Archive for the ‘Audience’ Category

I posted a short piece on the latest Nielsen product in the Laredo Group newsletter in response to many agencies wondering what Nielsen’s new Campaign Ratings system means for them. here’s the answer…

Mention online GRP’s to a group of marketers or agencies and you’ll get reaction ranging from relief to rage. The notion of using the traditional media metric of GRP (technically TRP) has been the source of much debate, and in the crosshairs of the industry’s leading media measurement companies, Nielsen and Comscore, for years.

Let’s remember that the GRP is used in two facets of advertising:

A)  predicting the outcome of specific levels of media weight during planning; and

B)  confirming ratings after campaigns have run

The launch of Nielsen Campaign Ratings is big news, and the tool focuses on the latter measurement.

Nielsen will be working with large web publishers, including Facebook, who will provide anonymous aggregate reach and frequency data in age and gender buckets, which will be combined with Nielsen data from its TV and online panels, resulting in a single report showing R/F and GRPs for specific campaigns. Quantcast had tried to plant the same stake in the ground, from a solely digital perspective, and with a vastly different methodology. Nielsen takes a giant leap forward by partnering with large publishers, and combining the reports with the industry standard Nielsen TV panel.

What Nielsen created here is most valuable to brand advertisers who are trying to maximize R/F against specific audiences across a media mix. The big caveat is that this only uses broad age and gender buckets (and falls short of all the wonderful psychographic profile data used in other tools like @plan) – but that normalizes against the TV targets of most brand advertisers.

With the difference in media currency between digital and traditional media, and previous attempts at comparing cost per point, we can expect to see online buys showing less GRP coverage than planned. In some instances this will result in an increase in digital budget allocation to close the gap, and in other cases, a decrease in budgets due to inefficiency in reaching certain targets as compared to other media. It is generally accepted that a diverse media mix will maximize the realization of R/F goals, but the ideal mix model is not an easy nut to crack.

Nielsen’s new Campaign Ratings system definitely represents the progression of cross media R/F and GRP measurement, however, in the grand scheme of the GRP conversation, I’d argue that the predictive nature of planning with GRP’s is more important.

Official announcement.

The Privacy Man cometh. Now it’s time to figure out who is going to payeth!

The industry has formally taken a stance to thwart the strong arm of the FTC by enforcing compliance of self regulatory guidelines on data collection and usage.  The Digital Advertising Alliance, which is comprised of the leading advertising trade organizations AAAA, AAF, ANA, DMA, IAB, NAI & the BBB, has selected Better Advertising’s monitoring technology to help enforce compliance. Enforcement is said to begin Jan 1, 2011., and the enforcer will actually be the BBB. I’ll also add that this initiative is in its very nascent stages and surely will continue to be shaped by adoption and the economics of the process. AdSafe Media and TRUSTe have partnered  to become the second provider of compliance enforcement, and will be applying for the same accreditation that Better Advertising received from DAA. You can bet that a handful of others will enter the space as it grows. This is a good thing. We need multiple options for healthy competition, as well as many minds working to keep the FTC from passing ‘baby & the bathwater’ type of regulations for online advertising targeting. However, it is notable that Better Advertising is the only company solely focusing on this.

Compliance is Everyone’s Responsibility, Sort Of

The onus of compliance is going to be more on the publisher/network/DSP side than the advertisers.  When placing buys on networks, exchanges, DSP’s, and even sites directly, when using behavioral targeting, an advertiser can license the icon via the publisher, or choose to use their own, so to speak. The icon overlay can be served via the publisher’s account and over the advertiser’s third party served ad without any technical implementation by the advertiser, or the advertiser can work directly with Better Advertising (and  at some point in the future, a provider of choice). Of course the cost always comes back to the advertiser somehow. But adding more line items of marketing technology fees is not something that advertisers embrace quickly.  So ultimately it is too early to tell whether the standard practice will be the advertiser or publisher being responsible for compliance. However, the big agency holding companies, in addition to the ad networks and publishers, have all bought in and are slowly ramping up delivery of BT ads with the “Advertising Options Icon”, which provides consumers with disclosure regarding data collection and usage, and the ability to opt-out of  specific targeting. Currently when consumers opt-out of targeting they are opting out at a data / targeting provider level, not at an advertiser level.

The Cost of Compliance Enforcement

Publishers & advertisers who are compliant will be able to license the use of the icon for $5,000 per year (if annual BT revenue is less than $2MM this fee is waived). This fee helps fund the DAA and enforcement of compliance. Better Advertising is paid a nominal CPM for the service, which consists of the delivery of a java script overlay of the icon and the functionality of disclosure,  compliance monitoring, and opt-out facilitation. They also offer additional reporting services for additional fees. Essentially the bigger media companies, networks and agencies will be subsidizing the early stages of these initiatives by adopting and paying for the technology so that eventually the costs for everyone can come down with volume.

Challenge: The industry will have to fork out millions of dollars for this.

A new role of planning will include mapping out where compliance is necessary, in which case the icon needs to be visible, and where it is not. Note to agencies – there may be an audit trail requirement here to ensure that you are not paying for enforcement of non BT targeted ads. Nominal CPM or not, it adds up just like ad serving, or ad verification. Ideally it would be nice to have this built into the ad server – but I can say that about so many things! Assume that compliance and the use of the icon will be a part of media terms & conditions in the not too distant future.

One of the elephants in the room is the slightly ambiguous definition of compliance – or more accurately what the compliance is ensuring. The following are the DAA’s Self Regulatory Principles:

The Education Principle calls for organizations to participate in efforts to educate individuals and businesses about online behavioral advertising and the Principles.

The Transparency Principle calls for clearer and easily accessible disclosures to consumers about data collection and use practices associated with online behavioral advertising. It will result in new, enhanced notice on the page where data is collected through links embedded in or around advertisements, or on the Web page itself.

The Consumer Control Principle provides consumers with an expanded ability to choose whether data is collected and used for online behavioral advertising purposes. This choice will be available through a link from the notice provided on the Web page where data is collected.

The Consumer Control Principle requires “service providers”, a term that includes Internet access service providers and providers of desktop applications software such as Web browser “tool bars” to obtain the consent of users before engaging in online behavioral advertising, and take steps to de-identify the data used for such purposes.

The Data Security Principle calls for organizations to provide appropriate security for, and limited retention of data, collected and used for online behavioral advertising purposes.

The Material Changes Principle calls for obtaining consumer consent before a Material Change is made to an entity’s Online Behavioral Advertising data collection and use policies unless that change will result in less collection or use of data.

The Sensitive Data Principle recognizes that data collected from children and used for online behavioral advertising merits heightened protection, and requires parental consent for behavioral advertising to consumers known to be under 13 on child-directed Web sites. This Principle also provides heightened protections to certain health and financial data when attributable to a specific individual.

The Accountability Principle calls for development of programs to further advance these Principles, including programs to monitor and report instances of uncorrected non-compliance with these Principles to appropriate government agencies. The CBBB and DMA have been asked and agreed to work cooperatively to establish accountability mechanisms under the Principles.

It’s a Big Job But Somebody’s Got to Do It

Can an amalgamation of  of a number of industry trade groups that historically have not been involved in technology nor enforcement keep the FTC satisfied? We better hope so.

Personally I feel that a lot of it has to do with the economics behind the process. Can the DAA generate sufficient revenue to properly resource enforcement? Will the industry accept these costs in stride? Do we all understand the alternative?

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The increase in buzz and actual growth of the Demand Side Platform (DSP) / Real Time Bidding (RTB) market is not news anymore. The trend of separating audience profiles from media and empowering media buyers  to bid on specific audience profiles across large exchanges of media inventory is a hot topic of conversation, and rightfully so. But of course with any growing trend, it is essential to take the time to identify which players provide true and unique value propositions to the marketplace. Beware of impostors trying to capitalize on the hype rather than helping to perfect the concept of what a DSP facilitates.

In Theory, Practice & Theory are The Same – In Practice They Are Not

In theory, each agency or media buyer needs only one DSP to bid into the entire exchange and second channel media ecosystem, with all the data plugins available at their disposal. The market would have a high degree of bid density (a lot of actual demand side activity) and liquidity (stable supply of replicable “inventory” that establishes and holds its value – which of course is an entire issue in and of itself). Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, yet. Neither bid density nor an ability to value inventory properly exists in the RTB marketplace.

Give Me a D…

Adding the acronym DSP to your product offering gets more feet in more doors today, and therefore we will see many large networks and new players adding “DSP” to their offerings. However, in concept, many of these new platforms are limited to specific network inventory (albeit large amounts of it), static data profiles or targeting options (albeit fairly sophisticated options), and sometimes lack the total transparency that the more savvy buyers have come to expect from a true DSP (albeit some are willing to work on a CPA basis, so sometimes the buyer doesn’t care). A “true DSP” is one that can bid in real-time into the entire exchange and second channel ecosystem, works with all or at least most of the data providers and maintains total transparency on media and pricing. The holding company-level media agencies have all either developed their own or white labeled AppNexus or other third part technologies. Much like ad servers, as the market evolves, your agency or in-house buyers will only be working with one DSP (or maybe we will start calling them real time bidding engines at some point?) – or at least a primary DSP. Speaking of ad servers – I predict that ultimately Google (DART) and Microsoft (Atlas) will be the two leading DSP’s on the market (although MediaMind will be a third major player, particularly with the impending IPO). This will happen through acquisition, and the first in the category was Invite Media – check one off for Google. Some of the other current acquisition contenders include DataXu, X+1, Media Math, and AppNexus, with new players claiming market entry seemingly monthly. Degree of sophistication of advanced optimization engines should soon become a unique point of differentiation between companies.

Wanted: A Stable Market

Imagine a series of interconnected Venn diagrams, where the overlapping areas represent consumers that satisfy multiple advertisers’ criteria. These criteria are compiled using a combination of data points from several data providers, all integrated into your DSP and available to select from an intuitive  interface. Every single available impression in the exchange is assessed in real-time by every DSP on the market, and multiple bids from the appropriate advertisers within each DSP are all processed in real-time. Those buyers with the highest bids will get the inventory. All of this bidding happens in real-time – billions of times per day. Sound familiar? The bidding part at least? Google built the biggest cash cow in our industry on a similar model – using far less data and sans cross category competition for the same consumer.

Until there is a higher level of bid density and inventory availability, the marketplace will not be ripe for all advertisers and will favor select categories, and not all publishers will provide inventory into the RTB marketplace. It’s the classic chicken and egg problem. Hence some of the non-DSP DSP’s.

The Opposite of DSP

Publishers on the other-hand utilize yield optimizers to interface with the DSP’s to manage inventory, data relationships,  real time bidding and maximize revenue generated. Companies such as Rubicon Project, Ad Meld and PubMatic will soon become necessities for any publisher who wishes to participate in the second channel (inventory not sold at a premium directly by its sales force – which BTW is a lot of inventory!) Even some of these companies are releasing so called Demand Side products. Can they sit in the middle ground of both the supply and demand side worlds? Only time will tell, but my gut says no way. While technology might be able to play both side sof the fence more objectively than people, buyers still want separation from sellers. Of course Doubleclick did it – there’s the whole DFP / DFA thing, but the instances of one company becoming a leader on the buy and sell side of the same technology coin are few and far between.

Anyway, as you can see it’s all really simple …

But in all seriousness, it is as exciting as it is complex. We are participating in the evolution of the digital media world as we know it.

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Online GRPAs many readers of this blog know,  I often expose my inner media geek. Since leaving the agency world two years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to share all of the secret digital media sauce amassed throughout a carreer at the healm of an innovative,  nimble and successful digital agency.
 
I now spend my time consulting other agencies and marketers, and presenting digital media planning & buying, and social media marketing training seminars around the country as part of my role at Laredo Group.  In today’s edition of the Laredo Group newsletter, I authored an article about the role of GRP’s in digital media planning, and decided that it is too important a topic not to share with you. Would love to hear your thoughts and comments! Enjoy…
 
To GRP or Not to GRP?
Few topics evoke such passionate debate among senior level media strategists as “the role of the GRP/TRP metric online”. For the purpose of this article, each generic reference to GRP is in actuality a TRP reference, as is the case in most media conversations.
 
Since the dawn of media planning time, media impact has been predicted and evaluated as a function of the relationship of reach and frequency against a defined target universe – essentially the percentage reach against a target multiplied by the frequency:
  • GRP = (Reach/Target Universe x 100) x Frequency
Generally, the Nielsen television universe is used as the denominator in the reach calculation due to its close representation of the actual universe of US households.  Proponents of a related metric, the iGRP, use the online universe of the target as the denominator of the calculation.
 
Allow me to lay out the arguments of both sides…                                     
 
The argument for using GRP’s goes something like this: Advertisers use GRP’s to measure traditional media, so why should online be any different?  Having an apples-to-apples metric allows advertisers to evaluate all media uniformly and in a more integrated fashion as part of a mix.
 
The argument against GRP’s: We shouldn’t fit a square peg of new media dynamics into the round hole of a traditional media planning model.  The GRP doesn’t account for the unique attributes of digital media, such as engagement and relevant targeting.  “Apples-to-apples” comparisons are rare because online targets are more psychographically defined, while traditional GRP evaluations only incorporate demographics.  The iGRP further muddies the proverbial waters by using a different universe than the traditional GRP altogether, thereby countering the primary argument that the GRP provides an apples-to-apples comparison across media.
 
Whether you are for or against the use of GRP’s, nobody will argue against the importance of understanding how reach and frequency affect campaign impact.
There are plenty of ways to measure this influence and develop media mix models without retrofitting the GRP.
 
While the argument focuses around the GRP, the real issue quite simply stems from a difference in media currency, not evaluation metrics.  While the unit of media currency for both traditional and digital media is called the “impression”, the underlying currencies are different.  The currency of traditional media is “audience”, where impressions equal reach. However, digital media impressions are equal to reach x frequency.  As a result there is an over abundance of devalued online ad inventory.  Just think about the impact of the value of $1 if the government just flooded the market with newly minted currency.
 
As an example of these currency differences  – if you buy a spot during a TV program that reaches 1MM viewers, you are buying 1MM impressions, and reach equals 1MM.  Frequency is a function of additional buys.  When you buy 1MM impressions from a particular website, you buy a share of voice, not the total audience. In this instance, your 1MM impressions can yield 1MM people at a frequency of 1, or 50,000 people at a frequency of 20.  In either case your GRP’s would not give you the ability to judge the relationship of reach and frequency of your buy – a frequency cap would.
Online GRP's
The Final Word –
 
With all the breadth of data and analytic tools available, why focus on a metric that aims to predict impact, when impact and influence can be measured?  Make sure that all buys have frequency cap parameters so that you can predict reach and frequency, then measure the metrics that matter based on your objectives. Online, you can actually measure the frequency at which you hit a point of diminishing returns on branding effectiveness, or the frequency at which you achieve your best direct response performance.  After all, isn’t media impact what the GRP tries to predict in the first place?
 
 
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agBelieve None of What You Hear & Half of What You See…

I don’t want to come off as negative or a holier-than-thou jerk, because I’m neither of those things – but seriously folks, some of the press releases that come out are just filled with hype, even when there is an interesting story behind them.

Case in point is today’s release about how Platform-A sold it’s first billion impression deal (to T-Mobile for the G-1), and they dubbed it the “T-Mobile Billion Block campaign”. 

First of all – there’s nothing special about a billion impressions. DR advertisers run billions of impressions regularly.

What is stated but not emphasized in the releases (or at least not emphasized in the articles as translated by the media) is that the campaign is an attempt at accumulating AUDIENCE “mass-media style”, not impressions. Basically a huge slice of the internet population (potentially over 81 million people) may be exposed to the T-Mobile G1 ads in only 2-days. That is a big deal. That also speaks to an average FREQUENCY of 10+. The missing components here are targeting (is there any?) and cost (you may never hear about cost unless you are attempting to execute a similar deal).

Regardless – this is an approach that is not unique, but the scale is indeed impressive – 81million people in two days. Let’s see how it works!