OPS Markets Live Blog – London, Feb. 9

Check out what happened at the event!

It’s the first AdMonsters event of the year at the Grange Tower Hotel in blustery London. OPS Markets features a wide variety of speakers analyzing the rapid development of data-driven advertising and pondering what’s next. The two Gs of AdMonsters’ ever-diligent content team – that would be EU Editor Gautam Srivastava and US Editor Gavin Dunaway (only slightly jetlagged) – are on the scene, covering the action. Stay tuned to this live blog for updates throughout the day.


8:35 – The crowd is filling in, munching on miniature croissants and draining cups of coffee – I hope they’re not too jittery for the morning keynote: Infectious Media Cofounder and Managing Partner Martin Kelly’s insight into the future of real-time bidding. Actually, I could use a cup ‘o joe before this madness starts… 

9:12 – The lights dim and a video rolls with highlights from last year’s OPS Markets: “Ad Ops is sexy if I say it’s sexy!” AdMonsters President Matt O’Neill checks to see who is at their first AdMonsters’ event – a lot of hands fly up.

9:15 – Following a welcome from AdMonsters Founder Bowen Dwelle, Content Czar Rob Beeler takes the floor – “As an industry we increase the number of acronyms and buzzwords at an alarming rate.”


Morning Keynote: Martin Kelly, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Infectious Media – Is RTB the Future of Display?

9:28 – Infectious Media’s Martin Kelly: RTB is part of the future of display, but not the entire future of display.

9:30 – The process for buying a planning and campaign hasn’t changed much. In print, optimization used to happen every six months when readership surveys came about. When Martin switched to digital in ’99, they weren’t quite sure what they were doing and simply brought broadcast models over to digital.

9:32 – Fast forward to 2009; search is through the roof (2 billion+ pounds) and display is 500 million pound market. But display is being bought the same way, except the ad networks were involved.

9:36 – Today RTB is taking over – 100 billion impressions avealible monthly in the EU. What is RTB? Martin isn’t sure and asked several luminaries in the tech field how they defined it. Google says RTB is all about the back-end – it allows the data to flow readily.

9:41 – The benefit of data flow between advertisers and publishers needs to be sold to the industry as a whole.


9:43 – Benefits – higher yield, transparency (price and visibility); operational benefits in terms of trafficking.


9:46 – On the Gartner technology adoption curve, Martin says publishers are passed the “trough of disillusionment” and onto the “slope of enlightenment.” The middlemen and agencies have jumped onto the “platuea of productivity.” Advertisers on the other hand haven’t seen the light – the consumer experience is exactly the same. Response rates are still 0.07% – display advertising has changed on the tech side, but not the experiential.


9:48 – We need to stop thinking about RTB, put it to the side for the moment – it’s only a small part of a campaign. Optimization: “We’ve swapped one black box algorithm from a network to a black-box algorithm from a DSP.”

9:50 – Display needs to be more relevant, which is not necessarily a service provided by RTB. The market will increasingly operate in real time, but there are still many elements that need to evolve.


9:52 – “I think we’re OK with buying… I think creative is where we need to go next.” Moving from a broadcast model to a narrowcast one. Retargeting with relevant creative has improved response rates dramativcally, but dynamic creative needs to be employed in other types of buying. Data needs to inform buying and creative. “This is going to be the core of what we do going forward.”

9:55 – How many bidders are there on an exchange? 50, not 5,000 – take the retargeters out and it’s more like 20.


9:57 – Algorithms caused the “flash” U.S. stock market crash in 2011 – mainly everyone using the same algo. The same herd mentality exists in the digital space. Look for more customized algorithms.


10:00 – Measurement – increased viewability will be key in determining what content helps convert.

10:01 – Computers and algos are not going to rule what we do – the people are the most important element.

10:02 – How is the landscape going to change? Consolidation – agencies will still play a role through innovation. DMPs will continue to evolve. With their massive data holdings, how are Facebook and Twitter going to enter the display market?

10:04 – Big tech names like SAP, Adobe and IBM are looking into the space because their tech skills are transferable, highly applicable.

10:06 – “RTB on its own is a bit of a red herring.” It’s a facillating technology, but everything in the process needs to change and move toward “real-time advertising.”


10:08 – Are we ready to talk to the creative people? Martin: We’ve hit a brick wall – creative agencies find retargeting “a bit dirty.” They’re not yet seeing the real opportunity of creative personalization. “What is the point of granular targeting if we’re showing them the same broadcast creative?”


10:14 – ABC’s Richard Foan talks about what’s next for IASH – Enter the Digital Trading Standards Group, looking to bring industry guidelines to make trading easier across the board. Eight content verification products are being tested – while they all are providing services in different ways, none guarantee absolute brand safety.


Focus On: Martin Van Der Meij, Yield Manager, De Telegraaf – Taking the Secondary Channel to New Levels


10:38 – We are not in sales anymore – we’re in marketing. Exchange revenue has grown by 1,000% over last few years. 12,000 advertisers on the exchange with 10,000 buyers. So we built a “publisher trading desk.” 


10:43 – Made agreement within the company not to use the word exchange because it reeks of lousy inventory. Instead it’s automated trading platform (ATP). First up: Hyves, TMG Social – profile data aplenty (intent!), but only all-ages advertising permitted.

10:50 – Private exchanges are a myth – at least at this point. Every platform has business controls; there aren’t enough buyers for private marketplaces. In the next five years this may not be the case. Biggest hurdle: DSPs need to send multiple bids.

10:54 – Automated trading ain’t that transparent after all. “I can talk to an advertiser who is using five trading desks and he doesn’t know what he’s paying.” 

10:56 – Automated trading is still viewed as a click/conversion-generating machine. Stop it! It’s about increasing efficiency on both sides.

10:57 – There’s a lot of mobile inventory available on the ATP, but no one wants to buy it. Demand for exchange video is still lacking. It’s hard to grab video budgets as a traditional publisher – tend to talk to the wrong agency people.

11:02 – It’s OK for pubs to be arrogant – you’ve got the inventory, you’ve got the data. Be critical about who you work with.

11:04 – It will take seven years for each Dutch advertiser to have a bid technolgy for every impression at the current cost.


Leaders in the Industry Panel: 

Caspar Schlickum, Managing Director, EMEA, Xaxis

C. Eoin Townsend, Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development, DoubleVerify

Nigel Gilbert UK Country Manager AppNexus


12:00 – The buzzword that drives you nuts – Nigel: secret sauce. Eoin: RTB. Caspar: trading desk.


12:05 – Caspar: Fragmentation has made direct relationships between agencies and pubs more strained. Eoin: RTB is simply about efficiency; networks are becoming platforms to increase their access to inventory. 


12:06 – What is the RTB ceiling? Nigel says as high as 90% but it’s a situational metric. Eoin asks, do we care how high it is? Advertisers only care about reaching their inventory at scale.


12:09 – Eoin: having scale doesn’t necessarily means RTB works. It could work with one impression and one data set. Nigel: it’s the publisher’s onus to open up inventory; publishers can implement RTB controls, but they need to invest in the correct tools and understanding what they want out of it.


12:14 – Nigel: The tech has not just caught up with us, it’s overtaken us.


12:15 – The talent question – pubs need to build a core competency around data management. Everyone is hiring these kinds of people. 


12:18 – Caspar: Pubs need to take control of what they have, but they’ll still need partners to help realize the value.


12:19 – Eoin: The display landscape shouldn’t be a Chinese restaurant menu, the meal should come to you, which is why vendors are building tech stacks.


12:23 – Caspar: Obsession with retargeting is a symptom of our obsession with click through rates. Managing retargeting more efficiently is an important part of the client management.


12:27 – When attribution arises, demand consistency – some kind of standardization.


12:30 – Nigel: Premium pubs with popular and high-performing inventory are in a circle of disparity in terms what they want and what they get from RTB. They need to research and determine what their ideal toolkit would look like.


12:31 – Eoin: we need to figure out how to make this easier – let’s work together, because it’s our job. “We spend a lot of time navel-gazing, saying ‘mine is bigger than yours.'”


Afternoon Keynote: Tim Gentry, Head of Optimisation & Effectiveness, Guardian News & Media – Data Driven Display & Business Transformation

2:45 – The Guardian has a different busienss model and an open system, which changes the way it interacts with its audience and the Internet as a whole.


2:48 – From 1 million uniques to 32 million in 2010 – and now at 54 million with the implementation of the open platform.


2:49 – Digital is first for The Guardian, and its readers are progressive, making the publication progressive. As a progressive pub, tackling the RTB market has resulted in the development of a private market.


2:51 – No advatage to dropping inventory into a pool where its bought for the lowest price possible – there has to be a way to keep a premium.

2:53 – Good audience targeting is not just a performance aesthetic, it’s at the heart of brand advertising. Analyzing where brand advertising is going shows futher space for programmatic.


2:55 – Guardian has more than 3,000 lines of pricing on direct-sold site inventory; programmatic is “mind-bogglingly” complicated.


2:57 – RTB creates the time and space to put energy into the sales efforts that really need it, pushing up revenue and service. “We’re spending more time selling, not less.” Premium sales are growing faster than indirect sales, which are themselves experiencing yield increases.


2:59 – It’s not “People vs. Machines,” but “People + Machines.”


Focus On: Robert Webster, Head of Technology, MediaCom – Changing Market, Changing Roles 


3:42 – The new agency ops pro can’t be some kid right out of school – he/she needs to be knowledgable about the whole tech stack.

3:43 – “Trafficking is pretty boring, but it’s still happening.” However, the job has gotten more complicated – in particular with advanced and dynamic creative. The messaging and trafficking matrix is massive.

3:45 – Agency ops teams are getting stuck worrying about brand safety, as well as attribution – both huge challenges. Path analysis only goes so far.

3:49 Trading challenges from the buy side – first-party data dominates as third-party data is lacking. Differentiating good and bad quality inventory on a platform is highly difficult. Aslo, how do you balance exchange control with experimental urgers?

3:51 – On the exchanges, pubs need a way of showing which inventory is the quality stuff. (Private exchange, maybe?)

3:52 – Ideas for fixing/improving traded inventory – reliable flags regarding environment, but also need more dialogue between buy and sell side regarding finding quality inventory on exchanges.

3:56 – Ideas for fixing data – first, we need more data. Also need dialogue on data between buy and sell sides.

The Privacy Panel
Nick Stringer, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)

Damian Scragg, Managing Director, UK, Evidon

Joseph Pamboris, Head of Tracking Technology, OMD

Zuzanna Gierlinkska, Director Scale Display, EMEA, Microsoft

Neil Matthews, CSMB CRM Data Protection and Privacy Manager, Dell

4:45 – Introduction by stringer: politicians are not making sensible rules about the Internet. Communications Minister Ed Vaizy is a potential ally, saying that the online ad industry needs to step up and comply with the ePrivacy Directive to show its willingness to play ball.


4:50 – Rob Beeler asks panel members to share something private here they wouldn’t normally share. Damian says he’s wearing “I LUV ROB BEELER” boxers. Zuzanna is the only one who actually shares something she typically keeps private – she left college to join the circus to perform with elephants. (Her father dragged her back.) Guess it’s not so private anymore…


4:53 – Is the ePrivacy Directive for real? Yes, says Nick, though the regulators have realized they went about it the wrong way. Still getting the consumer educated is priority #1.


4:57 – Neil: Dell has been examining these issues for at least a year; the regulation assumes the consumer wants to know more, the regulation assumes the consumer already know more. Shedding cookies on the Dell side would be detractive to both marketing efforts and the consumer experience.


5:00 – Zuzanna: Looking at a two-three month training period for companies to understand the regulation. 


5:01 – Damian: Heads of tech, heads of marketing, heads of IT are typically involved in the education segment.


5:03 – Neil: Third-party cookies are a nightmare because Dell doesn’t know if the advertiser has the corporate governance in place.


5:05 – Zuzanna: For a Do Not Track list, you need to know who you don’t want stalking you – not that simple.


5:07 – Damian: waiting for the browsers to save us isn’t a good idea; sure, there’s an elegant solution out there, but how it comes into play is not clear. However, Nick thinks browsers are part of the solution; they can give you a consent solution, but is it an informed consent solution?

5:09 – Nick: W3C is missing smaller businesses – too many big, global magnates. 

5:10 – Zuzanna: We should move the conversation about data away from “privacy,” but actually give consumers something valuable for their data. 

5:15 – Neil – Industry is not comung up with solutions that cover all of the regulation. “We’ve gone beyond Do Not Track in Europe… We’re at ‘Can Not Track.'” The legislation is far wider than cookies – it’s any tracking technology.

5:22 – Nick: We’re not innovating to solve the problem, but to circumvent it. The first step before May 26 is putting the privacy language front and center.


5:28 – Damian: Before you worry about the icon, know your site, who is on it and who is dropping cookies.


5:29 – Neil: The solutions available today do not provide a full enough audit.