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How Marketers Can Make Data and Technology Work Better Together

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After more than a decade of heavy investing in new technologies, marketers now find themselves at an interesting tipping point. Over time, in trying to keep up with the industry’s frenetic pace of digital innovation and achieve competitive advantage, they’ve piled on a dizzying array of tools and platforms. They’re literally swimming in technologies - a complicated ecosystem of toolsets, vendors and channels.
 
The complexity involved in managing this multi-channel, multi-device matrix has been ratcheted up to an untenable, nearly dysfunctional level. A new study by Winterberry Group and the IAB, Marketing Data Technology: Cutting Through the Complexity, confirms what I hear from marketers almost every day. Enterprise marketers are grappling with as many as 30 or more distinct toolsets for analytics, ad-serving, attribution, retargeting, search, mobile and email marketing, CRM, social media, content management and more. But these data-thirsty technologies don’t talk to each other. They lack interoperability, saddling marketers with the difficult and thorny challenge of how to connect them - and how to fuel them with a high-volume, high-velocity stream of up-to-the-minute, cross-channel data, which is necessary for optimizing their tech investments.   
 
No wonder so many companies are not yet ready to provide the relevant, seamless experiences that smartphone-toting consumers desire.
 
Brands have been addressing the technology stack dilemma via a single-sourcing strategy or by shopping for independent, best-in-breed toolsets. The Winterberry survey (which Signal sponsored) set out to poll marketers about their preferences in the long-running debate of suite vs. independent and, not surprisingly, found an industry split straight down the middle. 
 
Respondents, however, were decidedly undivided on the question of interoperability. More than 60 percent of marketers said better integration of existing tools would help them derive greater value from data.
 
“There’s a massive gap for integration,” a brand marketer told Winterberry researchers. “Frankly we’re just trying to wrangle all our digital data into one place. The amount of data we have is massive, it’s ridiculous,” said another. “It’s a hot mess,” lamented a media agency executive, describing the tangle of tools, silos and processes the agency’s clients are dealing with.
 
Integration matters deeply to marketers who want to make better use of their data and technology. Cross-channel initiatives such as measurement, engagement and targeting are top-of-mind for marketers, the survey found, yet fewer than half of marketers are currently able to leverage their data technology for these key efforts. The holy grail of understanding the customer journey across devices and channels remains stubbornly out of reach.
 
Building Your Cross-Channel House Requires a Strong Foundation
 
The stark truth is: No matter what road you go down in terms of your marketing stack, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Even a fully-integrated suite may not remain that way for long, with such a fast pace of supplier consolidation and the constant emergence of new tools. 
 
Which direction you decide to go - that is, whether you choose a platform suite or multiple “point” solutions - is not really the core issue. Your success will rest on the quality of the cross-channel foundation you lay to support your journey, in the form of good data. That means creating a common conduit of customer data, of the highest quality, in one place, so that your technology investments - of all types - can work together with the speed, flexibility and scale you need to make the marketing decisions that affect your bottom line.
 
Marketers report that their current mandate is making their data actionable. That clearly highlights a significant, glaring gap: there can be no meaningful cross-channel action without connected data. The way to bridge that chasm? A data strategy and a long-term roadmap.
 
Walking the Cross-Channel Walk
 
Winterberry found that within the typical marketing organization, five internal departments or functions - including digital, analytics, media buying, loyalty, and direct marketing - utilize separate tools, all of which are data-dependent. However, the barriers to making first-party data actionable are not created solely by the technology challenges inherent to a complex and evolving marketing stack. Issues that go beyond technology, including organizational silos, skillset issues, outdated policies, and governance also have to be dealt with.
 
There are three significant areas where you should put your focus in order to find your cross-channel footing:
 
  1. Create a data strategy. You need a holistic, data-oriented strategy, with a top-down approach, in order to get past the cross-channel starting line. Catalog the most relevant types of data you have, relative to your marketing goals. Also, map out how your existing technological investments can be leveraged across desktop, mobile, CRM, email and other offline channels. Finally, let the bigger picture of how customers interact with your brand across touchpoints help establish your strategy.
  2. Prioritize integration. When you make your technology investments, always keep integration top-of-mind - rather than just features and functionality. All of your teams should be trained to make integration a priority. And when buying new solutions, you should select vendors that understand your company’s data strategy and provide a clear path to making their technologies connect to the rest of your ecosystem, including legacy systems.
  3. Banish silos. Align your strategy and marketing operations around the customer journey, with departments working in lockstep to deliver a consistent experience. With your eye on the cross-channel prize, all of your team members should have the right skill sets to launch and manage cross-channel initiatives. The necessary expertise can be gathered in-house or through agency, vendor, or other third-party partnerships.
 
Create Your Own Cross-Channel Roadmap
 
Marketers know the future is cross-channel and their journey is just beginning.  Their visions of engaging customers on a one-to-one basis are tempered by the reality of the legitimate obstacles in their way: fragmented data, lack of integration, the difficulties of identifying consumers across channels, and people and process silos. There’s a clear gap between where marketers are today and where they know they need to be in order to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time and in the right context. Marketers didn’t create the issues contributing to this cross-channel maturity gap. But they must lay the foundation for solving them without skipping any steps along the data-driven path. 
 
The opportunities that today’s technologies have created are unmatched in the history of marketing. Each brand has to follow its own path in order to best take advantage of those opportunities. A single view of the customer across channels and touchpoints - which is only possible by centralizing and integrating data - is now table stakes for cross-channel marketing. What remains to be seen is how marketers will address the range of challenges they face in order to find their footing on the cross-channel journey.


About the Author

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Mike Sands

Mike Sands is the CEO of Signal





 

Unleashing Mobile Native's Potential in 2015

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Gartner’s recent predictions for the growth of mobile commerce over the next 24 months should come as no surprise - mobile commerce revenue is expected to more than double over the next two years ultimately accounting for 1 out of every 2 dollars spent in digital commerce.  

As consumer spending habits shift sharply to mobile, so too are advertising budgets with the rapid growth in mobile advertising today reminiscent of the same trajectory we witnessed in display advertising after the RTB protocol was introduced seven years ago. Put simply: mobile (and mobile native) advertising represents an opportunity that is about to fast eclipse that of display.

The challenge for those seeking to capitalize on the perfect storm of powerful data-based insights for targeting mobile consumers and rapidly accelerating spend on mobile will be to develop marketing strategies that unlock the full potential of mobile consumer engagement. This opportunity has highlighted the clear and immediate need for uniform industry standards to help unlock the full potential of mobile and mobile native advertising—for both the advertiser as well as for the publishers and application developers.  

The lack of standardization is probably the number one reason that buyers and sellers are unable to connect effectively when it comes to mobile native advertising and this creates a huge amount of friction. 

The second reason is the inefficiency with direct ad buying in mobile. Advertisers can go directly to an app developer and buy inventory on a single app or across a family of apps, but this is time intensive. In order to reach the scale advertisers now demand for their campaign objectives, they would need to make dozens, if not hundreds of deals with separate publishers and app developers located around the world. This is simply not a viable option for large scale consumer campaigns. And to makes matter worse for direct advertisers, many large and successful app developers don’t operate large sales teams (or sales teams at all!) making it nearly impossible for advertisers to secure inventory directly on many successful apps. 

Thirdly, relying on mobile ad networks - while streamlining the process for the advertiser - has led to crippling and unintended consequences for publishers and app developers. With each ad network integration the app developer is required to insert a unique ad network code - a Software Development Kit (SDK). As more and more SDKs are inserted, rendering quality of the app is negatively impacted.  In speaking with many app developers I have heard time and again that the integration of these SDKs has been identified as the #1 cause for application crashes, consequentially proving a poor user experience which drives down usage, stickiness, and ultimately depresses potential monetization.  

The good news for both buyers and sellers is that the industry has been focused on addressing these issues and just completed an 8-month review process to develop a  common, programmatic language to drive efficiency in mobile native advertising. This extension to the OpenRTB offers advertisers a better way to access millions of applications and will help establish integration processes that will complement the user experience. 

The IAB’s publication of this standards-track specification signals a game-changing advancement for the advertising industry with benefits seen across the entire ecosystem, including:

  1. A new and better revenue stream for app developers. Currently, app developers make the majority of their revenue through paid downloads. By standardizing the mobile native transaction process, a previously unavailable revenue stream will be delivered to the market fueled by allowing developers to make money from engaging and lucrative native ads appearing within their apps.  
  2. Increased supply of premium mobile native inventory. With the new potential for revenue, more app developers will enter the market and existing app developers will now make their inventory available more easily to advertisers. The core “network” effects of advertising technology - more sellers attracting more buyers - will be further unleashed. 
  3. Acceleration of scale within mobile native. By standardizing mobile native advertising, brand advertisers and agencies will now have access to larger amount of inventory making it easier for them to achieve their campaign objectives. 
  4. Improved user experience. By standardizing the process and removing the need for multiple SDK integrations, mobile apps will render more quickly and will be less likely to crash, thus delivering an optimal user experience.

The adoption of a standard means of buying and selling mobile native ad placements is a win for publishers and developers seeking greater avenues for monetization, and will create better, more varied ad experiences for mobile users. Enabling brands with deeper opportunities to reach and engage key audiences will be crucial in mobile advertising’s continued growth. 

About the Authors

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Neal Richter

Neal Richter is the Chief Scientist of Rubicon Project and co-chair of OpenRTB



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Brendan Riordan-Butterworth

Brendan Riordan-Butterworth is the Director of Technical Standards at IAB.





 
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The International Breakfast Session, which was started a few years ago, has now become a key discussion during the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. Taking place on the closing day of the conference in Phoenix, Arizona, the session gathered over 50 digital advertising leaders from 11 countries to discuss the pressing issues facing the industry and how we can work better together to advance our common interests. 

Two very lively conversations were the focus of the morning, in addition to the newly released research in partnership with BabyCenter and the IAB multinational research: The first was an open International Town Hall on mobile integration, and the second was a chat on Viewability

“Everything is mobile,” explains Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB UK, “and we are clearly in a period of global mobile exponential growth.” Although the UK now sees mobile dominates digital time, many other countries are not far behind, from a shift in consumer behavior to one in digital ad spending. As such, it is not surprising that global media owners are considering cross screen strategies to be vital even though monetization remains a key challenge. 

The challenges publishers are faced with are not necessarily country specific. Issues such as access to subscription data, tracking consumers on mobile devices, targeting and frequency capping are real problems in many markets. Certainly, regions like Southeast Asia face additional hurdles compared to Europe as the diversity from country to country is remarkable and although mobile is at the heart of what IAB Singapore has to offer, lobbying for standards and setting policy is primordial.

It also came to light in this discussion that as IABs around the world address mobile integration, it does not always make sense to have mobile broached separately from the rest of the digital landscape. The same is true with digital video, which is becoming increasingly important, as is the need for content and advertising to be constructed in a different ways (ie shorter). It was also interesting to hear how even the definition of mobile isn’t always as clear-cut as one would expect. IAB Canada, Vice President, Operations, Julie Ford, suggested separating smartphones from everything else maybe a better approach.
 
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As Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB, points out, maybe we are seeing a return of interruptive advertising because of mobile. Where it used to be one of the worse kinds of advertising, cluttering the screen, the remarkable success of mobile is that it puts ads in the middle of the content. Native or in-stream advertising in mobile can in essence be compared to television ads or even magazine ads.  

There was a solid agreement from everyone present on the need to better understand the multi-screen evolution, what meets consumers’ needs and what works for advertisers. And clearly the need for research in terms of screen sizes and their impact as that is an important part of creating effective advertising. From IAB Canada’s html5 webinar series to the work IAB is doing this year on establishing new responsive standards, it is evident that the key is to get agencies and advertisers on board by understanding the impact of mobile advertising and not just looking at mobile from a technology standpoint.

The chat on Viewability was equally vibrant. 

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Lou Paskalis, SVP, Enterprise Media Executive, Bank of America, and Julian Zilberbrand, EVP, Activation Standards, Insights & Technology, ZenithOptimedia, were joined by Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics, and Measurement, IAB, and actively engaged everyone in the breakfast on what planning and trading on a viewable metrics means and how we as a global industry are not ready for this yet, until the issue measurement has been tackled. 

Again, not limited to the U.S. market, there are fraudulent actors in the digital advertising ecosphere and it is completely understandabl
e that advertisers do not want to be paying to send a message out to consumers that is never seen. As Julian pointed out, that would just be a waste. What it comes down to is the opportunity to have consumers receive the message and for it to be viewed. Sherrill underlined that Viewability is important for everyone’s KPIs, and it is more than planning and buying media, it is knowing the value so that you can build models based on more than air.

From all corners of the world, there is a lot of noise out there about Viewability but until there is clarity and agreement on measurement, we are functionally in a period where the focus needs to be on tracking. Conducting business on viewable impressions does not make sense today. Most publishers don’t have systems in place to manage Viewablity and as Julian pointed out so well, this is the year they need to push technology partners for a solution. And tying in to our earlier conversation about mobile, Lou pointed out that not only does the counting process need to be addressed overall but given that mobile is at the center of what so many are doing now, mobile Viewability aught to be fast-tracked. 
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If you would like to get engaged with the IAB Global Network, be sure to save the date for the next significant event, IAB Global Summit, to be held in New York on September 30 and October 1, 2015. In the meantime, you can learn more at www.iab.net/global and browse the full IAB Global Network Facebook photo album here.


About the Author

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Alexandra Salomon

Alexandra Salomon is the Senior Director, International at the Interactive Advertising Bureau


 

Closing the Loop with Location Data

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In this age of digital media, technology and data are changing rapidly as data signal continues to explode. Each new data brings the possibility of new measurement solutions and new methodological approaches that allow us to better understand the consumer path to purchase and overall campaign effectiveness. 

If you think about it, measuring clicks and click-through rates (CTR) in digital channels has long been an industry standard of evaluating campaign effectiveness and used in modeling campaign attribution. However, research shows that clicks on online display ads are often not correlated with brand awareness or purchase intent, and using clicks in mobile as brand interest can be even more of an issue. Since clicks are not good indicators of consumer brand awareness or purchase intent, we can look to the growth in marketing data to help us find alternatives.

Mobility data (data from tablets, smartphones, IoT, wearables) is a perfect example of new data that improves our ability to measure advertising. As the consumption of digital media continues to move to devices which can provide mobility data, the arsenal of physical signal of user behaviors explodes. One of the pieces of mobility data which has proven to be most valuable to marketers is location data. Cross-channel location data is essential for enhancing our ability to measure the effectiveness of advertising by actually allowing us to measure the effect of online to offline on a broad scale and not just for those users who we have been able to track through qualitative surveys and diaries.

Passive location data, specifically lat/long, is a by-product of opt-in user brand app usage, check-ins, photo tagging, social posts and more. Location data can be used to move beyond geo-fencing and targeting users based on geography to providing a signal for mobile based audience models and in-store measurement. The key to location-based metrics is to tie location to other attributes: brick and mortar brands, events, behavioral propensities or any other audience signal that can be associated to a geographical area.  

The magic of location data is the power of its signal when it is accurate and associated with other relevant metadata. Once location is in context, we can connect digital campaign information to the corresponding audience interaction in the physical world to achieve that dream of measuring the effect of online brand interactions to offline sales as we know online channels have increasing influence on offline sales (see the chart below).  
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Location data also enables us to better understand attribution and campaign performance across channels (desktop, tablet, smartphone, TV, OOH, etc.).  

By identifying location data and subsequently analyzing the physical patterns of the audiences targeted on various channels, you can go beyond click-through to measure what matters - the impact your cross-channel campaign has on in-store traffic and purchases. And now for the best part, I’m extremely excited for the release of an important project many companies, colleagues, and myself have been working on in collaboration with the IAB. Today we are releasing a primer on how location data is used to better understand ROI and attribution. This piece highlights current and emerging practices for using mobile location data in numerous ways to better understand campaign and marketing performance. You can download the primer, “Marketing ROI and Location Data” here


About the Author

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Lauren Moores

Lauren Moores is the VP of Analytics at Dstillery



 
A whopping 70 percent of marketers say they are planning to increase their social media advertising budget in 2015, according to the recent Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing Survey of 5,000+ global marketers. Yet, as social media platforms incorporate new paid advertising options to replace older ones, it is increasingly difficult for agencies and marketers to navigate the available ad products in the paid social media world.  


To help make sense of this rapidly evolving space, the IAB Social Media Committee worked with the top seven social media platforms to develop a “one stop shopping” guide that provides the industry with an up-to-date framework for buying advertising on Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter. 
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 “In a world that moves fast, relying on resources such as the IAB Social Media Guide provides tremendous value to marketers, giving them true insight into the social media landscape. But the real value comes from marketing partners for each social platform who can us this guide as a reference to better evaluate all the amazing options at their disposal to reach the right audience, the right way, at the right time in the purchase funnel. This guide is an evolving working document, as evolving as our industry is,” said IAB Social Media Committee Co-chair Carine Roman, Head of Global Advertising Operations at LinkedIn. Readers can use the interactive guide to focus on the platforms they are most interested in. 

Fellow Co-chair Christine Cuoco, Director of Global Business Marketing at Twitter added, “Our hope is that this collaboration inspires creativity, innovation and high quality work.”

What do the social media platform contributors have to say about the guide?

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The Social Media Buyer’s Guide is a great resource that helps marketers and agencies understand how they can drive real, business results across some of the largest and most engaging publishers in the world. It’s great to see that all partners came together to create one valuable resource. For more information about advertising on Facebook and Instagram, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/resources and http://business.instagram.com/

 - Judy Lee, Head of Industry Marketing at Facebook


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This comprehensive guide provides a helpful top-line view of paid social media vehicles, as well as the current capabilities and ideal uses for each platform. Our belief is that as advertisers harness the intrinsic value in social and location-based platforms, the IAB Social Media Guide will prove to be a useful tool for laying groundwork for client use cases and campaign expectations.

- Swen Graham, Director, Creative and Brand Strategy at Foursquare




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This one-stop resource guide is a solid framework for getting started with marketing your brand across leading social media platforms. An amazing collaborative approach to social media creating an aggregated guide needed to up level your social marketing efforts. For more information and to get started with LinkedIn products, please visit https://business.linkedin.com/ or contact your LinkedIn Account Executive.

- Todd Graham, Campaign Manager, Ad Operations, Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn and     Scott Lowry, Manager of Ad Operations at LinkedIn




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While these platforms are often lumped together as “social” there are important distinctions that make them unique. For example, Pinterest does connect people, but at its core, it’s a visual bookmarking tool that’s most often used to help people plan their lives. This guide is a helpful reference to help you plan your approach to make the most of each platform. For more information about Pinterest Tools, please visit https://business.pinterest.com.
 
- Yolanda Lam, Agency Partnerships at Pinterest




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This collective guide is a tremendous and reliable resource for marketers looking to elevate their brand presence and captivate new audiences across the ever-evolving social landscape. For more information on getting started with Tumblr, please visit Tumblr.com/business or contact [email protected].

- Tyler Penell -  Sales Development & Strategy; Karen Shosfy- Industry Communications Manager at Tumblr





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This guide is a powerful resource for any marketer who wants to stay up to date on best practices across multiple ad platforms. Access additional resources and marketer success stories at https://biz.twitter.com/success-stories, and reach out to your account lead with any questions.

- Julie Martin- Sales Manager, Media & Entertainment and  Adam Schatz, Account Manager, Media & Entertainment at Twitter






What’s Next? 
It is intended that the Social Media Buyer’s Guide will be updated as major ad product changes are announced by any of the seven platforms, so please check back frequently to get the most up-to-date ad product information.  


About the Author

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Susan Borst

Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B, Games, Content Marketing and Native Advertising. 
She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst




 
For a simple question, “what is mobile?” can be surprisingly difficult. Most of the time when we’re asked, my IAB Mobile Center colleagues and I tend to talk about mobile as a social shift, a major change in the way people live their lives, keep up with friends, and stay informed and entertained. All of that is true, and should define media company and marketer strategies. But social shifts don’t necessarily make for straightforward revenue accounting practices, and so the IAB CFO Council and the Mobile Center collaborated on a brief survey of ad seller IAB members, asking them what they counted as “mobile” from a revenue perspective.

We’ve just released the results, in our 2014 IAB Mobile Revenue Recognition Survey. In terms of answering the question at hand, smartphone ad revenue is almost always mobile (93% of respondents), and tablet ad revenue is are generally considered mobile too (by 78% of respondents). Only 16% think of laptop ads as generating mobile revenue. Revenue from apps is almost universally considered mobile, while revenue from websites viewed on phones or tablets is much less so.

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IAB believes that surveys like this one provide useful guidance to the industry, indicating emerging best practices and de facto standards that all ad sellers should consider when revamping their accounting systems to reflect the modern, cross-screen world.


About the Author

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Joe Laszlo

Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.

 


 

3 Reasons Advertisers Need Advanced Television Now

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Advanced Television truly has… advanced. An estimated 75-100MM Americans watch TV content over IP across a host of devices. TV Everywhere video starts grew by over 100% last year. Addressable TV already reaches tens of millions of households across DISH, DIRECTV, Cablevision and Comcast, and soon could jump by about another 50% with the addition of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD’s)/multi-system operators (MSOs) such as Charter, Cox, and Verizon. 

With staggering numbers like these, what we’ve been calling “Advanced TV” rightfully should be called, simply: “TV.”

The underlying technologies of Advanced TV have enabled innovation in content delivery and interaction, which has led to radical consumer behavior shifts. The way people watch TV—how, where, and on what devices—has changed. And in this shift, the IAB sees tremendous opportunity for advertisers’ strategies around media, creative, and measurement to evolve as well, generating greater value for advertisers, for publishers and distributors, and yes, for viewers.

To step back and define Advanced TV: it is the evolution of television, far beyond the linear television viewing experience and :30 commercials of the past 50 years. Non-traditional television consumption methods - such as time-shifting on DVRs, VOD and interactive television (iTV) — and enhanced cross-device viewing experiences — such as TV everywhere and Over-the-Top (OTT) viewing — have enabled unprecedented consumer control and choice. New content delivery platforms and functionality enable marketing nirvana: better targeting and addressability, more efficient and automated buying and selling methodologies, more holistic measurement and robust insights, and all of this enabling more impactful and influential campaigns. Advanced TV brings the best capabilities of digital advertising to TV advertising. 

To help accelerate innovation and adoption in this space, the Advanced TV Advisory Board of the IAB has begun work on an industry primer, to be published in Q2 2015. The primer will serve as a resource and buyers’ guide, pointing the way to help brands and agencies access the 3 core advantages of Advanced TV advertising:

First, the highly effective targeting technologies available through Advanced TV platforms help advertisers find their audiences — and re-aggregate them at scale — cross-device and at any time and place. And the addressable technology of Advanced TV makes that reach and scale more relevant to that audience when and where they are found.

Second, the richly interactive technology of Advanced TV enables greater engagement. Audience choice — viewers choosing their content and influencing or potentially even choosing which ads they see — ensures deeper engagement with that content and the advertising that goes with it. Richer data return on what audiences are choosing helps further refine the addressability of the platform, since based on the viewers’ choices of both content and advertising, the ads being served can be optimized.

And third, that same data return offers advertisers more effective and meaningful measurement of campaigns. Brands can be more certain that they actually reached their audience effectively, and gain insight into viewers’ usage and engagement. These insights feed back into the top of the cycle, helping advertisers target, reach, and engage their audience more and more effectively.

In short, with Advanced TV, advertisers have the opportunity to deliver more targeted messages and interactive content, with accountability far beyond simple media exposure. Stay tuned (so to speak) for the publication of this industry resource to help smart advertisers achieve exactly that. Until then, here are two more ways to derive more value from this space:
If you are an advertiser interested in exploring Advanced TV advertising, be sure to bring it up with your agency and ask for recommendations. 




About the Authors

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Elaine Boxer

Elaine Boxer is the Director of Industry Initiatives at IAB.



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Chris Falkner

Chris Falkner is the Senior Vice President of Advanced TV, NBC Broadcasting at NBCUniversal.



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Adam Lowy

Adam Lowy is the General Manager of Interactive & Advanced TV at DISH



 

The Power of Open Source Collaboration: We Need You

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Overview
There is a major demand in our industry today when it comes to providing tools and code needed to implement technical specifications. In order to help fill that gap, as well as provide transparency, certification and validation in the marketplace, IAB created structures such as its newly formed Tech Lab to augment the written specifications it currently produces. The IAB Tech Lab is tasked with researching and defining the necessary Open Source tools and code needed to quickly and easily put such specifications into practice. The lab is built around three core pillars: specifications, protocols, certification and tools. The “Tools” pillar, the focus of this post, is comprised of three different elements:

  1. Tools.jpgThe IAB CodeBank: The advertising industry’s repository of Open Source code, tools and implementation solutions;
  2. An Open Source network of developers which collaborates with the Tech Lab, donating their time, development cycles and resources to issues of interest to the IAB community; and
  3. A platform of utilities and testing tools that allow members to work with the specifications the IAB produces in order to help solve their real-world implementation needs.
One of the tools in this newly formed toolbox is the IAB’s SafeFrame technology, a managed API-enabled iframe-like vehicle that opens a line of communication between the publisher’s page and externally framed content such as ads. The bad news is that since its inception, the support materials surrounding SafeFrame has been limited to human-readable documentation, code excerpts and loosely coupled specifications. The good news is that is about to change. Since June of this past year, IAB members, Open Source developers, and technology enthusiasts have all banded together to jump start this important technology; and the results have been substantial. In six months, testing tools have been created. Roadmaps, both product technology as well as adoption, have been defined. Use cases are being created. Documentation updated.  In short, what had been an idle idea has now gotten an infusion of life thanks to the power of Open Source collaboration.

Contributions from IAB Members
In order for the industry to succeed as a whole, the IAB must be responsible for producing and promoting code that supports its standards, and do so with the help of the community in order to gain traction, as well as adoption. But, just supplying them with code is not enough. Ancillary products such as testing tools and other supporting materials must be part of the mix. In other words, what good is a piece of code if you have no way of ensuring that it will hold up to its intended purpose? This was one of the major roadblocks that prevented SafeFrame from moving ahead.

This is not to imply that the SafeFrame technology has been laying dormant for the last year. On the contrary, IAB members have been actively working with it, but in their own proprietary way. Microsoft and Yahoo have both integrated the SafeFrame technology in one form or another in several of their products. The problem though is that these integrations leverage each company’s own in-house technology and does not lend itself to a robust, general purpose solution that others can easily implement on their own. With that said, we know that without proprietary innovation, general standards lay dormant. The first step in any evolution is the need to fill a void. For Microsoft and Yahoo, their needs focused around “providing a solution to enable 3rd party ads while preserving user privacy and security, and doing so with least amount of work for their publishers and properties” and leveraging a technology that offered the end user with a platform that could ensure accountability, respectively.

Prabahakar Goyal, Chief Architect of Display Advertising at Microsoft, and one of the original authors of the SafeFrame utilizes this technology from a practical standpoint:

Safeframe is a standard which enables publishers to include 3rd party advertisements, including advanced ad formats such as richmedia, while mitigating the risk of data leakage or broken page because of the ad and page content interferences. It also provides a standard way to measure viewability across cross-domain iFRAME. Most recently we have deployed SafeFrame on one of our largest properties - Outlook. This is laying the foundation for serving 3rd party ads while making sure that our user’s data is protected and privacy is maintained.

Sean Snider, Senior Web Software Engineer at Yahoo and the original SafeFrame co-author currently leverages SafeFrame at Yahoo by integrating it into their core mindset:

“One of the largest benefits of digital advertising is how dynamic it is. The entire industry works toward delivering the most relevant and captivating advertisements to individual users. But being that dynamic comes with huge tradeoffs in terms of level off effort, safety, privacy, and consistent metrics. The whole idea with SafeFrame, is to have a foundation on the web for such advertising to reside, so that we can mitigate those tradeoffs, as well as move towards the future. Rolling out and developing SafeFrame and other standardizing technologies like it, is in of itself a large challenge. And that’s why it’s a very big win, for the IAB to take a leadership role creating and managing the technology required. Standards and specifications are the first step, but it’s critical to have open technology platforms that enforce and deliver on those standards.”

Without the proprietary work that is going on at companies like Microsoft and Yahoo, the community doesn’t move forward, and no one benefits. Luckily for IAB members, the creators of these types of solutions also happen to be the co-authors of the Open Source version of SafeFrame as well.

Contributions from Non-IAB Members
Because of the historical scarceness around support for SafeFrame in the past, Open Source developers began experimenting on their own, and needless to say, out of necessity came innovation. One company in particular, Streamwize spent so much time creating one-off solutions they took it upon themselves to write their own SafeFrame testing tool:

“The ‘Patcher’ is the first in a series of tools and services being offered by Streamwize to help accelerate and simplify SafeFrame adoption by both advertisers and publishers and raise the floor of ad capabilities for the industry. It is an enhanced, open source web-based tool that advertisers can use to inject, test and view their creatives on nearly any web site with both SafeFrame and Friendly iFrame simultaneous format support. Within the tool, you simply put your own creative code snippet or ad tag, the web site you wish to target for testing and either auto select or enter the CSS expression of where the creative will be rendered on the targeted web site page. The tool supports all IAB layout designs including floating lightboxes and expanded ads as well as the ability to define height and width. It then works by proxying any selected URL, injecting the SafeFrame publisher-side framework into the web site, and then loading the selected creative into the specified location. You also get a unique URL you can share with others so they can also see how your creative would look and operate, in context on the targeted website before certification or client review. 

Streamwize is further developing tools for publishers to ease the transition to SafeFrame by allowing them to simultaneously support SafeFrame with older standards until they are ready to make a full switch over to SafeFrame. Building tools for both publishers and advertisers on top of SafeFrame allows publisher and advertisers to leverage some of its advantageous features, including support for measurement and contextual advertising. 

Such is the critical importance of SafeFrame adoption across the industry in dealing with thorny issues such as mitigating publisher risk, consumer protection and viewability, that Streamwize will offer the “Patcher” tool free and will shortly be launching a dedicated web site to showcase why it is committed to the SafeFrame cause and it’s growing capabilities and benefits for advertisers and publishers.”

Another company, SquareOffs, interested in implementing SafeFrame but didn’t know where to look for help, reached out to the IAB and donated their developers’ time to work with us in order to implement SafeFrame directly into their product. What may have taken them weeks to do with little success was overcome in a matter of days working directly with Chris Cole, SafeFrame’s chief developer. According to SquareOffs CEO Jeff Rohr:

“The way that the IAB has been willing to work with real world companies on the ground is remarkable. SquareOffs is extremely grateful to be one of the first participants in the IAB Tech Lab and we are delighted that they see the huge win-win scenario going on here. It’s so valuable for an organization, such as the IAB, to experience the gaps and pitfalls present with any specification (or product) in it’s infancy that would never come up on a whiteboard. Getting out of the building and obtaining a big enough sample size of feedback is crucial to defining whether the needs are truly being met. We are glad that the IAB is taking this head on, while being wise enough to realize that a collective group approaching a problem from many different angles will reach the goals of the project and produce thorough documentation at a much faster pace.

SquareOffs has reached two product initiatives in our embedded debate technology at warp speed thanks to the IAB and Chris Cole: the ability for our embed to expand onto the page and the ability to dynamically match the content of the page where the embed is placed. Both of these enhancements directly impact our customer base and will be showing up much earlier than expected on sites near you. Our iframe solution would not allow for these capabilities and building a javascript solution to accomplish them would have come with much more overhead. The implementation of this new technology was a smooth process and we look forward to giving back to the community by documenting our use cases and those that come in the future.”

It is the collaborative efforts of companies like Streamwize and SquareOffs, in addition to their drive, passion and innovation that make the difference in whether a piece of technology ever sees the light of day, and really ever truly succeeds.

We Need You
Microsoft, Yahoo, Streamwize, and SquareOffs are only the beginning of the story. Much more work is needed in order to ensure technology such as SafeFrame makes it to the marketplace. The power of Open Source collaboration is unquestionable, but the realization of it takes time, effort and commitment. The IAB, with the creation of the Tech Lab, understands this, but it only works if our companies and individuals alike step up and push the boundaries of what is possible, so together we can collectively “raise the floor” on what can be done.

In closing, it should go without saying that the IAB can no longer simply sit back and rest on the laurels that it has produced best-of-breed standards. It must take a much more active approach and involvement in order to support the industry it serves. This means it must also execute on the specifications it delivers. Must roll up its sleeves and place “hands on keyboard” if ever it is to help its members succeed. The main impetus for the creation of the IAB Tech Lab was to provide an open environment where members could contribute, learn and grow in a collaborative manner. The only piece that is still missing… is you.


About the Author

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Alan Turransky

Alan Turransky is the Senior Director of Technology and Ad Operations at IAB.



 

Top 5 Trends in Digital Out of Home

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We tend to spend a lot of time outside and on-the-go, getting from one place to the next. It’s no surprise, then, that the average global consumer is exposed to various Digital Out of Home Media for 14 minutes per week, and investments in the space are expected to grow 14.2% year-over-year between 2011 - 2017. New York City’s Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan has recently reopened, accommodating up to 300,000 daily riders and boasting more than 50 digital screens available for marketers. The largest and most expensive digital billboard debuted in Times Square this past November, with just as many pedestrians expected to pass though the area daily. The overlapping powers of digital, mobile, outdoor, and Out of Home content seem to be stepping up.

Digital Out of Home (or “DOOH” as the channel is commonly referred) encompasses a variety of screen shapes, sizes, and levels of interactivity. From digital billboards and signs on taxis, to digital signage at airport gates and gyms and waiting rooms, these varieties underline a necessary bridge between context and location in relevance and favorable recall - vital components of any media campaign. The IAB sees norms and expectations from the online advertising world informing and expediting the growth of DOOH, and the IAB’s Digital Out of Home Taskforce launched this past fall with aims to define the DOOH channel while positioning its place within the larger interactive advertising industry.

As we collectively say “hello” to 2015, the Taskforce shares its thoughts on the Top 5 Trends in DOOH.
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photo courtesy of Luke Luckett, IAB Consultant

“Top 5 Trends in Digital Out of Home”

1. Cross-platform targeting opportunities are on the rise. As mobile devices become more advanced and ubiquitous, the proliferation of captive digital screens in home and out of home has been growing. Interactions with consumers have become more prominent via new mobile technologies like NFC, beacons and more accurate geofencing capabilities. Such technologies may allow a marketer to personalize the consumer’s experience and even allow for immediate interaction.

2. DOOH will provide increasingly relevant messages in locations that matter. The amount of time spent outside and in transit is increasing in many regions.  New forms of targeting and subsets have made the art of reaching specific audience segments in ideal locations easier - and in our highly distracted modern experience, a consumer’s receptivity to new concepts outside the home can be highly impactful. In fact, a recent study by YuMe and IPG Media Lab found that consumers are 41% more receptive to advertising in public places than at home, and 16% more receptive at school/work than at home. As a consumer, the device you carry with you creates a natural tie-in to your visual experience outdoors, and relevant DOOH messages enhance the value via existing screens throughout popular locations.

3. Data is (literally) where it’s at, locally and programmatically. According to BIA/Kelsey, marketers spent $1.4 billion on location-targeted mobile campaigns in 2012. By 2017, spending on location-targeted mobile advertising will reach $10.8 billion, representing a 52% share of all mobile ad dollars. (In fact, next month the IAB’s Location Data Working Group will release a primer on using location data for attribution and ad effectiveness.) DOOH is benefiting from this rapidly growing segment, using big data to reach the same mobile consumer on larger, higher impact screens and enabling marketers to craft cross-screen, location-based strategies to maximize the impact of advertising to consumers outside the home.       

At the same time, finding scale and ease of buying in DOOH is being made easier through programmatic conversations and data-driven media buying. Programmatic solutions are developing in DOOH, and are leading to a deeper connection with the mobile and interactive marketplaces. Programmatic DOOH has the potential to drive standardization and reduce overall fragmentation in the marketplace. The 1st and 3rd party data sets that allow buyers and sellers to better define audiences exposed to DOOH media is also rapidly evolving. Programmatic bidding enables buyers to more accurately target the most appropriate audience, while sellers benefit from yield optimization of their media assets.

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photo courtesy of Outfront Media

4. Out of Home creates a unique canvas for top-notch creativity. From street furniture and cinema ads to augmented reality and live experiences on outdoor screens and vehicles - the ability to build awareness and drive impressive results is getting easier in DOOH. Whether it’s part of a larger cross-media effort or a locally focused campaign, DOOH offers opportunities to reach a unique audience, creating unexpected parallels between location (as content and backdrop) and messaging. DOOH has huge potential to drive immediate impact and scale close to point of purchase; it also can garner award-winning praise and even the Direct Grand Prix at Cannes

5. There is a rise of new measurement and addressability opportunities in DOOH. New location and mobile data sets are leading to new ways of measuring attribution in experiential and out of home media. Location, as an audience definer, is just as important to DOOH as it is to mobile advertisers. Retargeting in the real world is more than just copying the online model; the best context is location - where we are and who we are. It is about delivering real-world context and campaign messages that are close to point of purchase. A consumer’s exposure to these mediums can now be verified beyond the self-reported opportunity to see, improving marketers’ confidence in their ability to isolate the impact of DOOH from other mediums in the cross-channel mix

Looking forward, the space is heating up. The number of digitally connected screens is growing, and all signals indicate that inventory and creative options in digital out of home media will continue to grow. Watch this space as the IAB and its DOOH Taskforce combine the talents of key players with out-of-home, mobile, local, and video expertise to build and expand upon this growth.
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photo courtesy of Titan
 
We start the New Year by addressing a question that’s on many people’s minds in the digital industry… 

Will the FTC provide guidance on native advertising in 2015
and, if so, what might we expect?

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At December’s IAB Native Advertising Disclosure Workshop, which was attended by Laura Sullivan, Senior Staff Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices at the Federal Trade Commission, along with nearly 200 IAB event registrants, there was some speculation that the FTC had plans to provide guidance for native advertising. 

I sat down with Mike Zaneis, Executive Vice President, Public Policy & General Counsel from the IAB’s Washington, DC, office to get some perspective on what FTC guidance for native advertising might entail. 




When the FTC provides “guidance” on a specific advertising topic, what does that mean? Why do they do this?
Companies may be familiar with legal regulations that have been promulgated by the FTC, such as those issued last year under the COPPA statute. These regulations have the force of law and must be followed by companies. The FTC also brings enforcement cases against “unfair or deceptive” business practices.  Because this authority is extremely broad, the FTC sometimes helps companies understand what may be expected of them by issuing formal guidance. These documents provide examples of good or bad business practices and may provide direction in new or emerging marketplaces. 

Although it is speculative at this point in time, what might we expect from guidance on native advertising disclosure?
In the past, the FTC has issued broad-based guidance as well as guidance for specific business models. In the native advertising space they have only delved into the search advertising space, issuing guidance in 2002 and then providing an update in June of 2014. It is hard to predict what type of guidance they may issue in the future, but the focus on multiple business models during their 2013 native advertising townhall is a clear indication of the scope of their interest.  

The IAB, via its Native Advertising Task Force, issued the Recommended Native Advertising Disclosure Principles below as part of its Native Advertising Playbook (published 12/13). How similar or different might the FTC’s guidance look?

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The IAB disclosure principles are a good example of the broad-based guidance that I described above. At their core they simply attempt to apply the existing law around advertising disclosures to the emerging field of native advertising.  In this case we might expect similarly broad language from the FTC, accompanied by specific examples in several native advertising categories such as In-Feed and Recommendation Widgets as outlined in the IAB Native Advertising Playbook. This was how they developed their “.com Disclosures” guidelines in the past.

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FTC.com Disclosure document. Source: FTC

Do you have any suggestions on what, if anything, publishers/marketers/agencies could or should do in anticipation of potential guidance being issued for native advertising?
As an industry we should strive to be proactive versus reactive in this area. At the IAB’s recent native advertising townhall event we heard from more than a dozen companies about how they are evolving their disclosure practices. These developments ensure that consumers understand where the content on the page ends and the advertisement begins. Many of us long assumed that disclosure and consumer engagement were countervailing forces, but we are discovering that, to the contrary, an informed consumer is a happy, engaged consumer.

How does the FTC announce that they are providing formal guidance?
There is no set process for issuing guides. In the ideal scenario they will publish a draft and solicit public comment before finalizing the document. However, they have sometimes simply issued new guides without a comment period or, in the case of search advertising, just sent letters to a number of companies to provide details on the updated guide.

If guidance is issued, how should publishers/marketers/agencies respond?
While they do not carry the same legal weight as a regulation, guides provide insight into the types of areas where the FTC may bring future enforcement actions. Therefore, companies should pay close attention to the “advice” provided in these documents and double check their current business practices against them. Guidelines are usually just that, guidelines, and they should provide room for variation, responsible experimentation, and future innovation.
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For those who had questions about potential FTC Native Advertising Disclosure Guidance, we hope these answers were helpful. The IAB will continue to advocate that disclosure is of paramount importance for this growing source of digital advertising revenue. We will continue to provide updates on potential FTC guidance as/if available.

About the Author

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Susan Borst

Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives and IAB liaison for the Content Marketing and Native Advertising Task Force groups, along with the Social Media, B2B and Game Advertising Committees at the IAB. She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst 


 


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