Values Re-Enter the Marketer Vocabulary

A number of trends have converged in my mind this week to convince me that marketing has to change — AGAIN. A pendulum has swung too far without us noticing it, and it’s about to hit us in the face as it swings back if we aren’t careful.

Here are six trends that point to the need for change:

1) the #MeToo moments that have altered the career trajectories of a number of (mostly male) influencers,

2) the publication of Clayton Christensen’s new book Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, with its core theory that we hire a product or service to do a job, and products and services must be designed to be hired by the right customers,

3) the growth of the mindfulness movement in Silicon Valley, with entrepreneurs who have made it going off on ten-day silent retreats and starting organizations to curtail the influence of companies they helped to build,

4) the disillusionment all of us early adopters feel about social media, especially Facebook, especially after young, red-headed Christopher Wylieexposed how our own personal data was used against us. This includes a plaintive post by Brian Solis about taking control back, and a five-year old crusade by Randi Zuckerberg to put digital technology into perspective for our children,

5) the coming of the values-driven Millennial generation into the job and consumer markets (hint: they buy on values)

6) and, the launch of the Global Data Privacy Regulation in May.

These are big events that don’t leave marketers untouched.

For the past two decades, we’ve been focused on becoming data geeks in the marketing department. Old style CMOs were forced out by quants, and the goal was to get “more accurate data” about where the ”customer” was on her “journey” to buying our product.

But one thing data has overlooked is values, and I believe values will be the most important piece of marketing in the future. Companies will have to declare their values and live by them. And this is not a mission statement that gets put up on the office wall in the break room. Values are different. You can’t lie about your values, because they’ll show and customers will know. Southwest values employees, Starbucks values connectedness, RichRoll.comvalues a healthy lifestyle.

Once companies have figured out what their values really are, marketers will be able to begin the search for human beings who naturally align with the company’s values, and turn those people into customers. It should be easy, because it converts what used to be a sales process into a reaching out and calling to the people who naturally value what you have to offer.

Wouldn’t it be cool if marketing evolved again from shoving things on customers, to prying into peoples’ lives to find out more about them, to naturally aligning with people who already share our values — for whom we’re the right product or service for the job they want done?

We’d like to be part of that transition.

Can Programmatic Give Us Better Targeting?

If you listen to companies on the forefront of programmatic advertising, they tout both its ubiquity (some say over 50% of the market inventory is now purchased programmatically) and its virtues for both publishers and brands. For publishers, programmatic tools have already provided an opportunity to monetize more content, although sometimes at lower CPMs than they’d wish. And for brands, programmatic promises better targeting. Even premium deals can now be done with the automated work flow tools programmatic has made possible.

But does programmatic really provide better targeting? The consumer’s jury is out on that one. Speaking anecdotally, I’ve heard many consumers simultaneously laugh and cry over poorly targeted ads. Millennials may have given up on advertising altogether, turning to ad blockers to rid themselves of “information” they don’t want in places they don’t want it. Mobile is more often than not the culprit in these instances, where unwanted advertising can eat into a user’s data plan.

But programmatic will get better, because there will be more and more data generated by each individual consumer. Wait until your watch, your thermostat, and your washing machine begin to generate data about your habits and wishes as a matter of course. Some of these objects have the capability to do that now, but most of us haven’t bought them yet. The Internet of Things, as it is called, is just beginning to take off for people who are not early adopters. That’s why ad tech companies were present in such force at the Cannes Lion Awards last month — an event that used to belong solely to the creative class.

One speaker at the awards said that marketers are going to have to learn “intent-based marketing,” which means they must shift away from trying to create demand to fulfilling the actual needs of customers. This is a huge shift, since advertising has been a big part in creating and sustaining the consumer economy. But once consumers have the power to communicate their intent so clearly in so many different places, ignoring that intent would be foolhardy on the part of the marketer. It’s better to get on the train in the direction it’s going in, rather than trying to reverse the train’s direction.

The plethora of data created and the ability to target it directly to someone who actually intends to buy a product will ensure the ubiquity of programmatic. Marketers must learn to embrace new patterns of conscious consumption and return to the idea of offering experiences rather than just products.

This shift has only just begun. Expect marketing and publishing to change rapidly over the next decade (again).


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





Programmatic Spend Reveals Greater Planning

Programmatic advertising has outgrown its original reputation as a place to pick up cheap remnant inventory at the last minute. As brands and agencies try to meet consumers where they are, they are finding the need to look across the media landscape for the same customer on a number of different devices and on a variety of platforms.The consumer has become, quite literally, a moving target, and there is simply no other way to build scalable campaigns without the automation and reach programmatic can offer . Although the retail and CPG industries have been in the forefront of this movement, they’re followed closely by travel, telecom, and financial services — all fields in which competition is fierce.

As a concomitant, the RTB environment has grown to include much more than simple display advertising. You can buy pretty much any kind of advertising in real time now, even video. From January through April 2014, display advertising remained fairly constant, but all other data-driven marketing channels grew, according to Turn’s Advertising Intelligence Index. Across all the channels, the competitive advertisers are beginning to plan in advance and stabilize at higher levels of spend.

Turns study reported a decrease in the volatility of spend, as well as growth in the number of dollars spent. This information reveals that marketers are planning in advance for cross-platform campaigns, rather than operating through trial and error and merely reacting. Once marketers recognize that they have to  leverage data and approach planning with a new appreciation for cross-channel impact, smoother spend is a natural consequence.

Compared to the same period in 20o13, Turn saw far less budget allocated at the end of traditional marketing quarters this year—advertisers are planning programmatic strategies in advance and are preparing better for seasonal patterns and variations in the marketplace.

It’s about time marketers approached their media buys more strategically, and thought more about how to execute programmatic campaigns for maximum audience effect across channels. More marketers are entering every channel, in every industry, leading to stiffer competition for available inventory. They are getting smarter about harnessing data and targeting spending to find customers across the media landscape. The degree of volatility still varies across channels, but Turn says mobile, social, and video are all converging toward the stable, consistently high level of competition that we’ve seen in the display market for some time now.

If you’re not already running a cross-channel integrated marketing campaign, leveraging audience data and your own customer data, you’ve lost your advantage in the programmatic market.

Publishers Must Preserve Premium Inventory

“There is no excuse for crappy network-served teeth whitening and “one weird trick” ads served against high quality content. Disastrous.” –Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and co-founder of VC firm Andreessen-Horowitz.


Andreessen was part of a multi-party Twitter conversation on the future of news one evening recently. He made the point that a proliferation of publishers has been beneficial to readers, but when the conversation turned to how those publishers are going to support themselves, he made the comment above about advertising. It will have to get better, both on the creative and on the technical side, to fulfill its promise to digital publishers, implied.


We have known that for a long time, which is why we encourage our premium publisher partners to sell our High Impact Formats direct. Publishers must preserve this new type of premium inventory that ZEDO creates for them and not allow annoying, irrelevant ads to be served in it. That means to keep this new super premium High Impact Format space as just that, and perhaps even to run house ads rather than sell these premium slots as remnant. Once you fall into “hungry” mode, putting your best new inventory on multiple networks and allowing valuable slots to become part of commodity inventory, you’re in danger of losing your brand differentiation.


Ultimately, brand is as important to a publisher as to an advertiser. In theory, publisher and advertiser work together to satisfy consumers. It’s jarring for someone who is used to reading a trusted, premium news site to come across an irrelevant, poorly created ad. The good news is that good advertising brands in these new premium formats can actually support and build the publisher’s brand too.




Viewable Impressions? We’ve Got Them

Last week, we took the wraps off the new ZEDO. The new ZEDO is more than an ad server, more than a partner for publishers — it is a partner to the entire publishing and advertising ecosystem, an ecosystem that has been struggling for a decade with disruption.

On the publisher side, content is always regarded as king, but supporting it has become more and more challenging. On the brand side, marketers know intuitively that putting the right message in front of the right customer at the right time increases conversions, but traditional online advertising has an abysmal success record. A year ago, we set ourselves the task of fixing what’s wrong with online advertising — with the goal of making it as effective as TV.

Get ready for viewable impressions. Comscore is starting to talk about them, but ZEDO can supply them.  A well-kept secret is that we’ve been working with Comscore since the early days of AdxPose, and we were one of the first to ensure that our impressions were viewable. And now, with our new high impact formats, we can guarantee 99% viewable impressions. Measurable. Repeatable. No wonder we are excited.

We are rolling out an entire series of high impact tablet, mobile, and video ad formats for publishers to choose from. Many are video, all are optimized for tablets and mobile. They’ve got contemporary names like the Inview Slider and the Shuffle — they dance across the page and attract viewers’ attention with their creativity, rather than their intrusiveness.

The launch of our viewable impressions suite of formats comes before the launch of our new web site and identity for a reason: we want to show you that there’s substance behind our new brand. We’re not the old ZEDO, server of ads since 1999. We’ve been looking at what the advertising industry needs, what savvy marketers want, and we’re creating that for them. Brands don’t want conventional display ads; they know those don’t work. And they don’t want anything that will not be seen.

It’s time to move away from the print publishing metaphors — above and below the fold, direct marketing and branding –and get into the innovative formats our global engineering staff can deliver. We’re in the process of gathering a group of case studies based on the successes of our beta testers.

But wait! There’s more! Subscribe to the blog for updates on ZEDO.

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ZEDO-SceneChat Relationship Furthers Social Video Advertising

We have always said video is the future of online advertising, So last week we signed an agreement with SceneChat to deliver interactive display ads into the SceneChat network – globally.  The arrangement will enable SceneChat and its its customers to monetize a global base of users creating and sharing interactive social videos.

The SceneChat Social Engagement Platform is the web’s first self-service social video marketing platform. 
The arrangement with ZEDO will enable SceneChat to monetize via ads publishers opting into the SceneChat’s Free, ad-supported usage program.  SceneChat will then serve ads to the engagement bar of select clients. Clients may opt out of advertising by signing up for a paid account.

SceneChat is a simple self-serve flexible solution for marketers looking to increase video engagement and conversions. Marketers can publish and analyze interactive social video marketing campaigns without the need to migrate content to a specialized service, hire video editors, or Flash developers.

The ZEDO / SceneChat combination will provide video companion display ad capabilities that help marketers augment video creative with dynamically driven display advertising.  Marketers can create a more integrated messaging experience for prospects by timing placement of display ads with a specific call-to-action synced to a video. This capability can increase direct response to video campaigns, improve video completion rates and also drive prospects through the marketing funnel from awareness through conversion.

Interactive experiences can be synced to specific scenes within a video, engaging audiences as they consume content. Interactions can be timed messages, polls, graphics, URL links, or multiple choice questions that can navigate a video.

And SceneChat experiences can be broadly distributed via Facebook or Twitter, or directly embedded on a publisher’s site or blog. In addition, the company offers both a WordPress plugin and on-site code that enables experiences to be directly published onto a site.

“We’re very pleased to establish this relationship with ZEDO,” said Shawn Hopwood, CEO of SceneChat. “The ZEDO platform provides a comprehensive display ad delivery platform that meets all our needs and those of our customers. We look forward to rolling out this solution to our growing network of brands, agencies and publishers.”