Online advertising Space

Move Over RTBs, the Hot Term of 2011 Is the AMP

THE FORWARD 'I': The Advertising Option IconA year ago, it seemed like online advertising was going the way of Wall Street with the emergence of the exchanges, DSPs and SSPs - turning into a sort of obscure acronym soup.

What will 2011 bring? Even more acronyms and fluidity - but all of it focused on data, segmentation, movement, attribution and management.

Oh, and there's a little place called Washington that really wants to understand what all these companies are doing with that data. Clarity, please?

THE FORWARD 'I': The Advertising Option Icon

ADVERTISING OPTION ICON: A cute little "i" that can be put on ad creative so consumers can find out how the data collected about them is being used, and set various preferences. It's administered by Evidon and a consortium of trade groups as part of an industry self-regulation maneuver to keep Washington privacy advocates at bay and protect the status quo of self-regulation.

AD BLOCKERS: Software enabled through a person's web browser that can prevent ads from being displayed. Naturally, publishers aren't big fans, as advertising is the primary revenue source underwriting online content.

AD EXCHANGES: Wall Street-like commodity trading comes to web advertising. Publishers designate inventory, buyers can access it. The idea is that it creates a rational marketplace and automates the tedious buying process, allowing publishers to set a "floor, " or minimum bid, for what types of ads they will accept, while buyers bid for varying types of inventory available but rarely know in advance where those ads will show up. There are pure exchanges where the inventory is "blinded, " and now publishers are in the game. The Weather Channel has its own private exchange and a consortium of Gannett, Hearst, The New York Times and the Tribune company run an exchange through Quadrant One.

THERE'S A SCIENCE TO IT: AudienceScience bills itself as the largest and most trusted audience aggregator in the world.AD NETWORKS (and various permutations thereof): Audience Based: They sell with the idea of aggregating users based on either demography or intent (to purchase something).
Horizontal: Sells a wide base of inventory available, i.e., not specialized.
Vertical: Specialized. There are women's networks, sports networks, networks of people in the market to buy a car, etc.
Mobile: Sells ads onto wireless devices including phones and now tablets. There's more to it than just sales, as it takes work to get one ad to appear on phones across multiple platforms (e.g., Android and Apple). There are three big ones: Google (AdMob), Apple (formerly Quattro) and Millennial (independent), plus some focused on rich media or various verticals.
Performance: Clicks 'R Us. These networks have a wide range of inventory available and are all about driving direct response at the lowest possible price.
Video: The combo of sight, sound and motion is hot (and generates the highest CPMs). Recently this space has been a land grab for more generalized networks that are snapping up or merging with video networks. They don't only aggregate video inventory against which to run ads - some also syndicate video content across a range of sites, as there is not enough video inventory at the right price to meet demand.

AD SERVERS: The technology that disseminates online ads and then tracks and reports back on ad performance. DoubleClick/Google and Microsoft Atlas are the leaders, along with "homegrown" servers - which is when a site builds its own.

AD VERIFICATION: Software tools that advertisers use to determine if impressions are displayed in the proper place and whether the ads are privacy compliant. They are often used with exchange inventory when the advertiser does not know exactly where the ads are placed or for audience targeted buys to ensure "brand safety" - that ads aren't on pages with, say, boobs. The ad networks typically dislike verification tools because networks say it's their job to find the right sites, and they argue verification has technological limits. For example, they say, if advertising for a woman's product shows up on a breast cancer-related site, boobs may just be a perfect fit.

AGENCY-TRADING DESKS (ALSO MEDIA-BUYING PLATFORMS/DESKS OR DSPS): The practice of an agency operating its own DSP so it can enrich its pool of data from all the buys it executes. The bigger agencies are building systems to look at data across media and frequency cap, i.e. control the number of times a person is exposed to specific ad.

ANALYTICS: There are three different kinds:
1. Third-party panel-based companies, such as ComScore and Nielsen, can tell you who actually looks at a site. The publishers always argue that they are being undercounted due to the complexity of the web and the difficulty of getting reliable metrics for smaller sites.
2. First-party software tools, such as Google Analytics, Omniture and Webtrends, operate through tags on a site's pages and let publishers get statistics on how many page views a site is generating and how many unique users it has (a machine proxy for people/viewers). Their numbers never match up to third-party tools due to issues such as cookie deletion, and both groups argue about their data reliability.
3. Audience targeting is basically behavioral targeting with new clothes and broader capabilities and applications. It's the practice of using data to imply an audience, either by demography, life stages or some sort of intent, such as people who have searched for info on a new phone purchase. These analytics tools help marketers buy a specific audience, not an audience implied by the context of a specific site. (If I am looking to reach an "auto intender, " I advertise to them wherever they are online - not just on auto sites.)

THERE'S A SCIENCE TO IT: AudienceScience bills itself as the largest and most trusted audience aggregator in the world.

AUDIENCE MANAGEMENT PLATFORMS (AMPS): One of the rising terms of 2011. The folks who provide the audience targeting now have platforms to automate the process of buying audience-targeted inventory. Since many of them also operate ad networks, it's a natural extension. Jeff Hirsch, CEO of Audience Science, which has rebranded as an AMP, said "AMP is the acronym representing a company that has DMP and DSP capabilities."

BEACONS: A 1-by-1-pixel tag typically used by an advertiser or a third-party ad server to track a unique user's activity over time. A beacon helps to properly attribute an online action to ad exposure, even if the action happened days after being exposed to the ad. DoubleClick, which originated the concept, still uses the name "spotlight tags."

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