11 May 2014

DaxThink Photography - now with TimeLapse :)

Hi! So it can't always be work! Technical photography for me is a great stress reliever, lately it has been TimeLapse. Check out these two below and let me know what you think, and come follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/daxthinkphotography and http://500px.com/DaxThink.

The Character Plague of Times Square!


Bird's Eye View of Times Square, New York



Thanks!

The Big Bang Behind "Project AreTheyOldEnough.com"

A few months ago one of my daughters told me that she really liked watching The Big Bang Theory. Normally it would be nice for a father and daughter to share an interest, but the problem was that she is only ten years old, and I didn’t feel that the show was appropriate for her. I talked to other parents about this and realized that there is no resource where parents can get guidance from others about what age really is old enough.

AreTheyOldEnough is that place where parents can rate shows and movies, with music and video game to come in the future. And I got the answer I was looking for, the average rating for the Big Bang Theory from UK parents was a conservative 12.8, and a more accepting 11.5 from their US counterparts.


Come to AreTheyOldEnough and pick a show, confirm who you are (to cut down on spam) with Facebook, Twitter or Google and then tell us what age you think is right. Click through the other shows and give us as many ratings as you would like, we want to hear what you think.

WTF Programmatic Marketing Series

Morning -

My absence here has been because I have been writing extensively for other publications. As a quick catch up for you, here are 3 articles you should check out in a mini series entitled WTF on Marketing Land.

WTF Is A Cookie, Anyway? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

WTF Is Tag Management? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

Enjoy, comment and come back with questions and feedback as always.


11 Nov 2013

AreTheyOldEnough.com - coming soon

A little while ago one of my children mentioned in conversation that she had watched Big Bang Theory, and could she watch it again. I love that show, but she was 10, and I really didn't think that was appropriate viewing.

I went to go find out its rating, and more importantly what other parents thought, and found that no such resource existed. Are They Old Enough fills that gap, and will be live soon (until then it will point back to this blog post).


25 Sep 2013

The secret formula for vendors and partners to predict agency revenue

Working with agencies is a beast all to itself. We love agencies at Chango, particularly the ones who get innovation. However, agency life can be tough, and media planners see certain perks as part of their compensation. As such, the reality of this industry is that the amount of dollars you will receive is often dependent on these perks.

Feeling the frustration from this, and the difficulty to forecast revenue, I created the secret formula to calculate the % budget from any campaign that we will receive.

Enjoy :)


7 Jun 2013

It's too late to bitch and moan about Google Glasses

I dont get it, I really do not. There are so many people knocking the arrival of consumer-ready augmented reality devices like Google Glass, trying to create a movement against them like it's Google's latest way to destroy the fabric of society.

What is it with this bullshit? Glass is simply one interpretation of the next wave of technology innovation that will change society forever. Like it or not it's here already and the quantity of people using it will only grow whether the naysayers like it or not. In the past I have predicted the segregation of society globally between the 'augmented' and the 'reality'ists' and I firmly believe that's what is coming.

If you don't get it yet, let me back up for a moment.

Augmented reality is the idea that reality is supplemented somehow with additional or alternative data. Google Glass aims to layer over your view of the world with your email, with useful data about where you are, with maps etc, but the data really can be anything. Augmented reality can replace reality in its entirety if you wish and replace it with your own.

That is amazing.

Imagine checking into a hotel and it looks how you want it to look, imagine being in a business meeting and you have access to every piece of data you want, imagine being anywhere and having secret access to the Internet whenever you needed it.... the possibilities are only limited by YOUR imagination.

And technology moves fast. It's Glass now, and Samsung will probably follow next with their own version, but beyond them it's contact lenses, and beyond those it's retinal implants. Given I am sat with a beer right now on my patio in the warm evening sun, I don't have the inclination or energy to justify that statement - just do me the honor of remembering my ramblings when you see it become real.

So roll the clock forward and now everyone has access to every piece of data they might want, whenever they want it. And they can tune you out and watch cat videos. And they can record you.

It's creepy as hell but there is zilch you can do to stop it. It exists in the military today, and it will exist in society before my young daughters finish their teenage years.

The biggest question you have to ask yourself is which side do you want to be on - the augmented, or the reality'ists?

30 Apr 2013

Brits for Brits – Growing an 'American' company in the UK


(A promise – if I am in your UK offices and I accidentally slip and say ‘mobil’ instead of ‘mobile’, or ‘cell’ instead of just about anything else, you have my permission to punch me).

We Brits are a fickle bunch, and because of that, we have had to play our British expansion carefully, and as Chango UK continues to expand, it’s interesting to look at the decisions we made, particularly around who we hired and why.

For context, I ran global media at an ad agency, and was first tasked with establishing the London arm of the display team. I used to be deeply suspicious of ‘those’ American companies that would fly over, spend a few days kissing arses, buy a few dinners for us colloquial folk, and then leave in a cloud of pending IOs.

It would frustrate me because they would often bring the innovative ideas with them, the cool new stuff that simply hadn’t hit in the UK yet, but they didn’t have a real local business, and in fact barely more then a registered legal address somewhere. They had no plans to have a real human being that I could meet with after their plane took off, and they didn’t understand the landscape.

To them the UK is England, with no context of our immediate neighbours that make up the UK, even if some of them want to leave the party alone (ahem Scotland, I am looking at you)! And even worse, to them England is London, ignoring the immense talent that sits in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Ipswich, Brighton and many, many more places.

The problem for the companies doing the selling is that the UK is about one sixth the size of the US, and so the IOs are smaller, yet require the same amount of effort to close and deliver. The UK is often an afterthought, a box to tick when they can get around to it. And I understood those pressures, but I had to balance the excitement for their product with the question of 'could they really deliver'.

It was therefore critical for us that the Chango UK leadership were Brits through and through.; I am a Blackpool lad for goodness sake, and Martyn was born in Hemel Hempstead - can it get more British than that?!

And we weren’t short of candidates – many of my US and Canadian teams volunteered for the role of moving to London for ‘the good of the company’, and many others from outside applied, but it was very important that our team were local, spoke the language and understood the landscape.  It’s great to have a list of agencies to target that you already partner with in America, but it takes a local to know where the really valuable relationships are, and what they need.

The UK is going extremely well for us with many agencies and brands already on to their renewals thanks to the service and success they have seen, long may it continue.

I am in the UK every 2 weeks, and Martyn is there full-time with the team - if you would like to hear the story for yourself feel free to reach out through the site, or drop us an email. We offer the full range of Chango to the UK market including our self-serve Programmatic Marketing Platform, Search Retargeting, Programmatic Site Retargeting and Look-alike Targeting. And as the 2nd largest source of search data in the UK (just after Google), no one can beat us on performance.

20 Apr 2013

I want to pay more for your ad inventory! But in return...

Catching up on the last few weeks of craziness. I was at home in San Francisco in time for AdTech recently, walking the floor and looking at all the silliness. To me the valuable part of that show is Innovation Alley where new companies get to showcase what they have. Was very impressed with news companies like Sophia, Whit.li and OnlineMediaDiva, and wish them well after the show. We actually exhibited Chango back in the Alley a few years back with great success, and went on to win the innovation award. Not that I am bragging. Well, a little :)

During the show I was invited to the 'Programmatic Breakfast', hosted by SpotXchange and TubeMogul, all about RTB video inventory. They did a good job with the venue and content, and I will never say no to french toast in a mug! The people in the room were an interesting mix; at my table were several of my own agency clients, all buyers, all theoretically incentivized to want media as cheap as possible. And in contrast were a lot of publishers, all counter-incentivized of course to want inventory to be as expensive as possible.

Perhaps the venue should have included a boxing ring, or a jello-wrestling pit.

During the opening speech by SpotXchange, our host revealed new features for publishers, particularly the addition of geo-specific floor prices for video inventory. I had assumed such a thing was commonplace, but it turns out is actually quite new. During the preamble, they jokingly apologised to the buyers in the room for driving up media prices further.

My thought on this is actually different. I don't mind their tools driving media prices up, as long as the media then represents better value. That value can be determined by placement quality (above the fold, first look, alongside better content etc) or by passing more data in the bid request, that let's us be smarter with our pricing.

Media is dirt cheap today. If you eliminate all the real crap then the average cost of RTB media is $0.80 to $1.00. Most exchange media is being bought by the major retargeting companies, and they typically charge their clients a minimum of $5.00, and can still demonstrate huge ROIs for their clients. With advertisers being screwed that badly, there is plenty of room for media prices to increase.

I would rather see an advertiser pay $2.00 CPM for the media, and work with companies like Chango that charge a margin much less than the others, and the advertiser end up paying under $3.00 all in, rather than the typical $5.00 today (and don't come arguing for CPC and clicks - there is far too much data that shows the click is a con).

In this scenario the publishers win, they get a bit of breathing space and can then invest in better content. In turn the advertiser wins because they then get to place their ads in a higher quality place, which will perform better. In fact the only people that lose are the companies making 80% margins from their clients!

So, SpotXchange should build these tools, and should help publishers generate higher returns - but, in return, publishers need to invest in their product and improve what they have.

3 Apr 2013

How 3 recent hires defined us as a company

I feel lately that I have been doing nothing but interviewing candidates, bouncing around the US and the UK meeting person after person, finding new talent to come support our growth. There is an argument that says I shouldn't be doing this, I have Leads for all divisions, but to me it is critical to help the team with a sanity check and make sure everyone is the right fit.

Of particular importance to me are our Sales and Client Services teams. These individuals are our brand; the whole experience a lot of our clients have with us as a company is with these people. Not only must they be nothing short of outstanding at what they do, they must also share our core beliefs, and embody those when they meet prospects and clients.

That is an undefinable 'X', nothing that you can communicate to a recruiter, yet is something you know within 60 seconds of meeting anyone. But none of us are perfect, particularly when picking sales people who are trained to convince, and so we back each other up and have multiple interviews before making the decision.

Your mum!
I had a candidate recently ask a lot of questions about our culture and beliefs. I explained our core beliefs, and they then asked a GREAT question:

"Would you let your mum buy a solution from Chango?"

Now my mum doesn't work in marketing, and doesn't really understand what I do, but I understand his point immediately. He was shocked that my resounding and immediate response was 'yes'! With equal passion he said he would not have let his mother buy what they sold at his previous employer, that it was riddled with problems and much, much worse.

This question defines our integrity, and is an example I will use time and time again in interviews to come.

It's real!
Another recent hire came in to help support our Platform Sales team. I had naturally explained our systems during the interview process, (although I didn't lift the skirt completely until they were onboard and signed of course).

So in a demo yesterday I was surprised to hear him exclaim that we actually have a real system! This is an individual though who has been a part of many younger companies, and has been tricked more than once. He explained that he assumed we had 75% of what was described, and if it was more it would have been a bonus, but he assumed everything else was vaporware.

After the demo he was shocked. Having looked at the other major DSPs and DMPs in the industry, he wasn't aware that he was joining a company that has quietly built something that in many areas is more than 12 months ahead of all them. This wasn't a bullshit system, this was really real, and really solving real marketing problems, really :)

Knocking down his 75% thinking defines our attitudes to honesty and innovation.

You're smart!
Finally, another recent hire invited me in to meet with a particular advertiser with whom he had a major, long-standing relationship. She asked us to go in with her and deliver an educational session about view-through, agency< > vendor relationships, and more. There was to be no pitch.

After we left, her reaction was that we really knew what we were talking about, that we had lots of smart people and that we had this great, open attitude to training and teaching - to our clients and to the industry.

This was cemented for me when I spoke at SES NY last week and 3 marketers came up to me with printed versions of our white papers and articles, each saying they had learnt something from our work.

Ensuring we have smart people is fundamental to our success.

So within 3 weeks, these 3 new hires came in, looked around, and helped remind us all that no matter how we grow (700% YOY), no matter how many people come join us, we believe what we believe, and we don't compromise on what defines us - honesty, integrity, innovation, raw smarts,

23 Feb 2013

Amazon solves the local delivery problem with Lockers?

I can't claim this to be breaking news, quite the opposite in fact, but I stumbled across an Amazon Locker in Reading in the UK this week, and it was news to me! The basic idea is great - instead of having a parcel delivered to your house, you have it delivered to a Locker near you. When you are ready, enter the code Amazon sent you, and the right unit opens for you to collect your goods.

You can read more about this service in reviews by Venture Beat and Business Insider, or search for an Amazon Locker near you, here.


BMW mock the UK horsemeat scandal with great ad

I am back in London this week for #SESLON, speaking about retargeting / remarketing, as well as a couple of topics on Programmatic Marketing and Big Data (see 'Why Programmatic Marketing and Big Data Actually Matter' to learn more about these terms).

Anyhow, saw this ad on the back of the newspaper. Right now in England there is a really strange story that horsemeat has been found in most products that said they were actually beef.

The reaction has been predictable - outrage - but it feels like it is not for any rational reason, and more because the media told people they should be outraged. Oh well. There is nothing wrong with horsemeat, and in fact I ate it on more then one occasion whilst in France. A presenter on BBC radio made a very funny comment that 'half the tweets they are getting about the horse meat scandal are outrage, and the other half are from members of the public asking where they can buy horsemeat if it's so damn cheap!'.

Anyway, BMW did a great job of capitalizing on this story, and executed brilliantly with this full-page ad on the back of a newspaper. Tip of the hat to whoever had the idea, and also to BMW for having a working culture that means an idea like this isn't killed in the boardroom, or through procrastination.

20 Feb 2013

Interesting facts about Twitter from presentation at SES London #SESLON


I am in London this week for Chango at #SESLON and went in to listen to the keynote speaker from Twitter before my own presentation. Jotted these facts down, some interesting stuff about what's going on at Twitter. Note that they rightfully picked a UK focus to some of these facts given the audience.

  • Twitter describe themselves as 'the pulse of the planet'
  • Twitter is "the shortest distance between you and what interests you most"
  • 1bn tweets every 2.5 days globally
  • 80% of UK twitter users access via mobile, in US it's 55%
  • 95% of discussion about TV programs takes place on Twitter
  • 60% use Twitter whilst engaging with TV
  • 40% of all Twitter traffic at peak time is about TV
  • During a reality show in the Uk, a contestant called her song #beerfear, and generated 28k tweets in 2 minutes
  • 50% of SuperBowl ads this year had a hashtag in them; Mercedes had a great campaign in October too with a very successful use of the tag #youdrive to promote their campaign
  • Also referenced the Oreo cookie ad during the blackout of the SuperBowl and picked up 14,000 RTs - allowed for an instant ad campaign
  • 140 characters came about because it fit into a single SMS message, now they say it's part of their ethos of constrained publishing
  • The guy who jumped from space for Red Bull had a pedal under his foot allowing him to tweet live during the process
  • Interesting example of how O2 (UK's second largest cell network) are very close to the edge in their social media activities, but are winning big because of this in this specific market http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jul/12/o2-tweets - some of these get 5k retweets
  • Talked about Amex Sync as a way to 'reduce the friction to buy things'
  • Discussed how businesses can use their ad platform by conquesting followers of your competitors
  • O2 link their cell accounts to users' twitter accounts allowing them to measure LTV (life time value), but Twitter don't know what that data shows as of yet
  • Photos are RT'ed more than videos, or anything else
  • Audience member challenged speaker that Twitter has become less democratic, and is now brand safe to support their ad business, example was recent Burger King incident. Twitter responded very well saying that advertising is important to them and say they have taken steps to be more brand safe, but remain open.

4 Jan 2013

I almost vomited on a prospect yesterday #MediaSales

Was with a great prospective client yesterday, talking about something that I really want to get done with them, and showing a new sales guy the ropes. It was certainly a meeting that I wanted to go well :)

So 2 hours before the pitch starts I fly in and meet my new colleague for lunch. Seems a good place, I have what seems like a quality burger and all seems well. We work from the restaurant for another hour and head over to the meeting.

On the walk I start to get the sweats, the stomach is spinning like a washing machine and the world is being very annoying by making straight lines bend at random moments. The sidewalk just won't lie still damn it, it's about a billion degrees in the Seattle January, and I feel I am going to see my lunch again.

We meet and greet and make smalltalk with the client whilst waiting for their colleagues to vacate the conference room. I had to excuse myself and make the sickliest sweet coffee I have ever drunk - if I had put a straw in it, it would have stood up straight and stayed there! I notice their office is somewhat annoying as it is spinning around and around and around and I just wish they would switch it off.

I made the decision to stay, but politely told the prospect I felt terrible, had suspected food poisoning etc, and that please don't feel me rude if I get up and leave suddenly. We begin, and I am clenching everything I have got. The clients are super cool, really intelligent and hit me with interesting questions, which always makes this more fun, but there were a few that I barely heard and can't quite remember what my answers were. As I launch into the closing statements, the adrenalin is seeing me through, my stomach is under strictest orders not to show everyone what the offending meal consisted of and I haven't burped at them once.

90 minutes flies by, as do the walls and the empty chairs, and I walk out proudly keeping my "never vomited or pooped in a client's conference room" scout badge intact.

#MediaSales

19 Dec 2012

Big news - Chango gets direct Facebook access, brings search to social

Big news over at Chango towers this morning! Thanks to us being the 2nd largest source of search data in the US, with more data than Yahoo! or Bing in a month, advertisers can now target facebook users based on their searches on those engines, but within the Facebook environment.

Unlike Facebook Marketplace ads, the Facebook Exchange (FBX) ads do not use any data from an individuals user profile, and instead the advertiser must bring their own data to determine who to target and at what value. Our clients use us primarily for prospecting, and what better combination for that than crazy strong search intent data, and the media opportunity that FBX represents.

Further, we have a number of extremely large publisher clients that utilize our platform directly to monetize their own inventory and / or data, and they can now extend their campaigns across FBX on behalf of their advertisers. As the only platform that combines a DSP and DMP with real-time targeting, (a Programmatic Marketing Platform) our clients will be using search data that is just seconds old when making these purchasing decisions.

FBX represents a challenge for some advertisers in that their preferred ad format is not a standard IAB unit, and so many advertisers simply don't have access to appropriate units ready to go. As a result we have had to add a full-service creative production team to our arsenal, and will now produce the required units for our clients. It isn't a difficult thing to do, but makes a big difference for those clients who wouldn't ordinarily have the resources to make this happen.

And thanks to their new View Tags offering, advertisers can track how their campaigns are performing - they won't be able to serve the ads with their preferred ad server yet, but they can at least piggyback a conversion pixel and track conversions.


9 Dec 2012

Wow, so the 'Kessler Effect' is pretty damn serious!

I write mostly about advertising, and occasionally science & technology when it relates to new developments such as 3D printing and Augmented Reality. And this stuff is really, really cool, and we presume with little doubt that it will emerge one day. Just look at the film Minority Report and how futuristic it was back in 2002, but yet in 10 short years, most of that technology is real today.

Most of these new technologies rely on a backbone of communication which includes a need for satellites - a lot of them. And that's not a problem right? They are so easy to build now that amateurs have started to do so, and find ways to launch them into low orbit.

Well, the Kessler Effect (or Kessler Syndrome) might change your thinking. It was proposed by Donald J. Kessler back in 1978 whilst he was a scientist at NASA. In brief, the Kessler Effect says that there will be so much 'stuff' up in orbit that eventually collisions will start to occur, and those will cause more 'stuff' to be in orbit, which will lead to more collisions...


The opposing theory of there being so much space that collisions are extremely unlikely, is now looking pretty weak when you start to look at maps that track all the satellites - and garbage - that floats around in our 'little' orbit. It is reported by the United States Space Surveillance Network (SSN) that there are some 3,000 satellites orbiting the Earth today, and a further 5,000 other man made objects (mostly garbage leftover from our space activities) up there too - and that's only the stuff over 4 inches in size!

A tiny piece of junk travelling at 20,000 MPH could destroy a satellite or the International Space Station (ISS) quite easily, or certainly puncture a hole big enough to give astronauts serious worries. And in fact, the SSN has tracked nearly 25,000 pieces of debris in its time, with most now having burnt up in the atmosphere, or fallen to Earth.

What made this all very real for me was a trip to the Science Museum in London with my kids. They were watching a video of satellites orbiting the Earth and simply couldn't believe it; and I don't blame them, if you do get to see it, it is quite astonishing what we have done in the short 60 years since Russia launched the first Sputnik.

And so I started to look into this problem, and discovered that Kessler was quite right. In February 2009, two satellites collided at over 24,000 MPH. One was an active communications device, and the other a defunct Russian Space Forces unit, deactivated back in 1995. Of deep concern is the report from SSN that over 2,000 pieces of additional space debris measuring over 4 inches were created from the impact, and a countless number of smaller pieces.

Without wanting to sound alarmist, all of those pieces are now also in orbit ready to cause the next collision, which in turn will create thousands more pieces of debris, which in turn... will prove Kessler right.

All this debris causes real concern. Space launches have to be planned around it, satellites maneuvered to avoid it, and in March of this year, one large piece caused the residents of the ISS to take shelter in their escape pod until it had passed. And we are talking about objects 4 inches small that is thousands of miles away and happen to be moving at incredible speeds, and so accurate tracking is almost impossible. Indeed, it was estimated that the two satellites in 2009 that collided would actually miss each other by 584 metres!

Some scientists are concerned that Kessler will be proved right on a grand scale, and that we will have so much debris in space soon that we will be limited in the number of satellites we can use successfully, and that manned space missions may be cancelled for several generations whilst we wait for all that garbage to burn up.

Why the sky is dark at night... it's not what you think

In honor of the recent passing of Sir Patrick Moore (at 89 years old), I bring you a great little animation as to why the sky is dark at night. Worth watching (and sharing with your children), and I bet it is not what you expected.


R.I.P. Sit Patrick Moore

Amazing guy, incredible scientist. One of the reasons I chose science for my degree. Will be missed.


7 Dec 2012

Hilarious video - ad sales versus ad buying

A comedy routine from an ex-agency guy, now on the ad sales side. LOVE this :) Great job Tony!

"The bagels! The bagels! I don't even eat the bagels, I just look at them. I take them to the break room and feed my minions!"

"Why won't you respond to me - I got notebooks, I got pens with our logo on them."


How Michelangelo explained the digital ad industry


There is a beautifully romantic quote from Michelangelo, dating back to the early 16th Century. When asked about how he creates his masterpieces he responded:

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."


Wow, he was good wasn't he :)  Rolling forward 5 centuries, earlier this week I was back at the 4 day iMedia Agency Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, an unquestionably fun and useful event, which had many highlights, but hijacking a golf cart in the middle of the night was a new experience for me!

Anyway, I was sat listening to another digital media company pitch their solutions, and the Michelangelo quote came to mind. Just as he began with the block of marble and saw the angel within it, we do something similar in digital media (although admittedly less beautiful!). We all start with the total US population and chisel away until we are left with the audience that we envisaged. For Chango, that vision is determined by search data, but others use social, contextual or behavioral data for theirs.

Therefore, the question for the media buyer is who's vision of the angel is more beautiful?

Don't miss our webinar on the 17th December - 'Retargeting is not what you think!'

Come along and listen to retargeting in a British accent :)

Click here to register now.

Why FBX could force agencies to break the single ad server model

With FBX rumored to be in 'advanced talks' to acquire the Atlas ad server from Microsoft, and AppNexus supposedly out of the running, could operational pressures force agencies into using multiple ad servers?

The first consideration is the power that FBX would wield - 'if you want to play with us, then you have to use our toys'. Possible, but unlikely. Facebook wants revenue, and lots of it, and isolating big parts of the market is not the way to go about it.

Instead we need to look at why ad servers existed at all - 3rd party verification that you are getting the number of impressions you paid for, easy campaign management and easy creative management. Holding on to these benefits would only occur if you ran all your media buys through one platform - and if you want to include FBX in the buy then that platform has to be Atlas.

And if we look into the near future, the pressure increases. I talk to many CMOs who say they are finally getting to grips with attribution modeling, and beginning to understand media in a more holistic fashion. Given display should always be measured by impressions, not clicks, including the impression-level data from their ad server is critical. Currently the FBX View Tag allows for conversions to be tracked with Dart or Atlas tags, but not impressions. If FBX does buy Atlas, and allows full impression tracking, Atlas could become the needed platform for attribution.

Some of these problems can be solved of course by getting impression-level data from two ad servers, making sure it's time-stamped and then blending the data together. For some that might be enough, but if you are contemplating this path, know you are in for a world of pain caused by a cookie loss of up to 40% when trying to bridge all the systems, and just the sheer logistics of trying to make this data actionable and meaningful.

So Atlas is looking quite good right? It is a second place technology, good heritage, has benefitted from being a SaaS product inside a reputable software development shop, is the same price and it can do the job...

Well Dart agencies will disagree; they will tell you about speed and capability, and many love the tight integration into the Google technology / media stack. They will talk about the headache of retraining, as well losing lots of historical data.... there are in fact lots of reasons, I don't need to go on - it's highly unlikely FBX acquiring Atlas could force a rush from DoubleClick on its own.

More likely, we will see agencies using both platforms and dealing with the consequences. And if that happens, it creates two intriguing situation:

1. It puts FBX in a bucket all by itself. Marketers are telling me they don't know what to do with FBX - on the one hand it's just another source of exchange / RTB inventory and some feel it should be treated that way. Many are uncertain though; they get hung up on this being in a social environment and question what team should manage if, how consumers will react and how it should be measured. They aren't wrong in my opinion, there are lots of questions that need monitoring. But for certain, if they force a connection to Atlas, and Dart users start to feel like the ugly sibling, then immediately FBX is forced into being 'something different'.

2. It might force agencies to move away from last-click attribution, something I would be delighted to see!! If everything can't run through one ad server any more then last-click or last-touch attribution has to go away, and a more sophisticated model has to emerge. Woo hoo! Perhaps no more site retargeting credit for everything... :)

So my prediction, if the acquisition occurs, is that it will be a good time to be an Atlas sales rep, they will pick up some agencies who shift completely, but certainly get a lot of new accounts, but all spending on FBX only.

One question remains for me. The reports say that this acquisition would be to help Facebook create an off-site network - why buy an ad server and not a DSP, or better still, a Programmatic Marketing Platform?


26 Nov 2012

We are a technology company - but with 3 major BS-free differences

Declaring one's self as a technology company feels somewhat dirty in the digital media space, mostly because the primary audience, media planners, don't really care. What they want is a solution that works, no fluff, no bloated feature set and certainly no bullshit. And as an industry, what a lot of bullshit we create! We seem to have algorithms for everything today, competitions about how many petabytes of data we process and a long, long string of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) to drown any meaningful message. It's a noisy space that only those who are deep within it can listen to with any level of comprehension.

And so as a company, we built solutions. Sure, 75% of our company has always been engineering and R&D, but it is the Solutions we presented to the market. And it serves us very, very well. A Solution speaks to a problem and is therefore easy to buy. We started by first solving PROSPECTING by reinventing Search Retargeting, taking a good idea and actually making it work. We built the real technology rather than relying on the vaporware of others, actually finding ways to process more search events in a month than Yahoo! and Bing combined, not faking some contextual targeting system (which would have been a lot, lot easier!). And when scale became an issue, we built more technology to find more data, instead of filling our campaigns with site retargeting for extra impressions. That matters when the buyers get savvy and start questioning exactly what sits behind the companies that call themselves our competitors.

With our technology expansion, our client's grew and grew and become engaged with us in ways that we couldn't have predicted. Trading desks at holding companies who had previously told us they would only buy our data (not bundled with the media) came knocking, realizing what a difference all that technology meant. We had quietly been building the most granular, scalable and flexible media management and buying platform in the world, and as others start to talk about the future of 'Programmatic Marketing', we look into our history and see we created that some time ago.

Programmatic is not a bullshit term, it is real and perhaps what we have always been waiting for in digital media buying; it delivers in part on the early promises of complete control and almost non-existent wastage. In brief, Programmatic allows marketers to discover more data (or big data as people like to call it today) and make it actionable for marketing purposes in a manageable way. Just understanding it can be tricky, using it can be even more so. You can't deliver on the promise of 'programmatic' with a generic DSP or DMP, it is a foundational approach that had to have been planned for.

We had to plan for this - we wanted to get Search Retargeting right, which is only possible when you combine 7+ billion search events a month with 400k QPS (sorry, acronym) and thousands of keywords from our clients. You can't do that sitting on top of someone else's technology, and you certainly can't do it by combining one company's DSP with the DMP of another. We talk to CMOs every week who have tried that approach and they talk about cookie loss of up to 40%, a lack of control, and data that is frequently 24 hours out of date.

When we realized we had accomplished the goal of solving Programmatic, we turned that power to fixing the broken model of site retargeting. (YAWN) Yeah I know, site retargeting again. That's what we thought, until one smart client challenged us to make it better. So we did, and the second problem we solved was the efficient generation of CONVERSIONS by targeting existing site visitors and customers. We call it Programmatic SIte Retargeting because it uses more data (or big data if you prefer) to remove the bloated wastage typically found in such programs. We don't just show customized ads to individuals who have browsed certain products, we actually process all the data we can in real-time and determine if to target that person, and at what price. As an example, for a home supply company, we care more about the Friday PM visitor searching for a new kitchen, than the Sunday AM visitor looking for tips on how to hang wallpaper. It just makes sense.

And then along came our big announcement last week of our $12m in funding. We are going to use that money in part to hire even more engineers to solve more problems using our Programmatic approach. The next to market is Programmatic Social, already getting a lot of traction, (but if you are not a client, you will have to wait a little longer for the details).

What about those 3 major differences? Hopefully they are obvious now, but if not:

1. We don't speak bullshit. Sure you will catch us using the acronyms of the industry, and I challenge anyone to a TLA throw down, but generally speaking, our clients love us because we keep it simple yet smart.

2. We provide solutions. No matter how much technology we build, we will always wrap it in a nice cuddly, warm blanket of service loveliness for those that want it. We don't just have people disguised as AMs who are actually optimizers, we have real marketers or agency folks who are incentivized by your success and happiness, and they sit in an entirely different group to the optimizers who are looking after your campaigns day to day. Sure we may have this big engine powering pixels on your behalf, but all you need to know is that we will be solving the problems you task us with. Oh, and you can come see the engine itself too if you wish!

3. We innovate. This is not our first rodeo. We have over 100 years experience in digital technology / media in the management team alone. As a group we have coded the world's first virtual fish tank, created the world's first free ISP, redefined media buying with a Performance approach and built one of the first ever social platforms before social was a 'thing'. We have backers that have seen more than most of us ever will, clients that trust us and challenge us equally and a team that cases for success more than any other business I have been involved in. We don't rest on putting together systems using others work, we build from scratch wherever we can, throwing out old ways of thinking and creating something that is better. 

Right now, Chango is known primarily for Search Retargeting, but for the handful of top 50 web properties that have turned to us for our Programmatic Marketing Platform to power their buying and big data, we are known as the very backbone for the next ten years of their business. 

21 Nov 2012

Sneak peak - PanelTalks beta

Several of you have been asking about PanelTalks, a new blog / site I have created for discussion and debate. It began as a simple idea to promote some white papers I had written, and to support some of the speaking gigs I do. When I began to put it together there was a lot of interest from others and so later this week, PanelTalks comes out of alpha and into beta testing.

The idea is simple and familiar. There will be a Moderator and 2 to 5 panelists. The Moderator proposes a topics with questions, and the Panelists respond in turn. Visitos to the site can comment openly, but also rate the Panelists for the quality of their responses.

Watch out for the site later this week, and fill in the form on the homepage to request a Speaker account.

"2LO calling" - the moment BBC radio went live 90 years ago

I just listened to a very special podcast by BBC Radio 2, hosted by veteran broadcaster, Simon Mayo - and with all honesty and pride, I can tell you that the hairs are standing right up on the back of my neck and the chills are running down my spine.

90 years ago on the 14th November 1922, BBC radio was born. The first message was transmitted from an amazing and groundbreaking piece of technology called 2LO (pictured here). On that day, London received a single radio signal, followed the next day by a transmission to the whole of the UK.

In the podcast they play a modern day mashup recording to celebrate the moment, and it includes the original bongs of Big Ben, as well as the infamous words "This is 2LO, the London station of the British Broadcasting Company calling. 2LO calling." During the broadcast of 14th November 2012, Simon Mayo noted that "for the first time in the BBCs history, all its radio stations are joining together to broadcast the same thing at the same time."

Wow. Just think about how far we have come in terms of technology in those short 90 years. Today BBC radio is broadcast in 27 languages on FM, AM, MW, DAB and streamed live online. For many ex-Empire countries, and beyond, it is the single voice they hear in a day, it is their image and connection to Great Britain and often the way individuals first learn English.

We may have gadgets like iPads today, but radio remains a critical and enjoyable part of millions of people's lives, and it is worth pausing to listen to this broadcast and hear how it all started.

How Winston Churchill Solved the View-Thru Attribution Argument


View-through attribution modeling is probably the one topic I am asked to speak about at events or with clients the most. It is distrusted, misunderstood and confusing, yet is CRITICAL for all forms of advertising.

In my white paper 'view-thru attribution exposed: what last touch isn't telling you', I explained that:

The primary argument against VT is that there is no correlation between the ad- vertisment that ran and the action that took place. Even if the pixel fired and the user was cookied, a different ad that generated a click was responsible for that conversion. in short, a lack of clear measurement drives the lack of a clear answer. 
I actually think it goes further than that, and includes questionable tactics in use by media owners who are trying to inflate their real value, and given that occurs, I sympathize with the marketer who is being encouraged to give credit for it.

And went on to discuss how cookie-stuffing, a lack of true attribution modeling and unrealistic measurement windows have contributed to this problem.

But the reality, as demonstrated in the paper, is that not only is VTa valid metric, it is the only metric that makes sense for digital display, given that the click is proved to be irrelevant!

Recently I have been mis-quoting the film Indecent Proposal to help address this problem, and it turns out it was actually Winston Churchill! Easy mistake - Churchill / Demi Moore - Demi Moore / Churchill... give a guy a break!

Anyway, what Winston Churchill did was offer a woman a large amount of money to have sex with him, to which she agreed.

He then asked if she would have sex with him for $20. She responded, "What do you think I am, a prostitute?"

"Ma'am, we've already established that you are a prostitute. Now we are just negotiating the price." Bam!

So when a marketer tells me they don't believe in VT at all, I usually respond that I agree that 100% credit would be false, and that we accept other forms of advertising and simple brand equity will be at play too.

But likewise, 0% VT would also be incorrect because we know advertising can influence an individual, otherwise why are they investing in it at all?

So, now we have established what sort of measurement the marketer should use, it's simply a case of bartering on the % credit.

And that's how Winston Churchill, not Demi Moore, solved the problem of View-Through.

3D Printing Comes to a NY Store


Wow, there seems to be no stopping 3D printing these days. I LOVE this as a technology, and really believe it will change the world in ways you can't even imagine. And now MakerBot has opened a NY store, complete with a photo booth that will print your own face!

In a recent piece I wrote for Huffington Post ('Need a New Liver? Just 3-D Print One!'), check out how companies are using printers for just about everything, including a model of your unborn fetus!

Facebook View Tags - the Emperor and his new tags?

Knock knock
>Who's there?
>> View Tag
>>>View Tag who?
>>>Wait... you're not a view tag!

That might be lamest joke I, or anyone has ever written! My 3 daughters (who are 9,9 and 6) can and will do better than that on a regular basis. My favorite of theirs right now is 'why was the broom late for work? - Because it over swept' :) Now that's funny.

To justify my crappy joke, I am going to pretend I was being clever and wanted to make a point about how equally lame our industry is being about Facebook's new View Tag.

The general idea of the tag is to be able to see and measure the conversions that place after an ad has been shown to an individual, but who did not click on the ad itself. Wow, what an invention!!

Really?

Because it sounds exactly like the concept of view-thru / post-impression tracking that has been occurring within display advertising almost since its inception. It baffles me why blogs like AllFacebook are seeing this as such a revolution when it is more a case of Facebook playing catchup. As an industry we are delighted this is happening because Facebook will add weight to the argument about the validity of view-thru as the real metric for digital media, one that I care a lot about:


If you are new to this concept, I strongly suggest you read the white paper listed above because we cover a lot of the basics you need to know. But the headlines to catch you up are that the click means nothing in digital display, we can and should track the impact of simply exposing an individual to an ad, and we can do that with very standard tools (including DoubleClick, Atlas etc).

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that Facebook are doing this, it's really important for FBX, it is the coverage from the industry that is screwed up.

As Youna on my San Francisco team just stated - "it's when pie-a-la-mode is better than pie with ice cream". Indeed.

-----

Additional thought. Having read a lot of the comments about their new View Tags, it seems Facebook will be taking the shit from marketers and consumers that don't understand what VT is at all. Comments like 'facebook are now going to claim that even without a click, their ads have value, just won't fly' are going to be common. As a regular speaker on the subject I sympathize with their PR team who is going to have wade through this garbage and try and educate the market about what advertising is, and then why this isn't some sort of con!