The importance of getting creative when optimising your programmatic ads

Be careful about what you think you know

Shortly before 2am this morning I changed a nappy, confident in my ability to read the situation and determine that then, was indeed the best time. But, at 4 weeks old, Élodie is an unpredictable little thing and rewarded my less-than-good judgement by weeing all over the change table and her outfit at the same time.

My error was to base my judgement on what I’d believed I knew about Élodie’s behavioural patterns; had I been thinking more dynamically, I would likely have approached it differently and the result would have been far more rewarding. This issue with bad data is something that plagues brands wishing to understand how to use data to improve engagement – an audience’s intent might vary tremendously during the course of a day’s Internet activity yet we as an industry rely so heavily on basic ‘click’ info for much of our decision making.

 

Getting creative when optimising your Programmatic ads

Programmatic trading has evolved through that single click approach to engagement and ultimately optimisation. What does that click reveal? An individual may click on an advert but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to produce the desired response against a specific campaign objective. They may well be a bot; some of them are. Enhanced (rich media) creative containing video and tailored interactivity, on the other hand, can identify the truly receptive audience brilliantly if used properly, and present a host of much more accurate data based on different points of interaction against which to base the optimisation activity. And, by operating a dynamic approach to the initial creative experience where different types of creative are deliberately used to tease out a variety of responses, more powerful insights can be mapped: location, mood, intent, etc. From there the campaign targeting can evolve with confidence.

For programmatic to be delivered effectively, optimisation towards an increasingly refined target audience is key – amplification of the best performing audience segments through a process of nurture. Unfortunately, the technical complexities of delivering rich media creative programmatically has led the industry to believe that rich media is only really viable when delivered over pre-tested sites by way of a private marketplace or network. And, as such, optimisation suffers drastically, as there are often simply not enough refined audience types in play across those limited sites, to allow a true programmatic approach to be exploited.

 

Your brand deserves to reach the right audiences

As an industry wishing to realise the benefits of programmatic for branding whether via video or rich media display, we’re challenged by a lack of reach. A solid programme of optimisation will very quickly lead to a shrinking audience pool, and a depleted pool won’t provide the levels of reach needed to make a campaign sensible for either the brand, or the agency running it. As such, a quest for better targeting can ultimately lead to an enforced need to lift session capping in order to deliver on the anticipated levels of impressions agreed prior to a campaign going live. With the session capping lifted, an audience’s enjoyment of that brand may change – we’ve all experienced the frustration of being stalked endlessly around the web by the same brand, damaging that brand’s collateral in the process.

 

Shining a light on the open market

So what of the global programmatic exchange; the open marketplace (OMP), where tens of billions of potential bids a day exist? Unfortunately, we are often told that to ensure a rich media campaign can work smoothly, the OMP is simply too dangerous to venture into thanks to the high levels of bot traffic, and that a network play is the only safe approach. As such, the same limited pre-tested sites are increasingly being relied on for greater and greater levels of rich media activity, where today, reach itself is now the new issue, let alone any frustrations over an ability to optimise.

Online advertising is no longer new. Rich media isn’t either. Technology has evolved over the years and technology is solving these conundrums. We as an industry have all the tools we need to make highly optimised, dynamic, programmatic branding work brilliantly; hopefully we will embrace this ability soon before misplaced practice drives even further levels of ad blocking and disgruntled stakeholders from all sides.

The same is true as we refine our life-choices; now where are the wipes?

 

James Booth, Founder & CEO, Scoota.

Tel: +44 (0) 207 637 1602

Email: james.booth@scoota.com

Twitter: @Scoota_Group

This article feature in The Drum’s feature on Programmatic – 8th March 2017

This article is about: WorldProgrammaticCreativeDigitalDigital AdvertisingAdvertising

year in review: some of our best performing campaigns of 2016

As 2016 fades into an emotional memory, here is a snapshot of some of our best performing rich media expandable campaigns of the last few months, launched for some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies. Each campaign saw interactivity many hundreds of times the industry standard for effectiveness, and was successfully delivered at scale into OpenRTB and PMP environments using Scoota’s Sentinel technology. Have a look at some of the campaigns here: Jaguar, Clarins, M&S, Danone and Arm & Hammer.

 

What does the future look like for a CMO?

 

A CMO’s life is a buoyant one – marketing is quite a different beast to just 10 years ago and today it has grown horns and is starting to bite. To achieve CMO status a significant journey through the marketing maze has already taken place; these guys are experts in the field with a total grasp on every element that matters. But, that maze has become significantly more complex of late – programmatic trading of online media has opened up numerous opportunities but in turn created a handful of worrying issues that point to a world of robots, adverts that aren’t seen, agency transparency, a disenfranchised end user, and an aggressive shift to the blocking of online advertising content. The next few years are going to be quite testing for CMOs; to survive, they need to arm themselves with a few weapons, an open mind and quite a bit of knowledge.

In the 20 years I’ve been focused on marketing technology, I have seen great campaigns and appalling campaigns. The piece that separates the two is the human element. For programmatic this is even more the case as human intervention can control and optimise a programmatic campaign to great effect; but it can also be complacent.

Complacency is the ruin of online advertising. A creative execution can be wonderful or dreadful. The set-up and delivery of a campaign can be something to care considerably about, or something to fire off before the liquid lunch and hope will work. Evidence of a laissez-faire approach to programmatic advertising stares us all in the face each time the item we looked at a few weeks back is still popping up wherever we go, to the point where if one thing’s for sure, there’s no chance we’ll buy that product in the future. Brand damage is now a key by-product of malpractice in online advertising.

It worries me hugely the lack of experience and care in the online marketing world, and it should worry the CMO. Far too much spend is being decided by agency planners who lack experience and don’t care enough.  The effects of this are becoming hard to ignore, as is the continued insistence on a policy of incessant retargeting of end users and the over exploitation of highly intrusive formats that damage brands and drive up ad blocking.

Online advertising can be a brilliant channel but to make sure that this segment of the marketing mix is delivering beyond the ambitions of the brand marketing team, the CMO is going to have to take more control, demand more and challenge more. To do this they need confidence and that can only come from knowledge. They will need to surround themselves with the right talent, which in turn will give them that confidence. What does that team look like? It should include a content commissioner, a data analyst for targeting and reporting, a programmatic trading and ad tech expert, a negotiator who knows how to get the best out of the media agencies – and that’s just the beginning. Gaining the knowledge to create meaningful, strategic relationships with their audience – that will be the prerogative of the future CMO, and what better time to start than now?

 

 

Co-founder Torie Chilcott speaks at #WonderWomen event at Shoreditch House

Scoota co-founder Torie Chilcott spoke at GeekGirl UK’s #WonderWomen event at Shoreditch House on Thursday night, held to celebrate International Women’s Day. Torie shared her experience of building a business from scratch, fundraising with VCs and offering some tips and inspiration to the GeekGirl audience, most of whom are working on their own projects and businesses. The other speakers including Suzanne Noble, the founder of budget events app Frugl, and Arya Taware, who set up Real Funds (a peer-to-peer lending platform for small and medium-sized house builders) whilst still at university.

South London Cares visits Scoota for a day of Virtual Reality

After coming across the charity South London Cares last Christmas, we were struck by the amazing work they do in matching elderly people with young people and businesses who live in the same area, helping to build some long-lasting friendships and tight-knit communities along the way. So we invited the South London Cares team along with twelve of our local elderly neighbours, to spend a day in the Scoota office in February over some Afternoon tea. Partnering with our friends Visyon 360, we took our South London Cares neighbours through the very latest immersive experiences using Visyon’s 360 VR technology. It was a special and enlightening day, and hopefully the beginning of a long-lasting friendship between South London Cares and Scoota.

‘Is it about time?’ – Scoota’s Steve Filler on valuing engagement over exposure

 

Let’s start with some home truths about digital advertising: if they can, most people will avoid it. Because most people don’t like it – and some even hate it.

 

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. The most overused description of the value of programmatic is ‘the ability to target the right user at the right time with the right message’.  As an industry we nail the ‘right user’ bit. Combining this user data with additional behavioural insight to target people at the right time we do pretty well – add to that ‘in the right place’ in terms of environment, device and location and so far, so good.

 

However, skip to the ‘right message’ piece of the puzzle and the industry falls over. More often than not it’s a massive let down which at best gets ignored and in the worst cases forces people into hiding, swiping or blocking.  There is no doubt that brands are delivering smart, personalised and relevant messages that resonate with people at point of purchase, but we are not seeing the same creative sophistication being applied to digital brand advertising.

 

The sheer amount of messages we have to consume daily means it is tougher than ever to get noticed if you’re a brand trying to find new customers. With the stakes so high, it’s surprising to observe very few clients rising to the challenge in their day-to-day brand activities.  Nine times out of ten, the creative agency gets blamed for providing unfit-for-purpose creative but the truth is that we all need to take responsibility.

 

Let’s start by holding our hands up and admitting that executing brilliant, smart digital brand work isn’t easy. If we want to challenge consumers’ perceptions of digital advertising to a point where they have an instinctive desire to engage, then we have got to be prepared for a bit of hard graft.

 

It all starts with the client. I won’t dwell on the need for brands to create assets that are actually interesting, relevant and entertaining rather than a repurposed TV ad, as I’d hope that’s pretty obvious by now.  Where I think the biggest problem is, is the disconnect between the creative and media agencies.  Currently both media and creative agencies work independently from each other, with media agencies having little input into the creative stage and conversely, the creative agency having little visibility on the activation strategy.  I’ve seen so many campaigns targeting a number of different audiences with specific interests with the same generic creative format and message used in each strategy.  It’s easy to lay blame at the door of the creative agencies, but they are flying blind.

 

Added to this, there is very little mid or post campaign performance data fed back to the creative agency meaning they are essentially excluded from the optimisation process, with no adequate insight into what worked or didn’t. It’s a cycle of disconnectivity with one party taking most of the brunt: the client. Or should we go one step further and say: the audience.

 

For brands to meaningfully connect with audiences online, something has to fundamentally change. Where better to start than with what constitutes a successful ad? Currently, half of an ad being seen for one second is what constitutes ‘viewability’, which is obviously not good enough. I think we will see a new metric of ‘noticeability’ develop, introducing a new era where brands aim for meaningful audience engagement for a decent length of time. I firmly believe ‘time’ will become the next key form of digital brand measurement, presenting an opportunity for brands to engage with audiences in a way that has never been possible before.  Of course viewability will remain the first stage of brand measurement, but I expect we will soon see this evolve from a question of “was my ad in view?” to “how long was my ad in view?”.

 

The following image illustrates this tipping point, where online brand impact can move towards engagement quality over quantity as a gauge of success:

 

 

Of course media agencies, tech vendors and supply partners will continue to improve viewability scores but we shouldn’t be surprised when clients start asking for more, combining intelligent targeting with an understanding of how important the creative message is in grabbing a user’s attention and taking them on a journey.

 

Let’s remain positive and remember that, once engaged, anything is possible. I hope that soon brands will realise they can move away from overvaluing exposure and call for a new school of layered measurement: Was my ad noticed? Was it engaged with? Watched, played with, enjoyed, liked and – the digital holy grail – loved? Only then will we be able to claim we’ve moved online advertising forward and put the audience first. Until then, we must keep striving.

 

This article originally appeared on AdTekr.

Scoota Guest Blog Series #1 – Antidote’s Henry Chilcott on the ‘Ad Block-eclipse’

Kicking off Scoota’s series of guest blogs, Antidote partner Henry Chilcott looks at how the ad blocker narrative is getting in the way of the real debate: 

I’m in this business because I believe in the power of great storytelling to influence people and build brands. And I’m excited by how today’s technology allows us to deepen, target and share those stories in ever more powerful ways.

However the twin forces of the post-financial-crisis budget squeeze, and more significantly the continued momentum of a digital revolution that too often steamrolls creativity, has led to an ever-growing sea of mediocre content from brands.

But, ironically, the very same digital revolution is empowering consumers to edit this mediocre content from their lives (through the likes of Sky Plus, TiVo, and more recently, ad blocking software). So it follows that brands will have no option but to invest in producing content that people actually want in their lives at the same time as harnessing technology to deliver that content; to become the masters of both agility (efficiency through tech) and craft (impact through creativity)

Or become increasingly ignored.

Problem is – I can’t hear anyone yelling the importance of craft, of storytelling, from the rooftops. And if anyone is, it’s being drowned out by talk of programmatic, cross-device sequential targeting and the ironically named ‘people based marketing’.

Why the silence? Well, I’ll offer a view from ad agency land; it comes down to a loss of confidence.

Despite being filled with heaps of bright and talented people, too many ad agencies have allowed their craft to be depositioned. As a consequence, the flag bearers-in-chief of storytelling aren’t championing its importance for fear of appearing passé in a discourse dominated by data and tech. This is exacerbated by agency group’s historic efforts to solve the issue of their outdated ad agencies by creating ecosystems of digital / data driven specialist verticals and demoting the dear old ad agency to a kind of strategic ‘loss leader’ – like milk in the supermarket (sold at a loss in order to bring customers in to spend money and create margin in other areas). This is supported by a recent chat with a CEO from one of the big name London ad agencies – with over £25m of revenues and (admittedly after a touch year) a full year profit target of…wait for it…zero – but with a flourishing and profitable ecosystem of specialist digital / data driven agencies in the broader agency group.

Now, I’m at risk of generalising here, and of course there are a bunch of ‘ad’ agencies creating content that you might even rewind to see (as you spin past the guff with your Sky Plus remote), or maybe even seek out on YouTube on your phone or tablet or phablet or laptop or laplet. Great ideas, great storytelling, brilliantly executed and distributed. Of late, Jude Law swanning around on a yacht with Giancarlo Giannini for Johnnie Walker springs to mind (Anomaly), or the beautifully drafted “To the pub” for Greene King (Grey), or that incredible dual-narrative Type R work for Honda a year or so back (W+K). But for these and a handful of other sunny outposts, there’s still far too much content responsible for the faded FFWD button on your Sky remote, or for sending you scrambling to the app store to download a free adblocker.

Meanwhile, the loudest voices are still banging on about relevancy and the power of programmatic to deliver highly relevant content to people in real time, at scale. But I don’t care how relevant something is if it’s crap. Relevant crap is still crap. And then of course there’s cross-device sequential targeting permitted by clever tech/media owners who get you to sign into their platforms on all your devices – Sky, Facebook, Google et al – meaning they can pronounce the crumbling of the cookie (sorry), smug in the knowledge that only they can deliver a bespoke message to the right people at the right time across all their devices. Again, this is all marvelous – it really is, but I come back to the same point – if I don’t like your story I’ll still ignore you.

Technology is our industry’s greatest opportunity but also our greatest threat. It’s distracting us from a fundamental (if not particularly ‘du jour’) truth – that it doesn’t matter if the data says I’m a white hot target gagging to get my credit card out and buy a miserable looking people carrier, if the story doesn’t grab me, I’ll be back to my butternut squash curry and X-Factor in the time it takes Simon Cowell to give one of those weird winks. Sorry, it’s just more interesting.

Just to be very clear, I love technology and the astonishing pace with which it’s changing everything before it, laying waste to tired business models and opening more opportunities than Bob Monkhouse in his Saturday night heyday. But, in my view, we must balance this with a renewed and vigorous respect for storytelling and craft. Surely only those who manage to bring technology and storytelling into a lover’s embrace will truly hold the keys to the promised land.

One last thought; creative and media agencies have historically felt threatened by the obvious ad-avoidance impact of Sky Plus, TiVo, ad blocking software and the general ‘on-demand’ lives we all now lead. But this is entirely the wrong way to look at it; these technological advances might just prove to be our industry’s salvation. Ad blockers exist because people want to block crap ads. In putting the-power-to-edit-out-mediocre into the hands of consumers, these technologies have inadvertently declared war on mediocre content. Now is the time for creative agencies and their clients to do the same.

 

what’s the future of online advertising in 2016?

Steve Filler, Scoota’s Tech & Distribution CEO, sets his sights on what 2016 will look like for online advertising:

  • Programmatic will finally get creative

There’s a lot of talk among media agencies, trading desks and the big creative agencies about programmatic being a positive creative opportunity rather than a threat, but so far there have been very few great creative examples.

I think we’ll see creative agencies play a more active role in helping clients to deliver smart, relevant and visually stimulating creative messages across a range of digital channels. Brands and agencies will align their programmatic brand and direct response activities, feeding off the data being generated to deliver optimum performance, whilst delivering an enhanced creative experience for users that will curb the trend of users turning to ad blockers.

  • Storytelling across all digital touch points will become a hot topic

An emerging breed of data-driven planners will help brands to craft sophisticated, sequential and relevant messaging. Technology will be a significant enabler, but it will be the quality and range of assets being created which will differentiate the winners and losers.  Cross-device targeting will become increasingly important in the quest to deliver a series of relevant messages to a single user as they move from site to site and from screen to screen.

The increasing shift to mobile means we will see the development of exciting new formats that capitalise on the full functionality of the device and play on the personal nature of a users’ experience on their phone. The role that mobile plays alongside other digital activities in delivering on a brand advertiser’s goals will also be a significant focus for media and creative agencies and their technology partners.

  • The big players will have to step up or risk losing share

Consolidation in the ad tech space will continue to be a theme in 2016 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant increase in agency budgets allocated to testing a new wave of DSPs or tech platforms in 2016.

The big players will be under pressure to ensure they are capable of providing their clients with a best-in-market solution as 2016 will be a year of experimentation, with clients continuing to demand and expect the best programmatic solutions that allow them to centralise budgets as well as innovate and deliver the best possible brand experience.

recapturing the lost user of online advertising

With huge advances being made in technology that delivers advertising, why are online ads not engaging with users? Niki Stoker, client services director at Scoota, argues that it’s time to get creative.

So, you’re on Facebook and scrolling through the posts when up it pops for the hundredth time: another ad for the hotel you’ve just been viewing on Expedia, and rather than thinking again about booking said holiday, all you feel is irritated.
It still amazes me that this is an all too common scenario users are experiencing when it comes to programmatic advertising. Instead of engaging the user, they are simply becoming bored and frustrated with what seems to be amounting to ‘stalker’ ads.

The user is becoming ‘lost’ in a deluge of pop-up banners, interruptive pre-roll and repurposed TV ads that they don’t want to see or watch. Have we reached a point where programmatic has become problematic?

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scoota makes senior hires from Exponential and Gumtree

We’re very excited to announce Niki Stoker joins Scoota as Director of Client Services; and Poonam Joshi joins as new Director of Ad Operations

With Scoota looking to further enhance its reputation as the leading programmatic rich media solution for brand advertisers, Niki Stoker will oversee our ambition to deliver the best service in market, taking charge of Client Service, Ad Ops and Design teams. Niki has over 15 years’ experience in digital advertising and held senior roles at various leading tech companies including TangoZebra/DoubleClick, Flashtalking and most recently European based DMP FlxOne.

Scoota CEO James Booth said of the news, “Whatever Niki does she does brilliantly. She was my first campaign manager at Tangozebra and went on to build the best campaign ops team around. She turned Flashtalking from a small operation into one of the leading UK players. Niki is top, top drawer, and I am thrilled to have her onboard.”

Niki said of her move, “I’m hugely excited to be joining some of the most talented and forward thinking people working in advertising today, and helping to take Scoota to the next level. “

Poonam Joshi also joins Scoota as Director of Ad Operations. Steve Filler, Scoota’s Tech CEO commented, “Poonam brings significant ad operations and programmatic expertise with her. With excellent knowledge of RTB technologies Poonam will lead and expand our Ad Ops team and continue to deliver outstanding campaigns for our clients.”

scoota & sir john hegarty’s record-breaking session at festival of marketing

On Thursday 12th November, Scoota’s co-founder Torie Chilcott joined Scoota investor & advertising legend Sir John Hegarty on the Headliner stage at the Festival of Marketing to discuss ‘The Magic of Creativity in Online Advertising.’ Torie looked at the journey of online advertising and its evolving relationship with creativity and Sir John Hegarty took the audience through one of his iconic advertising campaigns, Lynx’s Getting Dressed, demonstrating how, if he were to make it today, he would use the latest forms of technology to make it even more successful and creative. As the closing keynote of the Festival, the session with Sir John and Torie also broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest ever marketing lesson, and was an inspirational call to arms for creative agencies and technologists to collaborate more and work together to make online advertising deliver on its promise of creativity.

who you calling premium?

It’s a term often used in digital and yet its definition lacks consensus: so, what constitutes premium? Traditionally speaking, a premium publisher in the digital sense is the online representation of a high street publishing brand, such as a well known magazine title or popular newspaper. As established media properties, these premium publishers have enjoyed strong audiences and hefty advertiser revenues. For advertisers, the proposition has become more interesting with the advent of digital marketing, where the ability to exploit end user data has resulted in better and better audience targeting mechanisms.

The digital shift within advertising propelled many tech companies to start extracting learnings from an individual’s online behaviour to decide which ads to show them. With data technology companies trading audience metrics through programmatic, the challenge for traditional premium publishers became how to assert their brand value and differentiate their audiences as “premium” in an increasingly cluttered digital ecosystem.

In today’s world, brands can connect to thousands of publishers and their audiences in real time. This unprecedented access to scale means premium publishers have had to up their game to set themselves apart: offering brands a more unique, relevant and measurable audience. Advertisers are also increasingly granular in their data, prompting premium publishers to increase the value of their audiences and advertising space when negotiating their trading currencies.

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reflections on #dmexco15

Last week Scoota headed to Dmexco – the world’s largest gathering of leaders, innovators and technologists. Held in the heart of Cologne, across three enormous expo buildings, the biggest data exchanges, ad tech vendors, publishers and media agencies came together for a mass celebration of science. A global geek-off, notably attended this year by an increasing amount of high profile advertising leaders.

Sir Martin Sorrell led the charge with a keynote speech on horizontality and consolidation at WPP. Yannick Bollore gave a glamorous description of how Havas intends to provide the world’s best and most meaningful brand experts. Yahoo’s Lisa Utzschneider spoke passionately about the challenges and frustrations of inconsistent data.

Looking back, Dmexco successfully mixed companies more likely to be found in Cannes than Cologne with hardcore tech businesses. All seemed to be suffering from the same issues of convergence, growth and engagement. Seeing such different businesses have this commonality was startling. Notable areas of growth were discussed such as the emerging mobile markets of Africa, the Middle East and India. Also on the agenda: fragmentation of platforms; inefficiencies of measurement; plus the common anthem- the huge opportunity of programmatic.

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adland heavyweights and innocent founders invest in scoota

A big day for Rockabox: today we rebranded as Scoota and announced a new round of investment from some of the advertising industry’s biggest names.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty co-founder Sir John Hegarty; BMP co-founder and former Omnicom chairman Martin Boase; ex-TBWA president Michael Greenlees; and Innocent Drinks co-founders Richard Reed, Jon Wright and Adam Balon, among new investors.

Scoota is an online advertising technology company that enables advertisers to create, activate, measure and optimise rich media brand campaigns, at scale, programmatically – all within a single platform.

We have raised £3.7 million in this new round, which will be used to invest in continuing the development of our technology platform and growth into the wider European market.

Sir John Hegarty said of the investment: “Creativity is at the heart of all great advertising. Online advertising is a medium all advertisers should embrace, but how to deliver the best creative idea in the most effective way remains a big challenge. The team at Scoota is transforming the programmatic landscape and bringing to it exciting new opportunities for creativity; I’m delighted to be a part of this journey.”

Richard Reed, “Scoota has developed a unique platform that allows brands to reach current and future customers in a way that is relevant, highly creative and, thanks to some very clever technology, at an unprecedented scale. We’re very excited about Scoota’s future.”

According to recent figures from eMarketer, UK programmatic digital display ad spend will grow 66.2% to reach £1.8 billion this year, accounting for more than half (59%) of the UK display advertising market for the first time. Procter & Gamble said this time last year that it aimed to buy 70-75% of its digital ads programmatically by the end of 2014.

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random access memory lane

In the last century, this is how we did things. I was working for the predecessor of Scoota, Tangozebra. In those days, most people connected to the Internet by connecting a piece of string to a baked bean tin and connecting the other end of the string to an RJ11 cable, then chucking the whole lot over a telephone line and hoping for the best. Something like that – the details are hazy, it was a hundred years ago. The dizzying 28k download speeds that could be achieved were unable to cope with much more than a heavily-pixellated 8-bit jpeg, or a 4-bit animated gif that would sit there, flashing “ME! ME! ME!” in a sort of monochrome existentialist primal scream.

We were pretty sure we could do better than that, and had developed a java-based system that could deliver very small audio and image files, which were knitted together on the client side into something greater than the sum of its parts.  A tiny configuration file described how they should be played back, and how they should be dealt with in the event that one of the constituent parts should be held up en route – a Java applet did the rest. This was pretty nifty and won lots of awards and a good chunk of funding, but the winds of digital change were blowing and Java was hoofed out of the client-side like yesterday’s chip-wrapper. So we turned our attention to the new kid on the block – Javascript. This allowed us to do what we cool kids called DHTML.

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four legs to two wheels

Bizarrely, every now and then, I bump into people within our industry who still remember Tangozebra. Splendid. Eight years is a long time in online speak, the equivalent of 56 land-based years; and if I follow that logic it would seem that I’ve been involved in rich media advertising for well over 100 years, which feels about right; a lot has happened.

Tangozebra was an 11-year adventure.  The energy and passion from a wonderful team created the first rich formats in the late 90s – a time of complex hand-stitched Java-based interactivity, zero bandwidth, melting data centres and vertical learnings. By 2007, 1,500 campaigns were live at any one time on our cloud-based rich media serving platform; the Tangozebra Flash components turned thousands of creative agency Flash installs into rich media authoring suites, and all scaled nicely.

Rich media’s journey from those early days is an interesting one. The advent of Flash and introduction of layered site delivery allowed all sorts of exploding formats to emerge, often to the detriment of the users’ experiences. Experimentation was the order of the day back then but within a few short years those uninitiated large screen overlays had lost favour within the industry due to understandable user kickback, and with a sense of relief the industry started to mature. By 2007 when Tangozebra was bought, intrusive forms of rich media were yesterday’s news. Or so it seemed.

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creativity is technology’s best friend

Using technology to drive results for brands is nothing new: for a while now advertisers have capitalised on smart algorithms to optimise campaigns towards a desired goal. Crucially however, the creative element of the equation has always been overlooked.

A common approach in the digital space has been to produce a limited set of creative assets such as a thirty second TV ad and a rich format to host it. The media schedule and targeting would be optimised to deliver the desired result, ranging from user engagement with the video to more action orientated goals.

Naturally, such optimisation continually narrows the media and targeting parameters until the campaign ends, resulting in many of the original audience being funnelled out and left unexposed to the brands messaging. On the surface that approach can work if the campaign results are strong – but this approach does mean that brands are casting aside potential Customers.

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Scoota heads to Rome for Festival of Media Global!

Scoota headed to Rome this month after being selected to take part in the EMERGE pitch competition – the Festival of Media Global’s showcase of the world’s most exciting ad tech start-ups.

Bringing together some of the most interesting and innovative tech businesses globally – originating from as far afield as Canada as well as from the more traditional tech hubs of California, Tel Aviv and London, the EMERGE shortlist of companies, including Scoota, presented to the world’s biggest brands and agencies on the cutting-edge of technological change.

Converging on the historic Italian city, the global festival attracted some awesome speakers including the Head of Marketing for AirBnB, YouTuber Hussain Manawer and Steve Golin, producer of The Revenant- as well as Scoota’s Tech CEO Steve Filler, who spoke to a packed audience about how Scoota are using smart, interesting creative online experiences to grab users’ attention and create a value exchange – “our core proposition is to find a way to combine creativity and programmatic to kill bad advertising”.

 

Scoota at AdWeek Europe to discuss cross-screen storytelling

AdWeek took over a corner of Piccadilly this week, with 178+ sessions attracting over 30,000 attendees over the course of the 4-day festival. The industry’s leading lights tackled the biggest issues facing the ad industry, tackling subjects including the marriage of creativity & technology, cross-screen storytelling, online video, big data and the future of agencies.

Scoota’s co-founder Torie Chilcott spoke on a cross-screen storytelling panel alongside FremantleMedia and Pottermore. Torie looked at what it meant to be a creative today, “I used to sell to a programme commissioner but I think now we’re looking at brand commissioners. Whatever you can do to supplement your universe, there are so many opportunities to make your story massively interesting. The principles of a story are exactly the same.” Torie also noted that the current millennial zeitgeist was not necessarily overstated, but that some brands were tripping over themselves in their hot pursuit of how to develop a meaningful conversation with them – “there’s a real appetite and excitement for finding the right way of communicating with Millennials online because it’s so innate to who they are. Instead of saying ‘this is the one distribution method [so] I have to do that, look to create an exciting story across all platforms.”