Posts Tagged RTB

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 β€œwindow 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.

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Quo Vadis RTB?

I have been working in RTB, real time bidding, for almost 2 years now and just published an article on exchangewire about


What do you think?


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Ad Trading Summit London #atsl

On Tuesday this week the industry around RTB gathered to celebrate the 3rd Exchangewire event: Ad Trading Summit London 2011. Ciaran O’Kane got a great audience of 450 people and high end industry speakers together: well done. It is a testament to our ever growing niche within online.

RTB is here to stay, as I wrote in a blog post earlier this year. So Brian O’Kelley from AppNexus had the opening keynote. It was great to see an industry veteran setting the scene, putting RTB on the map. After Mike Nolet’s classification of DEM (display engine marketing specialists), Brian came up with the latest acronym for people working across exchanges: ATS – Ad Trading Specialists.

I guess companies like mexad, e.g. Ad Trading specialists, are what you need if you want to get the best performance across exchange buys. And, the exchanges space just gained another new exchange yesterday. Hi Media announce that it partners with AppNexus to channel through their remnant inventory in Europe. That is fantastic news and shows how networks evolve into SSPs and how our industry is getting more exciting by the day.

The first panel about attribution modelling was more of a discussion around what one could measure rather than giving some insights or examples. Attribution modelling still seems to be in its infancy, is client dependent, channel dependent and difficult to measure. There are new technologies coming to the market measuring actual views of ads and measure whether they have been seen, and for how long. Also new ad formats are on the rise as shown by AOL and Microsoft lately. This is fantastic to see, as the message and creative itself is getting more emphasis as well as the user engagement. So will we be able to get brand performance away from some premium sites and on to exchanges. Not saying you won’t get premium inventory across the exchanges but if brand engagement can be measured we are a step closer to tapping more money away from direct sales. Another step in the right direction if you ask me πŸ™‚

MediaMath’s CEO was supporting this saying the question marketers need to ask is not how but why are we doing what we are doing. And now is the time to reduce friction and focus on the advertiser and get the ROI. We are in the middle of the RTB journey, we are in full swing. As you can imagine this got support from the audience.

In the following sessions the debate was a bit flat. We spoke about 5 display ads on one publisher site and whether there is a mechanic to buy them all? Would an advertiser appreciate that? What about the control of message, context and personalised ads. Can we learn from TV or can we test video ads online and then transfer those learnings to TV in order to save production costs? I will publish a think piece about where RTB is going soon too, e.g. the increased RTB capabilities for mobile, video, VoD and IPTV. Another story for another time.

Another discussion was around the added value of exchanges and SSPs for publishers and advertisers. Surprisingly the debate was less heated than anticipated as I believe most people saw the increased value those technologies bring to the market. But of course they would, delivering the right ad to the right person at the right time and the right price. Come on, can it get any better?

Dennis from Microsoft showed the 1984 Apple ad for their first “Mac PC”. This might be surprising Microsoft showing a competitor’s ad, but to be honest don’t we all have appreciation for some really good ads of our times. And the 1984 Apple one for the superbowl surely is an iconic one. It is about engagement and creativity. Microsoft is selling itself well, a slick presentation for what they can do. Even Dennis touched on IPTV and the above mentioned IAB Filmstrip ad format. Advertising is changing once again, and we are in the middle of it.

Before I get too enthusiastic, the next panel with agency trading desks, networks and ad trading specialists on board, was a little dissappoiting. I was hoping for a much bigger “fight”. Most trading desks or networks that also buy across exchanges use one technology. They all sticked to their guns and no one dared to come out of their corner. I was hoping to see more discussions around the best business models. Of course I’d say that, but there needs to be more of a attempt to test different technologies and put the emphasis on performance for advertiseres rather than political discussions, profit margins, and agencies trying to hang on to publisher data, creating a network model in house. Will networks go directly to advertisers moving forward? I am confident that we will see advertisers soon focusing more on independent specialists (ATS), a move I personally don’t think is the right way forward, as an agency can still add a lot of value to the media plan.

These are my thoughts and main take away from the ATS and I cannot wait to see you all again at the next ATS. Ciaran did a great job, and I hope that with all the acquisition rumours flying about, we soon have more stuff to talk about.

Let me know your thoughts.


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Google TV

5 years ago I said that IPTV won’t take off.
5 days ago I was annoyed that our bandwidth at home has problems showing an online movie we got from Lovefilm.

Google TV is coming to the UK in 2012. I am still not 100% sure what it means. According to the Guardian, it won’t be anything to be excited about.

For now I understand that Google TV, which recently bought Motorola in a million dollar deal that also included a set top box, only enables online to TV. I mean that you can consume internet via your TV and sooner or later we will see IPTV or VoD (video on demand).

The latter is what I am most interested about and fascinated by. When we use the internet to go online to watch TV instead of using our digi-box. We can choose what we want to watch at any time.

Coming from an RTB background, it will be really awesome to offer ads in real time to those VoD in order to get highly targeted advertising to your target audience. Happy days, and another few bucks for the big G.

I am excited after all….


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Sunday Column (131)

What a fantastic week we had. Monday was bank holiday and little Colin and I went to pick up “nanny” from Kings Cross. He loved going on the train, then on the tube, then to Starbucks for a milkshake, and then of course meeting “nanny”. He is very taken by her, and loves her being here. It just shows that our decision to stay in the UK was the right one!

So my MIL is staying with us, and she is helping us a lot. My wife and I went out for a meal on Friday night. We of course had some wine. After my detox I have been quite a lightweight. A glass on Tuesday night made me rather tipsy. Also, I lost interest in alcohol a bit, particularly beer. How long will that last for, I don’t know.

We also got off on Saturday for a quick shopping spree in London whilst the MIL watched the boys. Fantastic!

Rohan is getting cuter by the day. His blond hair and blue eyes get him a lot of attention. Whilst writing this post he is crawling backwards across the living room. Not long and he will be up to lots of mischief.

We then made our own kebabs this weekend. Not too bad for a first time. It is all plan of a healthier lifestyle by knowing which meat and food goes into your kebab. We are in for a lot of change. One of many is a potential move next year. We got our house evaluated and are quite chuffed that prices have recovered, at least we should break even (minus the fees). The next few months we will look at Ofsted reports for schools, areas to live in, visit places and then decide what to do. My aim is to move by Christmas 2012 but we shall see. We are in no rush.

Besides that there hasn’t been much else going on. Lots of work but that is all good. We are recruiting for three new staff, so exciting times going into Q4. There is lots of things happening in the industry too, new technologies, new companies entering the market, and dmexco coming up. That show and the Ad Trading summit will see a lot of folk coming over to London.

I need to say that I really love my industry. It has been a good move over 5 years ago to join online and digital marketing. It is exciting to be part of new technologies and services entering this still young industry. The right move, the right decision. I am loving it πŸ™‚ So let’s see what new announcements will be made in the next few months with the trade shows coming up.

A nice week, a busy week. I am very happy at the moment, knowing that the effort I put in is paying off. One by one.

Have a fantastic (maybe) sunny next week…. πŸ™‚


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What is RTB?

I found these presentations on Slideshare and thought I share it here. They explain what RTB (real time bidding) is.


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Sunday Column (129)

Oh well, a fantastic week, wasn’t it?

Sitting here at the weekend I try to remember what all happened this week. Work seemed to be very busy the first half of the week with it getting less busy towards the end. However, then picked up last minute again. I guess it is holiday season and most people are away. Nevertheless I can’t say I am bored, just the opposite, plenty to do. That means, September is going to be mental?!

Enough about work, although I realised this week that more and more people in the industry are friends rather than colleagues. I guess we are a small little family in online, and particularly in RTB. My article about RTB has been published by more people now, and it is an exciting space to be in. And this space is growing, and I keep meeting great people.

Now, enough about work πŸ™‚ I keep having discussing with people trying to figure out where I would like to live, and when and how and why….really by the end of this year I’d like to make the call and decide where I want to settle for the next 2 years. I don’t mind London, but I mind the endless thoughts and ideas of it not being London. That sounds like I wouldn’t like to go abroad but that’s not it. I wouldn’t mind at all, but if so, it needs to be soon, and I’d like to get started sorting it. But one step at a time, there are still lots of discussions to be held. Work and private ones.

Oups, did I mention work again? I guess it is where I spend most of my time, but I love it too. Just Friday I had a great conversation with my COO about things, and I am very excited about the next few months.

And (non work related) there were another couple of companies this week that are worth mentioning:

a) Southeastern: for the past 7 years I travel with them into London but keep not getting a seat on half of my journeys in, and think they don’t do anything to listen to their customers. It starts to really p* me off!

b) Ocado: the last two weekends they managed to make mistakes again. I don’t mind a company making mistakes, we all do, but Ocado’s mistake seem to happen every week. I speak to them each week, get refunds and free bottles of wine. But that isn’t helping. All I want is for them to keep their promise and deliver the best service and products ever. I am fighting for it, as I don’t want to shop anywhere else. Maybe I write the CEO a letter this week, we shall see.

Now the kids: I mainly sit with Colin in the morning having breakfast. And he gets upset if we don’t. I sometimes manage to be home to put them to bed, settling them. We are making progress in settling Colin by leaving his door open and stand on the door, waiting for him to sleep. And if he gets up at night we put him back to bed rather than taking him in ours. Allegedly the way forward, less stressful for him than holding the door shut and letting him cry to sleep. And we are feeling better about it too.

Rohan started moving backwards a bit and will be on the run soon. I truely enjoy them both but I am also quite certain this is it. 2 are enough πŸ™‚

Then Oma and Opa came to visit over the weekend. Colin got all excited and loved to see them. We went down to Sevenoaks to visit Knole. This is a deer park and castle. A lovely day out which we finished with a nice meal. A fantastic day, great for walking and strolling, and playing golf.

We chilled on Sunday, got some family business done and some shopping. Just what the doctor ordered. I am planning to have a detox next weekend for 3 days from Friday to Sunday, so finishing my t-total month with a proper cleanse. And then I will be off to the next challenge.

Have a great week,

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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.

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AdOps Event London – #opsmarkets

On Thursday I attended the Admonster’s AdOps event in London. It was set in the London Film Museum which I didn’t even know existed, so a wonderful setting. I should add that the drink reception was in the Harry Potter room, but let’s start at the beginning.

Maybe a note that this opinion of the event and my understanding and interpretation are my own views. Not that of any associated company! And, please note that I tried to be as objective as possible. Any comments are welcome of course πŸ™‚

Donald Hamilton kicked off the event with a nice introduction on data. Data seems to be the buzzword in the industry at the moment, and everyone is talking about it. mexad‘s CTO Guido Pfister was speaking about it also. Guido in his talk said that RTB (real time bidding) can be very effective even without data, arguing against the myth that RTB is ONLY data driven. Of course data goes very well with RTB.

Anyway, data seems to be only valuable if it is qualified, and structured. Donald clearly pointed out that the successful use of any data, online or offline, depends on analysing it properly and then use it in the right context. A theme throughout the day also emerged: publishers should look into how they collect and use their data, or whether data theft is being done by having advertiser or agency tags on their site.

There was another theme ongoing: TESTING. Yes. Having data available and adding bits of information from your online conversion funnel, then adding behavioural data (almost sounds like a recipe), you still need to test it. Go out there and see how the data works and whether it is worthwhile. Does it increase your ROI, your conversions?

And Guido from mexad was speaking about RTB technologies and bidding strategies. The first impression is still the most important, but look at the conversion funnel, the attribution model, your bidding strategy and do one thing: test was works best! Hence mexad works platform agnostic, working with all technologies to find the best possible way of getting performance from any RTB/buying platform. And, they have been testing a lot!

Why is testing so important? I believe that if you work in an industry that is very young, and then in a part of it that only exists for a few years…then there are no right or wrong ways only. There is still a lot of learning to be done, and testing is the only way to find out what delivers the best results.

Google was on stage, telling us that 55% of their inventory in the UK is being sold in real time. I wonder if it is almost 100% next year, or when we don’t speak about RTB any more as that will be the only currency. As this is the way the industry is going.

Then you had Jakob Nielsen speaking from Xaxis, the new GroupM umbrella for audience buying, DSP technology, data integration etc. Looks like a clever agency solution – let’s see how much of it is actually going to be utilised and how other agency groups react to the announcement of its formation earlier this week. As Jakob said, it is not “hokus pokus” and also will be offered to other agencies, being transparent in what they do. My question would be whether any other agency group buys into a WPP product? I just cannot see any Publicis or Aegis agency using Xasis, or a smaller agency for that matter. Maybe WPP agencies outside GroupM though.

In the IAB session about the cookie directive I was hoping for more clarification on the EU cookie directive. But the summary is that the industry should get in gear to find a self directive solution rather than getting someone who doesn’t know about the industry forcing us to adopt something that will kill targeting via cookies altogether. The ABC picked up on that at a later stage. One solution is an icon being placed on the creative to inform consumers about data collection and opt out. I guess it needs to be tested πŸ™‚ In all seriousness, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and we need to look at a pan European solution on this one.

Yahoo!’s presentation explained some look-alike modelling and the use of offline data, e.g. Nectar card users. I think I heard that case study before, e.g. there was a trial in the US with the use of offline data by tracking conversions via a store card. However, not sure when we will be properly able to integrate offline and online data…

I also went to the AppNexus session about the 3 evolutionary stages of yield management, e.g. the evolution from tags to rules to data….I think that the explanation about floor prices and jelly wasn’t at the best time of the day, as I was getting a bit tired. However, there was a great discussion around the “manipulation of the publisher market and whether or not we are creating an open RTB environment like the finance sector does”? I wasn’t quite sure if I followed the discussion correctly but isn’t that what we are doing? And, speaking to “futurists” we should wonder if every ad server turns into a DSP or SSP in 2 years time, making local publishers available and get the best yield for them…..oh yes, we had some great discussions πŸ™‚

The final session was moderated by Peter Kirwan. Just as he asked whether the Guardian could achieve a doubling in revenue from digital, e.g. mainly selling ad space, by 2015, the news broke that the “News of the World” was going to be closed down. I am not sure if the Guardian can achieve that ambitious goal but as Nigel Gilbert of Unanimis pointed out, the market is growing, so the prediction is feasible in line with anticipated growth of the industry. We shall see.

Another question was around the future of agencies. Again a futuristic topic, and Richard Wheaton from Neo@Ogilvy says that agencies need to struck the right balance to deliver value for money in the work they produce for their clients. And, that he cannot see advertisers taking “agency work” in house as agencies have too many expert areas and bring a new and fresh insight to clients. I agree with the latter having worked agency side before.

Marco Bertozzi, VivaKi, discussed the fear of agencies to lose business to specialists like they had done when search marketing came about 10 years ago. Hence agencies hang on to technology solutions like trading desks and DSP buying as they need to prove to their clients that they can deliver quality and performance in house. He also mentioned that they pay a higher CPM for some campaigns than with networks but of course achieve better results through buying data and working on clever re-targeting. Something I am not too sure about but maybe on the occasional campaign this might happen. Generally I have seen average CPM prices being a lot lower when buying across RTB platforms in comparison to networks (that is on a mix of RON and re-targeting campaign), besides data integration doesn’t necessarily increase the ROI by the same amount as you pay for it. But I have a whole piece about that coming up in the imedia newsletter shortly πŸ™‚

Again there was a final finger pointing at the publishers to wake up to use their data (I am really not sure how often I heard that on the day) – some already use first party ad serving and are in control as it was assured to me from a reliable source, so I am confident publishers will figure things out very shortly.

Overall, the last session, given it was late in the day and the audience has thinned out, summed up the hype of display media advertising in the industry. I am excited. Display is back, and it is back in real time with real performance! We will kick ass with rejuvenating the top of the sales funnel and offer transparency to advertisers.

I left the event on a high note. It was an eventful day, good conversations over beers and a good vibe in the industry. About data, about performance, about display.

Onwards and upwards. See you next time!

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