Live Blogging from the AdMonsters Publisher Forum in Oxford

Check out the #PubForum Live Blog!

The AdMonsters Content Team – Gavin Dunaway, Gautam Srivastava, and Maria Tucker – are excited to bring you this inaugural live blog from the AdMonsters Publisher Forum in sunny Oxford! Stay tuned today for insights and innovations from global leaders in ad operations!




The Kick-Off


9:10 — Matt O’Neill asks who the new kids are and a good deal of hands go up. New Monsters everywhere…
9:15 — The new content team gets a nod — Maria Tucker, Gautam Srivastava and Gavin Dunaway (hey, that’s me!).
9:20 — Rob Beeler takes the floor to lay down the rules — no laptops out until he says so.
Think of yourself as a revenue center, an interface for the company, protector of the brand.
9:22 — How do you operate in an operations-driven world?
    Ad Ops teams are faced with growing responsibilities and almost-mechanical work.
    They must effectively manage the transition from manual pieces to automated work.

     – Operations does not go away with automated trading and RTB; it manages those new issues.

 9:25 — Premium is the first order of the day: make sure that you know where your revenue is coming from.  If it’s not adding to the bottom line, you’re not focusing on the right area.  You need to think of yourselves as sales people, as revenue centers.
9:27 — The rise of the pseudo-quant: the industry needs people who can do amazing things with numbers. You need to identify in your teams the people who understand these new, emerging concepts. If you can’t, do you outsource?

Jo Rabin: Mobile is not the future. It’s now.


9:30 — For eight or nine years it has been the ‘year of mobile.’ We don’t say that anymore.
Everyone has a smartphone. Not everyone has a mobile strategy.
9:35 — Mary Meeker’s history of computing. Mobile: the 7th Mass Medium. 10 billion units of mobile in 2000s vs. 1 billion units of desktop internet in 1990s.
9:37 —  “Leaders in one phase don’t usually make it through to the next phase.” Clayton
Christensen in Innovator’s Dilemma.
9:38 — Tomi Ahonen – Mobile Maven.
    “Mobile is a servant for mass media.”
9:39 — Mobile is inherently superior.
    – personal
    – always on
    – always carried
    – built in payment channel
    – precise audience measurement (Really? Is this yet a reality?)
    – captures social context
    – enables augmented reality

Rabin is skeptical of augmented reality

    – interface from analogue to digital
    – “At the point of creative impulse”
9:43 — Humans are incredibly gregarious. Go beyond the bounds of what we would expect, especially when enabled by technology.
9:44 — It’s a mobile computer with a camera. And voice, probably. It’s not a phone with added features.
    – New iphones were terrible phones but very good portable, personal computers.
9:45 — The Challenge: “People like using beautiful things.” Donald Norman
    The devices are now good enough. Content brings these devices to life.
9:47– Nokia and Microsoft merger the most shocking mobile announcement of the year. They have both the imperative and resources to succeed. It is hard to keep up with changes in mobile landscape.  Large patent issues in mobile (hence Google acquires Motorola).
9:50 — The growth is non-linear. The time you have to respond bears no relation to the time it’s taken you to get to the stage beforehand. If you think you’ve got time, you probably don’t.
How long, in reality, have you got?
9:53 — Many more mobile phones in the world than there are toothbrushes.
9:56 — Mobile penetration: More than 100% penetration in more than 100 countries.
50% of searches are conducted on mobile devices.
9:57 — What’s different about mobile?
    – Context of use is differnt, much wider (much more frequently with you)
    – User’s attention is rarely fully focused on the mobile device
    – Huge diversity of form factors
    – Wide range of input mechanisms
        – Touch has very different capabilities
    – Capabilities & installability
    – Compatibility of the device
        multi-platform, multi-update
    – bandwidth/latency
    – costs
    – battery life
10:03 — Webs vs. Apps
 Five themes:

1. Commercial
2. Cost
3. performance and fidelity,
4. TTM/Rapid Iteration
5. UX Considerations
10:05 — Consumers don’t care… or do they?
10:08 — “I think the web will win in the long-term,” said Jo Rabin. “I think the web will be the dominant form of presentation.” Apple’s “puritanical” control over it’s app ecosystem has driven some major British publishers away.
10:10 — Important emergent trends:

1. I think we all know about the cloud now, don’t we? Data accessible anywhere.

2. Offline experience remains important as you aren’t always connected (see: MBTA).
3. Social dimension to almost everything we do. Easy to get it wrong; needs to be thought about carefully.
4. Gamification.
 5. Location – if you can employ location relevance, do. Multiude of ways to use location. However, more ways to misuse location than to use it usefully.
 6. Decreasing cost is a new trend.
 7. NFC has been a long-time coming.
    Phones are coming. iPhone 4S does not have it. NFC is being adopted “bone-breakingly” slowly.
 8. Opportunity for personalization the most personal device everyone has. I left my phone at home, and you’re shocked that I did.
10:18 — The Reality of Mobile:

1. More than half of all web usage is on mobile  2. We will really see impact of mobile shopping this Christmas [I have an article about this – maria] 
10:20 — “Mobile means cross-channel,” Jo Rabin.
10:22 — Japanese and Korean markets are big ones to watch.
10:23 —  “QR codes are like NFC. Much talked about, little practiced. I see them helping more and more. The point is that people now know what they are. I see them more frequently at techie conferences. This is now starting to move. People recognize them and know what to do with QR codes now.” But will they last? – MT.

Full Group Interactive Session


10:45 — Rob Beeler leads ‘Introductions”: AdMonsters Attendees divide into groups from last night and introduce themselves.

10:50 — Each group has developed a a description of the state of Ad Operations, which they present to the room. The general consensus is that ad operations is continually evolving: more fragmented yet more specialized. Ad Ops professionals must constantly broaden their knowledge and manage a wealth of new technologies, statistics, and behaviors.

10.58 — Rob Beeler asks, ‘Are you treated as a revenue centre?’ The room answers ‘yes,’ but it seems that more resources and bigger teams are needed to drive delivery.

11.06 Matt O’Neill: ‘Some companies are managing KPIs really well – Microsoft for example – we should bring this up on the forum, ‘How do we best manage KPIs?’ Check out the forum later for updates from the Publisher Forum and from the broader AdMonsters community.   


Platinum Sponsor: DoubleClick, Google – Capturing New Opportunity from Online Video

 Rany Ng, Product Manager


11.14 — Rany presents the online video market, focusing on four different steps publishers should take when it comes to online video. “We’re still in the very early stages of online video when you look at traditional mediums, there’s a lot of room still for innovation and complexity going forward.”
11.16 — Over the past 150 years, the advertising industry has seen incredible innovation and change. The parent to online video is television, and the first TV ad was for Gibbs Toothpaste in 1955. Comparing this video, which does not master audio, motion, or flow, to a recent Old Spice “I’m on a horse” ad highlights the disparity between early ads and modern commercials. Innovation is rife in this industry and so there’s much to look forward to with online video.
11.21 — Online video ads are stll nascent. We’re still in the early stages – but what’s next? WhatRany Ng, Doubleclick innovation will affect online video ads and make waves in the coming years? Online video is set to outpace rich media and banners in the next few years, so we need to be thinking about how to tackle a supposed ‘10 billion dollar market’ by 2014
11.26 — People love online video, kids, brands, everyone. The Susan Boyle viral had 50-60 million views; Old Spice had 100 million. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ad or not anymore – the audience will watch any video as long as it is engaging and entertaining. Thus, you need to be considering online video on your sites. You need to navigate change and complexity to find a balance between user interaction and revenue.
11.31 — Steps to capture opportunity in online video:
1. Capitalise on buyer relationships
2. Elevate the user experience
3. Extend anywhere
4. Simplify your operations   
11.32 — What do advertisers want/think?
– Advertisers think video is too costly, but they think everything is too expensive.
– They want more…
– More video, more targeting capabilities
– More freedom with formats
– More quality with inventory, not just dogs on skateboards
11:34 — The Spectrum of Video Content continues to evolve, the emergence of data and real time bidding is making it easier for buyers to reach video users. So how to build a winning video sales strategy?
Direct Sales
– Improve direct sales effectiveness (advanced targetting, content packages)
– Give advertisers the canvas to share their story
– Offer brand protection
– Better reporting
Extend reach through syndication
– Partnerships to both extend content library and to increase scope for content distribution
Know your audience and maximise your yield.
11.40 — ‘Video should be front and centre’ and make sure you have the correct ad formats and can offer story boards. Pre rolls are the most popular video ad format, 15 second pre rolls are the most successfully completed format. New ad formats are coming out all the time as well as new approaches to video – choose the ad you’d like to see
11.41 — Engaging Users With Video – True View: Give Viewers Choice (i.e skippable ads) Using skip-able ads gives users a choice plus the advertisers only pay for the ads viewed; this is also great for the publishers as it’s not intrusive regarding the content.
11.45 –
DoubleclickRany took the group through a great exercise to gauge the interaction levels when it comes to skippable ads. She showed two ads and asked us to demonstrate (via the glowsticks) when you’d skip the ad. It was a  good demonstration to show that you’ll watch an ad if it’s relevant to you, discounting the argument ‘everyone will skip an ad given the choice’.
11.55 — What is Google up to in Online Video? Video content is at the heart of the new DFP video site, accordng to Rany. You can also go into the UI and take control (as a publisher) and make sure the ads shown are relevant and in no way compromising.
12:02 — Rany unveils the new DFP video interface, very simplistic and stylish.  We’re going to see just how easy it is to traffic a campaign – Rany starts the timer.  Stop the clock! 3 minutes and the campaign is live. Impressive stuff. ‘We made serving video campaigns very easy so you can focus on other things.’ Isn’t that nice?
12.08 — Lisa from Viacom wants to know ‘how is a skippable ad counted’. Rany explains ‘it’s a 30 second ad. We’re using the Youtube specs and we’ve not had any issues with them.’

Rany’s done and we’re on to the next presentation: Danny Doyle (not to be confused with Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle) and Gina Cox, both from The Guardian.


12:15 — A little precursor — Guardian has gone “Digital First” installing Operative.One as both its digital and print media business platform.
12:18 — Guardian is pushing a worldwide operation — they even have an AdOps guy in the U.S.
12:20 — Still have a huge print readership, while online readership is big, but mobile readership is still pretty small. The latter is going to explode one of these days.
12:24 — Guardian’s ops structure is broken down into “Jobs” (Cox) and “Commercial.” (Doyle) Jobs used to sit with sales team, but it caused problems as sales were constantly leaning over and demanding this and that.
12:25 — Selling strategies have changed — sales have moved to packages that combine print purchases with various digital offerings.
12:28 — A separate team manages third-parties like supply-side platforms — they don’t have reach out to ad servers.
12:31 — Big ad systems shift in 2009-2010 — moved from DartEnterprise to 24/7 Real Media, experimented with just a segment of the site (Politics section). Rob Beeler asks the crowd if anyone else had done this method because he’s used to hearing about shifting the “whole hog.”
12:34 — It was a long process — some people worked 22 days straight — but Doyle feels better about having done it in-house rather than let the ad server lead the shift. About 4,000 campaigns were migrated.
12:36 — Shortly after its introduction, Guardian pulled an optimization test on Maxifier, comparing optimized and un-optimized inventory — CTRs bumped up 21%, a figure Maxifier enjoys sharing.
12:39 — Guardian Select, vertical content network — Guardian brought the monetization aspect in-house in 2010 after having Adify do the dirty work. Variety of pubs to deal with — from major sites to prominent bloggers — provides plenty of challenges.
12:41 — Company also introduced Guardian Professional Networks in 2011, which provides relevant content, editorial, blogs based on user interests — and provides attractive segmented audiences for targeting. Apparently interactivity with Guardian Select has proven rewarding for advertisers.
12:45 — Guardian is pushing worldwide, most notably with a U.S. edition (and an increased presence in the states). On the homepage it’s an easy switch between U.S. and U.K. editions; however, the new URL for the U.S. — — is going to give AdOps some headaches.
12:50 — Doyle is thinking companion ads for tablets and web — an ad appearing in the iPad edition will have a cousin appear online when a user clicks over for the latest updates.
12:51 — Phase 2 of Guardian’s ad systems renewal has the ultimate goal of an end-to-end booking system for both print and digital products.
12:53 — The “Digital First” initiative has the sales team firmly gazing in the direction of Ops, with lots of talk of removing wasted impressions and improving efficiency. The revenue targets for online are a little frightening, Doyle says, and it means a lot more work for Ops.
12:57 — “Digital First” seems to represent a step away from ad servers and a step closer to optimization services.



Lunch Break.

And we’re back! Two half-group sessions comin’ right atcha: Reece Eaton, Digital Planning Manager for MTV Networks: The Metrics of the Business: Yield Management

2:07 — Eaton sought to deveop three keys to the development of yield metric managmentmetrics — first and foremost: once revenue and inventory is mapped, then it’s time to move to data.

2:10 — The sales manager has to get his team to pay attention to the yield management reports. “It’s not like we’re turning money away based on these measurements, but it does provide a lot of transparency,” Eaton says.

2:12 — The difference in systems and resources effect what you can physically do — yield management is heavy lifting. And guess what? There ain’t no estimating — systems measurements and metrics must be precise.

2:18 — Networks are a completely different set of metrics, less interested in pricing, much more interested in performance. Can you say “margin”? Thus we have the divide between pricing and the delivered price.

2:20 — At the Guardian, one person is looking at yield and another is looking at pricing.


2:22 — At the networks, the yield managers are called corporate development teams — they’re analyzing every liitle aspect, which puts them in a position to better understand the numbers and firmly establish what inventory they require. It’s more advanced than other media companies, Eaton notes.


Nat Francis, Bauer Media: The Site Redesign Opportunity 
1:58 — There are a few different ways for Ad Ops to get involved with sites when it comes to redesign, sometimes it’s very basic other times not so much! In this case the only thing that remained was the colour of the site!
2:00 — Has anyone else been involved with a site re-design?
– Yes
– Always
– Far too often
– It keeps happening!
Initially you have to look at the processes for the site and how you currently manage inventory. We managed it all in a spreadsheet as the ad server didn’t have the capabilities to do it! (using Helios)
How can we take this and change it? How best to automate this process so we don’t have to do it??
When you’re looking at a re-design it’s a great time to revamp your processes in terms of ad ops as often you don’t feel involved other than situations like ‘…there’s a new site going live tomorrow, can we have some ad tags?’
Step 1 – Future proof your ad types
Get involved early, we did and as such we went with,
– Push downs
– Gutter ads
– Filmstrip
– Double MPU
We kept the old positions but really pushed the boat out and made sure we had all our bases covered in terms of ad types (both current and those that will continue to be popular going forward)
What’s next? Write a plan to submit to your development team. Really get involved with these guys and let them know what you will need going forward. Getting in there early really puts you in a good position going forward.
Sit down with key people. I got the opportunity to sit down with the head of digital – it was only once a month and barely lasted 10 minutes but it was a great way of showcasing what we thought would work best and taking the time to demonstrate the benefits from a revenue POV.
  If you can, get a project manager involved. It’s a great way of adding someone into the mix that was great at time keeping and setting deadlines and keeping track of milestones. She mad us deliver on time, it was really really useful and i’d reccomend it when it comes to a site re-design. It really let me get on with my own bits and took some of the workload off my plate.