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

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?

 

 

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.”

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.

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.

Continue reading …