Effective Mobile Marketing Across Retail, Travel, Automotive & Financial Services


by Soo Jin Oh
SVP, Data Business and Ad Operations, Magnetic



Featured on Marketing Land’s Mobile Marketing Column, May 22, 2014


A recent eMarketer report, “U.S. Tablet Users: Q1 2014 Forecast and Comparative Estimates,” predicts that the number of dual tablet and smartphone users will reach 140 million U.S. internet users by 2018.


Because of this growth, marketers across industries are working to identify the most effective digital practices for engaging users, driving app downloads and increasing conversion rates.

While marketers across verticals are generally working toward the goal of creating more engaging brand experiences across all platforms, mobile marketing strategies can differ by industry.


Retail Industry

Today’s consumers move between retail channels, from in-store to e-commerce and now, m-commerce. According to Mark2Media, 52% of Americans use mobile devices to research products while browsing in-store, and comScore reports that 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop.

To capitalize on this behavior, a cross-device strategy is key to increasing the time consumers spend with a brand. Not only does mobile sit at an interesting intersection between offline and online activity, but it provides an interactive platform that allows immediate ways for brands to engage users and view products through tools like mobile apps and functions like click-to-call and click-to locate.

Target has been incentivizing consumers to make spur-of-the-moment purchases using hyper-local targeting and providing discounts and coupons to mobile users while in-store.

Adding location-based elements is a key component and differentiator for the mobile channel. Measurement is quite effective for this strategy, as each coupon has a unique ID tied to the source of the ad campaign that ensures proper attribution is given when redeemed.

Another tactic is to add gaming and social media share functionality to campaigns. Old Navy recently launched a rewards-based campaign where users earn points to redeem in-store for interacting with a “call-to-action” function on the app and sharing content on social media.

Automotive Industry

According to a presentation at last year’s J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable, auto brands are currently testing a combination of vehicle registration data, data from auto researchers and location data from personal mobile devices to track car shoppers and serve them relevant ads.

Ken Bracht, Communications Manager at Land Rover, told eMarketer, “With mobile, our audience is there, time spent is there and we’re continuing to experiment with the platform. At this point, probably measurability and creativity still need to evolve, but we think that mobile will become more important and make up a large percentage of our media mix.”

A 2013 consumer survey issued by Google, Millward Brown Digital and Polk, showed that the 34% of new vehicle buyers started their purchase path because of mobile, tablet and video ads. Additionally, the video completion rate for mobile banner ads was recognized at 79.8%, the highest of any vertical in 2013.

Although purchasing a car via a mobile device is unlikely, online and mobile are gaining traction for big-ticket items, making it imperative for auto brands to have a strong presence across devices and utilize strategies such as dealer-locators, click-to-call functions, and cross device targeting.

Precision targeting is generally less effective for auto and other big-ticket items, so using effective ad units that make most use of screen space is key (e.g., a mobile rich-media unit with different tabs).

The Kia Motors mobile rich-media ad campaign for the Kia Cee’d by InMobi (2012) was tremendously successful in these areas. The campaign resulted in a viral video distribution in 14 languages and in 16 countries along with participation in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament  — all of which helped drive significant traffic to Kia’s mobile site.

The mobile approach meshes well with Kia’s in-car media system called UVO, which is tied to a smartphone app providing drivers with navigation, diagnostics capabilities and other convenience features.

Travel Industry

A recent PhoCusWright report noted that mobile travel bookings would more than triple over the next two years, reaching $39.5 billion by 2015, which is about 25% of the total online travel market. This growth is in part due to an increasing trust of mobile apps and websites, combined with the improved mobile user-friendly interfaces.

The Priceline-owned Booking.com has a successful mobile app – the transaction value of Booking.com went from one billion to three billion between 2011-2013 through a combination of advertising and improvements to its mobile platform.

Consumers use mobile phones for planning, booking travel and looking up local information such as maps, weather and restaurants. For this reason, it’s important for brands to have a mobile-friendly website and app for their users. Brands with a high volume of app users can use push functions to send free messages to their customer base about their upcoming travel schedule, deals, etc.

Financial Services Industry

eMarketer estimates that the financial industry will spend more than $2.2 billion on mobile advertising in 2014, which would make financial marketers the second biggest spenders in mobile advertising.


This is all directly related to consumer behavior. A recent Celent study notes that 94% of users in all age groups use online banking and approximately 71% of respondents ages 18-60+ have signed up for mobile banking.

Mobile provides real-time marketing elements for an array of financial services including insurance, banking, brokerage, lending and credit cards, which are not as easy for customers to experience on the desktop.

Financial marketers can release relevant information about their investment portfolio or real-time economic data within an app, providing geographically-relevant information to consumers including the nearest ATMs, stores, etc.


Regardless of your vertical, mobile has become an important part of your consumer’s everyday life; in order to stay relevant and top of mind, you need to become part of the cross-device journey.

How To Sell Your CEO On Investing More In Search. Hint: It’s About Insights


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on Marketing Land’s Search Marketing Column, May 19, 2014


If you’re the CMO of any business, you’re likely aware of popular search strategies and how search can take consumers along the purchase journey from intent to action.

According to Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive’s 2012 Digital Influence Survey, 96% of consumers worldwide indicated that they searched for information about brands or products on the internet, with 89% relying on search engines to help make purchase decisions.

comScore has also released data showing that there are billions of searches every month, with 65% happening on search engines.


Despite these statistics, convincing your C-Suite to invest heavily in search and other strategies fueled by data can be challenging, especially for those of you in long sales-cycle industries.

In a presentation at MediaPost’s recent Search Insider Summit, Chris Moloney, CMO of Wells Fargo Advisors, discussed the hurdles he’s had to overcome as the CMO of a finance-based company and the positive impact search data has had on his business. “There’s a real power to take search data and influence corporate strategy.” Guess what? He’s right.

Moloney even went on to give an example of how search data informed the company strategy for Scottrade, revealing that what people searched for online informed the change in their positioning from a “discount brokerage” to “online investment.”

The value of search today goes beyond a search ad, character limits and a data-driven display ad served on your PC. While these media strategies will continue to play a role in the consumer funnel and serve as effective marketing strategies, there’s more to the story.

The underlying role of search lies within the intent and insights gleaned from what your audience is searching for as they move across the web. In this new role, search becomes a key informant for a brand’s marketing strategy, influencing everything from your website content to audience buying, media strategy and product launches.

The challenge is that search is not “new.” It has been around for nearly 25 years, so convincing marketers to look at search in a different light, and even use it in other ways, is no easy task. There is a learning curve that marketers are experiencing as they consider search today and how it will evolve.

Make Search Data Part Of Your Acquisition Strategy

Acquiring new customers is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, the decision process varies – retail is often a shorter cycle, whereas the purchasing path for a car is much longer.

Understanding the initial point of interest (many times it starts in search engines) all the way through the conversion (could end on your website, refined product search within the search engine, or even offline) is important because it helps to guide your customer strategy.

To drive new prospects, you should know the optimal time to reach them, and search data can help you determine that.

Secondly, finding these potential new customers is also a challenge. With search, it is easy to identify what a customer is interested in, and if you are using search retargeting, you should be able to find that user and reach them with relevant ad messages.

A typical consumer begins their search on a search engine, but then they move on to vertical, e-commerce and shopping comparison sites (often through organic search results). They might even take a break from their search and read and browse the web.

When you leverage search data to power your digital advertising, you have a greater chance to influence new customers before they make a decision. The ability to know what people are searching for as they cruise around the web is extremely powerful and can help to create a more complete picture of your audience, signaling when to reach them.

Search Data Is Your Best Consumer Research

There isn’t an industry that doesn’t benefit from the way in which consumers conduct research online. With all of the search engines they visit, and subsequent sites that contain search boxes, the number is in the billions of searches every month. As a result, there is a significant amount of intent-driven data flowing through our digital channels that should be used for customer research.

This data reveals how important various factors are in the decision-making process – e.g., did they search for pricing comparisons, customer reviews, or directly search for your competitors? All of these audience insights are available through searches conducted online (not just in the search engine). The best way to understand your customer is to look under the hood at search trends across your customer base.

Hint: The most powerful search data may actually live beyond core search engines.

Let Data Inform Your Brand

The biggest and greatest benefit of search is the way in which it impacts your brand and corporate strategy. Understanding the value of each channel will help you create a brand strategy that fuses all channels together. It isn’t about one over the other – display, mobile, search, TV, out of home, etc. It’s about the value that each channel brings to the consumer experience, — and ultimately, to your bottom line (revenue).

With search, it’s about the data and how it can be garnered for audience insights, seasonal consumer trends and targeted messages that extend to your website content, display ad creative and product strategies.

As an industry, we’re extremely lucky to have this wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. Using the power of search is essential in staying ahead of your competitive set and ensuring that you have a strong relationship between your brand and both current and potential customers.

Five Ways That Data Can Improve Your Digital Marketing


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on iMedia Connection, May 15, 2014


Consumer behaviour has redefined the way in which advertisers engage with audiences, and marketers across the UK have taken note.

eMarketer recently reported that 77% of the UK’s population will be online this year, and nearly 55% of them are expected to be on mobile. Real-time buying (RTB) is also on the rise, as it’s the main driver behind the growth of data-driven advertising.

In November of last year, the International Data Corporation (IDC) reported that RTB display ad spending reached# $283.6 in the UK, and is forecasted to reach at least $409 million this year. This makes the UK the largest RTB display ad market in Europe.

While these innovations – intent data, ad technology and cross-channel marketing – are certainly exciting for the industry, it can be overwhelming for marketers to develop and implement data-driven strategies.

Advertisers know that customer data (e.g. search, site, purchase history) is of extreme value, yet a 2013 poll from SAP suggests there are challenges to making the best use of the data including lack of resources, de-centralised data, and the sheer volume of information.

Forrester Consulting also polled marketers in the US and UK in 2013 and revealed plans for technology-driven projects in 2014, indicating high interest in building out mobile and social strategies and integrating digital marketing technologies with strategic digital marketing partnerships.

Challenges aside, data will be the engine that powers your brand, and there are certain strategies across mobile, display and search that will lay the foundation for these efforts.

1. Strengthen your brand’s digital presence

When it comes to digital, the way you are currently selling your brand, product or service can be done more efficiently. Make sure that you are testing your conversion path and optimising your landing pages both online and on mobile.

If you have yet to establish a social presence, start devising creative social strategies across all major social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) to engage with your audiences that are likely waiting to hear from you.

2. Search strategies should come first

I think of organic search before paid search, but the truth is, they go hand-in-hand because they significantly affect one another. If your conversion path is working effectively, then the next place that you want to optimise is search.

There are two behaviours that every marketing effort you do should result in: more searches and more visits to your website or store.

3. Use site retargeting for customer retention

If consumers are searching for your product and visiting your website, use those website visits and your entire CRM database to improve site retargeting and provide your existing customers with relevant and personalised ads.

Don’t overdo it, but remember that your customers are your brand ambassadors. Presumably, they already like your brand, so why not encourage that behaviour?

You know a great deal about your customers based on their site activity and other points of brand engagement. You should use that data to provide them with information specifically relevant to them.

Site retargeting increases their advertising experience and encourages them to continue to engage with your brand.

4. Search retargeting will help you acquire customers

If your website rocks, your search campaigns are converting, and you have a multi-faceted digital campaign targeted at existing customers and site visitors, you’ll now want to find new customers.

This is where search retargeting comes in: targeting people who have searched for what you sell, but didn’t click on your ad or didn’t visit your website. Search retargeting is the most effective digital marketing strategy to gain new customers, and the most intent-driven approach for growing your reach to qualified audiences.

When you activate search retargeting alongside other efforts, the opportunity to reach consumers at multiple stages of the consumer funnel – upper, middle and lower – greatly increases.

5. Use mobile to connect the dots

Mobile has strengthened brands’ ability to connect and reach consumers at any time of the day and on their various devices. However, advertising on the mobile channel goes beyond serving up an ad.

With mobile, it is critical to recognise the many marketing layers, including mobile optimised websites, apps, location-based information and an overall good experience within the mobile web. These mobile elements play an important role in the consumer journey and will become more data-driven overtime.

Extending your intent-data across the mobile channel will increase the opportunities to engage with your audience and influence their brand preference.

Using data to drive marketing strategies is the future of our industry. The data and consumer insights are at your disposal – you just have to figure out what data is the most valuable and how, and when, to use it.

The Age Of Automation


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on MediaPost’s RTB Insider, May 8 2014


Automation is the name of the game. Just last year, eMarketer estimated that nearly one-fifth of display spending was automated. Additionally, one recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades, and all signs indicate that even more industries and processes will move towards automated platforms.

For the marketing industry, automated technology has been illuminated through the recent rise of programmatic buying and RTB technology. As a result, everyone in the ecosystem — from marketers to ad agencies, publishers and ad tech companies — has experienced massive shifts in their products, whom they hire,  and how they buy media, value an impression, and reach an audience. While RTB technologies and programmatic buying continue to fuel the momentum behind marketing automation, common themes are being called into question.

Has automation created fewer jobs in the ad marketplace?

Automation has undoubtedly changed the roles within marketing and advertising. We’re at an inflection point — much like we were during in the machine age — where automation and machines are redefining the way we work. In digital, the human role has changed. It’s not that we’re hiring fewer people and replacing them with computers, but we’re hiring different types of people, most of whom have an appetite for data and analytics. In some cases, companies are building entirely new roles. For example, publishers such as Meredith and The New York Timeshave on the one hand been forced to let go of many of their “traditional employees” while on the other hand have hired a new wave of employees and executives to lead their programmatic strategies. And nearly all the large agencies have established their own trading desks, staffed with hundreds of people. In fact, the growth of automated buying has potentially created more roles within the ecosystem.

Have we made the leap to fully automated marketing?

Today, we rely on systems that power efficiency and qualified marketing decisions. However, we have only scratched the surface. Yes, buying in real time and programmatically has drastically improved the way marketers reach audiences, both in terms of relevance and time. But the age of automation should take us much further than better targeting and effective media buying. In theory, it should allow us to make the leap to modeling entire brand strategies based on systematic information collected across everything from targeted display campaigns to CRM databases, cross channel devices, in-store activity, online, and so forth. The key benefit for any brand is the ability to create efficiencies and allow systems to inform your brand strategy.

Can storytelling exist with automated technology?

Programmatic has come a long way in terms of timing and audience, but in the next phase of RTB we will see a larger focus on storytelling at scale. While there will always be big brand dollars spent on large ad placements and sponsorships, data can actually assist advertisers with storytelling through sequencing (i.e. powered by dynamic creative optimization), cross-device targeting, and through the ability to set frequency caps and combine data with innovative ad formats. Although automated buying can never replace the power of the creative mind, data is being used as an ingredient for storytelling that helps brands create deeper connections with their audiences in a more efficient manner. Without an automated data approach, you wouldn’t be able to marry the right creative with the right person.

While automation is certainly here to stay, marketers that take advantage of the value of the human touch in concert with automation will have the biggest advantage as the age of automation evolves. And you humans – with your gut instinct, experience and personal interpretations of the plethora of data that exists – will be the only way that automated technology can be an advantage to marketers.

Should You Leave a Stable Job to Start Your Own Company?


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on Mashable, April 21, 2014


Creating a company from the ground up while generating a successful revenue steam is the essence of the American Dream; but if this were an easy task, there would be a flood of employees quitting their “nine-to-fives” to found startups.

The autonomy that comes along with building a business around personal goals, talents and interests is compelling for many workers who are fed up with their daily grind. On the other hand, leaving a stable employment situation can be stressful — and it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if you’re not entirely satisfied with one or more of the aspects of your current job.

As an experienced entrepreneur, I’ve learned a few pointers along the way that may help others looking to take the leap. Below are a few considerations to take into account when making the decision to start your own company.

Assess your current job status

Necessity is the mother of invention: I started my first company because no one would hire me to do exactly what I wanted. You should consider your current job status and assess whether it’s actually the right time to go off on your own. Ask yourself: Are you are happy and fulfilled, and are you making enough money?

Just because you are disappointed with your current job doesn’t necessarily mean that you should start your own company; it might simply mean that you should consider changing jobs. Attempting your own venture is something entirely different, and it can be a huge risk. Spend some time seriously thinking through all of the options before concluding that starting your own company is the right choice for you.

Take a hard look at your past experience

If a musician decides to revolutionize the medical industry, he’s likely to be met with skepticism. There are intricacies in any vertical or marketplace that one must understand. That said, an insider perspective is not always essential –- sometimes it takes an outsider to impact an industry.

If you can write code and are capable of creating a prototype of your idea on nights and weekends, this process may be helpful. Most, if not all, ideas can be prototyped (or pretotyped), and if you can do this while still working at your current position, a great deal of risk will dissipate. You might be able to go all the way to market without even quitting your job.

Consider your age, family and financial situations

As we mature, we naturally become more conservative (in the literal sense of the word): We want to conserve what we have. Young people aren’t necessarily foolish; they simply have had less time to accumulate knowledge (and wealth), and they often possess a bigger appetite for risk. Recognizing and understanding all of the challenges that lie ahead is very helpful when taking risks — and starting a company is a big one.

Regarding family and finances, the responsibility of looking after others requires time and attention, and many entrepreneurs don’t have kids when they first start out. That being said, having to provide for others can be a huge motivator. On a similar note, you need to make sure that you can pay the bills in the event that your business takes some time to get off the ground — or even if it fails to successfully launch altogether. Assessing your particular situation in-depth and keeping the channels of communication open among family members is crucial when embarking on a venture like starting a company from scratch.

Test your idea and be a good communicator

The number one reason most people don’t start their own companies is because they are unsure of what they want to accomplish — or they talk themselves out of it.

Talk to your friends, family and network, and beta test your idea. Get feedback and use it wisely. Testing the waters this way can be a good indicator of your business idea’s potential for success.

Many job descriptions require “excellent written and verbal communication skills” for a reason: Good communicators are often essential when establishing a business, product or company. You don’t necessarily have to be persuasive or an extrovert in order to be successful as a founder or CEO — but those qualities often make it easier to sell ideas. There’s nothing like an honest communicator to establish trust, and people are going to need to trust your vision. If you don’t have these skills, at some point you may need to hire someone or find a CEO with this skill set.

Be optimistic

It’s likely that you’re going to be told — many times — that whatever you are doing can’t be done. Smart people are going to tell you that you are wrong. People won’t want to invest in your idea, and you will be criticized. Use this criticism to work harder and prove the naysayers wrong. When it comes down to it, pessimists don’t start companies — optimists do. The odds are stacked against you, so you have to be able to look at the glass as half-full.

All in all, before quitting your stable job, think long and hard about the decision. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Are you able to accept the possibility of defeat? If so, you may be at the start of a road to successful entrepreneurship.


Programmatic & Native: How Content & Data-Driven Marketing Can Co-Exist


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on Marketing Land’s Display Advertising Column, April 21, 2014


Advertising is always most effective when it is well integrated into the customer experience. Over this past year, programmatic buying and native advertising (both popular buzzwords in our industry) have taken two very different approaches in enabling marketers to create engaging and relevant experiences for their audiences — one by using data, and the other by masquerading as content.

However, regardless of the channel or advertising strategy, the overall brand goal generally remains the same: to reach audiences, evoke brand experiences and, essentially, sell more products. The better the experience, the greater the chances are that you will meet your brand goals. However, none of this is possible without scale.

Even with roughly 73% of publishers offering native advertising across their sites, advertisers are more likely to buy their audience via real-time bidding (RTB), no matter what site their audiences are on, vs. buying from a particular publisher.

Native Advertising

Native advertising can be done one of two ways: either with custom advertising, which encompasses custom units within a publisher’s site, or integrated ads, which can come in the form of sponsored tweets and/or other types of ads strategically worked into the publisher’s content.

Citi Bike is a great example because it is both custom and integrated, which is the nirvana of native advertising.

Programmatic & Real Time Buying

On the other side of the fence lie programmatic and real time buying (RTB), which offer a scalable solution for marketers based on data and which make custom advertising seriously challenging.

If you only know who your ad is reaching, and don’t know exactly where the user is seeing the ad (i.e., because you are buying media via ad exchanges), then it becomes very difficult to customize the experience on a site-by-site basis. The technology used to enable this kind of customization is not on anyone’s deployment horizon.

Integrating Programmatic & Native

Even integrated advertising is difficult to implement, as it requires different types of creative for different opportunities. What native advertising needs to succeed is an oxymoron: custom integrated advertising that is standardized for scale.

In practice, this means that if you have a huge audience (think Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) then you can achieve the oxymoron because your custom advertising has a greater opportunity to reach your audience (i.e., larger percentage of the total available population). The only other plausible option is to develop a standard ad unit that can seamlessly incorporate into content so that it can integrate across enough publishers to scale.

Where programmatic and native are most likely to intersect is through programmatic premium, where publishers and marketers may be able to combine each of their strengths, instead of separating the two, and offer high quality content, enhanced relevancy and unobtrusive advertisements at scale.

Just in the last few months, we’ve seen announcements from ad tech companies (OpenX, Nativo, TripleLift) that offer products and technologies aimed at bringing together native and programmatic. Similarly, one of the first agency trading desks, Vivaki, has introduced “Audience on Demand Native,” which focuses on buying native ads in a more efficient and scalable way.

On the publisher front, if you haven’t incorporated programmatic into your inventory, you are already behind. Time Inc. recently announced expanding its private ad exchange, while Forbes CRO Mark Howard shared that programmatic buying and native advertising from BrandVoice will be key growth areas.

Other large publishers that have claimed to make changes include The Washington Post and Meredith, both of which have hired specific executives to lead programmatic efforts.

There is evidence that premium publishers are starting to place a larger emphasis on programmatic buying, which will begin to bridge that gap between custom units, such as native advertising, and and real-time, data-driven advertising. Even though these two trends can co-exist, I do think it will be some time before native takes on the characteristics of programmatic buying.

Programmatic Vs. Native

While some may argue that programmatic represents a better strategy for marketers to understand and engage their target audiences, others favor more content-related marketing approaches such as native advertising.

The answer is that there should be room and budget for both. Whichever strategy you choose, you should make sure to leverage data and ad targeting alongside any custom advertising strategy or you may find your brand lacking scale, and therefore, not reaching audiences and selling enough products.

Head Back to School With Search Retargeting!

Summer might be on its way, but back-to-school (BTS) season is already on our minds. This year, Magnetic wants to help you get an A+ with search retargeting!

bts graphic

We looked at searches surrounding the back-to-school  season, and identified some definitive trends. Consumers are using digital coupons more and more — last year 89% of consumers’ BTS purchases were influenced by coupons, sales, and/or promotions. Searches for deals included computers, backpacks, supplies, shoes, and clothing.

Another study tip: timing is key! 24% of families with students grades K-12 were already shopping by July in 2013, so don’t miss out. Additionally, PriceGrabber shared insights from their July 2013 consumer survey that highlighted which retailers were top of mind for consumers BTS items.



Click on our info-graphic below for more detailed insights!


Magnetic’s Viewability Roadshow Makes Its 6th Stop!

Magnetic’s Attribution Revolution: The Viewability Series made its final stop for this spring at The Townsend Hotel in Detroit. The lively event featured cocktails, food, and a thought-provoking panel discussion led by some of the greatest minds in the industry.

Speakers Included:

  • James Green, CEO, Magnetic (Moderator)
  • Philip Shih, Director, Audience Strategy, VivaKi
  • Scott Cunningham, SVP of Product, sovrn Holdings, Inc.
  • Scott Knoll, CEO, Integral Ad Science
  • Steve Dennen, Vice President, comScore

Scott Knoll of Integral Ad Science kicked-off the panel with a live demonstration of a botnet-infected computer. Knoll explained that users typically do not notice the presence of a botnet, and revealed how more than a thousand fraudulent ads would be served within the duration of one hour – and this was only for one computer. Furthermore, according to Knoll, “fraud tends to have really high viewability.”

The demonstration launched a heated discussion about the core challenges associated with fraud and non-human traffic in display advertising, along with the value that real-time buying brings to the market. According to Cunningham, “The programmatic space grew out of reach and scale…what’s been lacking is the layer of quality control.” Panelists also touched upon key themes including industry adoption, standardization, and what technologies marketers can currently use to help solve for viewability.

Stay tuned for the full panel video recording, which will be available online soon! And make sure to check out the sizzle reel that helped open the panel discussion!



Magnetic’s Viewability Series Visits Boston!

This past week, Magnetic brought its 2014 Roadshow, Attribution Revolution: The Viewability Series, to Boston. Following an energetic hour of networking and cocktails at Boston’s Anthem Kitchen + Bar in Faneuil Hall, guests joined a panel discussion focused on Viewability in RTB: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Speakers Included:

  • James Green, CEO, Magnetic (Moderator)
  • Anne Hunter, SVP Global Marketing Strategy, comScore
  • Cheryl Stump, Director of AOD Video, VivaKi
  • David Hahn, SVP Product Management and Customer Service, Integral Ad Science
  • Scott Cunningham, SVP of Product, sovrn Holdings

David Hahn of Integral Ad Science captured the room’s attention at the start with a live demonstration of a botnet-infected computer that would serve thousands of fraudulent ads for the duration of the panel. Hahn explained that when a machine is infected, a profile is built that makes the user a high-value target for advertisers. Users typically do not notice the presence of a botnet since it operates below the browser.

Following the live demo, the panelists dove into a heated conversation that touched on key themes, including industry adoption, standardization, and current technologies that help solve for viewability. When considering the future of media buying, Hahn is confident that “the next generation of ad tech will be more sophisticated and more transparent.”

Some of the evening’s top tweets included:

  • 85% of clicks on display ads are from only 8% of the Internet population #comscore #attributionrevolution
  • Click through, view through and, to some degree, CPA models encourage unethical behavior by publishers #viewability #attributionrevolution
  • Viewability is finally standardized by the @iab but it’s only 1 second for a display ad #attributionrevolution

At the close of the panel, Green assured the audience that “The problem has been identified, there people are working to solve this problem, and it will get solved.”

Check out some pictures from the event below!


The Ins And Outs Of Buying Media Via RTB


by James Green
CEO, Magnetic



Featured on MediaPost’s RTB Insider, March 31, 2014


RTB is growing even faster that we expected. eMarketer predicts that U.S. advertisers will spend $8.69 billion on RTB ads by 2017. RTB’s growth isn’t just from display advertising — it’s now rapidly expanding into mobile and video, and some even predict that it will eventually move to TV.

There are many ins and outs of buying media over RTB, which can be confusing for brands that are just beginning to enter the marketplace. The variables in pricing, management systems and types of campaign deliveries can be daunting. Here’s what we’ve learned along the road to successfully delivered ad impressions:

Valuing a Bid

There is a level of sophistication that brands must take into account when it comes to bid management, and I’m not convinced it is as prevalent in the market as many may think. It’s pretty obvious that flat-bid pricing exists, since many bids are won around “round numbers” like $1 or $1.50. If the market was truly using really variable bid pricing, it would be highly unlikely for those bid numbers to remain as static as they do. Although publishers setting (round number) floors on their pricing is one reason that prices don’t fall further.

Sophisticated players value every bid differently as they let the data inform/determine the market value of the person you are bidding for. Data such as context, time of day and ad sequence all add up to give a specific value at any given moment in time. The only way to do this is to have optimization engines that can calculate bids based on outcomes you are looking for (CPA, CPC, or other metrics).

Price has a direct correlation to winning rate, so it can be worth bidding high when your algorithm says you will be targeting the person you are hoping to reach. For example, companies may sell an ad campaign for a flat $4 CPM but buy some inventory way above that price, often in the tens of dollars, because they know that a certain target has a high probability to convert. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.

Another key point is that bidding high does not always mean paying a high CPM. A majority of RTB exchanges do play by rules of second-price auction. As bid prices increase, the higher the spread between bid price and paid price.

Another must-have investment is fraud-detection software that can help you avoid non-human traffic, saving you a small fortune and providing peace of mind that your ad is being delivered to a real person. One important part of a bid calculation formula is accounting for quality inventory (if you’re an optimist) and fraud (for you pessimists). Make sure to also use external signals as well as home-grown detection systems to ensure that you’re serving the ad to a real person in a clean, well-lit environment. These quality algorithms should be required for value-based bidding.

RTB for Branding vs. Direct Response Campaigns

Although CPA direct-response campaigns are popular for marketers, they are usually not a very fair trade for the publisher/ad sales organization. For CPA campaigns, the most prevalent model is by far “post-click attribution.” Given the near-unanimous understanding that click-through rate (CTR) is not correlated with sales — or put more bluntly, the number of people who click on an ad are a small fraction of the people who actually buy the product — this means that the ad sales organization is really making more sales (or, at minimum, influencing more people) than they are getting credit for.

CPC campaigns can be big problems for marketers, yet they are far less risky for the publisher/ad sales organizations. The inside joke among ad technology companies is that any optimization algorithm that optimizes for CTR rate is synonymous with a (primitive) fraud detection device. BotNets always have good CTRs, so if your algorithm isn’t paired with a good fraud detection service, you are likely to get clicks from non-human traffic. Again, to put it more bluntly: if the click-through rate looks too good to be true, it is. Do not rely on exchanges for fraud detection, and instead implement some sort of pre-bid fraud detection technology.

For branding campaigns, defining the target metric can be much more difficult.  Typically “interaction” or the dreaded CTR is suggested as a metric. The better solution is to go back to the future, and pay for a control segment, and then measure the increase in brand awareness, propensity to purchase, or whatever the goal is for the branding campaign. It can be simple for vendors to game the system and artificially make a control group look worse than the branding campaign, so make sure you (the advertiser) control which creative is shown, so you know that your control group is statistically relevant and that you’re able to measure your results.

As we, and the technology gets smarter, we will continue to face new hurdles for RTB. The more transparent the value chain becomes, from publishers to the service providers, the more we can help our customers reach their customers with efficient and effective marketing messages.