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ZINC Formats and Services Still Available

A ZINC customer called us this morning and expressed surprise and concern that our outstream offerings might no longer be available. We hurried to reassure him that we were just changing the brand name and that the same formats he wanted to buy would be available from the ZEDO site under the ZEDO name.

We are making some updates to the ZEDO site to reflect this new positioning, and we will be shutting down the ZINC Twitter and Facebook accounts after we make the announcement.

The reason for this should be obvious: five years ago when we launched ZINC it was because we didn’t want our publisher partners to think we were abandoning them. We thought they’d be confused. There were so many acronyms: were we an SSP, or a DSP? Well, we were and are both.

Five years later, things have changed in the industry, and it is no longer unusual to serve both sides of the digital advertising ecosystem. Also, in that intervening time we became a secure platform.

Rest assured, nothing has changed except the way we go to market, which I hope will become less confusing as we develop the single brand.

For more information, get in touch with adsales@zedo. com.

ZEDO Has the Secure, End-to-End Private Buying Platform ATDs Need


Making the ad industry supply chain safe is going to involve getting rid of some middlemen who opportunistically take advantage of speed and automation to make the industry dangerous for all of us honest players. Yahoo’s recent experience with malware raised the awareness of the advertising industry to the dangers of using too many vendors. It is now impossible to ignore how much ad fraud is still going on, and although the work of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a cross-industry initiative, is just getting started, wary publishers are already looking for a way to guarantee a clean supply chain as advertisers ask all sorts of questions..

Fortunately, we anticipated the move to consolidate vendors, although we thought that would be more for cost and time saving, rather than for security. That’s why we developed  the platform to link  our high impact format buyers on ZINC to our private network and our publisher ad server at ZEDO.  Our platform was designed in response to requests by Agency Trading Desks for a private, direct way to buy high impact formats on premium publications with the transparency of direct buying and without the risk of an insecure supply chain.

Here’s how it works:

We have a secure buying platform that an agency trading desk can log into that includes a private exchange  only for our unique ad formats. We built the exchange especially for differentiation, and for higher performance than most digital ads, but now we realize we have an important message about security, because on the supply side, the supply comes only from the ZEDO publisher ad server. Because we’re a large publisher ad server, and have been one for so many years, we can provide our own fill — we can create all the impressions on the publisher page. We don’t buy from anyone else, so no bad stuff can be introduced, and thus we service both ends of the ecosystem.

Agency Trading Desks love this clean end to end platform. More important, our  control over the whole supply chain allows us to innovate constantly, which we have always done.  Since our founding, we have prided ourselves on being ahead of the technology curve.
Right now, we’re being told we have the best formats in the industry, and because we have a large development team, our products get better every month in response to customer requests. For the past few years,  we’ve launched 2-3 new formats every year, and this year we have a new format for apps, and one for mobile video. ATDs love the fantastic formats and clean supply chain.
We’re now seeing articles about the need for the industry to evolve to end-to-end platforms. We’re already there.

 

ZEDO Technology Platform Proves its Worth

As the CEO of such a fast growing company as ZEDO has become, I’m not hands on with our technical team on a daily basis. ZEDO VPs of Engineering Arleif Braganza and Nitesh Naik lead the architecture of the platform its operation. Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a technical presentation the team made to a group of industry experts.
Normally we keep the details of our technology confidential. However in this rare case we decided to explain everything about the platform, including how it is architected and how it handles 100 bn – 150 bn monthly requests from practically every country in the world as well as hundreds of billions of monthly real time bidding (RTB) requests.
These experts were highly technical themselves and they had a big team in the room. They posed difficult questions and had a healthy skepticism about whether our platform was scalable, reliable and able to handle all the features and ad serving needs of the industry.
I was amazed to hear one at a time all the details of the ZEDO platform. Everything in our platform was shown to be beautifully thought out, built with the very latest technology and way beyond the expectations of even this group, who are themselves very cutting edge. When they were told how design concepts like statelessness were combined with some clever engineering to produce a resilient and scalable system without blowing operation cost through the roof, Arleif told them that all ad serving was stateless they didn’t believe it. When he explained how it works they were blown away. This happened again and again. When they learnt he explained how, if our data centres went down, that ads would keep serving they were impressed. And again when he explained how we use in-memory databases to keep each ad server independent from all the others. At every question the team showed that we understood all the challenge of the contemporary ad serving environment, had designed for it, and had a perfect solution. Overall our team showed that ZEDO operates one of the very best platforms in the entire online ad industry. I confidently suspect it may be the very best.
I am very proud of our technology platform and more important of the team that builds it.

What is the ZEDO Exchange?

While  publisher-side ad serving was our core business  since our founding in 1999, the part of our business that has been growing most quickly for the past year has been the ZEDO Ad Exchange, our simple, scalable way to  manage both advertisers and publishers conducting business in display banners, videos, mobile, high impact formats and smart programmatic integrations. ZEDO Exchange allows Demand Side Platforms access to the premium high-quality display and video inventory of our premium publisher network.

For advertisers, the ZEDO Ad Exchange offers the best click-through rate in the industry, along with the best of all worlds — instant pricing and availability of ad inventory on newspaper web sites. We’re different from other exchanges and ad networks, because the only ad inventory we offer is avails from our high quality publisher network, which consists of premium brands you already know and trust who are integral parts of local communities and national conversations.

We’re both innovative and smart about the way we run this network: we not only offer high impact formats, but also make sure that the advertiser gets viewable impression where they count — on premium sites.

On the publisher side, ZEDO Exchange is designed to make sure that all  publishers that use ZEDO for ad serving get a fair price for their inventory. This is one of the reasons we do not work on the RevShare or CPC model. We only work on a flat CPM model with our publishers. ZEDO Exchange will pick up inventory only if we meet the agreed CPM. We can also sell impressions to multiple RTB buyers and get maximum CPM from the highest bidder. (ZEDO’s Supply Side Platform (SSP) is Open RTB 2.0 compliant.)

Our Demand Side Platform (DSP) is a single, unified platform from which to manage all aspects of a campaign using a single account (Display Banners, Videos, HIFs, RTB & Mobile). Since all the publishers are linked in one master account, this provides media buyers with maximum efficiency.

Publishers may opt in simply by clicking the “Join ZEDO Exchange” link on their reporting and trafficking UI, or they can give us a heads up via email. After opting in, integration with ZEDO Exchange is very simple. ZEDO has built a smart back-end linking process that makes sure  publishers do not have to spend time trafficking tags or tracking campaigns. Everything is done automatically, and ZEDO Exchange reports will be displayed directly under the Reports section of the Publisher’s ZEDO account.

 

Nielsen Highlights Audience Shift

Nielsen’s 2014 Advertising and Audiences Report, available as a free download, highlights the complexity of reaching an audience that is fragmenting and changing. While this report still sees TV as garnering the largest share of advertising dollars, the growth in TV advertising is slowing down, and the prices for TV spots are declining with the difficulty of reaching the audience on many different platforms, most of them mobile.

TV as spend has grown only 3% over the last year, and the cost of a single 30-second spot has dropped $1000 over the past five years. Where will the money be going? To a diverse marketing mix that will probably change every year until marketers figure out exactly where the consumer would like to see their messages.

And that’s a new kind of consumer. After years of watching the Baby Boomers age in America and Europe, a new population is emerging; it is younger, more racially and culturally diverse, and more tech savvy. It is also global by definition, since so much TV is time-shifted and streamed.  Even people sitting on the couch watching the familiar TV set are different: 86% of smart phone owners are using a second screen while watching TV, and they are increasingly seeing mobile ads rather than those on TV. Media planners are adapting with cross-platform campaigns. But how do we measure which parts of those campaigns are effective? Nielsen says,

As accountability from the largest global advertisers is becoming 
increasingly important, marketers and media planners seek ways to 
optimize advertising efforts in a way that yields return on investment 
through measurable, quantifiable results that align directly with overall 
business objectives. While massive amounts of data are available, 
sorting through it all in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way that 
provides specific, ad-performance based insights is the true challenge.

Right. There’s data enough to drown a media planner, but which numbers matter?

It’s still an open question how best to measure these kinds of campaigns, but we’re moving with our customers toward something that makes them feel they are getting the ROI they deserve. For ZEDO and ZINC customers, the metric for our video ads  is now Cost Per Complete View, something we can easily track and provide to the advertiser on our network, and something advertisers care about. Our advertisers are definitely  concerned with unduplicated Reach across platforms, but as Nielsen adds, “Resonance,”  and “Reaction,”  — sometimes translated as engagement. If someone likes a video ad enough to finish watching it, the ad is almost certainly viewable, contains the right message, and carries that message with powerful creative. When you put an ad like that into a high impact format like InArticle, where it has the potential to reach a text reader,  you have what it takes to catch the attention of a premium mobile consumer.

ZEDO Thanks Ad:Tech India for a Great Conference

As founder of ZEDO, I have been to many ad:tech events. The first  I can remember was at the Hilton hotel in San Francisco – probably in late 1999 or early 2000. The keynote speaker was from a company called Engage: a long gone ad serving company.  Another memorable one was in LA in 2001. We had a joint booth with Specific Media who was a big customer of ours at the time. It was memorable mostly because there were only exhibitors there – no one was walking between the booths!

But it was great to be at ad:tech Delhi 2014 this year. This was the third or fourth ad:tech in India and it was probably the best. The energy all around was high. Everyone was in a good mood and ready to do business. Our booth was taller, wider, and better lit than the others. It looked great. The ZEDO and ZINCbyZEDO logos were modern and vibrant and well co-ordinated. The ZEDO bags were seen all over the place.

Our annual party at the Rubicon bar was full of senior people, fun and energy. Even the BBC worldwide head of Ad Ops and 5 people from his team attended and stayed at the party.  Terence, Abbas and Abdulla made sure that I spent at least a little time with all the people who wanted to meet me. The Associate VP of Sales for Money Control  had not seen our InArticle or mobile High Impact Format and was excited to see them and said they are looking for innovation.

One other noticeable thing  was that  India Today, which is selling our High Impact/High CTR formats, is our biggest supporter. They were evangelizing ZEDO technology and service proudly to all their friends. That is the best thing for us. The whole ZEDO team should be very proud of this. Our innovation is really helping our customers and in return they are really rooting for and helping us. So let’s keep pushing for publishers to implement the InArticle and the mobile High Impact Format, and also sell it themselves.

In advertising it is always important to test two things and see which works better. Therefore we changed our flyers to talk about High CTR Formats instead of High Impact Formats to see if this got us more interest. I am waiting to see if that language works  better.  Personally, I think advertisers just focus on CTRs, no matter how much the dialogue appears to change.

When advertisers ask me how we get higher CTRs, we  explain that because we have years of technical experience we innovate new formats and continually improve them . Only real technology companies can do things like this. Examples of continuous improvements are our leave-behind on the InArticle and the static clickable image that is shown after the video ad has finished playing. Because we are a tech company, advertisers can easily believe that we get click-throughs from better technology – not the fake clicks many networks offer through bots and fraud.

The time is right in India. Internet usage is finally taking off. Mobile is also taking off with many sites now seeing half their impressions coming from smart phones. This is exciting. We have timed our best technology and best video formats just when publishers are most in need of them.  Mobile and video ad demand is rocketing and will take ZEDO with it. The same move to video and mobile (away from banners) is happening in the US too. Jack Wagner, ZEDO head of Publisher Development, says that everyone at Digiday  Publisher Summit was looking for video formats and mobile ad formats. 2014 is our year.

Ad Fraud: Long Term Industry Killer

There’s always something happening in the advertising business, and this week it’s fraud. Now that the dirty little secret that a high percentage of ad traffic comes from non-humans or bots, everyone is wringing their hands.

 

online fraud

online fraud (Photo credit: ivers)

Actually, the problem of fraud is not new. It originated almost as soon as publishers moved online. And the fact that there’s more data than ever before doesn’t solve anything. Each one of the accredited fraud detectors or viewability detectors has a different method of detection, and no only doesn’t anyone know what they’re detecting, they may actually all be detecting slightly different kinds of fraud.

 

There really ought to be a common data standard for what constitutes fraud, and that standard should be applied by both buyers and sellers. However, the industry is now so fragmented that it will be difficult to force the adoption of a standard unless—unless the people with the money, the people in brand marketing, demand it.

 

Right now, although it’s sad. almost everyone involved in the ecosystem is benefitting from fraud in the short term while they are also suffering from it in the long term.

 

Publishers are suffering because in buying cheap traffic, they’re jeopardizing their brands and their ability to command the eCPMS for premium content. By opening up too much inventory to RTB, they drive their own prices down in an effort to fill every ad unit.  They may be filling all their availability, but not with the income they want. Perhaps they’d be better off running some house ads than selling themselves to the second lowest bid.

 

Advertising agencies are suffering because they are not getting the return on their clients’ investment that the clients want. On the other hand, the harried media planner is buying audience, and desperate to use all the spend to get the commissions and fees the agency needs for survival. Long term, not being able to produce real conversions on the client marketing dollar will come back to haunt them.

 

Brands are suffering because they are spending large amounts of money to reach customers and increase conversions. Sure there’s “brand lift,” but at the end of the day brand lift doesn’t pay the bills. Customers pay the bills.

 

At ZEDO, we’ve got elaborate systems to block ad fraud and bot traffic before we serve the ad. This is something our team has to stay in front of on a daily basis. We also serve on all the industry working committees involved in trying to develop standards and processes. Because online advertising is still a relatively new business, we’re all on the same journey. Long term, it is not in anyone’s best interest to tolerate ad fraud.

ZEDO forms long term Partnership with Japan-based DAC and accepts a strategic investment

DAC_logoToday brings great news from ZEDO. We have formed a strategic partnership with DAC, the digital subsidiary of the giant Hakuhodo agency group. The strategic partnership begins with a collaboration in which DAC’s SSP, YIELD ONE, will use ZEDO’s ad server to reach out to billions of impressions worldwide. Further joint efforts will be announced in the following months. To solidify the partnership DAC has made a strategic investment in ZEDO, Inc.

This is a ringing endorsement of ZEDO, its technologies, its worldwide engineering team and the highly successful ZINC exchange. ZINC allows brand advertisers to buy large video formats that reach a new audience. This new audience comprises over 100 million quality internet users who rarely see the saturation of pre-rolls served on the video sharing site.

Below is the official press release (translated to English) issued by D.A.Consortium Inc

D.A.Consortium Inc (HQ: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan; President & CEO: Hirotake Yajima) announces an investment in ZEDO, Inc. (HQ: San Francisco, CA, USA; CEO: Roy de Souza), which provides Advertising Technology globally. This investment marks the start of a joint business arrangement.

As a first step of this collaboration, YIELD ONE, the Service Side Platform (SSP) of DAC, will connect to the ZEDO Ad Server, which enables YIELD ONE to access more than 100 billion impressions globally which includes RTB inventories per month from more than 1000 publishers in the US and India.

Purpose of this investment

ZEDO, with offices in the US and India, has more than 200 employees including 150 engineers who work to develop leading advertising technologies. ZEDO has partnerships with more than 1000 publishers, whose  total monthly inventories are around 100 billion impression and 80% of the ads served by ZEDO’s Ad Server are premium ads.  In addition, ZEDO has a high technology R&D team to develop original rich video ad formats, and has strong relationships with a variety of customers including local publishers in India.

YIELD ONE, the service of Platform One Inc, will have a large number of possible RTB inventories through ZEDO’s Ad Server. The internet market size in Japan is 37.4 billion Yen in 2012, and 30% growth (48.6 billion Yen), is expected in 2013 *. DAC will expand the YIELD ONE service area all over the world through ZEDO’s customer network.

* Source: IMAI, Internet and Mobile Association of India

Next Steps

DAC will expand a variety of ad services with ZEDO’s global experience and network. Through these activities, DAC will contribute to the evolution of internet ad industry, and drive DAC’s vision of “Empowering the digital future”.

Company Profile

Digital Advertising Consortium Inc
President & CEO  : Hirotake Yajima
Office                    : 4-20-3 YGP Tower, 33F, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Founded             : December, 1996
Services              : Internet Media Rep Service, Ad Technology Service, Ad Operation Service etc

Contact

Digital Advertising Consortium Inc
PR  Tel: 03-5449-6300  E-mail: ir_inf@dac.co.jp

The Economist: a Case Study

The Economist: A Case Study for a Hybrid Ad Operations Model
Outsourcing your ad operations is not a new concept, but even companies that want to use it are still trying to figure it out so that it works for them. A hybrid model may work best.
“ZEDO has delivered much better quality of service as well as improved turnaround time in comparison with the previous vendor.”

The problem:

How to outsource your ad operations for optimum revenue. In a global market, slow processing of requests and faulty implementation (blank pages or broken pages served), cost The Economist an estimated $250,000 in revenue annually — an unacceptable situation.

The solution:

The Economist has always outsourced its ad operations. But after three unsuccessful tries at total outsourcing, the well-respected financial news and analysis site has finally settled on a hybrid model as the one they are most comfortable with. Before settling on that model, the magazine used  total outsourcing, but found that to be flawed because all transactions flowed up to a single manager in the outsourcing vendor. In a global operation, where transactions are done on a 24/7 basis in many time zones, if that manager was unavailable (let’s say asleep), the result as an expensive single point of failure.

In the case of The Economist,  slow processing of requests and faulty implementation (blank pages or broken pages served), cost them an estimated $250,000 in revenue annually — an unacceptable situation.

Thus, the magazine chose a hybrid model with ZEDO. This choice keeps the strategic work in house and outsources the tactical implementation with SLAs and reporting requirements to show effectiveness. The expectations were laid out in advance, the SLAs agreed on, and implementation has gone flawlessly. Since ZEDO, The Economist hasn’t lost any money and trafficking errors have been caught internally because of a proactive relationship and good communication.

Details of the model include traffickers in all important time zones. It includes a combination of in-house onshore and outsourced offshore resources. Of the 8 member global ad operations team, five are internal and three external

  • A Director of Ad Operations is based in London – The Economist
  • Two Ad Operations managers –  (one in NYC and one in London) The Economist
  • Two Onshore trafficker – 2 Nos. (one in NYC and one in London) The Economist
  • Three Offshore traffickers from ZEDO –  (work as per time zones in their respective markets – BST (UK and Continental Europe), EST (North America) and HK (for APAC) time.

Operations began in October of last year, and so far  the feedback from their Sales teams across all markets has been extremely positive. Their view:  “ZEDO has delivered much better quality of service as well as improved turnaround time in comparison with the previous vendor.”

Summary:

  • ZEDO’s accuracy percentage over a nine month period has been 99.3%. This is a significant improvement in comparison to the previous vendor. By our estimate, our improved accuracy is likely to have saved The Economist more than a quarter million dollars in revenue  compared to the previous year.
  • ZEDO has processed 100% of P1 requests (P1 are high priority requests) have within 3 hours through 2013.
  • Significant process improvements have been made in terms of delivery of screenshots and advanced performance / delivery reports
  • Quarterly review meetings have been held in order to seek constant feedback and process improvement opportunities.
  • The Economist and ZEDO work as partners and not in a typical client – vendor relationship.
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ZEDO’s Next Gen Ad Server Draws Praise

Users of ZEDO’s new cloud-based ad server seem to be very happy with the amount of improvement it gives them. We are migrating our clients to the new server and collecting feedback. We’re receiving a great deal of positive feedback on our implementation and customer service processes company-wide, but here are the specific claims we feel we can make  as a result of the new back end we have built:

* New Ads push live within 5 minutes. A HUGE jump from the current average 20-30 minutes

* Trafficking errors can be fixed must faster, reducing loss

* Urgent advertiser requests to start/stop/increase/reduce/move can be granted with a much lower ETA

* Changes to existing ads or pauses are within two minutes or less

* Better inventory control and optimization control, especially if you are running more banners in rotation with specific impression limit goals.

* No longer will ads over deliver / under serve on new channels because of insufficient history

* The odds that an ad will over deliver due to unexpected spikes in traffic have been significantly reduced.

* If you had a many channels and were worried about ads with small limits not serving on all the channels, that won’t happen anymore

* If you use campaign limits, you will see a significant improvement in the delivery of ads, they will distribute better across channels, serve more evenly across days and within a day, and meet limits more often.

* By the end of July, we will also support competing campaigns and roadblock campaigns

But it doesn’t matter much what we claim, unless the customer sees it himself.  So here is what one customer said:

“This is to confirm that we’ve noticed a huge jump, exactly  as you’ve said we would. Much less time launching and pausing the campaigns, many fewer over-delivered impressions and more accurate impression distribution evenly and over the multiple channels.”

Kudos to our entire team for making our customers happy. It makes the effort we put into sustaining our technology leadership worthwhile.