Tag: mexad

RTB and Branding

Hi all,

I just published another article, this time on RTB and Branding over at Econsultancy.

I summarise it to “RTB could make a lot of sense for “window shopping” and URL centred branding buys but I believe it adds more value for brands focusing on targeting its audience. RTB delivers cost-effective brand awareness to consumers through various targeting options and channels such as display and video.”

However, having seen another presentation and first results on some technology measuring the brand impact of display, I think there is more to come soon. I keep you posted.

What is RTB and why is it useful?

This article was written by me for iMedia connection, so the original article about RTB: what is it about and why is it useful? can be found there.

It is a top level article which sheds some light on what real time bidding (RTB) is all about from a marketing point of view. No technical insights, just a general overview on why it is useful to the advertiser and agencies running online display media campaigns. Everyone seems to be talking about it, but how does it help you?

The reader should understand the advantages of RTB and why it will help your campaign improve its performance, its visibility and efficiency. The transparency and increased performance are the key points to take away, as you will see a better ROI from your advertising spend and hence a better performance. Whether this is for direct response or branding campaigns.

Overall, the key is not to only have one technology to work across the RTB platforms but the team that is capable of using the technology and utilise it. If you think of an analogy like Formula 1: it is not only the car that matters but also the driver behind the wheel and the support team that steers the success.

Sunday Column (108)

A quick week lies behind us. I am trying to remember how Monday started, but can hardly remember. It was probably just life as usual.

Tuesday I went to a conference from the AOP where we discussed ad exchange optimisation and internal networks. The big agency groups were there and it was interesting to see all of the groups’ solutions surrounding ad exchanges. From my point of view, GroupM’s Jakob Nielsen presented his group’s solution very well. However, looking at the responses and discussion, I also believe things are still in early stages with most agencies. Probably this is a post in itself. However, those of you who have read mexad CEO’s article on DEM, DSP, WTF will understand that it is far too early to rely on technology and that only well trained and experiences people can handle the bidding well across all the ad exchange platforms. With the experience we have, we seem to be miles ahead, and it also seems as if our positioning is much clearer than comparable companies….as some seem to build networks rather than offering an independent service solution.

Enough about my little part of the industry. Besides ad exchanges, I listened to a lot of social media this week. I attended the imedia Brand Summit in Brighton. where I felt home in terms of social media and the overall state of the online industry. My main takings however are that when I was heavily involved in the search, social and mobile marketing side of things, that we discussed the same topics. I still don’t believe that some brands haven’t figured out all the ideas around Twitter, Facebook and Mobile advertising, don’t make use of search and put display into the mix. I don’t want to have a go, but it seems as if the same topics are discussed for over 3 years. It makes me think I should work more as a consultant to the online and digital industry. I believe I have the skills and the broader 360 degree view to do a good job. However, maybe my dream to become Marketing Director of a Whisky Distillery in the Highlands, earning a good living and living the life, will one day become true….but until then I stay put where I am, as I enjoy very much what I am doing. Now, we look forward to the agency summit in the summer. It will be another, more advanced discussion all around. Or will it?

Enough said about work, our part of the industry is still very young, and things are developing quickly. Now, I finished the week off with some visitors from Germany, e.g. Rohan’s godfather, who I have known for many years. Avoiding the awful demonstrations in London over the weekend, we managed to go to the Imperial War Museum, and Colin had a blast running around. We also managed to go through the odd bottle of vino and having a great time and conversation. Today I feel a bit knackered, given the fact the clocks went forward, and that I am still lacking sleep due to the wee one. So bring on another week…I’ll be fine.

Have a good one,
Volker

Iceland – Rimc Conference 2011

Coming back from Iceland, I am thanking Kristjan Mar Hauksson for an amazing RIMC11 conference, I wanted to sum up the key things I took away from the conference. I skipped to link everyone and everything but if you go to www.rimc.is you find most links. If not, please let me know or the guys from Nordic eMarketing.

The venue was set in a shopping mall (how convenient) and the sessions where in a cinema. So it was a great surrounding for the sessions with very comfy seats which took its toll in the “after lunch” sessions. For 2012 I would hope for some pop corn and maybe some ice cream in the breaks? Maybe we can sponsor that?

After a keynote from Ingvar Hjalmarsson who proclaimed the first RIMC Internet Personality of the Year award, Rick Kelley started off the conference. Being from Facebook, which now takes over the world with 600m users. Rick gave a good overview on how social media really works. It is all about the product finding the right user, and products evolving depending on the likes and shares of their target audience. Nothing new for us but I think marketers still think about this concept and need a while to grasp it.

I am not sure whether the 600m users are all active, however Rick did encourage Icelanders to have more babies in order for Facebook to have more users 🙂 He also mentioned an interesting fact that the CTO of mexad surely loves: the first ever banner ad from AT&T in the US had a CTR (click through rate) of 76%. Wow.

The power of Facebook of course comes through very targeted ads and apps, as the information available to Facebook are amazing. Trust us 😉

The Search and Display panel kicked off nicely. SAP, hotels.com and The Wall Street Journal. A great line up for SEO. Alex Bennert works in house SEO, so does Oscar Carreras. The latter is my SEO god for anything to do with European and multilingual SEO, he probably is one of the best SEOs I have ever met who also shared some of his knowledge with myself. I admire those in house SEOs who work their butts off all day to make their company website rank highest. Well done. It is a split between the techie IT guys and the marketing guys. Difficult. I like Alex’s advice: don’t try to do everything yourself, and learn about mobile, PPC, display – get specialists or external consultants. Oscar added that the use of agencies is unavoidable as they bring (in his case) language skills, knowledge and time/resources to in house SEO teams. So the more specialised an agency is, the better it works in conjunction with in house teams or broader focused agencies.

I missed the Social Media track although I was supposed to speak about social media originally. Reputation management is what I know most about. However, if you look at the line up, people like Li Evans, Gudmundur from Icelandair, Facebook and Anne Kennedy or SEOmoz really show the special attraction Rimc has around the world. No surprise there were so many nationals at the conference to discuss the hot topics of search, social and display.

Crispin Sheridan, SAP, who alongside mexad sponsored the pre-event evening drinks, discussed further SEO in house techniques and strategies. A challenging job for a company like SAP, internationally and vertically present almost everywhere.

Next up was myself speaking about mexad’s proposition. There were less take aways for search people but that they should look into ad exchange optimisation. The in house and the agency teams, the media planners of this world, need to understand that the traditional non premium ad network model is coming to an end, and that the technologies, e.g. DSPs, are not yet as good as the search tools for PPC. You cannot replicate technology in 2 years that took search 6 years to develop. But, specialised companies, display engine marketing (DEM) agency mexad is an agency to the agency and the in house marketing teams. So we can help you to leverage synchronised bid management across 6 platforms: NOW….not in 3 years. But hey, I might be a bit biased on this one and don’t want to pitch too much 😉

I spoke alongside YouTube, Peter Nordlov, who showed some impressive examples on how to leverage YouTube and what ad formats can be booked. The formats are very specialised but work very well. Most interesting will be the buying model “cost per view”, e.g. only if a pre-roll has been viewed, the advertiser pays. Also, David Szetela from Clix Marketing spoke about display, search, mobile and the overall digital approach where channels need to work together. Unfortunately, the venue had problems with the internet, so some good videos were lost – David promised to send them across, so I am confident he will. I will keep you posted. But some really cool, innovative stuff is happening.

Main take away: last click win attribution models need revisiting 🙂

Unfortunately, due to late running and a subsequent late lunch I didn’t make it back to the session until just before 2. So I missed Alain Heureux’s presentation. I caught up with him later as we shared the early morning flight out of Iceland. The presentation I didn’t miss was Cedric’s from Microsoft/bing. He gave a great presentation on bing, the 2nd if not 3rd largest search engine……YouTube is almost bigger than Google if I understood Petr correctly. Mikkel then gave a great overview of what and how to optimise for users rather than search engines.

Whilst I tried to juggle some important phone calls, I missed the sessions on Social Media tactics, particularly Sante’s approach which I am familiar with for a few years. Reputation management and how to make yourself heard and known within social media is still very interesting for me. I managed to get a glimpse of the Mobile Marketing session, David speaking about the Boats.com mobile strategy and Cindy’s new tool for mobile marketing sounded very interesting. However, bing again was the most interesting presentation for me, and with Windows Mobile 7 plus the Nokia joint venture we shall see where else we see bing/Microsoft in the future.

The Online Crisis Management session would have been interested, but the problem as with so many conferences is that you cannot split yourself between two sessions. So looking at the available powerpoints and presentation print outs, I missed a few good pointers there. Back at the Search and Display track, I found one more very interesting talk: Neil from Just Search spoke about attribution model and ROI forecasting in SEO based around keywords. We are moving clearly in a ROI/CPA driven environment, across the board! I haven’t come across many forecast tools for SEO yet, particularly if it comes to CTR, ranking etc. Very interesting and for all you search monkeys 🙂 out there, have a chat with Neil!

The day closed not only with a great networking event in the expo hall but also with a insider party in the middle of nowhere. Watching the Northern lights, singing songs, having visions and drinking Opal 🙂

Note: this video I believe needs turning 90 degrees 🙂 and was supposed to show Northern Lights.

Let me sum up the day and share some thoughts (my personal opinion).

For me, having a strong search background, both in PPC and SEO, but also an in depths knowledge of Social Media (I am really an all rounder, no?), now working in display with a search effectiveness angle on it, find it interesting that….

– Microsoft/bing, Google and Yahoo! fight for the market share in search, and do the same in display with AppNexus, doubleclick and Right Media. It seems to me as if Yahoo! has the best technology to start with but somehow manages to stop developing it, and ultimately loses market share. So I am not sure where it all ends, particularly as we all want more competition in the industry.

– I mentioned the analogy of Microsoft and the tank – slow in turning around but once it has, it is unstoppable. So fingers crossed Microsoft will turn all the way!

– Of all big players, Microsoft seems to have the most interesting position, the underdog, as it cannot lose. However, as Mikkel said, there are wishes for Microsoft to be more bold and risk a bit more.

– That not too much has changed in search in the last 2 years, and that people still think the “mobile year” will happen next year. Let me tell you, it already happened. We just never noticed.

So looking at the main things I took away from Rimc 2011. Everyone was telling the search guys for many years to not work in display but it is changing and display is coming back. More and more search agencies looking into display and the attribution display brings into the conversion funnel. Why is that? Because a) we can measure the contribution much easier by implementing pixel and b) we can optimise display similar to search. So instead of “spray and pray” we can now be more targeted with display and make it more of a pull channel than it used to be. Whilst display might never be a 100% pull channel, the lines are becoming more blurred. We hence see more search agencies moving into the display space.

Looking further into the future….

Hence, if you look at the environment of agencies, then you will see that search agencies doing SEO and PPC, then did Social and now doing display are developing more and more into a full service digital agency. Is that the way forward? Is the full service agency dying and are the more technical search agencies moving into the space? Are the “geeks” now finally recognised for their knowledge and are capable of taking things over?

The industry has moved away from pre-bubble to post bubble “media is cool” into a more technical oriented, hard ROI based industry. If you don’t know how to implement a pixel, run a ROI driven search/social media campaign and mix display and potentially email, mobile or offline into the greater things to be considered, then you are “not cool anymore”. The ones being able to analyse the excel sheet and translate it to the marketing manager into a strategy is now the most sought after person in agency land.

Don’t get me wrong, I would even consider myself as a geek. However, it will be interesting to see how the whole space is evolving. I believe that the bigger agencies will end up breaking their operations down and give more power to the ad ops guys, as they are the ones seeming to bring the true value to the client. Or don’t they?

At last, Rimc triggered me to put a whole think piece on our industry together. Am I right? Please comment and let me know what you think. And, please post comments with links to pictures and all 🙂

Thanks again to Kristjan and his team!

May I hopefully see you in 2012.

All the best, Volker

Sunday Column (91)

This week passed very very quickly. But it was a good week looking back.

After 8 days of wait my replacement laptop arrived and it only took a few hours to have my life back, reinstalling everything. And, at night, I met a friend of mine I haven’t seen for a long time. She is German, used to live in London but seemed to have found her happiness back home again. It was good to exchange ideas, life thoughts and expectations. Sometimes people own things they aren’t aware of. And, if you read this, you know that you are actually much much happier than many other people. Embrace it!

Tuesday was my normal Tai Chi night. I am debating whether I should continue in the new year. I enjoy it very much, but it almost seems, with the upcoming second child, that I might not have time. And I think I could use the time more useful but would I? It is my night (me time) after all, and I should try to keep it that way. Really need to think that through.

Now Wednesday the team from mexad went for one drink. Maybe two. It is great to work with such nice colleagues and I am very excited about the opportunities and growth that lies ahead for 2011. Really enjoy working with you guys! Not that you’d read it 🙂

Thursday was a long awaited night in the whiskey bar of the Athenaeum Hotel. Whilst pricey I had a great night amongst other whiskey drinkers and friends. I tried my first Japanese Whiskey (although my wife said I tried one years ago….), some new Islay Whiskies and had a genuine great night. Sorry I couldn’t stay longer, but there is always next time. Thanks, Adam, for organising it.

Now, the highlight was really the weekend. Not only did I hit 1000 followers on Twitter, but my parents came to visit. I got the new Reinhard Mey CD “Mairegen”. Although, listening to it on Friday night over a glass of wine, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the older stuff he did.

However, we had a fantastic weekend. I really enjoyed family time. Three generation and two cultures together for a weekend. It really makes me think how far I would move away or how much I would miss my roots in Germany if I was further away. Does it matter? How far are my roots still in Germany, Scotland, England, Britain or Europe. I often wonder where life will take me.

Ballueder Coat of ArmsMy parents have helped a lot lately to look into our past, e.g. to research the family history. Bottom line is that we still don’t know where we are coming from. Most likely not from France which is nice to know 😉 but it now makes it more difficult to find out. “Balluer” seems to be a real variation of our last name. So we are curious if we ever find out. Funny or coincidently there is a dance called the “Braes of Balluder” in Scotland. So maybe my roots are further grown in Scotland than I had ever imagined. Who knows, definitely something to research. And most my family where farm workers, interesting.

Anyway, it was a fantastic weekend. Despite Colin’s and my cold, we managed to spend great quality time together. I have the feeling that the next 4 weeks to Christmas will be very busy and passing very quickly. So any time I can spend with my wee man, I really enjoy. He is growing so quickly, discovering and learning. Only when you realise how much children mean to you and how much joy they bring, you realise how little important so many other things are. It is all about the greater good. And children make you greater.

Love and Happiness to all of you.

Volker

ad exchanges or what is Ballueder up to?

Ok, this post is not the opinion of my company mexad but an article I wanted to write for a while. Many people, including my mum, ask me what I am actually doing all day? What is your company doing, and what is the landscape like? Are you still in digital marketing? So this article really is for my mum, so she understands what I am doing all day 🙂

I worked in search marketing before, and PPC (pay per click) is synchronized bid management on keywords across multiple search engines like Google or Bing. Most people have understood that by now.

advertising landscape
advertising landscape
Now, I moved into display advertising or display optimisation in January, launching a company called mexad in the UK. What mexad or other Display Engine Marketing (DEM) agencies do, is providing a service (mainly) to media planning and buying agencies to access inventory on ad exchanges and optimise display media. We have our own technology that sits across ad exchanges and yield optimisers alike that effectively, similar to PPC, allows synchronized bid management across multiple ad exchange platforms – just that we don’t bid on keywords but on placements.

Ad Exchanges and Yield Optimisers, e.g. Right Media, Doubleclick ad exchange, Rubicon, Appnexus, Admeld and so on, are like a stock market where bidders like mexad bid on inventory and sellers, e.g. websites or publishers, offer their inventory (space for an ad). It is a market place where both sellers and buyers meet in real time. Depending on your target audience, cookies, audience data etc., you decide (or your bidding engine does it for you) whether or not to bid for any given impression and of course how much you want to bid. That is what people would call ad exchange optimisation.

Similar to search engine marketing, we can optimise towards targets, the main one being “CPA” – cost per action. That could be a newsletter sign up, a sales, or any action you want to measure. And, we only buy – in real time – inventory (space) on the ad exchanges that actually work towards the campaign objectives.

Mum, was that clear? We are like a stockbroker that decides how much we pay for any share and whether that share makes a difference for our clients’ business outcome. Just with a small difference that we are not limited to how many shares are available. There are billions of impressions to go around.

How do we differ to ad networks? Maybe mum should stop reading now 😉

Networks traditionally have their own inventory, e.g. they need to fill space. They also work on a fixed price, that could be CPM (cost per 1000 impressions), CPA (cost per action), or CPC (cost per click).

Display Engine Marketing agencies like mexad buy across the exchanges on a CPM basis but pass on the price savings, e.g. working on a lower, dynamic CPM. We also offer different matrix, depending on campaign set up but cannot guarantee leads for example. This is because we are a service provider, not owning inventory and work with a much lower margin than networks. Additionally, mexad then optimises towards the best possible outcome for your campaign, and in case it doesn’t work, you can stop the campaign and don’t have to continue running the campaign. Similar again to PPC.

We can buy blind or fully transparent, again all that depends on what our clients want.

What are DSPs?

I might not be the best person to ask as mexad isn’t a DSP (demand side platform). A DSP, at least in my opinion, is a technology similar to the one mexad has in house but you can use it yourself. You might want to compare it to a search marketing bidding tool. However, there are dangers of using a “blackbox technology” across ad exchanges at this current market place which is still very young. The current market place is new, and only if you have experience and knowledge about each individual technology and exchange, you can make ad exchange optimisation work well. Mike Nolet, co-founder of Appnexus, writes that in one of his blog articles, that the current marketplace needs the human factor to achieve the best possible performance across multiple bidding platforms.

More coverage of our area can be found on Ad Exchanger.com and Exchangewire.com.

Of course, mum or anyone reading this, if you have further quesitons, please let me know. I love optimizing 🙂

Sunday Column (71)

I don’t believe it’s Sunday. Whilst this phrase sounds so familiar, and yes I did have a stressful week, I also made it through probably one of the hottest weeks I had in the UK since I arrived here not short of 9 years ago.

What a heat! This week I travelled to Ipswich for a meeting, I moved offices and sweated the last drop of fluid out of my body carrying boxes, furniture and myself up and down our new office, 4th floor in Windmill Street. You can find the new location by just putting “mexad UK” into Google maps:


View Larger Map

Now that this is done, we can grow our team even further. I am very excited about the opportunities.

On the family side of things there was some movement. I write that before having the final discussion with my wife, but I allowed Colin to climb the chest in our living room last week. I admit I even encouraged him a bit, but really, I think that is fine. I didn’t know my wife tried to tell him off for that, and I think Colin used “climbing the chest” to play my wife against me. Glad we noticed it and sorted it. Now we are a united front to bring up our son….which is very important from a educational point of view. And that is meant very seriously, as you don’t want to have one parent allowing something that the other forbids.

Today is the 4th of July. America will be having BBQs all over the place, celebrating Independence Day. How nice, just hope they have the same nice weather we had all week. Happy Independence Day!

Then there was another Germany game in the world cup. I believe, after beating Argentina, we can now go all the way. Remember, you heard it here first. From what I have seen, the Spaniards (sorry O) won’t stop us, so it seems we might be playing our other arch rival, the Netherlands, in the final. Fingers crossed.

Maybe one more word. Last night we sat down. Nice food: baguette, olives, cheese, a very good wine etc. I really enjoyed that, and we haven’t done that for a long time. We also went swimming with Colin which he truly enjoyed. It is great to see him grow up and noticing how he develops. He often looks to me for approval and his little character is changing daily. My wife just said that she noticed him putting things away, e.g. sorting things. I guess it is typical for his age, but still a very much fascinating fact for us.

Last but not least I made history this weekend – or I destroyed it. I burned my diaries from when I was 10-13, which after reading them again, didn’t have too much content in there. It shows, from a pure personal development point of view, certain behaviours that I have struggled with, and it is interesting where some of them began. So a part of my own life, another chapter I closed to better live in the now.

Let next week be a bit less stressful, and having a good time with the boy.

Yours,
Volker

Sunday Column (66)

Now, after I heard the other day that my blog is boring, and that blogging is boring, I don’t really know what to say. I admit that I used to blog more about work related topics or topics of cb consulting. However, to be honest, I haven’t had much time.

My latest project, mexad, is going well. I launched the company in the UK (HQ is in Germany, and it is not my company :-)) in January and we started recruiting now, continue recruiting, getting our own office and making a huge progress. I am careful about what to write here, as the technology is so new, advanced and amazing, that too many people want to know too many details 🙂 Nevertheless, it is an amazing start-up to be involved in with a steep learning curve. All that comes of course with lots of work, long hours etc. But I enjoy that, particularly as I sometimes manage to go home early-ish, see the boy off to bed, and then finish what I have to finish from home later. Flexibility is key.

So overall I believe that my work-life balance has been good. Of course it has been better, but it has also been worse. Getting used to not being at home, not seeing your son during the week is one thing. I also need to get used of not working – for my main job or cb consulting – at the weekend, and being 100% daddy and husband. All of which still takes time to get used to. Mainly, so I believe, because I never stand still, always think, and like to get things done instantly, rather than write them down and get a reminder. Although the latter works well too 🙂

Brings me to the topic of productivity. You must have seen my first presentation on that, and I am currently working on more of the same/similar. So over time I want to bring out more information about productivity, work-life balance, Buddhism and management, and time management. Prioritising is something you learn quickly in a start up when you never have enough time to do everything. Fast pace environment – and I am loving it.

This week has passed quickly because of the above. I had very serious thoughts too. A friend of mine lost his wife after long illness, and I have been emailing with a close friend about “home, fatherland and being lost in the big city”. Both serious topics that make you stop thinking about your routine, long hours, long commutes and the idea of “becoming a Shepard in Australia“. The latter is an idea of mine going back over 10 years to just live the wild life….

Anyway, I believe we don’t stop often enough to relax, stop thinking and reflect. We seem to always be in a hurry and not to look back. I am in the process of learning that too, with the help of Tai Chi, meditation and relaxation techniques.

One last word about Colin. He loves crawling, and climbing. He seems to find lots of joy at the crèche in the local Spa, playing with the slide and toys. Hence I might take him there tomorrow. He is so much fun, if you take the time for him. He laughs and giggles, speaks “mum”, speaks “dad”, and you can almost get whole conversation with him.

Also, we went to a good friend’s wedding this weekend in Germany. That was amazing, as they are a very lovely couple. I was reunited with a lot of university fraternity friends again, and had some great conversation – a really good time. We never get that young together again (German proverb, “so jung sehen wir uns nicht wieder”). Shame time seems to pass that quickly. It has been 10 years since I left university in Germany. Pictures to follow or on Facebook.

Enough for today, have a great bank holiday tomorrow, a good week and always look ahead.

Never stop to look at the ground……only those who look at the horizon will find the right path….

Love and Happiness,
Volker

Sunday Column (60)

Monday started very badly with me injuring my lower back. I had had problems before and noticed it getting a bit weaker but with lots of exercise and walking, I was about 80% back to normal by Friday. So not a good omen for the week, and I had to take it easy at the weekend.

However, on a positive side of things, my job develops nicely. I am enjoying it and we are expanding. We are not only looking to expand the team, e.g. seeking an account manager with planning/buying experience, we are also seeking a 300-400 sq ft office in Soho/Covent Garden area. This is very exciting. My CEO was up to support the UK efforts this week, so overall a good and successful work week.

Now, my boss hardly made it home but managed to get an emergency seat on the Eurostar. A volcano in Iceland is erupting and the ashes got all flights to and from the UK to a hold. You have surely seen the news. We shall see how long this will last and when everything returns to normal. It is weird to think how our infrastructure can be influenced by nature.

There are a couple of videos out and I liked this one explaining what might happen to a flight if they fly into a cloud of ashes:

On Saturday I filed my tax return which didn’t make me happy. I am not sure why but blame my honesty, that I have to pay more tax than anticipated. Grmph. However, a good thing is that I don’t have to pay them until January 2011, so can save up the pennies this year. At least things are done and I don’t have to worry about another tax return until April 2011.

The weekend was spent with friends enjoying the georgous weather. Prior to a BBQ at theirs, I managed to dig around in the garden a bit whilst Jen and the boy went to town to meet another friend. Our weekly shopping was done by 9 am because Colin got us up very early.

I believe he has 6 or 7 teeth already, and he only turned 10 months this week. It is crazy, they seem to come out one after another, whilst of course he is in agony and pain. So getting up at 3 am and then again at 8 am is not helping me to relax, however I hope all teeth will be here soon. Colin is also getting cuter by the day. Of course I would say that, but he really is 🙂

That is all for this week.
Have a fantastic week ahead.
Volker