Leading Operations Online

Improbably, this is going to be about American literature and advertising operations. Typically, most people think the only connection between these two things is that people who get a degree in the first are doomed to end up making a living at the second. But as it turns out, you can learn a lot in American literature that applies to ad operations.

Each month I travel around the country helping publishers with ad operation issues. The biggest concern of CROs and other C-level executives is their operational team’s ability to scale. This concern leads to a lack of confidence in the ops team that can often impact hiring plans or even revenues. But surprisingly, few look at this concern’s root causes. 

Here’s where Mark Twain comes in. Twain, it turns out, knew a little something about operations in general. Take this example from Huckleberry Finn: Twain writes, “A body might stump his toe… fall down the well, and break his neck, and bust his brains out, and somebody come along and ask what killed him, and some...

April 22, 2014 RTB Gavin Dunaway

“We think standards should be dead; standards have held back the industry for years,” says ReactX CEO Chip Meyers. “Thank goodness the leaderboard and skyscraper are finally going to the grave – there’s no money in them; the brands don’t want to use them; and publishers are getting rid of them left and right.”

Sad but true: programmatic has been limited by its reliance on standard units, even ones as fun and funky as IAB’s Rising Stars. Complex, high-impact units (think rich media and video) tend to fall under the purview of direct sales because they require custom integrations and seemingly endless rounds of testing. Constant hand-holding equals a lack of automation, depriving elaborate branded executions the glory of scale.

Meyers suggests this is a major reason massive offline budgets are only trinkling into the digital space: “There’s a creative problem in programmatic – a bunch of brands have talked about it. Until the creative problem is solved, programmatic – and...

Longtime readers (‘cause I’m sure I have so many) will know a fascination of mine over the years has been the true transformation of data into an actively used currency, particularly in terms of buying access to media. Heady stuff, I know, so let me break it down.

Whenever anyone calls Internet content free (still happens), I’m quick to respond, no, you’re allowing advertisers the chance to reach you and giving parties (because usually there are several) access to your user data. Call the latter the unspoken agreement, though publishers across the world are increasingly informing users of their cookie policies on first visit.

As far as the consumer is concerned, this is a passive transference of data – they have no granular control over sharing, just the ability to enable private browsing or ward off third-party cookies. But as cross-device campaigning pushes the digital advertising industry to lean...

April 7, 2014 viewability Gavin Dunaway

I returned to NYC from ad:tech San Francisco with a lot of story ideas and a nasty case of bronchitis. What a week to get stuck on the sidelines (i.e., in bed, wheezing): first, Rubicon Project, which kindly sponsored our San Francisco Meetup and a good majority of my coughing spells, went public (I saw them open the stock market on the TV in my doctor’s office!), jumped 33% and was sitting at a comfortable $19.01 at Monday, April 7’s opening.

Does Rubicon’s performance validate ad tech as a business model? Come on, Google did that years ago. But Rubicon will be scrutinized to determine wider investor interest in multi-functional platforms, especially as the company makes great entreaties to the demand side. Is there also demand for some AppNexus stock? My guess would be yes…

Pub ops...

March 17, 2014 mobile video Gavin Dunaway

Hark my words, publishers, and let them set you free: Pre-roll is not the be-all and end-all of digital video advertising. 

Sure, there’s post-roll and mid-roll, but let’s get past the rolls. In fact, let’s get past the video stream – in-stream video ad inventory is limited namely because premium video content is limited. Yet other types of inventory are vast, so vast that they may be able to satisfy advertisers’ seemingly limitless thirst for video.

Mobile stands out due to its unsellable nature – or rather, it’s a bitch for a direct sales force to peddle as advertiser interest is limited. But as I explained in a recent tome ("How Video Becomes the Champion of Mobile Revenue"), even publishers lacking video content can cash in on advertiser video budgets with mobile video interstitials. These units seem especially prime for mobile gaming apps, which account for a large amount of potential mobile inventory. 

However, mobile...

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