The Mobile Video Ad Serving Frontier

Mobile advertising technologies are swimming in an incredibly fragmented space right now in terms of streaming content and integrating paid advertising.  Mobile is the wild-wild west of online advertising right now.  It is the final frontier of video, which is arguably out there today already.

While we scramble to figure out which cell phone we want to carry – the iphone or something that comes close to it – people with content are racing to figure out how to get it to you while making a buck doing it.  We know it comes down to either a subscription model or an advertising model, and the latter is the most likely path. Continue reading

Behavioral Targeting, What Ethics?

Earlier this month, Doug Wintz gave us an inspiring article in iMediaConnection.  The Ethics of Behavioral Targeting offers a glimpse into what behavioral targeting could be like in the offline future.  Transfixing our imaginations into the likeness of the futuristic worlds painted by author Philip Dick, Wintz helps us to question interactive advertising beyond the banner.  But there is a big leap between the 728×90 banner and the beams of light that could be reading our retina in the shopping malls. 


Several years ago people screamed about the use of cookies: “VIOLATION OF PERSONAL PRIVACY!”  The industry cried that we must educate the population so that they realize that cookies are not bad, spyware is bad.  Antispyware came out, and adware came out.  People now feel protected from persistent spyware and third-party cookies now get deleted 45% of the time.  The dust cleared from the cookie fight and yet cookies are still in common practice.  The funny part is that people still don’t understand cookies.  But the industry has moved on; it has stopped trying to educate and now the next crisis has moved to the forefront – behavioral targeting.


BT still involves the use of cookies but the technology is less of the issue.  It is the overall concept of tracking and oversight that people care about.  Once again there are those in the industry that are trying to educate, but then there are many of us that know that you can’t educate people coming from a position of fear.  Moreover, once politicians get involved it’s about swaying popular opinion and not about providing rational explanations.  Remember that some people get charged by the fight while others stay in the background, continuing to develop and position their cards so that they are ready when the dust clears.  A new crisis always moves to the forefront to replace the existing one, right?  Where will you be when that happens?  Battle scared or primed?


Is it ethical to behaviorally target?  Is the internet really free?  Is it ethical to target consumer behaviors like catalogers do?  Doug has a fair argument when he says we probably won’t even care by the time the technology is mainstream.  Right now there is kickback on behavioral targeting, but that doesn’t stop publishers and networks from offering it or from advertisers from buying it.


So where are the ethical lines in all of this?  Publishers use site-side analytics to track your patterned behavior while you are on their site.  It is their site.  You use much of it for free.  So is it ethical?  Is it okay for Safeway or Kroger to track your shopping habits in the supermarket?  You get discounts for using that shopper’s card that also tracks your behavior.  What about Amazon keeping track of your book-buying preferences?  You get recommendations right?  You get benefits in return for providing information about yourself, even online.  So where is the difference between what we have come to accept offline and what we protest online?


Why do people get so crazy about the web?  The point of the whole thing is to put advertisements that are more relevant in front of you.  Contextual advertising has done a great job at this and nobody seems to complain about that.  In fact a lot of people don’t even know that the links along the side of the Google and Yahoo pages are paid listings, nor would they necessarily care since they are usually relevant links that often lead to qualified destinations.  Relevance.  If Behavioral targeting has the ability to present a user with advertisements that are relevant, is there still an ethical violation? 


P-ersonal I-dentifiable I-nformation (PII) is the red line that can’t be crossed and yet it is crossed all the time in the offline realm.  I think that in the end it’s not a question of ethics.  It’s a question of fear.  The futuristic movies like the Minority Report scare people.  They don’t get it and other people take advantage of it to promote their own agendas (like politicians looking for platforms).


 Customer re-targeting introduces the ability to recognize customers – not anonymous individuals – anywhere on the web in real-time using first party ad serving.  Advertisers can recognize their existing customers, not based on events but based on customer profiles.  This is identical to what already goes on in the offline world.  A different message can be positioned to a customer than to a non-customer based on customer profiles – not based on event-based behaviors.  Is this a violation of privacy?  We can go around and around on this one, like we did with the cookie.  And it is the cookie battle that leads me to believe that the smoke will clear before we settle it.  When the next technical invasion comes to the forefront it too will shadow this one.  Maybe it’ll be iTV, which will be more invasive and wider-spread when it hits people while they are relaxing in their living rooms! 


You can go down the ethical rabbit hole if you want with behavioral targeting, just like you can jump into the political debate or stand up on the soap box and try to educate.  But frankly, people will continue to develop and drive forward with anonymous event-based targeting, customer re-targeting, site-side analytics and first party applications that empower advertisers to message to users with the most relevant information, advertisements and content.  Operating as if the dust will clear as oppose to getting caught up in the fight makes more sense.  Helping the web to become an increasingly more efficient use of people’s time with behavioral targeting techniques is not a violation of privacy, it is a provision of relevance.


Reactionary with Insight

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Marketing Groups: Closing the Great Divide

Ted Shergalis is chief product officer and founder of [x+1], and he contributed Marketing Groups: Closing the Great Divide to iMediaConnection this morning.


Ted’s experience in working with marketers should be significant and therefore I would guess has relevance to the topic.  What concerns me, however, is the generalization with which he describes the silo organizational structure between his clients’ external marketing (media buying and advertising) and customer marketing (web site management, etc.).  Not only does Ted confirm that the teams working on these two functions are usually physically separated but so too are the technologies they use.


External online efforts – media planning, buying, ad serving, email marketing, mobile, search and analytics – are all operating independently from site-side efforts –  like landing page optimization, content management, eCRM, site analytics. 


First, let’s gain a little perspective here.  Ted is from [X+1].  Their whole gig is about optimizing conversions and customer penetration within a site.  Furthermore, they also tout their skills at connecting these two silos together.  Their Media+1 and Site+1 products connect Ad Serving and Site-Side optimization together like an adhesive to offer marketers a cohesive view from the external efforts through to the internal efforts.


I am not going to dive into those two products here much.  Media+1 is basically the former Poindexter ad server, a tier-two player with a couple of marquee clients that has been folded into their primary core competency which is what the Site+1 product is all about.  The rebranding of the company from Poindexter to [x+1] has enabled them to carve this great niche in the industry and now they partner with tier-1 ad servers like DoubleClick when strong ad serving is required or when major clients are on the table.


Anyway, I know I bitch and moan when people get on iMediaConnection and self-promote, so I can’t criticize ted here for not mentioning [x+1], but I like it when people also give us some direction.  In other words my narrow rules say its okay to mention your company so long as you do it in context with other companies as well.  Serve as a resource and not a self-promotional artist.  In this case, however, maybe Ted didn’t feel he could come up with anyone else that could do it like [x+1] J


One thing that comes to mind, however, when I read his characterization of the outward and inward marketing silos is how the head of marketing in those organizations must be failing.  Online is a component of marketing.  If the org is big enough to have a head of interactive – s/he is failing.  If it is not that big and it has a head of marketing alone, then s/he must be failing.  I say this because in this day and age there are too many different ways to pull these two efforts together and if they are not talking to each other the problems are obvious, the tension will be thick as butter and the questions that can’t be answered about the performance of the organization will be more significant than the performance that can be measured.  Intelligence will recognize that there is a major problem.  So I wonder either, (a) if Ted has really screwed-up clients or (b) he is using his worst clients as examples in his articles or, (c) the type of opportunities that I am encountering represent more of what is out there than what is not.


Is it really that screwed up on the back end of the curve?


External online marketing needs to tag web sites and calculate data.  So internal marketing has to get curious about what is going on.  Internal marketing is using analytics to track internal behavioral and CMS to maximize conversions.  A Director-level person who oversees these two units has to be gathering data from both groups and must begin to get curious about the relationships between the two – this would represent common sense intelligence.  If not, then stupid people are running a lot of marketing organizations.  Maybe that is a truth.  But I am meeting a lot of intelligent people.  I work on the front of the curve too … so maybe I work with smarter people … but I think our industry as a whole is comprised of people on the top and front-end of the curve.  I think that a lot of people struggle with these problems, but I also think that the technologies are in place or are being put in place to take maximize.  As always, time is the limited resource.


Anyway, placing these two efforts together is just common sense.  This is why behavioral targeting has become so popular.  This is why lead generation advertising is becoming so popular.  This is why landing-page A/B testing with companies like CoreMetrics is gaining so much attention.  None of these initiatives can happen without internal marketing being at least engaged.


First party ad serving requires the marriage of internal and external marketing.  Maybe that is part of what is so unique about where my projects have taken me.  I sit in meetings with people who know each other, and look at each other and we work together to figure out ownership.  eCRM or site-side analytics will set first party cookies for external marketing to target with the ad server.  Media Planning and buying will set strategy based on the customer profiles that internal marketing establishes.  Creative is built accordingly.  Ad serving targets new and existing customers in real-time.  Leads and prospects and existing customers are all driven back to the site(s).  Internal web site management receives users and pushes them into different directions based on cookie variables and eCRM records transactional patterns while site analytics records behavioral patterns and sets new cookies for future targeting.  New customer profiles are created and new segments are built for future re-targeting and the cycle continues.  With first party ad serving and the marriage of first party ad serving and site side analytics, you have the integration of internal and external marketing within an advertiser.  Everyone works together with a product like DirectServe™ and WebSideStory.


But there are other ways to do this too.  If internal and external are coordinated by a single leadership role, they should be made aware of the benefits of each other’s efforts.  And in my experience they usually are.  Ted could have shed some light on how different technologies can be used to do this in his article, because I think he did a good job at challenging us to question whether our organizations are functioning properly or not.  If you are falling prey to the problems ted describes, what do you do about it?  I guess you can call Ted.  But first you should have some idea as to how you should diagnose your problems.  Then you should have some directive as to who you should call, in addition to Ted, for some insight.  You can’t get all of that from one article I know.  But I’ve given you some thoughts.


Evaluate your chain of command.  If you are the head of the organization, challenge your people to construct an information flow chart to see what they each can capture and then line the two groups up and see where they connect.  Ultimately this is about the acquisition of new leads, conversions and the growth of customers. 


Your external marketing team needs to be empowered to attack the market with tools that will enable them to generate new leads and re-target existing customers simultaneously, since both will exist within any pool (website) upon which they advertise. 


Internal marketing needs to have the capacity to capture both audiences when they come in, continue the messaging strategy, leverage CMS to position the appropriate content and leverage the knowledge gained by the ad serving process (what worked and what did not work) to maximize the conversion rates on prospects and the recurring revenue opportunities on existing customers. 


Finally internal marketing needs to convert the knowledge it gains through its conversion processes into media decision-making recommendations for external marketing so that the cycle can continue specifically with regard to re-targeting existing customers.


Reactionary with insight

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

3 Steps to Targeting Nirvana, Bennett Zucker Gives Us Open Market Benefits that will Improve BT

Go-Bennett, a great article in iMediaConnection on Thursday.  Three Steps to Targeting Nirvana defines behavioral targeting today and outlines an open marketplace, an open technology platform and what he characterizes as ‘an open mind.’


Up front, Bennett makes the argument that the onus of responsibility for accurate and aggressive BT should not fall on publishers.  Efforts results in wasted inventory, poor performance and lack of attention that should truly benefit the advertiser.  Advertiser-directed BT is where it’s at.  We have the technology and the science is far more impactful.  In fact, Bennett does a great job of presenting an example of a car-buying scenario which illustrates how advertiser-driven BT better serves publishers.


In the section on open market place, Bennett tries to present a clean argument.  Advertisers ideally should have the opportunity to cherry pick the inventory they buy, so as to promote the opportunity to select the inventory that will meet their BT needs.  I know that Bennett has struggled with the “I don’t want to be a self-promoting author” and so kudos for giving us several examples in your story.  Right Media is clearly the leading auction exchange model in the space.  But AdBrite is a solid player and a good alternative for people to be looking at, especially if they want to have an alternative to Right Media or want to investigate options before jumping into bed with a specific vendor (if you can even call RM a vendor, more like a facilitator). 


Anyway, Bennett is trying to paint the utopian picture for us here – advertisers cherry picking inventory.  I know that in theory that is what the auction model enables you to do – bid on the inventory that you want and forego that which you don’t want.  But most of the inventory on the Right Media Exchange is network  inventory so you really can’t be so laser targeted.  The RM Direct Exchange, however, may be something to look at in terms of publisher-specific inventory.


Bennett is honest to himself and us insomuch that he acknowledges that networks are inherently limited by the design of only being able to offer BT within their own network.  So even if you could cherry pick the inventory you wanted, you could only deploy BT on that network.  Using an ad server with BT would overcome that, if the ad server BT can be deployed across the networks.  Bennett surprisingly does not go into this in his article.


Here is where I think the article could use a fourth and maybe even a fifth section.


Requirement 4 – Ad serving that Re-targets With BT Agnostically


Several ad server offer BT that can extend across multiple networks.  Event-based BT like Boomerang by DoubleClick for example can enable and advertiser to track behavioral of people who have been on their site and then target them across the web – including across networks.  If an advertiser were to deploy event-based BT in conjunction with selective inventory buys on an auction exchange, they could be deploying BT with far more refinement.


Deploying first party ad serving by TruEffect is a second alternative.  With first party ad serving, the inventory acquired through the auction can be targeted using re-targeting methods of the first party cookie and any existing customer can be recognized and re-targeted in real-time.  Treated like any other inventory, all inventory bought through the network could easily be re-targeted using a DirectServe™ implementation.


Requirement 5Ad Serving that Integrates


A final consideration today, and a growing requirement is a concept that I have heard advertisers call a ‘universal’ or ‘megapixel.’  In the days where sites are getting tagged by ad servers, publishers, networks, site-side analytics and pretty much any other tracking mechanisms, there is a need for a single pixel that can shoulder other tracking beacons.


Dynamic Logic’s Universal Tag is one example of this kind of technology.  Shouldering multiple tags, this universal pixel enables an advertiser to tag the site one time.  DoubleClick has an alliance with DL so that they can offer this solution to their clients.  TruEffect has a similar technology called TruTags™ whereby they have one tag that is placed on the site and through it, multiple tags can be managed so that an advertiser only has to tag the site one time and any other tags can be added or removed through a single common interface.  The piggy-backing enables the advertiser or agency to eliminate the need to go back and keep tagging the site eveytime a new netrok buy comes into play.


The great benefit of these megapixels is that with Bennett’s story, one could buy inventory at auction – which will almost always be network inventory – use an ad sever that deploys BT like event-based or First Party DirectServe™ and then use a universal tag or megapixel to reduce tagging requirements as each new network is bought.  Snazzy.  Good article Bennett.


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Predict Your Audience’s Preferences, Digging into [x+1]

[x+1]’s VP of product development, Howard Fiderer explains in iMediaConnection how to make consumer data actionable so that you can tailor users’ experiences to their tastes on their very first visit in Predict Your Audience’s Preferences.


 


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, [x+1] is the former Poindexter.  Originally a primary ad serving company, Poindexter raised an eight-figure round of private financing in March of 2005 and used the funds to re-define the company from product, to target market, to brand.  Starting with adapting the mathematical formula x+1, Poindexter reset itself in the marketplace.  “We’re using this as an opportunity to mark a stake in the ground for a category we’re trying to define, marketing optimization,” the company’s CEO Toby Gabriner told ClickZ News in April 2005.  [x+1] proposed to focus on advertiser-marketing within the advertiser’s site while maintaining their advertising business, or ad serving business.  Ideally, they saw the opportunity to integrate the two products into a prospect-drawing and customer-targeting model as the ideal go-to-market.


 


First problem to overcome, Poindexter’s ad server was not viewed as a tier-one ad server in the market.  Although it had respectable market share, their reporting capabilities were commonly considered to be sub-par.  Major advertisers like American Express, who had termed contracts with Poindexter, complained about the lack of report diversity and the limitations of data availability.  Other agency users also had issues with their reporting, when their advertiser clients forced Poindexter on them.  That was the model for Poindexter, they sold to the advertiser so the agency would have to use them. 


 


Actually, it was more of a resultant model.  Poindexter sold to advertisers because they were looking to sell their ad serving and their developing predictive customer targeting back-end solution.  They promised improved reporting but it was not coming fruition on the ad serving side for customers. 


 


A Perfect example with regard to reporting shortfalls is the concept of ‘view-through.’  A view-through is when a user sees an advertisement served by an ad server but does not click on it.  Later that user visits the desired landing page which is tagged by the ad server and can be measured back by the ad server as having seen that particular ad on the associated site (placement) where it has been displayed.  This is known throughout the industry as a ‘view-through’ and [x+1] can not measure it, or at least does not report on it to its advertising customers.


 


But what [x+1] was particularly good at was/is the site-side customer analytics and applying those anaytics for targeting.  Like Howard’s article describes.  This is what secured their relationships with large advertisers who were using their ad serving as well.  The conversion from Poindexter to [x+1] was incredibly intelligent because it was a migration toward their core competency.  Following the April announcement, rumors spread that [x+1] would be abandoning their ad serving business altogether.  However they have maintained their media+1 product line, which is their ad server.  With that, however, they are hardly ever encountered as a competitive bidder in the ad serving sales arena.


 


One likeable aspect of Howard’s article was that it was not self-promoting.  Howard opens the door to site-side predictive modeling and website customer conversion and retention but he kept it very high level.  In fact, it would have been nice if he had gotten more granular for us so that we could have a better understanding as to how to apply his concepts.  I never have a problem when people mention providers – even their own companies – so long as they mention competitors and highlight the best solutions without bias. 


 


[x+1] offers up two primary products: media+1 and site+1.  Howard’s article is focused on a capability delivered by the latter, a tool that matches messages and offers with audience segments to simplify and optimize visitor acquisition, enable a site to up-sell conversions and promote customer retention.  This of course is according to the [x+1] web site.


 


My experience, and the feedback that I have received from clients is that site+1 is [x+1] true wheelhouse offering.  As I have described, this is where their ability to enable an advertiser to confidently target excels.  Ad serving is a secondary competency.  In fact, [x+1] has partnered with ad servers like DoubleClick to allow an advertiser to take advantage of site+1 while working with another ad server.  If not already, I would expect integration with more ad servers to come.  Clearly the company respects to obvious stats.  The first is that people are not going to change ad servers to utilize site+1 – they are not going to adapt media+1, known to be inferior, just to have the ability to utilize site+1.  Secondly, if someone is already using an ad server – and DoubleClick represents like 50% of the market (good first partner to choose), then better to enable integration to open up a new customer base than to compete.


 


Reactionary with Insight

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Why Does Google Analytics Report Values That Are So Different Than Ad Servers and Site Analytics Counts?

I had a client call me today and ask, “Why do we need to use an ad server when we have Google Analytics?”  Actually, he was redirecting a client’s question and asking for ammunition, but the question was legitimate.  He wasn’t talking about ad serving per se, but reporting.


 


Google analytics enables an advertiser to measure counts like an ad server and site analytics software and yet the measurements yield very different results.  In fact, the results are always lower, enabling the client to conclude that they must be more accurate.


 


Hold the phones!  Wasn’t it just like up to four months ago that Google was guilty of 20-30% click fraud rates with its Adwords program?  Advertisers started complaining and dollars started shifting away from Google and towards MSN and Yahoo!.  When Marketing Pilgram broke the story in December 2006 the word “Click Fraud” was changed to “Invalid Clicks” and Google demonstrated that they had miraculously instituted a change that resulted in the double-digit error rates dropping to less than 2%.


 


So why are we trusting Google’s counts?  It would seem that Google has simply put some major filtering in place to cover their asses so that Advertisers aren’t getting overcharged any longer.  And now they are the more accurate source of counts? 


 


In the end, however, what Google counts and what the rest of the industry counts when it comes to banner advertising and site-side traffic has to be inherently different.  Just as it is with click-traffic.


 


According to Google: “Different web analytics products may use a variety of methods to track visits to your web site. Therefore, it is normal to see discrepancies between reports created by various products. However, we generally believe that the best way to think of metrics across different web analytics programs is to think in terms of trends, as opposed to numbers by themselves.”


 


Google presents that their tracking methods can introduce a difference in reporting values: Cookie-based tracking vs. IP + User Agent tracking.


 


Cookie-based tracking relies on a browser setting the cookie. If cookies are disabled, cookie-based analytics programs (such as Google Analytics) will not count the visit.


 


IP + User Agent tracking typically uses log file analysis for its data. Ad servers rely on this methodology. 


 


Another discrepancy that Google talks about is a resultant of first party vs. third party cookies.  “Because 3rd party cookies are set by a source other than the website being visited, they’re often blocked by browsers and security software. Google Analytics uses 1st party cookies.” 


 


Ad servers use third party cookies and therefore these may be getting blocked by Google Analytics.  That would represent a huge discrepancy between the ad server counts and the Google counts.


 


So Google and ad server and site analytics do it differently.  That makes sense.  Now back to my client’s question.  Why would you use an ad server when you have Google Analytics? 


 


For one thing, Google limits a site visit per user to one time every 30 minutes.  Ad servers, by comparison, would not filter such behavior, but would recognize the fact it is a unique visitor (using a cookie) coming to the page more than once.  So impressions would be counted separately from unique impressions.  Google would simply filter the multiple impressions out and give the unique impression.


 


My suggestion to my client was to convince their client to deploy a site analytics toolset so that there would be two third-party validations in place to offset Google.  People don’t seem to get the idea that even Google is proposing that “…the best way to think of metrics across different web analytics programs is to think in terms of trends.”  Especially when it comes to Google.  You get what you pay for … and you don’t pay for Google analytics.


 


Here is something else that we discussed.  If you synchronize your ad server and your site analytics you will get accurate – or actually identical counts.  For example, deploy a DirectServe™ Technology using First Party ad serving with a WebSideStory first party cookie and you will have a seamless pass through of data.  Impressions and clicks will go through to the site and the site will read the ad serving data – actually WWS will receive the data using the first party cookie – and the reporting will match up perfectly. 


 


Remember, DirectServe™ is a patent-pending capability of TruEffect and we are partnered with WebSideStory to implement this kind of solution so that was a plug.  But seriously if you want to put together the pieces this is how to do it.


 


The client also asked about bid optimization.  Hmm, another variable.  Love it.  Well WSS has Bid Opp and so that can easily be brought into the picture as well.  Using a first party cookie, the ad server can lay the cookie down on the user when they click on the keyword and associate the keyword and search engine with that user.  If that user is already carrying the cookie from the client, the ad server can add to the cookie the search variables that regenerated the visit.  Then the site analytics software can receive the data using the first party cookie.  Done.


 


Re-targeting is a wonderfully versatile capability.  My favorite part of the conversation was when he said, “oh…we’re already testing targeting with TACODA.”  Love it.  Obviously we discussed the event-based targeting aspects of TACODA and how it is based on anonymous occurrences.  He agreed that while the solution works well it is limited to their network and does not have the ability to leverage client data like what DirectServe™ has to offer – site agnostic, web-wide capacity that leverages client knowledge about customers for re-targeting.  He got it and agreed that we were talking about complimentary solutions … for now.


 


Anyway, back to Google.  I think it is key to understand that ad serving has all of its benefits from the perspective of campaign management.  And site analytics has all of its benefits from web site trafficking, modeling and analysis.  But what was at conflict here was ignorance of a client’s client.  If a client is going to use Google, they need to be educated as to why they are using and what they are using it for.  It’s kind of like using fuzzy glasses to read a book.  Or a better example is using your hand to feel your kid’s forehead to see if they have a fever.  It is a trending tool that gives you a relative indication, not an exact measurement. 


 


Google Analytics is great for the advertiser who wants to log in at 3am and see what’s happening.  I do that sometimes with my blog when I write a particularly contentious article – just to see if it’s triggered some reactions.  But my server logs are far more accurate than Google Analytics.  The counts are always 30%+ off.  Same with ad server reports and site analytics. 


 


Educate your client with the tools that are going to demonstrate real accuracy.  Use sales reports and revenue reports – post-click analysis – to demonstrate further discrepancies that translate into real value to the client.  It is possible to show the client where the diversion points in the direction of the ad server and site analytics favor.  Go the extra step and you will prevail.  If you have more than one client that will bring this up, prepare a document that you can use over and over again.  This problem is not going away soon.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Get More with No-Cost Ad Serving, Maybe for Publishers

Well you knew I would be coming at this one.  Bennett Zucker’s February 16th, 2007 Get More with No-Cost Ad Serving article in iMediaConnection throws out the notion that the value of ad servers is fading out of existence.  While Bennett fails to be explicit about whether he is specifically looking at publisher ad servers or advertiser ad servers, let’s examine both from the perspective he presents.


 


Bennett says: “no-fee ad serving can bring about technological innovation, and better, cheaper, faster ways of getting things done online.”  True, ad serving has become an increasingly commoditized service.  Zedo and Mediaplex are the two biggest drives of this trend.  Zedo’s approach to giving away three-months of free ad serving and then converting customers to paying clients results in very cheap ad serving.  And Mediaplex is ‘buying’ business aggressively in an attempt to capture market share from DoubleClick and Atlas.  It is not uncommon to see $0.05 or $0.04 CPM rates from either provider for tiered impression volumes in excess of 100M/mos.  I’ve seen Mediaplex go as low at $0.035.  Hard to compete with.


 


Zedo is easier to compete with.  They are not certified to serve on as many sites, their customer service is not rated that high and their tool is buggy.  Mediaplex has its issues too.  I’ve gone into the competitive features of different ad servers in the past in my “How to pick an ad server series:”


 


1.      The Ad Server’s Point of View – Selling to the Advertiser and Cost


2.      How to Pick an Ad Server – Part II Interface Evaluation


3.      How to Pick an Ad Server – Part III Rich Media, Targeting & Optimization


4.      How to Pick an Ad Server – Part IV Price


5.      How to Pick an Ad Server – Part V Training


6.      How to Pick an Ad Server – Part VI Customer Support & Implementation


 


“Today we assume, for example, that it costs nothing in bandwidth or storage or processing power to add new subscribers and web pages. But this notion hasn’t been widely applied yet in the realm of ad serving.”  Actually Bennett, this is false.  With ever-increasing files sizes, rich media and video this is the one thing that is keeping CPMs from falling lower and, in fact, this is what is starting to drive CPMs back up.  Bandwidth is a fixed cost for an ad server.  Granted the more bandwidth you require the better your rate, but a pipe is a pipe and you pay for the bandwidth in chunks no matter what you push through it.  The operating model of an ad server is based on what sells and most ad servers have a minimum CPM that they need to cover to break-even.  This number increases as the files sizes creep up.  Video, especially, introduces a whole new level of bandwidth requirements like rich media.  I know people paying $4 CPMs with Eyeblaster if you can believe that!  Granted, they’re getting hosed.


 


Publisher ad servers have an interesting situation to consider, and the Google proposition is one that is knocking at their door.  If Google is going to offer free ad serving in exchange for joining the AdSense network, then you do have a problem for the ad servers.  This may be a very enticing offer to a publisher.  Eliminate the $0.08 DFP charge and that could be worth $100K/mos or more to the publisher’s operation.  It could be worth a lot more if they’re a large web site.


 


So how do advertiser ad servers stay in the game?  For one thing, what are ad servers really all about?  Is it posting ads, rotating, optimization and selection logic?  Really?  Come-on.  There is a reason why there are out-of-the-box ad servers like Ad Juggler and freeware php-Ads-new.  Okay, I think of them on the same level, you may not.  Because it’s not hard to upload ads to a server and select creative and post them.  Adteractive runs over 1 billion ads a month on a home-grown system.  All you need is scalability.  Servers.  Co-location helps so that you have the security of not worrying about going down regionally and you have the load-balancing geographically and potentially internationally.  Those are only subtle differences between the major ad servers and the tier-three players. 


 


Self-managed out-of-the-box ad servers can’t get certified on the Yahoo!, AOL and MSN’s of the world because of reasons like that.  So if you are using those solutions, you’re out of luck there.  But that is not necessarily an issue for all advertisers.


 


Ad servers for advertisers are in the game for log processing and reporting.  That is the meat of the game.  The ability to process 70-100 million logs per ad served and return impressions, clicks, post-click events per site, site-section and placement is the heart of what ad servers do.  Taken further, the better ad servers offer robust reporting and analytics that enable advertisers to cross-dissect the data to make empowering decisions.  This is where some of the real differentiation comes into play.


 


A second place is integration.  Ad servers are starting to step up and recognize that 2007 is about consolidated reporting.  Drawing together disparate data sources into the dashboard.  Blackfoot has been touting this for 2 years.  David Smith has been challenging the industry for over a year to bring this to light.  Ad servers are slowly coming to recognize that this is where they need to be. 


 


TruEffect began a project with mOne a year ago to build a consolidated report that brought together the search, email, rich media and ad serving data under one roof, within Microsoft Excel.  Nothing entirely different from what some of the other ad servers are capable of doing accept for the fact that it is active, live data that is manipulatable within a Microsoft Excel environment, instead of within a Web-based application and downloadable as .csv files.


 


Now I know first-hand that publishers are dissatisfied with their publisher ad serving solutions.  See my post: Banner Ads on Google.  And I know that there really is not a comprehensive solution out there that combines inventory management, sales management, forecasting (the wholly grail) and campaign management.  So maybe Bennett can shed some light on that in a follow-up article or perhaps Brad Beren’s can find someone to write a non-self-promoting article on the state of affairs of the publisher ad serving space.  But for now, the largest pubs out there are using a combination of home grown systems or a combination of DPF plus site-side analytics plus proprietary tools plus a room full of analysts; and all of them are blind more than just a couple of weeks out in terms of available inventory.  Crack that code and you get an award.  And a job … probably from Google.


 


Differentiation is key in every space, no doubt Bennett.  And the key is to make those differentiations known in the industry.  DoubleClick is asleep at the wheel.  Atlas is focused on their purchase of Accipiter and has let their client services slip so badly that their clients are just crying for someone to come and take them away (oh Calgon!).  Mediaplex is aggressive out there, no doubt.  But all they have to offer is a shelf full of the features that you should already expect from an ad server and a price that is intended to undercut DC and Atlas.


 


And now, the plug J … TruEffect has all the features, and yes, we’re competing on the price points too.  But we built the ad server within Microsoft Excel, TruAdvertiser.xls.  See Maximize your Ad Traffickers’ Value, Re-Evaluate Their Time for a deep-dive into the product with screen shots and all that good stuff.  I know, I named the post poorly, but there is a lot of meat in that one.


 


Anyway, TruAdvertiser.xls was built around the workflow of an agency or advertiser.  It integrates with other aspects of the business operation, leveraging all of Microsoft Office.  All aspects of the media planning, ad serving and reporting is conducted in Microsoft Excel and other disparate sources of data can easily be pulled in to create dashboard-like reports.  Data can be pushed out to accounting systems or other tools like internal business intelligence reporting tools.  There is not a whole lot that can’t be done with some specialize work.  And we do it everyday with our clients.  Okay, enough … that wasn’t bad (166 words).


 


So Bennett Zucker wrote us another good article.  And from the publisher ad serving perspective I think he is spot-on.  Commoditized pricing is an indication that there is little differentiation in the space.  If it is just about price, the players are driving head-first into the ground.  If someone does not crack the forecasting code it will remain a one-way ticket.  Google’s attempt to throw their hat into the game with their free publisher ad server for AdSense doesn’t even bother to take a swing at it.  My conversations with them last year yielded that they too didn’t have that problem solved.  So if you want to win, and maybe I can help you here, launch a publisher ad server with forecasting that can look out past 2-3 weeks with a degree of accuracy that can be leveraged for selling.  That is the golden egg.  In terms of advertiser ad servers, it’s not about features, everyone has them and that is why the prices have fallen.  Rich media, video and larger file sizes will drive the CPMs back up.  Integration and consolidated reporting will keep the leaders alive if they don’t stay asleep at the wheel.


 


Reactionary with Insight

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting: Mediaplex tells (Almost) All

So I have received a lot of email and even a couple of phone calls regarding yesterday’s article by Mediaplex’s Sean Quick in iMediaConnection.  How could I let an article on Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting go by without so much as a comment, when so much of my blog addresses this topic with such conviction?  Well, yesterday was my birthday so I was out having a much needed break!  But I’ll have at it now!


 


Okay, first of all I have to start off by saying that Sean did a good job of breaking up BT into two distinct categories – passive and active.  He used these descriptions to help us understand the difference between the classic event-based targeting capabilities of a TACODA and the re-targeting capabilities that I have been evangelizing on this blog.  I was so pleased to see Sean use the term customer re-targeting as well, since it was not an industry term when I first started this blog and my Urchin reports show Mediaplex on my blog everyday.  I take Sean’s usage of the term as a compliment J.


 


Recently I posted When to Blog and When to Publish, commenting on what I believe to be the hairline-thick line between what is informational and what is self-promotional publishing online.  I issued a request for feedback as to whether I should be blogging or publishing and if there are topics on my blog suitable for publishing, should you believe I should be publishing.  I was contacted by Brad Berens at iMediaConnection who suggested that I could follow the thought leadership track when writing for iMediaConnaction (with their help) and that my self-promotion and subjective style could be reserved for the blog.  Works for me!  Anyway, stay tuned as you may see some writing show up out there as well…


 


Anyway, back to Sean’s article.  While Sean does specifically highlight ValueClick’s Mediaplex as the provider of re-targeting, he also mentioned DoubleClick and Advertising.com.  So I don’t fault him for direct self-promotion.  But what I do believe Sean fails to do is accurately depicting customer re-targeting as it has come to be defined. 


 


If anything I believe that what Sean has done is introduced a third form of behavioral targeting: (1) passive, (2) active event-based and (3) active segment-based.


 


Passive BT goes back to the event-based targeting that I have already discussed in many postings.  Sean describes it as follows:


 


Passive BT — also sometimes called Targeted Segments and other names — is generally done either through applications that reside on a user’s computer, such as downloaded software, or through tracking tags that reside on publishers’ websites.  In either case, these technologies anonymously record consumer web browsing activity.  The consumer is unaware that such tracking is occurring, as it doesn’t affect their surfing activity in any noticeable way.


 


The tracking information is collected and analyzed, and the cornerstone of this approach is the subsequent attempt to make increasingly educated guesses about a consumer’s interests based on the data in order to deliver timely and relevant marketing communications.


 


Examples of providers of this approach include Tacoda, Revenue Science and Claria.


 


The Active BT that Sean describes is “also called User Retargeting [and] consists of anonymously registering consumers’ proactive, direct interaction with a company’s marketing efforts. For example, display or email advertisements or material on the client’s website and then implementing follow-up marketing programs that address that explicitly expressed interest in an attempt to deepen the relationship and lead to conversion.”


 


So this is still event-based.  A better description is Event-Based Active BT.  The information leveraged for re-targeting is based on other marketing experiences.  Sean does not describe the application of this BT specifically in terms of online advertising, nor does he describe it in terms of preventing the re-prospecting of customers through online advertising.  In fact, what he is doing is explaining that Event-Based Active BT can coordinate disparate forms of online marketing to collectively create a concrete BT model.  Moreover, and what is entirely left out of this article is the PROCESS.


 


One thing that I am so careful to do in all of my postings – and what I believe will be a focus of articles that I would write for IMC – is to illuminate the procedural differences between various kinds of technologies so that people can come to distinguish them.  It is important to understand the impact of a first party design and a third party design for example.  The benefits and differences of these kinds of technologies transcend the advertising experience for both the advertiser and user – in fact for the publisher too. 


 


TruEffect holds the patent-pending rights to first party ad serving.  So if another ad server were to implement a first party design, they would violate that patent and would be putting their clients in a nefarious situation that would result in problems down the road.  Aside from that, other ad servers are not doing it that way anyway right now.  They have their own design using a third party cookie and a synchronization process.  They still have their ‘control the data and you own the client’ model.


 


Listen, Sean is not going to talk to me about it, obviously.  But maybe he will talk to you and then you can come back and talk to all of us on the blog.  OR, maybe Sean would like to come on here and have a discussion with all of us.  It would be great to bring the truth out.


 


If Mediaplex is using a third party cookie to conduct user re-targeting, it is historically synchronizing.  Latency comes into play and there are limitations to the benefits that only a real-time capability can bring to the table.  Only a first party cookie foundation is capable of doing it in real-time. 


 


If Mediaplex is having clients share record information so that Mediaplex can assign cookie values to people when they transact or otherwise experience a marketing event, it is still a third party cookie, foreign to the advertiser and so the limitations include:


 



  1. The ad serving data is mediaplex’s data, accessible only by mediaplex;
  2. The cookie information is not accessible by the advertiser;
  3. The ad serving information is not readily integratable with other technologies such as site-side analytics which may be another third party cookie (omniture) or could be a first party cookie (WebSideStory or Webtrends); and
  4. Mediaplex can not adjust targeting strategies in real-time, targets must be determined in advanced.


As we have covered in many entries on this blog.  First party ad serving, using a first party cookie, allows all of the four aforementioned limitations to be mitigated.  Most of all, targeting can happen in real-time.  An advertiser can change a cookie value, login to the ad server and change the targeting reaction to the cookie; and the change is instantaneous. 


 


With a third-party implementation, the advertiser has have to share the altered customer information with the ad server (Mediaplex, DoubleClick) and then the ad server has to start writing new cookies, which have to propagate, and then the ad targeting can begin.  Can you say latency?


 


Two other limitation issues: (1) SOX and (2) third party cookie deletion.


 


When a third party is handling your data, and you have SOX compliance issues, you have a potential problem.  Using a third-party cookie and a third party ad server, deploying event-based Active BT, means your data about your customers is being shared with a third party who is subsequently developing additional information about your customers and gate-keeping your access to that data.  You need to make sure that you have controls written about the handling of that data because it is out of your control.  This is not an issue with first party ad serving because all of your ad serving data flows directly through to the advertiser and is not withheld by the ad server.


 


Secondly, third party cookies get deleted over 40% of the time – Jupiter Research.  So only 60% of the Event-Based Active BT will be effective whereas over 90% of first party cookies are persistent.  Do the math and you will realize that leveraging a first party cookie will bring a much higher yield in re-targeting activities.


 


So Sean’s article stimulates the interest and probably results in some genuine leads to Mediaplex, but I wonder how far down the path you will get with Mediaplex before you come to realize that you have not come to engage with customer re-targeting but more event-based BT?


 


The third form of BT that I characterized earlier is Active Customer Re-targeting.  The fundamental distinguishing difference is that the advertiser is creating customer segments and is cookieing their customers directly, as opposed to the ad server cooking the customer.  Advertisers may cookie their customers through eCRM, eCommerce cycles, email processes, site-side analytic platforms (i.e., WebSideStory), landing pages (i.e., CoreMetrics) all using their own first party cookie.  They can create customer segment profiles that associate a user with a customer type, just like they do offline with direct mail, cataloging and telemarketing and then deploy customer re-targeting with their online advertising.


 


So Sean, it would be very interesting to have a follow-up article with which we hear how Mediaplex, and if you’re so inclined to research your other examples – Advertising.com and DoubleClick – conduct the Event-Based Active User Re-targeting.  But that might not be on your agenda.  Hey Brad, maybe I’ll write that article for you!


 


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

David Smith and The Medium is the Metric for Online Ads

Fantastic!  When David Smith steps up and writes an article, people should listen.  If you have the opportunity to attend a venue where he is speaking, you should make it your business to sit in on his session.


 


Earlier I posted an entry about when to blog and when to publish.  David should always, always publish.  He is not about self-promotion but rather call-to-action.  Although he never admits it, MediaSmith strives to meet or exceed all the demands that he places on us as agencies, advertisers and vendors servicing the industry.


 


In today’s iMediaConnection, David wrote “The Medium is the Metric for Online Adsand he pulled out all the stops. 


 


He gave us illustrations for why digital research is taking a quantum leap with Quantcast.  Dwarfing what ComScore and NetRatings have to offer, Quantcast provides insight into millions of websites.  Forget @Plan which is a front to DoubleClick’s publisher database.  Quantcast is considered to be the next, new and potentially most accurate source of secondary publishers in the industry.  Ad servers should be integrating with them, and agencies should be taking a long hard look at providing access to it for their media planners.  Currently, they measure 20 million web sites and growing exponentially.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon Comscore, not yet.  Soon they will not just be about the secondary web sites, but the primaries too.  Their model is primary about getting publishers to post tags on their sites so they get tracked, but if they continue to get traction that won’t be an issue.  Watch these guys.  I am. 


 


David also brings up Blackfoot several times.  David has been working with Martin Wesley and the team at Blackfoot for a couple of years.  I have known Blackfoot and have watched them grow-up from a one-room office to the organization that they are today.  Blackfoot offers cutting-edge analytics software and people like David Smith have been experimenting with it from the days when it was based entirely on processes.  While still involving teams of analysts, Blackfoot’s Analytix is a composite compilation of disparate sources of data.  Accomplished through a team of manual processes, this service model produces analysis capabilities that rival the comprehension capacity of the top-5% intellect in the industry.  Dumb-it-down and you still have huge insight into the holistic marketing initiatives for an advertiser.  A lot of data for making decisions.


 


The call for dashboard views has been David’s MO since I first met him last year.  As I mentioned in my January 10th, 2007 post, Improve Your Stats, Don’t Over Analyze, Make Decisions and Execute I have not been in contact with David in quite some time.  But when we last spoke, it was about his search for a holistic digital dashboard that provided a top-down view over every aspect of an advertiser’s campaign.  David has a vision for how an agency should be managed, and if you are a client I sincerely believe that you will benefit from his desire to control every aspect of the campaign – if not personally then as an agency.  A need to see how each medium correlates together into a series of results helps David determine the interaction between them.  And he is confident that those relationships can be seen and subsequently decisions can be made that will be affected by that insight.


 


In this article, David glosses over the utilization of site-side analytics, Coremetrics, WebSideStory, WebTrends and Omniture.  I think this is where the insight falls short.  Perhaps David is unaware of what we’re doing with first party integrations of first party ad serving and first party site-side analytics.  Other ad servers are conducting cookie synchronizations.  DoubleClick and Omniture for example is the best example that I can think of.  It’s historical and laborious.  A DoubleClick ad serving cookie and the data associated with the acquisition marketing campaign can be synchronized with the site side analytics third party cookie in the rears.  Real-time decision-making is not achieved but insight into navigation patterns, entry points that extend to the advertising campaign and placement to eCommerce patterns are measurable.


 


TruEffect’s patent-pending DirectServe™ offers first party cookie synchronization with the WebSideStory first party cookie.  So in fact it is real-time and is a direct pass through, and not a synchronization at all.  Poor choice of words on my part.  It is an integration of commonly-threaded technologies.  The ad serving knowledge flows through to the site side analytics engine.  Both use the clients first party cookie and so decisions are made in real-time.  Reactionary. 


 


So listen up David, this aspect of your challenge to the industry has already met.  And we’re working with the other companies mentioned to complete the offering across the industry.


 


Funny, a year ago David wrote an article entitled “Where’s My Dashboard? and I contacted him to introduce him to TruAdvertiser.xls™ the holistic ad server built within Microsoft Excel.  It integratable with accounting platforms and pulls in disparate sources of data.  We didn’t move forward together but it was a great series of conversations.  Maybe it is time for us to chat again and introduce the topic of DirectServe™.  I think that we’re doing things that he is unaware of.  Hey David, give me a call.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

“What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale”: Eric Picard Thinks That It is Time to Grow Up and Run Agencies Efficiently


A-ha!  A call to action that makes me scream hallelujah!  Eric Picard is the director of advertising strategy and emerging media planning at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions and wrote “What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale? in ClickZ this mering.


 


Eric is reiterating the same set of complaints that he issued in a 2005 article.  Technology is not being properly leveraged to automate the management of online advertising so that we can be efficient!  “Digital advertising, both on the Internet and in traditional media, isn’t scaling. The buy and sell sides (advertisers and publishers) have neglected to get their platforms right in the advertising industry,” Eric Says. 


 


And is he right. 


 


Publisher tools do not effectively enable sellers of media to know what they have to sell and so they are leaving revenue on the table.  Inventory management is antiquated.  Sellers don’t know what is available to sell with respect to what other agents have reserved on their team.  Multiple proposals can’t properly reserve space with supervisory control over allocation the holding of available inventory.  Many of the major publishers are dissatisfied with their current vendors – i.e., everyone knows that AOL has never been happy with the DoubleClick relationship since its inception.


 


Advertiser tools fall short on many, many levels.  I have 20-30 postings on this blog alone that talk about inefficient workflow, the manual tasks of an ad server, the lack of integration with accounting tools, the single-entry steps of creating placements, the incongruence of ad server workflow and agency workflow, the monotony of a trafficker’s job and so on.


 


Managing online advertising is a rabbit hole that you pour money into if you are an agency.  The reason for this, online advertising has no infrastructure at most agencies.  It was never developed on a foundation upon which it could grow properly.


 


“There should be no reason for the vast number of agency or publisher staffers required to handle ad operations. There should be significantly more process automation and many fewer bodies to get the job done.”  Eric argues that out-sourced companies like “…Operative and Ad Operations Interactive exist because ad platforms don’t automate everything they can.”


 


In Maximize your Ad Traffickers’ Value, Re-Evaluate Their Time I argue that “…online advertising operations are comprised of band-aided techniques that have been slapped together over time, never organized or operationalized into an efficient set of procedures that maximize time and resources.”  In that article I present a product that automates the entire media planning, RFP, I/O, creative management, placement scheduling and reporting process.  It’s a self-promoting discussion I know.  TruAdvertiser.xls is a vendor solution that works.  It’s also built on Microsoft Excel which Eric Picard should like!  Maybe that article should have been called “Maximize Your Ad Traffickers Value with a Workflow Tool That Automates Their Job!


 


Anyway, while Eric’s sky is falling position is important.  The fact that he doesn’t even know about a Certified Microsoft Partner like TruEffect, that has a qualified solution to his stated issue is my problem.  But the problem itself is bigger than that.


 


Ad agencies are not addressing their problems of inefficient operations.  They are pushing the problem under the rug.  Well not quite.  They are outsourcing it and “…throwing bodies at the problem, [and having clients] …pay the bills,” as Eric put it.  That is not good business. 


 


Ad agencies should turn around and look at how they conduct their business and manage it better. 


 


Or maybe it is the client who should take the long hard look.  Maybe the client needs to stop and take the time to examine how their agency conducts itself.  Maybe if clients asked questions about how their agencies managed themselves, and their businesses, it would force the agency to look within and take action. 


 


Imagine if a mega-advertise took an audit of its agency’s operation?


 


If I have a $5M budget (small I know) I would want as much of that to go to media and the rest to go to my agencies profit so that they are rewarded.  I would want us both to win.  I would want to know that I am working with a smart partner.  If they manage their business well then I can have confidence that they will manage my business well.  If they take 15% of my budget for their fee and then pile on additional fees for outsourcing services, which they should be capable of handling, I would consider an agency with more competent capabilities.  I would expect an agency that can manage my business holistically, and efficiently.  This is not 2000, its 2007.  It’s time to grow up and run our businesses like it.  Online advertising is no longer new.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

This I believe

So for several months now I have been closely watching the industry, reading articles, PR releases, product releases, financial releases and generally paying attention.  I have been taking bits and pieces of what I care about and have been making comments and providing what I believe has been an insightful perspective on how technology can be better leveraged to improve how we advertise online.


 


I have looked at the ad servers, the networks, the lead generation tools.  I have examined the search engines, the publisher tools and the creative formats and provided you with feedback on what other reliable people have had to say.


 


And I have discussed ad agencies, their workflow, the media buying process and the tools that people use to do their jobs, however inefficiently I may believe that to be.


 


Here is my position.


 


The agencies have engaged the interactive medium completely.  Estimates for 2007 are that between 12 ½ and 20% of advertising budgets will go towards new media.  This is no longer the edgy side-project.  Engagement with technology is here.  But it is about refinement. 


 


Search is essential but everyone is coming to recognize that there is something wrong with the model.  It is extremely time-intensive and expensive to manage.  Furthermore the ROI metrics seem to slip the longer you run campaigns.  As I have said in the past, a tipping point is coming. 


 


Networks have been doing their thing the same way with some minor tweaks for a while now and people are demanding more disclosure.  Tolerance for media showing up on inappropriate sites is very low, accountability is high and additional capabilities like behavioral targeting has become an expectation.


 


That brings me to behavioral targeting – a very common topic on this blog.  I have ripped this topic up and down.  My intent has been to redefine this concept as event-based targeting and to justify that there is little about behaviors actually associated with it at all.  Just because someone took a navigation path, or saw a page means little about their behavior, the predictability of their behavior or their preferences.  All we know is something that happened.  Historical targeting is a better description but I have used event-based targeting over the last couple of months.


 


I have never tried to minimize the value of BT, only put it into it rightful place as a solid prospecting and direct response advertising mechanism.  BT does not represent the best means to capturing known individuals, in fact, it does not have the capacity to associate with knowledge about people at all.  Only with events.  But I believe that BT should be part of a comprehensive campaign.


 


People have approached me both on and off this blog about my position towards BT and some of the networks, but I think its because they have been defensive and protective of their positions as representatives of these companies.  Others have engaged me – usually advertisers, agency representatives or others who see that the evolution of practice is inevitable and being on the adaptive edge of the curve is better than the laggards edge.


 


I have also spent a lot of time plugging a concept called first party ad serving.  Forgive me for the plugs.  Obviously as a member of TruEffect I have a lot of passion for what we do here.  But I also spend a lot of time looking for other technologies that can rival or at least coexist, companion or compliment what we are doing here.


 


The patent-pending DirectServe™ Technology that TruEffect has brought to the market represents the next generation of ad serving.  It leverages the knowledge that an advertiser holds about its customers, registrants or users to re-target through ad campaigns.  This is not a replacement for other technologies out there – I have said that before as well – but a great new way of doing it.  An addition to a comprehensive advertising strategy.


 


First party ad serving is about customer re-targeting.  BT is about event-based targeting, best applied when trying to capture unknown individuals.  One is for bringing in new business; one is about farming and growing existing business.  There is no point is re-prospecting existing customers while advertising online.  DirectServe™ takes care of that.  BT leverages previous events so that you can increase the likelihood of putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time based on historical events.  DirectServe™ puts the right message in front of the right person based on known customer segmentation models, knowledge already held about customers.  This a potential marriage.


 


Now BT is largely touted by networks, so there is a limitation as to how you can use it.  I talk about TACODA a lot – which I think Dave Morgan has not be thrilled about – but its because they have been the leader in the space.  I have also talked about Advertising.com and Blue Streak and Tribal and others as well.  But ad servers offer BT too.  DoubleClick’s Boomerang does it.  TruEffect does it.  And that extends beyond networks.


 


I also talk about integration.  Agencies are not on this trail so much as advertisers.  Well, some agencies are but they are the minority.  I have strong opinions about this because I feel that they pieces of the puzzle are all here now for us to put together a great picture of our online marketing so that we can make better informed decisions about our web site compositions, product placements, online advertising and budget allocations.  But nobody has fully engaged yet.  There are leaders that are putting the pieces together, but I am advocating the full-monty and that is what you read about on this blog.


 


Tying it all together will enable an advertiser to make the best possible decisions regarding allocation of online media spend.  It will promote the best utilization of technology, improve product placement on web sites, increase the value of existing customers, the initial value of new customers and enhance the likelihood of increasing the utilization of interactive media as a channel for marketing.


 


See my ten-step recipe for full-integration of all the technology pieces of an online advertising campaign.


 


First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();

Ten Step Recipe for a Fully-Integrated Online Marketing Initiative

In my next post, This I believe, I state my position on agencies, networks, ad servers, writers and pretty much all things online advertising related.  In the end I offer up a reciper for putting together all of the technologies into a holistic, comprehensive marketing initiative.  Here it is.

First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe:


 


(1)            Starting with the tagging of a web site so that cookies can be set (first party cookies of course) when someone is on the site. 


(2)            Then add in Ad serving – first party ad serving (like the patent-pending DirectServe™) to promote products or services on the web. 


(3)            Mix in the search advertising and be sure to use the ad server’s first party cookie and leverage a redirect so that the search term can be embedded into the cookie so that when the user lands on the advertiser’s web page that search term is associated with that user.


(4)            Deploy customer re-targeting advertising whereby you leverage customer segments from the eCRM database to recognize and distinguish customers through ad campaigns with specific banner advertisements, rich media and video.


(5)            Deploy BT for anyone that visits the web site directly and cookie that user with a first-party cookie so that the re-targeting mechanism can work when they encounter that individual online (on a network or web site).


(6)            Engage with a site-side analytics provider that will use a first party deployment – like WebSideStory – and take full advantage of tracking anonymous user behavior across your web site.  Track all navigation patterns, entrance and exist points, product position preferences, sales cycles, etc.


(7)            Leverage site-side analytics to write the first party cookie and segment the cookie value based on user preferences in association with CRM data.


(8)            Feed the customer preference cookie value to generate the customer segments and associate the customer segments with creative target groups that the ad server will serve in the re-target campaigns (back to #4)


(9)            Have the DirectServe™ write to the cookie during the ad serving process the details of the ad serving history to the cookie so that when a prospect of customer comes to the site, the site-side analytics software can internalize all of the external activity and use it for further analysis on how someone became a customer or how returning customers were reacquired.  First party ad serving will give site-side analytics outside perspective of web marketing.


(10)       Complete the circle by leveraging the holistic view by analyzing the reports on how you acquire customers through BT, Search and Banner advertising, how you re-acquire existing customers through DirectServe™ first party ad serving and how both types interact with your site using site-side analytics.  Determine which messaging strategies, campaign combinations of banners and placements, search engines and terms and which technologies are delivering the greatest source of new customer and returning customer yield and make future media buying decisions based on that analysis.

_uacct = “UA-980395-1”;
urchinTracker();