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Broadcast & Cable: Mediaocean Launches Connect

Ad software provider Mediaocean has launched its Connect partner platform, which allows ad servers, data solution providers, supply businesses, and technology providers to easily deploy services on the Mediaocean software used by the world’s largest agencies.

The system is designed to help these providers increase their revenue by offering new services to agencies and to help agencies find technologies and systems that can help them in their business.

Currently the Mediaocean software handles $130 billion in global advertising and is used by some 80,000 agency employees.

Initial partners for the Connect platform include Comcast, PointRoll, VisualIQ Pandora and others.

“The ad tech ecosystem is rich with solutions that drive efficiency, intelligence, and targeted audience buying,” said Bill Wise, CEO, Mediaocean. “What’s missing is a single platform to help bring those solutions within agency tech stacks and operations, across digital and traditional media. Connect is that single platform. Connect is doing for ad tech what Apple did to the mobile space and what Bloomberg did for financial trading—bringing outside information and applications into core systems.”

In a statement, Matt McConnell, senior VP and GM of Comcast Wholesale added that “Connect is an incredibly powerful pathway into agencies.”

“Through Connect, Comcast AdDelivery becomes an integral part of the Mediaocean platforms—and, by extension, an integral part of the advertising operations,” he said.

Via Broadcast&Cable

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AdAge: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Agency Tech Stacks

By Cordie DePascale

Whether you're the head of media planning or in the finance team, you probably need to handle multiple technologies to manage across different tasks, media types and teams across the agency. How do you make sure you're lining up the right set of tools? Here are seven points you may not have considered when you're thinking through the tech stacks that power your agency.

How do teams work differently from each other? Since software stacks run across multiple functions—and often multiple teams—it's important to keep in mind how different teams function in different ways. Sometimes those differences are obvious—say, when digital teams measure with comScore, and radio teams use Arbitron. But other differences are more subtle — until you introduce the scale that software allows, and subtle issues become big sticking points. Make sure you know how teams work differently, so you can accommodate the differences and sync software across them.

Do you work with the workflow? Software exists to help people work better. To make the most of it, you need to make sure you understand exactly how people do their jobs—what steps people take within tasks, across tasks, and communicating between functions. The more tightly you can coordinate the software solutions you introduce with the ways people work, the more you'll get from your software and your teams. Go beyond asking how software fits with your goals, and also ask how you can make it operate best with the ways your employees actually work. That way, you'll be positioned to serve up solutions when employees can leverage them best, and you'll get more from your software and your teams.

Are you fostering choice? A huge part of building out a technology stack is giving your teams the greatest capability to choose amongst an array of options. That means knowing when you need more providers in your arsenal. It also means knowing when to provide interfaces (like drop-down menus and checkboxes) that make it easy to choose among the options that suit different workflows. Conversely, it also means thinking through when you want to simplify the offering across the agency, and give just one choice to everyone.

Do your partners play nicely together? When you assemble a tech stack, you're not just dealing with technology. You're dealing with the businesses that sell tech, too. And no matter how much you're investing in building a tech stack on your own, at some point you'll need your partners to sync together to integrate products. If partners take issue with working closely with other tech providers—especially if big egos get in the way—it's something you'll want to know up front.

Does it fit with your IT? It's great if you find a way to hook TV software to, say, a DSP. But if one set of software only works on PCs and one of the teams you need to loop in is all on Macs, then you might have a problem. To make sure you're getting the most of your arrangement of tech products, think through the IT infrastructure piece as well.

What happens if something breaks? The moment you tie different functions together across a single solution set, those functions become a lot more intertwined than ever before. That means 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. Make sure you've worked things out so that if one piece of software slows down, it won't hurt productivity across the board. And make sure you're storing the data you need to let everyone who's connected to the stack pick up right away once things are back up again.

How much automation do you want? Tech stacks are built around using machines to sync across roles. At the one end of the spectrum, that's a completely programmatic proposition: you flip a switch and walk away. At the other end, you can have machines that make the people smarter, faster, and more nimble—but that pretty much stay in the background. Ask: what needs high computational power and massive scale, and what needs human intuition or relationships?

While they are all critical, these seven things are hardly the only items to consider when you're building your agency stack. Have more of your own? Post them in the comments below. After all, tech stacks work better when more minds go into building them.

Via Adage

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Forbes: ‘Two Quarters’ from IPO Plans, Mediaocean Launches ‘Connect’ Platform for Partners

Mediaocean, the fast-growing middleman handling $130 billion of advertising industry spending each year, has grown up processing ad buys separately on both digital sites and apps and more traditional radio and television  networks. Today it released its fancy new platform for merging buys across new and old media. But the underspin to the product news is what the company is saying about its momentum toward starting the IPO process in mid-2014.

“We are absolutely preparing ourselves for an IPO,” says CEO Bill Wise. “We know what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, and we are two quarters away from planning the IPO.”

The result of a 2012 merger between Donovan Data Systems and MediaBank, a company started by Groupon founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, Mediaocean was reportedly worth $1.5 billion last Feb. and has fee revenue of approximately $200 million, meaning a planned liquidity event could reach well over a billion and give a boost to other top tier ad-tech firms waiting to file to go public in 2014.

Mediaocean’s new Connect Partner Platform will sync up clients across its digital and traditional media clients, which it says totals 80,000 industry professionals. The new platform allows Mediaocean to show potential investors isn’t meant to go head-to-head with leading DSPs like Turn or ad tech platforms like AppNexus, the company says, but to encourage more partnerships and spending among the buyers and sellers already transacting through Mediaocean’s system. “We have the ‘Bloomberg terminal,’ with almost every buyer at every agency in the U.S. using our system to place campaigns, so we built a platform to enable a developer community on top of it.”

Ad servers like Atlas and Pointroll will be on Connect, as well as data providers like comScore and Visual IQ. On the supply side, companies like Pandora will make their inventory searchable on the platform as both a digital offering and as inventory in radio systems. Home buying platform ADstruc is an early Connect partner, as well as video offering FreeWheel and Comcast Ad Delivery.

Mediaocean is betting it can succeed where others like Google have failed–in streamlining the buying processes for television ads. “Google wanted to create an auction-based approach to buy and sell TV, but since we already own all the traditional demand and workflow, we don’t have to change the way TV buyers will buy,” Wise says.

The company already manages $72 billion of television spending. Wise says the market for video advertising could grow to $100 billion.

What Connect means for Mediaocean itself, however, isn’t so much about revenue right now–it’s about demonstrating another layer of opportunity before it tests the market for a 2014 IPO. The company will charge access to the APIs and workflow on the Connect platform, but suppliers can join free until they see higher revenues.

Mediaocean is signalling with the move that its ready to go public next year, likely in the spring. Wise says that the company won’t need a formal process of selecting banks and testing the waters, like another ad tech firm, The Rubicon Project is reportedly going through right now.

“My board, myself and our president [Nick Galassi] are talking to all people, so we don’t need a formal process like that,” Wise says. “This platform and a couple other initiatives to come will position ourselves really nicely.”

The window is open for ad tech IPOs, with recent debuts Rocket Fuel and Criteo performing reasonably well in the market. While others like Tremor Video and YuMe went public in 2013 to more mixed results, there’s a cohort of billion-dollar players–Mediaocean, but also AppNexus, MediaMath and Turn–still waiting in the wings. If Mediaocean files in six months and goes public in about a year, it would likely hit the market second after Rubicon Project and could signal the green light for those still waiting to cash in.

“I think it’s a bit of a race right now to be positioned more strategically,” says AOL Networks CEO and industry veteran Bob Lord. “I was around in the old bubble, and now the timing is very hot for automated buying and selling. People want to place a bet and you are lucky if you get out there first.”

If Wall Street likes Mediaocean’s momentum with its new platform and its partner base next year, expect the internal clocks at the other large private ad tech companies to speed up a few ticks.

Via Forbes

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Could hardware devices become the new ratings sources?

by Cordie DePascale

As marketers struggle with the disjointed, apples-to-oranges worlds of TV and Digital advertising, due solely to a lack of reliable cross-channel metrics, one wonders whether a breakthrough could ultimately lie with the hardware devices themselves. After all, this is where the data needed for measurement originates and is collected. Whether its Apple’s iphone, Microsoft’s Kinect, or any number of other point-of-collection devices, there’s a huge potential for these sorts of data streams to create a system of measurement for the new “TV Everywhere” age.

Take Kinect 2.0, for example. Aside from already having the user’s basic account information (name, age, registered location, demographic, etc.) it also recognizes faces, facial expressions, heart rates, body types, clothing styles and logos, and, of course, media habits.

Similarly, smartphone and tablet users generate constant streams of data on web-based viewing and downloading, apps, and real-time location. Not only is geotargeted marketing on the rise (with 27% of companies worldwide planning to implement it in 2013 according to Econsultancy), but geoaware and real-time mobile location data can serve dozens of other purposes.

Wearable health monitoring devices like Fitbit and Jawbone provide data 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 sheer volume of all this device-based data is impressive, and considering that an agreed-upon, reliable system of measurement across channels is still sorely lacking, I believe there’s great deal of potential here.

75% of all US senior executives in a recent IAB survey said they planned to move dollars from TV to digital in the coming year, but while marketers want to expand their digital spend, and want the ability to plan campaigns across channels in a unified, cohesive way, the standards aren’t there yet. Verifiable statistics based on user-generated data is the key to getting there, and hardware devices are already in a prime position to provide it.

Fascination Friday: Crowdsourced Protein Folding with “Foldit”

Here’s a great story from big data visualization blog, Big Data Viz.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Biochemistry have developed an online game that allows the general public to assist in important scientific research, simply through play. The game, known as “Foldit,” has players fold virtual shapes into unique configurations with properties scientists are looking for. The closer a player comes to developing a protein structure with those values, the higher their score.

Since proteins and their various functions are at the root of so many illnesses, players have the potential to directly contribute to the prevention and treatment of disease. According to the story in Big Data Viz, researchers have already created “an enzyme with more than 18-fold higher activity than the original,” just using designs created in Foldit.

Data management, a healthier world, and video games—just what we like!

Inspiration Wednesday: Big Data and Open Innovation for a Better Future

While it’s no secret that Big Data has already affected major impacts on just about every aspect of human life, the degree to which it may ultimately benefit humanity is just now becoming clear. From healthcare to poverty to crime prevention and beyond, the possible positive applications of Big Data seem to know no bounds. But there’s one factor that has the power to either limit or broaden the scale of that potential, and that’s accessibility.

A recent piece entitled “3 Huge Things Big Data and Open Innovation Challenges are Helping to Transform” in TopCoder.com examined the combined potential of open innovation competitions and Big Data for generating positive change in multiple areas. The article focused on three main areas in which the two have jointly resulted in some very positive outcomes already: atrocity prevention through predictive modeling, human longevity advancements through gene sequencing of centenarians, and energy.

Truth be told, there probably isn’t much that can’t be solved through the combination of transparent, open data and intelligent minds working together. It’s all about access – giving people the tools (data) and the opportunity/motivation (challenges) they need to do it. Which is part of why Big Data holds such promise – it’s a powerful, wide-reaching tool with limitless potential and myriad applications, and the more people that have access to it, the more powerful it becomes. The opportunities expand exponentially.

As the relatively new field of Big Data collection and analysis expands and matures, and more and more data sets are made open to the public, innovation and data-enabled solutions will inevitably thrive, contributing to positive change.

Transparent data and smart teamwork… the possibilities are endless.

Fascination Friday: “Glitch Art”

You might want to call them “cross-channel,” because Phillip Stearns’ unique “Glitch Textiles” certainly blur the line between traditional and digital media!

Beginning in 2012 with a series of images created using rewired digital cameras  (visual circuit-bending, if you will) Stearns has taken this series a step further with elaborate woven tapestries of the same kinds of images.

The results are stunning, and create a stark juxtaposition between modern life and the simplicity of pre-computer times.  Between the conveyed chaos of the virtual static, and the contradiction of it playing out in such a soft, tactile form, you end up with a truly compelling body of work.

Making Pandora an Easier Radio Buy

For the media buyers who spend their whole day researching inventory within our systems—and who take very seriously their duty to advertisers to work as efficiently as possible—we’re a little like the Amazons and Overstocks who make finding inventory information easier. And we want to make our system a place that’s as easy as possible to search for things to buy. That’s the thinking behind our most recent integration between Internet radio provider Pandora and digital ratings company Triton Digital.

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