Flash Fades Away as HTML5 Speeds in

By Brian McHugh, Sr. Director, Product Solutions

Firefox recently announced that it will automatically block certain versions of Flash due to security concerns. This has resulted in issues with leveraging Flash for rich media in the online ad industry and has promoted many companies to create strong policies to protect their users and sites. (See linked articles below for more info).

To counteract the impending death of Flash, the IAB recently released an upgrade to the “IAB Display Creative Guidelines” for public comment, including major changes to key ad specs for the IAB Universal Ad Package and the IAB Display and Mobile Rising Stars. The revised guidelines focus on the shift to HTML5 and address issues such as file weights and packaging for optimal load performance when HTML5 is deployed. 

As the industry continues to move away from Flash and embraces HTML5, it is important to remember the following in regards to working with creative assets: 

  • Blocking browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox is not a feasible option, as it will only temporarily bandage the larger issue of vulnerability in Flash. A mid-to long-term solution is a move to HTML5 or to have a static backup creative.
  • On Chrome, Flash ads will show, but will appear in a paused, greyed-out format.  Users will need to click on the ad to activate it, and then again to get to the site. Impressions will remain steady, but performance, including CTR, will likely suffer based on impact studies conducted by Google.
  • Flash ads continue to have significant security vulnerabilities. HTML5 will help prevent the vulnerabilities seen with Flash ads.

Read the full IAB Press Release
Download the Display Advertising Creative Format Guidelines

Good Reads on Flash

Firefox blocks Flash, and Facebook calls for its death - CNN Money
Flash. Must. DieWired
Mozilla says Flash is too dangerous to run automatically in Firefox - The Washington Post
Google to Freeze Flash Ads MediaPost

After A Long Courtship, DC And Ad Tech Are Getting Serious

By AdExchanger

Eyebrows and heart rates went up in 2012 when political ad spending across digital media surpassed $150 million.

Analysts are shocked that campaigns and super PACs are projected to spend only $1.1 billion in 2016. The media research firm Borrell Associates released a report on Tuesday that demonstrates the gradual embrace of digital marketing methods by political groups, and the budgets that will be in play during the next cycle.

For all the touted progress about ad tech companies integrating with DC, consider that Borrell expects digital media spending to closely rival telemarketing in 2016, but to potentially surpass TV by 2020.

Local

Local expenditures are the “invisible force” for political ad spenders, according to Corey Elliott, Borrell’s research director. The most high-profile campaigns – for president, senator or governor – represent a combined 0.5% of all electoral contests to be held in November 2016. About 29,000 races will be for school boards, county commissions and city councils, and while the amount needed for a local or city campaign is only $62,000 (compared to a US Senate candidate, who must raise almost $4 million to remain competitive), “those add up fast,” said Elliott.

Local campaigns will account for 40% of all political ad dollars, but the fractured nature of that spending undercuts its value for digital tech companies. “Historically, very little money has been spent on digital in these types of races,” said Eli Kaplan, co-founder of the liberal digital agency Rising Tide Interactive. Kaplan said this practice is “bizarre,” since the “weirdly drawn” districts and city lines that characterize local races are ideal for digital’s geofencing and targeting capabilities…

Read more on how this affects spend in TV/Digital and Social

Is Ad-Blocking a Big Deal?

By Justin Terbeek, Product Solutions Director

Apple's recent announcement that ad-blocking browser extensions will be supported in the iOS 9 version of Safari, and Google confirming the same for Chrome, has revived industry discussions on the growing usage of ad-blockers. No longer an issue relegated to fringe groups of tech-savvy consumers, ad-blocking has started to go mainstream over the past year or so. According to a report from Adobe and PageFair, 144 million monthly active users (roughly 5% of the internet population) have adopted ad-blocking technology globally. While the percentage is small for the moment, usage has grown 69% over the past 12 months and will likely continue to grow (1).

So how does ad-blocking work? Consumers can download any number of browser extensions, the most popular of which is AdBlock Plus. The extensions themselves do not block the ads, but rather create a set of rules that allow or block certain information. In simple terms, a blacklist prevents certain domains or subdomains from loading advertisements. It also blocks traffic coming from servers associated with advertisements and disables certain scripts. A bit of web design code is included to allow for the web page to utilize the old ad space and prevent the site from looking broken.

Motivations vary, but most fall into one of two camps, security or usability:

  1. Security: Consumers have become more aware of their data being sold to marketers and have responded by blocking it. Also, the technology that digital advertising has been built on has holes that allow the distribution of malware and open up publishers and users to hacks, increasing security concern.
  2. Usability: Some consumers are fed up with the increased number of ads they see on a page and the intrusive nature of their implementation. In addition, by blocking ads web content downloads faster and the user experience is smoother and more pleasant because of it. 

Publishers are increasingly threatened by the potential loss of revenue, while advertisers are concerned about reduced visibility and wasted spend. Some publishers the world over have taken to suing ad-blocking companies, to no avail. Some are carrying on with business as usual and do not seem to be overly concerned while the user count is small. In between these extremes are a few other tactics:

  • Some publishers are playing the information game, educating ad-blocking users about the impact of the lost revenue to the publisher and request that they whitelist the site. 
  • Another hard line option is preventing ad-blocking users access to the content they are attempting to see. Hulu is taking this approach.
  • A cat and mouse game is being played by others as they tweak URLs and use shorteners to get around the blacklists. 

Each ad-blocking extension has a built in acceptable ads list that is a default whitelist. Publishers can submit for approval, and if they adhere to the strict guidelines set by the ad-blocker, will be added to the whitelist. These guidelines vary by software company.

Collective continues to work closely with the IAB and other ad tech partners to stay on top of emerging technologies and monitor trends pertaining to ad-blocking.  

Source:

  1. "Adblocking Goes Mainstream" PageFair and Adobe 2014 Report 

Collective Scores in the Top 10 in Global Seller Trust Index

Our friends at Pixalate, a data platform focused on bringing transparency to programmatic advertising, released their 2015 Global Seller Trust Index.*  Collective is proud to have been ranked in the top 10 for the following categories:

Overall Global Seller Trust Index (#10)
Seller Trust Index for Arts & Entertainment (#8)
Seller Trust Index for Hobbies & Interests  (#9)

 

Judging was based on a number of different categories including malware score, fraud score, masking score, viewability score, network score, inventory score, and engagement score (see Glossary below).

Overall Global Seller Index

 

Arts & Entertainment:

 

Hobbies & Interest:

 

Top 10 by Category:

 

Glossary:

*Pixalate Global Seller Trust Index

The monthly Pixalate Global Seller Trust Index is based upon its proprietary technology that analyzes more than 100 billion monthly impressions and delivers ratings based upon inventory quality and ad performance along with brand safety. Global quality ratings are based upon an analysis of network, inventory, masking, fraud, viewability, engagement, malware and pricing scores broken down by IAB category in compliance with recognized industry standards.

Scoring Methodology

The Global Seller Trust Index ratings are based upon an analysis of overall effectiveness assessing network, inventory, masking, fraud, viewability, engagement, malware and pricing scores broken down by IAB category in compliance with recognized industry standards. The monthly Global Seller Trust Index assesses quality for approximately 400 active sellers and is based upon proprietary analysis of more than 100 billion monthly ad impressions and tallies ratings based upon inventory quality and ad performance paired with traditional market reach. Ratings on all of the scores are normalized to a range between 0-99 where 99 represents the seller rated highest on the given criteria.

 

What's in a View?

By Ashley Scotto, Director, Video Product Strategy

These days there are a lot of questions surrounding what is actually in view.  But had we asked this question one year ago, let alone a few years ago, we likely would have received a bunch of quizzical blank stares. Until very recently, advertisers assumed actual human beings viewed their ads. And why not? There was the above the fold/below the fold debate, but the idea that humans never actually saw ads and instead robots clicked on them? Fuhgeddaboudit!

So what is viewability anyway? Viewability is an online advertising metric that aims to track only impressions that can actually be seen by users(1). Viewability as a metric is the percent of impressions deemed in view according to the MRC measurement guidelines – a display ad must have 50% of its pixels in view for one second; a video ad must have 50% of its pixels in view for two concurrent seconds.

Until programmatic became the golden child of digital advertising, and folks like Collective began to dig into what’s actually going on in the world of digital, all was seemingly “normal.” However, there was more going on than meets the eye. Ah, the thorn in digital’s side since its inception – the ability to track and report on things. Suddenly ads were being deemed out of view, and in some cases, not even considered measurable. Had this problem been going on longer than we ever knew or anticipated? Yes! Could we solve the problem overnight? No!

In the latter part of 2014, advertisers became increasingly aware of the problems impacting their digital advertising campaigns. Viewability not only arrived, it became the main event. And like any good negotiator, advertisers began demanding higher viewability at lower rates. This made everyone in the ad tech industry fear for what 2015 would have in store.

Viewability, in and of itself, is not the problem. The real issue facing the industry is our ability to keep up with and execute on the demand. One of the biggest challenges we faced, initially, was the “limited supply of [highly viewable] inventory.” According to a webinar hosted by OpenX, Integral Ad Science and Quantcast in September 2014, “inventory with viewability above 75% [was] less than 5% of all RTB inventory.”(2) This was a staggering reality at a time when advertisers were starting to ask for more viewable ads.

Everyone’s first reaction was to blame the publishers, but they weren’t solely responsible. Inventory is not created overnight. Website redesigns, changes to and increases in ad positions require massive amounts of resources and dedicated technology. Though it is human nature to want immediate satisfaction, in the case of viewability there is no quick-fix solution.

And while all of this is alarming - and likely causing many advertisers to want to run for the hills - the truth is things are getting better, slowly but surely. Industry averages for viewability are around 40% for networks/exchanges and near 50% for publishers(3). These rates may not be viewed as "awesome," but they are not horrible either. They are the reality, and they are only the beginning.

As we look toward the second half of 2015, things are beginning to look a bit less bleak. This has been, as they say, the ‘year of transition.’(4) Technology advancements are changing the landscape allowing media partners to make more significant impacts on campaigns. While demand is still the driving force in this progression, expectations are shifting as clients begin to understand the complexities around viewability. And, everyone is being held to a higher standard, including publishers, to do their part.

The landscape is also shifting - not away from viewability, but rather towards an overall view of inventory quality. So while viewability is here to stay, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. 

Sources:

  1. WTF is Viewability?", Digiday, February 27, 2014
  2. “Three Sides to Viewability", Webinar hosted in partnership with OpenX, Integral Ad Science and Quantcast, September 2014
  3. Media Quality Report, Integral Ad Science, Q1 2015
  4. ”IAB Says 100% Viewability Measurement Is Not Yet Possible: Trade Body Recommends 70% as Best Threshold for Buyers and Sellers During ‘Year of Transition’", IAB, December 16, 2014

The Flaw of Averages & Risks of Non-Transparency

By Todd Ghidaleson, Product Solutions Director 

AdExchanger recently published an article discussing the risks of averages and non-transparency within our space. The article uncovers the flaws of complacency within campaign results, where the average KPI of all tactics falls within goal, and yet individual tactics are outside the desired range of performance. The article also lends great advice for Media Planners on how to proactively structure campaigns to ensure transparency into the strategies they propose. While this advice is sound, digital marketing is still in need of a tool to help marketers easily determine where their dollars are being utilized correctly, and where they may be able to trim the fat.

In an industry where testing is common, it is reasonable to assume that at any point, a media plan could include tactics which bring down performance. This is accepted within our space, so long as the end result is a smarter, more efficient campaign. The risk however, is when a partner on a plan isn’t specific - to a delivery level - with the tactics they are running. In these cases, while the average performance of the partner could fall within the KPI goal for a campaign, complacency can lead to less than optimal tactics remaining on the plan for longer periods of time, and thus wasted media dollars.

VISTO™ holds a significant advantage for performance marketers, giving them a clear view into every piece of their campaign, not just an attractive top line stat.

Take for instance the following example:

The KPI goal for this campaign is a .3% CTR. In aggregate, all tactics under this campaign strategy have hit the KPI, and the client is happy. More often than not, however, there are multiple tactics that a partner will run in order to test new strategies, segments, or utilize incremental budget. Below is the same media plan report, except with full tactic transparency provided by the VISTO™ platform. 

Targeting Tactics

charts.jpg

Of the four tactics running, only two are hitting the client KPI goals. With this extra level of insight, it becomes clear why advertisers need a deeper, more transparent view into their media plan.  Further, when offering managed services in running a campaign, we provide transparency into all changes made by the optimization team. See below example:

Campaign Optimizations

chart2.jpg

The transparency level of VISTO™ makes monitoring of the “flaw of averages” a less tedious task. Allowing marketers to be more proactive across their plan holistically is invaluable, and can only lead to more efficiently spent marketing dollars.

To quote the article:

"Just like averages can hide the true picture, failing to have a full view of investment can damage the effectiveness of performance media." 

Read the full article here

 

It’s Time to Keep an Eye on Mobile Fraud

By Ashley Scotto, Director, Video Product Strategy 

Ad fraud is getting a lot of buzz these days—for good reason. The potential threat represents about $6.3 billion in various formats for this year alone.  And mobile fraud isn’t even part of this equation(1).

The newest approach to fraud is “mobile device hijacking.” We’re familiar with how bots take over our personal computers, but today, fraudsters find their way into our mobile devices via applications, among other tactics.

The concern over mobile ad fraud has been building for some time. With the proliferation of ad fraud on desktop display and video, it was only a matter of time before fraudsters jumped to mobile — they follow dollars.

According to research conducted by ad fraud detection firm Forensiq, “about 1% of mobile devices in the U.S. were seen running ‘infected’ apps, including those operating Google Android and Apple iOS operating systems, as well as Microsoft’s Windows Mobile”(2). The research showed “that more than 13% of total mobile app inventory was at risk”(3).

Unlike desktop, where users unknowingly download malware, “mobile app fraud comes from apps that users download willingly”(4). There are many parties to blame depending on the type of mobile fraud, but in the case of mobile device hijacking, the app publishers themselves seem to be the culprits(5).

So what does this all mean? In the grand scheme of things, we’re still in the nascent stages. But with the fast paced rise of mobile ad budgets, estimated to be 49% of digital ad spend in 2015 and 72% of total digital ad spend by 2019(6), there’s a call for cautious monitoring.

With mobile, there are two environments up for grabs — mobile web and in-app. While the need for monitoring is there, mobile fraud requires new and different detection and protection methodologies. What works for desktop won’t work for mobile(7). The industry is working on it but we’re not there yet.

Collective will continue to work closely with Integral Ad Science and other partners to stay on top of evolving solutions that conquer mobile fraud.

Some Good Reads:

Wall Street Journal
Ad Exchanger
Fortune
Business Insider

Sources:

  1. App Fraud Starts To Hit Its Stride, Ad Exchanger, July 23, 2015
  2. Watch In-App Mobile Ad Fraud In Action, The Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2015
  3. Mobile botnets are costing advertisers $1 billion in ad fraud, Fortune, July 23, 2015
  4. Mobile botnets are costing advertisers $1 billion in ad fraud, Fortune, July 23, 2015
  5. App Fraud Starts To Hit Its Stride, Ad Exchanger, July 23, 2015
  6. Mobile Will Account for 72% of US Digital Ad Spend by 2019, eMarketer, March 24, 2015
  7. Integral Ad Science Chief Data Officer Breaks Down Big Data and Threat of Fraud on Mobile, OpenX Blog, April 23, 2014

Five Minutes With: Joe Apprendi, CEO of Collective

By TheHubComms

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges in marketing tech for next 12-24 months?

The marketing landscape continues to fragment with more choices and channels.  It's a full-time job to keep on top of the growing choices for how and where to advertise.  Marketers must not only create compelling ad messages, but must also be ad technology and analytics experts to take advantage of automated campaign planning tools, execution tools, and data management that lead to targeted, efficient and effective ad placement.  With continued changes in the ad landscape due to new ad tech entrants and contractions through mergers and acquisitions, marketers must decide if they will stretch their arms and resources to work with more groups of ad partners to gain the widest selection of media, or go into the “walled gardens” of large aggregators who offer a streamlined engagement, but typically with a more limited group of pre-selected media options.

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

One of the biggest marketer needs is streamlined access to data from multiple sources, and hiring the people who know how to manage and mine it for valuable insights....

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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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