Hitting the Target: Marketing on Phones and Tablets

In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal released an article on Thursday full of interesting stats about the mobile ad market.  Among the numbers, the WSJ indicates that the mobile ad market is now at $2.6B, but only 20% of that is display. And yesterday’s Ad Age covers the difficulty publishers are having monetizing traffic for more than a $0.75 CPM.

These data points indicate significant opportunity for mobile advertising. Although we aren’t ready to proclaim the often repeated cliché that next year is the year of mobile, we do see some real momentum from marketers and advertisers.

At eXelate, we believe it’s important for the digital ecosystem to address certain key issues in order to more effectively leverage mobile as a platform for advertising. Specifically, we are leading the way in three areas:

  • Going beyond local. Mobile is rightfully known as a great domain for geo-based targeting. But both DR and brand advertisers are demanding more robust targeting capabilities for tablets and phones, with behavioral data and richer consumer profiles at the top of their wish lists.
  • Improving technical solutions for ad targeting. Whether we’re talking mobile web or mobile apps, display or video, each device has unique specifications to contend with. These differences provide technical hurdles for cross-publisher tracking and behavioral targeting as a whole. We expect to lead the industry to develop best practices to address these issues.
  • Providing leadership on regulatory issues. The Federal Trade Commission is happy to let the industry take the lead in establishing clear, consumer-friendly mobile privacy practices, but that means we must lead. The industry must come together to establish best practices around consumer notice and choice.

We are excited to lead the way in addressing these challenges. It may not be the year of mobile, but it’s certainly time for mobile to take its proper share of three-screen marketer media spend.

Measuring Campaign Accuracy– There’s No Escaping the Math

Over the summer, there’s a natural tendency to let the mind wander from some of the more rigorous and demanding parts of the digital advertising world. Whether on vacation or at our desks, when the weather is warm the last thing some of us want to focus on is math.

But at eXelate we don’t have that luxury, and now that summer has reached its symbolic end with Labor Day it’s time for everyone to face some hard truths that aren’t changing anytime soon. In case you missed it, Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings released their latest set of Benchmarks or “norms” in August.

These norms help marketers evaluate their campaign effectiveness by benchmarking their campaign accuracy against campaigns with similar targeting criteria.  Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings benchmarks take results from prior campaigns that used Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings and creates an average result for campaigns within various “zones” or audience parameters. This helps provide guidance as to accuracy expectations for a broad campaign targeting, say “all Women” versus a more narrow campaign targeting “Men 18-24.”

What’s interesting about the norms is that they provide a good measure of targeting efficiency between varying types of campaign targeting.The latest norms break down as follows:

Zone Zone Description Gender Target Span Avg of % on target
Zone 1 Broad, All Genders Persons >30 year span 84%
Zone 2 Broad, Single Gender Males, Female >30 year span 54%
Zone 3 Medium, All Genders Persons 15-29 year span 58%
Zone 4 Medium, Single Gender Males, Female 15-29 year span 41%
Zone 5 Narrow, All Genders Persons <15 year span 44%
Zone 6 Narrow, Single Gender Males, Female <15 year span 32%

One key takeaway is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to gauging campaign effectiveness. Any marketer that is spending on digital advertising expects perfection, and our goal at eXelate is nothing less. At the same time it’s interesting to see how elusive perfection can be, even with the broadest of campaign targets. How you target, who you target, what data you use to fuel your campaigns: all of these factors are going to determine how successful your campaigns are in reaching their audience goals.

Another takeaway is that marketers can do better. As an industry, the results above should concern us because there’s simply too much inefficiency here. While the targeting methodologies that make up these norms surely differ, there’s no escaping the fact that marketers won’t put up with campaigns that fail to hit their targets over and over. A key promise of digital is accuracy of measurement and delivery, so it’s time for us to make good on that promise, or we’ll be doing a lot more make goods.

We take campaign ratings very seriously: quality data is at the core of our business. That’s why we spend so much time measuring our data quality with the same tools marketers use, like Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings. We validate our own data so that when marketers use our data to reach their intended audience, they are successful. Summer, fall, whatever – there’s no avoiding the math.

Combining Data to Create Powerful Modeling

The Netflix Tech Blog recently posted an entry that discusses their recommendation algorithms and outlined the Netflix Prize, a machine learning and data mining competition to predict movie ratings. The 2009 winner of the contest improved Netflix’s ratings prediction system by more than 10% with a new algorithm. For a company owing 75% of viewership to recommendations, this would seem to be a huge step for Netflix. They didn’t adopt the winner of the contest, however – and the reasoning is perfectly logical.

The winning algorithm focused mainly on predicting ratings. Ratings are an important source of data for Netflix, but new types of analyses & inputs beyond ratings alone have emerged, all of which can help Netflix create even better recommendations. These include context, movie title popularity, novelty, diversity and freshness.

If you’ve been reading this blog or our Twitter handle for the last 2 months, then you are probably familiar with maX™ – or Modeled Audience eXtension, our custom modeling product that helps advertisers build a scaled audience with broad reach that is 3-5x more likely to respond to their campaigns.

We make it work by focusing on all the data – the advertiser’s first party data as well our eXelate premium marketplace data. And we look at as many data points as possible, including demographic, lifestyle, intent, behavior, brand affinity information and other proprietary data sets many advertisers may not have access to. We’ve learned, as Netflix seems to have, that combining multiple forms of data can prove to be the most powerful way to reach an audience. If you were Netflix, what would you have done?

eXelate’s Product Team Looks to 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, here at eXelate  the product team is setting our sights on 2012 and musing about what this next year will bring to the world of data:

  • Big Data Gets a Seat at the Table. We’re expecting to see big data get more actionable next year. With DMPs becoming more robust, offline data moving online, and technical infrastructure thriving, big data is ready to be put to work facilitating better marketing decisions.
  • The LUMA Slide Gets Smaller. Everyone has seen the LUMA slide. And most will tell you that the crowded space means that consolidation is on its way. While that seems likely, we’re hoping to also see growth in open platform initiatives, technical partnerships and greater cooperation between complementary businesses within the ecosystem. The AppNexus App Marketplace — of which we are happy to be a part — is an example of the type of openness and cooperation we are looking forward to in 2012.
  • Analytics Takes Center Stage. Modeling is going to prove more important than ever. In order to really achieve marketing scale, you need to be able to dig deep and wide into data to develop a complete picture of your target audience and design marketing campaigns that will achieve lift. Continuing to use analytics in big data will fuel this capability, as we outline in our white paper, Defining the Audience Discovery Value Chain.
  • Brand Advertisers Rev Up Audience Targeting. We anticipate seeing brand advertisers pick up steam in their use of audience targeting in 2012. This will be driven by two primary trends:
  1. The agencies and trading desks which represent major brands have invested significantly in data infrastructure and expertise over the past year.
  2. The data itself will be more available at greater scale. Nielsen, among others, has brought powerful data for brand advertisers online and it’s now at the fingertips of trading desks, networks and DSPs; some of it for the first time.

What are your thoughts for 2012? Let us know your ideas or how you think 2011 helped shape what 2012 will look like.

New Study Says The Industry Needs to Make Opt-out Less Scary

Just in time for Halloween, a new study from Carnegie Mellon indicates that the industry needs to make its opt-out tools less scary for consumers.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers put opt-out usability under a microscope and found there’s still a lot to be desired. The study looked at nine different tools within three broad categories:

  • Cross-network/cross-platform opt-out tools
  • Browser tools
  • Ad and tracking blockers

Among the findings, the study indicates that:

  • Users have a difficult time distinguishing between third-party trackers
  • Opt out interfaces do not have appropriate defaults
  • Insufficient communication about tool purpose and methodology is a pervasive issue
  • Many opt out tools do not provide effective feedback for users during and after the opt out process
  • Protection from broken web sites is either not available or not clear
  • Interfaces for out-out tools are generally confusing

This type of usability testing is an excellent reference point for anyone designing or working with opt out tools. You can skim the abstract or read the whole study.

They Do Data! Our 2 Cents on The Wall Street Journal’s Amended Privacy Policy

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal announced a change to its privacy policy. As the publisher of a groundbreaking series on online privacy and digital tracking, this move by the Wall Street Journal is already generating a fair amount of criticism and buzz around the net.

From the WSJ’s blog post, it appears that this effort is driven in part by a need to standardize its policies across its network of owned sites. But it’s certainly also an acknowledgement of the value of visitor data and the importance of audience monetization to publisher business models.

We think this is positive news for the Wall Street Journal, and indicative of a larger shift of more and more media companies leveraging data to drive premium digital marketing initiatives. The bottom line is that to be competitive with mega-audience engines like Google and Facebook, publishers have to play the targeting game as well, if not better.

Some other conclusions can be drawn from this move:

Transparency is key.

The WSJ not only changed its policy, but announced the change separately and included its reasons for doing so in the announcement. Smart move that was handled well.

Policies must be clear to the layperson.

Some of the Journal’s critics have rightfully pointed out that some of the language both in the policy and by the Journal’s spokeswoman are not easy for the layperson to decipher.

Publisher data sharing with user opt out is the norm.

The industry has consolidated around the opt out model and more and more publishers see the value in using audience data to deliver relevant content and advertising.


What’s your take on the Wall Street Journal’s shift? Leave us a comment…

Jobs data – It’s not all doom and gloom

Last week, President Obama gave a speech to Congress stressing the importance of passing a bill to promote jobs. With unemployment staying above 9% for the past few years, many in Congress are also making a strong push for stimulus and other measures geared to getting people back to work.

While it’s clear that overall employment needs a boost, it’s nice to know that some regions and sectors are performing a little better.

In New York, for example, the number of jobs actually has grown in recent months, with over 14,000 added in the private sector in July (the latest month through which data is available). Over the past year, the unemployment in New York has actually gone down half a percent to 8.0%.

And then look at digital media – this is an industry where startups are getting funding weekly and jobs can’t seem to be filled fast enough. It’s certainly not just Facebook and Google that are fighting for new employees; these hiring skirmishes are being fought across the landscape.

So it’s not all bad news. And there are some great resources for folks looking to work in digital media and technology. Here are some of our favorites:

Industry job boards: Some of our favorite industry sites also host excellent job boards. A couple notable ones are AdExchanger (http://www.adexchanger.com/jobs) and AdMonsters (http://www.admonsters.com/jobs).

Twitter: There are a few Twitter handles that post jobs in technology, including @jobsintech (http://twitter.com/#!/jobsintech).

LinkedIn: Everyone who’s job hunting certainly already has a LinkedIn profile, but it’s important to use the network beyond simply posting your own background. Some of our favorite LinkedIn groups are: Media Professionals Worldwide (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=78629), Interactive Digital Media Group (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/INTERACTIVE-DIGITAL-MEDIA-GROUP-100358) and Ad Exchange Experts (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=79973).

Us: Yes, we’re not afraid to highlight ourselves here on this blog – eXelate is always on the lookout for great folks to work with. (http://exelate.com/new/category/about-us/careers/)

Haters Gonna Hate, but Data Owners Gotta Innovate

There’s so much hype out there. Every day we hear about new companies and new product offerings, many of them with the potential to change how digital ads are bought and sold – and perhaps shake the advertising industry to its very core. Throw in all of the acronyms we have to learn, and it’s easy to become somewhat cynical about it all.

Despite that tendency, we at eXelate believe there’s never been a better time for innovation in digital advertising. Innovation is everywhere we look, from the usual digital suspects all the way to the White House.

Innovation is perhaps most important for data owners. With the traditional publisher business models so much in flux, now is the time for data owners to try new ideas.

The data marketing space is one area that is ripe for data owner experimentation. Most data owners should be experimenting with both unbranded sales and branded data sales. With unbranded sales, you can sell your data into a digital advertising marketplace almost with the flip of the switch.

And it can be just as easy to try out branded data sales. eXelate can segment your audience, plug you into any demand-side partners, help you with data pricing and even set up a branded storefront for you to sell your data.

A major part of experimentation is understanding what works and what doesn’t. That’s why all of these efforts need to be backed by monitoring efforts and insights (all of which you can get from our DataLinX data marketing platform).

We work with many different types of clients and help them achieve significant revenue increases. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing and marketing your data — and that’s just another reason innovation is so important.

So let the haters hate. Innovate the way you manage and market your data to improve your bottom line.

How To Succeed in Tag Management without Really Trying

“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings — and put compensation as a carrier behind it — you almost don’t have to manage them.”

Jack Welch said this about managing people, but we would say almost the same thing about managing Web site tags. Choose the right partners, implement the best processes and make sure the incentives are correct and you almost don’t need to manage your tags.

We kept these ideas in mind when we designed Tag Manager, a new way to track and control all of the tags a publisher runs.

Since 2008, we’ve helped Web publishers optimize both tag performance and data marketing revenue. Tag Manager brings together eXelate’s performance monitoring, data marketing and audience measurement capabilities so that publishers can spend less time managing their tags and more time creating great content and building their businesses.

We’re also sure that Welch would agree that visibility and measurement are both key in any management process. That’s why Tag Manager includes a tag activity dashboard, so that you can better understand tag types, volume and performance.

Moreover, Tag Manager is integrated into DataLinX, the only DMP in the marketplace dedicated to helping data owners maximize their return on data. That means Tag Manager sits side-by-side with both DataShield, which prevents publishers from data theft, and all of our marketplace integrations, which ensure that you get the maximum revenue from your audience data.

We know that tag management can be a painful distraction not only for your organization but for your site visitors as well. Let us show you how Tag Manager can help you get your tags under control – so that soon, you won’t even have to manage them.