by Cordie DePascale
When you’re thinking through the future of social-plus-TV, it’s important to keep an important point in mind: Facebook and Twitter aren’t the same. And that difference has huge implication for their role in socially-driven TV ads.
Before getting to TV, let’s talk through the difference between the networks themselves. In a nutshell: Facebook is a network built around social ties, while Twitter is, to a large extent, a socially-driven content platform.
That’s the best explanation of why, if you’re like me, your Facebook feed is comprised mostly of people you know personally (and may even like), while your Twitter feed is full of pundits, celebrities, brands, and media outlets—in other words, people you’ll likely never connect with personally, but whom you’d definitely like to hear from. Or why your Facebook profile has so many personal fields, from relationship status to religious views to your gender, in your own terms; while Twitter’s profile form asks for a name, location, website, short bio—and not much else. And while it would be strange to invite you to friend me on Facebook just because you’re reading this column, I’ll openly invite you to follow me on Twitter right now.
In other words: Twitter is designed around sharing and receiving information and ideas; Facebook is built around cementing personal human ties (and sharing and receiving information and ideas in the process). Or, in Wikipedia’s words: “Facebook is an online social networking service” while “Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service” (emphasis mine).
That distinction goes to the core of the companies’ official language. Twitter describes itself as a business that “helps you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” As for Facebook: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Twitter is talking about instantaneous blogging; Facebook, about staying connected.
Inevitably, this distinction I’m describing has huge implications for data. If Facebook is a network focused primarily on human connections, it’s going to have extremely powerful information about how you connect with other people—information like when you’ll break up or, at the other extreme, what your wedding date might be. That’s not the kind of information you see being retrieved from Twitter. Twitter will, however, be very likely to have extremely powerful information about how you consume content around brands, information, and ideas—all based on who you follow and what ideas you share.
Which brings me to advertising data, and to social advertising around TV. Since its inception, TV advertising has been measured as a one-to-many medium: brands shoot a message into the millions, and then use ratings to understand how many potential consumers engaged with the brand. But at the same time, TV has served an entirely different, largely unmeasured role: that of being the world’s greatest ad-driven social glue. And so while TV is bought and sold based on ratings that calculate a TV ad’s audience reach, the brand impact of water cooler conversation about ads and Super Bowl parties goes (relatively) unrecorded.
From there, it’s not hard to see diverging social TV advertising paths for Facebook and Twitter. Twitter’s one-talks-to-many content model fits right in with the one-to-many content model of TV—and of the current TV ad measurement. And Twitter is taking the lead on becoming an online extension of TV advertising, from Nielsen/Twitter TV Ratings to using Twitter to re-target TV ads. (Facebook’s longstanding involvement in OCR is a different story—but I’m not talking about using Facebook to compare online metrics to TV; I’m talking about using Facebook to extend offline TV online.)
For now, Facebook seems to be falling behind in social TV. But we’re still in the infancy of translating social data into sales data. When the industry really starts to crack that piece of the puzzle, Facebook will be in a position to provide a kind of TV engagement data that never existed before—essentially, it will be able to capture and leverage not just reach data, but “water cooler” data as well. That, to my mind, is the real opportunity for Facebook in TV going forward.
Of course, the dichotomy I’m describing may not be permanent. Facebook’s foray into trending topics puts it in Twitter’s company of offering one-to-many social media content. Meanwhile, Twitter’s recent redesign is hoping to make Twitter a lot more personable. A lot could happen in the future of social TV. However the future of social TV ads turn out, I’ll update all my friends and followers – on Facebook and Twitter.
by Michael Palmer
Here's the good news: a recent report from Nielsen and Simulmedia showed that television continues to be the largest platform for audience delivery, with 283 million Americans spending more than 146 hours on average watching TV each month.
The scary part, at least for agencies, is that the medium is changing – fast. Cross-platform viewing trends are not a myth, and advertisers increasingly want a piece of the video advertising pie. Evidence of this can be quickly seen in the Motley Crew that made up the season's Digital NewFronts. Time Inc., Condé Nast, National Geographic Society, oh my! And it's not particularly surprising why they take this strategy – a TV ad campaign that includes digital touchpoints can increase effective reach by 16 percent at the same overall budget.
But most agencies today manage their TV and digital media purchases on separate buying structures, making integrated ad buying a challenge for them. Advertisers are increasingly demanding a 'programmatic creative' structure from their agencies, where their audiences are targeted with custom content during the path to purchase. Agencies or broadcasters are not currently equipped to manage multiple creative assets at any given time.
So, as the world of video content becomes increasingly ubiquitous and complex, how can agencies stay ahead of the curve and prepared for what's next?
Centralizing and automating creative management functions is going to have an immediate impact for agencies. Ideally, this means integrating the information, systems and workflows utilized by all participants in an agency's workflow in getting the ad to air. This includes creative and traffic departments, dub houses, media outlets, publishers, talent, and accounting teams, so that they all see and operate on the same information – from creative file to consumer engagement.
Finding a solution is critical as creative assets continue to multiply. Today teams have to rely on sharing critical information via spreadsheets, word documents, emails, and even faxes. Imagine re-keying a 12-digit unique identifier multiple times for a piece of creative and getting one digit wrong. That could lead to the wrong ad being aired until the CMO or brand manager spots the mistake – Yikes!
For anyone that attended 4A's Transformation in March, you likely walked away with the 'three big media issues' that need fixing – audience addressability, consistency in measurement in a cross-platform world, and effectively incorporating mobile into the media mix. Setting up the type of system described above will help agencies prepare for the future evolution of TV content. And I can promise you, there will be changes.
by Dina Gerdeman
As CIO of video game developer Electronic Arts Inc., Mark Tonnesen could sense the wave of fear that rippled through his IT staff when he made the case for moving the company's on-premises applications to the cloud.
If they wouldn't be maintaining and troubleshooting issues with applications -- tasks that were the day-to-day staples of their jobs, after all -- would they even be needed any longer? The staff needn't have worried. His answer was a resounding "Yes" -- but not for babysitting email.
"We outsourced that and went to the cloud, and instead we could work on things that were going to drive top-line revenue," said Tonnesen, who oversaw about 550 IT employees as well as 700 contract staff during his tenure at Electronic Arts in 2012 and 2013. Tonnesen, now a senior partner with The StrataFusion Group, a consulting firm that advises companies in the midst of major technology transitions, said that adopting a cloud strategy was not about getting rid of the IT organization. "We were not reducing people. We were not reducing budgets. We were just shifting roles."
In fact, Electronic Arts, maker of such blockbuster video games as Battlefield and Need for Speed, actually increased its investment in IT with the adoption of the cloud computing model, according to Tonnesen.
Cloud computing is ballooning. Cloud-related tech spending by businesses is on course to triple over a six-year period, jumping from $78.2 billion in 2011 to a projected $235.1 billion in 2017, according to research by IHS Technology released in February. In 2014, global business spending for infrastructure and services related to the cloud will reach an estimated $174.2 billion, 20% more than the amount spent in 2013, IHS predicted.
When companies started moving a growing number of applications and infrastructure to the cloud, handing over hosting and maintenance duties to public cloud providers, some industry experts speculated that IT might see widespread layoffs as a result. But as the cloud model has gained a strong foothold in organizations, researchers and IT leaders say those massive layoffs have not come to pass.
"Our research does not show significant layoffs from companies aggressively working in the cloud," said James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. "We've seen (isolated) cases of a guy saying, 'If I don't get to play with the technology, I won't enjoy myself here,' so sometimes one or two people might self-select out."
CIOs and researchers say what has happened instead is that the cloud has led to a change in the traditional role of IT, shifting the work away from the nitty-gritty maintenance and troubleshooting of the past and toward more business-value activities, such as strategic software development, big data analytics and the creation of enterprise architecture.
At Electronic Arts, Tonnesen said adopting a cloud computing model meant that IT staff members actually had time to spend an entire day working on developing a new tech strategy. In previous years, they might work on a strategy for an hour here or there in between constant interruptions from departments needing IT to repair breaks in applications.
"We would get fewer calls about tools that were broken, things like 'Fix my email' or 'This system doesn't work.' All of those things were in the cloud and they were working. There was less break-fix, less support and more strategic discussions about where we were going next," Tonnesen said.
Don Baker, CIO of Mediaocean -- a company that provides a software platform for the advertising industry, including cloud computing solutions -- said the cloud has freed up his IT staff members from getting bogged down in the mundane maintenance duties that ate up most of their time in years past.
"There's been a big shift over the last 10 years in what I've been able to do with my staff. Our brightest minds were getting too involved in day-to-day tasks and were not able to be visible players in areas that were adding value to the company," said Baker, noting that Mediaocean's own internal IT applications run mostly on a private cloud.
Now these same IT people are meeting with new vendors, developing new technologies and thinking about how these technologies can be used to help Mediaocean take the next strategic leap into global markets and expanded product lines.
"We're able to stay ahead now, where in the past we were just keeping up or triaging things," he said.
By Fred Dawson
Mediaocean Integrates Multiple Suppliers into Reconciliation Platform
March 24, 2014 – In another significant step forward on the path to advanced advertising in the multiscreen TV era, a leading supplier of reconciliation and billing support for ad agencies has created a means by which suppliers of every description can plug into its systems, making it much easier for agencies and holders of ad inventory to implement new strategies.
Mediaocean, which says its transaction management systems process $130 billion in global advertising annually, has developed its Connect Partner Platform to allow ad servers, data solution providers, inventory suppliers and technology providers to deploy services on its Spectra back-office software. This makes it easier for agencies to bring new solutions and inventory suppliers into their own workflows and offer them as components of their business-wide technology stacks, says Cordie DePascale, vice president of products at Mediaocean.
The company, which was created two years ago with the merger of two giants in the field, Donavan Data Systems and MediaBank, has already seen a significant impact on how content companies and agencies operate in the three months since it launched Connect, according to DePascale. “It’s been phenomenal,” he says. “Agencies really embraced Connect as a platform, because they saw this opens them up to working with different partners in a much more efficient way.”
Suppliers of TV programming are just one of the types of media that agencies transact with through Spectra, but they are a huge piece of the business. “There’s going to be a big shift in how the market wants to consume and value inventory,” DePascale says. “If the inventory is changing, the currency needs to conform and transform with that. And at same time the technology needs to move in lockstep with that. If things are not moving together and harmonized, that’s where there will be frustration.”
In other words, helping agencies to eliminate the silos in ad buying for TV broadcast, cable and digital distribution must be accomplished in tandem with introducing new types of advertising as a natural extension of traditional ways of doing things. “The most important thing we did is not to change what buyers and clients are accustomed to using, which means we expose new sources of data solutions, inventory supply or technologies in ways that are less disruptive to operations,” DePascale says. “With Connect there’s a lot less work that goes into assessing, buying, integrating and training to adopt a new partner into the agency’s workflow.”
For example, by using Connect to integrate ad servers from Atlas, DG MediaMind, PointRoll and many other partners into their workflows, agencies can use those servers more extensively across multiple campaigns, he notes. Similarly, he adds, by simplifying integration of data, research and attribution solutions from the likes of Nielsen Catalina Solutions,comScore, SQAD, Triton Digital and Visual IQ, the Connect platform gives agencies more flexibility to tap new approaches to tracking and monetizing the performance of advanced advertising across multiple outlets.
One illustration of how greater harmonization can transform the revenue potential of an inventory supplier is the experience of online music site Pandora since it integrated with the Connect platform earlier this year. “Connect means it’s easier for agencies to find our inventory that matches their targets,” says Joanna Bloor, vice president of sales operations at Pandora. “And, just as importantly, it’s easier for them to buy that inventory. That’s an incredibly powerful opportunity for any media seller.”
In a situation analogous to what TV networks confront when they seek to monetize their online outlets, Pandora was having difficulty capturing the ad revenues that flow into traditional broadcast radio, even though it was providing a radio-like music service online. “Digital folks were treating them as a display advertiser, not a broadcast advertiser,” DePascale says.
“We talked to some agencies about whether they would buy Pandora as a radio station if the right tools were in place, and they said, absolutely,” he adds. “So in Connect we now have the methodology for Pandora to send an avail, receive an order and, on the back end, deliver performance metrics and standard industry invoices electronically so that everything is certified just as it is in the broadcast space.”
Since February the ad spending on Pandora generated by agencies running on Mediaocean’s operations system has jumped 475 percent, DePascale says. “Prior to this they were trying to sell on the broadcast model, but it was very manual and took a long time with every transaction,” he notes. “We ironed out all those things with a much more automated electronic system.”
The capabilities embodied in Connect are finding their way into a wide range of advertising environments, including TV, where networks have the opportunity to apply methodologies to support interstitial placement of targeted ads on streamed Internet content as a normal course of doing business with agencies. “If your TV audience is fragmented on different devices, you didn’t lose your audience; you just lost your ability to bring that part of your audience into your transactions with advertisers,” DePascale says. “Through Connect you can avoid siloing your ad sales by bringing all your outlets together for scheduling campaigns with agencies through a single report and media system.”
Similarly, cable MSOs and other service providers can leverage agencies’ affiliations with Connect to increase monetization on TV Everywhere services, DePascale says. “There are workflows and ways for partners to fit into any media system with a consistent approach across applications,” he notes.
One interesting permutation in the TV space is the way Comcast Wholesale’s AdDelivery service is making use of the Mediaocean technology. AdDelivery is a cloud-based solution that allows agencies to utilize Comcast’s nationwide fiber backbone to deliver spot TV ads to 99 percent of the nation’s media outlets, including major broadcast networks, cable networks, TV stations, syndicators and radio stations.
AdDelivery has expanded its engagement with Mediaocean through Connect following integration last year with the vendor’s Optica system, which automates labor-intensive manual processes by closing the informational and operational gaps between media planning, creative and trafficking teams on the buying side. Through integration with the Connect platform, AdDelivery has farther streamlined the ability of agencies using Mediaocean’s Spectra systems to deliver their assets to media outlets, says Matt McConnell, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast Wholesale.
“Through Connect, Comcast AdDelivery becomes an integral part of the Mediaocean platforms and, by extension, an integral part of the advertising operations,” McConnell says. “Connect is an incredibly powerful pathway into agencies.”
Comcast is also engaged with Mediaocean’s Connect through the MSO’s recently acquired FreeWheel operation, which is a leading provider of video ad management services in the digital domain. With integration of FreeWheel’s technology onto the Connect platform, inventory suppliers are now able to leverage FreeWheel in their interactions with the workflow of any agency that relies on the Spectra back-office systems, DePascale explains.
“FreeWheel’s digital inventory can be moved through our systems electronically for a particular supply partner, which expands exposure to buyers and gives them greater flexibility in how they run their campaigns,” he says. “A buyer looking for national media outlets will now find digital inventory in the broadcasting system. So there’s broader inventory and one place to go to buy for all placements.”
This extends to enabling inventory suppliers to set up specific spots for national or local buys across traditional and digital distribution modes. Moreover, inventory can be segmented to allow those buyers to choose suppliers’ programs based on the audience categories they draw. “FreeWheel can carve up the inventory geographically and normalize the avails against Nielsen’s Designated Market Areas,” he notes. “Local broadcast spot buyers really like that flexibility.”
by Don Baker
With new technology infiltrating marketing almost every day, CMOs and CIOs need to mingle now more than ever before--and not just in relation to big data. Traditionally, CIOs have been the IT-buying star players, but as CMOs make their way from rookies to MVPs, they’ll need to learn a thing or two about technology and how it impacts their businesses if they want to gain purchasing power.
When it comes to purchasing decisions, CMOs are adept at answering the question: “Is this a good piece of software or technology for marketing?” And CIOs are adept at answering the question: “Does this fit with what the organization cares or is thinking about?” Each answer is important to the company’s overall bottom line, but how each role comes to that decision is vastly different.
So I’ve developed three tips that I’ve recommended to my marketing team to help with IT purchases:
1. Leverage Everyone’s Strengths
The first step to a good tech partnership is understanding where everyone’s strengths lie—and using them together toward stellar IT purchases.
Since CMOs know what they need to achieve, they’re in the best position to decide whether a piece of software or product fits their needs--and if it’s usable enough to pass muster. They’re best at answering questions such as whether the user interface is simple and streamlined or whether the product is easy to troubleshoot.
CIOs, on the other hand, tend to have a bigger-picture view on the direction of the software—where a particular software company is heading, and what a particular type of software will accomplish. They’re also in the position to understand how a product will run within the company’s broader IT infrastructure and how it will fit with the company’s IT products down the road.
Obviously, these two strengths are very different. Putting them together, you'll get the best product for marketing needs in the moment, as well as the best fit for the whole organization’s needs down the line.
2. Build A Stellar Support Team
If you’re bringing the CIO into the conversation at key consideration points, that’s great. But it’s just as important to make the IT team your ongoing partner.
This boils down to having team members and joint procedures set up in advance, such as knowing who to call on, and how, in case an IT disaster strikes. It also means knowing who in the organization can help you think through technical considerations on purchases and implementations and having a strong enough rapport with that person to seek out advice freely.
Last but not least, it means having someone who can provide technical support on your products beyond implementation. Being tied to an external vendor that helped during a product launch but won’t be around to help with troubleshooting on a day-to-day basis can cause nightmares. By engaging with someone internal, you’ll be able to guide the conversation on your own terms.
3. Understand Security And Legal Requirements
CMOs also need to consider security. Think about it this way: Whether you’re sharing information within your team, gathering information about your customers via your Web site, or engaging with a third-party analytics provider, the marketing team controls some of the most powerful information within the organization.
That information obviously carries huge implications, both from a customer relations perspective and from a legal one. Whatever you do, make sure your new product complies with IT security policies on both the customer and internal sides. And make sure you understand the types of data that you store and the legal requirements that go along with them.
Your IT team can help you double-check the legal requirements around data, too. That’s important in all companies, but it’s especially so in public companies that have more data and tech compliance issues (such as SOX).
Bottom Line: A Partnership Is Key
At the end of the day, CIOs essentially have two roles: first, making sure everything is working correctly on the back-end, and secondly, making sure the users actually want the piece of technology.
When end users come to CIOs asking for a piece of software, that’s only half the job. No longer are they the CIOs gatekeepers to technology. Their other half, CMOs, now have ranking power.
As a result, a partnership between the two is ideal. In fact, most CIOs would welcome their CMOs' input to vet new technical products. (I know I would.) It’s all a matter of leveraging the marketing-IT partnership in the way that plays to everyone’s strengths.
By Manu Warikoo
In the last Winter Olympics, NBC only featured short online VOD clips. This year, NBC is streaming the all of the Olympic events, and also streaming via iPad App. That's a very strong indicator of the future of TV as a digital medium.
I'm not saying that because online viewership is taking over TV. In fact, TV viewership is doing just fine -- which is why TV continues to solidify its central role in the marketing plan. But more than ever, TV viewership is impacted by online engagement. That picture emerges when you look to the NBC research on the 2012 Olympics that bolstered its move for its current digital Olympics streaming. As the New York Times reports:
[NBC] research from the London Games found that the more devices on which people watched the Olympics, the more they watched television.
Someone watching the Olympics only on television breathed in 4 hours 19 minutes of coverage daily, according to the research. Add a personal computer or a laptop, and TV consumption rose to 4:28.
With a mobile phone added, TV viewing rose to five hours, and with a tablet tossed in, the average time watching TV shot up to 6:07.
It's not just the Olympics that show the online/offline relationship, either. Golf seems to show a similar trend. So do major TV shows -- with Netflix binge watching a possible key factor in record-breaking TV season premier viewerships of both Mad Men and Breaking Bad. People get hooked (or more deeply hooked) on a show through online channels, and then engage with them further on TV. Meanwhile, social media have long been cited as a key factor in the shows TV viewers watch.
This has a lot of ramifications for the business of advertising on TV, most critically around measurement and ratings. The industry is making real progress on making apples-to-apples comparisons between TV and digital formats -- like Nielsen OCR. But while that kind of comparison is critical, we'll need to push harder on analytics that go deeper online to understand how TV programming and digital channels interact. I'd say Twitter is a real leader here -- especially with developments like Twitter Nielsen TV ratings, which measure Twitter engagement around TV shows.
But Twitter/Nielsen is just the beginning -- both for Twitter, and for the advertising business overall. Cross-channel analytics and dashboarding that lets advertisers use digital numbers to drive TV spend is going to be an explosive area over the next few years.
There are also huge implications here for TV planning cycles. If online channels emerge overnight, and those same online channels are impacting online viewership, then planners will inevitably be reassessing inventory a lot more frequently. Yearly plans could go bi-annual; bi-annual plans could become a quarterly affair.
Put a little differently, I think the question for the media community to ask isn't whether TV or the Internet will win the video race, long-term. I think it's clear the TV will be the focal point of advertising for a good, long time. But TV is becoming one of many digitally-influenced channels. The question for TV marketing will be: how well can we integrate TV's digital side?
Whoever answers that question right, wins the gold.
by Fraser Woollard
If there’s one device trend that describes our era, it’s the decline of stationary computing (desktops and most laptops) and the rise of mobile devices, with the promise of the Internet of the Things not far behind. While it has clear implications for consumers, this trend of a completely connected, mobile world also has a huge message for anyone building apps or products for the enterprise.
It all goes back to the driving force of the mobile revolution — the huge difference between data you can use, and data you can use at the point when you need it most. Good data is great, but you’re a lot more likely to use the data that’s actionable at just the right moment.Data that tells me where a restaurant is located is always welcome, but data that tells me how to get to the restaurant as I’m driving is even more powerful.
A lot of the advances in computing over the last 20 years boil down to the technology world figuring out how to deliver useful data right to your desktop or laptop. Now, we’re in a mobile revolution (which is evolving into the Internet of Things). That revolution is driven by the ability to bring data to critical points of action and consideration. Mobile devices are physically there, and able to provide relevant information when I wake up, go to sleep, am at work, at home, where I eat, where I watch TV, and where I walk. That basically makes our mobile devices the data providers that are becoming an extension of our own selves.
So, if you need to understand why mobile is overtaking desktop, that’s your answer. All things being equal, data that is an extension of you is a lot more useful than data that sits in one spot alone. Hence, the slow decline of desktop and the rise of mobile.
Of course, the way we work with data as consumers is no different from the way we work with data as professionals. In our era of big data, we’ve gotten very good at finding information and parsing it to make it informative. There is no better example than the digital advertising industry. We now have information to drive and support advertising decisions, significantly improving the entire process. However, there are still many business applications that have not been able to bring that important data closer to the point of taking action—in other words, weaving data into our work personae.
So, the question becomes: How do we go beyond forcing people to step outside of their workflow to find valuable information — and really weave the data people use into the professional lives they lead?
Here are three points to consider that, from the apps and features I’ve seen that have lived or died, can’t be emphasized enough when choosing a workflow application:
1. Think hard about where your solution will be used. In a way, this is basic UX: No matter how valuable the solution, if you can’t pull data up easily at the moment of decision, the more likely you are to forget about it. Conversely, if you can get to it at the right moment of decision, you’re in a better position to leverage simplicity, habit, and mandated enterprise processes.
2. Ask very specific questions that capture subtleties. If you’re looking for a data decisioning tool, like data visualization, process mining or data mining, where in the decision-making process will data be most helpful — is it in the initial consideration, or right at the point of action, or in the post-decision analysis? A critical follow-up question: how interoperable is the offering with the tools and screens your market is using at the precise point you’re trying to engage?
3. Make round pegs for square holes. Sometimes, a product won’t fit with the ways your market does business—and that needs to be fixed. For example, Pandora digital radio faced challenges wooing traditional radio ad dollars, in part because the processes and data that radio teams at ad agencies use doesn’t sync with the ways that digital ads are sold. But after they had an infrastructure allowing them to sell digital ads as if they were radio ads, they saw a real impact.
While the argument that mobile data will revolutionize all business applications rings true, it is even more compelling for digital applications in the advertising industry — whether you’re an attribution tool, a data provider, or an ad server. That’s because, unlike traditional media, which has clear business standards, digital is by definition always changing. Consequently, people are changing their work processes all the time—one year you’re measuring last click, the next you’re measuring digital GRPs; one year you’re buying from ad networks, and the next from exchanges. Those consistent changes in what you’re measuring and where you’re buying from do not just change what you do at that moment, but they change the entire process and operations you encounter on a daily basis. Just as mobile was created to bring applications into a fluid life, businesses need to bring applications into fluid working processes in order to survive.
As part of its pre-IPO pitch to position itself to public investors, Madison Avenue's main data processor -- Mediaocean -- is repositioning itself as an enterprise “software” company more like an Adobe, Oracle or Salesforce.com. The pivot, which is the latest in a series of identity shifts for a company that began when the ad industry's chief legacy system, Donovan Data Systems, merged with its new age rival, VC-backed MediaBank, is intended to distance Mediaocean from a litany of ad technology solutions that seem to be cluttering the so-called “marketing stack” at major agencies.
“Adobe has done a really nice job of this,” Mediaocean CEO Bill Wise acknowledged during a briefing on Friday. “When people first thought of Adobe they immediately went to the creative side, but they’ve acquired analytics companies and other things, but they all have the Adobe stamp of approval.”
Wise said Mediaocean has a similar goal to remake itself as a big enterprise software company that doesn't simply process data for big ad agencies, but serves as a backbone for a suite of software products that help advertisers and agencies work better and more efficiently. He said that includes software developed internally by Mediaocean, as well as other third parties who develop software applications that are integrated into Mediaocean's systems.
That's a significant pivot from the company's legacy roots, which were mainly about processing media-buying transactions, paying the media, and servicing the payroll systems of big ad agencies. It's also a more aggressive push to redefine its core business in hopes of getting a higher stock valuation from investors when it eventually makes its initial public offering.
“There are a lot of ad tech companies that are going to try and position themselves as software companies, but that's not who they are,” asserted Wise, adding: “We are a software company.”
As part of the repositioning, Mediaocean is rolling out a “re-branding” campaign this week, including new graphics, designs and the Madison Avenue-worthy tagline: “Advertising. Powered by Mediaocean.”
Maria Noel Pousa, senior vice president-marketing at Mediaocean, said the campaign has been in development for six months, and will focus on integrating the look and feel of Mediaocean's disparate products, services and software under one unified look and feel, across all its systems and communications in six major markets it operates in: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France and India.
By Cordie DePascale
It’s a given these days at ad agencies that, whether you’re the head of media planning or in the finance team, you’ll need to handle multiple technologies to manage across different tasks, media types, and teams across the business But how do you know you’re using the right tools in the toolbox? To help you out with this question, I’ve outlined seven points below that you may not have considered, but should, when you’re thinking through the tech stacks that power your agency.
Teams work differently from one another -- how do you manage it? It’s important to keep in mind how different teams function in different ways, especially since software stacks run across multiple functions, and often multiple teams. Sometimes those differences are obvious, such as when digital teams measure with comScore, and radio teams use Nielsen Audio/Arbitron. Other differences are more subtle, however. That is until you introduce the scale that software allows, and subtle issues become huge nightmares for businesses. Make sure you know the differences in how teams work so you can accommodate appropriately and sync software across them.
How do you define the workflow? Software exists to help people work more efficiently, but to make the most of it you need to understand exactly how people do their jobs. What steps do your employees take within tasks, across tasks, and how do they communicate between functions? If you go beyond asking how software fits with your goals and ask how you can make it operate best with the ways your employees work, you’ll be better positioned to serve up solutions when employees can leverage them best. Knowing this also helps to coordinate the software solutions you introduce more tightly -- the more you understand the ways people work, the more you’ll get from your software and your teams.
Are you providing choices? One of the biggest aspects of building out a technology stack is giving your teams the flexibility to choose from an assortment of options. This means knowing when you need more providers in your arsenal, as well as knowing when to provide interfaces, like drop-down menus and checkboxes, that make it easy to choose among the options that suit different workflows. It also means thinking through when you want to simplify by offering just one choice to everyone across the agency.
Can you ensure that it fits with current IT? It’s great if you manage to hook TV software to a DSP, but you might have a problem if one set of software only works on PCs and one of the teams you need to loop in is all on Macs. Make sure you’re getting the most of your arrangement of tech products by thinking through the IT infrastructure piece as well.
Something broke -- now what? It’s important to have everything worked out ahead of time so that if one piece of software slows down, it won’t hinder productivity across the board. The moment you tie different functions together across a single solution set, those functions become more intertwined than ever before. This means that it can be a lot more damaging if one piece of the puzzle breaks down—and, say, bugs in your social media software suddenly impact your TV buying. And make sure you’re storing the data you need to ensure everyone connected to the stack can pick up right away when things are back up again.
What’s your definition of automation? Tech stacks are built around using machines to sync across roles. At the one end of the spectrum, it’s a completely programmatic proposition -- you can flip a switch and walk away. And at the other end, you can have machines that pretty much stay in the background --to make the people smarter, faster, and more nimble. Just ask yourself, what needs human intuition or relationships, and what needs high computational power and massive scale?
Can your partners collaborate? When you assemble a tech stack, you’re not just dealing with technology -- you’re dealing with the businesses that sell tech, too. At some point you’ll need your partners to sync together to integrate products, no matter how much you invest in building a tech stack on your own. If partners have issues with working closely with other tech providers (especially when big egos get in the way), it’s something you’ll want to know up front.
These seven points are critical when you’re building your agency stack, but they’re hardly the only items to consider. Have more of your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. After all, that’s what tech stacks are all about -- they work better when more minds collaborate to build them.
By Sarah Lawson Johnston
If you're looking for the future of ratings sources as media changes, you might want to consider looking past the screen and into the media devices themselves, says Mediaocean's Sarah Lawson Johnston.
As devices work harder to track more information about the people who use them, they also stand to become the source of ratings for the media they carry. Or, at the very least, devices will become critical players in the media ratings world.
To understand why that's true - and why that's important you need to start by asking why ratings businesses like BARB and comScore exist at all. And the answer is twofold.
First, media buyers need hard data on who's actually viewing the content they're buying ads against. Second, buyers need third-party verification that the viewership data that the media sellers share with them is actually right.
In traditional media, that first reason matters a lot. Devices like traditional TV screens and print newspapers don't collect data on who's watching, so you need researchers to deduce viewer counts through surveys and panels.
When you get to digital media, of course, there's no shortage of viewer/user data available; but much of the data collection is done by websites and ad networks - aka, the very people who are selling the ads.
With a potential for conflict of interest, that second reason for ratings partners comes in, and you need third-party ratings and measurement companies to create that neutral currency.
But now, we're heading full swing into an era in which the devices themselves do sophisticated measurement. And that will change the ratings game quite a bit - as devices are both neutral third-parties that (often) don't sell media; and they're getting incredibly good at capturing user information that can translate into advertising data.
Take Kinect 2.0, for example. Aside from already having the user's basic account information (name, age, registered location, demographic, etc.) Kinect 2.0 also recognises faces, movement, heart rate, and whether a user is looking towards or away from the screen. There's a huge opportunity there for advertisers - a point which Microsoft has made quite clear.
Similarly, smartphone and tablet users generate constant streams of data on web-based viewing and downloading, apps, and real-time location. Not only is geo-targeted marketing on the rise, but geoaware and real-time mobile location data can serve dozens of other marketing purposes.
Wearable health monitoring devices like Fitbit providedata points like steps walked, calories burned, heart rate and sleep levels; and full-spectrum wearable technology like Google Glass has a seemingly endless number of data measurement possibilities.
The last two devices are a step away from the Internet of Things - everyday products like ovens, thermostats, and trainers, all connected to the Web (or at least to a network). And the Internet of Things is set to be huge - with predictions of 9 billion available internet-connected devices by 2018 - bigger than the predicted smartphone, smart TV, tablet, and PC market combined.
That's a treasure-trove of user data. It's also a whole new avenue of possible advertising touchpoints - touchpoints on which the devices can record interactions. Ultimately, all of those interactions could be mined and leveraged as ratings, or at least could become a component of ratings.
With that massive amount of user data, plus a neutral position on media inventory, device makers stand to become huge power players in the ratings business. Minimally, that means we can expect major deals in the future between ratings companies and the device makers they'll need to gather data from - in way that's somewhat analogous to how Twitter is becoming the new partner of the TV ratings business right now.
But potentially, and in many instances, that will mean the devices themselves stand to become leaders in the third-party media measurement business.
That might sound like ratings businesses face a troubled, not-too-distant future with BARB v. Apple, or Nielsen v. Samsung. I'd disagree. That's because, while the devices may become increasingly good at gathering engagement data, someone will have to roll the information together across all the devices - TV, smartphone, glasses, what have you.
Who's that someone? My guess is the ratings businesses of today.