ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – December 2014

Support for VAST 3.0

Features included:

  1. Skip event
  2. Progress event

Note: ZEDO Players are not VAST 3.0 compatible yet

Please refer to the knowlegebase for more details.

Passbacks for VAST Tags

ZEDO’s Passback feature can be used with VAST Compatible ad formats. There are times when Advertisers do not want Impressions from every user, so they just return empty responses. But you can use ZEDO’s Passback Tag feature to monetize Impressions that are not filled by your advertiser.

Please refer to the knowledgebase for more details

Mobile Advertising Makes Context Supremely Important


Programmatic media buying has done many things well, but it has done one thing very poorly: it has not kept good track of one of advertising’s most important media buying tenets –context.  Context used to be the watchword of print media buyers, who chose audiences by buying certain magazines, like the New Yorker for elite readers or the Pasadena Press for local readers. This sort of buying assumed that if an audience was reading the New Yorker, it would be in the market for jewelry, good Scotch, or luxury cars. They could tell by the context. And it works.

Now we have more data, many DSP users and ATDs are targeting audience without thinking about the context in which the ads appears. They forget to choose the right sites for quality and for their brand.

But on which site the ad appears is still very important. The marketoonist cartoon explains this with clarity.

John Battelle said it best:

Wouldn’t it be better if the ads matched the content? ….

That’s how it used to be, back when ads were bought and sold in a bespoke fashion by publishers’ ad sales forces competing on the quality of their content and the audience it attracted. And it’s how it could be again, given the wealth of contextual information available to marketers today. It’s not an either/or choice: It should be both. It’s well within the programmatic ecosystem’s reach to surface contextual information.

To help programmatic buyers, ZINC offers only top tier high quality sites. This allows ATDs and other buyers on DSPs to know that they are advertising on the very best sites that match their brand. Yes, the price is higher, but the increased performance (just look at the ZINC CTRs to start with) more than justifies this. Many advertisers who buy ZINC programatically are amazed at the performance. To be fair, ZINC performance is derived from great, unique ad units that ZEDO builds and tests specifically. But we have seen clearly that performance is still further enhanced by serving these ads on great, clean high quality sites.

Does Ad Tech Give Publishers Protection?

While the purpose of ad tech is primarily to automate the workflow of buying and selling publisher inventory, a recent event involving Gawker, GamerGate and Reddit has revealed some unintended consequences of publishers’ adoption of technology. The TL;dr is that ad tech may protect publishers from angry readers who attack them through their advertisers, although it may also expose them to accusations of violating an ad tech vendor’s Terms of Service.

Here’s what happened:

First, GamerGate: GamerGate is a vitriolic response of the online gaming community to game reviewers the gamers think are too conflicted (too close to their sources) to be proper journalists. We’re not judging whether the journalists or the gamers wear the white hats. Probably all the hats are gray. All you need to know is that the debate rages on, with gamers attacking especially women journalists over their writings on the video game industry. The publishers who hire those journalists or run their reviews are also open to fierce criticism. Gawker seems to be drawing the brunt of the criticism right now, but this is a larger issue that applies to all publishers, either with respect to GamerGate or in the future with anything else a publisher runs that an activist audience disagrees with.

Second, Reddit: Reddit is where the gamers gather to express their point of view. One of the activities suggested by gamers on the GamerGate subreddit was going after Gawker’s advertisers. However, Gawker has some pretty loyal advertisers, because it is a site where engagement is high.

Third: After going after the advertisers proved relatively futile, these angry gamers decided that the next best avenue of offense would be to go after the ad tech companies Gawker uses to make its transactions. Because digital advertising is trackable, a redditor who says he used to work for Rubicon posted the names of all the ad tech companies Gawker uses, and tried to explain where Gawker violated their TOS.

Digiday’s John McDermott opined that the new development ” is also a sign that ad tech is now playing an outsized role for publishers, possibly exposing them to these kind of novel activism campaigns.”

But we don’t think that’s the correct conclusion. We think that the inclusion of ad tech in the media ecosystem does many beneficial things, and as a side benefit it protects the entire ecosystem of advertisers, ad tech companies and publishers from the repercussions of  small groups of angry activists.

More important, it helps publishers raise their revenues and lower their cost structures in the digital environment.




DFP Failure Gives Glimpse of the Future

One morning quite recently, this happened.

Google’s ad server for publishers (DFP) went down on Wednesday costing publishers across the world millions of dollars in lost advertising revenue. Google scrambled to fix their technology. It also brought some of the web to a  standstill as their ad server prevented pages from loading on some sites.

As a side effect this left the web free of their small banner ads , much as it had been at its beginning. On many tier one sites the only ads you saw were the sophisticated and attractive ZINC formats. Not many of them per page but good ads and well presented.

It was a great opportunity to think about how to redefine the way we present ads online. As banner ads are in decline the future is fewer but higher quality advertising – often with video ads on the web. These are ad formats that work for the publisher revenue goals, user experience and for the advertisers. That is what ZINC believes in.

We thank Google for turning off all their ad clutter so that we could get a glimpse of the future.

How to Get a Handle on Your Dark Traffic

As a publisher, you would like to know where your traffic is coming from, and you’d like to know as much as possible about each visitor. But Atlantic admits that it doesn’t know where approximately 40% of its traffic comes from, and the Guardian cannot account for 7-8%.The Guardian’s website is being swamped by unidentifiable “dark traffic”, and executives at the company cannot figure out where it is coming from.

Unfortunately, with the shifts from desktop to mobile and search to social, most publishers know less than ever about where their traffic comes from. So-called dark traffic is increasing year over year while demands for better targeting on the part of agencies and brands do not allow you to ignore it.  Dark traffic makes it more difficult to prove to advertisers that you’re the right buy for them. Indeed, with programmatic, they can buy specific pages and placements automatically, so your audience data had better be convincing at a granular level.

Readers no longer come in to publisher sites through the “front door,” or home page.  Rather, they come through the side door of Facebook and Twitter links. Social has overtaken search as a way for visitors to choose what content they see. As users, we find our content through trusted recommendation engines, or through friends and colleagues more than through Google.

But then there’s all the under-the-radar sharing that takes place — on chat, messaging apps, IM and in email — outside the mainstays of the social network ecosystem. Then there are sites that are secure, which means that they don’t collect information on users. That’s the dark traffic part. “There’s a general move to people going to secure [sites], and as a general rule, when people go to secure, referral data is lost,” said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land.

Indeed, they can come through email, where links are virtually untrackable. And now, with the rise of messaging services, they can even come from WhatsApp or WeChat. It is getting more and more difficult to determine who sent you the traffic.

And many mobile apps don’t send referrals either. Facebook mobile is one of them, which makes it hard to find out how much of your traffic is coming from Facebook.

Right now, publishers have few tools they can use other than putting the social sharing buttons on their sites. But Digiday’s article on dark traffic admits,

[Publishers] already tag links that go in their email newsletters, so a publisher can tell if a visit came via a newsletter link as opposed to another source. But the tools are limited. They can watch to see if, say, a spike in mentions of their brand on a dark social platform like Instagram correlates with increased traffic to their site, but causality is hard to determine. BuzzFeed once put a WhatsApp share button on its articles, which would tell the publisher how many people clicked (although not how many people they shared the article with, or if they completed the sharing action at all).


ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – November 2014

Reach Report by Channel/Country

In addition to the existing Campaign and Creative Reach Reports, customers can now pull a Reach Report for a particular Country and Channel. The Country and Channel reach report is available along with all the existing parameters and can be pulled by month, week or day.

These reports will help you analyze how effective your reach is for a specific Country and Channel.


Coming Soon:

Upgrade to VAST 3.0

We will upgrade our VAST 2.0 compliant ad server to VAST 3.0, which will include the following features:

  • Skippable ads
  • Skip event tracking and
  • Progress event tracking

When Brand Advertising Comes Back, Google Gets Eclipsed

The well-respected blogger Ben Thompson wrote quite a controversial post titled Peak Google after seeing Google’s Q3 earnings. While Google’s ad business obviously isn’t in serious trouble, the numbers led Ben to contemplate the fact that while Google has totally captured the search advertising business, search represents a scant 10% ($50 billion), of the $545 billion total online ad spend this year. And in the future, it might represent far less.

Where is the rest of that big spend going?  It’s going to brand advertising (through various media like TV and social), the kind of advertising Google taught us to disdain. Google has told us for a decade that we should value only direct response or performance ads. The result is the ridiculous metric of CTRs, which in no way represent the consumer’s entire response to an ad.

Especially on a mobile device.

On mobile, brand advertising is making a comeback.

…over the last few years a new type of advertising has emerged: native advertising. I’ve already made my defense of native advertising here, but just to be clear, I classify any sort of “in-stream” advertising as native advertising. Thus, for a news site, native advertising is advertising in article format; for Twitter, native advertising is a promoted tweet; for Facebook, native advertising is ads in your news feed; for Pinterest (a future giant) a promoted pin. These sorts of ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements – as they should be! In every medium (except, arguably, newspapers, which had geographic monopolies) native advertising is the norm simply because it’s more effective for advertisers and a better experience for users.

Thompson goes on to argue that TV commercials are mostly for brand advertising, as are jingles and magazine ads.

And all those are coming to mobile, in large part as digital video. All those brand advertising dollars from TV, flowing to mobile, has already caused the industry to examine potential new metrics for measuring an ad’s effectiveness, such as engagement (time spent with the ad) and video completion rates.

There’s no guarantee that Google will be able to win at this new game. Native advertising, and brand advertising in general, requires immersive content, and the social streams and Tier 1 publishers have most of that. As do some startups like Buzzfeed.

On the other hand, that’s not to say that Google will not continue to be profitable. Thompson compares it to IBM and Microsoft, each of which is still alive and profitable, although not the industry leader it was in the past. He says Google will not get “disrupted,” so much as it will get “eclipsed.”


Internet Ad Revenues Post Huge Gains

While ad tech companies themselves are still merging and their IPOS may not be doing too well, the industry they enable is doing just fine. PwC US has just released its latest half year study of Internet ad revenues, an they’ve hit yet another new high, now at $23.1 billion. That’s up 15% from last year’s first half., which was $20.1 billion.  IAB released the study at the beginning of Q4, traditionally a strong time for advertising revenues. That means Q4 will probably beat Q2’s $11.7 billion.

Realistically, there’s nowhere to go but up, because mobile revenues alone have increased 76%, and they’re just beginning to take off. They’re at $5.3 billion now, and that’s before advertisers really develop mobile strategies and figure out how to measure their results. Another promising sign is the recent shift of TV dollars to video. Right now, that shift looks like a cross-channel or cross-platform strategy, but it will change further as large networks unbundle from the cable providers and become apps, with their own strategies for attracting those elusive cord-cutters. Or in the case of Millennials, people who never even had a cord to cut.

So we predict that 2015 will be the year of  “Mobile. Digital. Video.”

And a recent AOL Platforms study seems to agree with us, citing the following trends:

    Advertising spending on online video increased for the 5th consecutive year, and buyers claim spending will grow across the board in 2015. Publishers are reaping the benefits of diversified selling channels, inclusive of programmatic.
    Agencies and brands are increasingly tapping into broadcast and cable TV budgets to fund their digital video ad spending.
    Brands and agencies are moving away from buying direct from publishers and ad networks, in favor of buying through exchanges and DSPs. With 60 percent of their budgets going to programmatic channels, brand advertisers are most aggressive with their spend reallocation.
    Video buyers are already running data-driven TV campaigns, evidenced by the 40 percent of brands adopting the practice. Brand budgets for programmatic TV buying are predominantly coming from traditional TV spending, not from digital or incremental spending.
    Brand buyers and sellers cited ad viewability as the most problematic issue for them, compared to verification/placement and bot fraud, which ranked lower. Only 25 percent said they are up to speed on these issues, indicating a need for additional education.

A key driver of the mobile video revolution is social media revenues, which includes advertising delivered on social platforms, including social networking  and social gaming websites and apps. Advertising on social media sites and within gaming apps and platforms increased 58% over last year, and will continue to rise.

Interestingly, search advertising is underperforming growth in the rest of the Internet advertising business, perhaps because it is the most mature category of online advertising and also the least interactive. Still, it’s a pretty encouraging set of reports to take us through Q4.


TV Execs Minimize Video Threat, but…

Big numbers have been released by comScore about the growing number of online videos served by both Facebook and YouTube. Between the two sites, they delivered more than 24 billion views in August alone. To get down to the specifics. comScore’s executive chairman said that Facebook had delivered a billion, yes that’s billion, more video views than YouTube, and Facebook itself announced in September that it was delivering a billion views a day. Welcome to Q4 and the potential for massive advertising spend.

What do those big numbers mean for the advertising industry? Well, if you listen to the networks, not much.

In a June 2014 report, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank stated “the online video market poses little threat to the traditional network TV ecosystem.”  To highlight the drastic contrast between the two markets, Banks asserted the advertising value of an entire week of YouTube viewership is equivalent to that of a single, first-run episode of CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

“Is ‘The Big Bang Theory’ a big show? Yes,” said Bank. “Does its scale threaten the fabric of the rest of the TV advertising ecosystem? We do not think so.”

A “Big Bang” viewer sits through around eight minutes of advertising, while a YouTube viewer is exposed to far shorter, less frequent pre-roll ads, some of which can be skipped. Moreover, Bank noted, only around 16 percent of ad minutes in online video run against premium content, and roughly half of that inventory is available on properties owned by major media companies like CBS or ABC.

So more and longer ads make TV superior, even when run against mediocre content? But how engaged is the TV viewer vs. the video viewer?  Video viewers may be exposed to fewer ads, but they can’t fast forward through as much advertising as TV viewers can since the advent of time-shifted viewing. Morevoer, Facebook serves autoplay video ads, although some users dislike that because they almost HAVE to view them. Does that produce positive engagement with a brand? We’d say it depends on the brand. The jury’s still out on the overall effect.

But here are better ways to serve video advertising than just pre-roll on two sites. For one thing, we believe video ads can be cut loose from pre-roll and served on non-video sites where they can run in the middle of content a visitor is already reading. Our inArticle format does not run auto-play sound, so we’re  courteous to a reading visitor. But we don’t let the visitor forget either, because we leave a 1×1 copy of the ad at the bottom of the page, so if a visitor wants to read all the way through the content and return to the ad, she can.

We’ve also got a Tier 1 network at your disposal, so if you want to buy video ads and you can’t find enough pre-roll to scale your campaign, our ZINC high impact formats could be perfect for you.

ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – October 2014

Ad Request Event for VAST

As the digital video advertising market becomes more sophisticated, new features and functionality are required to improve support for streaming ad display and reporting. We have added a new feature Ad Request which works in VAST Events.

The ‘Ad Request’ feature is activated by default for all VAST ads that are created, it will not be available in the VAST Compatible create ad form. The Ad Requests event reports on the number of requests made by the VAST tag to the ad server to fetch the video ad.

Users can view the Ad requests logged for an ad by pulling a VAST event report.

Click here for more information


Reach Report by Channel/Country ( Not yet released)

Apart from existing Campaign and Creative reach report, you can now pull a reach report by Country and Channel. The Country and Channel reach report is available along with all the existing parameters and can be pulled by month, week or day.

These reports will allow you to analyze how effective your reach is for a Country and Channel.


Frequency cap option for expandable

Expandable ads are rich media ads that can expand beyond the original size of the ad unit. The ad can expand automatically or when a user clicks or rolls over, and you can control that setting when you traffick the Ad in Zedo Server. However Auto expanding multiple times in a day for the same user, could create a negative impact. Hence to keep this in check we now provide frequency capping option that allows you to decide the number of times the Ad will Auto Expand in a day for a specific user.


Roadblock and Competing ad setup improved

We have improved the Roadblock and Competing ad setup by eliminating the steps to create pages by synchronizing the channels. You can now targeting roadblock ads directly to any channel and serve the ads on your webpage.


Ad status while creating an ad

You can now set a new ad to app (approved) status directly from the create ad form.