Posts Tagged innovation

Thursday Flash (21)

Flash….

This week’s stories are mixed. The one I enjoyed a lot was reading about a CEO and his secrets to keep a team motivated. A few interesting pointers in there.

Then, as I would, there are three things by Steve Jobs, to make connections that matter. Focus. Priority. Creativity.

And the last one is about solar roof tiles. This in my mind will just change the world. I thought about that a few years ago and boom, there it is.

After my idea for Facebook, Twitter and solar roof tiles, maybe I should start thinking about the next big thing. One day my friends, one day.

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AdMonsters European Publisher Forum Berlin 2013

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Over the past few months I have had the privilege to put the programme together for a part of the industry that was new to me. A steep learning curve for someone working mainly on the demand side, I chaired the programme of the European Publisher Forum in Berlin.

So what is the supply side like? Is it more traditional, slower to adopt and generally speaking behind the curve as most industry folk would suggest? I don’t think so. Publishers are increasingly innovating.

Actually, their innovation is at a speed not seen in many areas of the industry. Yet they don’t necessary talk about it. The demand side, particular the agencies, brag about ‘how great they are’. Publishers don’t, however that doesn’t mean they aren’t. There is a lot going on behind closes doors that agencies could only dream about.

Today’s challenges, mainly around monetization, RTB vs. direct, premium vs. long-tail, big data and omni screen multi channel – they all were addressed at this year’s forum. I attended and moderated Monday’s sessions with the exception of a few tracks in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I had to leave for another conference and didn’t stay for Tuesday.

This is my own account of the event, my thoughts and impressions of the burning issues publishers are facing, but also about the innovations happening on the publisher side. I don’t want to give a summary of each session yet reflect the main points. I hope you find it useful and engaging, realising how much publishers are innovating and progressing.

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At the beginning of any ecosystem is the question how demand and supply come together. In the old days this was via networks or direct, now via exchanges, technology providers or direct. Interesting however is that the publisher doesn’t get a higher pay for his inventory yet the 50% ‘network margin’ has been transformed into five 10% margins for technologies. This somewhat cannot be classed as progress, can it?

The ad operation guys need to become more commercially minded, trying to understand how they make the most margin for their business. Similar to the sales person needing to understand the data and technology spiel to survive. The job functions are changing, with increasing demand for ‘commercially minded ad operational data analysts with 10 years experience’. And, the argument comes from the premium publishers, that the best net revenue margins are still coming from the direct sales. Yet there are businesses where a complete automatisation of inventory sales makes a lot more sense. Different means for different publishers.

The picture of a football pitch from the BBC’s presentation stuck in my mind. We are running into corners of the pitch: search one year, social the next, then participation and now RTB. What we should do instead is going back onto the pitch and consider the whole game and get on with it….Instead of thinking of different devices and channels, we are essentially just looking “at glass”, with the end user not being bothered where, when and how big it is. We need to wake up to a new game, different layers and middle field action.

The majority of engagement, over 40%, is still on TV. Data and context are helping the targeting. Some screens fit one purpose more than another. However, the rules of engagement are changing. With services having logins across screens, the user can be targeted cross device. And one suggestion came up over and over again: why don’t the publishers and the advertisers work much closer together?

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Transparency issues are still there with programmatic buying. This is not only true for the price and the value (?) chain above, but publishers holding back on URL disclosures as they don’t want to disclose all their inventory to everyone. This on return stops brand campaigns to be run and it brings back the argument for closer collaboration between publisher and advertiser. On that note, the question came up whether the ATD (ad trading desks) are just a profit extension of agencies, allowing to keep the “network margin” in house?

Incisive Media shed some light on the possibilities of using data, in house and external, to increase their premium inventory. Firstly they streamlined the cookies that were dropped on their site, and with the help of private marketplace, minimum CPMs, login-qualified 1st and 3rd party data overlays paired with floor prices allowed them to keep the premium prices for their inventory. A great approach!

What other key learning did I take away? Publishers started taking their optimisation in house. As an in house SSP or trade desk. The margins that once were taken by networks are now being taken by technology vendors (see above) so the publisher per se doesn’t end up with more money, nor does the CPM change much for the advertiser over the years. However, publishers are getting more clever with their data, using internal data across portfolio sites to sell audiences to advertisers. Whilst some might still be low volume, the impact and quality is high. On external sites via audience extension they can grow their reach and some do so already.

As a summary I can suggest that there is a need for ad operations to consider the P&L and being part of the bigger picture. They need to think outside the technical box yet getting the recognition and responsibility to drive innovation forward. According to some there is no remnant inventory just different tiers, similar to airline seats. A right thought highlighting the misleading perception of inventory when it is called ‘remnant’.

Agencies seem to take more of the revenue in house, building their demand stack, so it seems advantageous to have a tech, eg SSP, in house for publishers. High floor prices keep low profile adverts at bay whilst still monetizing premium inventory via programmatic. The combination of data and content helps segmentation and profit, leading back to the P&L consideration mentioned earlier.

A fascinating forum, lots to learn for a demand side person, yet it shows how much the publishers are pushing innovation in order to stay competitive and fight the attack to sell their inventory below value.

I hope I got the challenges across and looking forwards receiving any comments.

Best wishes,
Volker

Upcoming AdMonsters Events
– Ops Munich, 17th October
– Screens London, 22nd November

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Sunday Column (82)

This week made me realise why I only blog on Sundays….it was a fantastic yet busy week.

Monday – a busy day in the office, our 20 week scan confirming it is a boy :-), and a client entertainment which took longer into the night than anticipated. A great start into the week, and very enjoyable.

Tuesday – a slightly hang-over slow day in the office, some client meetings and my new Tai Chi class which is all about “practical Tai Chi”, e.g. pushing hands. Again, a very enjoyable day.

Wednesday – I visited ad:tech and my CTO came over from Germany. We had some fantastic meetings at the show whilst the show itself wasn’t too great. I had the pleasure of running ad:tech in Hamburg a few years ago, and somehow it feels as if the show hasn’t moved on. People exhibiting there seem to be the same old people. I have to (and want to of course) say that ad exchange optimisation is really very innovative in our industry. Everything else seems to be going on as usual. Maybe data and targeting is still innovative but the old fashioned search things don’t seem to change.

However, maybe it is just me, and I don’t see what is going on in other areas of the industry. Not sure. If I speak to my friends who work in search it seems as if they are still doing what they used to. But guess that whatever you do and whichever part of any industry you work in, you are thinking that this is the most advanced and innovative.

Now, Wednesday night finished with a curry and a few beers to discuss job issues.

Thursday – Exchangewire hosted the first ever Ad Trading Summit. It was fantastic, if not awesome. A good event discussing data, audiences, targeting, ad exchanges, networks and display as a whole. Followed from there we had drinks until late, good discussions, good meetings with competitors, non competitors, suppliers, etc. etc. An event that really kicked off our part of the industry properly. Thanks Ciaran.

Friday – needless to say it was a slow day. We had some interviews, and hopefully some good candidates to start with mexad shortly. We still have more interviews to come. However, we also had a great client meeting and a few pints to close the week. I made it home in time for Colin’s bath and that was it.

Saturday & Sunday just flew by. We moved the living room around again to ensure it is “Colin safe”, and we bought him some challenging toys as the health visitor says he is not challenged enough and is quite developed for his age. Wow – I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I enjoy every minute with him and cannot wait for Colin to start talking. He points at things and “dit” is a drink but he doesn’t say anything yet. He loves climbing on the sofa, the puff, and swing himself over the edge of the sofa too. So that is hard work for the wife whilst he seems to listen to the German “Nein” quite well. Hence the reason we moved the living room around again.

What else happened?

We found out that a close friend of ours is pregnant, so that is fantastic news. We also went to Bromley for some shopping, had nice food, and just enjoyed some quality family time after such a busy, long but fantastic week. Also, we watched Avatar. Not as bad as I thought it would be.

Enough said. Time to relax further and let you get ready for the week.

Cheers
Volker

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Baby Pram

Ok, a website that does not rank for it’s brand name with the main product category thereafter is definitely not optimised 🙂

Finally found it the icandy pram website that does not rank for “icandy pram”. Not good – if you need some SEO/PPC help, let me know!

Yes, after long discussions, lots of trying, the decision was made and the pram was ordered. And, it has finally arrived.

If I can judge it right from their website, we got the icandy apple stroller. Very light, fold-able into the boot of our car, you can put the car seat into the pram as well and, most important of all, the handle bar is height adjustable with the highest possible settings of all prams in the UK 🙂 Exactly what I need!

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What I like about the icandy is this:

– they are a British family business
– products were developed for the parent who needed something special and different
– the philosophy: Safety, Innovation, Design, and Functionality

Wow, I just assume those guys who started the business have been about 6 feet tall, are engineers and were just fed up with the boring design and the low handle bars of all the other prams and strollers out there.

Well done. I will put it to the test shortly – although I was tempted to try it out just down the road with a teddy bear in it.

I keep you posted.

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