Post-cookie era coming?

Media We Like: “Post-Cookie Era Coming”

Here come the I.I. team’s picks for the week. This week, it’s (again) the end of cookie measurement. Is it for real this time? Both Facebook and Snapchat are the new TV. And TripleLift introduces a — wait for it — first price auction. (See our roundup of 2017 MadTech trends here.)

A view of the post-cookie measurement battleground (Digiday) – Jan. 18, 2017
Identity measurement is hot in online advertising, again. “It’s the beginning of the post-cookie ecosystem,” with GroupM joining this field where Google and Facebook currently dominate.

The Evolution of Data Journalism (The Content Strategist) – Jan. 17, 2017
For content, data work.

Ad Viewability is All Wrong: Double Standards Create Lack of Consistency (ExchangeWire) – Feb. 8, 2017
Currency has switched from a served impression to a viewable impression. But there are various standards floating and publishers are scrambling to redesign their ad space to maximize viewability.

The Radical Future Of Branding (Co.Design) – Feb. 2, 2017
Conventional wisdom has it that brands shouldn’t talk politics. Why risk alienating potential customers? That was before Donald Trump.

Facebook Steers Publishers To Long-Form Video (MediaPost) – Jan. 17, 2017
Facebook is encouraging its publishing partners to move away from live streaming video in favor of producing more long-form video, as it is poised to introduce new mid-roll video ad products. Oh, and have you heard that “Snapchat is the new TV?” (WSJ, Feb. 5.)

TripleLift Builds Server-Side Header Bidding For Native Ads (AdExchanger) – Feb. 7, 2017
TripleLift will run a first-price auction among all participating partners, a shift from the OpenRTB spec of a second-price auction. The move could result in higher payouts for publishers.

(Join in! Tweet us or tell us on LinkedIn of some media that you think is worth sharing.)

93% Want It. Only 14% Get It

If you’re trying to please someone, would you try to give them something they want?

Thought so.

And, yet, while 93% of executives in a position to buy technology say that relevant research will positively impact their perception of a tech vendor, only 14% say they regularly receive research or thought leadership that’s relevant.

The executives say they want research-based content that’s useful and tells them something new. Such content, they say, will get them to look for and do business with vendors who provide it.

These are just some of the findings of our recent study, “Research + Content = MadTech Sales.”

Vendors are Misallocating Marketing Budgets

The study finds that while vendors think that trade shows and articles in the press are the most effective ways they can use their limited marketing budgets to generate interest and capture leads, the brand marketers and agency executives they are trying to reach most want research-based content.

They tell us they place research-driven thought leadership atop all other forms of outreach, including emails and trade shows.

Plus, it’s only research-based content and email newsletters that work for a majority of respondents to our survey. Everything else came in at under 50 percent. And email  works only when it’s extremely personal or includes something original such as, you guessed it, research. Which means research-driven thought leadership is the best way to increase the effectiveness of emails, not to mention trade shows and other forms of marketing.

“If there’s someone that’s actually trying to help me do my job better in some way, then that goes a really long way,” one CMO told us.

Download the study here for more information on what works when marketing to MadTech decision-makers at brands and agencies.

7 Deadly Sins of MadTech Marketing 

It may be obvious, but most MadTech companies don’t market, they do lead generation and demand generation and call it marketing.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Most MadTech founders are engineers and don’t like the squishy metrics of marketing
  • The prospect list is limited and often known, so why do a big marketing campaign when there are only 500~1,000 prospects? Let’s go sell them!
  • Brands are viewed as unimportant in MadTech, so why invest?
    • Maybe they are unimportant since most have names that sound alike and almost all use the same language including “optimize,  reach your audience, performance, unified, programmatic,” etc.
  • Budgets for start-ups and young companies are limited, so better to invest in a feature/function that a prospect or customer has requested
  • Most digital advertising is focussed on performance, so it is what we know
  • MadTech products are impossible to differentiate through marketing because they require a presentation or demonstration to understand.

These are all valid reasons. So what to do? First, what do MadTech companies do? They spend their “marketing” budgets on:

  1. Hiring sales people who have a great “list”
  2. Attending trade shows and conferences
  3. Sponsoring trade shows and conferences
  4. Email campaigns
  5. Running ads in industry publications
  6. Running ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  7. Spitting out some content



Hiring sales people who have a great “list”.

There is no doubt that a great sales person is worth their weight in gold.  And a great salesperson not only has a great list, but also understands how to talk about the technology itself (they may not understand how it does what it does, but they are able to describe the benefits in language a prospect can digest).

It is also true that great sales people are few and far between.  The model of converting a media sales person to MadTech sales person is littered with great lists and no sales. So, most companies play salesperson roulette, swapping the same 300 people (thanks Andrew Kraft), in and out, and paying ever hirer prices.

Alternatively, companies are beginning to hire from outside the industry or people simply interested in tech and starting to invest in training them. This works, but takes time.

Attending trade shows and conferences.

These range from awesome to awful.  From one year to the next the same conference can differ vastly, or simply be picked over, but attending trades shows and conferences works.  The right ones are target rich environments and people are there to meet, network, and do business.

The emerging challenges with trade shows and conferences include:

  • Real prospects, brands, agencies, publishers, are becoming like gazelles on the prairie, they blend in well and travel in herds to protect themselves from technology vendors quietly stalking them.  When separated, they tend to be bounced on by predators from all sides.
  • There seems to be an industry conference almost every day, so deciding what to attend is challenging.
  • Content tends to be broad and shallow.  The people who most benefit from the “content” are end users (brands, agencies, and publishers) and, as noted above, are hesitant to attend.
  • Content is often “pay to play.” Who needs to hears another pitch?

But, to reiterate, conferences work!  People are there to learn and do business. It’s just picking the right ones.

Email campaigns

Email marketing works, if you have a good list, are careful and treat your recipients with respect.

The problem is, few MadTech companies are very good at email marketing.  They track their open rates but not their ROI.  They fail to customize content, and much of their content is overly self-serving.  Also, MadTech companies tend to think in shorter terms. As mentioned in a previous post, the most important factors to email marketing are:

  1. Play the long game. Build a relationship.
  2. Don’t buy lists, build them. Find real people with real connections to your brand.
  3. Humans + Automation is the most powerful combination. It’s not one or the other.
  4. Relevance is critical.

Running ads in industry publications

We all know who raised a fresh round of financing, not by reading Crunchbase, but by reading Digiday, AdExchangerMediaPost, etc.  We know because their ads cover the pages for a couple of weeks.  Other companies use these channels as part of an ongoing branding strategy.  I have done the same myself, with Maxifier, Upfront Digital Media (formerly Legolas Media), Adomik, and many companies on whose boards I sat.  It is hard to know whether this worked.

These campaigns clearly help communicate the companies’ existence. But most of the readers are inside the MadTech echo chamber, so the advertising may work to sell to agencies and publishers, but probably not to brands we are also desperately trying to reach.  Given the industry we are in, it is surprising there is not more online advertising.  Part of the problem is that these campaigns tend to be short-lived and to focus on a feature function approach, not a problem solution.  Any brand manager worth their salt will identify key attributes they want their company to stand for and reinforce those attributes over many years.


Running ads on LinkedIn (Facebook, Twitter)

These promoted posts and native ad units clearly work for many companies.

While these data cross all industries, when selling B2B, the ability to target finely in these channels is clearly effective.  The key once again is to invest in these strategies over an extended period of time, which is difficult in an ecosystem that seems to changes every six months.

Spitting out some content

Content works.  Thought leadership REALLY works. However, for content to work it has to serve the interest of the reader not the author.  Most content is glorified sales pitches wrapped up in article.

A 2016 study by The Economist Group and Hill+Knowlton Strategies reported:

The qualities executives most associate with compelling thought leadership are

  • Innovative 40%
  • Big Picture 36%
  • Transformative 36%
  • Credible 35%

The qualities executives associate with unimpressive thought leadership are

  • Superficial 34%
  • Sales driven 31%
  • Biased 28%

Credibility is based on the quality of research, not the brand; nearly half of executives would consider a new source of content if it were a “source of hard facts”

  • Quality or nature of research analysis 55%
  • Credible data 55%
  • Expert opinion 33%
  • Evident or declared interest by the provider 14%
  • Secondary data validation 13%
  • The brand plays an active role 7%
  • The media / public profile of the provider 5%
  • No branding at all 3%
  • Other, please specify 1%
  • I do not trust thought leadership 1%

Much of the content written by MadTech companies is poorly thought out, and driven by the desire to quickly stand out in the market.  It so often rarely does, that people often blame the medium instead of the message.  We all know that the world has changed and we are competing for attention.  Consumers, whether trying to pick a movie or purchase  a $1 million piece of software, are selecting what they choose to consume, pulling that information to their screen, and quickly engaging or passing based upon their perception of the quality, credibility, and insight.

Buyers are also increasing influenced by high quality content.  The study by The Economist Group and Hill+Knowlton Strategies further reported:

76% of senior executives are influenced in their purchasing decisions

67% would be willing to advocate for that brand or organization externally

83% would be influenced in their choice of business partner


So, in summary.  MadTech marketing is confused.  It is most driven by demand-  and lead generation, not traditional marketing, and almost never brand building. Many of these decisions are logical and make sense given the different pressures in the MadTech ecosystem.  All 7 of typical responses:

  1. Hiring sales people who have a great “list”
  2. Attending trade shows and conferences
  3. Sponsoring trade shows and conferences
  4. Email campaigns
  5. Run ads in the industry publications
  6. Run ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  7. Spitting out some content

All these methods can and do work.  Some maybe better than others, but the strategy to employ is often driven by the stage of the company and the maturity of the team.

However, the world is changing.  Success and consolidation have forced many companies to change their strategies. The young and new technologies will continue to be driven by the feature/function, and marketed based upon delivering the next key event in the company’s life. But many of what were “new” tech segments of 3~5 years ago are now established.  Think of the key technologies that were exploding on the scene: SSPs, exchanges, DSPs, DMPs, video, cross-device, etc.  These have all become established parts of the ecosystem, with multiple companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars of business (some much more).  It is now time for these companies to slow down in order to succeed in the next round of growth.

So, in summary.  MadTech marketing is confused.  It is most driven by demand- or lead generation, not traditional marketing, and almost never brand building.  Many of these decisions are logical and make sense given the different pressures in the MadTech ecosystem.  All seven typical responses…

  1. Hiring sales people who have a great “list”
  2. Attending trade shows and conferences
  3. Sponsoring trade shows and conferences
  4. Email campaigns
  5. Running ads in industry publications
  6. Running ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  7. Spitting out some content

… can and do work.

The Multiple Benefits of Research-Based Content

Our recent study found that research-based content is the best way to reach and influence senior marketing and advertising professionals. But the benefits don’t stop there and include:

  • Creating a virtuous cycle. Research can form the linchpin of a cycle of content discovery, thought leadership, influence, customer retention and lead generation all centered around the research findings.
  • More content germination. The research provides material to enhance and reinforce other content creation and distribution efforts. It can be the seed around which articles and blog posts are created.
  • Social media become more enticing when they can use aspects of original research and promise more upon click-through.
  • Email newsletters are made stronger when offering proprietary original research-based content.
  • Videos and podcasts get new source material.
  • Trade conferences are made be stronger for vendors who can hand out original research.
  • Panel discussions and presentations are enhanced by material that springs from original research findings.
  • It inspires sharing, further spreading awareness of the tech vendor’s brand. “Many times [brands and agencies] use it for the stats and data in their own business plans to justify and provide rationale around the budgets against a tech solution and to sell in that strategy,” says Sean Finnegan, Managing Partner, co/Star.
  • It extends reach more than a trade show booth.
  • It can generate press coverage. 
  • It leads to discovery of the tech vendor who provided it. Many marketing and advertising technology decision-makers will search for relevant content when they’re considering a purchase and then find the material.

“Research-based content establishes the vendor who produced it as an intelligent and useful potential partner who knows the spheres in which it operates, who understands how to help customers achieve their objectives,” Finnegan says.

To see details of the findings and learn more, please download our paper, here.

Tips to Make Email Marketing Succeed

We told you that email marketing is (still) hot. Our friend Eli Mandelbaum (r.) of PluggedIn BD came up with four tips for making email newsletters work, based on our joint breakfast event:

  1. Play the long game. Build a relationship.
  2. Don’t buy lists, build them. Find real people with real connections to your brand.
  3. Humans + Automation is the most powerful combination. It’s not one or the other.
  4.  Relevance is critical.

“There is a reason email marketing has survived for over four decades,” Eli writes, in a piece that goes into more detail on the points above.

Come to our next breakfast, the Ad Viewability Roundtable, on Feb. 22 in New York. Discount code is “ii17” for 30% off. You’ll talk in an intimate setting about the current key issues of transparency and viewability with top executives from Sonobi, Viacom, Audience Science, MetaMarkets, Neustar, Beesswax, Smart AdServer, Stitch Video and Wired magazine.

See you there?

What I Learned at IAB Leadership

If your goal is to meet with senior people in the industry, the IAB Leadership Conference  is among the best of the year.  The conference draws mainly senior people, has fairly good content (high praise for MadTech conferences), and everyone is under one roof (unlike CES, Mobile World Congress, SXSW, etc.)

It does suffer from a common problem, however: There are more vendors than buyers. But ratios are better and the people who attend – including publishers, agencies, and brands – are senior and engaged.


  • MadTech is capable of solving the #FakeNews problem. We helped create it, therefore we have to own our portion of the solution.
  • Transparency is the new watchword for 2017:
    • Procter & Gamble have thrown the gauntlet down, calling on the digital media industry to become transparent in the face of “crappy advertising accompanied by even crappier viewing experiences.”
  • Mobile continues to grow and is making life more complicated and evermore “real time.”
  • Storytelling still matters (organizers could recycle this talk every year — it will not change).
  • Measurement and attribution are going to be top industry focuses in 2017.
  • Google, our personal misgivings aside, continues to push ideas, tools, and commitments to an “open web.”
  • Data is getting smarter and performing better. It is also consolidating quickly, creating new challenges, particularly if everyone is using the same targeting data.
  • Content is still king, but the good publishers have valued short term revenue over their readers and viewers, and have let Facebook and other walled gardens dis-intermediate them from their community.
  • Consumers have the all the power to select which content they choose.


Observations from outside of the formal conference presentations:

  • Around 1,000 people paid to attend; another 200 showed up to hang out in the bar.
  • Attendees are getting older – far fewer people are staying out until 4AM.
  • I still had to get on an airplane to meet with people who work within just a few miles of me.
  • It remains a male-dominated industry, but the signs of change are definitely clear. This change needs to move along a little faster.
  • Diversity. Why is #IABSoWhite ? And it doesn’t stop there.
  • This industry is still driven by geeks, nerds, and misfits (thank goodness)!