DSP Transparency

Do your DSP(s) have any rebate agreements with ad exchanges or anybody else?

If not, great! Is that explicitly laid out in the contracts you have with them, and do you have full audit rights? And if not, why not?

Hat tip to The Programmatic Advisory.

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More on Ads.txt

Try this the next time you talk about digital advertising with your digital marketing team and/or your agency. Print out a page with your ad on it. Put it on the whiteboard and give your buying team a marker and ask them to draw out exactly how that particular ad showed up on that particular website and why. By that, I mean all the names of the ad tech and martech players involved. No looking anything up.

Bet they can’t do it on the fly.

Take a look at this diagram, published today by Rebel AI CEO Manny Puentes in AdExchanger, discussing Ads.txt.

Read the article on his take on the shortcomings of the ads.txt solution. See if you can make any sense of it.

Feel better now about your programmatic buying?

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Before You Worry About Match Rates…

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 8.23.21 AMMatch rates are critical to maximizing the effectiveness of your digital campaigns. Once you’ve decided on who you want to target, you’ve got to  reach as many of them as effectively as possible with the right media.

But before you get bogged down in match rate discussions, the more important strategic work needs to have been done up front. Have you (or somebody):

  • Defined the universe precisely?
  • Segmented the universe into MECE groups?
  • Estimated LTV/CLV for those segments and, therefore, the allowable?
  • Decided which segments to select, suppress, and ignore?
  • Developed messaging for each segment, including pricing and offer?
  • Selected media appropriate to each segment, considering all media types?

If you haven’t, the match rate to your onboarder or from your onboarder to DMP or DMP to publisher won’t matter one bit. You’ll be going after the wrong people, without a proper strategy and—by definition–with incorrect tactics.

If you’re a digital marketing manager and have been given targets to go after, ask questions. Be convinced that somebody did the work before you get into the detailed channel-level tactics. Same thing if you’re an agency. Ask questions about that brief.

Once the strategic work has been done, then worry about match rates. A good article to help you think about match rates is here.

And what’s the best key on which to base all your marketing strategy, including digital? It has nothing to do with cookies, device IDs, pub IDs or any of that. It’s good old name and address.

Takeaway: Never delve into tactics without understanding the mission and the strategy to accomplish the mission. And win.

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Digital Media: As Memorable as Kenny G?

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 8.45.22 AMThe smooth jazz radio format wasn’t as popular as thought. When Arbitron changed from paper diaries to portable people meters (PPM) about ten years ago, broadcasters learned that people didn’t do what the paper diaries said they did.

With good data from PPM devices, broadcasters learned that people flipped stations more than reported previously. The result was that the smooth jazz format was killed. What’s next?

As Bob Lefsetz said the other day, “Big band music died, why can’t rock?”

What happens if a PPM was invented for digital media? Would all the view-through attribution currently applied by our multi-touch attribution models go away? I think so. Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of the rampant fraud and B.S. in the digital ecosystem.

A kind of PPM already exists in the UK, with Lumen Research’s digital panel.  I think a lot of the programmatic hype is nothing more than smooth jazz: hardly viewed for even a second and about as memorable.

You might think you’re buying rockstar impressions. You’re really getting Kenny G.

Takeaway: If your agency/platform/publisher pushes back on doing Lumen-style measurement, ask “cui bono?” And win.

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Nobody’s Talking About This ads.txt Problem

As a media buyer, I find myself scratching my head about the IAB’s ads.txt initiative.

It’s a good thing, of course. Knowing that somebody selling advertising inventory to you is actually authorized to sell that impression to you is important.

The problem that nobody’s talking about: The digital advertising world created a dirty, disorganized, fraud-filled world. Almost nothing is what it seems to be, whether it’s the audience, the viewability, and the clicks. And even, it turns out, whether you’re buying impressions on the site you think you are.

The question is why does the ads.txt initiative even need to exist? And what is really being done to clean this up?

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When Auctions Aren’t Auctions

We all think we know what an auction is. We conjure up the sound of the gavel falling to the high bidder and the horses being led away into the winner’s transporters.

In theory, programmatic auctions for digital advertising should be similar. Maybe they’re second-price, but we think that aside from the technology we understand the rules.

Or do we?

This article in Digiday about the shenanigans in programmatic auctions is fascinating. Here’s another set of questions for your agency:

  1. For each network that we’re buying on, what’s the auction model?
  2. Prove it
  3. Warranty it

Something I just noticed: I’m filing all articles about programmatic buying in my Evernote “Ad Fraud” notebook. Hmm.

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Your Mission and Vision are Lousy

I was talking about company mission and vision statements with Paresh Shah, a good and smart friend of mine. During the discussion, he gave me a simple rule to see if your mission was good or not:

“Write out the exact opposite of your company mission or position. If nobody would buy the opposite, your mission or vision sucks.”

How simple is that? But it’s true. Most vision/mission/whatever task forces come up with a namby-pamby list of inoffensive terms. We’re scared that some potential buyer might be scared off by a word, so we get a bleah vanilla mission.

Nobody hates vanilla, but nobody likes it all that much either. Certainly, nobody goes to the mat for vanilla.

Try it with your company, product, or institution. Did you get vanilla? Fix it.

P.S. During the discussion, we quickly wrote a mission statement for a assisted living facility centered around sex, drugs, and loud rock and roll. (I can’t share the exact wording on this, a family-oriented blog.) Many people, perhaps most, would decline to bring their parents there.  They might even think the benefits of such a place are highly illegal. We, on the hand, thought we’d enjoy our golden years there and we don’t believe we’re alone. A new business opportunity presents itself and it would work like crazy.

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Worst Ad Ever?

eyetestad-222x300.pngI’ve been reading a lot from the great Drayton Bird recently. He points to this ad as possibly the worst ad ever and I can’t disagree. It might be for an insurance company, as I can make out the word “insurer” somewhere on the 20/10 vision line. But who’s to know? Nobody would spend more than a second glancing at an eye test before moving on.

Who writes an ad without a headline?

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 9.03.31 AM

Ling’s Cars (UK)

On the other hand, this “monstrosity” might be one of the best websites ever. All it does is sell car leases.

Takeaway: Don’t forget the rules. And don’t forget to sell. And win

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Decent Direct Mail

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 8.50.00 PMThis 4″ x 6″ folded postcard made me happy today. Why?

After all, as you can see, it’s not the best direct mail piece. The spot glue (red circles) covered up a few important copy points. It would have been easy to glue without damaging the copy and art.

I liked the FREE offer on the front–all too rare these days. Although, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why some people are so frightened of promoting a strong offer.

And the back panel is KO white text on blue. Don’t get me started on that.

What’s interesting is the targeting and the timing.

I just registered The Industrial Arts LLC in Virginia on April 27th. This offer showed up only 46 days later. Not bad at all, especially because I’m not sure how long it takes for the data from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to be available for targeting. What’s really interesting:

The digital marketers at Square don’t seem to know I exist yet. 

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways!

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Occam’s Bots

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 7.07.27 AM

The typical recipient of your digital impression.

I was reading “Mythbusting Digital Ad Fraud” by Dr. Augustine Fou this morning and this quote struck me:

“Do you think humans really spend 30 mins a day ON AVERAGE watching videos on mobile? They may, but there is an alternative explanation for that.”

You can torture yourself to understand a world with statistics like the above, that publishers, platforms, and ad tech providers are happy to provide. You can, and should, ask “why” often and as much as possible. Maybe the statistics are right. Or maybe Occam was right, and the answer is “bots.”

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