OMMA Adnets – Ad Networks in the Ecosystem

This morning, presenters spoke on the changes in ad networks and the effect of technology and consumers on advertising performance.  Following a coffee break, the discussion turned to brands.  How are ad networks affecting brand advertising and vice versa?

Panel – I’m with the Brand: Is Ad Net Inventory Ready to Lift the Right Metrics?

Samantha Skey, Chief Revenue Office at RecycleBank (moderator)

Linda Gridley, President and CEO of Gridley & Company, LLC

Josh Jacobs, SVP of Brand Advertising, Products, and Global Marketing at Glam Media

Peter Platt, Chief Digital Officer at Catalyst

Ronald Shamah, Vice President at SapientNitro

Shamah believes that the mousetrap of advertising has been well-defined, but now we’re trying to catch grizzly bears.  Skey noted that channels now allow for a fuller and more emotion-driving experience in online advertising.  How can marketers connect the new advertising technology and metrics to the “holy grail” of brand engagement?  Jacobs notes that branding requires different metrics than awareness advertising.  Advertisers need to utilize the networks in order to scale their brand advertising while embracing rich media (spending time with the user in the context of the site rather than just looking for a click.)

Shamah believes that metrics should be simplified, and he offers the search ad marketplace as an example of where display advertising can go in terms of sentiment and organic search.  Gridley believes that social is changing how brands market.  How well they can use social marketing and social tools will affect brand advertising success in the coming years.  Brands exist in an extremely crowded space, and advertisers don’t know which ecosystem will win out in the end.  Until then, brand dollars are being limited.

Gridley thinks that the industry got lucky with search marketing, because there was never much of an argument about what metrics were important.  Brands need to standardize on a set of metric and “compete like hell” to see who succeeds along them.  Once metrics are decided upon, then brands can focus on what actions drive success.  Until then, it’s difficult to correlate online and offline behavior.   Context is important insomuch that content around an ad holds a viewer’s attention and endorses the rich media of the advertisements.

The ecosystem is evolving, Gridley notes, as start-up companies are utilizing new technologies instead of working within traditional agency structures.  Shamah continues to be surprised by how many new companies he sees after more than fifteen years of the space.  Skey notes the importance of affecting attitude with advertising.  Brands want to see increasing brand favorability from a click instead of just promotion a sale.  Jacobs knows that once advertisers know how this works, they can help brands focus on what worked (and determine more clear what, for example, a video view is worth.)

Platt explained that brand customers cannot have short attention spans.  Brands can’t look for immediate optimization of their ads, and they have to keep timetables in mind during the campaign.  He also warns that technology cannot take the place of creative.  Technology shouldn’t wear you down in absence of organically grabbing attention.  Targeting and creative must talk to one another, according to Jacobs.

Peer propagation (i.e., sharing) is strongly affected by context.  While social networks have different models for sharing, a brand can maximize its ability to organically propagate by utilizing ad networks to ensure that their ads are being shown on the more relevant and popular sites.  Jacobs also feels that brands must leverage influencers and communities (whether by sponsoring, contributing, or just interacting with them) to spread awareness and favorability.  Brands and advertisers also need to understand the value of a social share or Like, so that they can properly define opportunity costs of advertising through social channels.

Brands need a lot more rigor, a lot more definition, and a lot more cooperation to develop a robust branded ad infrastructure.  It’s also vital, as Gridley notes, to follow the consumer, not just to sell to them, but to see how they are thinking.  Jacobs believes that the best campaigns are cross-channel and utilizing the advantages of each channel, not just repeating the same message on different forms of media.

Panel – Friend or Foe? Ad Nets in the Age of the DSP

How is the rise of audience-driven, demand-side platforms (DSPs) affecting the advertising ecosystem?

Joe Mandese, Editor in Chief at MediaPost (moderator)

Jarvis Coffin, Co-founder and CEO of Burst Media

Eric Franchi, Co-founder and SVP of Business Development at Undertone Networks

Ed Montes, CEO of Adnetik

Brendan Moorcroft, CEO of Cadreon

Eric Simon, VP of Platfornms at x + 1

Mandese sees DSPs as moving one step closer to buying audiences without using a proxy.  Franchi believes that the answer to “friend or foe?” depends on where you stand in the ecosystem.  Ad networks that have provided data that is becoming automated and commoditized are being threatened by DSPs.  However, he believes that ad networks who can provide differentiated, higher-level services view DSPs as their friends.  They can benefit from working with DSPs to get better access to advertising inventory.  Simon notes that the market change has moved ad budgets from servers to trading desks

There is a battle for control between supply-side (i.e., publishers) and demand-side (i.e., audience) providers.  Montes views asymmetric information as a key reason for power shifts.  The buy-side is driving the business right now because of the fragmentation and confusion in the industry, according to Moorcroft.  DSPs are seeking to improve both effectiveness and efficiency, and the quest is to justify everything through data.  Simon thinks that suppliers need to have relationships with a number of demand-side platforms to optimize their ad performance.

Franchi worries that DSPs may be marking up the price.  This is leading new networks to enter the marketplace and leading failing ad servers to try to become DSPs.  If you’ve got a good piece of technology, if you’ve got exclusive relationships from content providers, and if you can learn from and improve your yield, then you can add value and succeed, according to Moorcroft.  Simon feels that the power has to tip back towards the publisher.  Once they start using platforms like the ones that DSPs are using, they will be able to break free of their current inventory problems and improve their successfulness.

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