Thursday, June 15, 2017

What Verizon’s Acquisition of Yahoo Means for Marketers

For marketers looking to expand beyond Google and Facebook, Verizon’s new subsidiary, Oath, will offer improved targeting and measurement. Through its merging of Yahoo and AOL, Oath will benefit from the advertising capabilities of both companies as well as Verizon’s subscriber data.

The focus on content brands, such as HuffPost and Tumblr, will set Oath apart in the digital advertising space. These content brands will soon be “automatically available on the ‘decktop’ of Verizon subscribers’ phones”.

Oath plans to focus its growth beyond the United States by targeting key markets and possibly acquiring more companies. Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, stated the goal is for Oath to double its consumer base by 2020.

Verizon bought AOL in 2015 for $4.4 billion and recently acquired Yahoo for $4.5 billion. eMarketer estimated Verizon and Yahoo will generate a combined $4.7 billion in digital ad revenue this year.

News coverage around Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo has focused primarily on the resignation of Marissa Mayer as well as Yahoo’s plans to lay off 2,100 workers. The Wall Street Journal reports that most of the job cuts will occur where there are duplicate roles and teams.

From the marketing perspective, however, Oath represents an opportunity for digital advertising to grow. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Header Bidding: The Trendy Programmatic Technique

Most digital advertisers have been familiar with programmatic selling for a while but may just now be hearing of header bidding. As the newest trend in programmatic, header bidding has the potential to help both advertisers and publishers.

According to Digiday, header bidding is a technique which allows for multiple bids on the same inventory. This increases the yield for publishers and provides more data points for advertisers.

According to Technorati CEO, Shanie Higgins, “the entire idea of this system is to eliminate the need for pushing inventory back and forth, which is inefficient and wasteful”. While header bidding does help to streamline the programmatic process, it comes with a significant drawback.

By adding yet another SSP tag to their page, a publisher risks raising their page load times. Page latency has helped fuel the popularity of ad blockers in recent years.

While the header bidding technique is not perfect, publishers greatly benefit from the increased transparency and revenue. With programmatic ad spend estimated to reach $37.9 billion by 2018, the chance of more revenue is worth the risk and inconvenience for many publishers.


In response to the recent popularity of header bidding, Google has released exchange bidding in Dynamic Allocation for publisher testing. According to The Programmatic Publisher, Facebook’s Audience Network has also integrated with tech partners for header bidding. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Key Takeaways from the Internet Trends Report

From YouTube’s decreasing share of mobile traffic to the personalization of voice-activated devices, the newly released Internet Trends report offers unique insight into the digital advertising industry. Thanks to Adweek, marketers do not need to read through the 355-page report for the key takeaways.

1)    Dip in Smartphone Sales
In 2016, smartphones saw not only a decrease in sales but also in user-base growth. Globally 2.8 billion people own smartphones. While they remain extremely popular, the user-base only grew by 12 percent in 2016 compared to 25 percent in 2015.

2)    Increased Time Spent on Mobile
Adults spend an average of 5.6 hours per day consuming digital media. The majority of that time (3.1 hours) is spent on mobile devices while desktops account for 2.2 hours. The remaining 0.4 hours come from other devices.

3)    Internet vs. TV Ad Spend
The total Internet ad spend is growing faster than television ad spend, and 85 percent of Internet ad spend is through Google and Facebook. Compared to its 2015 ad revenue, Facebook experienced a 62 percent growth in 2016.

4)    Voice is the Next Frontier
Between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first of 2017, Amazon’s voice-enabled assistant, Echo, gained 3 million users. With its increasing personalization, voice and visual recognition are considered to be the “next frontiers in search and discovery” by Photon’s VP of marketing, Michael Levine.

5)    Ad Blocking on the Rise

With about 640 million devices utilizing ad blockers in 2016, marketers have the right to remain wary of the software.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gen Z and the Future of Television Advertising

In an effort to understand the future of television advertising, Tremor Video and Hulu partnered on a study to research the viewing habits of Generation Z compared to Millennials and Gen X. Gen Z is not only watching less television than their forebears but how they choose to access shows and movies is unique.

Even the language differentiates generations. The vast majority of Gen X say “watching TV” means access through cable or satellite whereas the majority of Millennials and Gen Z consider watching by an online source to qualify.

The reliance on streaming videos allows Gen Z to watch more at one time than through traditional cable or satellite. As reported in “How Gen Z Connects to TV: Exploring the Generational Divide in the Future of TV”, 60% of Gen Z watch multiple episodes in one sitting compared to just 44% of Gen X.

In an interesting twist, Gen Z is actually more receptive to advertisements and are the most likely to share video ads through social media. However, advertisers should be aware that Gen Z expects ads to be relevant to what they are viewing.


With 48% of Gen Z saying they watch less television than their parents, it would be wise to target ads thoughtfully. By advertising across platforms (48% of Gen Z say they browse social media while watching TV) and reducing ad loads, advertisers can reach Gen Z when it most counts.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Image Recognition and the Future of Targeting

With the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, the Internet has become increasingly visual. While text-based targeting is still relevant, the recent shift in how consumers use the Web has brought image recognition technology to the forefront.

Companies, such as Cluep in Toronto, have developed engines to scan public images, recognize a brand or product, and then determine the consumers’ interests or lifestyles. This presents an amazing opportunity for advertisers.

The CEO and co-founder of Cluep, Karan Walia, reports that even beta tests of the platform are receiving significant increases in conversions and click-through rates.

Coca-Cola utilized an image recognition engine for a recent Gold Peak campaign. By serving ads to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter users who had posted photos containing iced tea, Gold Peak creative click-through rates increased four times their usual rate.

Image recognition allows brands to not only target potential consumers but also research their lifestyles and preferences. DigitasLBi, the digital agency for Miller Lite, scanned Instagram for photos containing beer to provide a new perspective on beer drinkers. 

Even Pinterest has tapped into image recognition technology. For the past year, Pinterest’s related pins have been selected based on visual similarities to previous pins.


Digiday reports that while many social platforms do not allow advertisers to utilize their image recognition capabilities, brands can still drive sales through image-based targeting by partnering with companies that have their own engines and servers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Power of Data and Transparency in Media Buying and Planning

Adweek released its list of the 15 Most Innovative Agency Executives in Media Buying and Planning this week. The detailed list not only highlights the extraordinary qualities of the honored individuals but also the challenges of media buying and planning strategy in a rapidly evolving industry.

The rise and fall of various advertising formats has created a challenge for media buyers and planners. This becomes especially problematic when tools traditionally used for planning, such as Nielsen, lack transparency.

Scott Hagedorn, CEO of Hearts & Science, says of Nielsen, “they might be missing 40 percent of total video, because they’re missing a lot of the OTT data”. As millennials increasingly view content on mobile apps, the lack of streaming data presents a problem even while mobile devices allow for more individualized targeting.

The inclusion of data in creative strategies has helped agencies remain productive during times of change. The vice president of media operations for Horizon Media, Jennifer Dass, describes the most vital data as being, “accurate, actionable, and easily interpreted”.

In recent years, media planners and buyers have evolved into the realm of marketing strategists and the power of change is emphasized throughout Adweek’s article.  Andrea Millett, president of Havas Media New York, says, “I believe strongly in continuing to try new ways of doing things, new models and new iterations in every aspect”.

Transparency between agencies and clients is described as being essential in order to effectively reach target audiences. While this requires a simplification of media strategy at times, the resulting cooperation allows for “both an upper- and lower-funnel approach”.


Whether the campaign is digital, social, traditional, etc., top-notch media buyers and planners utilize individual skills as well as data and creativity to aid clients and consumers on the media journey.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Risks of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been a hot topic in the past few months with media companies increasingly hiring influencer managers to help build brands. Influencers can bolster trust between a brand and its consumers but there is risk associated with this strategy.

Anyone who has been online within the past week has probably heard of the Fyre Festival fiasco. What was supposed to be an exotic music festival experience, complete with celebrity endorsements, quickly soured. From the cheese sandwiches and lack of alcohol to the questionable lodgings (literal disaster relief tents) in the Bahamas, the “once-in-a-lifetime musical experience” had guests scrambling to book flights back to the U.S.

Not only does this reflect poorly on the event organizers, including rapper Ja Rule, it also harms the credibility of the celebrity influencers who have been promoting the festival for months. AdWeek reports that it is expected for consumers to be more wary of influencers’ endorsements. So how can brands avoid potential fallout when using influencer marketing?

Devon Wijesinghe, CEO of InsightPool, recommends for brands to develop relationships with influencers rather than simply paying for a product post. Shared values between a brand and an influencer result in more authentic, trustworthy endorsements. Jennifer Aniston’s long-term partnership with Aveeno is an example of a successful celebrity endorsement.

It is important for brands to remember that while an influencer can be paid to promote something, it won’t always have the intended outcome.