3 Ways Reach Rankings Can Mislead You

Posted by Julia Casale-Amorim

Article Highlights:3 Ways Reach Rankings Can Mislead You

  • Third-party data reports don’t differentiate reach on the basis of quality
  • Reach figures quoted by third-party data providers represent a network’s “potential” audience, which is different than actual audience reach
  • In some cases, high reach may also indicate high risk

There are myriad advertisers out there, just as there are millions of products to be advertised. To get the most from this discussion of reach and value, ask yourself a few questions… and for the moment, let’s pretend that the internet does not exist…Read the whole article >

In Search of Options Beyond the Ad Network “Daisy-Chain”

Posted by Julia Casale-Amorim

In case you happened across the article, “Breaking The Daisy Chain” published earlier this week in MediaPost, I wanted to take this opportunity to make you aware that there are premium, direct ad network options available to you and so there is absolutely no need to settle for or risk compromising the efficiency of your clients’ budgets or the safety of their brands by working with networks that purport the daisy-chaining model.

Of course, there are countless ad networks that blindly book high budget campaigns (to ensure that they secure the deal) without consideration for their own available volumes. When shortfalls occur, which they inevitably do, the network in question then looks to other networks or third-parties to fill the void. In many cases, this is unbeknownst to the agency.

In these all too common scenarios, it is the client who loses out.

Involvement of third-parties compromises the ability to efficiently target/optimize, and depending on the setup, can destroy that capability all together, severely hampering media efficiency and ROI.

Of perhaps greater concern, the practice of daisy-chaining can greatly compromise brand safety. There is an inevitable loss of control with each added link in the chain. There is no true guarantee of transparency. Control over frequency and placement is lost. Standards and guidelines are near impossible to discern, as what is reported by the network from who you purchase may not be reflective of the standards held by all vendors in the chain. Ultimately, as the cliché goes, it is the weakest link that dictates performance, quality and risk.

Our Perspective
We consider the practice of “trading” inventory with other networks to be unacceptable and a poor reflection on the ad network category. This is not the way that we do business, nor is it a practice that we feel should become synonymous with the ad network model.

When we book budgets, our bookings are based on actual network impression availability. Our bookings are all guaranteed. This means that in some cases, we must propose less than the volume clients seek.

We are exclusively direct with all of our publishers; we respect and understand the importance and value of this approach. We never procure inventory through indirect sources. We operate in this manner to ensure that we can assume 100% culpability over the campaigns that we execute. This gives us complete control over inventory selection, placement, targeting and optimization – all vital aspects to campaign management that we can pass on to our clients.

Daisy-chaining is not a reality that agencies have to settle for. There are premium direct alternatives available that can deliver complete control over brand safety and optimization.

We are currently working with the IAB to help establish a set of standards and guidelines for categorizing ad networks based on how their inventory is acquired and vetted. Networks will have the opportunity to become certified against these guidelines. It is our hope that this program will create an environment that promotes transparency, and that it will help agencies by revealing that there are different ad network options available, so that they can make informed decisions about their vendor selection choices, based on the specific requirements of their clients.

You can learn more about the IAB Standards Working Group and inquire about getting involved by visiting: http://www.iab.net.

The Death of Ad Networks: Fact from Fiction

Posted by Julia Casale-Amorim

imediaHundreds of ad network infants (founded in the last two to three years – a.k.a. the ad network bubble) all began with a similar objective: work with publishers and advertisers to maximize buying efficiency and inventory yield.

Despite this clear, seemingly sound objective, the mass proliferation of ad networks has lead to tremendous inefficiency and a tarnished perception of the value and “place” ad networks set out to occupy at the inception of their kind – effectively rebranding the ad network as “Chief Inventory Commoditizer”. While this label may be fitting for some networks, it is certainly not appropriate for all… Read the whole story >

Are your display ads in good company?

By Julia Casale-Amorim

The topic of brand safety online has been one of much lively discussion in recent months. A lot of this chatter is being spawned by the influx of brand advertisers dipping their toes into network waters as they endeavour to further optimize the media dollars that get invested into online campaigns.

Much of the dialogue surrounding “brand safe” has centered on networks’ publisher rosters, their quality screening procedures, their ability to provide complete transparency, the sources of their inventory, yada yada yada. And some discussions are now going so far as to investigate the ways in which networks are targeting ads. Targeting tactics that are currently under review by bodies like the FTC are stirring valid concern from advertisers who are fearful of potential consumer backlash.

One topic that seems to have been missed all together is the nature and quality of the advertising that shows up alongside yours when you run a display campaign online. Sure, your campaign might be running on a trusted, brand name website known for publishing high quality content that reaches your audience and complements your brand; and the ads might be served using privacy friendly methods.

But, what about the other ads being displayed on that site?

Shouldn’t the notion of “brand safe” extend outside content and to the ads a site places as well? Aren’t they technically part of the site’s content? Some publishers…scratch that…some very well regarded, brand name publishers are allowing distasteful advertising to appear on their properties in attempts to boost earnings in an uncertain economy. Unfortunately, in doing so, they are not only degrading the quality of inventory on their sites, but in the long term, their reputations as prominent online brands.

The unfortunate corollary to this activity is that many brand conscious advertisers are placing campaigns on these “reputable, high-quality” sites, doing their due diligence to safeguard their brands, only to find their ads showing up alongside tacky “reduce belly fat” and “teeth whitening” messaging, to name a few recent examples.

So, my advice to brands advertising on networks, look a little deeper into the methods these vendors use to screen publishers and don’t be blinded by a site list of top notch brands. Are the ads publishers allow to run on their sites part of the screening procedure? Is this something that can be controlled in the targeting process?

To networks, consider adding this important screen to your QA methods, as a means to further validate the quality of your offering. Don’t just accept any advertiser into your network. Vet the product, vet the company, vet the creative. It’s your reputation that’s on the line.

And to publishers, think twice about what ads you approve to run on your property. In this wonderfully rich digital universe where there exist so many options among which to choose, you really need to do everything that you can to preserve the quality of your site, the integrity of your brand, and the value of your inventory.

Who Wants to be a Horizontal Network?

By Julia Casale-Amorim

In a recent article published by MediaPost, vertical networks have begun banding their inventory together to allow advertisers to perform cross-network buys.

Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like vertical networks trying to become more horizontal?

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a horizontal network. They are typically made up of several channels, each representing a different vertical, be it contextual or audience-based. In effect, a horizontal network can be viewed as a collection of vertical networks all wrapped into one. Advertisers have the ability to target campaigns across the entire network (RON), to a single vertical (i.e. Automotive, Women), or to a grouping of verticals (i.e. Women, Home, Travel).

One of the great advantages to a horizontal network is reach and secondly, breadth.

But what about the vertical network model as we’ve come to know it?

There is real value in the (traditional) vertical approach when your decisions aren’t being driven by factors like scale, reach and optimization, but are more centered on accessing an elusive niche audience through content that they have a real connection to and where customized placement programs, i.e. skins, takeovers, co-promotions play a big role in the overall structure of your plan.

So what is prompting this change in direction?

There has been no shortage of debate over the vertical vs. horizontal approach. Both models have merit. And doesn’t it all come down to your objectives as an advertiser? There is no right or wrong choice. No better or worse option… Our advice to clients has always been – try both, and continue with the one that delivers the best results for your particular campaign.

But, this recent move by vertical networks raises a question…is the model working? If it was, would they need to explore aggregate means of selling their inventory? Doesn’t that sort of go against the whole vertical philosophy?

I suppose there is an inherent flaw in vertical networks banding their inventory together and portraying themselves as a horizontal network, since the entire selling angle of a vertical network is that they’re a “close-knit group of sites centered on a particular topic.” If you adopt this horizontal-like approach, can you still call yourself a vertical network?

Only time will tell.