August 2013 Archives
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.
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
Marketers love digital media, plain and simple. The digital platform gives marketers opportunities to create conversations and consumer relationships that heretofore were not possible. Brands are being built and results are being generated due to digital’s expansion within the marketing mix.
But marketers are also frustrated by the lack of “viewability”. In 2012, according to various sources, 1.8 trillion display ads were paid for, but could not be seen. We are close to realizing a material improvement to this fundamental issue: viewability. Yes, the viewable impression is nearly here. The Media Rating Council (MRC) expects to lift its Viewable Impression Advisory by the end of this year, and at that time marketers will eagerly start buying digital media on viewable metrics. Publishers and agencies, we hope you’re ready.
Marketers reportedly waste billions of dollars annually in display ads that are not viewable. ANA’s Board of Directors and the larger marketing community have demanded that viewability become the basis for digital currency and transactions.
In February 2011, when ANA joined with IAB and the 4A’s to start the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative, we recognized a tremendous shortfall in digital spending productivity. We saw a substantial confidence gap in understanding the value of marketing investment in display and video advertising. We were horrified that the media that was “supposed to be the most accountable” was turning out to be the least accountable. With great anticipation, we are now just a few months away from resolving a significant driver of this dilemma.
The foundation of this excitement is the overdue shift from served impressions to viewable impressions. It gives marketers the assurance that consumers get to see the ad that they paid to place. Critically, it opens the opportunity for apples-to-apples cross-platform comparisons that will increase marketer confidence in the development of intelligent and capable multi-screen marketing plans. It provides marketers with the accountability they need to embrace digital more enthusiastically. There’s also a great benefit for publishers, agencies, and others that succeed in making the transformation to viewable, as they will become the preferred partners of these hungry marketers. The upside is enormous for all those that make the shift.
We recognize, however, that the move to viewable is rattling many businesses to their cores. Publishers need to adopt SafeFrame to increase the proportion of their inventory that is measurable for viewability, and to adjust the very constitution of their operations to manage this important currency change.
We understand that the system will be imperfect. Refinement of viewable impression transactions will continue even after the MRC Advisory is lifted. For example, new complexities in discrepancy resolution will need to be explored and resolved
There is no turning back. The marketing community has waited too long and wasted too much money not to make the leap to viewable. We cannot be frozen by fear or perfectionism either. Without forward motion, we will undermine the advancements already established. We will also undercut future enhancements that will make digital media a more appealing brand-building investment for marketers.
The viewable impression will be the foundation of fundamental innovations such as the Digital GRP. Creating a GRP that is comparable to that in other media is crucial for the evolution of cross-platform analytics. Marketer’s inherent challenge to enhance integrated marketing would be dramatically reduced by a “common GRP.” This would facilitate improved decision-making and resolve cornerstone issues such as marketing mix modeling and media budgeting decisions. Combined with the growing use of the common coding power of Ad-ID, marketing measurement for publishers, agencies, and marketers would be turbocharged.
For the digital media industry, the only question is how fast we can implement these historic changes. The MRC is bounding onwards, completing the work needed to lift the advisory and continuing to guide us toward a more accountable media marketplace. For agencies, forward motion means being ready to rely on the clarity provided by these new metrics to advise and act in the best interests of marketers. For publishers, it means adopting SafeFrame now and being ready to satisfy marketer demand for viewable impression transactions by the end of the year.
This is the age of accountability. If you’re ready to meet the demands of the day, you’ll be greatly rewarded. But if you’re not a participant, you’ll run the risk of being left on the sidelines. Let’s do this all together and move the industry decidedly forward.
About the Author
Bob Liodice is President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of National Advertisers