Through the looking glass: what’s in store for ‘madtech’?

What should the ‘madtech’ world be thinking about as we dust off 2018? 

The pending Identity wars

Many column inches will once again be dedicated to the pros and cons of probabilistic versus deterministic IDs. Digital identity will become the new battleground, and those that own it will display little sympathy for those that don’t, as it increasingly becomes a USP to lock in media budgets.

Device graphs will be trendy once again. Next year they will be the must-have accessories as consumer time fragments even further from desktop, mobile web, app, over the top (OTT) and increasingly the devices powered by the growing IoT’s infrastructure.

ID coalitions and joint ventures will come and go. Some will focus on building a more efficient cookie to increase match rates for buyers and sellers while others will build a common probabilistic and screen agnostic ID that will help brands and agencies manage holistic reach, frequency and attribution across their myriad of programmatic media buys in the face of walled gardens and browsers restricting third-party cookies (think ITP and beyond!).

There will be cries and demands. Both the buy and sell-side want a common framework when it comes to identity. The question of who should own this will be a moot point, but still be debated at great length on many panels next year. Should identity be a commodity or USP? Time will tell…

Data Portability

There will be a growing appetite from chief marketing officers to be able to extract and apply their data holistically across each walled garden. It may sound far-fetched as identity is tightly controlled by the few but how will the many manage the basics of planning and buying such as frequency without it?

Brands and their agencies will become increasingly frustrated that the siloed insights they are receiving are effectively rendering their DMPs and CDPs redundant when it comes to the interpretation and activation of their data assets at the macro, not micro level.

If we’re ever going to reach the utopia of buying audiences and not screens, portability of data and specifically identity will be a necessity, not a luxury. 2018 was the year brands commanded supply transparency. I genuinely believe 2019 will be the year they ask for basic rights when it comes to digital ID management and ownership.

Voice search creating brand bypass

As smart speakers adoption grows, we’re going to continue to see stats next year that reference the decline of traditional search as voice search rises. This is going to create a lot of opportunity and disruption to many, as ‘brand bypass’ starts to set in. If somebody shouts at their speaker for batteries, razors or cheese, how will the speaker order if a brand name is not used prior to the request?

There will be lots of questions from brands in this area as concerns around speaker owners also being competing retail merchants begin to grow. In 2018, brands can capture intent online with paid search but this dynamic is changing quickly due to the growth of voice that is less than easy to get in front of in the connected homes of tomorrow.

Portable bidding logic

Many are going to start to think about owning their bidding logic. What do I mean? Well, some DSPs already let smart buyers play around with bidding logic and create custom features.

However, from the conversations I’ve had recently, it sounds like the ability for a brand or agency to port custom bidding logic from one DSP to another is still severely limited due to interoperability restrictions. Again, many will say I am daydreaming when I suggest this, but the way bidding logic works for a seat selling luxury cars will be completely different from the way it would work for another seat looking to sell moisturiser.

As brands and their agencies are forced to use more, not less DSPs as each start to create tangible USPs such as access to O&O supply or 1st party data. Sophisticated client trading desks and agencies will start to look for DSPs that can ingest their own proprietary bidding logic in a plug and play fashion so they can switch in and out new execution layers based on features like QPS, price, service, supply (audio, DOOH, OTT etc), data, device graphs et al.

The application of blockchain in madtech moves beyond PPT

Yes, I am aware that blockchain in madtech is a bit of a joke to those who live and breathe the sector (many think it’s vapourware and too slow to support OpenRTB), however, there is no escaping the fact that both brands and publishers will continue to intensify their asks around transparency in 2019.

If ‘madtech’ vendors and agencies do not self-regulate, concepts such as a distributed ledger ‘public’ or ‘private’ are going to start to look more attractive by the day.

As I write this, two major holding companies have already released their intentions to support a blockchain framework (DAN and GroupM), many big brands such as Toyota are also exploring and have adopted to support their advertising strategies. I see blockchain like programmatic 10 years ago, we are still at the conceptual stages and it is far easier to bash than it is to enter into meaningful conversations.

To summarise, many reports have suggested that funding for new ad and martech entrants is going to dry up in 2019. Boy did I laugh when I read that. There has never been so much change and opportunity in the industry. To name a few areas:

OOH – The M&A in this sector right now is bonkers, think Global taking out Primesight, Outdoor Plus and Exterion. Like TV, OOH is an area that resonates really well with both consumers and advertisers and the opportunity to extract even further value via the application of tech and data is exciting to many. There is going to be so much innovation in DOOH over the next 12 months and lots of opportunities for existing and new entrants.

OTT – So much has already been written about the migration of linear TV budgets due to this new world of CTV via OTT environments and many in madtech are going to see the tide rise for them. It has already been proven that large demographics globally are increasingly difficult to reach via linear broadcasts (AKA cord cutters) and they are only accessible to advertisers via addressable channels. Those in the video data, sell side and activation space are each going to be building their features and honing their narratives for this lucrative opportunity in 2019 and beyond.

Expect many new OTT entrants specifically in the data and measurement area as new protocols and standards continue to be agreed by industry constituents.

So here’s the bottom line: identity will feature heavily in discussions next year and ‘portability’ will be a theme that dominates. The digital advertising sector is an amazing place to be right now and I can’t wait for 2019, times are a-changin’.

Read the original article published in The Drum.

The programmatic advertising ecosystem can be a confusing place – so full of acronyms, vendors and platforms that it can be hard to know who (and what) you can trust. The issues of brand safety has been publicized for quite some time, and is only becoming more of a concern as programmatic buying continues to scale.

At our last Unruly Trust Talks event in New York, Unruly’s Programmatic lead Paul Gubbins sat down with Ryan Rolf, VP Data Solutions at Lotame, Rachel Nyswander Thomas, SVP Operations at TAG, and Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearle Vision to uncover the truth behind popular programmatic myths, and how advertisers can work to rebuild trust.

Paul Gubbins (PG): Why do publishers and brands still not trust adtech vendors?

Doug Zarkin (DZ): It’s because people blindly trust technology in this space. The programmatic model is only as good as the input you put in it. One of the main flaws in the programmatic model today is that there isn’t enough of an understanding of brand intent or consumer targeting. It’s just the programmatic model says, for example, I should target blonde, blue-eyed women between the ages of 27-35 who have a poodle. There’s not enough of an understanding of the person that’s pulling those levers and making those adjustments to the programmatic model of what the brands intent is, and what reality looks like outside of the algorithm.  

Rachel Nyswander Thomas (RT): I think you’re spot on, I also think there are other aspects to it. I understand brands saying they need to know everything that is happening in the programmatic model, and that is part of what TAG works on – the transparency of exactly what is going on in the supply chain. We are exactly three years old, which isn’t very long in the history of programmatic in terms of having standards by which you can judge the efficacy of your anti-fraud vendors. Yes, there are the MIC guidelines, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to fighting fraud than that. I think we are gaining trust back as an industry at this point. Knowing your partner’s more closely is going to be key to continuing to do that.

PG: As I think we all agree programmatic is good, but nowhere near as good as it could be, how do we fix this?

DZ: Firstly I think there are some opportunities with the agency model: we need to look at what should be done in-house and out-of-house. Secondly we need to look at the ad experience. Let’s not forget the advantage of advertising is to motivate an action, and that action comes in two ways. There has to be an emotional decision before that rational choice. One of the questions we need to ask is how do you make the advertising experience better in the digital landscape? The answer is deliver a better brief.

We have an amazing creative agency that does all our digital stuff and contrary to their earlier view, they love doing digital because they’re not confined to a 30, 60 or 15 second ad. We can create a 72, 83, or even a 2:12 second ad if we want to tell the entire story. The input that goes into any model, especially when it comes to programmatic, is only as good as the amount of time you’ve taken to write the brief. You also need to understand the emotional decision making process a consumer goes through before they make that rational choice to click on your banner and take the action.

The entity itself has to be done right before the results can come. Programmatic is simply the science. The art really comes in the ‘what’. If you are a brand in a competitive market you really need to ask yourself what your ad is saying, and communicate that in an emotive way to your consumers. Everyone says that Amazon is killing retail. They aren’t, they are just killing bad retail. The bar has been raised for all of us who are in a position to drive the ‘what’, to spend more time thinking about what the ‘what’ is, before we spend too much time thinking about ‘how’.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: There are now a multitude of different vendors you can work with within the advertising space. There’s no shortage of buy side vendors, of sell side vendors or of third party data vendors. How do you go about navigating that space and finding the right vendors that you can trust?

Ryan Rolf (RR): As an independent company we come up against the clouds, your Adobe, your Neilsons and this goes back to that whole idea of saying that no one ever got fired for choosing blue, and this is something we come up against all the time. The issue we have is that people don’t know us as well as they do the bigger vendors. Our main message is the fact that we really just specialise in data, and help companies untap that data, which to Doug’s point is just one piece of the puzzle. People often come to us if they are looking for that, rather than the cloud companies who have 50 other solutions that they are trying to sell them that they just don’t need.

DZ: I think brands have to come down and data suppliers and providers need to come up and be able to keep things as simple as possible. Because at the end of the day I don’t believe there is a comprehensive understanding that exists. All the problems about what websites to go to and privacy this and privacy that, those are all real issues and I’m not mitigating the impact of them, but I do not believe that the technology in those who are empowered with only the technology realise that any buyer of that technology isn’t a tech nerd.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: Why as an industry do you think we keep over-complicating things?

RR: I think truthfully the only reason we over-complicate things is because we keep trying to tell the story smarter than the next guy.

DZ: There’s an enormous disconnect between data and knowledge. None of us suffer from a lack of data, we live in an era of big data. We have to remember that data is only as useful as the questions you ask. Data does not make decisions. People make decisions using data, and so I think when you’re looking at vendors, whether they be big or small, you need to really look at their ability in doing that.

PG: Aare companies asking TAG the right questions around trust and transparency? Should there be a template issued by the IAB to help both buy and sell side vendors ask everybody the right information to track those insights?

RT: The conversation has to be very unique between partners. Everyone knows we certify organisations but a big part of what we focus on is not just are you certified or not, it’s connecting the dots between partners and encouraging them to get to know each other better beyond just seeing whether a company is certified or not. At the moment within this industry brand safety means something different to everyone. We need to dig further into what the advertiser actually wants and what does the publisher actually have to offer, that transparency and connection is vital, a checklist can only go so far.

Trust Talks event logo

SINGAPORE – October 1st, 2018 – Unruly has partnered with several top tier publishers to launch The Philippines’ and Indonesia’s first-ever premium publisher marketplaces for outstream video ad inventory.

The UnrulyX Trusted Philippines Marketplace and the UnrulyX Trusted Indonesia Marketplace, both available via UnrulyX, will be the place to collectively buy desktop and mobile outstream video inventory across all top tier publishers in each market, guaranteeing premium environments for advertisers, with a potential audience of 55m million unique users.

Partners in the UnrulyX Trusted Philippines Marketplace include The Inquirer, The Philippines Star, Summit Media, Fox Asia, MSN, GMA Network, Rappler and OLX Philippines, to offer advertisers access to over 200 million video impressions per month. Partner publishers in the UnrulyX Trusted Indonesia Marketplace include Kompas, IDN Times, Fox Asia, MSN, Tempo, Brilio, OLX Indonesia and Perform Group, resulting in access to over half a billion video impressions per month.

The marketplace aims to meet the increasing demands of the ad industry for high quality outstream video ad formats on trusted, brand safe sites with the ease and precision targeting of programmatic buying. Quality of views will be independently verified by MOAT. Advertisers will be able to access this scaled, premium video opportunity through a dedicated Unruly team.

The collaboration comes after increasing research shows that premium sites deliver the most impactful digital ad campaigns – including recent research by Newsworks, Neuro-Insight and AOP that found quality editorial environments are more effective in driving long term memory encoding and engagement, than social sites. Another study by Newsworks and GroupM in July this year found that consumers spent 17% longer viewing ads on premium sites.

Unruly’s APAC VP Business Development, Haifaa Daw said: “Unruly has identified a need in the marketplace for brands who want to elevate the environments they are running in. Given our relationships with premium local publishers, we’re excited to provide the technology to facilitate and lead strategic industry initiatives such as this one.”

Phil Townend, Chief Commercial Officer Unruly APAC, said: “We’re extremely proud to be working closely with these flagship publishers across Indonesia and the Philippines.  Neuroscience and advanced measurement techniques show that consumer engagement levels are heightened within premium editorial environments and these video marketplaces offer both cost efficiency and engagement to drive business outcomes for advertisers. Our Trusted Marketplaces solve the problem of scarcity of genuinely premium, verifiably brand safe and viewable video at scale.”

Moris Rusmanto, VP of Digital Sales Kompas Gramedia said “There is a clear demand from advertisers for high quality video inventory and greater media collaboration to make buying at scale easier and more effective. The UnrulyX Trusted Marketplaces are a significant step towards giving advertisers access to some of the very best video ad formats online, and providing more certainty around brand safety and viewability. We look forward to testing this new proposition and working with the industry to deliver the best in digital advertising.”

Inquirer Interactive’s Chief Operating Officer, Gary Libby said: “With the introduction of The UnrulyX Trusted Marketplaces we have created a safe medium for advertisers who want to access verified inventory at scale. It is an encouraging development from the industry that will give advertisers access to quality audiences on one single platform.”

Advertisers can email Unruly’s commercial team at hi@unrulygroup.com to access The UnrulyX Trusted Philippines and Indonesia Marketplaces.

23rd August, 2018 – Vijay Kunduri has been promoted from Executive Commercial Director for ASEAN and India to MD of Asia, and has just scooped CMO Asia’s Digital Person of the Year award.

Vijay has experience working with leading print, broadcast, VoD & digital companies, and has held various roles in both India and ASEAN. He is an expert in the areas of audience engagement, content, and business creation, and the experience he has built up over the past 20 years will be invaluable as he takes the lead in Asia.

“I’m excited at the opportunity of being able to work more closely with our leadership team on global initiatives, and to help drive the next phase of growth at Unruly.”

“Over the past four years’, Unruly APAC has grown at a phenomenal rate, and established itself as a trusted premium video platform. Our product suite and insights with emotional, cultural and personality data layers bring unique value proposition to all our clients, and I’m looking forward to building on the ongoing expansion and growth of the company in this part of the world.”

In last few years, Vijay has helped American & European ad tech companies to make foray, managed their strategic investment in Asia, and developed their regional footprint.

He has spoken at numerous events including, iMedia, Marketing Interactive and ad:tech, and has conducted content workshops for global brands including the likes of Nestle, Friesland Campina, Coca Cola, Pizza Hut and L’Oreal.

Vijay has also scooped a number of awards during his career including Group M Singapore Media person of the Year 2016, and most recently, CMO Asia’s Digital Person of the Year.

The Upscale programme from Tech City UK will power 30 of the fastest growing UK tech companies on their scaling journey

28th January, 2016 – LONDON: Tech City UK today announces the 30 digital companies selected to join the first intake of its new Upscale programme. Following a high level of exceptional applications and a competitive judging process, the companies selected represent the emerging digital businesses with the most potential for rapid scale and international growth.

(more…)

Do you watch TV commercials during your favorite shows? Or do you zone out? Go into the kitchen and make a smoothie or a hot drink? Or even fast forward if you are watching on a digital video recorder (DVR)? Or are you a cord-cutter?

Research shows that people will actively choose to watch a TV commercial (TVC) if the content is strong. Now, with TV audiences only watching under 20% of TV commercials through to completion[1], advertisers need to change their approach and start making ads that work on consumers’ terms.

(more…)