Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Metrics are Key in 2011

From AdAge:

3. Analytics-based marketing. Analytics will become the foundation of the emerging new marketing model, ensuring ROI and efficiencies. Leveraging digital channels and monitoring and optimizing customer data will improve customer engagement. It will provide marketers with greater precision and a better scope of consumer knowledge, resulting in smarter briefs. And it will result in better creative ideas and less waste.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AdXpose Embedded in Client Reporting Module

Thanks to Rob at for sharing this screenshot of our integration. Pretty powerful and simple to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jason Kelly Has Seen the Future...

...and it is not in publishing. Kelly brings his keen intellect and outsized (and much needed) publisher-side credibility to AdMeld. From what I can tell in the investment and ad community AdMeld is thought to offer the premier SSP technology but has trailed the competition in the sales and marketing arms race. This should go a ways towards changing that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Useful Guidance for Setting Fair Sales Goals and Comp

NSFW language


Tim Stejskal was an internet ad sales pioneer and one of the nicest all around guys in the industry. He passed away far too young last week. I count myself lucky to have known and learned from Tim at Go2Net in the 90's and afterwards. If you knew Tim please keep his family in your thoughts, and see below for memorial information.

Timothy C. Stejskal, 42, of Naperville, died Monday, Sept. 6, 2010.

He was born April 3, 1968, in Chicago.

He was a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in business. He was director of marketing with the Wall Street Journal.

He is survived by his wife, Lou nee Maningo; his children, Brody, Ryder and Chloe Stejskal; and his parents, Ronald and Judith
(King) Stejskal, a brother, Thomas, and a sister, Suzanne Stejskal, all of Crystal Lake. He also is survived by a nephew and two nieces.

A memorial visitation will be from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept.
11, at Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home, 24021 Royal Worlington Drive, (Route 59), Naperville, followed by a 10:30 a.m. memorial Mass of Christian Burial celebration at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Book Road and Hassert Boulevard (111th Street), Naperville. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Stejskal Children's Education Fund in care of the funeral home.

More Reasons to Be Short Demand Media

“You can put lipstick on a pig as often as you like,” one digital advertising executive tells me, “but monetizing low-quality inventory
remains a very, very tough business.”

Verification Standardization?

The penetration of verification is growing rapidly. The technologies are becoming table stakes for agency buys on networks and even direct publishers (thank you, audience extension).

It's time to get ahead of standardization. Having lived through the birth and growth of display 1.0 and search 2.0, I can say with confidence that bringing to light discrepancies and concerns regarding new advertising technology is better done sooner than later.

That stated, here are some items for which agencies, networks, publishers and verifiers ought to start hashing out answers:

1. Transparency – Who audits the auditors? How does each technology work? Should the IAB adopt the IASH/ABCe approach?
2. Contracts – What is the nature of the relationship between an ad network, agency, publisher and verifier? Who owns the data? Exception reporting versus comprehensive impression level reporting? Direct logins for all parties?
3. Standardization – What are the correct terminology and metrics? What is the content rating standard?
4. Latency – What are the impacts of pixels, cookies, server side redirects, and verification bots? How can they be mitigated or avoided?
5. Collections/make goods – Is there a conflict of interest if a verifier is paid on basis of make-good or collection dollar volume?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Diary of a Scared Brand

Funny take on the knee-jerk fear based use case for ad verification...

You sliced and diced your target audience with the newest tools from behavioral, semantic or contextual online advertising networks or platforms, you produced the most engaging online ad creative with the most expensive digital advertising agency that has racked up more AAAA, ANA, IAB, ARF awards than the competition, you went on a digital media buying spree that ensures that your slick interactive ads will be seen by tens of millions of people in the right demographic across hundreds of relevant online publications.

And then, if you’re a marketer at ExxonMobil or Sprint, you see your motor oil and cell phone ads wrapped around an article about a kid who was killed in a motorcycle accident, like two giant book ends that scream out, “look at me, I have no tact.”

Goodbye happy morning.

Industry's First Ad Exchange Verification Deal

Good news from Adotas:

ADOTAS – While merely the mention of “ad verification” will make many an ad network or exchange executive furl his/her brow, they know those services are increasingly what advertisers want. Damn that customer for always being right!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Do Analytics Companies Grow?

Some great data for those who are looking at advertising analytics and evaluating the size of the opportunity:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inc. 200 for Mpire

Not that we're concerned with winning awards (we like winning business more), but our SaaS analytics company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the #166 fastest growing private company in America today, which means we need to make room on the trophy shelf (scoot over Red Herring 100 and OnMedia 100). We're also #21 in our industry, and #5 in Seattle.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Compliance Dilemma

Most days at AdXpose we have positive, empowering conversations with prospects and clients. I feel good that no matter who we're talking to, we have the best interests of advertisers and the industry at whole in mind, and that we're powering positive media valuation and efficiency, not just playing the audit and collections game. Ad networks and publishers, to date, have largely embraced the platform because it actually helps them with yield and margin optimization by analyzing placements and performance.

But some days we get the knee jerk reaction from an ad network exec, usually when an agency client "requires" AdXpose on a buy. He is wary of us. He's worried about data usage, margin erosion, and make-goods on false positives. In his eyes all verification companies are a nuisance or worse. If he's already working with a competitor of ours, he feels like he already paid off the cops, and now here comes another cop asking for the envelope full of cash.

I have empathy. Anytime a conversation begins with the power dynamic skewed thusly, it's hard to get our pitch out from under the weight of the reaction - because we aren't initially perceived as adding value, we're perceived as extracting it, at a cost to the prospect. If that were the whole story, of course, we wouldn't have any clients nor a long term business prospect.

The unfortunate reality is that, while most ad networks see our service as a proactive tool for closing new business, increasing margin and client retention, adjusting the profile of their downstream traffic, or at least for managing their brand client placements, some are ardently against any move towards transparency.

In my experience, this is usually caused by one of the following situations: 1) The network is buying audience extension on indirect distribution, does not have adequate controls around the practice, and does not wish it to be known; 2) the network believes it is legally or strategically at risk because the third party verification provider may disclose or leverage the data it collect inappropriately; or 3) the network has its own technology solutions and practices for safety and quality control, and finds the business value proposition of a third party verification technology unworthy of investment.

In cases two and three, if we feel we've had a chance to show our stuff and it's still not a fit, I am happy to bow out. While we call ourselves "the Omniture of online ads" and feel we offer a robust analytics platform from which any network would benefit, we also realize that even Omniture does not have 100% market penetration. We can't help everyone.

But the first case is unnerving, because it affirms that our industry is still a long way from being transparent. I wouldn't argue all impressions should be transparent to the publisher level, this obviously runs afoul of some ad net contracts. But to actively omit the fact your traffic is a blend of direct and indirect? Well, that's why the IAB released guidelines. And it's why we offer a service to assist networks and exchanges in complying with those guidelines. The question remains, however, as to whether guidelines are enough - the list of nets who have committed to the IAB program is still very short.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trust and Verify

We applaud Google for the steps it's taking to improve transparency and safety on ADX. But buyers will still benefit from the specialized, robust, and most importantly independent 3rd party verification and analytics.

It also sounds like they don't approve of the blocking methodology of some AdXpose competitors...we'll see who's certified.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Market For Verification Still Early

I recently participated in a discussion thread about brand ads showing up on torrent sites. Yes, this is my sad life. But there was surprising incredulity that in this age of publicity around verification and transparency, brand ads could actually appear in inappropriate places - it's as though people expect that every ad impression online is being protected by a verifier/ad blocker. Here's my response to that way of thinking...

It's still very early. Market penetration of proactive ad blocking (note: big distinction between this and simple "verification" where an auditor is actually incentivized to wait until issues arise and chase down make-goods) is miniscule. General verification as a whole covers less than 100B impressions per month. While media buyers and networks alike are embracing the technology it will be another few quarters (at least) before ubiquitous verification starts putting the bad actors out of business.

But even then, 100% brand safety is simply unrealistic. It's the typical arms race scenario: As long as there are media dollars doled out to fly by night traffic aggregators, there will be incentive for nefarious behavior and technology implemented to enable it. In a world where this is the reality, your best bet is to find a real technology that addresses the issues honestly and transparently. Or stick to the WSJ homepage.

Media Buyers Are Getting Hooked On Verification

While I still believe that online advertising analytics is a business with a giant market opportunity, similar to Web analytics, and that ad verification is a product offering within that business, it is heartening to see the groundswell of adpotion and support of verification as a stand alone 3rd party solution. Witness...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Verifying the Verifier

Sure, it may remind you of an Elvis Costello song, but we're OK with that. After hearing clients and pundits alike express concern about data usage and privacy WRT analytics, we decided to get ahead of the issue by becoming the first provider in our space to become 3rd party certified.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Step on the Path to Ubiquity

More momentum for ad verification, via iMedia. Thanks to Josh Dreller for the diligence and inclusion. It is telling that the market still needs a "verification 101-style" introduction though, man is it early for this space.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Don't MediaMind if I Do

Decent IPO. But what is really impressive is the positioning shift. From ad server to integrated solutions platform in less than six months - that's fancy footwork. I wonder though if they actually meant to get thrown into the DSP bucket? That label undervalues MediaMind's real technology advantages and breadth of offering...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Be Big or Be Lunch

JEGI's Tolman Geffs makes an interesting analogy between the proliferation of online ad ecosystem innovators and the Cambrian explosion.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fearmongering Sells Newspapers

The Luddites are on the warpath. Legitimate marketers and online ad ecosystem players are scared to speak up, with good reason. Thank God for the IAB.

IASH Members To Choose Content Verification

We already knew AdXpose was on the short list - now we have been told IASH members will need to select an accredited supplier to implement by January 1 2011. With a strong presence in the UK already, AdXpose is positioned very well to capture this opportunity. Will the IAB follow the lead of IASH here and make accredited vendor selection mandatory for its members as well?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Web Crawling Is Not Disruptive Technology...

...Contrary to what SearchForecast claims. It appears they are systematically crawling the web to identify sites where AdSense is present, and thus recording the site URL and the publisherid found in the AdSense tag to compile a list of AdSense publisher sites. Which is what ad networks have done to each other for years in order to create lead lists to poach publishers.

Future of VC

Pretty thoughtful and right-minded stuff from Paul Graham. Focuses on early stage funding but I found some useful bits for even a C round entrepreneur.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Questions to ask verification providers

A prospective partner recently asked me to provide some questions he should consider when evaluating partners in the verification space. Here's the response our team came up with.

- Immediacy of actionable information (avoid make goods by having actionable information 24 hours after campaign launch)
- Implementation process (does the process create more risk for errors in the campaign, or is it seamlessly integrated with major ad servers?)
- Technology solution (does the solution create a 3rd or 4th party ad call, in other words does it potentially disrupt the ad delivery or create metric discrepancies?)
- Integration with existing reporting solutions (Does the company have a “black box” or can the data be pulled via API into existing reporting solutions?)
- False positives (What is the company’s methodology in regard to reporting and managing against false positives on brand safety?)
- Ecosystem solution or vertical solution? (Does the technology solution focus on providing the entire ecosystem a means of measuring and managing brand safety with regard to business rules, who owns what data and how do data owners protect their business relationships while still providing transparency?)
- Data practices and privacy (has the company undergone a 3rd party audit?)
- Proactive versus reactive (Is the company focused on clawing back money or avoiding make good situations all together?)
- Semantic/categorization/content/context engine (what exactly is the tech behind the brand safety service? Who provides it?)

Obviously we feel we have solid answers for all of these. But they're fair game to ask anyone and good grounds for comparison. Am I missing anything?