Top 10 things you need to know about programmatic but were too afraid to ask

At its recent Programmatic Summit in Los Angeles, the IAB highlighted 10 things people should really know about programmatic advertising. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Programmatic is big and it’s getting bigger. Real-time bidding (RTB) and programmatic aren’t exactly one and the same because RTB is actually just a subset of programmatic. Also, programmatic still has its fair share of challenges to overcome if it will to truly live up to its potential. While fraud and trust are particularly challenging issues, they’re being addressed by the industry through the development of an accountability program, as well as other initiatives.

Measurement is even more important in a programmatic environment. Attribution is also critical in order to make programmatic spending more efficient. Finally, creativity and programmatic are not enemies.

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There’s no reason to be afraid of programmatic ad buying. Some buyers fear the transition towards automation will put their jobs in jeopardy. In fact, it’s actually enabling them to better focus on the more strategic choices involved with ad buying. So, they’ll still have a job; it just might be a different one.

If industry insiders keep an eye on the dynamic changes evolving in their space, they’ll see that they have an opportunity to similarly transition their roles. New jobs and opportunities will be created as programmatic continues to gain momentum, as is the case when businesses outsource positions, for example.

Digital marketing staff need to remember that change is the norm, and learning as much as possible about programmatic is the best way for ad buyers to flourish and prosper in the programmatic ad buying ecosystem.

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Facebook Exchange (FBX) Has Arrived on SiteScout!

by Ratko Vidakovic on October 30, 2014 · 10 comments

At SiteScout, we continue to innovate and bring RTB technology to the marketing masses, which is why we are happy to introduce Facebook Exchange (FBX) inventory to the platform! FBX has been universally desired by almost every advertiser, which is no surprise, given that they are one of the largest publishers on the web, with lots of valuable display inventory.

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Why Every Marketer Should Leverage Retargeting

Retargeting has become an essential modern marketing tactic. In a recent article for Marketing Land, SiteScout’s Ratio Vidakovic explains why: it increases the effectiveness of all other marketing endeavours, raising brand awareness and bolstering brand recall in particular. It also drives consumers down the sales funnel, allowing multiple opportunities for conversion.

Cookies make all this possible. As visitors land on a publisher’s page, a piece of code adds cookies to their browsers. They’re then included in audiences lists that can be retargeted with campaigns designed specifically for their audience. The power of RTB makes retargeting campaigns particularly powerful; these campaigns are highly targeted, heavily engaging, offer greater reach and all with lower overall campaign costs.

Other reasons to engage in retargeting include allowing to build an asset by capturing audience data, enhanced campaign performance and the ability to up-sell, cross-sell or onboard converted visitors.

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RTB Zeitgeist: Study Says Programmatic Major Time-Saver

by Ratko Vidakovic on October 14, 2014 · 0 comments

Study Says Programmatic Major Time-Saver

People aren’t worried about being replaced by robots, and instead see tech as a time-saver. At least, that’s the prevailing opinion in the advertising industry.

According to a recent AOL study, more than half (57%) of industry execs don’t think that programmatic technology replaces people. But more than a third of participants felt that the biggest issue facing the programmatic space is a skill gap requiring a strategic plug.

Some of the participants also feel that the tech is a time-saver. Two-thirds said programmatic frees up their time so they can focus more on talking strategy. A third said it gives them more time to focus on value-added services. Another third added that they have more time to spend communicating with clients thanks to programmatic.

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Webinar: SiteScout DSP Updates (October 2014 Edition)

by Ratko Vidakovic on October 9, 2014 · 0 comments

SiteScout DSP Updates with Ben Zelikovitz

Yesterday we announced a variety of new features and improvements to the SiteScout DSP. We will be hosting a live webinar next week to give an overview and guided tour of all the new functionality.

During this webinar, Ben Zelikovitz will be showcasing all the new features and functionality of the SiteScout DSP, which include: video reporting, automatic click macro insertion, inline budget editing, event pixel overhaul, and other improvements.

Both during and after the presentation, Ben will be answering questions from attendees like you, so don’t miss your chance to ask him anything.

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SiteScout DSP Product Update: October 2014 Edition

by Ratko Vidakovic on October 8, 2014 · 0 comments

It’s time again for the latest updates from the SiteScout DSP. Over the last few weeks, there has been a strong focus on enhancing the performance and stability of the platform as our usage surpasses record levels. We have released numerous improvements to the product, making it more robust and dependable, as well as heavily-requested features that we are happy to finally announce.

Here is a quick summary of what’s new, in case you want to skip to the most relevant section:

Video Reporting
Automatic Click Macro Insertion
Inline Budget Editing
Event Pixel Overhaul
Metric Calculation Improvements
Performance Enhancements & Bug Fixes
Upcoming Webinar

And with that, let’s dive in…

Enhancement: Video Reporting

When running a video campaign, different metrics are used as key performance indicators. The most notable is completion rate (the percentage of viewers that watched the entirety of the video ad), but there are more. The new metrics include:

  • Video Starts
  • 100% Completions
  • Completion Rate (%)

All of these stats are now available in the detailed campaign reporting screens within the UI: sites, placements, ads, hourly, and daily. Additional stats, such as Skips and Skip Rate (%), will be coming in near future.

New Feature: Automatic Click Macro Insertion

One of the biggest hassles for people who traffic ad tags on a daily basis is making sure that click macros are correctly inserted for the appropriate platform. If done incorrectly, campaign clicks won’t get tracked within the SiteScout interface. That’s why we’ve added automatic click macro insertion to the ad tag form:

If we recognize an ad server tag, the option will appear to have SiteScout automatically insert the macros. Pressing “Insert Macros” takes care of this for you in one click. We are initially supporting DFA (DoubleClick for Advertisers) and MediaMind (Sizmek) ad tags, but will add more depending on demand.

New Feature: Inline Budget Editing

A common task for any media buyer is the adjustment of daily budgets. It happens pretty frequently. Having to open up and edit a campaign in order to edit the daily budget is fine if it’s infrequent. But if you have to do it frequently, or for a large number of campaigns, which is often the case, it becomes a hassle. That’s why we now allow you to edit the daily or lifetime budget of a campaign inline within the campaigns grid, similar to the way you can edit the default bid or status of a campaign — within seconds.

Improvement: Event Pixel Overhaul

Not that long ago, we overhauled our previous “LP Clicks” tracking feature. It was a capability that allowed you to track how many people were clicking on the calls-to-action on your landing pages. Although this was valuable to some users, it was limited in its utility. It is now known as “event” tracking. Events lead up to conversions, and they can be triggered by either link clicks or page loads.

We just released a new feature that allows you to fire an event using an image pixel. This allows you to tag a mid-funnel page and have the actions counted as “events” — a mid-step towards conversion. This is highly beneficial and recommended for optimization.

Improvement: Metric Labels & Calculations

We have gone through and revised a number of metrics calculations to ensure consistency and correctness. We have also clarified labels. For example, eCPM and eCPC used to be calculated on media cost only. They are now called “Total eCPM” and “Total eCPC”, and include data costs.

Enhancement: Performance & Bug Fixes

Over the last two months, performance and stability was a major focus for us. Several issues resulting in slow UI response were investigated and resolved, improving load times and reliability. Tab loading, campaign editing, and campaign reporting are now significantly faster. We have also significantly reduced the frequency of crashes within the interface.

Upcoming: Live Webinar

Next week I will be co-hosting a user webinar with Ben Zelikovitz to present a live demo of all the new features and to answer all of your questions. Stay tuned as the webinar details will be announced later this week.

That’s it for now, but there is a lot of exciting stuff in the queue. I look forward to sharing them with you in the near future!

RTB Zeitgeist: How Brands Measure in a Programmatic World

by Ratko Vidakovic on September 29, 2014 · 0 comments

How Brands Should Measure in a Programmatic World

Measurement matters in a programmatic buying environment. You can’t just import traditional measurement methods, though. The measurement must fit the workflow.

In a programmatic buying environment, analytics has to be more accurate and stable than the initial modelling used for the programmatic buy. That means it has to be a more dependable information source than what’s provided in the programmatic scheme pre-transaction. It also has to be quick enough to let actions be taken throughout a campaign, and needs to be sufficiently granular in order to identify areas where action is required.

Programmatic measurement must also be easily accessed. It should address the fundamental objectives that marketers are trying to accomplish. Finally, programmatic measurement must be independent and unbiased.

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WFA releases programmatic media guidelines for brands

What do Coca-Cola, MasterCard and Philips have in common? They’re members of a programmatic ‘taskforce’ organized by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The announcement accompanied the WFA’s release of a set of programmatic guidelines, which are geared towards helping brands to better tackle programmatic ad trading and tackle issues around transparency and arbitrage. Coca-Cola, Mastercard and Philips, along with other major blue chip companies (including Boehringer Ingelheim, Deutsche Telekom, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson) will champion programmatic understanding, education and “interrogation” to ensure advertisers realize the full value out of the unreserved use of the channel.

The guide includes important steps for brands to take if they wish to improve upon their return-on-investment in the programmatic market, including tips on asking the right questions, negotiating with suppliers and understanding different technology stacks.

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Last week we hosted an awesome webinar, led by our own Ben Zelikovitz, which covered all the new SiteScout DSP updates that we announced in August. It was our most popular webinar to date, reaching the 100-attendee capacity in the first five minutes. So, if you weren’t able to get in to the live session, or if you missed the event altogether, sit back, relax, and enjoy the replay.

(Pro tip: For the best viewing experience, we highly recommend watching with HD enabled in full screen mode.)

Programmatic Is Ready To Deliver What Brand Marketers Want

Thanks to real-time bidding, programmatic technology has finally got what big brand advertisers need.

Audience-based RTB buying forever changed the way the advertising and marketing industry think about buying and selling online ads. The problem for premium-brand advertisers when RTB emerged was that, despite a desire to automate, there weren’t any controls or guarantees for their ad budgets. That was then. Now, RTB has inspired new forms of programmatic ad buying, like automatic guaranteed (programmatic direct), which is as efficient as RTB, but not as risky. Direct could be seen as an attractive prospect for both major advertisers and publishers alike.

With many automation options becoming available, expect big brands to automate all their online advertising, but doing so in their own way.

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Webinar: SiteScout DSP Updates (August 2014)

by Ratko Vidakovic on August 27, 2014 · 0 comments

Product Updates with Ben Zelikovitz

Earlier this month we announced a variety of new features and improvements to the SiteScout DSP. We will be hosting a live webinar in two weeks from now to give an overview and guided tour of all the new functionality.

During this webinar, Ben Zelikovitz will be showcasing all the new features and functionality of the SiteScout DSP, which include: new inventory, new data partners, campaign groups and folders, mobile rich media (MRAID), and various other improvements.

Both during and after the presentation, Ben will be answering questions from webinar attendees, so don’t miss your chance to ask him anything.

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RTB Zeitgeist: Looking Beyond CTR

by Ratko Vidakovic on August 18, 2014 · 0 comments

RTBs Coming of Age: Looking Beyond CTR

It’s high time advertisers moved beyond antiquated key performance indicators such as click-through rates when they analyze their mobile advertising and RTB strategies.

Advertisers need to start realizing that clicks aren’t the best mobile metric. Post click or view metrics are much more effective in terms of gaining insight into a campaign’s success. Third-party tags/SDKs and integration with media providers are factors brands can study to make the move towards more effective campaign optimization and success. It comes down to measuring consumer interaction after the click. That process will help brands to create dynamic KPIs based on engagement actions.

In measuring such actions, brands will be able to better understand the quality of each first click coming from their consumers. This analysis, ultimately, will help them increase efficiency and return on advertising spend.

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SiteScout Product Update: August 2014 Edition

by Ratko Vidakovic on August 5, 2014 · 0 comments

The last four months here at SiteScout have been extremely productive, as we strive towards becoming the most powerful and intuitive ad platform out there. As a result, we have a massive update for you, but we’ve broken it down for easy consumption.

There have been significant product improvements from practically every aspect of the platform: inventory, data partners, video enhancements, workflow, user experience, and much more. Moving forward, we plan to put out more frequent updates for easier digestion, but for now, let’s focus on what’s new!

Our Newest Audience Data Partner: BlueKai

We have integrated with the largest data exchange in the world: BlueKai. You can think of BlueKai as the AppNexus of data. They are like a galaxy of data providers. If you want 3rd party audience data to target against, you can get pretty much access anything through BlueKai.

To put things in perspective, BlueKai has over 25,000 data segments! To keep things manageable though, we’ve decided to hand pick some initial data providers from BlueKai before opening up more. The first two data providers are Bizo, the leader in B2B audience data, and Polk, the leader in automotive data.

Additional data providers are in the process of being released very shortly. The next ones in the queue are DataLogix CPG and Symphony IRI data. However, if you have any specific requests of your own, please email and we will put it in the queue.

To access BlueKai data, simply create an Audience campaign, and you will see these new data segments once you reach the Audiences tab.

Folders & Campaign Groups

When we first built the SiteScout RTB platform, we wanted to keep it easy to use. So creating a complex hierarchy of campaigns and folders was something that we chose not to focus on initially. But, we are now introducing folders and campaign groups, which will allow agencies to organize their advertisers, campaigns, and tactics in a very logical way.

First, we’ve introduced folders. Folders make it easier for you to organize your campaigns and keep your dashboards tidy. Furthermore, if your account has dozens or hundreds of campaigns, using folders (or groups) will drastically speed up your experience in the UI. You can nest folders up to four levels deep, which means that you have the flexibility to organize your account as you see fit.

For example, you could organize your campaigns by:

  • Division (East, West, Central, etc.)
  • Year (2014, 2013, 2012, etc.)
  • Client (Pepsi, Toyota, Nike, etc.)
  • Campaign (Diet Pepsi, Q4 Awareness, etc.)
  • And so on.

Once you get down to the campaign level, Campaign Groups allow you to, as the name suggests, group campaigns into an overarching group with a shared budget. This makes it possible to create a Campaign Group with a singular goal, but with a variety of campaign tactics within it, like contextual, audience, retargeting, and domain targeting.

More importantly, with a strict daily budget set at the group level, it’s no longer necessary to babysit a multitude of campaigns to make sure that the aggregate daily budget is pacing correctly.

Campaign groups have a number of budgeting options: no budget (in which case only the campaign-level budgets would be used), daily budget, and all-time budget. We are currently working on enhancements to our pacing system that would allow all-time budgets to be automatically paced across flight dates, which will be huge!

When creating a campaign group, you can import existing campaigns into it. This operation essentially copies the campaign to the new group and archives the old instance.

Mobile Rich Media (MRAID) Support

You can now safely run your MRAID (mobile rich media) creative on SiteScout! We have adjusted the “Add Creative” menu to account for this new support. The former “Rich media ad tag” option has been renamed to “Expandable (Web)” and a new MRAID ad tag option is now available. Ad tags uploaded using this dialog will only bid on impressions that support the MRAID version you specify.

(Side Note: Even though we fully support the use of Celtra tags, we don’t have their official seal of approval just yet. We are working on Celtra certification as we speak, and expect full certification soon!)

Video Campaign Enhancements

Since launching Video campaigns back in March, there have been a number of enhancements, making it much more powerful. We’ve added SpotXchange and LiveRail to complement our existing relationship with BrightRoll.

SpotXchange brings a variety of new inventory; from premium websites like ABC, Pandora, AMC, and a number of the ComScore 500 brand name publishers, to more niche, long-tail websites that are best used to achieve reach on user generated content sites, for example. Overall, they provide our platform with 12 billion additional video impressions per month.

(Side Note: While we are not yet fully ramped up nationwide across all US SpotXchange inventory, we do expect full coverage for both US and Canada by the end of the week.)

Recently acquired by Facebook, LiveRail is best known for being the number one source of DailyMotion inventory. Through this partnership, it has opened up roughly 1 billion additional video impressions per month. But we are slowly ramping them up, so expect that number to increase significantly.

In the near future, we will also be adding additional video reporting, which will include: completed views, quartile reporting, skips, and more. Expect this announcement in our next update.

New Inventory Sources

We’ve added several new sources of unique inventory based on demand and expected performance.

GumGum is one of those sources: They offer unique in-image and in-screen ad formats. In-image ads are where the creative floats over top of images within web pages. As a result, the supported ad sizes are different than usual. The most common sizes are 728×90, 468×60, and 320×50, with 234×60 also available. Here is how it looks:

In-screen ads are where the creative floats at the bottom of the page. Both mobile and desktop inventory are available for this format. See the below image for an example:

Generally, CTR are higher with these formats than other placements because the ads are so adjacent to the content. Moreover, ad tags are not loaded until the ad is in the browser viewport, which means that these ad units have very high viewability, as shown in this report from DoubleVerify.

We have also added quite a bit of niche inventory to the platform. AdNetwork.Net is an exchange that’s focused on Latin America inventory. They are the exclusive seller of Gawker Media inventory in Latin America, and have roughly 65 million impressions per day. Batanga is another Latin American exchange with an average daily volume of 35 million impressions. Ybrant Digital is a performance marketing exchange with an average daily volume of 35 million impressions. And Media Shakers is a performance marketing exchange with an average daily volume of 200 million impressions.

More Product Improvements

Now that we’ve covered the major updates to the platform, let’s dive into the various miscellaneous improvements that have enhanced the user experience.

Enhancement: Geo-Targeting Design

When creating a new campaign, we have redesigned the area where you choose the locations to target. The new design is an attempt to improve the intuitiveness of the targeting logic. (Locations are always “or” rules between lines, except for exclusions, which are always “and” rules).

To add geographic regions like country, state/province, or city, clicking the big green “Browse & Add Locations” button will bring up the familiar tree list. In addition, we’ve also added a handy lookup tool for DMA codes, which means no more having to memorize codes. Simply click the “Lookup…” button in the DMA section.

New Basic Optimization Feature: Optimize To CTR

By popular request, we have added a new option to our Basic Optimization feature: Optimize to CTR. With this option, you can now specify a minimum CTR and sample size. Once the sample size is reached, if the placement hasn’t reached the minimum CTR, it is automatically turned off.

New Inventory Feature: “Add All” Button

We’ve also created an “Add All” button for adding all the visible sites within the inventory screen when creating a new campaign. This button supports the bulk addition of up to 2000 sites.

If there are more than 2000 sites listed, the “Add All” button will be greyed out. To narrow down the size of your site list, simply add additional filters.

(Pro Tip: For an easy and effective way to narrow down a site list, use the ‘Minimum Impressions’ filter to show only sites above a specific number of daily impressions.)

Improvement: Increased Inventory Export Limit

When viewing the Inventory tab, there has always been an Export button that allowed you to export your current view of the site list. You can export the entire, unfiltered site list, for your own offline planning. However, if you wish to filter the list, and then export it, you can do so as well, but there is a limit to how many sites you can export. The limit used to be 1000 sites, but that limit has now been increased to 10,000.

Improvement: Ad Quality Process Change

After creating a campaign, if you wanted to add additional sites, those sites would automatically require review before becoming active, but no longer. Sites now immediately default to “eligible” review status, which means they are active. This should speed up the review process and allow you to scale your campaigns that much quicker.

New Payment Option: PayPal Support

We have always supported PayPal as a payment option for funding your account. However, it was never integrated within the interface… until now.

You can now easily fund your account via PayPal or credit card, right from the platform.

New Feature: Easily Apply for API Key

When logged in to the SiteScout interface, there is now an option in the Help menu that lets you apply for an API key. Simply accept the Terms and Conditions, and a request will be generated automatically. One of our digital media specialists will reach out to you with follow up questions before your key is generated. Once you have your API key, you will be able to programmatically create and control campaigns, and you will be able to access all of your campaign reporting and asset statistics.

New Feature: Bulk Add Sites By Site ID

You can now add a “whitelist”, so to speak, composed of sites (using their Site IDs) when creating a campaign and adding inventory targets.

By using the “Add Sites by ID” button on the Inventory screen of the campaign editor, you can paste a line-separated list of Site IDs in the format of “1-12345″ (as shown in Detailed Reporting and elsewhere throughout the UI).

New Feature: Search Field For Contextual and Audience Segment Selection

Many people have been asking for an easier way to find the category or segment name that they want, without having to manually browse through the various tree grids in the interface.

We solved this by adding a search field above the grids, making it easy to find the segment of your choice by name.

Performance Improvements and Bug Fixes

It’s also worth noting that there have been numerous bug fixes within the platform, so the overall user experience should be much improved. Furthermore, there have been countless improvements in how we display error messages (such as providing more direction to troubleshoot the error), and in the overall performance and stability of the platform.

Stay Tuned For More

That’s it for now, but there is much more in the pipeline. We have some exciting announcements just around the corner that we know you will love. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions or feedback about this product update!

The Rise Of The Programmatic Media Specialist

There’s a new type of player needed by every savvy media agency: the programmatic specialist.

It’s a title that’s quickly on the rise due to quickly-advancing programmatic technology, data, and a planning/optimization paradigm turned on its head. We have seen the split at about 70% optimization and 30% planning. Due to client demand, media teams must now be able to optimize on the fly, in real-time. This strategy requires the introduction of new skill sets in order to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving field.

Agencies need to find people with a working knowledge of tools in dashboards, who can approach tasks quantitatively and analytically, and be able to manage esoteric tech and large data sets in order to affect client KPIs. It all comes down to adopting new models and attracting strong, transformational talent.

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