Results tagged “Digital media” from IABlog

Media Multitaskers and Purchase Influence

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Consumers are increasingly pressed for time and, due to the multitude of readily available media sources, undivided attention.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that consumers are frequently multitasking, particularly with other media.  82% of American adults (over 18) go online while watching TV and 43% of them make this a regular habit.  So, as sellers of media, the question arises:  Are these Media Multitaskers even noticing the advertising?  And where does digital fall in this picture?  New research from the IAB shows that they are indeed noticing the ads on both media and they’re even being influenced by them, especially digital.  

As media multitasking grows, it becomes increasingly important for media buyers and sellers to understand the place of media in this new environment and how to best reach consumers.  The IAB analyzed Prosper Insights data to examine the media behaviors and influence of habitual Media Multitaskers and the results are impressive

Media Multitaskers are more likely than the general population to notice TV commercials and digital ads and are more likely to have their purchases influenced by the media and ads that they’re taking in on either screen.  They’re 6 percentage points (ppt) more likely than the general public to report regularly watching TV commercials.  Media Multitaskers are 5 percentage points more likely to report that both Broadcast TV and Internet Advertising influence their Electronics purchases.  Fascinatingly, Internet Advertising and Email Advertising have a higher purchase influence on Media Multitaskers than Cable TV does.  For instance, 29% of Media Multitaskers state that Internet Ads and Email Ads influence their Electronics purchases while only 23% report that Cable TV influences those purchases.  Similar differences in ad influence are seen across product verticals.   

Who are these Media Multitaskers?  Media Multitaskers are more likely to be young, single, females of average income who are heavy media users, especially of digital media.  Within digital, they’re also heavier Video Streamers and users of Mobile and Social Media—all of which are more likely to influence their purchases.  In an average week (M-SU), they’re 10 percentage points more likely than the general population to surf the internet, where they are 14 ppt more likely to use social media and 8 ppt more likely to stream online radio.  Media Multitaskers are also 9 ppt more likely to regularly watch digital video either online or on a mobile device.  They’re more likely to own and use any mobile device.  Media Multitaskers are most active online during primetime TV viewing hours (8-11pm).  

Evidence points to Media Multitaskers integrating media together across screens.  For example, Media Multitaskers are more inclined to do an online search related to something they’ve seen on TV or in a digital ad.  About one-quarter to one-third report searching online as a result of what they’ve seen in an internet or email ad or on TV.  While searching, they’re more prone to be influenced by a sponsored search result - nearly half report doing so.  

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Compounding the impact of search, Media Multitaskers are more likely to regularly do online product research before buying and their #1 online activity for fun is shopping. Additionally, Media Multitaskers happen to be planning major purchases within the next 6 months, more so than the general population.  These major purchases include vacation travel, computers, furniture and autos.

But it’s not just about search.  Media Multitaskers integrate various media types and are influenced by all digital media ad formats.  29% of Media Multitaskers report that their Electronics purchases are influenced by Internet Advertising and Email Advertising (5 ppt and ppt more than the general population).  Media Multitaskers are much more likely to use any social media service and 21% are influenced by social media in their Electronics purchases.  65% stream video online and 59% report watching the video ads (5 ppt more than the general population).  20% report that their mobile device influences their Electronics purchases (+4 ppt). Digital media ad influence extends beyond Electronics purchases, as detailed in the report.

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All of this points to digital advertising as the place to reach the time-constrained, multitasking consumer.  Digital should be part of any integrated TV campaign, since digital is increasingly where TV viewers are taking action.  Those who are simultaneously surfing and watching are in fact reacting to what they’re seeing on each screen and the computer seems to be the screen in which they take their actions further.  They’re most likely to be simultaneously watching TV and online during primetime TV hours, so this is the place to hit them with an integrated campaign, which they can search about online, where they should encounter a related digital ad. 

Retailers too should consider digital as a component to their TV buys since Media Multitaskers are more likely to research online before buying and more likely to do their shopping online.  Media Multitaskers’ major purchase plans combined with the purchase influence of digital advertising formats create ideal conditions for digital advertising to them. 

Perhaps the most important reason to target this group is that since multitasking behavior is growing at a fast pace, today’s Media Multitaskers will soon become tomorrow’s typical consumers.  By embracing the new way consumers watch TV - which includes an online accompaniment - advertisers can meet consumers on their terms by offering an integrated brand experience across screens, thereby deepening their relationship with the consumer.


About the Author

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Kristina Sruoginis

Kristina Sruoginis is the Research Director at IAB.


Although Integral has been on the forefront of the fight against impression fraud in the digital advertising industry, I have been largely silent on the topic.  Despite that I’m a battle-scarred ad tech vet with strong opinions, I have been quiet because I know that many will perceive my words as biased due to Integral’s role in fraud prevention.  Two recent incidents, however, prompted me to end my silence.  Some will be surprised by my conclusions.

For the record, my definition of impression fraud - as recognized by the IAB - is a situation where an advertiser buys a digital ad that has zero chance of being seen by a human.  Fraud comes in many flavors, including ad stacking, whole websites stuffed into non-viewable i-frames, and botnets of infected consumers’ computers, which surreptitiously mimic humans’ surfing behavior.  Although all cause harm to the advertising ecosystem, I will be referring mainly to bot traffic here as we believe it’s the most common form of fraud and probably the hardest to detect.

The first aforementioned incident that caused me to speak out was a call I received from an old colleague who runs a media company that produces valuable fitness-related content.  He called me in panic because he was told by one of his big clients that they were discontinuing advertising with his company.  Their reason was that a technology vendor had found that 100 percent of his site’s impressions were fraudulent.  Given what I knew of the site, 100 percent fraudulent traffic sounded improbable.  I quickly offered to help by running a test on his site.  The results showed that my former colleague’s site did have some fraud, but the levels were closer to 20 percent.  It became quite clear that the technology vendor measuring fraud was labeling a lot of legitimate inventory (in this case 80 percent) as bad inventory.  I thought that this may have been an isolated case, but with further investigation, I found that this was happening to a lot of other publishers as well.  Sites that had even a modicum of fraud were being labeled as fraudulent by this well-known vendor.  

This issue seemed like a micro-level problem to me.  Human traffic was being incorrectly categorized as bot traffic on domains with any level of fraud, and while unfortunate, only impacted those sites affected.  The second incident, a call from an investment bank research analyst, made me realize that there is a macro-issue at play as well.  This bank was putting the final touches on its special report on the state of digital media and wanted me to verify that the annual loss from impression fraud in the online display ad industry was over $20 billion.  Say what?  I have read some pretty aggressive predictions around the dollars lost to fraud, but $20 billion?  That estimate is way too high. 

So, I feel I need to come forward and take a stand.  Fraud is a problem in the online advertising industry, but NOT a problem of this magnitude.  Whether on purpose or not, the fraud problem is being exaggerated.  We have a problem, but it’s been blown out of proportion and it’s not as big as what we read.  There, I said it.  A year ago, I was concerned because I felt that the industry was not talking enough about the fraud problem, and now, I am worried about the opposite.  If we’re not careful, we are going to get carried away and cause irreparable harm to the future of digital advertising.

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So how did we get here exactly?  I put the blame into a couple of categories.  The first category has to do with limitations in technology.  The unnamed vendor labeling my former colleague’s website as having 100 percent fraudulent traffic is a good example of technological limitations.  In this case, the vendor correctly detected some fraudulent activity, but extrapolated this information to the domain or site level.  In other words, bot-related fraud happens at a user level (an infected computer), but due to technical restrictions, it is often tied to a domain level (e.g., fitness-related-site.com).  To make matters worse, many solutions only have two classifications of the entire site: fraudulent or clean.  Thus, if the solution sees any reasonable fraction of fraudulent impressions on a website, it has to make a decision to label the site as fraudulent or clean.  The threshold for fraud is typically set quite low in order to eliminate as much bot traffic as possible.  The end result is that a relatively few fraudulent visitors can cause a vendor to mislabel a large percentage of normal impressions fraudulent.  And as most fraud appears on legitimate sites that are buying traffic (a portion of which turns out to be non-human), as opposed to whole fake sites with 100% fraudulent traffic, this mis-labeling is very common.  When you start to aggregate these mis-labeled statistics and extrapolate on what it means industry-wide on a percentage of total impressions, the amount of fraud present looks downright scary.  Then, if you apply industry average CPMs to these extrapolated estimates (despite the fact that fraudulent inventory is usually cheaper than average), suddenly $20 billion appears plausible. 

So, what’s the alternative to rolling up fraud statistics and detecting at the domain level?  The better option is to intercept the ad call as soon as you detect a fraudulent user and thus only block the one ad from serving to this specific bot.  However, you need to do this detection at the ad impression level.  It’s the equivalent of using a laser to perform surgery rather than a butcher knife.   Here are a couple of things to look out for:  If more than 15 percent of your campaign impressions overall are identified as fraudulent and blocked, there is a good chance fraud detection is at the domain level.  This means you are using a butcher knife, and this will likely cause friction with partners and needlessly hurt your scale.

Additionally, if you ever hear that blocking is not possible or bad because it tips off the fraudsters, you should know that you have been given false information.  If done correctly, there is absolutely NO truth to this claim.  It’s an urban myth - similar to one that claims freezing water in plastic bottles release dangerous dioxins - so don’t fall for it!  Even if fraudsters were able to somehow detect that a specific bot did not receive the originally intended ad each time (not likely), there is no data that would give them the ability to reverse engineer the reasons why.  People claiming that blocking is bad because it helps the bad guys are either naïve, rely on only one method for detecting fraud (like side channel analysis) or are purposely deceitful.  In any case, it means that they’re suggesting a solution that does not have the technological sophistication to block at the impression level, and thus not as effective in preventing fraud and saving money for advertisers.

The second category of blame for exaggerating the fraud problem is related more to commercial reasons.  The fraud problem has created lots of opportunity and companies have popped up almost overnight to capitalize on it.  Many of the companies are made up of people who have never bought or sold an ad and have no appreciation for the media or the technology behind it.  They see dollar signs and exaggerate the problem to give their company attention and help them create more demand for their product and services.  Furthermore, most of these companies see only a small percentage of the online population - typically the worst stuff.  They make the assumption that their tiny sample of media is representative of the entire industry’s media and use these biased samples to wildly extrapolate.  Needless to say, the industry’s long-term health is not their top concern.  

So, where do we go from here?  Well, first it starts with a little perspective.  We have a fraud problem.  It has been exaggerated, however, and it’s not as big as many of the pundits say.  It definitely won’t ruin the industry - we won’t allow it to — and it’s not out of control.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is fraud is still a problem nonetheless.  It’s not only a sell side problem nor is it only a buy side problem.  It’s an industry problem.  And this problem will not go away anytime soon and may never completely vanish.  The bad guys are made up of amateurs and very sophisticated professionals.  We can eliminate the amateurs, but the pros are making a lot of money in fraud and they will continue to invest heavily in building better deceptions.  Our goal has to be to work together as an industry to shut down all amateur activity and get the professional levels to a very small, manageable amount.  The good news is that we are making progress.  Despite what you may hear, fraud levels have dropped over the past year.  We are at the beginning of the battle, but we’ve got the bad guys on the run. 


About the Author


Scott_headshot_hi-res.jpgScott Knoll

Scott Knoll is the CEO of Integral Ad Science



There is no doubt that mobile gaming is a hot topic that is attracting the notice of brand advertisers. Mobile gaming is growing significantly due to three key trends:
  1. Growth in smartphone and tablet usage (according to the IAB Mobile Center research, as of January 2014, 57% of all US adults owned a smartphone and 44% owned a tablet)
  2. Increasing sophistication in mobile app ecosystem
  3. Growing willingness among consumers to pay for virtual goods and accept mobile advertising
Mobile game monetization comes from:
  1. Virtual goods
  2. Paid apps and downloads
  3. Advertising
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Per eMarketer, mobile game monetization is projected to increase significantly over the next four years. All three of the primary monetization models—downloads, in-game/virtual goods, and ad-supported—will grow, but the mix will shift in favor of in-game/virtual goods.
 
For these reasons, the IAB Games and Mobile Committees convened a Town Hall discussion titled “The Future of Mobile Game Advertising.” Susan Borst, Director of Industry Initiatives and the IAB lead for the Games Committee stated that interest in game advertising has never been higher and bringing these two committees together is important given that nearly a third of all time spent on mobile is on games. Joe Lazlo, Senior Director of the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence added that successful game advertising has much to teach the rest of the mobile ecosystem.

Following a welcome and some perspective on the state of mobile games advertising from event host, Jeff Colen, Ad Sales & Marketing at Zynga, Lewis Ward, Research Director of Gaming at IDC, shared some background information on smartphone growth and share, consumer spending on games and consumer sentiment for game play by device.
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Lewis noted the growth of the tablet for game play, and in particular the iPad as gamer’s favorite iOS devices. He went on to say that significant demographic differences exist across the various mobile platforms, notably HH income and gender, which have obvious implications for game developers and advertisers. For instance, the IDC study showed a big disposable income gap between iOS and Android, and game play on Kindle Fire skews heavily female.

Defining and sizing smartphone and tablet ads is “tricky due to technology fragmentation and the rapid pace of market innovation and evolution,” said Lewis, and the audience agreed. This is an area where the IAB could work to provide some clarity. 


Source: IDC
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The key takeaway from the Town Hall discussion is that there has been a significant and important shift in just the past year or so and the momentum is building.  
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Key Highlights:

  1. Ad format evolution taking place: From advertising that offers player rewards, value exchange video advertising, rich media creative, branded content and more native integration—ads on games are becoming less aggravating—and more frictionless. 
    • There is an overall increased acceptance of advertising among users when advertising is executed in a way that brings value to their experience, is contextually relevant, delivered in a format that is visually appealing or synergistic to their mobile experience. Benjani highlighted inMobi’s focus on “working with studios and brands to create deeply integrated native ad experiences to connect advertisers to audiences globally.”
    • Emotional targeting that is additive to game play (creating value exchange between advertiser and user) tapping into players’ emotions and serving ads in the right place at the right time with the right message is a win for both advertisers and consumers. This allows the brand to be a welcome “hero” for the player, taking part in the user experience and offering players rewards during moments of “achievement” or tips at points of “frustration.” 
    • “In-game advertising is the only way brand marketers can reach and reward, encourage and rescue players in a way that adds value to the user experience. For example, during Breakthrough Moments™ (BTMs™), brands can reach game players during moments of “achievement,” such as when they get a new high score or a longest jump. With this approach, people will reciprocate the brand’s gift and take a post ad action—such as purchase a product or visit a website—and further engage with the brand, giving marketers a unique way to make lasting, meaningful connections with people,” said Brandt.
  1. Increasing focus on brand metrics: As Lewis noted, CPM, CPC, CPA and CPV all have some traction in mobile games, but increasingly, better brand metrics, analytics and real-time decisioning are changing the way effectiveness is measured. “Keep in mind as to where your ads are running as not all impressions are equal. If your primary KPI is to deliver a positive brand experience and association, look at where the ad is running and ask if you were playing this game - would you feel interrupted by or helped by this advertisement? User experience is at the paramount of successfully advertising on mobile and simply porting over outdated ad units and placements from display advertising is not enough. These are personal experiences on mobile and the key is tailor advertising to match this new medium”, said O’Connor.
  2. More options for developers and advertisers: From in-app to HTML5, more options are emerging for game developers and advertisers to foster “native” experiences. Grossberg added: “Brands are also beginning to leverage HTML5 to create their own mobile web games (the game is the advertising!) to engage their target audience at scale through this preferred activity on mobile, and do so in a cost effective manner in a way that fosters social and viral growth.”
Mobile game integration is a reality and has become industry standard for marketers.  The IAB Games Committee is  finalizing a white paper titled “The Games Advertising Ecosystem” report which is intended to help the industry understand today’s game play, the core game types and advertising categories for marketers to reach consumers.  Stay tuned!

About the Author

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Kym Nelson

Kym Nelson serves as an IAB Games Committee Co-Chair and is Senior Vice President of Sales at Twitch TV, the world’s largest live-streaming video platform. In this role since May, 2013, she has created Twitch Media Group, launching an inside, direct-sales media group at Twitch. She is responsible for creating and leading a world-class sales organization that delivers completely new and innovative digital solutions on a platform that is spearheading digital media as we know it today. 

IAB Launches the Programmatic Council to a Packed House

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Last Thursday, IAB officially launched the brand new Programmatic Council at the Ad Lab in New York City. More than 160 professionals from across the programmatic ecosystem joined in person or remotely.  

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The Programmatic Council aims to bring together publishers, buyers and ad technology providers to discuss the key business issues in the evolving programmatic marketplace. The focus of this Council will be to identify and tackle what is working and what can be improved to make programmatic work more effectively. The Council is the successor to the Networks and Exchanges Committee. It will build on the work done by the Programmatic Publishers Task Force who published three Digital Simplified pieces in 2013 on terminology, salesforce models and the need for transparency.


The Council agreed to focus on the full spectrum of Programmatic transactions - from Automated Guaranteed transactions (sometimes known as Programmatic Direct) through to the Open Auction.

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Building on the agenda set by the Programmatic discussions at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Springs last month, the Council agreed to focus on four key issues over the coming year:

1) Building a transparent & fair marketplace - aim to come to a common agreement between buyers, sellers and vendors on what transparency means in an auction environment and agree how to achieve that.
2) Marketplace education and training - build understanding for both direct sellers and media planners, create training for C-suite executives, link to sales certification and create a common curriculum for companies to use.
3) Standardization of definitions, terminology, and best practices - start with updating existing terminology piece to incorporate buyer/ad tech inputs, and then look to create a comprehensive mapping of programmatic ecosystem including roles and definitions.
4) Making Programmatic work for brands - engage brand managers & CMOs, enable selling of new formats, build better brand metrics and make data more compelling.

The IAB will be creating working groups on each of these topics with representatives from across the ecosystem including buyers, sellers and ad technology providers. Members agreed concrete deliverables for the next 12 months for each of these four priority areas. In addition the Council identified a number of areas where this group would need to work closely with other initiatives including on trust and quality issues, data use and standards, technical standards, and video/audio committees. 


About the Author

Carl Kalapesi, Director Industry Initiatives, IAB 
Reach him via email [email protected] or Twitter @carlkalapesi



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IAB University - A Place For Learning

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I’ve been thinking about my job title for some time now. Something about it has been troubling me, and I believe I have finally figured it out.

Since we launched the IAB Certification program nearly two years ago I’ve been Vice President, Training and Development.  Now, at the IAB we don’t go out of our way to be cute or creative when we use titles; they are meant to be accurate, expressive, and to-the-point. No Senseis or Shepherds here. As a result no one has ever not understood what my role is at the IAB.

Still, the longer that I’ve had this position, the more the title has seemed inappropriate to me. It’s the word training that bothers me. Training is something that’s done to people (or dogs!) Training sounds passive. It conjures up the image of a student held hostage in a classroom, passively absorbing information. Training is what managers send employees through.

classroom.jpgBut learning is completely different. Learning is active, not passive. We choose to learn. We all want to learn, all the time, to experience new things. Learning occurs in the classroom, but it also happens on the job, at home, anywhere and everywhere; with others or by oneself. Others might control my training, but I control my learning. Which one is more likely to stick with me?

That’s why we created IAB University (IAB.U), an industry educational hub where everyone across the ecosystem, from every level, can come together to learn from each other. At IAB University you can be on the receiving end of digital advertising education or you can teach your peers. Plus, participants receive IAB Learning Credits good towards IAB Digital Media Sales or IAB Digital Ad Operations recertification programs, if they need them.
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The IAB is flush with subject matter experts. Experts abound. Need to learn the latest on programmatic? Interested in how native advertising works? Unclear on what a viewable impression is?  If there’s something you need to know about digital advertising, our members have the answers. The IAB has always been a tremendous resource for thought leadership and cutting-edge expertise; that’s truer today than ever as our industry continues its remarkable growth.

We realize more and more people come to the IAB to learn. We are attracting more junior level employees and people relatively new to the industry. Learning comes in all flavors— a webinar, a conference, a panel of experts, a town hall of newbies. Just about every program the IAB offers is a learning experience, and we hope you will take advantage of those learning experiences whether you are seeking recertification or just want to stay abreast of what’s happening out there.

But here’s our hope—that many of you will share your expertise or newly-found research with others in our community. Did your company just release a piece of research? Turn it into a webinar for IAB members. Are you an expert on some new trend? Put together a panel so that IAB members can discuss, at your place or ours. Let’s figure out a way to make learning continuous and collaborative.

We’re already beginning to put together a free program of learning opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about IAB University or want to be part of the IAB University “faculty” to let us know what you want to teach please start here iab.net/iabu.

And with that…

 About the Author


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IAB releases Publisher’s perspectives on programmatic as first part in educational series

Programmatic buying and selling of advertising, real-time  bidding, and marketing automation is changing the way we transact digital media. Though numbers are very sketchy, by some accounts over 20% of all digital advertising is sold “programmatically” - and it’s growing rapidly. 

Programmatic-IAB_RTB.jpgYet programmatic competes with Native advertising for the title of “Buzzword of 2013”.  And the hyperbole couldn’t be more extreme. Concerns are rampant. Sales people are worried about becoming obsolete, losing their jobs to machines, and declining yields. Some buyers of digital media are worried that only crappy inventory is available programmatically. Aside from perhaps the ad tech community, there’s a great deal of smiling and nodding going on when people talk about the importance of programmatic, and not a lot of understanding. Ad agencies are worried that automation will mean standardization and less of a role for creativity and creatives.  On the other side, many see new technological innovation as the source of great potential value - creating significant efficiencies, new markets, and continuing to drive advertising dollars to digital.

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There is significant confusion in the marketplace around the meaning of terms like “programmatic”, “RTB”, “programmatic direct”, “programmatic premium”, and other verbiage, often being used interchangeably. New technologies are emerging which are creating significant value, but there is also a lack of clear technical standards to ensure interoperability across different platforms. Buyers and sellers are concerned with the limited transparency and number of vendors involved in the programmatic transaction.  And programmatic raises internal, organizational challenges for brands and agencies, and particularly for publishers with their existing direct sales teams and incentives.

Agencies and their clients have a lot to lose if programmatic isn’t implemented coherently: a set of technologies that aim to create market efficiencies could, instead, create a fragmented, illiquid marketplace if each media agency insists on creating its own proprietary marketplace with its own standards and its own technologies.

In the spirit of creating value for the entire marketplace and driving advertising dollars to digital, the IAB is working to tackle many of these challenges. Today it is releasing Digital Simplified: Programmatic and Automation - The Publishers’ Perspective,  the first in a new IAB educational series that offers easy-to-understand documents for the industry.  The piece aims to provide clarity, from the publishers’ perspective, on the different “programmatic” transaction types.  It outlines the four main ways of buying and selling “programmatically” and provides a clear framework for distinguishing between them.  It also highlights other factors commonly associated with each of these types of “programmatic” selling.

This is the first output of a newly created IAB Programmatic Publishers Task Force, chaired by Alanna Gombert, Senior Director Programmatic and Trading at Condé Nast and formerly of Ad Meld and Google.  The new Task Force is aimed at providing premium publishers a forum to come together to work on issues related to the programmatic agenda and how it impacts them.  Its goal is to help publishers establish market clarity and education around the programmatic ecosystem - both internally and externally. Barely a month after its launch there are now over 30 premium publishers participating in this initiative and the list is growing. In addition to working on clarity around definitions and terminology, the group is also working on issues around transparency across the value chain and sales force organizational issues.

The Programmatic Publishers Task Force is a key part of the overall IAB programmatic agenda.  This agenda focuses on firstly identifying and addressing the key business issues in the programmatic landscape, and secondly working on technical standards and implementation of standards to address these issues.   On the business side, in addition to its work with publishers, the IAB, in conjunction with The Winterberry Group, is conducting a thought-leadership research study to provide an effective roadmap to “programmatic” capabilities based on surveys and interviews with its members, to be released by the end of 2013. It is also working on mobile specific programmatic issues.  On the technical side, it is working on both digital automation implementation and open RTB standards.

For more information on the IAB’s work on programmatic marketing please go to iab.net/programmatic or contact Carl Kalapesi (below).

About the Author

Carl-Kalapesi-Bio-Picture-June-2013.jpgCarl Kalapesi is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) focusing on Programmatic, Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) and brand safety, performance marketing, networks & exchanges and multicultural.  He can be reached on Twitter @carlkalapesi or via email at at [email protected].

The IAB's Top 8 Digital U.S. Universities

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The latest annual ranking of U.S. universities by U.S. News & World Report came out on Tuesday, and while I’m personally pleased with how some higher learning institutions performed (Go Tigers!), I’m a bit dismayed that none of the top 10 has much of a reputation for their Digital Marketing or Advertising programs. In fact, only one school in the top 20 offers an undergraduate major with a digital focus.

Why does any of this matter? Because there’s a growing disconnect between the needs of the market and the available resources at universities. Marketing and Advertising— digital marketing, in particular, and digital advertising—are driving the mobile and digital revolutions which have created billions of dollars in equity value and hundreds of thousands of jobs.  While academic programs struggle to incorporate current trends into a semester-long course, IAB member companies express exasperation at finding qualified college graduates to fill entry-level positions.

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The timing is right for all of this to change. Struggling under mountains of college debt, students (and parents) want assurances that their degrees will lead to careers, not just jobs. Colleges face their own financial crises and as the competition for students increases, every institute of higher education—from community colleges to state universities to liberal arts colleges—will recognize that there are worse academic sins than preparing students for life and work after the classroom.

The IAB Digital University Study

Digital advertising and marketing aren’t the only sectors of the economy that are growing, of course. But they might be the most underrepresented among university programs. IAB recently commissioned a study of current offerings of undergraduate programs in advertising, marketing, and digital media studies at recognized U.S. institutions. Choosing “best” of anything is clearly subjective, and so we chose our criteria carefully. We looked at five requirements for colleges to satisfy in order to make our list:

1. The university is nationally and internationally recognized in various disciplines

2. The university offers undergraduate degrees in advertising, marketing, media studies, or business

3. The advertising program includes an emphasis in interactive advertising, digital media, or at least offers several courses with a focus on interactive and social media advertising

4. The marketing program allows for elective courses outside the business school

5. The university offers courses in digital media design that are available to non-art majors

Location, while not a primary factor, was also taken into consideration. Programs in New York and California received additional attention.

The following programs, in no particular order, show the most promise in addressing the five factors (the U.S. News & World national rankings are listed in parentheses after each university):

  • University of Texas at Austin - BA in Advertising with an emphasis in Media Studies (#52)
  • New York University - BBA in Marketing or BS in Media, Culture and Communication (#32)
  • Syracuse University - BA in Advertising (#62)
  • University of California at Berkeley - BA in Media Studies (#20)
  • Southern Methodist University - BA in Advertising with Media Emphasis (#60)

The following programs have established and recognized interactive advertising programs but may not meet other requirements.

  • Michigan State University - BA in Advertising with an emphasis in Management and Media (#73)
  • University of Washington - Master of Communications in Digital Media (#52)
  • University of Michigan, Dearborn - BBA in Digital Marketing (#36 Regional Ranking)

There’s a lot here to consider. The digital industry needs more top schools to introduce relevant digital courses and majors. IAB, as an industry leader, need to become actively involved in the programs that are being offered and figure out a way to enhance their reputation.

And here’s why: In order for the digital economy to continue to flourish, the current and next generation of post-secondary students must be prepared for interactive advertising careers. On-the-job training can only go so far and can be much more efficient if new employees have the requisite skills and knowledge before entering the workforce.

IAB is committed to professionalizing the digital advertising workforce of the 21st century, creating accredited credentials that set industry-wide standards of knowledge and expertise. We started in 2012 with the Digital Media Sales Certification program and have certified nearly a thousand sales professionals in little more than a year. Now, this week, we launched the Digital Ad Operations Certification program, the first-ever certification for digital ad ops professionals at ad agencies, digital publishers, trading desks, demand and supply-side platforms, exchanges and brands. We will continue our efforts in 2014, introducing new certification programs wherever the marketplace deems necessary.

But education, training and workforce development need to occur further upstream. Private industry—the digital employers who represent the greatest need for a trained and capable workforce—must make its need for qualified graduates known to colleges and universities, and to partner with these institutions, providing scholarships, endowing chairs, funding programs, and joining faculties. IAB sees a major role for itself in helping to make these partnerships possible. Look for further developments in 2014. 

To learn more about IAB Professional Digital Certification Programs go to iab.net/certification or email [email protected]t.

 About the Author


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Despite my silent goal to never again take a multiple-choice exam post college, I found myself on July 31st at the NetCom testing center on West 33rd, preparing to take the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification exam.

The IAB launched this training program over a year ago to help increase the knowledge of digital sales professionals. As a marketing exec at PulsePoint, a data-driven content technology provider, I considered myself lucky to take the exam alongside our entire salesforce. In an effort to continue to adopt and help drive industry best practices, our SVP of Sales, John Ruvolo, instated the requirement that all sales support teams - sellers, client services, account managers, ad operations, and marketing - successfully complete the training and obtain certification.  Now, I must admit - having to carve out time to study on top of the daily grind was a challenge, but as I started digesting the impressive body of study preparation materials created by the IAB, I found myself happy to do so.   

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I have worked my entire professional life in the digital media space and truly appreciate that the IAB has provided a training program that deepens my understanding of our industries ever-changing processes, rules and regulations, best practices, definitions and of course…all those acronyms.  Our space evolves at a dizzying pace to (try to) stay ahead of the mind-blowing technology being created every day. Chrome TV, one-click mobile payments, location sharing apps…it’s enough to make you seriously consider one of those ‘digital detox’ retreats. But without that evolution, without the constant influx of fresh ideas and new ways of connecting consumers to an amazing online experience, it would not be the exciting and fulfilling environment so many of us call home every day.

It has been common practice to learn and grow alongside all of this change through a mix of self-education and information sharing amongst colleagues, partners, and friends.  What a relief to have a trusted, accredited program led by our industry body that helps to educate and benchmark our top professionals against rigorous industry standards.  We finally have proof that we know what we are talking about…well, most of the time.

This IAB Certification process is something that digital execs across all business channels of our industry should undergo. I am proud that PulsePoint has embraced the program and offered it to employees beyond direct sellers; we are already exploring ways to incorporate this into all new hire training. Activating this program at the sales level of an organization and beyond can also impact future hiring decisions. It enables us to narrow candidate searches to only the best, most qualified applicants and allows us have even more faith that our teams are making the most educated decisions possible.

In order for digital media to continue being one of the most sought-after industries to work within, we must take responsibility to ensure that those dedicating their livelihood to it have the right tools to be as successful as possible. The IAB has taken great strides in creating a framework within which this critical professional development can happen, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow.

About the Author

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Lindsay Boesen 

Lindsay Boesen is Director of Marketing at PulsePoint, and on Twitter @PulsePointBuzz.

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The IAB Digital Media Sales Certification: One Year Later

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One year ago, those first applicants buckled down to study up on media topics, from CPCs to DSPs, in order to take the Digital Media Sales Certification exam.  The Founding Commission, charter companies and IAB staff had spent months working to develop a credential that embodied credibility and integrity.  And let me tell you, it was not an easy task. We were working in uncharted territory.  And by any measureable standard the IAB Certification program has been a success.

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On Tuesday night, July 25, 2013, IAB was proud to host a celebration in recognition of the first class of Certification holders and all those who helped create and support IAB Digital Media Sales Certification. 

Here’s what we have accomplished in just one year:

  • More than 1,200 have registered for the program
  • Companies like AOL, Collective and IDG have committed to certifying their entire sales teams
  • A number of companies (24/7 Media, Trial Retail Media and About.com) have made Certification part of their hiring and training processes
  • Certification holders and their managers have given us tremendous positive feedback about the reception of the program from the marketplace
  • Every day sales professionals from leading companies across the country are signing up to take the exam

Peter_DSC4575_sm.jpgDuring the event, exclusive guests networked at Lavo in New York City. Many Certification holders and sales executives shared their experiences about how colleagues and clients have responded to Certification.

Matthew White, National Digital Director at Time Inc.’s My Recipes was on the committee that helped create the exam and is now a Certification holder. “This is a great training tool for companies.  It opens up your perspective to parts of the industry outside of your own experience.  This makes for a better understanding of your competition, the products they may be selling and how.”




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Randall Rothenberg, IAB President and CEO, told the crowd, that the Certification program came from his earliest meetings with IAB member companies, seven years ago. “The thing that came up over and over again from companies big and small was, ‘We need training!’  We learned after years of work, that the best way to scale training in a new industry was not to create the course work yourself.  It is to codify industry knowledge within your network, turn it into a standardized test, and get others to teach that test around the world.” 

Randall went on to say, “The program has exceeded our wildest expectations.  With big companies signing on and making it a requirement it’s taking on a life of its own.”

One of the most frequent questions we heard in the beginning was, “Why do sales people even need certification?”  We created the program because digital advertising buyers and sellers needed a benchmark to ensure that sales people had the basic knowledge required to sell new media programs.  The ecosystem changes so quickly, clients now have a deeper level of trust that the people they talk to understand the industry and comprehend their needs. No one’s asking “why” any longer.

 “With 1,000 people expected toLeslie_DSC4660_sm.jpg pass the test by the end of 2012, we are in a position to make the industry stronger.” said Scott Schiller, EVP of Advertising Sales at NBC Universal and Chairman of IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Commission.  “A few years ago one of the biggest complaints about the industry was the lack of perceived professionalism that digital sellers had compared to traditional media experts. (With Certification) the industry has come a long way, and the IAB is credited to helping with that.  I encourage all of you who have not taken the test to encourage your company to participate.”

Marta Martinez, AOL’s Head of Sales Strategy & Operations, addressed  the room on the company’s commitment to customer service, innovation and knowledge as well as “raising the bar on the internet,” helping clients fully leverage the medium as a marketing channel.  “At AOL there is a lot of effort in bringing balance between the premium advertising and programmatic sides of the house.  This is the reason why we requested that all of the front facing-sales people in the U.S. will be certified this year.  When we announced the program internally there was huge demand.  We are already seeing a lot of value from the program.  We are all starting to speak the same language and we are no longer in the business of translation with our clients.”


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In two weeks, on July 10, 2013, will officially be declared IAB Certification Day.  It’s a day for certificants and friends of the program to demonstrate their support and pride for the credentials, by posting their badge online via social media.  We ask everyone to use the hash tag #iabcertday, so that IAB can showcase everyone who participates.  For information about how to participate or to follow the conversation on Certification Day go to: iab.net/certday

In just one year digital ad buyers, human resources professionals and sales executives have embraced the credential, integrating it into their business practice.  By no means are we done defining and refining the program, but the milestones of 2012-2013 are sure indicators that Digital Media Sales Certification is here to stay.

“The industry needs to continue to embrace quality in sales and product to gain better trust with clients.” said Certification holder and SVP of Sales at pulsepoint, John Ruvolo. “Certification is a great step in the right direction to set a benchmark of trust for the industry.”


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The Ecosystem Demands It / Your Clients Demand It

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You’ve heard it before from measurement experts, media exec’s, and from me.  Today’s digital measurement does not serve our business needs and perhaps its undue complexity actually prevents digital media from achieving full potential as advertising media. As unprecedented change in what technology, media and consumers do together and with each other continues unabated, we are still fighting to establish constructs, metrics, measurement systems and workflows that should have been established more than a decade ago.

You’ve heard/read this before from us (how’s that for building frequency?), but, did you know that the advertisers are issuing a clarion call for Making Measurement Make Sense?  Yes, your clients and in trade association parlance, our partners across the ecosystem agree, in fact, demand that measurement and accountability improve.

In a videoblog posted on October 11, 2010, Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA says, “Marketing effectiveness increases substantially when it is fully and completely accountable. In order to do so, we need fully accountable measurement systems “. Bob goes on to describe initiatives that are underway to improve measurement and thereby make marketers far better and far more accountable.

The one point that Bob does not elaborate on is that the IAB, ANA and 4A’s measurement initiative is as much about changing and reinventing a business process as it is about the specifics of measurement. Making Measurement Make Sense is platform agnostic since all media are digital.

Moreover, Making Measurement Makes Sense seeks to manage the inexorable change that we are witnessing as new devices enter the marketplace and creativity in consuming and communicating abound. Along with the ANA, the 4A’s and other potential partners, the IAB will continue to strive to establish metrics, systems and processes that make sense for today and tomorrow.

Sherrill Mane is Senior Vice President for Industry Services at the IAB.