December 12, 2011
Harley Norrgren studied Statistics at University College London and after a two year tenure is currently heading up Infectious Media’s Analytics Team. Being with Infectious throughout their entire working relationship with RTB he’s had the opportunity to watch the space develop since the start of RTB’s European adoption.
If you’re spending large portions of your media budget on brand activity, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the best performance for your money, yet the effect of brand activity is typically hard to measure as it poses a few difficult questions to advertisers:
It is our proposition that buying via RTB on Ad Exchanges makes brand advertising measurable and increases the accuracy of any direct response path to conversion analysis and attribution modelling. We currently create bespoke branding metrics (in conjunction with our data partners) and marginal attribution models, which help to give advertisers better insight into the effect of their brand spend and facilitate optimisation towards branding goals. These bespoke metrics are called ‘Brand Units’, and are a standardised unit of any combination of different brand measurements, such as exposure time or brand related search uplift, which can either be a proxy for conversion or reflect other incomplete path brand objectives.
Exchange generated impression level data feeds provide unique opportunities for data providers to integrate their data with unprecedented granularity. We are currently working with data partners to provide us with impression level exposure time metrics, enabling us to optimise towards advertising face time and to buy display in terms of view duration rather than per impression. The combination of engagement, search uplift and on-site activity density means that we can measure brand effect on a per user basis, rather than resorting to surveys, and optimise campaigns against these metrics in real time.
The unique user level insights generated from brand activity can be coupled with post brand engagement and ultimately conversion/post-conversion activities, allowing us to fit brand activity directly into the conversion path, as well as attribution models, providing advertisers with more insight about the path to conversion than was ever available before from a single channel.
One of the main considerations about running brand activity through exchanges is the perceived ‘remnant’ status of most inventory available. It’s important to remember that just because an impression is remnant, it doesn’t mean it’s of poor quality. Through the use of ad exposure times we can identify and optimise towards the best value Cost per Face Time inventory sources, giving advertisers more clarity and better value than direct buying could. Furthermore, the presence of private exchanges and the market wide increasing adoption of ad exchanges means that more and more ‘premium’ inventory is made available every day. Via exchange buying, adverts can be purchased on premium inventory on a per-impression basis and made measurable enough to get a stronger indication of the real value of each advert shown.
These insights represent a large step forward for a communication goal which is generally hampered by industry standard attribution models. We hope that the unprecedented feasibility of marginal attribution models and access to user level data means that more opportunities can arise for branding activity to be bought on exchanges and start to drive a shift away from historically retargeting heavy DR budgets.
For more information please visit http://www.infectiousmedia.com/index.php?page=our-products
June 8, 2011
Rachael Morris is an Account Analyst at Infectious Media working on campaigns for clients in the telecommunications, technology, retail and travel sectors. In her day-to-day role, Rachael analyses large amounts of data and ensures campaigns meet their targets. Here she discusses issues around data privacy, recently brought into focus by the EU ePrivacy directive.
Images of Big Brother spring easily into the minds of a generation brought up on endless dystopia novels. We feel surrounded by governments whose desire to know all about their people is exceeded only by their fiendish organisation and ability to sift through reams of data almost instantaneously. Stories of leaked data abound*, growing ever more worrying as we realise just how much information we routinely put out into the world. And, much as we might like to say otherwise, this isn’t entirely unjustified: 90% of people have shared information with at least one site**. There is a lot of information out there about all of us. On the other hand, the sheer volume of data floating around is one of the very things that makes this sort of nightmare scenario so unlikely – the difficulty already involved in getting meaningful information about any given individual is only increased by the amount of noise that is now out there. Equally important is the fact that none of the information being made available is personally identifiable. It sounds like a small point, but the difference between the knowledge that Susie Johnstone was recently looking at flights to Italy and bought a bikini and the knowledge that computer 856076815463 did the same is huge.
Interestingly, the more people know about how the information about them is collected and what it is used for, the happier they are about it – after hearing details about behavioural advertising, 74% of consumers felt more comfortable with their data being used**. This kind of data and the ability to tailor the advertising served to someone’s needs and wants is what differentiates digital advertising from other forms, so it is vital that we reach some kind of consensus on what is and isn’t acceptable. The only way to do this is going to be opening a dialogue with consumers, asking their opinions and ascertaining exactly where their limits lie as well as making as much information as possible freely and easily available. Until consumers feel comfortable with the information we hold about them and how it is used, we will not be able to move forward and exploit the full potential of online advertising.
The recent EU ePrivacy directive heralds a change in the industry’s attitude to privacy. The requirement to obtain informed consent for all non-essential cookies will force advertisers into clear disclosure of the implications of a visit to their website. The difficulty lies in striking the appropriate balance – we do not want to adhere to the regulations at the expense of user experience. Over the next year, we will all need to work to reach a consensus on acceptable forms of consent, which best achieve this balance. As members of the IAB, Infectious Media is actively involved in policy development and best practice data usage in advertising, and we see this as a real opportunity for positive change.
** Statistics from IAB’s September 2009 study, in partnership with Olswang.
June 9, 2009
As technology and data shape the next wave of digital media buying, the need to approach the entire process from a statistical mindset is growing in importance. In the not too distant future it won’t be surprising for a day in the life of a digital media buyer (or trader should I say?!) working on a response brief at a typical agency to involve monitoring campaigns on multiple trading systems whilst working with a team of analysts, crunching campaign data using analysis packages such as R.
Google Chief Economist Hal Varian in an interview for The McKinsey Quarterly earlier in the year mentioned that statisticians will be the sexy job in the next ten years and with Numbers pulling in prime time audiences on TV it certainly seems that he’s not too far from the truth. This could happen a lot faster in the quickly evolving media buying industry and gazing into a crystal ball reveals that skill sets will also need to also evolve to keep pace with the technology infrastructure that is powering the industry. Gone will be the Head of Trading whose lunch ability knows no bounds to be replaced by the Head of Data whose skill and value will be in interpreting the vast amounts of data that agencies will be generating through their trading platforms, and developing meaningful insights from this. Think of it as being more Wall Street (minus the suits of course!) than Mad Men. All in all, a combination not just of statistical techniques but also marketing know-how will be an integral part of the new agency product. It doesn’t take a huge amount of insight to spot the increasing importance of data but what does it mean on a practical level for your average digital media agency? Using statistical techniques to help analyse and optimise campaigns has multiple benefits ranging from improved ROI for advertisers through to greater operational efficiency for media agencies. In short it’s in everyones interest.
Infectious, as a ‘new breed’ agency has been built around this core belief. Our underlying infrastructure, skillsets and services are designed to get the most from this new world. It will be interesting to see how quickly the wider agency community embraces this shift.
March 24, 2009
The crux of the article is this:
‘The company’s adamant refusal to use banner or other graphical ads eliminates what is the most lucrative income stream for rival search engines. Although Google does have other revenue sources, such as licensing and text-based advertisements, the privately held company’s business remains limited compared with its competitors.’
This is interesting for a couple of very different reasons. Firstly, as a historical reminder that Google flipped the industry on it’s head in breathtaking fashion. They did away with the predominant image based ad, borrowing the business model of Overture to serve text ads linked to an auction pricing model and took something new to market. At the time (as a media buyer) I certainly didn’t believe it would work, preferring, instead, the glamour of AltaVista (RIP) banner advertising to the three line text ad on Google. Fast forward to 2009 and Google is the biggest ‘media owner’ in the world, generating $6bn of advertising revenue per quarter.
The second interesting point to come out of the Business Insider article is linked to comments made recently by Eric Schmidt, speaking at the Morgan Stanley technology conference. When asked about where Googles growth in revenues would come from, he replied:
‘Where is [our] next source of revenue? [The] next source is current business functioning better. Next and adjacent is a set of display businesses and an exchange being built from DoubleClick business.’
A slight change of tactics from their stance back in 2000 but the reality is that the market for text ads is maturing and growth is levelling off.
There are few details on the Google exchange product but this time they have bought the business that they will use to to leverage display (Doubleclick), instead of borrowing the model and being sued at a later date. So what could this product look like, given that Schmidt sees it as so crucial to revenues going forward? Well, instead of thinking about Google as a purveyor of text ads on the search results page, think about them as the largest owner of intent data in the world through their search engine. One way they’ve used this intent data is to serve text ads against search tems, but this is only one execution of an ad against a hugely powerful data set. Through a display media exchange it becomes possible to intelligently serve display ads against that data on any site, which will open up a huge new market to Google in highly targeted display advertising.
To make this a reality, a big challenge for Google to overcome is the issue of data privacy. Two weeks ago Google made a significant announcement around a basic ‘behavioural’ targeting product across You Tube and its Ad Sense network. It was only a matter of time before this happpened, but they have clearly gone to great lengths to introduce it in a simple, (relatively) transparent and cautious way. The media whipped up an ‘information privacy’ storm around Phorm in the UK, and it seems that Google may have been waiting for that to die down a little before dipping their toe in the water in a very controlled way (with plenty of user control and opt out-ability). The obvious omission from the announcement was the use of Googles search data in the targeting formula. Make no mistake, this will come in the future (Yahoo! announced their own Search/Behavioral retargeting solution last week), but Google may be waiting for people to become comfortable with this simple behavioral model first, before ramping up the sophistication with the reams of data they hold.
Much of this is still speculation, as things are heavily under wraps, but the Google Exchange isn’t too far away and there’s little doubt they have both the data and the distribution channel to make this the market leading product in display, flipping the market back on its feet and with display advertising on a more even footing once again.
We’d love to hear what you think…
February 18, 2009
I like data.
It has stood me in good stead in this industry as I’m sure it has many others. Our campaigns produce tons of the stuff and increasingly agencies are reliant on companies that process and present this data to push our thinking forward such as Atlas and Doubleclick.
But data isn’t (and shouldn’t be) the be all and end all. It’s easy to forget that data is a product of something that has already happened and as media planners we’re often trying to find something new, especially in digital. Take search for instance, the ultimate data driven medium. We analyse search patterns and use algorithms to determine bid strategies; all based on what has happened in the past. There’s nothing wrong with this but it can be a dangerous obsession and lead agencies to a one dimensional and commoditised offering.
To illustrate this point, I’ve seen and given hundreds of presentations that are based around a marketing funnel. Where data driven techniques are at their most potent is in pulling customers through that funnel and converting demand that is already there; think PPC search and retargeting. But this is an ever decreasing circle as it does nothing to actually create demand for a product or brand, it is just squeezing the most out of demand that’s already there.
Advising a brand on how to act strategically to create demand requires a different type of thinking. This is insight driven, takes an understanding of a advertisers business, their product, their brand, their market and shock horror: ‘people’ and how they behave. There shouldn’t be a spreadsheet in sight for planning purposes, no formulas or macros and definitely no definitive answers. Overlaying and translating all this thinking into media terms is a wonderful exercise and for us is what media planning is really about.
So as a digital media agency, the skill sets you need for a complete offering are hugely diverse and need truly different people, but that’s what agencies should be about:- a collection of people with different specialisms that integrate seamlessly for a client. It can be difficult to reconcile some of these skillsets but these are our challenges. Data skills are clearly hugely important but if that’s all it’s about then perhaps it’s time we started employing monkeys and bought some typewriters.