eXelate’s data eXcellence awards: The Winners

We’re excited to announce the winners for the first ever data eXcellence awards!

Thank you to everyone who nominated. Check out all the awards talk on Twitter and see the pictures below and on our Facebook page!

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Top 3 Publisher Nominations:

Matchflow, Manta, TNS

Winner: Manta

Top 3 Platform Nominations:

Media iQ Digital, Videology, x+1

Winner: x+1

Top 3 eXelate Partner Nominations:

Bizo, Nielsen Online Audience Segments – TV Viewing, MasterCard Advisors

Winner: Nielsen Online Audience Segments – TV Viewing

Top 3 Agency Nominations: 

VivaKi, OMD, Xaxis

Winner: VivaKi

Top 3 Non-Advertising Nominations:

American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Polaris Project/Google Giving, Knewton

Winner: Knewton

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Publishers: It’s 2012 – Time to Increase Your Page Yield

In this performance-driven medium, the push to increase performance is never-ending. I’ve seen many publishers invest deeply in people, process, and technology to increase the revenue a page can yield, independent of the number of times it has been viewed. Today, it’s fairly common to have an internal discipline around optimizing unsold ad space, managing rate cards, packaging, links, etc. As I work with publishers both large and small, there is a growing realization that working with data is the next logical step in leapfrogging page yield up another couple of notches. Here are some of the perspectives I gained from content thought leaders over the last few months.

1)      Page yield is about optimizing the value the page has to the advertiser, publisher, and user. It’s always a balancing act. Too conservative and you leave money on the table. Too aggressive and you potentially turn off both advertisers and users. For example, a page with one ad and a few text links may look clean but it may not offer a broad creative palette for advertisers who would be interested in advertising on your site, thus choosing to spend a small portion of what they could if they had better options or worse, choosing to advertise elsewhere. Similarly, we all know the joke about the “NASCAR” sites with banners at the top and bottom, buttons on the rail, highlighted in-article text, overlays whooshing around, and audio auto-playing. Not an environment designed for loyalty. Our partners are finding that licensing data in an anonymous fashion to the marketplace increases page yield that doesn’t require making a trade-off decision. This is good news to Product and Sales teams.

2)      Data licensing is NOT competitive with your sales team. They are truly apples to oranges in comparison. Direct sales are about offering the advertiser a level of service and control. Pricing, ad formats, location, inventory levels, adjacency, rich media, reporting, optimization – these are a few of the range of needs that publishers fulfill when they engage with an advertiser directly. The publisher charges a premium to be able to fulfill these needs and over time, both partners have a good sense of the value each other brings and how to mutually grow together. Data licensing to an exchange, on the other hand, doesn’t offer the advertiser any of those things. They are buying an aggregated pool of data and the media to support it independently of your site’s inventory. Advertisers forgo a lot to be able to achieve scale and cost efficiencies – you could liken it to a DIY approach. At the end of the day, publishers offer a full car to advertisers, and data exchanges are more of a parts store. Most important, data licensing allows publishers to monetize their audience when they are not on their site. This is a relief to the Sales team.

3)      Data licensing has some of the best ROI in the industry. Unlike expensive yield optimization technology, and the training and staffing required to maintain it and its various components, working with data is very low touch. Once an initial mapping of a site’s taxonomy to the aggregated data taxonomy is complete, deployment of the code snippet often takes a day or two and then requires virtually no effort to maintain. Therefore, training and staffing are not required to generate four, five, or sometimes six figures of profit every month. This makes both AdOps and Finance happy.

I wish there were more opportunities where the payoff for the effort is so high in proportion to the effort and risk. And given the financial goals publishers have received for 2012, this is as good a time as any to broaden the range of revenue-generators. A smart data-licensing strategy will lift page yield and jumpstart ROI for 2012.

As seen on AdMonsters

Power to the Publisher: Data Theft – Attribution as Well as Retargeting

A brilliant article in the blog Exchange Wire entitled “Cookie Directive: How To Kill Off European Publishers While Giving a Monster Monopoly a Competitive Advantage” recently made me think about a publisher’s data strategy having to plan not just for collection and targeting, but measurement and attribution.  A lot of conversations in the industry now are giving attention to the idea of data theft from publishers – at eXelate we’ve built a tool called DataShield to help publishers see what third-party tags are loading on their site.  DataShield keeps a log of these alerts – not just spot-checking for theft with tools like Fiddler or Firebug – and allows publishers to audit what partners are firing through their ad units, social media widgets, etc.

But potential collection of data for re-targeting is only one threat to the publisher’s business; another threat might be more alarming: in some cases, marketers are attributing results of their campaigns based on post-view conversion tracking.  During my time at Advertising.com, we saw a cannibalization of some CPA campaigns when publishers had hard-coded textlinks or 120×60 buttons that cookie those consumers with the same advertiser.  The consumer may have clicked on the 300×250 Vonage ad we served, but they may not have converted immediately…if they returned to Vonage later and signed up, the most recent pixel might have been the textlink in their web email service, even though the user didn’t look at or click on that placement.

Now that Google and Facebook tags are increasing on publisher pages, publishers are no longer asking visitors to login – “I don’t want to know anything about my visitors, but I want Facebook to know everything about them” – and the way that marketers are attributing results to a campaign are going to be skewed to the pixel rather than the environments that offered the best placements, ad formats and creative that drove meaningful interactions.

Publishers need to compete in the attribution battle, and ask the advertiser if they’re going to be evaluated on metrics like post-view conversions.  Publishers are spending a tremendous amount of time producing valuable content to draw visitors, offering high engagement ad units and highly targeted audience segments – in short, creating premium ad placements that should be measured with effectiveness studies like Nielsen NetEffect that dig deeper into online media consumption and offline purchases.  Are publishers asking themselves how their advertisers are measuring campaign effectiveness?

Inefficient to Run Online Media Campaigns – Is it a Buying or Creative Issue?

I had the privilege to attend Pubmatic’s AdRevenue on October 13. Thanks to the Pubmatic team and Doug Weaver for putting such a great conference together.

During one of the panels, Martin Gilliard from The MIG referenced a common sentiment I’ve heard at many industry events: despite the technological efficiencies of interactive ad serving, it is still MORE expensive to run online marketing campaigns vs. offline marketing campaigns (e.g. buying ads on TV).

With tools to automate the RFP process, buyer and publisher ad serving tools, rich media technologies and all the other systems involved, it doesn’t seem that the issue is caused by the media buying process. Is it instead the durability of creative?  Is a TV schedule more efficient to deliver because all those spots and the ad impressions they represent are all executed against the same six 30-second spots?  Or the print schedule that runs throughout the year in 20-50 magazines rotates the same eight full-page ads?

From my time spent on the interactive agency side, very few campaigns ran over the course of months against the same creative and with fewer than three ad formats.  In TV, there’s the :15 spot, the :30 spot, a rare :60 spot and :10 Promo IDs (which I was never able to keep on a media plan).  When clients asked about burnout of a spot, the general response was that “a bad spot is burned after the first impression served, and effective spots can run for decades”.

On another panel at AdRevenue, Susan Grossman from MasterCard Advisors noted that the data they have access to allows them to turn information into insights and measure effectiveness by tracking actual purchases.  By using that kind of data to identify the appropriate audience to target and the demo/psychographic profile insights that can help get the message correct, online display ads should hopefully have enduring durability and allow those conversations to work over longer periods of time.