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Monday, August 19, 2013

For Publishers - It’s Time To Become More Like Facebook

Let’s start by stating the facts. Mobile content consumption is changing everything about the media landscape, faster than anyone could have ever predicted. In the wake of this massive shift, is publisher CPM’s and their ability to generate revenue from mobile page views. Just as publishers were starting to come to grips with declines in print ad spend…mobile has come along and completely upended everything. All one needs to do is look at this chart from the Atlantic to see what’s the future holds:

Its not all doom and gloom though…just take a look at what Facebook is doing in mobile and it’s clear that there is money to be made in mobile…plenty of it. Facebook went from no mobile ad revenues in 2012 to mobile now making up 40% of its overall revenue. Quite a stunning turn of events for a company that admitted in their IPO prospectus that their mobile growth was accelerating rapidly and they didn’t have a way (at the time) to monetize those users. Twitter is also growing mobile revenues at a triple digit pace….A lot can be learned from the success that Social Networks are now seeing in mobile.

John Ebber in this article Margins and The First Inning sums it up quite nicely:

“Big properties with addressable first-party data - logins - seem to hold the cards for true, by-the-impression, sometimes real-time biddable, audience buying in mobile.”

And there you have it…the secret to Facebook’s mobile success…logins. When advertisers buy mobile ads from Facebook, they know they are targeting the exact audiences they want to reach. Whereas if they are buying mobile display inventory across multiple exchanges it's more akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Why? Because mobile lacks a cross device ID. Right now there is no reliable way to target specific audiences. Facebook has capitalized on this in a huge way by offering up their rich profile data for targeting and placing large ad units within the Newsfeed. The combination of these two factors has made Facebook an overnight player in the mobile ad space.

            So what does Facebook’s success in mobile have to do with publishers? Well in my opinion, everything. The real key to Facebook’s mobile success has been the fact that they have logged in users. While many publishers don’t have perpetually logged in users like Facebook, they have another weapon. The Email Address. If you have someone’s email address then they are as good as a logged in user. You can target to that email address with your 1st party data, 3rd party data, offline data etc... The Inbox needs to become your focus for finding perpetually logged in users. And with email being #1 in terms of time spent in mobile, it’s a good chance that’s exactly where you’ll find your subscribers:


The other reason Social Networks are so successful is their Newsfeed. Allowing for infinite scrolling means you have far more opportunities than a standard webpage for the number of ads that can included because the “page” is never ending. I think publishers can take a page from social here and create a similar experience with their emails. Email has always been, particularly for publishers, a channel of aggregation. Meaning emails typically contains links and possibly small summaries for a multitude of articles from a publisher’s site. But what if we could re-think this dynamic and begin to create Newsfeed like emails? Could publishers solve the two biggest challenges in mobile (room for ads & targeting) with email? I certainly think there’s room for an email newsletter that is much greater in length to what we typically see today. No longer would subscribers have to go back to a site...the ads would be served right within the email. Two birds, one newsfeed!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Email Never Lies

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
Oh, no, no you can't disguise
(You can't disguise, no you can't disguise)
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
- Little Lies by “Fleetwood Mac”

There’s a considerable amount of lying in the world of digital advertising. Unintentional…yes, however lies nonetheless. The lies being told are about your identity. Advertisers, who are looking to target specific audiences online, are being misled about who you are, what you’re shopping for and what you’re interested in. Which is why most of us have been targeted and served ads that make absolutely no sense based on who we “actually” are.

So who’s telling these lies? Cookies…cookies are like your local weatherman, if they’re accurate 50% of the time they’re doing a good job. Explained perfectly in this Digiday article “The Big Data Accuracy Myth”. It’s not that cookies are pathological; they’re just not very good at telling the truth. In the “Desktop” web, technology companies, publishers and advertisers heavily rely upon cookies to reach targeted audiences. Unfortunately the cookie by its very nature is not a highly reliable signal. Why? It’s quite simple, the way people use PC’s is vastly different from they way they use say Tablets or Smartphones.

Just think of the PC at your home…does it have more than one user? My wife and I both use the same PC at home as well as the same browser…so when I’m browsing the web, who am I? And when my wife browses, who is she? Can a cookie tell us apart? If my wife was on a designer shoe site, will an advertiser re-target me when I hop on to check the score of the Mets game? These are the little lies being told on the web. Advertisers are missing their mark because there’s just no way cookies can be 100% accurate.

In a world full of lies, who can you trust? Email…you can trust email. Email is something that is personal and unique to each one of us. Email is as personal to us as our Facebook account or social security number. And while I share many things with my wife; the computer, the television even dessert sometimes….I do not share my email account with her. Nor does she share hers with me and I suspect that this probably sounds very familiar to most. You just don’t share you email with anyone, it’s yours, period. Which makes it the perfect attribute for targeting because there is a 1:1 relationship between an email address and its owner. So whatever data you have stored against that particular email address now becomes the basis for how you segment and target and subsequently increases your accuracy two fold.

And as mobile continues to eat the world; the email address becomes increasingly important. Without the use of UDID’s and the overall decline of 3rd party cookies, mobile is scrambling to find a unique identifier that can be used to target consumers.  In a recent AdMonsters piece, “ID Is Key: Unlocking Mobile Tracking & Cross-Device Measurement, Part I” James Lamerti GM and VP of AdTruth had the following to say:

"Mobile inventory is less valuable than desktop because it's very difficult to build audience in mobile – we simply have no identification layer," say James Lamberti GM and VP of AdTruth. "We need the ability to speak to advertisers and confidently say, 'Here is my mobile inventory, here are my heavy travelers, here are males 18 to 25, here luxury brand buyers, etc.'"

The thing is…an identification layer already exists; it’s called the email address. And oh yeah….email is the app people access on their smartphones the most. A match made in heaven wouldn’t you say?  More people have email accounts than Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest combined. It’s cemented its status as the unique identifier of the web and if you’re not using it to target, you’re being lied to…

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Glimpse Into The Future...

There's been quite a bit of chatter around the merger this week. With many industry experts & analysts all chiming in with their opinion. If you're an avid reader of all things digital media/ad tech/marketing tech...chances are you saw a move like this coming and likely many more just like it on the way. It's certainly no secret that companies like, Adobe, Oracle, Google etc...have all made moves to bolster their end to end tech stacks, in an effort to become a one stop shop for their customers. Moving into the CRM/Email Marketing Space is simply the logical evolution here. Which is why I've aggregated a series of articles....all highlighting why we'll see this trend continue.

First, just take a look at the Marketing Technology LUMAscape. Consolidation is bound to occur:

The Data Providers: One Quadrant Chart To Rule Them All

Great insight from Ramsey McGrory, President & CEO of AddThis in this AdExchanger piece:

"In this piece, I did not call out a Z axis of diversified IT players such as IBM, Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP or even Amazon and Google (DSPs, ATDs, DMPs, Exchanges and the like fall somewhere on this Z axis as well). I believe they represent the sector focused on delivering some combination of infrastructure, data and services to companies that are consumer facing. These IT juggernauts are competitive with the largest consumer technology companies, and while they may not own data themselves, they must have data at scale integrated into their platform to provide valuable products and services."

Bizo's Russ Glass provides some great insight in this AllThingsD piece:

CRM as the system of record
"Salesforce has been spending much of the last decade building its CRM system. Since more than 75 percent of the companies that use Salesforce are B2B, the company’s CRM platform is arguably the system of record for the B2B marketer. This puts Salesforce, as the fastest-growing scaled vendor in the space, in the driver’s seat to become the platform where marketers keep their treasure trove of prospect and customer information and interaction data. Oracle, NetSuite, IBM, Google, SAP — and arguably even Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — don’t want to see Salesforce have the lock on such valuable data. To fend off the Salesforce threat, these companies are developing their own audience data strategies, ranging from aggressive acquisitions to building cookie data exchanges, or even building their own social networks (if they’re not one already). As each realizes, the vendor that controls audience data “wins” because all marketing decisions are keyed off of this information."

Yet another gem here from Russ in this interview:

Is the marketing automation sector interested in your B2B data?
"To be honest, it's the crux of what is so exciting about the next stage of this space. Real-time bidding (RTB) brings phenomenal value, but there's a little bit of "so what?" When you can start to integrate automation into the core systems that marketers are using to be successful, now things get exciting because you've enabled more efficiency in the enterprise and the marketing team than they've had before. I'll give you an example. Bizo has integrated with Eloqua – one of many systems that we're integrated with – and this enables a marketer with the same process that they’re doing day-to-day, but through automation. It syncs email with social and display such that within a certain marketing automation wave, a consumer is going to get the display ad that syncs up with that message. As they move down the funnel, they’re going to get different ads, case studies – whatever the marketing may demand, based on where they are in the tunnel. From an outbound standpoint, you just automated a huge part of what the marketer does beyond email.
What's even more aligned with the Holy Grail of marketing is that all of that information about number of display ads viewed and that this person was served two social ads – that's now all part of the attribution data. You as a marketer can see how you are going to most effectively model to drive success. That’s a big example of the power that automation, integrated with the right marketing systems, can create."
Is offline starting to play in your world more?
"It is, but the last statement you made is important in here. We use offline data to help our clients associate their CRM system and all of their first-party data with our broader data set. Bizo doesn't maintain any kind of PII ourselves, but we help out clients be smarter about their data sets and more effective with their data sets through offline data. The onboarding process actually tailors the offline data."
What is the offline data these days that people try to onboard or use through you guys?
"It's the business email address. That's the key to the B2B "kingdom" – the business email address."
Russ is dead on here and not only is email king in B2B but B2C as well - hence the ExactTarget acquisition.

CRM Vendors In Hot Pursuit Of Paid Media

More goodness from the fine folks at
"With digital marketing budgets expected to rise this year, customer relationship management (CRM) software vendors are ramping up their pursuit of paid media budgets.
“Marketing is perhaps the hottest area in the customer-facing realm right now, and it is evident the place has multiple holes to fill and many approaches to take,” observed Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, a consulting firm that focuses on CRM strategic services.
Combining data sets  i.e. “breaking the silos” to serve customers relevant ads and offers  is one of the holes that marketers are trying to fill. CRM vendors are approaching the problem by offering more ways for companies to fuse their CRM data with advertising.
Customer demand drove’s decision to produce, a tool that lets marketers connect their purchase and customer loyalty data, as well as data from contests, whitepaper downloads and other conversion pages to their social ad campaigns, according to Peter Goodman, VP of Salesforce Marketing Cloud."

Changing Lanes: Solving the Decade-Old Problem of Cross-Channel Ad Attribution

Surprised to see another article? Don't be! Kim Reed Perrell CEO of Adconion Direct offers some great insight here:

"However, unifying digital spending is a way for most advertisers to begin aligning their attribution capabilities. Simply put, if your media campaigns aren’t served, managed and distributed from a single platform for a single user, you can’t know the impact of one touch point to another for any given user and therefore can’t make meaningful attribution models."

JEGI's Tolman Geffs Talks CRM Developments, e-Commerce Trends

In this article, Jordan Edminston Group's Tolman Geffs details their view of the market:

"Trend number two is integrating that customer experience through the e-commerce platform back into the CRM system and then into the marketing machine. That integration is the key next step. For the next three to seven years, you’re going to see a tremendous amount of investment, growth and M&A in that area. Salesforce buying ExactTarget is a great example of that. That’s an example of integrating CRM into marketing messaging.
For the players in ad tech, this is an emerging stack that a number of them will get acquired into. You’re already seeing this with folks like Oracle, IBM and SAP building both stacks of e-commerce capabilities and enterprise marketing capabilities. They’re going to continue making those acquisitions and those will be increasingly integrated."

At The Merkle Summit: Building The Marketer's Competitive Advantage

David William CEO of CRM powerhouse Merkle provides his view:

"Revisiting his “Connected CRM” (cCRM for short) theme of the previous year, Williams provided an update and noted the move “from the campaign-focused world to the customer-focused world,” and how it’s now about utilization of relationships, rather than “the matching” of data points. And, for the marketer’s bottom-line purposes, it’s about how those relationships get monetized."

Friday, May 31, 2013

The New Data Driven Ad Stack

In a data driven world, you live and die by the quality of your data…simple as that. Which is why there is a massive shift taking place in the ad tech marketplace right now, as CRM and paid media converge. Traditional CRM players (Oracle, Salesforce, IBM etc…) are now making aggressive moves to integrate paid media offerings as part of their overall solution.

Wait…what? CRM companies want to get into the paid media business? Most of us have been trained over the years to think of display & paid media as a purely branding focused, awareness driving…top of the funnel stuff. But guess what…it’s not. The rise of programmatic buying has lead to greater efficiency, targeting & reach for advertisers. Which translates into paid media actually being used successfully for direct response & performance based advertising. So it stands to reason that if paid media can be used to drive conversions you might as well target the people you know have a much higher likelihood of converting – your customers!

The limitation of email marketing has always been the fact that only a small percentage of your overall customer file will ever actually open your message. And the only real solution was to send more email…until now that is. We are now witnessing the intersection of paid media and CRM. As Bizo’s Russ Glass points out in this AllThingsD article – at the core of the data driven marketing revolution is the CRM database:

“With the CRM system as the system of record, seamlessly connecting all of the marketing systems in an enterprise, executing programs and then measuring success becomes possible — once the right data can be plugged in.”

And what is the data driven marketing revolution you ask? Well at LiveIntent we’d probably say it’s the ability to reach your subscribers everywhere…on the web, mobile, video, social etc…Because if I’m Walmart and I know that 80% of my email offers are going unread, I want to reach my subscribers, with my offer, anywhere and everywhere they are.

And how do you reach your subscribers everywhere? Email of course! Email is the only identifier that can be used to target offline CRM data, online. Which is why the CRM piece of the new ad stack is becoming so critical. Nothing beats first party data…as shown by Facebook, eBay, Amazon and perhaps now Twitter all creating advertising solutions that leverage their treasure trove of 1st Party CRM data. And now advertisers have the ability to use their own 1st Party CRM data to create addressable audience segments. It’s a 1st Party – Party!

In 2011 Forrester said that we are now living in the “Age of the Customer” – which meant putting the customer at the center of your business was required in order to compete in todays world. In another Forrester research piece titled “Embed The Customer Life Cycle AcrossMarketing”, Forrester says the following:

“By investing additional spend on retention marketing to increase share of wallet with existing customers, marketers are placing their money on a much surer bet – the people who have already demonstrated some level of affinity for the product or brand – than an indiscriminate cast out to the wider pool of potential shoppers or buyer.”

That just about sums it all up! Today’s landscape is extremely fragmented, with customers interacting with brands across multiple channels and now devices. If you’re going to invest in getting your existing customers to spend more of their dollars with your brand, you’re going to need to reach them everywhere. Putting your CRM database at the center of your ad stack enables brands/marketers to achieve this. A recent AdExchanger article highlighting Valueclick's Dotomi  business summed it up perfectly:

"Hello paid media, you're in the CRM business now."

Friday, April 26, 2013

To Facebook Thanks For Everything, Email

Don't call it a come back - but email is sexy once again. We went through some tough times over the past few years as marketers sought to find the next big thing. Flocking to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace and on and on and on...Poor old email was feeling a little left out in the cold, still the most powerful tool in any marketers tool kit - it was getting NO love. It was all about Social, Social, Social! For all the promise however, Social has never even come close to delivering the ROI of email. It is not only the most widely used application across any device and it's also the single most preferred channel of communication - a major double whammy. Oh and yeah that pesky ROI thing, nothing touches email - so make that a Trifecta.

So all this time, email continued to do its thing...makes brands a ton of cash. While Facebook was struggling to figure out how in a post IPO world it was going to create new ad products that got marketers excited about using its services. Then a funny thing happened....

Facebook, once heralded as THE email killer...not only didn't kill email, actually went 180 degrees in the opposite direction and made email the crown jewel of its advertising services. WOW! Who would have thought that was possible? Just two years ago, every pundit declared over and over that email is dead, Facebook is how brands & people communicate. Well that never quite became reality, some brands actually soured big time on Facebook (GM anyone?) while email volumes continued YOY increases. And here we have Facebook actually creating a sort of email friends, dare I they are bringing sexy back to email?


It's pretty simple actually...Facebook recognized that brands have rich 1st party CRM data sitting inside of their databases. How could they unlock those data sets and allow marketers to use this data on their platform for targeting? The answer is simple - email! Email address is the unique identifier of the web and as it turns out the large majority of Facebook users, use the same email address to sign into Facebook as they do to subscribe to emails from brands. Creating a match made in heaven.

Since the introduction of Facebook's Custom Audiences product, the folks over at Facebook have continued to innovate ad solutions which leverage email for targeting. Look-a-like audiences was introduced and most recently Facebook's most aggressive foray in email targeting - Custom Audiences bundled with 3rd Party offline data. Working with partners like Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix, marketers now have the ability to target their own customers using 3rd party data to give them additional insight into what their customers might be interested in purchasing. The feedback thus far has been outstanding. Email innovation at its finest, brought to you courtesy of Facebook!

If you'e thinking wow 3rd party data overlays are pretty darn cool - 1. you'd be right and 2. let's talk a little about how exactly Facebook was able to accomplish this. Oh that's address. Given its status the unique identifier of the web. So how do you marry offline data to an online profile? Well email of course...And guess what? This isn't cookie data, this is matching hashed emails to bring these data sets together. So by its very nature, extremely accurate when a match is made. So....uhhh....yeah, this email thing turns out to actually be MORE important than we originally thought, which is kind of a big deal considering how important it already is. And then there's this small issue of 3rd party cookies and the rise of mobile traffic, making ad targeting even harder, unless you're using email as your targeting key that is!

Here's where I get to plug my own company since, this is after all my blog. We're doing the exact same thing here at LiveIntent. Not only do we allow the same functionality that allows brands & marketers to upload their 1st Party CRM (also 3rd Party) data but we can use IAB standard display units that will serve across our entire network of 350+ publishers. Meaning you can target your audience in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Meredith, Hearst, Conde Nast and so on....some pretty cool and powerful stuff. And if you're a publisher you can now sell this solution to your advertisers if you are working with us. We call it CRX - Customer Relationship Extension and the premise is the same as Facebook's...marketers want to target their best customers...which are their subscribers of course! Since you'll never get 100% open rates, make sure you are getting in front of your non-openers as well.

Facebook and email, once mortal enemies but now star crossed lovers....This is a storyline worthy of Shakespeare himself!