Content Roundup: More Isn’t Merrier — AdTech Flotilla — Google’s € Bill

Here’s some of our fav MadTech news from June:  Will pubs keep winning in the header bidding game? (Catch up our Header Bidding Roundtable here) – The Tech Armada  – Google’s Euro Fines – Two Retail Giants do Battle…

Anything juicy we missed? Tell us on Twitter, Facebook… or button it up on LinkedIn.

More Isn’t Merrier: Redundant Header Bidders Are Destabilizing The Drum, Jun. 27, 2017

Pubs love header bidding, but now pubs have an average of 10 header bidders…
#HeaderBidding #Pubs

Google Hit With Record EU Fine BBC News, Jun. 27, 2017
Google Shopping may account for 74% of all retail-related ads clicked on its SERPs. Will Google make changes or pay $14M a day?
#International #Search #Financial

Walmart Telling Vendors to Stop Using Amazon’s Cloud Business Insider, Jun. 22, 2017
With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and Walmart’s purchases of Jet.com, Modcloth, and Bonobos – the war is officially on.
#ECommerce #Retail #Showtime

Top 6 AdTech Companies to Watch in 2017 Entrepreneur, Jun. 16, 2017
Advertising trends tend to be short-lived…will these six companies have red-letter years?
#Madtech #OnesToWatch

Cannes Briefing: The Battle Of The Ad Tech Yachts Digiday, Jun. 20, 2017
You may have missed being there, but you don’t need to miss the yacht LUMAcape.
#MadTechFlotilla #Cannes17 #OverdoingIt

 

UPCOMING INDUSTRY EVENTS

July 5 – 9  /  Apple WWDC, San Jose, CA

July 10 – 14  /  Esri User Conference, San Diego, CA

July 17 – 18  /  Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, New York, NY

July 23 – 25 /  MMA Mobile CEO Summit, Napa, CA

 

Header Bidding: 5 Videos, 8 Numbers, and 12 Remarks You Should Read

The Industry Index Header Bidding Roundtable Roundup

Every month, Industry Index gathers MadTech leaders to discuss trends, hot topics, and new technology in the industry. We’ve written recently about Header Bidding (see the exchange shakeup and winners and losers) and that was before we decided to to open it up to some key industry players at our recent Roundtable to sort out where it’s all, er…. Headed.

Here We Go…
Header bidding is not a brand new idea, But from all the chatter, it sure seems like it.  Kelvin Pichardo, Director, Product Marketing at PubMatic, thinks the growth is directly related to the functions that header bidding enables, more so than the mechanics behind having a tag in the header. He was kind/smart enough to break it down for us:

The Complexity Is Simple.
Header bidding exposes all inventory to a large cross section of demand simultaneously, and more competition has improved CPMs. But with demand comes a huge pile of problems additional complexities. Latency, cookie syncing… along with the simple complexity of deploying a header bidding solution.

 

Browser-Bashing
According to Maggie Neuwald, VP, Enterprise Accounts at MediaMath, “With browser-side, there is a limitation of the number of calls and, due to second price auctions, it isn’t a unified market.” Yes, browser-based solutions afford publishers a significant level of control, but the highest bids don’t always win thanks to inefficiencies found in putting the auction load on users’ browsers.

What’s interesting is the effect that users are unaware they have in header bidding auctions, as calls are originating from their machines. Doug Lauretano, SVP and GM at Media.net stresses that these are individual calls happening to individual demand sources. “We threw out the word latency…  browsers weren’t made to operate like this. Browsers were made to show content to users – not to do these complicated AdTech calls. Hence the shift – that’s why server-side is important.”

There Is No “I” in Header Bidding
Header bidding cannot be viewed as a, “set it and forget it philosophy,” offered Michael Hannon, VP, Yield and Revenue Optimization at Purch. There needs to be total transparency when it comes to pageviews, bounce rates, demand sources, DFP, and pulling relic data on a daily basis. There should be a proactive acknowledgment of the responsibility that publishers have in implementing header bidding. Stephanie Layser, Director, Advertising Technology at News Corp stated that, “For too long we have been looking at engineering and page experience separately from advertising, and that’s where we have gotten ourselves into a lot of issues. If we start looking at ourselves – on a daily basis – holistically, and getting our teams working closer together, there will be better communication.”

You Lose, SSPs
The consensus from all participants was that SSPs have lost. It will be more than a challenge as they try to differentiate themselves with the supply amongst publishers looking exactly the same from one to another. First “latency” was a trigger word, then “commodity”… SSPs could have used a safeword…

Layser was the first to be predictive: “There is inefficiency in [browser-based] header bidding. I also believe that once you move to server-side header bidding that the SSP model collapses — but I believe that people will have one partner that will have direct integration with different DSPs. But the question is — people used to use one or two SSPs anyways, so are we just collapsing back to just one SSP? I don’t know exactly what it is. I tend to hope that the future has less to do with getting demand from other people and using their third party demand, and  more of it has to do with utilizing publishers first-party demand and the relationship that they have with their users.”

 

Big Cookies
Moderator Jonathon Shaevitz addressed that we cannot have a header bidding conversation without putting Google… (and Whole Foods Amazon) in the middle. The room chattered with recognition, and after a brief pause and some darting eyes across the table, he then noted that Facebook also has to be included to ensure that the conversation stays proactive. More darting eyes. More nodding.

Neuwald stated that when working with a variety of DMPs, there is a loss of data that is related specifically to cross-device, person-based identification… that’s the information of true value. Ahem. Layser added, “The biggest value is the ID, knowing that this is an addressable person. That is the greatest value that they (Google, Amazon, Facebook) can identify and the smaller guys don’t have that as much.”

It seems that the tri-opolies (you read that right) may always be at the forefront of MadTech. This comes up at every single Roundtable, and Layser gets the credit for this field goal: “Everyone’s digital ad growth is 1%, where Google and Facebook is around 40-50%.” Boom goes the dynamite.

I Might Like You Better If We Tech Together…
Data is important, but doesn’t mean anything without cookie matching. Megan Latham, Global Head of Advertising Operations at Bloomberg believes that cookie matching across platforms needs to be addressed and implemented.

Neuwald adds that, “The only limitation is just cookie matching and we see up to 90% matches with our partners… so it’s something that is easily solved. It just requires standards, transparency, trust, and some coopetition (you read that right, too), which this industry is luckily good at. But we need to up the ante on people-based identifiers, and this is a long term strategy.”

 

By the Numbers
Participants were asked to pick a number, any number, they deemed relevant to the current state of header bidding. Here are the highlights… make sure you give proper attribution as you throw these one-liners out at your 4th of July barbeque:

  • “Every 1 second delay in a page load can result in a 7% decline in sales – per second – and 16% decline in consumer experience.” — Maggie Neuwald
  • “Marketers who have adopted a full-funnel approach have seen a 532% ROI increase, based on a Forester Economic Impact Study.” — Maggie Neuwald
  • “There are between 4-6 million queries per second that some DSPs listen to.” — Ari Paparo
  • “When you think that header bidding hit a tipping point about 2 years ago, and the amount of traction it’s gotten, across all forms… it’s really upended an industry in 2 years. Makes you wonder what the next 2 years will look like.” — Doug Lauretano
  • “On average, 385 individual calls are needed to load a single page (of a sample of about 20 different premium publishers’ websites.) That includes images, text… everything.” Doug Lauretano
  • 13% of impressions go to the private auction space. This needs to grow to bridge the gap between the publisher and the buy-side to pull the buyer’s further up the yield curve.” — Matthew Lehman
  • “$45.9 billion is predicted to be spent in programmatic display by 2019, and will count for 84% of US display revenue, which shows why there are 636 vendors out there – because the money is being generated and people are jumping on the wagon.” — Megan Latham

We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges…
Our Roundtable was certain about one thing: Header bidding (despite the valiant efforts of the Roundtable) is still complex, and still evolving. We managed to scratch the surface together, but left a few things on the table. One thing that wasn’t addressed: AdWeek recently reported, ”The IAB Tech Lab announced an initial outline for what it’s calling ‘Standard Header Container Integration with an Ad Server,’ a nine-page document from the Header Tag Task Force.” (Emphasis ours.) Seriously… we hope they get uniforms and badges. That’s our prediction, anyway.


The Header Bidding Crystal Ball


Have a Great Summer, Don’t Ever Change…
July is a big deal at Industry Index — We’re launching our new site, working on some top-secret- amazing, and planning our next Roundtable for September. Want to know when all these things are happening? Sign up on our mailing list, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Header Bidding: Threat or Savior?

HEADER BIDDING: WINNERS AND LOSERS
Header bidding is washing over the AdTech ecosystem faster than any other tech, leveling the playing field between pubs and exchanges. Need the basics? Read these primers from Digiday and Adprofs, or our recent blog, for a quick history.

Adoption rates among US publishers are incredibly high – reportedly at 70%+. Big numbers – who are the winners and losers?

WINNER — PUBLISHERS
Header bidding is exploding because publishers reason (often correctly) that they are getting screwed by the second price auction and the intermediaries who may be rigging the system. Via header bidding, publishers are able to bypass the waterfall of exchanges, which increases overall eCPMs, provides more control over inventory, and relegates exchange(s) – mostly AdX – to sell “remnant”.  

Though there is some disagreement on the stats, header bidding on guaranteed inventory has increased eCPMs by at least 20%. For non-guaranteed inventory, header bidding has seen a 50% increase.

There are two reasons for this, with equal weighting:

  1. Header bidding exposes ALL inventory to bidders, rather than restricting visibility to unsold/remnant/low priority — high-value inventory competes with guaranteed demand.
  2. Bids through the header are passed from DFP to AdX, creating floor pricing. This increases eCPMs for AdX-sold inventory.

LOSER – PRIMARY EXCHANGES
Exchanges are struggling to catch up as win rates decline through increased competition. One needs look no further than the recent stock price collapse of Rubicon, who reported that header bidding is the primary culprit in their recent earnings calls (and which resulted in hiring Michael Barrett, a consistently successful CEO with outstanding reputation of selling the companies he walks into.)

PubMatic was also late to the game, resulting in a lull – though they have recently joined the fray and are appearing to be gaining momentum.

AdX, the largest of the primaries, is certainly a short-term loser, at least. Due to the new floors header bidding has created, AdX is able to sell inventory at a higher price. However, the volume of quality inventory has dropped, with the best inventory being snatched-up quickly in the header bidding cycle.

Then there’s Google… who I would never count out. While their response is developing, header bidding is also threatening their core ad-server dominance. But, Google is encouraging publishers to explore competitive ad-servers that have built-in programmatic capabilities, as opposed to DFP, in which the exchanges are separate systems.  

AppNexus seems to have woken up with their open source solution, prebid.org, but it’s too early to be certain how they will factor long-term, although they are clearly gaining steam.

WINNER — SECONDARY EXCHANGES
Secondary and tertiary SSPs/Exchanges – traditionally the third, fourth, or fifth calls on the remnant inventory chain – were used to seeing inventory picked-over by AdX, AppNexus, Rubicon… Thanks to header bidding, these smaller SSPs and exchanges can offer the same inventory, at the same time, as the big exchanges, and compete on price and service. Now, it’s the biggest exchanges (with the noted exception of AppNexus) who are scrambling to catch up.

Certain other exchanges, in particular OpenX and Index Exchange, made big bets early on in the header bidding model. SOVRN has also fared well through this upheaval. SOVRN sees 100% of a given publisher’s inventory, and their volumes and eCPMs have increased. And yes, they also incur ‘listing fees’ for 100% of the inventory — but the top line is exploding.

WINNER — DSPs
While they encounter significantly higher listening costs to manage the huge volume of increased impressions, DSP’s now see all of a publisher’s inventory. This visibility includes the most valuable impressions, driving up CPMs and overall sales, even as win rates are lower due to the massive amount of visible inventory.

LOSER – NETWORKS
Networks have been in decline for many years – header bidding is not a single, fatal blow. What’s more: a number of networks are still competing successfully, both integrating inventory into exchanges and leveraging data.  

However, header bidding is going to ultimately subsume what is left of the network marketplace. Some will emerge stronger by managing header bidding solutions for smaller publishers, but those who are primarily aggregating inventory will likely be destroyed.  

THE BIG QUESTION
How will the emergence of server-to-server header bidding impact the adTech landscape?

Short term, it appears to not only help publishers, but also favor smaller exchanges.  

Server-to-server header bidding is, essentially, a publisher selecting one exchange and giving that exchange all of their inventory. The publisher is then not only seeing the “unsold,” but 100% of the inventory (like all header bidding). However by doing so publishers are opening themselves up to many of the same transparency problems of yesterday’s exchanges. Plus, cookie-syncing issues are emerging with server-to-server solutions (not to worry here – these issues will be fixed.)

The biggest publishers with the highest-quality inventory don’t need an exchange. Companies like Purch have already tackled this, and we are seeing the emergence of other companies stepping unto the breach to support publishers, deploying their own server-to-server solution.  

I suspect the biggest and best publishers, used to working with a healthy percentage of media spend, will migrate to a fully-transparent server-to-server model. This will force the exchanges to become more transparent, change their pricing, and provide different levels of service. Publishers will jointly create a cookie-syncing solution, and eventually attract the largest DSPs to bid directly – nary an exchange in sight.   

Exchanges will be forced to provide their services to the mid- and long-tail. While some may survive, many will fail. The exchanges who do survive will likely be those already focussed on the long tail (think: SOVRN) versus those competing for the comScore 200.  

I am left with the thought that perhaps the exchanges and SSPs will (ultimately) win — in the short term with all publishers, but in the long term, perhaps only with smaller publishers. There are many exchanges – some are focussed on a more vertical approach (think: mobile or video) and others on providing higher-quality service, trying to differentiate themselves in other ways. What’s more: The biggest exchanges have always been “display first,” and their business models will come under increased pressure as header bidding tech becomes more ubiquitous.

Plus, we cannot overlook the benefits of deploying one’s own solution, extending further into the market.

ONE STEP AT A TIME
Sure, header bidding doesn’t fix many of the other problems with the programmatic marketplace (fraud, walled gardens, viewability, effectiveness…) but this shift is returning some pricing power back to independent publishers.

That can only be good for the industry.

…WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED
Industry Index is exploring server-to-server v. browser-based header bidding solutions at our upcoming Roundtable, with some of the smartest names in the field. Jonathon Shaevitz will moderate. Get your tickets here.

Content Roundup: Squad Goals — Naming Your AI — Tasty Charts and Graphs

Here’s some of our fav MadTech news from the last two weeks — pubs & techies team up to solve targeting issues, proper care and feeding of your new AI…  And if you missed out our OTT Roundtable, catch up here.

Anything juicy want to share? Tell us on Twitter, Facebook… or button it up on LinkedIn.

SQUAD GOALS!

TV Industry Mobilizing to Secure Its Fair Share  AdExchange, May 15, 2017
Fox, Turner and Viacom recently announced an audience targeting alliance.
#targeting #consortium #publishers #adtech

MadTech v Goliath Media Post, May 4, 2017
Team sports continue as tech throws-in to rival Facebook and Google on the targeting front.
#targeting #adtech

PROPER AI PARENTING.

Why Tech Companies Like IBM & Amazon Give AI Human Names  Adweek, May 24, 2017
Watson, Alexa to Einstein (and the disappeared Hemingway) – Who named these AIs?
#AI #ibm

Salesforce CEO Uses AI to End Internal Politics  Business Insider, May 18, 2017
Executives face being pointed out as needed specific attention by the company’s AI Einstein…
#AI #salesforce

TWO TOO BIG?

Google Knows When Its Users Buy Stuff  The Washington Post, May 23, 2017
Google’s hands are now on billions of credit card transaction records. They “declined to detail how the new system works.”
#o2o #privacyIssue #google #PII

Facebook & Google Dominate Web Traffic, But Not the Same Business Insider, May 24, 2017
80% of referral traffic comes from just these two – Facebook for lifestyle, Google for tech and business. Do you agree?
#referral #monopoly

THE MORE YOU KNOW…

The State Of Programmatic Direct In 4 Charts  DigiDay, May 16, 2017
Due to open-exchange being “a proverbial black box,” programmatic direct ad spend has increased 50% in 5 major countries from 2015 to 2016. And publishers are moving away…
#programmatic

UPCOMING INDUSTRY EVENTS

June 6 – 8  /  Social Innovation Summit, Chicago, IL

June 7 – 9 /  99U Conference, New York, NY

June 17 – June 24  /  Cannes Lions, Cannes, France

June 21  /  Roundtable: Header Bidding, New York, NY

 

Video Killed the Radio Television Star

Every month, Industry Index gathers MadTech leaders to discuss trends, hot topics, and new technology in the industry. This month we asked what the future holds for OTT, Convergent TV and Audience Targeting for Video.

Can you relate to this statistic?

65% of traditional television subscribers watch a streaming service every day. What’s more: 17% of all paid-TV subscribers want to cancel their traditional subscriptions… AKA 17% are ‘Cord Cutters’. Ed Laczynski, CEO and Co-Founder of Zype kicked off Industry Index’s recent Roundtable with these data gems – and that was just the first 30 seconds.  

Moderator Jonathon Shaevitz posed an interesting idea: Has the industry entered the OTT and Convergent TV era without the correct terminology? And, without a clear lexicon, do we have a dilemma as the ecosystem plays catch up while running at a full sprint?  

“OTT is the world we are living in,” stated Myles O’Connell, SVP of Global Content at Complex Network. “Anything that’s not pipes-to-the-home is technically OTT – content being served digitally.”

Enabling a World that Demands Instant Gratification
Content, Original Series, Consumer Behavior

Bottom line: consumers are hungry for video. Chief Strategy Officer of VideoAmp, Jay Prasad explained, “Quality content has never been in more demand.”

Since the first television was introduced to the market there has been a constant stream of content being produced. That stream (read: raging river) continues today. What has changed is how content is generated, and the ways it’s being consumed. OTT bypasses traditional publishing methods, connecting content creators directly to consumers. Endless programing is easily accessible – every hour of every day.

Video-hungry audiences continue to look for the easiest paths of content consumption. This has moved traditional, linear advertising to embrace the digital revolution (it always comes back to the money.) Prasad explained, “Netflix’ budget for original content this year is $6B, versus NBCUniversal’s $2B.” However, O’Connell interjected that, yes, the amount of money Netflix is spending is massive, but “geared towards a global audience.” NBCUniversal is on a national basis.

Though the original Netflix model looked a bit different (who doesn’t remember returning scratched DVDs in those little paper sleeves), they shifted some time ago to feeding the content-starved beast (who doesn’t remember waiting a whole WEEK for the next episode?).  Not only has OTT and Convergent TV removed delivery friction, it has changed how content gets from creator to audience. ‘Original Series’ are encouraged and absolutely welcomed by the consumers. The push for original content now allows platforms to scale by keeping audiences’ attentions. Melissa Rosenthal, EVP of Cheddar, addressed this: “You really have to get creative and strategic with how you are pulling together all of these videos to engage users by grabbing and keeping their attention.”

As OTT and Convergent TV platforms are rapidly scaling, pressure is being put on large, traditional networks. Digital brands are creating streaming networks that are, “narrative-driven, understanding you cannot just string videos together and think it’s a network,” Rosenthal explained.

Bye, Bye Bundles
Digital vs. Linear, Skinny Bundles

“There is a last ditch effort to grab all the linear dollars,” Adam Helfgott, CEO of MadHive, offered. Collectively, the Roundtable agreed that we are seeing linear and digital networks starting to merge, and the buying process isn’t going to be viewed as separate.

The ecosystem has accepted the challenge to produce better content. More money continues to enter digitally and linearly. Like Biggie said… more money, more problems. Think of it like this — you’re Comcast, laying all the pipes to move the content from publisher to consumer. Here come Netflix/Amazon/Hulu, making more money than you – through your pipes. Of course you want to charge the digital networks more. Prasad explained that the OTT and Convergent TV platforms are, “…getting rich off large network sweat, so the traditional networks want to level the playing field a bit.”

But how?

The days of large cable bundles are nearly past. “There are 190 channels in a bundle,” O’Connell explained, “and most people who subscribe to cable only watch 17 channels. The breakup of the bundle is going to happen, it’s just a question of when.” First, there were ‘Cord-Cutters.’ Now, there is a younger generation: ‘Cord Nevers’. This group will most likely never pay for a large-bundle cable subscription. 

O’Connell continues, “I think the bundle itself is getting a lot smaller, that’s why I think a lot of digital publishers are looking to get into video… because where does the advertising go? Where do the subscription fees go? It goes somewhere… it’s a business and there is just as much demand for high quality content.” Around the Roundtable, a flurry of conversation ensued around the idea that digital publishers are talking about bundling their content on a streaming interface.

BUT! There is still a need for a bundle when it comes to live TV. Prasad explained, “The main value of linear, and a huge part of the skinny bundles, is if you don’t watch something live (like sports or news) you most likely aren’t going to watch it later on-demand… linear is going to keep their focus on programming that is live, and everything else – there is going to be a push for on-demand.”

But O’Connell asked what happens when consumers, “…have their broadband package, and their $40 skinny bundle, and Netflix or Hulu, or whatever it is? Then you are looking at having a big bundle again.”

Blurred Lines
Traditional, Subscription, and Hybrid Models & the Fragmented Audiences Who Love Them

So, there’s the traditional model, which could waste away (or at least slim way down). But, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The industry has entered an uncharted frontier – digital. Digital as far as the eye can see…

The digital world has the subscription model (winner: Netflix). Plenty of room in the middle of the pack, though. Laczynski explained that, “Vertical networks are making enough money on subscribers, but they are not making enough money on ads.”

But wait, there’s more! Linear + digital = hybrid model, which Hulu and the skinny services (like Sling TV) call home. Prasad stated, “The hybrid approach will continue to grow. It reduces the ad loads a little bit by making sure the targeting is good and the user experience is high.”

What’s more: The blurred lines of digital programming models, and the transition away from cable bundles, has fragmented audiences, O’Connell believes. This fragmentation is a new lens for advertisers. “Brands are starting to realize they are paying for content, one way or another,” Laczynski explains, “so they might as well embed themselves in the content. To do that you have to allow yourself to be exposed to 10, 20, 30, 40 different distribution platforms.”

Target Practice
Ad Buy Bullseyes?

Although the consumer space may seem shattered, advertisers are beginning to understand how to capitalize on audience targeting capabilities offered by OTT and Convergent TV. Prasad explained that, “Even though ratings may be down on a linear buy, viewership is up across all these different experiences, so we are going to sell access to our audiences not just as a primetime slate — and that’s working.”

But, the OTT and Convergent TV industry must grasp that change may be implemented slowly and with some hesitation. Helfgott offered, “It’s going to take a long time to change the business model.  People are used to doing things one way, [this] is a shift in the way the industry thinks.”

But to Rosenthal, it seems foolish to not jump in head-first and embrace the power of audience targeting. “We are living in a world where you know exactly who you are targeting, and addressable TV as a whole is going to be shifting. It just doesn’t make sense to not target, it just seems like you are kind of throwing darts.” There has always been a need to understand targeting, however, targeting unto itself isn’t a new idea. What is new is the hunger from consumers to have a constant stream of quality content.

“What is changing is consumption,” O’Connell explained, “there are so many ways to consume content, there’s still tons and tons of power in advertising so there are a lot of opportunities.” Ads want to be housed within quality content, to and – to top it all off – audiences are able to consume content across multiple screens.

A Whole New World
Cross Screen Strategy & the Need for a New Currency

How many screens do you consume content on? One… two… three or more? Shaevitz posed this question to both Roundtable participants and attendees. The majority identified with three or more screens. Cross-screen targeting, it’s no longer a ‘should’ but a ‘must.’ Prasad explained, “There are more opportunities that different platforms offer, and advertisers are seeing the possibilities of how they can target their clientele and what different platforms can do for brand awareness.”

Old habits die hard – the industry at large is used to doing things one way, even though times are changing… or have changed. Will GRP win the game, since that’s what everyone is familiar with? Likely not, but OTT/Convergent TV is missing one thing: A cross-platform currency. “There is now a new denominator of what advertisers are basing ad buys off of, and that’s targeting,” Prasad stated. “Even when you move into cross-screen, there is an introduction of measurement, and that is not going to be a GRP.”

Increasing advertising opportunities are setting the bar higher for brands. OTT and Convergent TV have opened up a world of audience targeting possibilities. Have we entered into a new era where ads will no longer feel like a waste of time; just background noise? If so, and we think yes, there needs to be trust on all fronts, from brands to publishers and vice versa. Trust will propel inventory, even while the industry continues to get its sea legs.

Prasad explained after growing pains presented in Q4, “We couldn’t fill all the OTT demand for our advertisers and probably left several billion dollars on the table just because there wasn’t enough inventory, which was painful… Running through programmatic pipes is a process of cross-screen video.”

Why You Got To Be Shady?
Fraud

“Digital has shot itself in the foot in the last couple of years by having an ecosystem with a lot of low quality or fraudulent advertising practices. Therefore, advertisers are moving towards safety, and safety has worked for 50+ years… television,” Prasad stated.

There is a larger issue, which goes beyond the fraud epidemic. Helfgott explained, “Because linear and the big networks are viewed as ‘safe’ the big networks are realizing that they could be selling ad buys for more money… capitalizing on the ‘safety’ aspect.”

Naturally, OTT/Convergent TV wants to keep the ad revenue in their sectors. However, and beyond the money, the issue of fraud raises questions of responsibility in moderating the shade that’s being thrown around. There is a call for platforms to start taking more responsibility.

Rosenthal made this point very clear: “As the industry increasingly relies on social distribution, the platforms have to do a better job at weeding out the crap.”

How’s The View Up There?
Facebook, Google, and… Netflix

It’s interesting that platforms aren’t putting a stop to fraud, and at the same time, the OTT and Convergent TV sectors are living in Facebook’s, Google’s, and Netflix’s shadows. It feels as if these three powerhouses – and we’re going out on a limb here – make their own rules.

The water is murky, and Facebook is bulldozing with all its powerhouse glory. Helfgott thinks that, “Facebook gets a ton of credit where it’s not really due because they become the last click from distribution point of view.” This means that brands’ ad impressions are getting lost through Facebook as a distribution platform. This is important for agencies to see.

Now, Facebook is entering the OTT space… a murmur ran through the Roundtable room.

Let’s not forget that we’re in the glory days of Netflix, too. There’s no doubt that they’ve set the pace for running a subscription-based model, but will they finally turn a profit?

The Road Ahead

OTT, Convergent TV and Audience Targeting has already changed the video consumption industry.

‘Cord Cutters’ are moving toward a firm embrace of the streaming world, and ‘Cord Nevers’ will never know the smell of a fresh TV Guide wafting from the mailbox.

Does it seem like we are too far down the rabbit hole, and there’s no turning back now? You’re right!  But there is still a long journey ahead. There are many questions yet unasked; many variables to be sorted out. Laczynski explained, “Things are happening pretty fast and we are in the middle of it… there’s this whole world that is opening up, and it will continue to change over the next decade as behaviors change.”

There’s one thing we know: Without OTT/Convergent TV, a whole weekend wouldn’t be dedicated to an entire series, or two… There wouldn’t be a need to click <YES> To the ‘Are You Still Watching?’ prompt… We couldn’t ‘Netflix and Chill’! We also know that without Audience Targeting, those 30 second spots would still feel like a waste of time rather than a moving experience, with brands speaking to us on a deeply personal level. How would they know their creative is exactly-what-we-needed?

Don’t Touch that Dial

How does OTT, Convergent TV, and Audience Targeting for Video impact your streaming behaviors? We want to hear from you. Binging on Season 5 of “House of Cards” can wait.

Let’s Talk About Chatbots

AUTHOR NOTE

We sent our summer intern, Rebecca Shaevitz, to her first MadTech event. She returned with fresh insight on the role Chatbots are beginning to play in the ecosystem… Well worth a five minute read.
– The Industry Index Team

Knowing almost nothing about Chatbots prior to attending “Chatbots: More Than Hype” presented by ROKO Labs, I figured I’d walk away with an understanding of what Chatbots do and how they are relevant in the MadTech space. To be honest, the ins and outs of chatbots are still a bit unclear to me – the Chatbot ecosystem spans many different platforms, user demographics, and designs.

Despite my confusion, I did pick up a few key takeaways:

  1. Chatbots can be implemented into almost any platform. Why is this important?
  • Companies do not have to create an entirely new technology to take advantage of their benefits. A platform that may be struggling with user navigation or the specific operations of a user interface can implement a Chatbot. If done correctly Chatbots can work… almost like magic.
  • Chatbots can be continually updated to stay relevant to users’ needs and interests.
  1. Chatbots can be powerful tools for platforms to engage users, smooth-over confusing steps in technologies, or simply entertain. However, design and function must be highly intentional to ensure intended purposes are achieved.
  • Failures are largely due to language processing issues, outdated designs, inappropriate tone, and poor visual cues.
  • Chatbots without clear intentions (or those which are poorly implemented) may do more harm than good, alienating or confusing users.
  1. User involvement should be viewed as an important aspect in the creation and design process.
  • Users can indicate which Chatbots/Chatbot features will be most useful during the selection and testing processes.
  • Users may spread the word about new Chatbots, providing a first line of promotion for these new technologies.

I’m still unsure of a good deal of the Chatbot ecosystem. Maybe that’s because Chatbots are constantly evolving; maybe it’s because their potential is only just being discovered. I do know that the next time I interact with a Chatbot I’ll have a better understanding of how to assess its efficacy, as well as a greater appreciation for its development and complexity.

3,500 MarTech Companies and Counting…

At Industry Index we’re obsessed with organizing, categorizing, and segmenting the Industry. We’re tracking 5,000+ tech companies across MarTech/Adtech, as we like to call it — MadTech. Our tracking is expansive — e-commerce related companies, social media, chatbots, augmented reality, salestech, marketing automation… the list goes on.    

Meanwhile, there is a lot of great research occurring all around us. One data point that caught our eye was published on Chiefmartec. They recently announced that they now track over 3,500 MarTech companies, up from 2,000 in 2015 and 1,000 in 2014.  

Sure, you can quibble with the exact number, but the pace of growth is undeniably astounding: It doubled from 2014 to 2015, and then grew 87% again between 2015 and 2016. Simultaneously, tremendous consolidation continues. It seems like every week there’s another deal.

Why the tidal wave of growth?

1)It’s the money.
All signs point to the explosion of investment capital, sheer number of startups, and expansion of the MarTech ecosystem. Pick your favorite statistic:

  • MarTech spending is expected to reach 10% of overall budgets for Fortune 500 companies by 2024 (up from 1% in 2014)
  • MarTech spending reached $12B in 2014
  • MarTech spending will reach $120B by 2024

2)There are additional compelling reasons for the proliferation:   

  • It is easier than ever for brands to try and test tech.  
  • Most new tech have APIs that allow faster deployment and integration
  • The SaaS model reduces tech acquisition costs – lower risk to try
  • The proliferation of tech drives more targeted “point” solutions; tech deployments can be for single campaigns or trials
  • Previously siloed data and systems can now be integrated and leveraged with relative ease
  • Most importantly, customers are expecting more and better engagements with companies – Personalized, fast, authentic… IMMEDIATE!

Marketers ultimately need to remember the real reason they’re investing in MarTech: To better understand current and potential customers with the purpose of driving sales. Companies need to make sure that their marketing stack—regardless of the vendors that they work with—provides deep customer intelligence and paints a holistic picture of the customer.

 

What does this mean for MarTech buyers?

  • First and foremost, the phone will keep ringing, emails will be chirping, LinkedIn messages will fill your inbox.  
  • The market is difficult to understand and sort out. Understanding the differentiation of companies within a category can be agonizing. You need to start with a different perspective:
    • It is incumbent on buyers to start by developing a general understanding of the type(s) of tech that are interesting.
    • You need to focus more attention on developing your own requirements.
    • Finally, consult the data. More and more companies are utilizing research to produce content, and much of this research is extremely useful.  However, you need to be a smart consumer of data/content. There is a BIG difference between research studies, true thought leadership, and long, glorified sales pitches.

What does this mean for MarTech vendors?  

For starters, doesn’t it feel like there is more competition? That’s because THERE IS MORE COMPETITION.

As Industry Index began planning for its website relaunch for this summer, we began with a basic question:  Where are the boundaries of MadTech and how do we organize our data?  

This lead us to explore vast numbers of companies, and where they sit in the ecosystem.  It was immediately apparent that not only were there many more companies, but the boundaries had expanded. And, while many of the new entrants are narrowly targeting a single problem, most companies are now, unlike five years ago, selling solutions that inherently include data, products, and integrations with other technology types as basic table stakes.  

So what does it all mean…

  1. Despite all the M&A activity, the marketplace is growing more crowded.
  2. The lines between tech categories are getting very murky.
  3. More MadTech products are being sold directly to brands – sometimes because the agencies are reluctant to test, but more often because data integration requires direct relationships with brands.
  4. Marketers are increasingly trying/buying tech, but companies’ product lifecycles are shortening.
  5. Most MadTech vendors continue to dance in the dark, not knowing the basics: the whos, whats, and whys of their prospect lists. Vendors are too willing to attempt to stretch their product capabilities in exchange for a few more dollars of revenue.

5 Minute MadTech – Sales Automation and Marketing Automation: Part 3

Where have you been? Thanks to the internet,  you can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here.

What allows Sales Automation (SA) and Marketing Automation (MA) to be on an upward trajectory? Tech, baby. As we move into the automated future, the friction of MA/SA implementation should be first to go. The star of the show, ladies and gentle-bots: Artificial Intelligence.  

Waves of Innovation

Gartner has represented the constant growth of SA through different “waves”:

  • “Wave 1: Client-server and desktop based sales systems”
  • “Wave 2: Web 2.0 and API-based sales systems”
  • “Wave 3: Algorithmic SA with predictive analytics and AI”

Waves 1 and 2 were gnarly, but we’re on the front end of the big kahuna – #3. Tech is simplifying the sales process by automating – and thereby accelerating – communication between sales and marketing departments. Knowledge Tree states, “Automated analytics about the performance of content can be automatically shuttled back to marketing so they can see which content performs and which doesn’t. The result is that teams can invest in assists that win and eliminate low-performers.”

Box checked for automation – but what about AI? CRMs are the biggest intersection of sales and marketing departments. According to Medium, “AI applications in CRM is just a tip of the iceberg. As AI technology strengthens, CRM which is ripe for disruption is going to be the biggest beneficiary moving from being a system of records to a really helpful tool helping organizations become more efficient and productive.”

As long as the machines don’t rise up against us, the future is looking much smoother.

MA, FTW

The Huffington Post quoted a Gleanster study which, “…reports that 90% of respondents report regular and periodic use of Marketing Automation for large-volume email campaigns.” The article continues to explain that MA, “has revolutionized the way organizations are managing their time and targets.” Now the best possible prospects are given time to convert, saving time, energy, and money.

Data integrations and predictive analysis will be the main focus for MA growth, via AI integration.

The Huffington Post continues, “The most valuable use of AI in marketing is to enable personalized conversations with customers, knowing their goals, ambitions and profiles. This type of personalized communication eliminates spam, which often plagues marketing today.” Digital natives know when they’re being spammed, unwillingly part of  chain emails, etc., and the lack of personalization is an instant red flag. In spite of this, in recent years many have concluded that mass emailing works… but does it? This answer isn’t so black and white.

Personalized one-on-one conversations can now move beyond simple list segmentations. “…Visitors can expect to have a unique conversation with the brand, based on their specific needs. Dynamic ad copy, one-to-one emails, customized website and mobile experience, AI will make hyper-personalization possible at scale.

AI may allow MA to practice safe marketing. Rather than communicating with promiscuity, the personalized approach that AI has introduced will reach mass audiences creating interactions that are aligned with actual individuals, rather than more vague segments.

Wrapping It Up…

AI has expanded well-beyond sitting on your kitchen counter (ordering your paper towels and surreptitiously shilling for Burger King.) It’s being implemented across MadTech, and SA/MA are no exception. If only we could get it to open the pod bay doors.

5 Minute MadTech — Sales Automation and Marketing Automation: Part 2

Now that we’ve washed SA/MA’s laundry, let’s start putting it away.

The goal: Achieving harmony and interoperability between SA and MA to drive (and optimize) customer acquisition. In our 5 Minute MadTech series on Account Based Marketing, we explained the importance of lead generation quality over quantity, i.e., that it’s better to fish with a spear than a net. SA and MA leverage this idea by removing labor-intensive tedium from the process. It’s a complex ecosystem, though. Which is more important for your goals? How do you achieve the right balance?

The critical factors: Complexity and Transactional Volume.

Sales Automaton vs. Marketing Automation explains which tech should take the lead  based on these two factors. Here’s our breakdown of that explanation:

  1. Low Complexity, Low Transactional Volume
    If your business has a short sales cycle with a low sales volume, SA may not be the most important tool to consider. Simply put, “The effort of tracking every opportunity is more work that it may be worth.”  Higher importance: MA
  2. Low Complexity, High Transactional Volume
    “Marketing Automation is critical for the non-complex sale, where the speed and volume of transactions are the core of the business.” MA assists in identifying and nurturing prospects until the final sale can be executed, with lower costs per customer acquisition. Higher importance: MA
  3. High Complexity, Low Volume of Transactions
    It’s extremely important to implement SA. “There are multiple stages and meetings to a new client acquisition, and you want to be managing the information around each.” Higher importance: SA
  4. High Complexity, High Volume of Transactions
    “In this environment you need [MA] to attract and nurture a high volume of prospects through the initial buying process.” This allows the sales team to manage the pipeline with SA to depict who’s extremely close to the purchase decision point. SA & MA get equal weighting

According to The Huffington Post the digital marketplace “…has set a fast pace to lead conversion, and businesses have no time to lose on customers that may not convert at all. Sifting through leads consumes time and energy that can be utilized more effectively.”  How are MA and SA evolving their tech to achieve even more value from automation?

In our next 5 Minute MadTech, we’ll dig into recent MA/SA tech innovations in measurement and analytics, and uncover how artificial intelligence may be the next big thing in the category. Are the robots getting their own, smarter robot overlords?