Ad Tech Fragmentation: A Marketer’s Worst Nightmare

By Joe Apprendi, CEO, Collective

One look at the infamous LUMA slide tells an epic story of a fragmented ad tech industry. There are hundreds of logos crammed onto a single 8.5 x 11-inch sheet. It’s downright intimidating, and I can’t blame anyone who feels ambivalent about investing in digital media.

Media fragmentation caused the advertising industry to splinter in response. The landscape is brimming with players offering a single solution for every minute challenge along the customers’ path to purchase. Holistic solutions are nowhere to be found – unless a marketer is willing to hand the keys over to Adobe, IBM or the like.

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Make Competitive Intelligence Work For Your Entire Organization

By Allyse Slocum, Director, Product Marketing, Collective

An ad tech business’s competitive landscape is just like the industry itself – constantly in flux. With the continuous market evolution, organizations cannot settle for just keeping up with the Joneses; they need to proactively stay ahead of the competition to be successful. Of course, collecting information on competitors is necessary, but simply having it at your disposal is not enough. To make the most of the information you’ve gathered, you must have a process in place to analyze and disseminate this information regularly and thoughtfully to your organization.

Here are some best practices to help keep an organization informed:

One size does not fit all.

There is a wealth of competitive information out there, making it close to impossible to gather and analyze every single thing. It’s also very likely that different departments in your organization will need different types of information to accomplish their particular goals. According to, three major uses for competitive intelligence are: 1) to sell better against the competition; 2) to determine how your product features compare to the market; and 3) to identify products and companies to purchase or be purchased by. Before you begin your research, understand how each department in your organization will use competitive intelligence. After gathering the necessary information, pare it down into what is most applicable for each department, then adapt your formatting and delivery to serve their unique needs.

Maintain an open dialogue.

No one person can be responsible for gathering competitive intelligence at an organization, no matter how knowledgeable they are. While Product Management or Product Marketing departments typically manage competitive intelligence for an organization, some of the best information comes from new or potential customers, making your Sales or Account Management teams excellent sources for insights. Keep the lines of communication open to make it easy for all team members to give and receive new information. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much information your organization already has on the competition.

Keep it informal, but structured.

While creating some structure around gathering competitive information is necessary, adding too many formalities will deter team members from participating. Make team members feel helpful and empowered, not confined to a set of guidelines. Give your entire organization an open channel to provide any feedback they have, but dedicate one team to manage the information and send out regular updates. This will keep the competitive landscape top of mind without being burdensome to employees. 

Having a structured process in place that encourages organizational input will allow you to manage fluctuating information more easily and will encourage team members to actively contribute their wealth of competitive insights. 

A New Age for Contextual Target

By Frederick Stallings, VP, Strategic Partnerships, Collective

Content targeting is back and is more important than it ever was ten years ago. Actually, you don’t even need to go back 10 years. Here’s the way I see it - the internet used to be a “thing” that individuals would sit down and spend certain amounts of time exploring, usually limited to the number of free hours available on their AOL CD. Eventually, browsing became cheaper, faster and a commoditized form of entertainment and exploration. The basic user experiences that existed in early internet browsing allowed cookies to collect just enough data to track useful marketing information.

This all changed with the explosion of connected devices. The internet is no longer just a space for entertainment. Now consumers rely on the internet to deliver relevant information at any given time, across millions of different form factors and use cases - many times at the expense of receiving a bombardment of advertising messages. The biggest mistake brands are making in 2015 is underestimating consumers' ability to change their minds, formulate opinions, and navigate the web at lightening speed, which makes tracking a user's mindset extremely difficult. In this day and age, it's no longer enough to depend solely on demographics or device usage for audience targeting. According to a recent study conducted by Hinge Research Institute, 53.2% of marketers want to develop a more compelling message to their potential customers.

Micro-context targeting allows marketers to understand their target audience's mindset across these many different devices using data and analytics to better understand the types of content they're consuming while online. In turn, marketers can respond with targeted messaging and content that is personalized to their audience's specific needs. 

By targeting highly relevant content, advertisers have the ability to create a much more individualized approach to relationship building. Micro-targeted campaigns can provide B2B marketers with an increased focus on relevancy and effectiveness. They can help niche products and emerging markets find an audience not already captured by the major data collection companies. Micro-context can even help shape creative strategy and help a brand educate on their benefits long before a client is ready to make a decision. Consumer connectivity offers a new opportunity for brands to be smarter and more influential in the decision making process through strong data analytics in the form of micro-context targeting. 

Location-based Targeting: The Future of Mobile

By Chelsea Dubinsky, Director, Mobile Partnerships, Collective

Consumers have become more or less addicted to their mobile devices, which have created a permanent shift in consumer behavior. I know I fall into that category - my phone has become my local newspaper during my morning commute, my radio while I work out, my compass for navigating the city, my wallet for lunch, and my best friend for staying socially connected. 

And I know I’m not the only one. Everywhere I look, people have their faces in their phones. Consumers literally carry them wherever they go. Therefore, it’s no wonder that mobile location-targeted ads are the future of mobile advertising.  National advertisers can now engage their consumers on the go, at a more local, personalized level.  In fact, an estimated 40% of mobile ad spend in 2014 was locally targeted and that number is projected to jump to 52% by 2018 (Source: BIA/Kelsey, US Local Media Forecast, 2013-2018: Mobile Edition April 2014).

Given this, it has become critical for brands to allocate spend toward location-based targeting. At Collective, we offer brands a strategic solution around mobile moments.  We leverage unique mobile location data to build a profile that is informed by a consumer’s current location as well as where they have been previously. By leveraging GPS data, we can determine a consumer’s latitude and longitude coordinate - the gold standard of location data. This allows us to deliver messaging that is locally relevant and drives action through location-powered rich media creative.  For instance, our banners will dynamically update with the distance to the nearest retailer, depending on where the consumer goes.  To take it a step further, we can also create a sense of urgency by listing how many hours are left until a nearby store closes.  Finally, through a partnership with mobile location analytics company Placed, Collective accurately quantifies the impact every mobile campaign has on driving in-store foot traffic.

We constantly seek new ways to provide a unified view of the consumer for brands. We understand that cross-screen synchronization is a compelling, effective way to break through to consumers, and mobile data is key to making that possible. The more you leverage mobile device behaviors for targeting and measurement, the better positioned you will be to capitalize on this shift in media consumption and improve overall campaign results.

Programmatic and Direct Relationships: A Beneficial Balance

By Jonathan Barracca, Sr. Director, Business Development, Collective

Everyone is well aware at this point in 2015 that there are infinite benefits to being a programmatic buyer – cost-efficacy, time management, scalable audience insights, real-time optimization, etc. However, with all of the large real-time transactions that come with high volumes of programmatic trading, one thing that seems to get very lost in the shuffle is the direct relationship between the actual buyer and seller of inventory. Sure, there are ways to connect directly through programmatic pipes, though I’d still bet that the majority of exchange connections today are indirect intermediaries of inventory. 

But this begs the question - with an ever-growing list of programmatic efficiencies, do we even need direct publisher relationships anymore?

The answer is easy – YES. And it all boils down to quality. Direct relationships allow both buyers and sellers to have a clear understanding of what’s important to each party and how to evaluate accordingly. Whether a campaign is actioned via programmatic pipes or managed by a direct publisher, a buyer can communicate the value of KPI's like viewability, interactions, brand exposure - essentially any quality or performance-based metrics to the seller - for a much more efficiently executed transaction. Conversely, if a publisher values a certain type of advertiser, creative type, or execution, they could sell programmatically in the open market, though they'd likely have more success with a direct relationship intact.  

That isn’t to say that direct relationships are better than programmatic. The point is that despite the heavy shift to programmatic, advertisers should not discount the power of building direct publisher relationships. Both methods benefit buyers and sellers, just in different ways. The key is to have a beneficial balance between the two to drive value and performance.

So even in a world of programmatic, there’s no reason not to be direct as well. 

5 Things We Loved Last Month

Kerry Bianchi joined Collective as Chief Operating Officer.

Earlier this month, Collective announced the appointment of Kerry Bianchi as Chief Operating Officer. Bianchi has joined Collective's leadership to help shape the company's programmatic media solutions. She will ensure the company's alignment and execution of the long-term growth strategy. As one of Brand Innovators Top 50 Women in Branding and Marketing, Bianchi has more than 20 years of experience developing strategic growth initiatives for notable media, finance, and agency brands.

The IAB, ANA, and 4A's issued anti-piracy guidelines.

The IAB, along with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers announced their plans to launch an industry wide accountability program to fight ad fraud. The Trustworthy Accountability Group is the first initiative of its kind to monitor the digital ecosystem and hold media providers accountable in order to develop industry standards and create trust between marketers, publishers, agencies, and all parties in-between. 

Collective has signed on to become one of the first to go through the evaluation process in order to become a Digital Advertising Assurance Provider. 

Collective received patent for their proprietary technology that links television to digital. 

Collective, Inc. was granted U.S. Patent 8,949,890 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The newly patented technology protects the company's proprietary technology linking television audiences to digital and reinforces their expertise in multiscreen advertising. With the increasing amount of digital devices along with consumers' evolving media consumption habits. marketers are struggling to effectively reach their target audience. This patented technology addresses the pressing need for marketers by allowing them to effectively coordinate their multiscreen campaigns in order to reach their most valuable consumer. 

The technology covered in the patent targets online advertisements to consumers based on their TV viewing habits by linking linear television data to digital across multiple screens. The company's groundbreaking TV solution, TV Accelerator, utilizes this technology. 

Collective revealed their 'Hello Transparency' initiative.

At the 2015 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, Collective teased their transparency solution. Collective's 'Hello Transparency' will allow marketers to gain insight into their digital media spend. In the coming months, Collective will unveil a digital solution that provides transparency into how media is being spent and how it is or isn't working for brands and agencies. Clients can expect expert managed services, performance metrics, inventory quality & placement, pricing & media cost transparency, and optimization transparency.

With 'Hello Transparency', Collective offers their commitment to the highest quality, transparent digital partnerships. The company anticipates a full product release to the marketplace late in Q2 2015. 

Collective raised money for technology focused charities around the globe.

Collective set out to support not-for-profit organizations that foster and mentor the next generation of technology leaders. In a global charity initiative, the company raised money for organizations around the world that provide education that will help people reach their fullest potential. In the U.S., proceeds went to #YesWeCode, which provides low-opportunity youths with the resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers. By learning this highly valuable and relevant skill, young people will be able to shift the trajectory of their futures and transform their relationships with their communities and their country. Proceeds in the UK went to AbilityNet and India's proceeds went to Parikrma Foundation

Tips on Reaching & Wooing the Valentine's Day Consumer

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so we've put together some tips to help you find and woo those online customers you're looking to reach. According to a consumer survey published by the National Retail Federation, one-quarter of Valentine's Day shoppers plan to make some portion of their purchases online and anticipate spending an average of $199. Reach and re-engage consumers, who are in market for that one special gift with a digital campaign that targets them across screens. While these tips were written with Valentine's Day in mind, they apply to most special occasions. 

Plan Your Digital Campaign Early.
Don’t be the person who shows up looking to court the consumer's heart the day before. Chances are they are already taken! Give yourself at least two-to-three weeks to ramp up your efforts in finding that special consumer. Take the time to learn who they are this year, and we guarantee it will be worth the investment for next!

Target Former Customers.
If you've run a digital campaign for Valentine's Day before, why not reach out immediately to your most loyal customers again with additional incentives. Better they shop with you again than someone else, and you already know what they like.

Capture their Attention with Your Creative.
Make sure to leverage creative that is eye catching and don’t be afraid to go a little over the top. Everyone is looking for a date so make sure your creative stand's out.

The Context of Your Content Matters. 
Content may not always be the answer but when it comes to Valentine's Day, but it can make the difference. People tend to try and look their best for the holiday, so find them and surround them with relevant content. 

Retarget Customers Who May Still be In Market.
It's always important to understand that people are not always going to make their decision on the first go round. Make sure to keep your products top of mind for when they are ready and take that opportunity to retarget. 

Show Your Appreciation for their Patronage.
A great user flow for your consumers is the best way to keep them coming back in the years to come. Make sure that it's very clear that you appreciate their business, whether it's a post-transaction thank you on the site or by sending them something a little extra later on. 

Join Collective at the 2015 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting

Collective is a sponsor of the 2015 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting--Content and Kingmakers--taking place in Phoenix, AZ from February 8th – 10th.  

Join us as we host the nightcap event on February 8th. There will be an open bar for all those with IAB meeting credentials, so if you’re attending make sure you don’t miss out . 
Where: JW Marriott Desert Ridge
             5350 East Marriott Drive
             Main building, Lower Lobby @ twenty6

When: Sunday, February 8, 10PM – Midnight

We look forward to seeing you there!