The Marketing Piñata: A Quick Look at Multi-touch Attribution

By Todd Ghidaleson, Product Solutions Director

Three children are at a party, waiting to swing at a piñata. The first child takes a swing, causing significant structural damage, but failing to break the shell. A second child takes an equally impressive swing and creates a few cracks in the piñata’s surface, but still no candy. Finally, a third child steps up and swings. Candy spills all over the floor, and he proclaims sole credit for all the treats.

It wouldn’t be right to give all of the candy to the third child in this scenario, right? But marketers have been complacent doing this for marketing attribution, frequently applying the last touch attribution (LTA) model to campaigns.

Marketers are now beginning to realize the implications of the LTA model—fragmented insights, wasted dollars, and in some cases, illegitimate approaches to ‘stealing’ last touch credit—and applying multi-touch attribution (MTA) instead.

MTA assigns credit to any deserving channel in a campaign. It’s as simple as appending a third party tag to the creative, which tracks and records each individual impression and its resulting actions. The MTA partner ingests impression-level data and assigns partial credit to all channels that “touched” a consumer. Clients can adjust the percentages to meet individual campaign needs.

However, MTA lacks standard modeling methodologies. Attribution vendors rely on proprietary processes; there is no standard by which to adhere or an objective third party to hold vendors accountable for accuracy. Fragmented reporting among platforms can result in making optimizations that seem to be in favor of performance from an LTA standpoint, not MTA.

Collective understands that MTA is the future for our industry and therefore has worked to overcome these challenges. We accept MTA tags from any platform our clients use. Clients who manage their entire media buy through our VISTO™ platform benefit from the ability to quickly shift budget between managed platforms as we receive results of MTA reporting and actively optimize their campaigns.

Viewability, Ad Fraud, Privacy – Oh My!

At the ANA Masters of Marketing in October, Collective had the opportunity to poll attendees as part of our “Audience Insight of the Day” sponsorship. We asked marketers to address their greatest concerns in the digital space. Their answers sent a clear message of where our industry needs to focus attention. 

With programmatic ad serving, viewability, ad fraud, and privacy are obvious concerns. Therefore, Collective continues to tackle each one head-on. Our strategy is twofold—we only source inventory (programmatic and direct) from reliable sources and employ comprehensive verification practices to promote brand credibility. In addition to Collective’s IAB Quality Assurance Guideline (QAG) 2.0 certification and partnerships with Integral Ad Science and Telemetry, Collective takes the following measures to assure brand safety.

Viewability: In addition to partnering with verification providers Integral Ad Science and Telemetry, Collective employs an entire quality team whose sole focus is to monitor viewability using multiple measurement techniques. Our platform agnostic approach also means we can work with any other third party verification partner.

Ad Fraud: To combat bots and other fraudulent activity, our team hand selects inventory sources and applies proprietary quality-control technology to all inventory to ensure that ads are placed in brand-safe environments viewed by actual humans. 

Privacy: Individual privacy is critically important to Collective, which is why we take safeguards to ensure we don’t receive any personally identifiable information from our clients or partners. 

The Dream of a Well-Curated RTB World

By Justin Dougherty, Senior Director, Product Management

Transparency.  Viewability.  Verification.   Our lexicon of the hottest terms in the ad tech space all revolve around a central theme: lack of trust. Looking back to the beginning of real-time ad exchanges, the incredible reach, scale, and targeting abilities of RTB platforms were so transformative for marketers that they didn’t worry as much about fuzzier metrics. However, as the honeymoon phase wore off, the corrupt elements of the RTB universe presented themselves via the results of advertising campaigns and marketers began to demand more from their demand-side platforms (DSPs). 

Show Me What’s Happening

Marketers stopped giving the benefit of the doubt to ad impressions bought on exchanges or DSPs, and began to require that platforms prove the value of the media being bought.  This brought about a push for domain-level transparency, the rise of 3rd-party verification companies, and re-energized industry efforts around battling fraud. The burden of proof had shifted onto the media providers, and in the absence of evidence, the new presumption was that the ad impression was unacceptable. Some prominent agency holding companies even began to require 100% viewability from partners.

Best of Both Worlds

For well over a decade, media networks were able to retain the veil of obscurity over their inventory and run successful businesses. However, it would be naïve to claim that verification will be displaced by trust at this point. But what if we could bring together the best of the old, premium inventory media sources with the benefits of the new RTB universe?

If traditional marketing benefits (brand-safety, good performance results, desirable audience demographics) could be combined with the benefits of real-time bidding (individual user targeting, massive reach and scale, elastic prices), marketers would realize the high performance of new RTB metrics and see the desired reach of their advertising, all while delivering cost-effective performance objectives.

This is the dream of real-time bidding, and one that Collective is turning into a reality. By taking the inventory curation from our premium network, and applying them to the data science-driven optimization of our proprietary real-time bidder, we have removed the fear and doubt from media buying with high performing, highly scaled, brand-safe media.

Insights from the ANA Masters of Marketing

On a scale of one to ten, how well do you know your most valuable consumer?

Collective recently sponsored the Audience Insight of the Day at the ANA Masters of Marketing and asked attendees this question. You may be surprised to see their responses:

We later followed up with an audience survey and found that while 53% of the audience listed their answers between a seven and eight, 15% admitted to a five.

These results are actually not very surprising. Marketers are frequently forced to use different tools and data to determine and target their core consumer, creating challenges in seeing a holistic view of whom that consumer truly is. Collective’s VISTO™ platform seeks to alleviate this headache by offering marketers a way to programmatically target consumers with a platform that integrates tools into a seamless workflow, provides full transparency into every aspect of their campaign, and ultimately gives them a true view into their target audience.

Back To The Present, A Bit Of The Past, Maybe Our Future With Joe Apprendi

By MediaPost

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking -- enough with the temporal metaphors already. Especially today. But if anyone has a right to exploit it, someone writing for something called "RTBlog" in a publication called Real-Time Daily should be forgiven. We did it in our past. We’ll do it in our future. Heck, we’re doing it right now.

Speaking of now, I just had a conversation with Collective’s Joe Apprendi about it, and he reminded me we weren’t born yesterday. This programmatic stuff began some years ago. So long ago, that its founders initially began referring to themselves as the “Old Timers.” Clearly, they were thinking ahead.

What’s Apprendi thinking about now? Mainly about the ridiculous margins being eaten up by programmatic middlemen, the lack of transparency -- but perhaps more importantly, the lack of clarity advertisers are getting from the current programmatic marketplace.

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Ad blocking: why marketers shouldn’t hit the panic switch

By Brian McHugh, Senior Director of Product Solutions

Though ad blocking has existed for years, it’s recently become a major concern in the ad tech world. The use of ad blocking increased 48% in the United States over the past year and has been further amplified by Apple’s support of ad-blocking apps in IOS9 and by the likes of Howard Stern and The New York Times. It’s a costly concern too - according to a study by PageFair, publishers stand to feel the brunt of ad blocking to the tune of an estimated $21.8 billion this year alone!

Though marketers do not lose money directly on blocked ads (the software prevents ads from being served in the first place), they could soon be impacted. Premium inventory will become limited, making it only a matter of time before the financial burden passes onto them. Add to the mix the stresses of viewability and ad fraud, and it’s understandable that marketers are growing increasingly concerned.

Unfortunately for digital marketers, unlike much-anticipated Super Bowl commercials, consumers simply don’t visit websites looking forward to viewing the ads on the page. But marketers shouldn’t panic. They can – and should - take action to improve the consumer experience, creating environments where users will want to engage with – not block – their ads.

  1.  Mix it up.  Develop a well-rounded marketing mix that includes email, social, programmatic TV, search, and even print to connect with consumers at the right time and place, throughout their path to purchase.
  2. Rethink your strategy.  Thirty percent of consumers block ads because they find them disruptive and intrusive. Therefore, building unobtrusive, hyper-targeted messaging to capture consumer attention will be critical to success. Consider rethinking strategies like constant retargeting or cookie bombing, arguably driven by outdated attribution methodologies.

  3. Manage reach and frequency.  Similarly, persistent user IDs can provide marketers with the ability to effectively control how many times a user is exposed to a single message across screens and formats, relieving consumers of ad fatigue and providing a better experience overall.

  4. Use ad blocking to your advantage.  Though it might seem counter-intuitive to think that ad blocking has any benefits, it could actually help marketers drive conversion. In a sense, ad blocking helps marketers trim the fat of their audience down to only those most likely to engage anyway. So impressions may become more expensive, but price per conversion could very well go down.

In a time when digital advertising has become highly stigmatized for being overcrowded and ostentatious, ad blocking could be the catalyst marketers need to take a step back and regain sight of their ultimate goal – to build trust and loyalty with their target audience. 

The True Cost of Programmatic

By Nikki Solomon Engel, Product Solutions Director

Advertising Age recently published an article about the “Hidden Costs of Programmatic,” addressing an issue that has become common in the industry. The advent of programmatic advertising was revolutionary for marketers. The data-driven, automated approach enabled them to accurately target audiences at scale and serve ads across screens and formats in mere milliseconds. Programmatic inventory was also cheaper than going directly to publishers. Intelligent automation at a lower price – in theory it was a marketer’s dream come true.

However, though programmatic has made cross-screen audience engagement more sophisticated and easier to scale, it has also fragmented campaign execution, leaving workflow disjointed and more complicated. Marketers must now employ an army of ad tech vendors - DSPs, ad servers, data management platforms, verification partners, etc. - to help them achieve their goals. In fact, according to a November 2013 study by iAB/Winterbury Group, it’s not uncommon for a marketer to use over 12 (!) tools to successfully run a campaign. 

And as Advertising Age states, these tools aren’t cheap. Behind them are teams of highly paid engineers and campaign experts that drive costs to a premium. What’s more, with so many cooks in the kitchen, marketers rarely have insight into what works and what doesn’t, and are frequently the victims of duplicative pricing. Arbitrage CPM business models have ensured marketers aren’t exposed to what they actually pay for.

Collective believes that as the digital ad landscape continues to crowd, marketers will desperately need a simplified and fully transparent platform with the flexibility to integrate with all campaign tools and the ability to seamlessly orchestrate workflow among them. It should manage all data, embrace both programmatic and publisher direct inventory, and provide full disclosure into the costs and performance of their campaigns. Only then will marketers be equipped with the knowledge needed to make smart business decisions moving forward. 

Collective, 4A's Foundation Announce Bill Caspare Memorial Fund

By MediaPost

Remembering someone special through a memorial fund pays it forward through a tribute. What's "it"? Whatever expertise and kindness the person gave to the community. In this case, Bill Caspare gave much of his time to developing a budding online advertising industry.

Caspare, both a founding member and strategic visionary, stood behind several successful digital ventures including db Ad Strategies, The Fifth Network, and Oggifinogi. 

Collective CEO Joe Apprendi says Caspare named the company Oggifinogi with partner Michael Hyman. "Oggifinogi in Italian basically means 'today we finish it'," Apprendi says. "No matter what Collective brought to market, Bill had a seat at the table on the executive team." 

The fund created in memory of the former Collective senior executive and industry innovator with more than 15 years experience in new media and digital advertising supports diversity in the new media, data science and product development within advertising and media. It provides a variety of resources such as scholarships that allow students and young professionals of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds to explore careers in new media, data science and product development.

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6 Ways Technology Will Change Consumer Engagement with Brands

By Adam Harris, VP, Global Product Strategy

In the years before brand engagement was “A Thing,” consumer interaction with brands was limited to TV ads and in-store end-caps. Brands did not demand "moments" from us, nor did they even attempt to "surprise and delight" with anything other than their actual products.

But brand engagement is here to stay, and on the whole, that’s a good thing for everyone. I’ve come to enjoy the content created by clever brands, and look forward to seeing Oreo in our Twitter feed, Barbie on LinkedIn and Dove videos on Facebook. Beyond coupons and offers, brands are entertaining us on our mobile devices, educating us on social media and offering us helpful tools in our everyday lives.

As technology evolves, however, so will the way consumers engage with brands. New trends like the Internet of Things and Big Data are forcing brands to think about engagement points, end-user experience and consumer privacy in new ways.

Read Adam's six predictions here


Joe Apprendi Discusses Programmatic Media

Watch our CEO, Joe Apprendi’s Beet.TV interview, where he speaks to Collective’s 10th anniversary, exciting new product developments and industry trends including ad blocking.