Leading Operations Online

October 20, 2014 Ad Server Gavin Dunaway

“This industry is literally 20 years old,” comments Michael Alania, EVP at Outsourced Ad Ops and witness to the at-times insanely rapid evolution of digital advertising and the operations role at its core. “You look at where we are now versus where we’ve come from, it’s pretty staggering. And with how quickly technology is developing and evolving, you have to wonder where we’ll be in another 20 years.” 

 It’s something to ruminate on, and fortunately I am in a room full of ruminators – Alania, OAO Founder and President Craig Leshen, who began his career in ops back in 1996 at Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, and AdMonsters Content Czar Rob Beeler, who gained his ops laurels while deep in the Advance Internet (now Advance Digital) stack. Over coffee and pastries, they are taking a trip back to the days before third-party ad servers, and when hacking was standard operating procedure. I’ve been allowed to sit in and take notes, occasionally nagging for more details about the distant past – which...

Last week at the BrightRoll Video Summit during Advertising Week, I heard Ben Jankowski (Group Head of Global Media at MasterCard) say, "If you've figured out programmatic, you're either a genius or an idiot." 

I feel confident saying I haven't figured out programmatic, and I hope this improves my odds on being a genius (50/50 isn't good enough for me). But the comment sparked a thought which reached deep into my Economics background on what, exactly, it means to “figure out” something like programmatic.

After all, programmatic is simply a mechanism for determining the price of a product. While there can be many products available in the programmatic system (ad positions that reach various demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral groups), the programmatic system simply matches buyers to sellers. As such, it is really just an automated market.

It occurred to me, across history, there have been many people who believe they have “figured out” markets. Certainly some have been more successful than others in markets: Warren...

In the past, the acronym CPA had a simple connotation for publishers: low payout. Particularly in the post-bubble digital advertising world, CPA campaigns seemed a desperate alternative when CPMs had hit rock bottom. But more than a decade later, Epom Head of Sales Andrew Lebowski argues that in the age of programmatic and analytics, CPA isn’t yesterday’s “cost per acquisition.”

CPA can be a powerful route for advertisers, particularly ones who look beyond conversions and seek insight into their target audiences. In turn, it’s a healthier revenuefor publishers – particularly when it comes to the desertknown as mobile. I chatted with Lebowski about current CPA business, the mobile opportunity and thwarting bot traffic. We even ventured further down the rabbit hole to debate how networks can stay viable despite being squeezed on all sides.

GD: What do you think CPA means/includes in 2014? How has the practice has evolved?


The conversation is inevitable. While the phrasing always varies, it starts along these lines:

“We have some extra space in the footer, do you think we could squeeze another 728x90 in there?” or maybe, “Most of our article pages extend beyond 1400 pixels, that means we can fit another 160x600 on the rail, right?”

Market inefficiencies are meant to be exploited, and the CPM ad model is easily taken advantage of. As long as more ad inventory equates to additional revenue, incentives exist to paste another placement on a page. 

The surface benefits of this ‘strategy’ are clear. In most cases adding that buried 728x90 to the footer will lead to additional impressions, increased revenue, and a higher page RPM. Even in scenarios where the unit is excluded from your direct sales, and performs poorly in programmatic auctions, you’re still monetizing 100% of the impressions and returning a measurable daily revenue boost.

So what’s the problem? Additional revenue is hard to argue with, and increasing overall earnings by pasting...

September 8, 2014 mobile Gavin Dunaway

Last week in an interview with JUICE Mobile CEO Neil Sweeney, I suggested publishers view mobile as a quickly spreading itch that scratching won’t relieve. Do marketers feel similarly about the channel? Sort of – an interesting new survey from Acxiom, 4INFO and Forrester shows that marketers know they need to diversify their spends to reach audiences hopping across devices, but the lack of consistent mobile measurement and tracking make them uneasy to fork over the ad budgets. (Get it here with some PII.)

Indeed, according to the survey, mobile measurement is the biggest obstacle to increased cross-channel spending. Various Meetups and...

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