer be true.

The graph below illustrates the performance of ads on a single site. We’re the ad server, and they have  bought our inArticle ads. We often conduct tests on our own formats to make sure we’ve told the truth about how they perform.

time-spent-grapgIn this case, the axis on the left represents the amount of time spent on the page, and each bar represents a part of the page measured in pixel height. The bars proceed from left to right, with the left most bar indicating the performance of ads at the top of the page and the right most bar representing the performance of ads at the bottom of the page. We’ve conducted this analysis on many of the sites on our premium publisher network.

Our analysis has shown that across a wide range of sites, users spend more than double the time with an ad located around an article than they do at  the top of the page. This demonstrates that formats like our inArticle, which runs a video within an article, can be much more effective than banners on the top of the page, which traditionally have been thought to be the most effective places to advertise.

One caveat to all this : all formats lose engagement as the viewer moves down the page. Even the inArticle format’s viewability will drop tremendously if it is placed below the 2000 px or 50% of the page.

Publishers Combine for Larger Audiences

The recent merger of 17-month-old Recode with Vox Media, owners of The Verge, coupled with the recent demise of GigaOm, another respected tech industry publication, raises the question of survival for independent publications with niche audiences.  In actuality, the idea of trade industry networks that support niche publications isn’t new; print publications long ago combined into industry networks the size of IDG or  AdvancePublications. Perhaps the little guy can’t survive alone.

In fact, Vox Media itself, which is venture-funded, may end up being part of Comcast, which was an investor in both Recode and Vox.

The push toward larger and larger digital media networks is driven by the changing vagaries of the advertising market. This year alone publishers have had to re-design their sites for viewability as large marketing budgets like those of GroupM began to insist on 100% viewability as a metric. Just as publishers got slightly comfortable with the concept of being paid only for viewable impressions rather than impressions served, another change came over the horizon: Facebook’s trial with nine publishers who will publish directly to the Facebook site rather than on their own. This product, called Instant Articles by Facebook, is being tested by sites that include Buzzfeed, NBC News, Atlantic,  the New York Times, and National Geographic.

On the face of it, giving up traffic to Facebook seems counterproductive or at least counterintuitive. However, if you think about the fact that Facebook and Google already control 80% of the digital advertising dollars, you can see why a publisher might consider it, especially in the beginning when publishers are being allowed to keep all of the ad revenue they generate on Facebook’s site. No one, by the way, thinks this will last.

The best analysis of why publishing on Facebook was inevitable for even the biggest independent publishers is given by Newsosaur:

Superior mobile prowess.In addition to the sheer size of its audience, Facebook has mastered the art and science of mobile publishing better than almost anyone. In the first quarter of this year, the company reported, 65% of its traffic and 73% of its ad revenues came from such highly optimized mobile sites as its Paper app. 

Superior audience engagement. Based on the amount of time people spend on Facebook, it is fair to say its users are considerably more passionate about the service than the visitors to a typical news site. According to Alexa.Com, the average user spends 18.4 minutes per day on Facebook, as compared with 9.5 minutes at the New York Times, 6.4 minutes at NBC News and 5.4 minutes at BuzzFeed.  

Superior customer data.Because enthusiastic users frequently and liberally update the site with a plethora of personal data, Facebook knows more intimate and accurate details about more people than any company in the world. The information is updated dynamically in real time, as people report everything from their favorite new song to the jeans they want to buy to the fact they will have a baby in six months.  

Superior ad intelligence.Facebook enables advertisers to target messages with heretofore unprecedented precision, thanks not only to the rich information supplied by users but also by analyzing information captured from the friends in their networks.  The ad-intel is supplemented with location data acquired from Facebook’s popular mobile services. 

Superior content targeting. In the same way data is used to target commercial messages, Facebook has the capability to match the right content with the right user by monitoring her searches and media consumption. If Facebook sees that someone likes cooking Italian food, it can slip relevant recipes from the NYT food page into her news feed, paired conveniently with an ad for a pasta maker. When Facebook recognizes that a bride is planning a honeymoon in Florida, it can send her travel videos embedded with customized hotel offers. 

The Newsosaur blog is written by Alan Mutter, a former journalist, editor, and CEO of several tech startups, who now serves as a consultant to the media industry. Because of his position at the intersection of media and technology, he probably has the best perspective on what’s ahead for publishers — even the Buzzfeeds of the world.

ZEDO Selected for OTA Honor Roll for 4th Consecutive Year

ZEDO, INC., the leading independent advertising technology partner for publishers, has announced it  has been selected  for the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) 2015 Online Trust Honor Roll for the fourth year in a row. This honor demonstrates exceptional  commitment to data protection, privacy and security in an effort to better protect customers and brands from the increased threats of cybercriminals and abusive privacy practices.

 

OTA, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with industry leaders to enhance online trust, completed comprehensive audits analyzing more than 1,000 domains and privacy policies, including approximately 100,000 web pages and more than 500 million emails for this report. The composite analysis included over  two-dozen attributes focusing on 1) site & server security, 2) domain, brand, email and consumer protection and 3) privacy policy and practices. In addition to the in-depth analysis of their web sites, Domain Name Systems (DNS), outbound emails, and public records were analyzed for recent data breach incidents and FTC settlements. Key sectors audited include the Internet Retailer Top 500, FDIC 100, Top 50 Social Sites, IoT Top 50 as well as OTA members.

 

“We are proud to once again recognize ZEDO for its leadership and commitment to working with peers, the industry and competitors to embrace consumer protection and embrace their right to privacy,”  said Craig Spiezle.  ZEDO plays an incredible important role in the advertising supply chain helping increase the integrity of online advertising.”

“ZEDO strives to make security and privacy of its customers’ data a top priority.” stated Roy De Souza, ZEDO CEO. “We fully support the OTA’s Data Breach Guidelines, and we also adhere to industry guidelines for data protection.”

 

Nearly 1,000 companies comprise the Honor Roll, including ZEDO. The report indicates that company size and/or sales are not true measures of the level of security and privacy a company implements. “All companies are equally evaluated by the same criteria regardless of size. We have seen large e-retailers with significant sales fail to make the Honor Roll; conversely we have seen small to mid-size companies taking top grades,” said Spiezle.

Started in 2005 as an effort to drive adoption of best practices, the objectives of the Honor Roll are to 1) recognize leadership and commitment to best practices which aid in the protection of online trust and confidence in online services, 2) Enable businesses to enhance their security, data protection and privacy practices, 3) Move from compliance to stewardship, demonstrating support of meaningful self-regulation, and 4) Promote security & privacy as part of a company’s brand promise and value proposition.

 

Being named to the 2015 Honor Roll is a significant effort considering only 30 percent of the 1,000 web sites evaluated made the Honor Roll, distinguishing themselves by safeguarding data via best practices in three categories: domain/brand protection, privacy and security. Conversely, a nearly 70 percent didn’t qualify for the Honor Roll .

 

“We are honored to be recognized for the measures we take around security and responsibility for our customers,” said De Souza. “We feel an enormous responsibility to provide protection and security for our customers.”

To review the full 2015 Honor Roll report, please download a free copy.

ABOUT The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) is a member-based, non-profit representing the global internet ecosystem – including the public and private sectors. OTA’s mission is to develop and advocate best practices and public policy which mitigate emerging privacy and security threats while enhancing online trust, innovation and the vitality of the digital economy. OTA is committed to the protection of critical infrastructure, balanced legislation and data protection through the promotion of best practices, benchmark reporting, and self-regulation. For more information, visit: https://otalliance.org

 

ABOUT ZEDO

ZEDO, Inc. is a platform offering clever, proprietary high impact formats that help publishers get new revenue. Known for technical innovation and ability to scale, ZEDO offers publishers products and services – including ad serving – and rich media formats with 99% viewable impressions. ZEDO also serves advertisers through ZINC, a suite of high impact formats including video and native ads on premium sites. Founded in 1999, ZEDO is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, Singapore, Sydney, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and Phoenix, and development centers in Russia and India. As the largest independent ad technology player, the company is distinguished by its global reach and cosmopolitan market knowledge.

 

A Short History of Targeted Advertising

There’s a reason “Mad Men” ended this spring. The show runners recognize that the early 70’s were about the end of the sexy, interesting period of advertising — the period where creative ruled and audiences was pretty much everybody.  It was assumed that advertising’s function was to influence, or perhaps to persuade the masses, and that mass media reached everybody.But in the 70’s,

the use of computer technology grew, reflecting a rediscovery of and growing emphasis on “empirical advertising” research and fact-based marketing during the decade. This practice was a reaction to the “creative revolution” of the 1960s and indicated a marked shift to a preference for discipline and accountability.

Targeted advertising didn’t really exist before the 70s, except perhaps by age and sex. and markets were segmented by demographics, if at all. But a new concept had already arisen from social scientists: psychographics. Psychographics changed everything by providing new ways to look at consumers and while at first ad agencies didn’t understand it, they quickly adopted it to keep their industry alive. It was something they could sell to brands.

Psychographics segmented consumers by more than just age, sex, and income. It began to take into account “lifestyle,” and to segment consumers into attitudes, beliefs, opinions and personality traits. Once the audience was segmented this way, media buys began to change as well. That led to the importance of media buyers, who could target the “right” audience rather than just the mass audience. Although the Audit Bureau of Circulations had existed since 1914, the information it provided consisted of little more than numbers of subscribers to print magazines.  The rise of radio and television meant that print magazines were’t the only way to reach audiences, and buyers began what has been a 50+ year quest for better data.  The media buyer had access to the data.

For publishers, this meant knowing much more about their readers or viewers or listeners than just how many there were. It meant segmenting themselves and their appeal to different “lifestyles.” In the 70s, new magazines were founded that didn’t even pretend to reach the masses: Cosmopolitan, a niche magazine for sexually free, economically independent women, was founded in 1965 but became big news in the 70s with the advent of “feminism,” which further segmented the female consumer, and the decade saw the proliferation of magazines aimed a young adults (“Teen”) or even people who liked gossip “People.”

Each new publication further fragmented the audience. For advertisers, this meant positioning a product in the marketplace to attract the psychographic to which the brand appealed:

In contrast to the “product era” of the 1950s and the “image/impression era” of the 1960s, “positioning” emerged as a primary ad strategy of the 1970s. In a media-oriented culture, marketers found it necessary to position a product in the consumer’s mind, both within the context of its own merits and strengths and in relation to its competitors.

And that’s how we got to the place we are now: the big data era, in which publishers must know everything about their visitors and make that information readily available to media buyers confronted by a dazzling array of opportunities. Those who don’t know will get swallowed up in the continued fragmentation of the advertising buy.

 

 

 

ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – May 2015

Site Performance Report Added to Access Control
The Site Performance report has been added to Access Control for all role types.
You can enable/disable it from the following location:
Create Role>> Report Permissions>> Performance>> Site Report

Alert on Profit Report Page to indicate incomplete scraping data
For Ad Network customers we scrap revenue per campaign and apply it while generating Profit reports. When scraper data is unavailable we use the default rate set for the campaign, which is later updated when the scraper data is available.

The message: “Revenue displayed in red is incomplete as data collection is in progress. Check again later or contact your account manager.” will appear when the scraper data is unavailable and the revenue is being calculated using default campaign rate.

The message alerts users about the incomplete revenue data while they do their analysis.

Iframe Buster for Roadblock ads and IAB Sidekick
This feature allows you to run Rich Media Ads created via the Roadblock template, using an Iframe tag and hosting the Iframe buster file. We have also added Iframe Buster support for IAB Sidekick ad format from the Custom Rich Media ads option.

A Quick Way to Solve Your Fraud and Viewability Problems

 Switch to ZEDO. And we’re not kidding. Our platform has been tested and shown to contain less than 3% ad fraud, coupled with over 90% viewability. We’ve got the numbers to prove it.
 What does that mean? It means we’ve been working at this problem since we were founded, and every year we get better and better at serving viewable ad units and firing sites where we identify fraud. If we didn’t have to deal with third party networks, we’d probably have zero fraud, because we never include suboptimal sites in the campaigns we serve. Spotting those has been a major focus of our technologists, as has been viewability.
 Three years ago, we pledged to own the phrase “viewable impressions.” Our InView slider, released at the same time, was the first ad unit to test 99% viewable by comScore.
 We have just been waiting for the industry to figure out how much money was being wasted. And sure enough, 2015 has been the year in which ad fraud and its cousin viewability have become major concerns.
They existed before, but there was tacit agreement that not much could be done, and besides, no one knew what percentage of ads were either not viewable or fraudulent. But it was only a matter of time before our ability to mine and manipulate the data associated with advertising transactions began to surface the extent of the problem.
 According to Ad Age, 30% of all programmatic ad buys could be fraudulent, and 90% of the fraudulent traffic is coming from bots. This fraudulent traffic costs the industry as much as $1 million a day, says DoubleVerify. What doesn’t come from bots is due to video fraud, which is more difficult to spot and even harder to get rid of.
We don’t have that either. And on the viewability side of the fence, we’ve just completed a test with MOAT, one of the only certified vendors to track both display and video viewability.
While the Media Rating Council sanctioned buying on viewability last year, the IAB has recently set a standard of only 70% viewability for this year because many vendors couldn’t get much higher. Indeed, MOAT told us the industry benchmark was 62%.
Our ads? 90% in view, and that would be higher again if we didn’t deal with other networks.
 Sure, self-serving blog posts aren’t the best way to get the information out, but there are only a finite number of hours in the day for our sales teams to spend contacting people who don’t yet know how badly they need us and how much we can help them.

Consolidate Your Vendors for Peak Effectiveness

You know things have become difficult for marketers when the President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) admits that all the money  flooding into ad tech has merely caused more chaos. As a marketer  you certainly already know this as you attempt to deal with the tangle of new partners who come between you and the consumer. As a publisher you rail at the way every new middleman takes a small piece of the pie that represents your inventory.

It’s time for everyone to consider consolidating from the current melange of startups to a single larger vendor who can do it all.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the display Lumascape.  Notice the sheer number of possible partners, and then take a look at the number of acquired and shuttered companies.

Display Lumascape

Display Lumascape

All this has got to stop. Marketers, the ones who pay the bills, must think about consolidating to a few larger trustworthy vendors and stop experimenting with startups that promise the Holy Grail and sell you stuff that doesn’t work as promised and doesn’t measure what you need measured.

Video Lumascape

The Video Lumascape

But you’re not relying on display anymore, are you? You are also using video, and you’re moving to mobile.

You will need fewer, bigger, better partners that can take you across desktop, tablet, and mobile.

  • ZEDO, a company that has been in the ad tech business since 1999, has a buy side offering in its ZINC division, and a sell side offering in our more familiar publisher ad server and operations services.
  • Over the years, watching the market evolve, we too have evolved, into a platform for easy and automated buying of our high impact, highly viewable premium inventory. We get consistent high marks for viewability from MRC-certified  vendors, and we are active in the Online Trust Alliance fighting against the distribution of malware and the commission of ad fraud.

And now we are developing new mobile formats for use both in a web browser and alongside applications. Here is the mobile Lumascape, with hundreds of additional companies to contend with. Don’t put up with it. Choose one partner you can rely on.

Mobile Lumascape

Mobile Lumascape

 

 

 

 

The State of the Media Industry

CollisionConf2014-301-1024x678New York (and London),  we’ve got a problem. At the Collision Conference in Las Vegas, there was both a Marketing Stage and a conference-within-a-conference called BrandX. We attended both, and came away with the feeling that there’s been so much change in the advertising industry lately that no one quite knows how to respond. The media industry is in a tailspin that looks a little like the one 20 year ago when the internet first became a household world. As an industry we responded too slowly then, and we have to be careful we’re not responding too slowly now.

The problem is the consumer. She’s disappeared, even though she’s in more places than ever before. We keep trying to locate her amidst the almost infinite media fragmentation. You, publisher, are part of that fragmentation. She’s hopping on your site and then off somewhere else before you get a handle on what she really wants. She no longer clicks on ads, although they may have have influenced her. So the price you can offer for your ads has gone down.

And you don’t have all the inventory you used to either, because of the new push for viewability. First you were put under pressure to re-design your site for mobile. So you went to a responsive design. But now, with some advertisers clamoring for 100% viewability ( and each advertiser giving you a different metric for what viewability actually means), you are redesigning again to make sure all your inventory can be tested as viewable.

You’ll wind up with less salable inventory, and your income may plummet further, as it did when you lost the consumer the first time.

If you’re lucky enough to have a site that targets Millennials, your problems are both larger and smaller simultaneously. You’ve got the great content that brings the largest demographic in the world to your site (18-34 year olds) but they hate ads. They’re cynical and turned off, and they let you know it. As a publisher, you’ve got the great content, but you can’t sell against it if you can’t prove your customers buy the products being advertised.

So you lower the editorial bar by going to “native ads.” Native ads are what you used to hate: content that is often created by or created by your own staff for brands. You have now redefined your mission: you are no longer a publisher, you’re in league with your advertisers.

But you have to get over this. The distinction between advertising and publishing is going away. There’s now only one category: information. Whether under the publisher banner or the brand banner, you’re giving the consumer, that hard-to-find and harder to win Millennial what she wants — good information on which to base a decision.

As an ecosystem, we’ve wrapped a boatload of terms around this new set of circumstances: programmatic, viewability, native, real time bidding, DSP, SSP, DMP and many more. But in the world of the internet, no matter what side we’re on — publisher or advertiser — we are selling the same product to the consumer. Information.

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget that.