Archive for category personal
Thanks for continuing to read my thoughts about the industry. Part 1/2 of the future of the RTB Digital Industry got a few hits.
So what I was saying in part 1?
The future is about tech companies that can deliver added value. Maybe a short synopsis for a lengthy article but the bottom line is that this is where the industry will be going. In the meantime ‘ad networks 3.0′ still have some added value, premium has value and the more complex the technology gets over the years, the more likely the agency can add additional value to the value chain again. Simple really. Wouldn’t you agree?
We are going in circles. And I don’t want to be misunderstood, saying the agency doesn’t add value. However, what seems to change our world more and more is DATA. BIG DATA. A few ZetaBytes of it. What it really means is that we have a lot of data available and need to try to utilise this. And some publishers do, and some publishers don’t. And some agencies try 3rd party data and utilise their clients’ 1st party data, and some don’t. But who owns the data? The adserver, the publisher, the advertiser? I believe that those companies that can utilise and analyse big data best and to the advantage of their clients will win! Simple. I spoke to a premium publisher the other day that achieves higher CPM rates than any other by allowing the first party data to be utilised down to the impression level. Amazing stuff you can do. And, once 3rd party data is more reliable in the UK and across Europe, we can do a lot more analysis and qualitative exploration of data. Stay tuned, a big topic. But don’t think the future is in data collection. It is in data processing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the EMCs and IBMs of this world will soon get (and partly already have got) involved in this part of our industry, because they can process data. They can utilise data. Online data. Offline data.
I also wanted to come back to my earlier comment about the end to end stack. It seems as if the whole industry is obsessed with the idea of a “one stop shop”? Similar to all companies in the space wanting to go public or being sold. I wonder how much VC is there to make it all work out for them….but that’s a topic for a different day. SSPs add DSPs and DSPs add SSPs. Premium becomes guaranteed and floor prices guarantee revenue for publishers. The end game is still to convince the end user or consumer and getting that person to perform an action/buy on the site. Or to proof that the exposure is leading to a brand awareness and sales. Whilst digital is a lot more traceable, it still has to proof its value and performance. Hence I believe that attribution modelling and de-duplication will become very much an essential tool as said in part 1. One probably goes in hand with the other, and the specialists needed for that, e.g. people with the knowledge of digital, data modelling and statistic will be well sought after. To all graduates, get in there, you could revolutionise an entire industry.
Of course, if you follow me on twitter, you would have seen the discussion I was alluding to last week. Should media brokers develop attribution models or agencies? I am not sure if you really want this kind of verification tools being independent. And that is where a lot of BS comes from in our industry. We are relying on a lot of tech that claims to add value without verifying it. We rely on our agencies to make the right decisions without realising how much goes into their back pocket. The lunches are fine but what about the brown envelopes? Yes, I am sure they still exists and the old “I help you and you help me” approach is surely still working. We are buddies in media and help each other. But do we deliver value?
YES needs to be the ultimate answer. Of course (attention: self promotion again) I believe that whatever product I am selling adds value to a client. And this is important to me. I am verifying that via my own ‘independent’ sources and if I am not 100% convinced, or know of limitations, then I address this with the client. Only a win/win situation, full transparency and the true state of your product or service will result in a long lasting relationship. And this is important in a small industry like ours. No ifs or buts. Not every product works each time but overall, you don’t want to end up working for one product and ruin your reputation. Your Linkedin network is a big asset!
So maybe a new IAB body will need to be formed to monitor the attribution models or clients will look at it themselves? A few years back we called it the holy grail and we are now holding it in our hands. We have to be careful about it. And the new holy grail is data as mentioned above.
One of my biggest question remains why an agency would use an end to end stack, or why an end to end stack exists. Whilst most agencies don’t want to develop their own tech, some are keen to rely on one technology or develop some of their own attribution modelling (or other tech). Would you trust your agency? You should I suppose but as margins are more and more squeezed, the independent technology companies are key on delivering transparency to clients and act as warrants to the agency. And if agencies own part of the technology value chain they could become end to end stack too in some way or another. Is that a thread or is the old ad network model moving to the agency side? So I will assume that independent verification companies will flourish over the next few years. Not because of demand from agency or supplier side but clients wanting to find out what’s really happening. There are a few companies out there but none have a profile like the big accountancy auditing firms.
How do I best summarise all my thoughts now?
To be honest, we will see a shift towards the use of more technology and more utilisation of data. Companies who do that well, will continue to strive. And that will be independent whether they are SaaS lead or media driven or tech driven or ad network driven or even end to end stack. It doesn’t matter as long as they deliver a value proposition that allows for easy use for agencies and advertisers alike. With the ongoing complexity of our ecosystem we shall see more independent verification and qualification of key players.
But as always, we are going in circles. Because I really believe that all technology is doing is creating a shift from specialist user to everyday/less familiar user, with some specialist service companies at the side which you might call agencies. The future will be in tech companies that understand to deliver easy to use, high performance, low margin tech, and those tech companies being able to offer a unique proposition like integrated attribution specialised in either DR and/or brand. The more niche and specialised the better the performance – that would be my take. Yes, the omni channel one size fits all DSP will survive. It will be the ‘Golf’, the model that everyone can drive. But the agency proposition and the value proposition will be down to the ‘Ferraris’ and ‘Porsches’ of this world: specialised, high performance driven tech at scale.
Now I hope this all made sense and I didn’t scare off any potential future employers Or, if you liked it, give me a nudge and we talk about it in person.
Shout out and comment, let me know what you think?
What do you believe is going to happen?
Best wishes and see you around soon,
This week’s Sunday Column has been written a bit in a rush to be honest. I have been at a whisky show in Saturday, enjoying a few drams. Sunday I first went to the park with the boys and then to a 4th birthday party where it was very sunny. I really enjoyed family time today.
I have been reflecting on this blog a bit. It is going for 6 years and I have changed direction, style, columns and regular features. This blog is an outlet for my thoughts and interests. The close friend will notice when I am unhappier and when I am happier but the general public might not notice. And this hasn’t always to do with work, we all have mood swings for various reasons. However I like to think of me being balanced and calm, not a shouting or loud person. I like talking about life and the blog is an outlet.
Since I got a bit more time flexibility at the moment, I noticed by writing a book that it helps me to process things. I enjoy writing and voicing my opinion, never aiming to offend anyone.
This quote is very true and kind of matches my situation. I have this nagging voice saying to find a job whilst there is another voice in my head saying, now is your chance to do something by yourself. What has life in store for me? I trust the universe and things to fall into place. I believe things happen for a reason and also believe in Karma. However, I don’t rely on it. I am not sitting at home waiting for things to happen. I am proactive, make use of my time and work on concepts and plans to pursue. And maybe the big job is around the corner or if not, I might do my own thing or some interim work. I am 3 weeks out of my job and every day I discover new opportunities of different kinds. It is amazing and one needs to focus on the right ones, having a lot of patience. You don’t have one interview and a job, in my line of work and position a row of interviews are essential from both sides.
Patience: I am practising. Passion I got. Drive to succeed, learning how a product works, understanding the space I am operating in. I want and will succeed in whatever I do because I give 110%. I am passionate about work. That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes or know everything.
Of course I am selling myself here (why wouldn’t I?) – but the bottom line is that you will always have a challenge in any part of a job you haven’t had before. I want to learn more and I am passionate about management. That’s what my book is about. But after almost 10 years in the job, having an MBA and a fast track career, I still need to learn. The next 10 years will be very exciting for me. I cannot quite grasp the path ahead of me, but I am excited about it already.
As the picture says. I put in the work. And even my grandmother used to say: “Volker you are going to be ok. You work hard and you get along with people.” I will never forgot that. A mantra.
And just to update the folks, the kids are great and we look forward to Colin’s birthday and the holidays. And they enjoy me being around more although I have been very busy. To bath them. And to mend the train tracks, and to mend the toys. All clouds have a silver lining
Love and Kindness to you all,
PS: I didn’t touch on my philosophy Buddhism but all thoughts are pre written. I might change that column to something else this summer. We shall see. Writing a blog can be work too but I love it.
Triggered by my recent redundancy I thought I put some thoughts together of what’s happening in our industry from my perspective. In my little part of the digital industry, in the world of programmatic decision making and big data. Whilst I keep myself busy uncovering the European publisher market and trying to understand the industry from a different point of view, I also take my blinkers off in order to look outside real time and programmatic buying from a demand perspective. Because when I started in real time, or “ad exchange optimisation” as we called it in 2010, the big players like Google or Appnexus weren’t even in the UK yet. Some SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) were working of ExcelSheets in India….those were the days. They call me a veteran of RTB. I think that is a compliment. Yet still, 3.5 years after launching a service provider that got sold to a technology, I still have my doubts which business models will be moving forward. Having said that, I do believe I am more than capable of identifying good business models, technologies and companies who I like to continue my career with. So watch this space.
In the interim (Attention: self promotion), if you have any needs to be consulted on RTB, the industry, your digital strategy or just like to grab a coffee in order to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.
Things have changed in the last few years. We are living in a world dominated by buzz words like “big data” and “programmatic marketing”. Those buzzwords kind of took over “RTB” and “exchange buying”. Some of you might remember the days when SSPs used to be called Yield Optimisers. Those were the days too. But I don’t want to be getting sentimental by looking backwards. Let’s look forward and see what’s on the horizon of our industry:
So what is happening, and what is exciting?
It seems as if some companies trying to move away from media buying dependency and move into SaaS (Software as a Service). There was a discussion on twitter the other day about it. That companies should stick to what they do. However a strong argument for it is to innovate and evolve as a business. I am not saying either is right or wrong but we are at exciting times to see the wheat separating from the chuff. Or is it diversification from network to SSP to cookie-less contextual targeting that brings a new dimension to the industry? Or is it the publisher that does audience extension via 3rd party data, uses data effectively and gets higher CPMs? Or is the future that just all of the above combined ‘wins’ as an end to end stack? Is it about the specialist or the generalist? Like in most other industries we are moving form one extreme to another. Everyone wants to be everything, get the margin from both demand and supply and be the “end to end” stack.
My question would be about the value proposition. Where can some companies actually add value? Who doesn’t know the fragmented Luma landscape? And of course the ever growing question: will 2013 be the year of mobile or will we be looking at mobile from a different perspective?
How many networks used to be out there and were destroyed due to real time bidding? How many networks had to re-invent themselves. And how many got replaced by “RTB network” or “network 2.0″? The names have changed, the principles remained the same. Transparent pricing doesn’t alway mean transparent margins. Word plays allow for wrong perception of what’s actually happening just because it seems better doesn’t mean that it is better.
It has only been three years ago since a few technologies, demand side platforms (DSP), entered the UK display market to buy the right ad at the right time and right price. With a decision making in milli-seconds it became real time advertising or programmatic advertising. From display this soon moved to video and mobile. Having said that, the mobile RTB world is still struggling with tracking and for video it is still early days. I personally still think that video is very exciting moving forward but probably a year away from really taking off in Europe. And mobile is and will always be very exciting. Then of course, omni-channel buying, attribution and budget allocation is on the rise. We can now target social via Facebook and soon via Twitter. Coming from a search background, I am now waiting until we get search integrated too. Or is that already there? And of course the data proposition of which I will speak in part 2.
Let’s look outside conventional RTB (and you can define what that means ). When you think search, social and display, those are the DR (direct response) channels whilst mobile and video are brand channels for me. Of course display is also brand but more so in the “video display” or rich media display or site takeover space. And latter is less available programmatically, and that’s why the brand budget still hasn’t moved as much across to RTB than a lot of people have hoped. Hence there is a demand for premium or networks servicing that need for non standard ad formats. However, DR budgets are squeezed down to the last penny and decisions on who stays on the media plans is due to performance and insight reporting. You might have heard of this company called Google who early on figured out to do exactly that with search. To survive in this competitive market you need to invest more and more, and you need to make it easier and easier for agencies to work with you. Very simple actually. Hence it isn’t a surprise that even in 2012, new networks, supported by big VC money, are still able to push into the market: good performance, great staff which is well paid, good customer service and excellent insight reporting. They just make it simple for media planners to use them.
And last but not least there are some companies that focus on that DR budget driven by search with a combination of search, display and social. Maybe less RTB driven but they all move into that space sooner or later as ‘real time’ will just be another way of buying media. A currency if you like. So the future might look like the “ad network 3.0″ delivering display en masse for branding and reach campaigns whilst other companies focus on the actual DR driven and hard performance goals across the board.
Will the market get more fragmented? No. I believe that a lot of models we are seeing now are going to die in the next few years. Some short term revenue spinners that might sell themselves and then disappear again. Quick and loud into market, quiet out of the market. LIFO – last one in, first one out. Only tech driven companies will sustain the challenges thrown at them, and will be able to deliver long term added value. So technology will be key in the long term in allowing agencies or advertisers to utilise whichever channel they are after. And channel will mean DR vs. brand rather than search vs. video. Big agency groups already split between brand and DR. And there is a reason for it I believe.
I am not saying that agencies aren’t interested in channel attribution and or omni channel buying but you will have one team looking after DR and one team looking after brand. As a supplier of course you talk to both of them. Post click attribution versus post view or completed view or GRP. Audience measurement, conversion measurement, attribution. Yes, there is a future in figuring out the once holy grail.
So what am I saying here in part 1? I am saying that for the foreseeable future there will be a market for well organised ad network models and that only in the next few years technology will really play the key role. Companies who now invest in the right strategy and technology will survive. And once publishers and direct advertisers have caught up with the actual market situation, they then realise who adds value and who doesn’t. No more hiding! And adding value doesn’t mean cheap. You can have the highest margin but still deliver the most value. Then those marketeers who understand what’s happening will apply pressure on their agencies or walk away from them, utilising technology themselves. And, looking over to the US, you will see this trend starting already. But, in the long term, the agency becomes a consultant, it will adopt and will take technology in house again eventually as it will get too complex. Is that too visionary?
I hope you enjoyed this read and look forward to part 2 on Tuesday.
Please leave a comment.
Have a great weekend,
I often start with how quickly a week went. This one did. I went to a meeting on Monday despite the bank holiday and worked in the morning on some Central Europe related business. No rest for the wicked.
Tuesday and Wednesday were busy with working on a project that finishes early June and Thursday I spent in town in meetings. This resulted in a late night, and a slow Friday finishing off what I had to do and attend to the family.
Life is great if you are flexible to work but it also puts a lot of pressure on to get money in and feed the family. I have been discussing this with a few self employed people and came to the conclusion that it will be best to go back into full time employment soon. We shall see what the next few weeks bring. It seems that a few avenues open up and opportunities show themselves. I guess that only happens when you have time to let this happen. It doesn’t happen if you are tied down in the daily grind.
My MIL (mother in law) arrived much to the joy of the kids. They just love having their grandparents around to play, read, spoil them and show them things. It is fantastic to see that and the bond they are building. It makes you almost wish for a big family get together, like at our wedding. I am always thinking of having one for my 40th birthday but maybe we don’t need an excuse. Why not set a date and celebrate life and family. We need to think about that one.
I actually do think we don’t celebrate life enough. I am so astonished at life most days at the moment because I see my four year old discovering things. The blackbirds that pick the worms out of the ground and the snails going into their house. The bean stock that grows to heaven etc. This independent, clean and simplistic view of life that we lost. Naivety, curiosity and eagerness to learn. How many of us wouldn’t like to be childish again and jump in muddy puddles? Of course we would and I tell you: just do it.
There is nothing wrong with letting go and having fun. Of course there is a time and a place for it but regaining this childish feeling for just 5 minutes is amazing. Anyone who has kids is aware of it. Or should be anyway
I need to moan as well. After I finally got over my 6 weeks ordeal of colds, I started cycling and running again to find myself getting another cold last week. I don’t understand it. Not sure if my vitamins aren’t working or if my immune system is so down or if I am just relaxing and properly unwind to have another cold. Cough and snotty nose. Nice ey. But of course I will get over that as well and soon I am back to normal strength.
My new daily routine includes writing an hour in the morning on a potential book, so that’s is slowly coming along. I actually use a Bluetooth connected keyboard for my iPad to speed up the process. Writing in the clouds allows for editing on the go. You gotta love technology.
At the weekend we took the kids to a day out with Thomas the tank engine. We went to Tunbridge Wells were we met the fat controller, Thomas and Diesel. We then went on a 25 minute journey, got off, and they changed the engine around. We then made the same journey back the kids absolutely loved it. It is great to do those things at weekends. And the weather was good too, sunny and dry. Looks like it won’t stay like that.
We washed the car too. C and me went to the car wash and he rather enjoyed it. I used to cry going through the car wash as a child but not my boy, he cannot wait to go back and take his brother along. Other than that we struggle to get a good night sleep but hopefully teething finishes soon and we get our sleep back.
So yes, another quick week. Balancing work life working and living at home seems more complicated and challenging than anticipated. A lot of change but for the better at the moment. Let’s see how long it lasts
Have a great week,
Another fantastic week is behind me. Why fantastic?
It was my birthday! If you haven’t congratulated me, you better do so now Just kidding, actually I don’t really care about my birthday. And, to be honest, why should I celebrate? Due to a restructure at work I took redundancy. This was a bit unexpected, so not the nicest birthday present. But, as I am a very positive person, this change gives me plenty of time for the family and on the other hand it is a great time to get stuck in all of those pet projects that have been neglected for far too long. So watch this space on some developments.
So what am I up to now?
Honestly, I am doing quite a few things. I started working on this book I wanted to write for ages. So if I continue with this pace I might be able to finish it by….Christmas maybe. Just kidding, hopefully a lot sooner. Then I do some freelance consulting work, including some event stuff. I have been working freelance for a long time but have neglected my cb consulting project for far too long. So I am back pitching myself as digital consultant and performance coach. Whilst doing that I scan the daily job board for any news and see whether there is a full time position to go back to. Latter is most probably what I am going to do in the long term, but for now I enjoy the freedom and flexibility I have. With the weather getting better, I enjoy the time with the boys. Juggling all that isn’t as easy as you might think it is.
Of course I work on my diet and exercise programme too. I now got the time…you might think. Actually the more smaller projects you juggle, the less time you have. On Saturday I even fitted the new kitchen tap. Only took me four hours. I am actually struggling for time to get everything done I want whilst still attend to the family. Also this week I made it to London town for two days to meet people, discuss projects and see how things are. Catching up with friends is good and it is often neglected whilst being in full time work.
So as you can see it is the new me. I am a lot more positive and full of energy than I have been for a long time. And I truly believe things happen for a reason. People you meet, you don’t meet, you miss, you hear from etc. at those moments you realise how amazing life actually is. And who your real friends are. The weather is getting better and I connect a lot more with the kids, playing and just being there when they are around. Listening to the birds, watching nature, explaining things. Perfect harmony. Could we wish for anything more in life?
I know this won’t last forever and the daily grind will (hopefully) soon catch up with me again. But wouldn’t it be nice looking back in a few months saying I got a lot of quality family time out of this break, made new friends, got lots of my todos done and lived the moment? No it’s not always the easiest to enjoy it but I surely try.
In that sense I will chill out tonight. I got a lot of plans for next week.
Have a great one.
Stop at the next flower you see, take a deep breath in, smell life and think about if you enjoy life. Take two minutes to remind yourself you are alive. Remind yourself that you are here for a reason. And that in the end everything is going to be ok. If things are not ok, it isn’t the end yet. So stay positive, live in the now and enjoy what you have!
Love and kindness,
This path has a gate at the end.
A gate to heaven?
A gate to pastures new?
To new opportunities?
Will the gate be open when we get there?
What will the path be like?
Curiosity will lead us down the path.
Uncertainty will keep us going.
Don’t look down to test the path, focus on the gate at the end. Make it your goal. You will get there.
Picture: Butcher’s Wood, Hassocks
This is a post about change. The last week has been a lot about change.
We are living in times of change. We are living in times where the individual and the organisation need to find a common ground. If this isn’t there, we have to make decisions. Simple. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.
I recently have spend a lot of time looking at business principles, spirituality and business and how we can improve ourselves, others and the environment we live in. I am passionate about that stuff and feel I have a duty of care. I am still getting sentimental when my almost four year old gives me a cuddle. I feel his love and be able to share my feelings with him. In those moments, and of course the same is true for his younger brother, I am truly happy and content.
It is the love and mutual understanding we have. It is peaceful and happy. We have discussions sometimes when I don’t like what they do and they don’t like something I do, but overall we are getting along fine. That is worth a lot to me. I guess it is the same with any long term partnership, like my marriage for instance.
Life is a funny one as it comes up with surprises and it hits you hard. I remember losing a job due to the recession back in 2009 just before my first child was born, shortly after I got a new mortgage. You grow stronger through that and learn. You become calmer in the storm and you bring things back to its roots, to grow stronger and bigger.
When people lose loved ones, they either get miserable or raise to the challenge. As Anthony Robbins says, you either change out of desperation or inspiration. There are very inspirational people out there. I remember watching a video of a father who, because his disabled child (in a wheelchair) wanted to run a marathon, started training to run a marathon pushing her wheelchair. These things are amazing and are born out of the given opportunities. Opportunities presenting themselves in life for a good or bad reason, and the key is to raise to the challenge and to not give up.
This week I spoke at a conference about the use of data and about how to use, analyse and utilise data to make decisions more effective and efficient. I love that stuff and that it seems to get more mobile focused and video/connected TV focused. The omni channel approach comes to life whilst each channel gets a new meaning by itself. Loving it
On Saturday I attended a free (sales) seminar by Anthony Robbin’s crew, Harry Singha, about unleashing the power from within. I might have not learned any new techniques but I did learn a lot and recapped a lot on what’s happening in our minds. How I can program my or someone else’s mind in order to help him/her or myself. Power is magic. I definitely want to spend some time learning more about it all. I know it a lot but on the other hand I need to analyse, refine and optimise.
This will be all for this week. Have a great week, start into May, and let me know what you think.