The Best of AdMonsters 2012

Programmatic premium, mobile malvertising and more

This wraps up my first full year at AdMonsters as US Editor, and it’s been a helluva ride. The AdMonsters editorial team has spent 2012 finding its voice in an ever-crowded landscape of ad tech trades, and the below list shows our successes, including content from our recently introduced Connect series of sponsored, in-depth feature stories examining the most pertinent issues for the industry. 

But these pieces also offer interesting insight into what was hot on the minds of digital strategists across the ecosystem: programmatic premium, the evolution of SSPs, increasing the efficiency of RTB and mobile rich media. It also makes me ponder a great deal about what will be on the agenda for 2013 – something I’ll go into more detail about on Friday.

Paths to Programmatic Premium” While Part 1 sought to push the definition of programmatic trading beyond RTB, Part 2 examined the actual publisher tools being labeled “programmatic premium” (namely private exchanges and programmatic guaranteed) and how their widespread adoption would ultimately destroy our current notion of premium only to leave something bigger and bolder in its place. 

However, Upstream Group’s Doug Weaver summed up the 2012 situation best: “What marketers want is not necessarily real-time bidding – they want a data-enhanced relationship with premium content. Programmatic premium is a direction, it’s a desire – it’s also not particularly scalable or profitable right now.” Look for far more action in this are in 2013.

The State of SSPs: Classic vs. New.” It seems only a few years ago supply side platforms were a vanity tool that major media companies with money to burn could afford; however, at the beginning of 2012, Forrester’s Michael Greene labeled SSPs a “vital part of the publisher tech stack.” We undertook an in-depth analysis of Forrester’s report and reached out to various SSPs about the decision to separate the six companies analyzed into “classic” and “new” – out of the box products and completely customizable tech platform, respectively.

The Rubicon Project’s Frank Addante noted: “We believe the ‘classic’ vs. ‘new’ SSP does not have a clear distinction because all the vendors provide programmatic buying. Programmatic buying means there are business rules for how inventory is allocated to bidders and what price bidders are willing to pay on what inventory. This is not a new for some of the ‘classic’ SSPs.”

Cracking Mobile: A Guide to Malvertising.” Publishers aren’t the only group taking action to meet the smartphone revolution and mobile traffic explosion: fraudsters, black hats and other villains see the thriving mobile ecosystem as a playground for malvertising. Elias Manousos, President and CEO of RiskIQ, noted one growing practice: “Many ads are disguised as application functionality, clicking on ads that look to be part of the app can trigger the malvertisement or encourage the installation of a malicious app. Consumers should think twice about granting certain permissions to apps that don’t require those permissions to function (for example, access to contact book and SMS).” 

Making RTB a More Efficient Marketplace for Both Sides.” The Rubicon Project’s Neil Richter, Ph.D., and Jordan Mitchell lay out the chief problems with RTB right off: “Supply exceeds demand, and auction-based pricing combined with low bid density results in a market rife with arbitrage.” Achieving a marketplace of equal benefit to buyers and sellers requires advances in transparency (in terms of inventory classification and pricing) and multi-bid responses.

MRAID: A New Frontier for In-App Advertising.” Walter Harp, VP of Product Management and Marketing at Mixpo, wrote: “While MRAID is a big step forward, it’s not a panacea. Apple, for example, did not participate in the IAB formation committee for MRAID. (Sad face.) And there are a couple of other challenges in this realm. That said, in-app advertising is rev’ing up. It’s happening and it’s cool.”

Consolidation and the Future of Display Advertising.” Erich Wasserman, cofounder and General Manager of EMEA at MediaMath, argued: “What the most sophisticated advertisers in the world know is that the display space is far more intricate and fragmented than a channel like search, which is dominated by a single player. To work at scale, display requires a mixed group comprised of publishers, networks, exchanges, targeting and optimisation technologies, analytics providers, and many others. So it’s improbable that one or two dominant players will emerge to lead the market. In fact, it is far more likely and healthier for all concerned that interoperability between best of breed solutions in the display market will allow the digital industry to play to its biggest strength: innovation.”

99 Problems and the GIF Is Still One.” Mobile Editor Maria Tucker wrote: “As we consider the issue of backup .gifs being served in place of Flash creative, we must keep in mind that reporting the number of times these .gifs are served is not a simple process. According to O’Neill Stanleigh of Ogilvy, there are currently challenges to reporting on the serving of backup .gifs because the backup .gif and the Flash creative are typically ‘bundled together as one entity within ad server delivery systems.’ Stanleigh says, ‘Though it is easy to report on dedicated *default* ads, reporting on backups is not always so straight-forward.'”

Cracking the Cookie Conundrum With Device ID.” BlueCava CEO David Norris commented: “As the cookie-based model crumbles around us, advertisers need to be thinking proactively about how to continue to reliably recognize their visitors and target their audiences. Device identification technology is a viable route to consider.

Much More Than a Trading Desk: Q&A With Paul Dolan, Managing Director, North America, Xaxis.” “While Xaxis does offer trading desk functionality within our suite of services, it’s really only one element in the overall picture of what we do. On a macro level, Xaxis allows advertisers to manage their entire digital audience-buying program from a single location from which they can reach the industry’s largest universe of audience portraits.  Not just in display, but in online video, mobile and social.  Also, unlike most trading desks, Xaxis gives advertisers access to the benefits of audience buying – efficiency, scale, performance – without giving up on premium content.  

Attributes of Attribution: Q&A With Paul Pellman, CEO, Adometry.” “Audience verification is very real. All media buyers are buying audiences to some degree, whether they are choosing publishers based on their audiences, or using audience targeting. What Adometry provides is a way to monitor what audiences are actually being reached with each online campaign. As we collect ad verification data, we match that with anonymous segment data from our partners to show what types of users were reached and on which sources. When you marry this with ad viewability, our solution provides powerful insights – you can see not only the audiences you’re reaching, but those audiences actually seeing and engaging with the ads.”