The future of media sees agency become technology advisor

Personalisation, mobile and location-based targeting were the big themes to come front the showcase of emerging media that is mLab, while the role of media agency as educator and technology advisor becomes clear. 


In its second year, the annual mLab event has fast become a key education piece through which GroupM agencies inspire and inform clients on digital media channel choices.

At Thursday’s session, MediaCom clients were presented with a taste for the possible ways their brands can connect with consumers, but also which are realistic potential choices today.

With clients exposed to just a taste of the plethora of digital options, the role of media agency as educator and technology advisor becomes clear.


Media agency as technology advisor

That education, and at a hands-on level, is the impetus for the event, says Geoff Clarke, MediaCom’s NSW managing director: “MediaCom and GroupM collectively put this on because the landscape of media and the way consumers are interacting in their own worlds has radically changed.

“Now that’s a cliché, yes, but at the end of the day there are very few events put on where we can put clients face-to-face with the technology that can influence their marketing plans,” Clarke says.

The importance of an advisory role is highlighted by the fact that, in some ways, every marketing decision today is an IT decision, says Joshua Rex, MediaCom’s head of digital: “It’s both an opportunity and a challenge that we face. There’s no doubt digital has led to a proliferation in the number of ways we can connect with audiences, so technology, like it or hate it, is at the heart of communication today.

“A lot of what vendors are presenting [at mLab] are ways in which content or communications can be delivered to audiences in a seamless way, in a non-interruptive fashion, and I think that’s the opportunity technology has: to better personalise content and deliver it in a way that is more in line with our day to day habits and, quite frankly, in a less disruptive fashion,” Rex says.

But growth in digital choices isn’t necessarily at the expense of those that already exist. Clarke says traditional channels and traditional ways of communicating are still going to be central to a media agency’s role: “I don’t think anyone is proposing that we walk away from such platforms as television because television reaches so many people, and their relationship with that medium is always going to be very, very strong. What we’re ultimately saying is that system is getting more complex so the way clients have to spend their money is becoming more complex.

“Things like mass personalisation are going to become even more important, as marketers have a limited investment they are allocated each year so every single dollar they spend needs to be spent attracting and targeting that consumer.

“In a way we are technology consultants, because there’s so much technology out there, the skill sets we’re bringing in to the media communications business now is very different to what we didi a few years ago. But with all that technology out there it is our job to digest what that is. Is there a real benefit for our client, and then advising them – ‘This looks sexy but isn’t going to deliver you any value,’ or ‘This platform over here is going to make a real difference.

“The beauty of it is that of all these technology choices out there, one piece might not work for one client, but is certainly going to work for another client. We’re very much able to decide with our clients together, what piece of technology is going to work and what piece of technology is not.

“So in a way, yes, we are technology consultants. That’s one small aspect of everything we do for our clients.”

One such client is Westpac, a relationship which Karen Ganschow, the bank’s general manager of customer relationship marketing, describes as very much a partnership. “We now put everything through MediaCom, from TV, outdoor, search, display, performance display, to social media buys.

“The whole point is that we want them to help us understand this exploding ecosystem and work with us on emerging pilots and tests with new platforms, while we make sure that what we know works continues to work.”


Highlights from the floor

Some of the new tech that could be piloted by brands was on display by the media owners and technology start-ups showcased at mLab. Below is a summary of what was on show.


Shazam’s call for silence

Finding fame as an app for identifying music, Shazam’s role as a platform for brands to leverage evolved first through Shazam-able TVCs, presenting users with brand content and offers.

It currently reports 2.5 million users in Australia.

The next pitch from the platform is for marketers to make their physical environments Shazam-able. In practice, that means filling a retail store or otherwise branded environment with ultrasonic sounds, allowing visitors to use the Shazam app to link through to content. Mobile. Location.


SCA’s connected car

Digital radio means an IP address. And that means data. Digital radio through a car’s on-board computer means data ranging from location to social logins, profile pics and interests, and more. The 17-inch touchscreen of the Tesla on display in Southern Cross Austereo’s exhibit hammered the point home that the automobile is going to be the next major personal computing device.

On display was advanced geo-location and mapping tools, including a real-time visualisation of digital radio listeners on the network. SCA’s ‘InStream’ product can allow advertisers to target the audiences of broadcast radio with contextual and personalised advertisements. Mobile. Location. Personalisation.


Pandora’s Music Genome Project

Since its 2000 launch, Pandora has been working on what it calls the ‘Music Genome Project’. In effect, that means analysing, categorising and tagging every song based on dozens of factors.

In Australia, it now reports two million users.

The next big opportunity here for Pandora, and for brands is, again, the automobile: where the majority of people’s passive listening takes place.

And, in case you were wondering, Pandora is very different to Spotify, a point its MD Jane Huxley made sure to reinforce. Where Spotify is a streaming music library that a more advanced music lover peruses and selects from, Pandora is internet radio, which a passive music listener turns on and receives whatever music the Genome Project calculates he or she will like.


News Corp goes sideways

Or, rather, its audience consumes content sideways. ‘The Sideways Experience’ is News Corp’s way of saying that readers/listeners/viewers don’t consumer a newspaper/TV show/YouTube clip from cover to cover, start to finish, but come to it from various angles, such as reading an article on a site they’d never visit directly through social links, or watching a TV show in the evening that they’d teed up from their mobile phone in the coffee queue that morning.

What that means for New Corp’s pitch to advertisers is social and mobile content experiences that look and feel like the social network from which they’ve come, location-based analytics and Wi-Fi serving of stackable content that can link to local mobile commerce interactions, as well as push notifications of content via the tablet and smartphone apps of the company’s mastheads.


Australia third most creative country in world: Gunn Report

Australia is the third most creative country in the world, according to the 2012 Gunn Report.

The global evaluation of media creativity, which combines winners lists from the world’s biggest award contests, named Australia third on the list of most awarded countries behind the US and UK.

It was the best result in the report’s nine-year history for Australian agencies, helped by DDB Sydney’s Volkswagen Park Assist ‘Nightmare Spots’ campaign and Clemenger BBDO/Proximity Melbourne ‘Break Up’ for National Australia Bank which won category awards.

OMD was named the most creative agency network of the year maintaining its unbroken reign as ‘Agency Network of the Year’. MindShare placed second while Starcom ranked third. GroupM, owned by WPP, took out ‘Holding Company of the Year’, followed by Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Groupe.

Coca-Cola was named ‘Advertiser of the Year’ followed by McDonald’s and Ikea.

Editor of the report, Isabelle Musnik, says innovation and creativity are the future of the industry. “The context in which marketing is taking place has changed dramatically these past years,” Musnik explains.

“At a time of increasing difficult economic climate in the world, and in a world where consumers are increasingly unpredictable and exert more control over the messages they receive, media innovation and creativity are keys to brand success.”

The report also ranked campaigns which won awards in four or more regional or global festivals, naming no outright winner but mentioning the following campaigns for their creativity, innovation and results.

  • Daimler AG – ‘Smart Eball’
  • Engagement Citoyen – ‘The Return of Dictator Ben Ali’
  • Google – ‘Google Voice Search’
  • McDonald’s – ‘Coin Hunting’
  • Pepsi – ‘Bottle Light’
  • – ‘Make the Politicians Work’

Launched in 2004 The Gunn Report of Media is the only global ‘league table’ for the communications industry.


The future of online advertising: part 4 – DSPs and publishers

In this instalment of Marketing’s serial feature exploring the world of automated trading, we look at how publishers can benefit from data-driven ad trading, what it means for their sales staff and why they’re hesitant to get involved.

Before delving into this instalment, we highly recommend reading Part One (or at least the glossary of terms at the end). Also recommended: Part Two, on DSPs and marketers, and Part Three, focusing on media agencies.


As automated trading through real-time bidding technologies emerges as an efficient method of buying online advertising space for marketers and media agencies the world over, on the other side of the equation sits another party for which this growing trend will have significant implications: publishers. One of the apparent contradictions of real-time bidding is that as advertisers sit on one side of the equation employing algorithms in order to increase buying efficiency, on the other side sit publishers, who (obviously) want to maximise the value of their inventory.

But this contradiction doesn’t take into account factors such as campaign performance and wastage. Depending on the targeting, response rates and conversions, when marketers do this well, large improvements in campaign performance can be achieved. A smaller buy can achieve the same result as one five times its size, says Stuart Spiteri, chief operating officer of News Digital Media.

“This is where publishers start to get a little cautious,” he says, “because there is a decline in the volume that may be purchased, but there should be an increase in yield, if it’s done properly.”

Part of doing it properly means using data. Instead of selling an audience on its size and generalised profile, yield can be maintained and increased in an automated environment by wrapping each impression in information, such as intent to purchase (a car, a skirt or a home loan).

Marc Barnett, general manager of the Microsoft Media Network and Microsoft Ad Exchange for Mi9, agrees that a lot of the fear is ungrounded, but he can understand the apprehension. “The last thing you would want to do if you weren’t 100% sure and you didn’t own the technology is give a whole bunch of your inventory to a third party supplier who then goes and sells it at 10% of the price, exposes URLs and brings your premium business crashing down.”

The issue is one of control. Publishers may feel that allowing their inventory to be traded automatically means giving up control over which ad space is sold to whom and for how much. Another issue that must be addressed is data leakage, where sensitive information such as pricing policies can become exposed during auctions. To keep the risk low, publishers have the option to experiment before diving in.

“You can put just certain sections of your inventory in; you can have a certain level of transparency or no transparency. You can set up private exchanges, so that only certain agencies or advertisers can access that inventory with different price floors and buying rules,” says Barnett.

Publisher power

In the world of real-time bidding, the opportunity for large, horizontally integrated publishers lies in selling their audience with the knowledge of its behaviour across multiple online properties. A publisher with an automotive site, a careers site and a real estate site can, for example, know a great deal of information about

a visitor, tracked via a cookie: what type of car they’re interested in, their income level, how many children they have. Every page visited adds another piece to that user’s profile. The more complete the profile, the more valuable that user becomes to advertisers. “Volvo will always want to find somebody who is interested in a car who is a parent, because that is a brand attribute of Volvo owners who are concerned about child safety, for example,” says Spiteri. “So you can start to see that you can then turn that around to Volvo and say, ‘All day long, we’ll find those people for you across a stable of digital properties.’”

Imagine that across a portfolio comprising dozens of websites.

For independent specialist sites, it’s a bit harder. Their audience’s interests are apparent – a finance site can get a fairly high yield already by working directly with advertisers who want that audience. The site’s sales director must manage a balancing act, deciding which inventory it sells directly to advertisers and which it allows to be traded through an automated trading hub.

As one of a small number of major publishers in Australia, News Digital Media is cautiously exploring ways to participate. On the other hand, Mi9’s position is clear. “We are making all of our inventory available through the exchange. Anything that is not sold on a premium basis by our advertising team is made available in the exchange for everyone to bid on,” Barnett says. Of course, Mi9 owns and has developed the Microsoft Ad Exchange, so it knows what goes on behind the scenes, and as a matter of confidence must back itself.

Mi9’s invitation to other ‘premium’ publishers to join its exchange puts it in competition with Google, which owns the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. There are no restrictions around reputability, size or traffic, so blogs and other very small publishers can make their ad space available.

Is the choice for Australian publishers, therefore, really as simple as ‘Mi9 or Google’? It is true they are the only two exchanges in the country, and in this market the chance of someone else taking the time, effort and money to build a competing exchange seems low. But publishers don’t have to deal directly with exchanges.

The supply-side platform

A supply-side platform (SSP, sometimes ‘sell-side platform’) adds a layer in front of the publisher, allowing it to connect to multiple sources of demand, and optimises yields in order to maximise revenue for that publisher’s digital media. It executes the rules a publisher has about what it wants to sell, to whom and for how much, across all sources of demand, whether that be the real-time bidding in an exchange, or the more ‘traditional’ automated trading through an ad network.

Google’s SSP, Admeld, was purchased for an estimated US$400 million last year, adding to its growing array of offerings in every part of the automated trading set-up. From the sell side through the exchange to the buy side, Google wants to own a piece of every part of the chain.

Conflicts of interest are something publishers should be concerned about, says Jay Stevens, vice president and general manager, international for the Rubicon Project, a leading supply-side platform that executes more than four billion ad trades every day, primarily for comScore 500 publishers (the biggest of the big online). Stevens questions Google’s transparency and independence in light of the fact it acts as both the seller and buyer, but doesn’t buy Britt’s suggestion that Mi9 is the saviour.

“Publishers don’t have to choose the lesser of two evils; there are independent solutions in the marketplace that can provide that level of security and safety for their data and information and pricing intelligence,” he says.

As always, the question of whether a publisher engages an SSP middleman is one of value. “The question for publishers is: by passing my inventory through a sell-side platform with them taking a small clip of the ticket, do they add enough value where I make more money by dealing through them than dealing direct?,” Barnett says.

Death of the salesman?

The immediate answer to whether or not online media salespeople should be worried that algorithms are taking over their jobs is ‘no’. Automated trading is only concerned with remnant, or non-guaranteed, inventory: that which isn’t sold by a publisher’s sales team. Therefore, one of the immediate benefits automation brings to a publisher’s direct sales force is a reduction in time spent on less valuable areas.

To Kunze, Google’s director of publisher monetisation for the JAPAC region, automated trading takes away some of the pain that goes with a publisher’s unsold inventory. “The great thing about automated selling and buying is that this actually frees up resources for the publishers to focus on higher yield campaigns like sponsorships and homepage sales,” he says.

Stevens believes this has significant implications for revenue. “Publishers’ direct sales have grown substantially [with automation], as they have essentially allowed their sales people to be more creative and go out there and think about big creative sponsorships, rather than chasing down a minor insertion order on a website campaign,” he notes. “That’s important.”

Just as roles for those in marketing departments and media agencies are changing to remain up to speed with data-driven advertising, publisher sales forces need to evolve, too.

“It was purely a relationship game a few years ago,” says Barnett. “The best salespeople were the ones that can build the best relationships, but you need to have more than that now. You need to have relationship skills, as well as data and intelligence skills and understanding of systems that allow you to talk a different lingo when you’re in market.”

Spiteri expands: “The sales teams of the past were able to talk about ad servers, ad formats and so forth, but they were not comfortable talking about technology as a platform, whereas what you’re seeing now is that a commercial director of a large publisher would have to be coherent and competent in a whole bunch of technologies.”

Changes in competencies and business processes will occur because yield management is not a spreadsheet issue, Spiteri explains, but rather an application management issue, and business rules, and salespeople, must evolve to work with yield management platforms that respond to what they’re learning in the market.

The future is data

Mi9’s sales pitch to advertisers includes its access to data on users’ lifestyles and interests through its network’s dozens of sites, their purchase intent data from ecommerce and product comparison sites and the demographic information of eight million Windows Live IDs. (As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, or a free Hotmail, Gmail or Facebook account.)

For Australia’s real-time bidding scene, developing a third party data market is the next big step towards growth. “If you think about the fact that we pass very little information back through the exchange, for advertisers to view that inventory as valuable and useful and pay more for it, they will need to have considerable third party data assets on their side to be able to make informed decisions about that inventory,” says Barnett.

While a publisher can choose not to pass any identifying information about a website to potential buyers, as Mi9 is doing, information about the user/IP address/cookie is where the power lies, as that drives up price for the publisher and effectiveness for the advertiser. It’s therefore in both the seller and buyer’s best interests to gather as much data as possible.

Spiteri looks at the bigger picture. “I think if I had to choose a career that wasn’t in that media, I’d be going into data myself,” he says. “It’s the future, not just for digital marketing… data is being realised as a core asset of enterprise.”

He cites Coles’ recent relaunch of its FlyBuys program. Beneath all the discounts and loyalty prizes, the unpromoted underbelly of rewards programs is all about capturing customer data. Knowing who your customers are, what they like, what they don’t like and where they live is invaluable in terms of generating foot fall and purchases by presenting the right offer to the right consumer in the right place at the right time.

“Data is a real world phenomenon, and I think it’s mainstream now,” Spiteri says. “It doesn’t always have to be personal, it can be anonymous, but data is the future. There is no doubt about it.”


And if you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading Part One (or at least the glossary of terms at the end), Part Two, on DSPs and marketers and Part Three, focusing on media agencies.



Marketing Extra

The battle of the ad exchanges – Google vs. Mi9

“Google is the Death Star. They’re commoditising context. They do not believe in the value of brand… Publishers will soon have to pick a side: the Death Star or the Rebel Alliance.”

So said Mark Britt, CEO of Mi9, the trade brand of the ninemsn partnership between Nine Entertainment Co and Microsoft. He was speaking at the Ad Trading Summit in Sydney, funnily enough in the building that is Google’s Australian headquarters.

Mi9’s invitation to Australia’s other publishers to make their inventory available through its Microsoft Ad Exchange was a positioning statement from an organisation that is the first of this country’s major publishers to dive headlong into the real-time bidding environment.

By making its exchange private – by controlling which websites can feed inventory into the exchange and which buyers can access it – Mi9 is trying to position itself as the premium Australian exchange. To be involved, a publisher must meet requirements around size, reputability and brand safety – hopefully enough to allay advertisers’ concerns about buying ad space on an anonymous website, as the site’s identity is hidden in the auction.

In ad exchanges, as in other technologies, Google’s mantra is ‘openness’. Matthias Kunze, Google’s director of publisher monetisation for Japan and Asia Pacific describes Google’s approach, where the difference between large and small publishers is service level, as allowing publishers even more control: not only over which inventory is accessible for its DoubleClick exchange and for how much, but whether it is branded or anonymous.

Google does not share the ‘us versus them’ attitude Britt promotes, instead saying it is prepared to work with anyone, even competitors. “In the end, we give publishers control,” says Kunze. “They can decide how they want to use it.” And he isn’t worried about Mi9: “We’re clearly the market leader in this space globally, and we have probably the largest inventory pool and the largest demand pool, so I think that speaks for itself.”



Case study: The Guardian

Source: Rubicon Project


The Guardian reaches a global audience of more than 60 million unique browsers per month. An open, digital-first strategy has put it on a journey from UK newspaper to leadership in global digital news.The Guardian has recently seen an exponential growth of the number of Americans reading the website, with similar proportions of users now visiting from the UK, the US and the rest of the world.


The Guardian’s goal is to maximise its overall digital display revenue while maintaining high ad quality standards. It has increased its focus on developing an end-to-end monetisation strategy and, over the past 18 months, has increasingly expanded into real-time bidding, complementing its premium sales and growing its share of trading desk budgets.


The Guardian is taking a four-prong approach to maximising display revenue:

  • expanding non-guaranteed monetisation,
  • creating additional inventory for the RTB market,
  • establishing private marketplaces with premium clients, and
  • actively ensuring ad quality.


Expanding non-guaranteed monetisation

When The Guardian partnered with the Rubicon Project, it was working with only two ad networks, which expanded to an additional 183 ad networks using the Rubicon Project’s REVV core technology that uses data-driven algorithms to match each impression to the highest yielding demand source. These ad network additions and increased yield from its original two ad networks have increased The Guardian’s non-guaranteed revenue by 411% since it began.

Real-time bidding

The Guardian recognises that spends are being increasingly pushed through real-time bidding (RTB) agency trading desks and is taking advantage of the technology and pricing controls REVV offers. It maximises its RTB effectiveness with price floors, premium direct sales advertisers can buy through RTB with price floors at direct guaranteed prices, allowing The Guardian to capture additional spend without undermining its direct sales efforts, resulting in a CPM (cost per thousand) increase of 146% over non-guaranteed sales, and 33% of The Guardian’s nonguaranteed impressions are now being monetised by RTB, which generates 50% of the site’s revenue. It continues to increase the percentage of its impressions going to RTB.

Ad quality

The Guardian is interested in revenue, but not at the expense of ad quality. Maintaining the integrity of its site is top priority and it works closely with its client services team to block undesirable ads from its site. The Guardian’s block list includes competitors, undesirable advertisers and undesirable ad types. Rubicon’s blocking system allows blocking to be done by individual site, entire industries and ad types. Ad quality technologies ensure no banned or unidentified ads are served.


The future of online advertising: part 3 – DSPs and media agencies

Rumours of the death of the media buyer may have been greatly exaggerated, but that doesn’t mean technological change won’t be putting the squeeze on her role, especially with her new colleagues earning all the attention and money.

Before delving into this instalment, we highly recommend reading Part One (or at least the glossary of terms at the end), and Part Two, on DSPs and marketers, to get up to speed.

Considering the tone of conversation surrounding the rise of automated, programmatic buying of online media, it is easy enough to get the impression that the days of having a human hand involved in the buying process are nearing an end.

The problem with that idea, however, is that over the last two issues of Marketing we have seen that the automated trading of online advertising space through demand-side platforms (DSPs) plays an important role in a media buy, but not an all-conquering one.

Institutionally, the impact from the evolution towards automated trading varies depending on the type of media agency. For the biggest of the big media groups, automated trading desks are being set up and shared between member agencies. Smaller, specialised digital agencies that are already somewhat analytical and performance based may simply be adjusting to add DSP buying to their toolkits.

In both situations, however, the world of automated trading is not so much bringing about a revolution in media buying, as it is an evolution, with new requirements of its inhabitants.

Back to school

Media buyers, let’s be clear. You are not being replaced. Your desk is not being cleared, your chair not replaced by a robotic mount. Your skill set, however, and dayto-day role is evolving.

“The media planner and buyer’s role hasn’t changed profoundly,” says Ben Grace, head of digital trading and systems at Accuen, the trading desk of Omnicom Media Group (OMG), which includes the agencies OMD and PHD.

“They still do their job, but let’s say this trading marketplace takes over part of their job, their job just becomes more strategic… they don’t need to bog themselves down in the day-to-day.”

Danny Bass, chief digital officer at GroupM, WPP’s media agency umbrella, agrees: “Media planning and buying through a DSP or through traditional means still needs the skills of a media planner/buyer, it’s just that the tools that that person has have changed. The role of a media planner/buyer, although it will change, will still need the fundamentals of what has always been within that job.”

Lauren Jennings, digital director at Neo@Ogilvy, explains that although the tools are vital, the human touch is equally so: “You have to be a pretty smart strategist within programmatic trading to be able to say, ‘I want to use this data in this way to buy this kind of audience’. The strategy behind it doesn’t go away, and the testing and the experimentation and looking at data in different ways, and going after different audiences doesn’t change, it’s just that it’s through a tool that makes it more efficient.”

Enter the data specialist

Similar to search’s arrival a few years ago, when an entirely new skill was introduced to agencies, the arrival of data-driven, programmatic buying (DSPs are programmed how to evaluate and bid on impressions) of online ad inventory is accompanied by both the up-skilling of existing buyers and the introduction of a new breed: the data specialist.

“Data and the role it plays in media buying decisions is absolutely forefront of what we do. As a result, you need to make sure people have that skill set to analyse that data, and then pass that on to the strategy teams and the media buying group,” Bass explains.

So what type of person makes up this new breed?

“People who have an ad operations background, highly skilled in the running of campaigns online, in analysing the effectiveness of campaigns online and, ultimately, optimising campaigns to get better ROI, are well-placed,” says Bass.

He adds, “People with a search background are very well-placed, because the link between search and DSP and data-driven media buying is much closer than traditional media buying.”

“It’s a variety,” agrees Christopher Murphy, vice president of marketing at the San Francisco base of OMG’s Accuen. “There are some more quantitative backgrounds [of use in this environment], whether that’s in the financial space, or even within the media space, people who worked at ad networks or have done a lot of optimisation, we find them to be very successful media traders.”

A talent drought

Grace, who returned home to set up Accuen’s Australian desk after spending three years running performance-based campaigns in Asia, laments the dearth of experts at the cutting edge: the collision of marketing and raw numbers.

“Inherent in this job is a quick understanding of markets and numbers, but you’ve also got to understand people and messages. Getting that combination of the emotional intelligence with abstract and numerical intelligence is very difficult,” he says. “They come around like golden geese every so often and, when we find them, we try and divert them from their traditional migratory flight path.”

He asks Marketing to put the call out. If that sounds like you, dear reader, Grace has an offer for you. “Data people can get amazing salaries anywhere. A good business analyst can get whatever they want. Media is a thin margin business – we can’t afford what a mining company can afford or a finance company can afford, unfortunately. But we have other things, we’re fun and we’re doing things that have never been done before.”

Bass draws the parallel with search roles, which tend to attract higher salaries than traditional media roles: “If there is high demand, and short supply, then only one thing happens,” he says, “and there is a global shortage on these roles. It’s not unique to Australia, so it’s not like we can nip off to the UK or other markets, which we’ve traditionally done in other media to get these people. They either don’t exist or they’re incredibly hard to find.”

Even in the US, with its head start and more mature market, it often comes down to personality traits rather than track record, says Murphy: “A person who has an analytical framework can understand media relatively quickly… we sometimes look for those personality traits, more so than if you already have the experience, because a lot of people still don’t have that experience.”

A moving horizon

The pool of talent is growing, says Murphy, but at an educational level he admits it is tough for tertiary institutions to grasp the extent and rate of change. At the very least, it is widely agreed, graduates of marketing, advertising and media courses must have an understanding of the role of data.

The situation of universities – downstream and typically slow to react to industry changes – is amplified in this scenario by the fierce rapidity of change being experienced. Even those working in automated trading environments every day are having a hard time keeping up.

“The market is changing so swiftly that there are people who work [with these technologies] every day that are learning every day as well, and it’s necessary to read a lot of industry press and tech news to stay up with it,” says Jennings.

“I don’t think anyone knows exactly what is going to be required in the future.”


And if you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading Part One (or at least the glossary of terms at the end). Also recommended are Part Two, on DSPs and marketers, and Part Four, focusing on publishers.

The future of online advertising: part 2 – DSPs and marketers

DSPs and marketers: in this, the second instalment of Marketing’s serial feature on automated trading, we look at what the rise of data-driven online advertising is going to mean for your brand, your department and you.

We highly recommend you read Part One (or at least the glossary of terms at the end) before delving into this instalment.

Complexity and uncertainty are looming for marketers and advertisers entering the daunting territory of automated trading. As a payoff, however, there also exists great opportunity: to take advantage of the efficiencies and targeting precision brought about by data-driven advertising; opportunity to measure, analyse and adjust campaigns on the fly to maximise ROI; and, opportunity to streamline previously disjointed business processes, minimising wastage of information, energy and money.

As Garth Agius, media director, Neo@Ogilvy, explains, one of the obvious benefits to marketers is the ability to communicate, cost-effectively, with clients past and present.

“If you can identify people who have bought your product before from cookie IDs, DSPs (demand-side platforms) make it incredibly easy to speak to that person again, with tailored creative, through retargeting. It is the next step in taking traditional CRM direct mail online.”

It is in this intersection of CRM and advertising that Julian Tol, CEO of Brandscreen, sees the chance for businesses to combine two misaligned marketing functions. “Previously, you’d have the folks in the bank or the travel company or the credit card company, and they would run their customer database… And that customer database would be the the arteries, the bolts, the crown jewels of the company. And what we had then is the separate activity in a company: advertising. Advertising grew up, from TV and print and radio, and the advertising guys would walk around and do their thing and create lots of wonderful television commercials and brand communication.”

The problem, of course, is that the CRM and advertising functions hadn’t been formally introduced. For CMOs and chief executives, the greatest opportunity in automated trading is to leverage their companies’ existing customer data to guide online advertising campaigns.


A data game

“The best data sources are normally from a client’s own assets,” agrees Agius. “But marketers often don’t realise the extent or value of the data points they have available. Every time your business speaks to a current or prospective client online it’s a source of data that can help with targeting and optimisation.”

Through a DSP, customers can then be targeted based on their online behaviour, purchase history, or any other information collected.

“You can also buy third party data sources, which can be very valuable,” he says. “For example, a car insurance advertiser can today buy data regarding people who searched for new cars on a classified site in the last 30 days. This can be broken down to the location and value of the car.”

The quality of third-party data available in Australia, however, is still somewhat patchy. It’s an area in which we lag behind other markets, but the importance of quality data sources cannot be understated for audience targeting, as it puts power in the hands of marketers. For each piece of ad space available online, the marketer can use data to make decisions on price and creative, in real time, and in doing so collect more data to continually optimise their campaign.



Clearly, this is going to put pressure on marketing departments to evolve.

Carolyn Bollaci, country head of Australia and New Zealand, MediaMind, says this will have a significant impact on a marketer’s role. “DSPs put more analytical and decision-making power into a marketer’s hands than ever before, allowing marketers to dive far deeper into campaign results. DSPs essentially give marketers the insight they need to tinker and adjust live ad campaigns – or their media buys – to optimise results.”

And so the skills required of the marketer of the future are evolving too.

“If you’re a global or even a local advertiser, you need people in there who can process data, and you need people who can come up with creative and innovative ideas,” says Paul Fisher, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia.

Cue the entrance of tomorrow’s marketer: the data-loving ‘creative technologist’.

“I suspect that we’ll probably start out by embedding data specialists within teams of marketers,” Fisher predicts, “and eventually all marketers will have to have at least a ‘data awareness’.

“But the psychologist out there will tell you that you’re either analytical or you’re creative, you can’t be both, and I don’t know if that’s true, because I’m not a psychologist. But the businesses that will win in this space, or that will grow quickly, will be the ones that realise they need a combination of those skill sets, and they hire, they train, they develop, they retain, and, more importantly, they build their product offerings around that combination of analytics and creativity.”


Everything in its right place

Last month’s instalment on this topic (the first in a four-part series continuing here) provided background on the automated trading landscape here in Australia and overseas, demystifying the swathe of new acronyms that are befuddling even the most tech-savvy marketer. Reading that article, and other press on the topic, it’s easy to get the feeling that automated trading is turning the media buying industry on its head.

While that is partly true, as a matter of context it should be noted the role DSPs play in a campaign is not simply to replace existing methods of buying inventory, but to add to them.

“The role of a DSP line in a media schedule is there to complement, but it depends on the objectives of the campaign,” says Danny Bass, chief digital officer, GroupM.

For advertisers focused on direct response, buying through DSPs is attractive due to the ease of tracking. A click is much easier to measure than brand sentiment.

“If you can get 30% off your cost of a credit card acquisition, you will make that decision in a heartbeat,” says Tol. “If you have to start considering how Facebook Likes are going to factor into your brand preference decisions as a marketing person, that’s a bit harder.”

But that’s not to say there’s no place for branding, and Fisher says it’s a mistake to say otherwise. Bass agrees, explaining that in situations such as branding campaigns and product launches, DSPs play an important role.

“The DSP component, from the client’s perspective, might be the ‘always on’ component, in a similar vein to search,” Bass says. “That might be the thing that is continually on and continually optimising, but for other parts of the campaign, we absolutely need to ensure that we’ll look at traditional marketing and metrics in how you build a brand.”

As Agius points out, DSPs mainly trade in banner and pre-roll video ad units: “These ad units only account for about 30% of the campaigns we execute. Most campaigns call for more creative and integrated responses.”

For Bollaci and MediaMind, typical clients now include automotive and finance sector organisations. “These sectors shift high-value, low-churn products so it makes sense to optimise media buys based on audience demographics and live browsing behaviours. Retargeting audiences who visit their website or interact with an ad is a powerful resource and one of the real benefits of DSPs.

“Where they are less useful is when an advertiser wants to do a specific sponsorship or content buy that is better negotiated directly with a publisher,” she adds.


Learning to fly

For marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of expectation surrounding new technology, but using a DSP to buy ad space is not a turn-key solution. A certain amount of machine learning needs to take place (see breakout box).

“With many new DSP campaigns, the results are not good in the beginning,” warns Agius. “The systems often need a learning period to test different environments and build sources of data. Therefore it is important that marketing managers hold their nerve over this learning period.”

“The longer a campaign is in market, the more data and trading history will be built up and the better the results should be. Much like a paid search campaign, there are benefits of taking an ‘always on’ approach, especially if it is a direct response campaign,” Agius says.

“If you could actually lower your cost per acquisition by something like 30%, which is about what we find on average when people switch over, you’re lowering your cost of acquisition of a credit card or a flight booking by 30%… that is a game changing number,” says Tol.


Human touch

Core features? Data ownership? Neutrality? Pricing model? Brand safety? These represent essential questions to ask of any prospective technology partner, going far beyond simply how many ad exchanges a DSP covers.

“The first thing every client should ask their agency or DSP partner is how they are being charged,” says Agius. “Overnight some media agencies became both media publishers and media buyers. This represents an obvious conflict of interest, with traders motivated, at least in part, in securing the most profitable inventory for their agency and not always the best inventory for the client.”

To make the task of choosing a trading partner easier, Agius says that while there are some significant differences in the functionality of the major DSPs, the main points of difference are:

  • the quality of inventory available
  • the accuracy of data sources, and
  • the ability of the media trader using the platform.


Which raises an important point: when it comes to the most important functions, you can’t just rely on technology, and one of the most critical of those functions is brand safety.

“Protecting brands in automated buying environments is a massively important issue,” says Tol.

With the power to communicate so directly with individuals – so intimately – comes the responsibility of protecting your brand and the customer.

“The moment you are advertising to your customers and you are the Commonwealth Bank or you are the ANZ Bank and you have communication which is going to a consumer personally and precisely, just imagine if you started to do that on a porn site. Extremely humiliating, embarrassing and damaging,” cautions Tol.

“Every digital media planner dreads the thought of getting a call from a client advising their ad has appeared on a porn site,” adds Agius.

“You can’t just rely on technology when it comes to protecting brand reputation, and we invest a lot of time manually reviewing sites and adding them to our DSP network to ensure brand safety.”

With the ability to target so precisely, almost down to an individual, in an almost endless array of conceivable scenarios, another question arises: Who is responsible for producing the mountain of creative to be used in those scenarios?

Fortunately, it need not be so daunting, says Agius: “It’s possible to use dynamic creative and landing pages, where a core set of assets are developed and the creative messages are built and served in real time depending on who is viewing the message. This makes the creative and landing environment a lot more relevant to that individual user.

“DSPs aren’t a set and forget tool to automate an outcome, there is no formula to balance creative and volume of messaging. That’s where the quality of the media trader and analyst comes in,” he adds.

So the media planner’s death has been pronounced prematurely. Her skills are still relevant. Vital even. They are just changing, as are those of her colleagues. But we’ll be turning our focus to media agencies next month.

In a few short years, we won’t be talking about automated trading or real-time bidding. The specificity and savings brought by data-driven advertising are already making DSPs another tool in the belt of advertisers, one with its own strengths and weaknesses, that complements the others nicely.

As Tol puts it: “Why would you book an ad a month in advance to an audience that may or may not be there, and that you can’t identify and can’t measure accurately even if you did?… Of course you buy media in a way that is surgically accurate and in real time. Why would you not?”


Want to know more? Part Three of this series looks at DSPs and media agencies. And if you haven’t already, check out Part One here.



Marketing Extra: Two examples of machine learning in an online advertising

Source: Brandscreen

Example one: Retail (pilot for a large global group shopping group)

  • Starting point: The client was buying conversions from ad networks for $7.50 CPA, and had a bud- get of up to $10.00 CPA.
  • Activity: The trading desk ran a trial with a budget of $100,000 over four weeks. CPA after one week was $9.00, and after two weeks $5.50.
  • Result: The budget was repeated in month two, and by week eight CPA was $2.52, representing a fall in CPA of 66%.

Example two: Financial services (pilot for a new credit card from a major bank)

  • Starting point: A major Australian bank was buying conversions from ad networks for $50 CPA.
  • Activity: The trading desk ran a trial with a budget of $40,000 over four weeks. CPA after four weeks was $75 return on equity, but far lower for retargeting strategies.
  • Result: A significant review of targeting and data management strategies was conducted and brought a steady decline in CPA, now at $32, representing a fall in CPA of 36%.


The future of online advertising: Part 1

Acronym-lovers rejoice! The rise of real-time, automated trading in online advertising brings with it a swathe of new technologies, trends and terms… and marketers best get up to speed. 

Welcome to the first in a series of five articles examining the topic of data-driven, automated trading in online advertising and its implications for marketers, media buyers, publishers and their audiences. Each week over the next five weeks we’ll bring you a new instalment. 

Just under 10%. Possibly just on 10%, now. That’s the range mentioned when online advertising folk talk about the proportion of online ads currently served through automated trading in Australia, although the exact figure is not known. Two years ago, the US was sitting at less than 5%. In 2012, that figure has grown to more than 60%.

That Australia will follow a similar path to the US is not guaranteed, but it is highly probable and, if it does, estimates (guesses, really; there is presently no way to make informed projections) put the AsiaPacific real-time bidding (RTB) market at $5 billion by 2015. Even though the rate of uptake may not be the same – the number of sources of ad inventory in the States dwarfs that locally – the question is no longer ‘if ’. It’s not even ‘when’. There is no question anymore. Very soon, you will be purchasing online advertising through automated trading. To put it simply, the rise of real-time bidding means that soon each impression will be sold individually, in the blink of an eye, bringing powerful targeting capabilities and increased efficiencies to advertisers.

DSPs – just the tip of the acronym iceberg

In marketing circles, recent talk has centred on demand-side platforms (DSPs). What are they? And what will they mean for your digital campaigns? To get a full picture of the topic, however, DSPs must be looked at in context.

Paul Fisher, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia, says that focusing on particular acronyms is limiting, that DSPs is just one component of the much broader trend towards automated trading of online ad inventory through RTB, and marketers need a more rounded understanding. “Marketers certainly do need to understand how their media buying agencies are now going to evolve their planning, buying and trading behaviour on their behalf,” he says.

For advertisers, DSPs are the door to the realtime bidding ecosystem, where ads are traded on an impression-by-impression basis, in fractions of seconds, in virtual marketplaces spread over the internet.

In terms of ‘changing the game,’ one parallel being drawn is with search marketing. A few short years ago, search engine marketing (SEM) needed a serial feature like this one, which if read today would probably provide a few chuckles at the expense of our past selves’ naiveté. In two years from now, advertisers will look back and wonder how they ever survived without DSPs and RTB. The inefficiencies currently accepted as normal will make us cringe.

In a basic sense, a DSP is a technological platform used by advertisers combining several interrelated functions:

  • connection to multiple sources of online ad inventory such as ad exchanges, ad networks and publishers,
  • a place for advertisers to input the rules on which they wish their bidding to follow (for more power, add your existing customer and third part data here), and
  • a collector of analytical data for further optimisation.

For many advertisers, all of this will be handled by their media agency, although some very, very large online advertisers (e.g. Amazon) have built their own DSPs.

The automated trading ecosystem

Are you following me?

Imagine this scenario: a potential customer of your online fashion store arrives on your website one morning. She spends a few minutes browsing your range.

She looks at some skirts. She leaves. Later that day, she’s reading the finance section of her favourite news website. What kind of ads does she see? Previously, she would see ads for credit cards and retirement funds, because everyone who reads financial news must want to buy financial products, right? But what if she sees an ad for skirts? Your skirts. The very skirts she was umm-ing and ahh-ing over that morning. That’s retargeting, and not even a particularly powerful example of it (keep reading for that). It makes talk of things like ‘reach’ and ‘frequency’ seem misguided.

Fisher expands, “After 30 to 100 years of buying advertising across media, marketers can now really start to address their media specifically, whether it’s to specific marketing segments or, quite possibly, to individuals or, certainly, highly defined groups.”

The opportunities for marketers to reduce wastage are enormous, says Fisher, including the reduction of wastage across traditional media, therefore improving returns on investment. And we’re only at the beginning. Where will this be in two years’ time? Who knows?

“Something like just under 10% of all online advertising in the US traded last year through exchanges, and this year it’s expected to be 67%,” Fisher notes. “It’s astounding. Even in an industry with spectacular figures and data, that is an astonishing figure.”

Evaluating an impression

You only get out what you put in

In the previous example, our potential customer followed just one of a mind-bogglingly large number of possible paths. The legwork for advertisers, therefore, is teaching the DSP how to evaluate the value of each impression, and how to choose the best creative to serve in that impression, based on a potentially infinite number of variables. Age, sex, income, marital status. The previous five minutes’ browsing history. The previous five years’ purchase history. It’s a big undertaking. Is it worth it?

Consider this: perhaps our skirt-browser had got all the way to the checkout and changed her mind at the last minute. An offer of 10% off might get her over the line. Perhaps it’s 13 February and she just spent an hour on a dating site. An appeal to her inner romantic may get her to click. Yes, the amount of creative required to serve each potential scenario seems overwhelming, but now consider that the skirt-buyer we’ve been talking about is a thousand skirt-buyers every minute, or a home-buyer. Advertisers that go through the initial pain will reap the rewards of higher click-through and conversion rates.

Julian Tol, CEO of Brandscreen, the company that provides the ‘under the hood’ technology powering the DSP offerings of most of the major global agency groups (client names include Publicis, Omnicom, IPG, Mediabrands. Havas and Ogilvy), says companies that switch to RTB see efficiency gains almost immediately. “If you could actually lower your cost per acquisition by something like 30%, which is about what we find on average when people switch over, you’re lowering your cost of acquisition of a credit card or a flight booking by 30%, and that is a game changing number.”

Rise of the data scientist

‘Creative technologist’ is a colourful term for the people now in high demand in marketing departments and media agencies: data analysts. They are the new search marketers, possessing new and highly sought after skill sets, and as a result attracting salaries to match. Agencies and in-house marketing teams are changing structurally to accommodate them.

There is a skills change revolution going on, says Fisher, although no one really quite understands what those skills are yet. The industry is working that out on the fly, but on both the agency and publisher sides a strong combination of data-driven skill sets combined with creativity and innovation will be needed.

But the media planner is by no means dead, says Danny Bass, chief digital officer, GroupM; the only major agency group to go it alone and build their own DSP technology.

“Media planning and buying through a DSP or through traditional means still needs the skills of a media planner and buyer; it’s just that the tools that that person has have changed,” says Bass. “You’ll certainly see hosts of data analysts appearing in media groups, but the role of a media planner/buyer, although it will change, will still need the fundamentals of what has always been within that job.

“The interesting challenge is more so on the publisher side, who have extremely large sales teams, who have worked to a structure which, by and large, hasn’t changed for a long time – sales director, sales manager, group sales manager, account managers – it’s how a publisher will now change to address this new data driven economy.”

And for advertisers?

“Why should they be any different?” says Fisher. “I think that this is an industry evolution. So all players in the industry are going to have to go through a similar skills change period. If you’re a global or even a local advertiser, you need people in there who can process data, and you need people who can come up with creative and innovative ideas.”

The future

No discussion of DSPs, ad exchanges and RTB is complete without some speculation on the potential these technologies bring on a much broader scale than simply web banner ads. In the near future, RTB will take over web advertising, but it won’t stop there. Tol explains that good old-fashioned TV advertising may soon be ditching the ‘old-fashioned’ tag. “Whether it’s Apple TV or Google TV or Boxee or Netflix, there are many, many competitors that are trying to put a little box in your room to basically connect a device in your hands to a screen in your lounge to the internet.”

It’s all designed to bring television standards in line with the web, bringing the ability to identify a person (or at least a single screen), their behaviour and their preferences. “That could be, from the media company’s point of view, up to a thousand times more valuable than to deliver a ‘dumb impression’ out to the entire Australian audience, to two million people,” says Tol.

Fisher goes even further: “This is potentially going to start to encompass TV inventory, newspaper and print inventory, outdoor inventory, all media inventory. So, this is really a precursor to the way that all sectors of the media are going to be traded and bought in the near future.”

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

The take-home point is that very soon, you will be purchasing online advertising through automated trading. If it’s not already, your media agency will be throwing terms such as RTB, ATD and DSP at you this year. But with new power, comes new responsibilities. We haven’t even begun to explore the issues of transparency, privacy and brand safety this new wave of technology-driven ad buying is bringing, or for what strategic purposes it is most suited (hint: not just direct response), so over the next few months, Marketing will be taking a closer look at the implications and issues touched on here from the perspectives of all involved – marketers, agencies and publishers.


Terms to know:

Real-time bidding: The automated, split-second auctioning taking place all over the web for inventory in advertising exchanges.

Ad exchange: To publishers, it’s a sales channel for all the leftover impressions their human salesforce hasn’t sold, or whichever inventory they choose to make available for auction. To advertisers, it’s an ‘auction house’ for all that available inventory from those publishers, all in a single place. There are a handful of major exchanges globally, but in Australia the two you need to know about are Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Mi9′s Microsoft Advertising Exchange, who might maintain separate exchanges for mobile advertising.

Ad network: Like an exchange, it’s an ‘all in one place’ destination for advertisers to buy online inventory, but less technologically sophisticated, as a network more accurately a company that simply represents a range of publishers/websites and on-sells to advertisers. Network portfolios may be in one particular niche or vertical. Additionally, they can be ‘blind’, meaning advertisers don’t know which specific site they’re buying into. Ad networks have evolved over time to offer targeting based on things such as a user’s online behaviour (repeat visit’s to travel sites, for example). Google’s DoubleClick is an example of a major, global ad network, with DoubleClick Ad Exchange being a part of the same company but offering the real-time trading functionality

Non-guaranteed inventory: Also known as ‘remnant’ inventory. The leftover impressions that haven’t been sold by publishers directly to advertisers and can therefore be made available to the market for real-time bidding through an ad exchange.

Demand-side platform (DSP): The interface and technology powering it through which an advertiser plugs into ad exchange/s. The DSP is programmed by the advertiser/media buyer on what rules to follow when assessing possible bids.

Supply-side platform (SSP): Also known as ‘yield optimiser’, an SSP is the counterpart to the DSP, employed by publishers to optimise and get the best value for their inventory.

Trading desk: A term borrowed from electronic financial markets (to which the real-time bidding of ads is very similar) to refer to a ‘seat’ in the virtual market place. Media agencies have set up trading desks that utilise DSPs and other technologies to buy ad space programatically.

Retargeting: Serving an impression to an ‘individual’ (tracked via cookies, which more accurately is linked to the web browser, e.g. Internet Explorer, which is assumed to be a single person) known to have had some previous interaction with the brand. For marketers, this is where the power lies – good retargeting brings much higher than normal click-through and conversion rates.


Want to know more? Part Two of this series looks at DSPs and marketers, and what the rise of data-driven online advertising is going to mean for your brand, your department and you.

Media powerbrokers forecast ad market revival for 2013

Australia’s advertising elite predict a return to growth for the industry next year, but not before another six months of weak performance.

According to The Australian‘s annual ‘Media Powerbrokers Survey’, the consensus among the 13 media-buying group bosses interviewed is for the market to return to growth in the second half of 2013, boosted by spend around the federal election.

In the meantime, however, conditions are expected to remain week, particularly in the lead up to Easter.

The powerbrokers surveyed, which included Harold Mitchell of Aegis Media, Henry Tajer of Mediabrands, UM CEO Mat Baxter, John Steedman of GroupM, Mark Pejic of MediaCom and Dan Johns of Ikon Communications, represents the vast majority of Australia’s $13 billion media market. They expect interest rate cuts, signs of rising consumer and business confidence, and the federal election to fuel a low-single-digit rise in ad spend.

Mitchell, executive chairman of Aegis Media, expects to see a “gradual pick-up in ad spending building in the second half of 2013, linked to improved business confidence.”

Tajer said Mediabrands was in the process of revising next year’s projections up from between 0% and 1%, to 1.5% to 2.5%. “Fourth-quarter projections and sentiment seem to be much more positive than any other period this year,” Tajer told The Australian.

“This, together with an expected interest rate being passed on, may be the right remedy for a pre-Christmas shot of confidence to the broader economy.”

Baxter blames new platforms for the volatility of the market this year. He expects a “growing sense of optimism and confidence amongst advertisers and media owners” as the market corrects itself and adapts to new platforms as they gain traction. “Advertisers have finally begun to recalibrate their advertising investments to better reflect audience shifts into emerging channels and technologies.”

Steedman, chairman and chief executive of GroupM, predicts the market will continue to flatline until the first quarter of next year, but start to grow from the second quarter. “Obviously, much depends upon the fortunes of the US and Europe and early forecasts suggest a tough year in 2013 for those two regions.”

MediaCom chief Mark Pejic was more optimistic than his peers, forecasting growth of 4%, and expects to see “low to moderate growth starting to occur from mid-2013”.

Johns, chief executive of Ikon Communications, commented that encouraging signs for consumer and business confidence were starting to emerge, and anticipates low-single-digit growth for 2013.

However, The Australia reports that the rising chorus of positive sentiment was not shared by everyone, with Slingshot Media chief executive Simon Rutherford of a different opinion.

“I’m yet to see signs of recovery: 2013 will be flat at best,” he said. “While it’s helpful that the US election has been finalised, economic reports suggest that the eurozone could worsen.”


GroupM moves to all-auto digital media trading

GroupM has announced it is partnering with online advertising technology firm Facilitate Digital to mandate the use of Electronic Insertion Orders in digital media trading, allowing the group’s agencies to soon operate entirely automated processes across digital campaigns, removing all manual interventions.

The move is intended to reduce the cost and complexity associated with the planning, buying, selling and administration of digital campaigns. It will see the WPP-owned media agency group become the first in Australia to require all trading partners to confirm media buys with Electronic Insertion Orders.

The need to increase the efficiency of digital media trading comes as digital advertising spend in Australia approaches that of TV but is bogged down by inefficiencies, says Danny Bass, chief digital officer of GroupM: “Whereas traditional media activity largely stops once the spot is booked, a digital campaign will be booked then changed and optimised up to 15 times through its lifetime. The manual input required by buyers and sellers, and the associated risk of data corruption, makes costs unsustainably high for all.”

Every local GroupM agency – Mediacom, Mindshare, MEC and Maxus – will be on the all-automated platform by 1 January 2013, bringing Australia in line with Asian neighbour markets such as China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore where the Symphony Media program began implementation in 2010.


Real-time advertising revenue index

SMI, Australia’s first independent, real time advertising revenue index has launched.

The brain-child of Sue Fennessy and Jane Schulze, media and sponsorship expert and publisher, editor and media writer respectively, SMI has struck individual agreements with each of Australia’s major media agencies to provide their advertising revenue data.

The media buying firms include Carat, GroupM (MediaCom, Mindshare, Mediaedge:cia and MAXUS), Ikon Communications, Initiative, Mitchell Communication Group, Universal McCann, OMD, PHD, Starcom MediaVest and ZenithOptimedia.

“SMI has evolved out of a genuine desire to revitalize the media industry. As we emerge from the current economic cycle, media stocks and the advertising market will recover, albeit with a greater mix of media fighting for the advertiser and investor dollar,” said Fennessy, SMI co-founder.

The system will use advertising revenue data collected monthly to provide an independent benchmark demonstrating aggregated demand across all media.

The data will cover all mainstream media, Google search revenue, subscription TV channel revenue data, digital free-to-air data, the top 50 online publishers revenue and will be the exclusive source of mobile telephony data.

Subscribers will be able to sorta the data in a variety of macro to micro styles, by: media owner network, media type, sub-type, market, market type, TV station, digital media vehicle, newspaper, magazine etc.

SMI will use a subscription model. BCC AdSystems will collect and rationalize the data and SMI will deliver it aggregated to subscribers complete with deep dive analysis.

“Over the past 15 years, I was constantly writing about an opaque industry – reporting on billions of dollars in a market that was lacking hard data. Arguably this lack of clarity exacerbated the recent decline in media share values,” said Schulze, SMI co-founder.

Chinese post-Olympic ad $$$ to grow in the long term

A new report by GroupM, the parent company of WPPs media agencies, shows above the line and digital ad spend in China is expected to grow by 40 percent over the next two years, according to Brand Republic.

The This Year, Next Year: China report has been compiled using data supplied by GroupM parent WPPs constituent companies. It details how the Beijing Olympics will be a significant factor in driving media investment growth of 22 percent to US$35 billion compared with 2007, but it also highlights that growing consumer power will continue this growth curve after the Olympics.


Beyond the games, the report predicts that 2009 adspend will grow 19.5 percent to US$42bn, and the report also claimed that last year, China replaced Germany as
the worlds third largest advertising market, behind the US and Japan.

Smith said that by 2010, ad spend in China will overtake that in Japan. China will supply 23 percent of an anticipated 5.8 percent growth
in global ad spend in 2008 and 30 percent of an expected 4.5 percent global
growth in 2009.

Adam Smith, GroupMs futures director, said: Were confident of strong media investment growth extending to 2009 as demand in China becomes an increasingly important source of growth for global marketers as well as Chinese companies focusing on brand-building. Growth in 2007 was relatively restrained, but we predict many marketers are conserving funds for the anticipated Olympic bonanza this year.

TV and the internet were identified as the main beneficiaries of Chinas increased spend, with the Olympics generating an estimated US$400m in spending on CCTV – Chinas national TV network.

The internet is expected to attract 7.3 percent of adspend in 2008, rising to 8.5 percent next year, the report said, noting that it is Chinas fastest-growing medium and is on track to become the second-largest advertising medium after TV within a few years.

China has the worlds largest internet community with more than 250 million users, Smith added. Thats an increase of more than 90 million from June of last year, representing a year-to-year growth of more than 55 percent.