Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oracle buys MOAT

Oracle have just announced that they are buying MOAT.

MOAT is a brand safety and visibility measurement company. They've come from a world where they've helped the programmatic world build trust when the main adservers were struggling.

Their main reason for existing is that they have brought a product to market quicker than Google were able to and have consistently stayed ahead of Google's trailing adserving platform.

I can see why MOAT is a valuable company in itself. They've got really strong relationships with publishers, they've gone through the certification process in order to be accepted across most industry bodies and they've built strong relationships with agencies. Given the recent brand safety issues, they're not going anywhere soon.

The question is how they will add value to Oracle's cloud service. Oracle at the moment are almost purely a data player. They sell big databases to store data, they have sources of data and they sell some things that help you activate your data.

From a data point of view, MOAT tells you if your ad was viewed. Integrating with Blue Kai so you can target viewers sounds good, but Blue Kai didn't need to buy the company to do this integration. It also will restrict them from pairing with other companies in this space.

From a tech point of view, MOAT's integration into Oracle is likely to slow them down. Aligning with Oracle's overall roadmap won't be fun and will likely meanthey can no longer run ahead of Doubleclick.

From a client point of view, MOAT is in a strong position within the marketplace. Most people who are going to go with a verification provider have already done it. There's a clear competitive set and MOAT have relationships at all relevant points in the ecosystem. Blue Kai has equivalent relationships so I don't see that Oracle will be able to do a better sales job than MOAT.

From an ownership point of view, it's good that they've not been bought by a media owner so we can have some continuing independence in the measurement space. The less that can be bought by Facebook or Google the better!

Overall, it's a strange acquisition. I don't really see a clear benefit for either party. I assume MOAT wanted money, which is always good. I don't think Oracle will particularly remember that they bought MOAT in five years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Coalition for Better Advertising


Publishers have always had to balance pleasing their audience with pleasing their advertisers. Too much advertising turns audiences away, too little means less revenue. Then there are the bad ads, the annoying and irritating, disruptive ones. To tackle this problem, GroupM is helping to form The Coalition for Better Ads - a global industry movement of publishers, agencies, technology companies and advertisers that aims to develop and implement new standards in digital advertising.

Details and Implications:

The rise of ad blockers has tipped the balance of power and consumers now have the nuclear option to block all digital advertising. This means that creating ‘good’ ads is now the responsibility of the entire industry, because ad blockers are not going to be tempted back because one site or advertiser has changed its ways. It’s all or literally nothing.
The Coalition has a strategy to deliver on three areas: defining standards for acceptable advertising, building technology to measure compliance with these standards and building consumer awareness of this change.
These standards will likely be based on the new LEAN scoring from the IAB which specifies that advertising should be: Light, Encrypted, AdChoice Supported and Non-invasive. These four principles will be built upon and quantified but can definitely be put to work right now on current activity.
Once the industry embraces these standards and implements technology based upon them, we are likely to see some significant changes:

Buying ads in ‘non-disruptive’ environments:

Advertising revenues sometimes discourage publishers from maintaining the quality of their properties – adding in more and more ad units. If advertisers pay premiums for ‘non-disruptive’ environments then publishers may be seduced into improving their sites to improve their yields.

Selective ad blocking: 

Once a system for scoring ads has been built ad blockers could specifically block ads that don’t meet the mark. Imagine an ad blocker that only stops THOSE ads.

Publishers charge a premium for certain advertising: 

Sites that want to maintain their score could actually charge a significant premium for advertisers who break the rules.


While we wait for The Coalition to do its work, Mindshare will be working with its clients and partners to lead the charge towards better ads. Delivering ads that are more considerate to consumers is central to delivering good experiences on behalf of our clients.
We urge you to take a look at the LEAN standards and see how we can move adverts away from being seen as annoying to being seen as something that informs and educates.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Google Updates Feeds to Require GTIN


As of May 16th 2016 if you sell a product that has a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) (a digital barcode) on Google, it will be compulsory to include it in your feed, or else those items will be disapproved.

Details & Implications

Many manufacturers make multiple products that are extremely similar when looked at within the product page of a website. Think of a time when you have tried to order something as simple as a TV,  it’s amazing how hard it is to work out if you are comparing the same model across different websites. The difficulty in confidently identifying products, is what makes product comparison sites difficult to build. Despite the fact Google has created relatively robust face recognition software, the company has not come close to replicating this with products, so Google has decided to progress by forcing merchants to tell it exactly what each product is.

Merchants must now use a standardized identifier to make sure Google can compare Golden Delicious apples to Golden Delicious apples. The introduction of GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) uniquely identifies any product that arrives in any kind of packaging – barcodes are usually digital versions of a GTIN. The GTIN is as familiar to logistics people as GRPs are to media people. They act as a common language between warehouses and companies to ensure large companies are able to efficiently transport goods from one business to another without needing someone to key the actual order details each time.

Google’s change ensures that it is getting access to this consistent data and can therefore innovate on top of the existing infrastructure instead of creating its own framework from scratch. If merchants do not comply with Google’s decision, their product listing ads will simply stop working and their products will not appear within Google shopping. This will obviously impact volumes for merchants, so there will be a push on their side to include the GTIN.


After receiving the updated product listing feeds, Google will have an interesting new data source – the exact products on sale from a range of merchants and the ability to compare. Therefore, Google can start ranking these merchants on how quickly they stock new products, how successful they are at keeping items in stock and how broad \ unique a range they sell. Even more interestingly they can compare the prices these merchants offer, so give a guide as to how competitively merchants price. Google can now also start looking at extending quality scores to include metrics based on what retailers sell. Furthermore, other companies will be making these standardized identifiers available on the internet, making it potentially easier for the next Kelkoo to emerge.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dynamic Creative Doesn't Require Decisions

One of the things that annoys me with dynamic creative is when the first conversation about deploying is around 'decision trees'. If this is the first conversation about dynamic creative, it's usually a sign dynamic creative isn't fully understood and that there's going to be a fun conversation around what we are using dynamic creative for.

Decision trees are an amazing tool that Flashtalking popularised.
The tree shows a nice clean process where certain rules trigger certain changes to the creative. These changes aggregate up to a wonderful world where the creative will appear to respond according to things we know about people or know about the page the person is on.
To be clear, I think this is a wonderful tool and a massive step above the excel sheet driven approach of most of their competitors. My problem with it is that it conflates these decisions with the creative. Therefore we often see these decision points leading the creative process, leading to the horrible messes we often see within product ads (more on those later).
The idea of having creative that is dynamic doesn't require rules to be defined - creative can change themselves based on nothing at all (and often are changing at random).

Decision Twigs

Since the majority of creatives actually only need one decision or rule, I suspect there are a large number of twigs out there. This should be normal - most of our audience aren't paying much attention to our advertising and we shouldn't need to be deploying huge levels of creative complexity.

A single decision can mask a huge number of creatives

Imagine a decision based on the title of the page the ad is deployed on. The creative could show an Italian picture and some Italian copy based on words within the title. If the title contains France, the pictures and copy could be altered. This could continue into many other countries.
This single decision could be extended out into dozens of individual creative combinations. These will take time to input into Flashtalking's decision tree or another adserver's excel file but will only really involve a single decision from the adserver.
The actual achievement here is that Flashtalking have managed to sell a trafficking technique so well that creative agencies are selling on their behalf. The problem is that the creative agency then obsesses over how to make these trees look more complicated so they can feel that the dynamic setup looks 'clever'.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Testing new interface

Might be time to resurrect this. It's been a long time and media has moved a long way in that time.

I've missed out on blogging about:

  • RTB
  • Mobile
  • Cross device
  • Phone Hacking
Lots of things and I did have some opinions at the time!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Boris only likes cars...

Saw some bits from the Londonist on how the cost of transport in London has been changing from 2000 to 2012. Noticed some obvious hiking from Boris so thought would be nice to do a version of the Obama bar chart that shows unemployment.
I've assumed that Boris was in charge of the prices from 2009 onwards.
First, the one that hits the poorer people harder - bus fares.

This one shows very clearly how aggressively prices have gone up on the price of the standard bus fare. Maybe this is what's paying for the new buses?

Weekly passes had followed a similar trend but looked like they had been a priority for savings. Now it looks like they're going up just the same:

On Tube fares, I've replaced the cash price with the price of an Oyster card single journey as that seemed the most appropriate for Londoners rather than tourists (keen on the cash price remaining high to screw tourists!). Once you look like this it's pretty clear that Boris has been raising these like a madman.

The weekly numbers show that he's made pretty much no difference whatsoever -the numbers keep on going up.

He hasn't been as harsh to the congestion zone, only raising it once during his whole term and reducing the area it covers. Although he may talk lots about cycling, he actually seems to be nicest to motorists:

Just thought it necessary to emphasise while he's running talking about how he's saved us pennies in Council tax while taking pretty substantial amounts out through TFL rate rises.

Graphs from the Google Charts API. A little bit easier than D3, but difficult to do anything especially funky with them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Integrated Marketing Campaigns

For everything people have been saying about John Lewis' new TV ad, it's interesting seeing what's live for digital advertising at the moment:

Not quite as interesting!