What does the future really bring for the Australian digital media industry? (Part 1/10)?

Part 1/10 – The Realisation of the Full Digital Technology Stack Capability
The utopia for digital marketers is almost at hand, with a single suite of digital media ad-publication, optimisation and measurement tools being within grasping distance.

As regular readers (colleagues-who-get-an-email-from-me-every-time-I-post) know, I spend most of my time working within the media, digital media and technology space. Some of my time is spent identifying emerging technologies, testing them, and then driving media agency and client adoption of the appropriate tools. As with my other post on broader digital change, I have included a few examples that may be a little far reaching, but, I anticipate that these are not unreachable, for a focused or a digitally native organisation. So, what’s the go (in order of importance)

I thought I would break what had become one massive blog post, into 10 posts over the next month or so; Post (1) | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

These posts include opinions  on what I am anticipating being big change points, and adoption areas throughout 2014 for Australian digital marketing professionals. Some countries are ahead of us in terms of adoption, but not by much – Australia, and its leading brands are very much in the challenger space with many media and creative agencies working hard with clients to push creative executions and the underlying technology to the extreme, and I anticipate that by the end of this year, we will see a lot more Australian marketers realising the potential of these tools and adopting the principles that I am sharing below.

The AdTech Stacks

The reality is for marketers, the more different technology and solutions providers you use, in many cases (almost all) the less accurate your data is. Piggybacked tags, disparity of platform, different counting methodologies – there are many excuses, but they aren’t far from being dispelled.

The Utopian solution is; Either adopt a single ad:technology stack as the backbone to your media measurement OR mix and match reliable tools ensuring that measurement accuracy is the focus of your output.

My personal view is that Google is leading the charge with their  Doubleclick Stack and Analytics Product. How I see things sitting right now;

  • Google are not far from a conceptually perfect, and phenomenally powerful Digital Ad-Stack Platform
  • SizMek (Formerly Mediamind) are not far behind them, but haven’t yet brought their consolidated stack together yet
  • There are so many niche technology providers that you can mix and match to get your desired outcome, in many instances on whatever ad-stack (Google/Mediamind/Other) you want
  • Social buy platforms and social community management integration isn’t there yet
  • Agnosticism should drive technology selection – Most relevant and accurate tool for the job ongoing
  • You need to be doing this now…

What are the important bits I need to know?

You will likely be able to manage and measure the whole spectrum of your digital advertising through one technology stack – Display, Social, Search, Mobile, DSP – the whole lot. If you wish to do this over multiple technology providers, the accuracy will decrease, but you may find specific search technology platforms, or DSP vendors are more appropriate to your business – essentially, you can and should be planning for consolidation.

What are the components of the new technology stack?

  • Content Publication (Content Management System, including mobile and Social, likely responsive)
  • Ad Server Platform (the technology that allows you to display advertising on third party sites and measure impressions and clicks)
  • DSP (Demand Side Platform that deals with programmatic digital media buying)
  • Video DSP (the same, but for video)
  • Mobile Buy Technology
  • DMP (Data Management Platform – allows you to store your reached audience, and re-market or tailor activity around their previous interactions with your brand or activity)
  • Ad-Visibility (was my ad seen by human eyes)
  • Rich Media (Tailored Digital Ad Executions)
  • Paid Search Bid Technology
  • Organic Search Reporting
  • Conversion and Content Optimisation (including elements of Cx, Ux and CRO)
  • Social Media Buy Technology
  • Social Community Management platform
  • Post Click Web, Mobile and App Analytics (extending to Universal Analytics)
  • Path to Conversion (PTC) and Multi-Channel Attribution Reporting

There continue to be challenges with the existing technology stacks, as for each layer of capability you add, there is often an increased decline in accuracy and matching of data, and an incremental cost, however, with DMP’s and DSP’s being the focus for much of the broader paid media activity, there is less wastage on low relevance audiences. Viewability add a different dimension yet again to this in that CPM’s will increase for premium spots, to increase reach and frequency, but at the same time, one would expect “prospecting inventory” to start to be leveraged to understand the importance of placements and formats that increase goal attainment.

Current limitations include;

  • Cost, the compounding costs, of the different tools and layers  are considerable, however, those technologies  commanding the majority of spend are the areas where the greatest savings and efficiencies can be gained validating the investment.
  • Integration – numbers matching over different platforms
  • Tag Load/Management – piggybacked tracking tags are not reliable to measure or to optimise against
  • Cross technology integration – everyone is trying to sell their own flavour of tag management, attribution resulting in only Google offering full digital media stack measurement
  • A click does not equal a visit in web analytics tools
  • Click fraud is evolving so quickly that everyone is playing catch-up against the fraudsters
  • Limited DMP 3rd party data sources in AU

What To Do Right Now?

  • Establish the reporting requirements that will allow you to better invest your media
  • Establish your measurement framework and plan a tagging and conversion matrix for both your media and website/click stream analytics over all platforms
  • Identify what ad stack and technology delivers on; your current media allocation, your expected new media channels; your measurement framework requirements
  • Ensure that your digital media is consolidated onto as few technology stacks as possible
  • Establish your DMP
  • Ensure tagging and conversion is implemented appropriately
  • Create dashboards that accurately visualise the required output from your measurement framework and requirements
  • Utilise Path to Conversion reports and attribution reporting to comprehensively understand the conversion path and touchpoints
  • Use visibility reporting to inform (and drive top level strategy) to optimise your viewable ad impressions and pre-bid fraud detection
  • Utilise your audience segments to build efficiency of all of your media investments.

More to come in the next few days.


My 2014 Digital Predictions

In my 2014 predictions and views posts, I thought that I would share a few more expectations, on what I (broadly speaking) anticipate developing in the digital space in 2014.

In a year with a world cup in Brazil – widely mooted as one of the understated emerging economies (BRIC), I would be expecting to see great creative innovation and possibly new creative media and app executions on existing platforms to reach the largest sporting audience globally (especially in Asia).

I have tried to include a mix of both out-there and in-there predictions:

1. Atlas Relaunching at Facebook’s F8 event

I would expect to see Facebook move into the ad-serving space to attempt to validate  and measure Facebook engagement driving purchase or action through web or mobile. Suspect that this could be announced at F8 – https://www.facebook.com/f8

Why is this interesting? Facebook’s like button isn’t giving them enough information about user engagement –  IE. It was great that you could build a community on Facebook, you now need to pay to engage with them, now you are paying to engage with this audience, Facebook need to monetise the post FB advertising value – this can be done effectively with the AdServer Tracking Technology. I expect this to be powering the like button and the conversion pixels/ad optimisation of the future.

2. A New DMP Player / Audience Management Platform

Google don’t have a DMP currently. I would anticipate that to effectively compete with Adobe and Turn in the Audience Management and segmentation space, that this would be an interesting addition to their product suite.

3. Ad-Visibility becoming a normal metric

Pretty self explanatory. Did the ad that I paid for, reach the desired audience, and was it seen?

Not just whether the ad was seen, but did it reach the audience profile and segment that I paid to reach.

4. Attribution Modelling including Visible Impression Metrics and Path To Conversion

Attribution modelling will likely be enhanced by visible impression path to conversion (PTC).

I anticipate reporting will be enhanced to view segments of total (viewed and non viewed impressions) and published assets (which publishers and placements) fell into these categories.

I also anticipate the inclusion of mobile app engagement for Android users on the Google Stack (DCM), as with the Mobile Config inclusion within Google Tag Manager (GTM), it’s likely to be a relatively logical next step.

5. TV Inventory Video DSP

TubeMogul are the market leaders for Video DSP by a country mile. I anticipate huge enhancements to the Google Video DSP prodcut, and possibly yet more players getting involved. It would be interesting to see the premium publishers going to market with a Demand Side Platform (DSP) for TV. In the US, it was possible (for a while) to buy TV inventory through adwords. This is an area of exceptional interest for me personally.

Edit 28/12 – Would Google buy TubeMogul?

6. Ad-Visibility challenges for traditional publishers

With online publishers now explicitly being able to measure whether a digital ad was seen by a browser, or not, I anticipate that this spells trouble for traditional publishers from two perspectives;

  • TV Metrics will be challenged by online further still by the ever increasing accountability, and measurement of online. When will Comscore, Nielsen and others revise their panel based approach to measurement. (A thought – In Australia, all TV signals are now digital, surely this presents a new opportunity for measurement?)
  • Traditional publishers (and news outlets) have their websites, pages and portals littered with advertising. Google for a long time has said that it will start to penalise ad-heavy pages in search, now, with ad-visibility measurement, it may be that advertisers force publishers to revisit their page layouts and ad placements

7. Use of Ad and Cookie Blockers being further limited by publishers

Increasing consumer use of browser plugins like AdBlock (and ABP), Ghostery, Disconnect2 and the encouragement by leading groups and figures to circumnavigate geo-fencing is likely to be of interest to many publishers.

I have noticed on my test VM‘s that many website functionality is being limited by ad-blocking and tracking blocking technology. Users may stop using sites that restrict the application functionality through cookie blocking.

8. FaceFall or Twitter Bomb

I worked through the first dotcom crash where businesses were valued at millions based on their potential (impression based) advertising revenue, I am now working through a second spill of dotcom 2.0 boom, where demographic, Geographic and sociographic value is being implied by the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

I believe that with the emerging ad stacks (Mediamind, Google, et al), and the DSP and Audience technologies that integrate with the ad-stacks, it will be possible to garner this information independently of FB and Twitter. This is not to say that these two platforms do not have value, but their perceived exclusivity in the space for me is false. I can get the same or better from combining other sources, without the community management team required to support these channels.

Regardless, I anticipate that there will be a lot of discussion about the “value” of these two companies, now post IPO, and their revenue models, and the acquisitions that they have made in the recent past.

Side Point: Facebook is struggling with the youth audience. Yet another article in recent days is lauding the fallout of the “new potential” user base of FB to emerging “private” platforms.

9. Privacy

Privacy is going to continue to be top of the discussion pile throughout 2014. Since the Edward Snowdon revelations in Mid-2013, they have rarely failed to make it to the front pages of the leading titles with a new privacy based revelation.

Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on public being the social norm was treated as a ambitious when it was said, I feel that it was proven, and essentially we have a generation of people who have given their data, their networks, their contacts and their locations to many technology firms. It isn’t however right that this should then be dragnet harvested to spy on the populous.

A right to privacy will be a huge discussion and debate over the whole of the year

From a media perspective, the impacts of these discussions could be quite serious – The development and adoption of Do Not Track (DNT), as browsers limit (optional) publishers, they have the option to abide by the users request. Publishers who chose to ignore this, may find themselves at the wrath of users.

The advancement of Single Customer View (SCV) and Cookieless tracking will likely leap ahead of legislation attempting to kerb tracking of users.

10. Out there prediction: Jeff Bezos & Washington Post creating a new revenue model for publishers

I hope that Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of the Washington Post springs a new innovative approach to the  monetisation of content online – either through new platforms, innovative delivery on existing platforms or some kind of pay per use basis – I’m intrigued.

So, what else?

Why haven’t I included HTML5? Well, I am still struggling to see adoption by anyone other that the most tech-savvy of publishers and brands really leveraging HTML5 to anywhere close to it’s potential. I would hope that by mid-year with the formalisation of the schema that it would start to become the norm.

HTML5 offline storage is likely to underpin much of the migration away from cookies from a ad-stack perspective, but that is going to be a long burn, and I would be suprised to see much of that realised in 2014.

What about Bitcoin… I don’t know is the honest answer. Without banking support, it will be difficult to see a future. Many businesses accepting bitcoin are being pressured by their banking institutions, with a number of documented cases of forced account closures. I have great hopes, as do the Winklevoss brothers.

Hope that you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, and I will revisit this in December 2014 to see how I fared against my predictions.


Image Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TaxisCombined.jpg

Uber in Sydney

Image Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TaxisCombined.jpg

I’ve been using Uber since the middle of September, and am a massive advocate. They have the potential to break the mostly average taxi experience to something much more of a pleasurable experience. Using them in the US was a great experience, and in Sydney good, but less dramatic.

Sydney taxi’s are a best a lottery, ranging from Taxi’s that make the most horrendous of noises and bumps in what can only be described as Vinyl Seat Covered Chariots of Death. I have had some very, very scary experiences ranging from drivers who dive over 2 lanes onto the kerb to pick you up when they see you late, to just plain reckless driving. Most frightening is the 12 hour shift fatigue. I have been in numerous taxis (numbering 10+) where the driver has been visibly dropping off and nodding while driving or in two instances has actually fallen asleep at traffic lights.

It was this that drove me to using Uber – trying to get decent service from a driver. I have a few private drivers who I use both in Sydney and Melbourne, but, they’re not necessarily an on-demand service. I love the Uber “email the invoice” feature – It would be great if they attached a pdf.

I guess the opinion changers have come in recent weeks, when 6 seconds after ordering a cab, and cancelling it – as it was a limousine, not a taxi, the driver changed me as a no-show ($25, which was refunded almost immediately by Uber with an apology – great). The second instance, is a more fundamental – it came as I left the theatre (get me) two Fridays agoat about 10.30pm, when (with my 5* uber rating), I requested a cab in Sydney CBD. Several cars were visible in the vicinity. No pick ups. 30 minutes later – no pick ups. I think I requested over 20 times. I resorted (on my crutches) to a station – which took an hour to head home. I did try to get a drive past (hail) taxi, but they were also either occupied or didn’t pick up. I think a driver problem more than an Uber problem, BUT very frustrating.

This takes me to my point, at any busy time in Sydney, the Taxis are pretty dire, and the service – is often shite. Generally they are only interested in long fares, and often when I have been out late (2am+) are often soliciting for fares – which is illegal. I think that the same mentality is being used with uber, that despite there being cars in the area, they are not answering pick-up requests/jobs, which in return bumps up Uber pricing to premium pricing (1.75x normal fare) to prioritise jobs.

Compare this to the US, where, when I was in San Francisco recently, all of the Uber’s that I took, were immaculate cars, polite drivers and were cheaper than the taxis! When I first used the Uber Sydney service, all of the cars were silver service, now, they’re any old poke who signed up. When are the drivers/vehicles going to be vetted?

So, my broader points:

I have never had a problem with an uber driver who has picked me up – I think I have given them all 5 stars, but…

  • When will the NSW/Syndey taxi licencing rules change to allow for Uber Cars to operate independently, as the service consumers get at present from the likes of Taxi’s combined is not adequate.
  • Will the drivers troll every system to exploit fares, or would they rather have better customers? Why would they not want to take a slice of the private hire (Hire Car) market?

My Recommendations to Uber

  • It would be great if Uber attached a PDF reciept to their emails – would make expenses claims easier.
  • When will Uber start vetting the vehicles that their drivers are using – rate your driver – rate the vehicle would be good.
  • When will Uber allow you to put a start location and end destination at peak times to try to circumnavigate the drivers from ignoring fares, and gaming the peak time mechanism.


Google Analytics Summit 2013 Logo

Google Analytics Summit October 2013

Google Analytics Summit 2013 Logo

I am very fortunate to, along with David CoatsReprise Australia’s Analytics Director, to be attending the 2013 Google Analytics Summit at Mountain View, California.

The event is a three day event for Google Analytics Certified Partners (GACP), and Google Analytics Premium Re-sellers to come together to understand the evolving product, the integration and roadmap for Google Analytics and Premium over the coming 12 months.

With a Barbarian-esque (RUFC reference) collective of speakers including; Avinash, Tom Davenport, Justin Cutroni and plethora of other speakers (who’s names embarrassingly I do not recognise all of) who’s  BIO’s read like the who’s who of digital and web analytics I am immensely excited to be attending and participating in the event.

I intend to be live blogging the event here – and will update this post accordingly, but to keep up to date with everything that is happening;

Some key twitter to make sure you watch (I will add to this over the coming days):

UPDATE: Live Blog: Day #1, Day #2 and the announcements breakdown (Reprise AU Blog)


Analytics, Digital, Creative and Innovation