Echoes of Exchange 3.0

Just a quick note pointing to a short, but interesting post today that echoes my recent article in Ad Age.  Clearly Pete Kim and whoever he was talking to understand that it’s not all about DR.  Kudos to them.

Again, today’s re-energized battle for display is just warming up.  The long-term winner will be the one that provides brand-focused capabilities on top of the evolving supply platforms to help brand budgets follow audiences online.

Great minds think alike

Nice short piece this AM from Peter Kafka of allthingsd re: Microsoft’s plans to enter the Exchange 2.0 landscape with a re-tooled AdECN.  Very much in line with my post earlier this week in Ad Age.  As I wrote, the next 12-36 months will be interesting indeed…

In Search of Exchange 3.0

I thought readers of this blog may also be interested in my guest post for Ad Age, where I give a brief history of the evolution of the display advertising exchange ecosystem and suggest what I believe is the next step.  This post for Ad Age follows up on my previous post here.

As always, let me know what you think!

The click isn’t just resting…

An article in today’s eMarketer nicely summarizes some recent comScore / Starcom USA research showing that fewer and fewer users are clicking on ads and those clicks are concentrated in an ever smaller share of the user base.  Not good news for fans of CTR as an “optimization” metric – and there are still too many of these.

The article includes a priceless quote from John Lowell, Starcom USA SVP and director, research and analytics, “A click means nothing, earns no revenue and creates no brand equity. Your online advertising has some goal—and it’s certainly not to generate clicks.”  Don’t mince words John.  Tell us what you really think.  We’ve seen the same with our own offline sales measurements, by the way.  CTR is not even remotely correlated with offline sales lift or associated campaign ROI.  Here’s an example of the lack of correlation from some recent campaigns:

CTR vs. ROI

Reading Lowell’s quote and considering the fact that this is still even a topic for discussion reminded me of Monty Python’s famous Parrot Sketch.

Advertiser: “I know a dead metric when I see one and I am looking at one right now.”

DR Network: “No, no it’s not dead.  It’s just resting.”

A very smart publisher (redux)

Another tremendously insightful article yesterday from Michael Zimbalist of NYT.  This guy is sharp.  His analysis of the situation is dead on and I completely agree with the rough bucketing of potential outcomes and associated implications for the various ecosystem players.

However, I want to make it clear that the key to Zimbalist’s positive outcome scenario (scenario 3) is the emergence of capabilities that aren’t widely available today.  As Dan Ballister wrote in his comment to the article, “If buyers are going after audience in real-time auctions, will they make peace with having to forfeit control over ad environment and delivery predictability?  What good is it to reach your audience when they don’t want to be found, or to only run 15% of your back-to-school campaign on time because you kept getting outbid?”

Well put.

In order for Brand marketers to fully leverage the emerging exchange ecosystem they will need sophisticated technology for page-level quality filtering, pricing & delivery prediction, R/F & composition management, delivery smoothing, offline impact measurement, etc.   In case it’s not obvious, that’s a very different toolset than the fine targeting and CPA-driven optimization engines of which the market has produced scores of copies thus far – on both the demand side and the supply side.

Stay tuned for some more in depth thoughts on this topic shortly.

Are you actually buying what you think you’re buying?

Great article by Mike Shields in MediaWeek yesterday. According to the article, Tremor Media was running ad for major brands that were a) in-banner video as opposed to pre-roll, b) below the fold and c) adjacent to questionable content.

I want to highlight two separate issues in the context of this article: quality control and credibility.

Quality control is something that has been top priority for Brand.net since inception, because it was the number one concern of our branding-focused clients. I have written extensively on this topic and Brand.net’s SafeScreen platform is the premier quality assurance platform on the web, providing page-level filtering to ensure quality for every impression that runs through the Brand.net network. The monitoring capabilities Adam Kasper mentions in the article can be useful, but it’s far better to prevent quality incidents in the first place. He’s dead on when he says that quality control is the ad network’s responsibility. Unfortunately, too often that responsibility is not fulfilled.

On my second point, ad networks at large have a reputation for not always being completely honest with clients. This is another issue I’ve written on in the past. In response to this particular incident, Shane Steele, Tremor’s VP marketing, was quoted saying, “It’s a very nuanced space, which makes it complicated”. Actual pre-roll video is indeed more complicated than display, but the ads at issue here were display ads. They just happened to be running video creative. So answers like this don’t help build credibility for networks and they certainly don’t help build the trust that’s so essential for major brands to fully leverage the medium.

Tod Sacerdoti summed it up well when he said, “There is a gap between what an advertiser thinks they are buying and what they are [actually] buying.” This gap occurs far too often today and it needs to be closed before the medium can fully mature.

A very smart publisher

I just read a great piece by Michael Zimbalist of the New York Times Company on paidcontent .org. He clearly has a deep and precise understanding of the substantive issues at play in the channel conflict debate.  The more other major publishers and the market at large understand the distinctions he’s helping to clarify here, the better off we’ll all be. We’ve certainly done our part to help clarify terminology and to help publishers prevent channel conflict, so it’s great to see smart publishers joining that effort.

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