Resolving Beyond The Acronyms

I stink at New Year’s resolutions. My track record is so bad I’ve all but given up making them in my non-work life. But as a professional exercise, it struck me that writing down some New Year’s resolutions could actually be a really great thing, something I could refer back to throughout the year to remind me of important unanswered questions I had at the start of 2013.

For me, this year must be about continuing to evolve my thinking on what it means - and what it takes - to be a successful 21st century marketer. This means thinking beyond my favorite acronyms, the display media LumaScape, and RTB growth numbers, and aiming bigger and broader. So, this year, I resolve to:

  • Prove the value of programmatic buying, data management and advanced attribution. I want to know, and show, once and for all that there are real, tangible, bottom line benefits to adopting these tools and practices - to the industry, to marketers, to the agencies who support them, and to the publishers who serve them. I genuinely believe that if buyers embrace the concepts outlined in our report, The Future of Digital Media Buying, it’s a money-making decision in the long run. But the best way to convince others is to prove it! So I’m fielding a survey to marketers and agency folks right now to try and get some answers. In fact, if you’re a marketer or agency person (no vendors please), I’d LOVE for you to take the survey. It’s here.
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How To Create An Audience-Obsessed Digital Media Buying Practice

Over my last two-plus years at Forrester, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about how the people, processes, and tools that touch digital media buying must transform.  In this age of always addressable customers, where hyper-connected, on-the-go consumers’ expectations of brands are higher than ever, we all know in our gut that our media planning, buying, optimization, measurement, and messaging must get smarter, faster, and more audience-obsessed.

But where and how to start?

We at Forrester have created a brand new research framework — called playbooks — designed to not only help you figure out where to start but also to give you a practical step-by-step guide to the how to help you achieve mastery in  a given area. 

That said, I’m very pleased to introduce our very first playbook dedicated to digital media buying to help you become the data-driven, audience-obsessed, channel-agnostic marketer you both want and need to be. With this playbook, we’ll help you:

  1. Discover what the future of digital media buying will look like in our vision module; get a handle on the latest trends in key paid digital media channels including display and video in our landscape module; and learn how to make the business case to invest in upgrading your digital media buying in our business case module (to be released in the coming months).
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Storytelling And The Last Milliseconds

Last week, I participated in AdExchanger’s first-ever conference, which focused on the overall theme of “human-centered automation.” As a human who’s spent the past five years of her life calling for a future rife with smart humans using smart tools to run better digital media programs, “human-centeredness” was refreshing. Here are a few key things I heard for those of you who couldn’t attend in person, wrapped around three themes:

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Attribution Move Shows Facebook Is (Finally) Listening

Is Facebook finally getting over itself?

Or, rather, is Facebook actually starting to realize that its place in the advertising ecosystem is just that – a place – not the whole answer, but rather a part of the answer?

If the recent news that Adometry will be allowed to place attribution tags inside the Facebook ecosystem is any indication, Facebook is starting to get the message. 

I personally think this is a HUGE deal. Probably because I’ve been shouting about the absolutely critical need for multitouch attribution for years and years (yep, well before joining Forrester, I promise), and continue my shouting from both the page and stage.

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Looking Forward To A World Ruled By The Viewable Impression

Ad impressions will drop by 50% or more. CPMs will increase commensurately. ComScore 500 publishers will finally get the respect they deserve and recapture market share from their junky ad network rivals. Consumers will start noticing – dare I say liking? – display ads. Display will no longer be the red-headed stepchild in the shadow of direct response rival search or brand rival video. That's what we can look forward to in a world ruled by the viewable impression standard.

Why am I on my high horse about viewable impressions? And why do I think it's such a big deal for the industry? Well, we in the display advertising world have a real problem, and it's been plaguing us since the earliest days of the medium: how to think about, understand, and make sense of the true value of a display ad impression. Our initial answer, back in the late 1990s, was to say, "Let's just measure what we can – clicks!" and our addiction to the click-through rate (CTR) as the key measure of display advertising's success – or more often failure – was born. We should all be kicking ourselves for that, and I know many of us are: We took a brand new marketing vehicle, ripe with promise and untainted by the rules of marketing channels that came before it, and turned it into a cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel direct response mechanism.

Who did this serve? No one.

It didn't serve publishers, who were – and still are – under constant pressure to prove that the display banners they sell in their premium, proprietary environments have intrinsic value.

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Yahoo Sprays “Network B Gone” On Class II Inventory And Classically Stumbles: Good Idea, Bad Delivery

It started with the retargeters. A couple weeks back, Yahoo decided to shut off stand-alone retargeters, like Criteo and Dotomi, who were sourcing cheap Yahoo inventory just to resell it at much higher prices. This was a clear effort by Yahoo to take back control of its display ad business, a move increasingly common among large premium media companies. Tuesday’s announcement, however, goes much further: Yahoo has told DSPs, networks, and other buyers of “class II” remnant inventory that they’re no longer welcome to buy. Rather, their end clients – the marketers and agency trading desks using their tools – will need to get their own direct “seats” (i.e., contracts) if they want to continue accessing this inventory through the Right Media Exchange (RMX).
Is this a good thing for Yahoo? In the long run, absolutely. It means it's getting serious about cutting out undifferentiated middle men and focusing instead on more direct, transparent, and mutually beneficial relationships with big buyers. So for that, bravo, Yahoo!

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The Future Of Digital Media Buying . . . Is Now! Embrace Programmatic Buying To Increase Efficiency And Reduce Waste


As anyone who reads my research knows, I am the resident display ad technology geek on the Interactive Marketing team. I am fascinated by all things acronym-related, from DSPs to DMPs to RTB. And my experience co-launching Razorfish’s “agency trading desk,” ATOM Systems, in 2008 taught me a lot about what matters — and what doesn’t — in rolling out an audience-centric programmatic buying strategy, and what steps to take to set clients up for success.

Well, I thought it was time to share this story in my new report, The Future Of Digital Media BuyingIt explores how digital media buying is dramatically transforming and outlines the steps marketers must take to succeed in this new digital media buying world.

The long and short: laser-focused, programmatic media buying is now a reality and that’s a good thing for you. Here’s what’s driving the opportunity:

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What I Learned In Singapore About The State Of Digital Marketing, And What YOU Can Do About It

I am back stateside after last week’s trip to Singapore for Microsoft’s audience targeting event, and I’m still recovering. Not only am I (slowly, painfully) readjusting to this time zone, I’m still processing everything I saw, experienced, and learned about the digital marketing ecosystem in Asia.

The abbreviated version for digital marketers with an Asian presence: There’s plenty of opportunity but lots of work to be done.  

I was fortunate enough to meet with several agency folks while there – from Omnicom (OMG, Annalect), Publicis (Zenith), and WPP (MEC). And I was struck by two overarching themes:

  1. Agencies want their clients to broaden the scope of their digital marketing endeavors – trying new audience targeting methods like retargeting and behavioral targeting, upgrading their approach to interactive measurement by choosing the right metrics and moving beyond last click attribution, investing more heavily in creative development to better match creative messaging to audience segment. But they are perhaps more conservative than their stateside counterparts when it comes to pushing for change.
  2. Their clients aren’t doing much to help them change the status quo. I heard about click-based measurement, 2-3 week campaigns that leave little time for optimization and meaningful learnings, and, overall, sub-optimal investments in digital relative to traditional media.
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Greetings From Beautiful (And Rainy) Singapore!

I’ve been given the privilege of traveling to Singapore this week to participate in an Audience Targeting Summit being presented by Microsoft. As audience targeting is a subject that's near and dear to my heart (see The Audience Targeting Imperative), I’m very excited to have been asked by Microsoft to participate. 

I’m also excited to experience such an interesting non-US market firsthand. I’m already learning a great deal about the unique challenges and obstacles faced by marketers and agencies in the Asia Pac region. For instance, creating a cohesive, multichannel digital marketing campaign when you’re trying to coordinate efforts across a handful of countries, all with different languages, processes and rules is really challenging.  (One great place to start, I was told -- and I couldn’t agree more -- is to focus on creating a baseline level of continuity in measurement through the rollout of a common set of metrics and definitions).

On that note, I’ll be extremely interested to learn more about the audience targeting landscape here -- and its accompanying challenges and opportunities -- at the Microsoft event this Friday.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my ear to the ground for other interesting insights that I can share with the Forrester Interactive Marketing community!


Use CORE To Adapt Your Marketing Organization For The Next Digital Decade

We’re just weeks away from Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2011 in San Francisco, and the whole Forrester organization is gearing up for a productive, insight-filled, (dare I say, “fun”?!?) event.

For my part, I’m excited to be leading the charge on the Interactive Marketers’ track, where we’ll dig deeper into the key concepts of CORE (Adapting Your Marketing Organization for the Next Digital Decade), a brand new piece of research that my colleagues Emily Riley and Chris Stutzman will unveil in their keynote presentation on April 5th.

To bring CORE to life for Interactive Marketing professionals, we’re devoting each of our four track sessions to the four pillars of CORE:

  • Customize marketing experiences: Nate Elliot will dig into ways in which marketers can strategically leverage interactive tools to tailor a brand for multiple audiences. Nate will address questions such as:
    • How tailored can — and should — online brand advertising be, and how can marketers identify the best audiences to target in this way?
    • Which marketers and vendors are leading the way in customized online branding — and what can the industry learn from them?
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