Private: Insight Wars

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Insights that allow marketers to make the right choices in real time (or as close to as possible), is the key differentiator in choosing which adserver to use to run campaigns. Adservers are painfully aware, and have been quietly engaged in a cold war over the last three years to build, buy or partner access to the best data that software engineers can devise.

A recent development in the battle of insights has been Google’s partnership with long time digital thought leaders comScore. They’re working to integrate their flagship product, Validated Campaign Essentials or vCE, directly into DoubleClick.

What’s New?

vCE has always been a robust tool giving advertisers and agencies access to easy measurement of Brand Safety, Bot Counting, Ad Visibility, Geo & Demo Verification and most recently, the ability to measure Cross Dimensional Reach.

The platform has been in market for over two years now as a stand alone product with limited agency uptake.

By taking the pain out of implementation, comScore will be hoping more measurable impressions will come their way and elevate enhanced insights tracking to a permanent “must have” for marketers and agencies alike.

Easy integration with Googles Doubleclick stack will go a long way to differentiate them from the pack (see Spider IO, DoubleVerify, Viziads, ADagoo) with Advertisers and Publishers alike.

What’s the fuss about?

Right now, GRP (gross rating points) are a hot topic in the trades with some agencies lauding a single simple metric for them to base their cross platform planning, with others feeling that GRP will push less than diligent planners to the make wrong choices.

Frankly we’re a bit confused as to why there is so much attention on this issue given that DoubleClick have had an accurate measure of cross dimensional reach, free to use for their users, for over a year.

What’s our take on GRP?

Affinity loves data, and relishes the chance to improve the scope and granularity of our measurement.

Like many digital agencies we’re results focused, which we feel is the only way to navigate the fragmented digital landscape.

Ultimately communications activity, and the thinking behind it, has to be measured on what it returns to the client rather than focusing on surrogate metrics that are open to being gamed by less scrupulous publishers and content networks.

The introduction of surrogate metrics like GRP, just like TARP that inspired it, may muddy the waters and give some agencies a new way to go astray. There are many tools in vCE however, that we think should empower agencies to hold publishers to account.

All things considered however, if you’ve already planned around the realities of the online world and your communications are efficiently driving results, the only thing you have to learn is that you’ve done a solid job planning.

What’s the right question?

What we haven’t see from the agency crowd yet is a sober analysis of what this change will actually mean for the industry.

Adservers have always existed to give an independent point of measurement and we’re pleased to see service providers bring new tools to market and we’re not surprised to see Google and Sizmek (formerly DG) leading the pack.

There are a number of consequences this raises, which may take some time to resolve.

Questions we think need to be answered include:

  • Will comScore’s tool set be available to DFP users and what does this mean for EMMA?
  • At the end of the day will publishers or agencies be footing the bill for vCE through DoubleClick?
  • Is DoubleClick giving up on their own home grown, free of charge, measurement tool set?
  • How does Google’s recent acquisition of Spider.io fit into landscape, will advertisers get any insight into the extend of click fraud through exchange networks?
  • What does this mean for Sizmek post restructure?

Final Thoughts

Getting better data to drive better campaigns is critical, and although the technology is largely there to drive better business outcomes, many of the tools in the market fall in to the Big Data rather than Smart Data category.

Google has the resources and drive to push partnerships and acquisitions with technology leaders to produce easier to use, scalable products.

Although the changes they make to the market have massive implications, they are not always totally transparent.

Affinity doesn’t think that the easy solution is the always the best however, as getting the best return on investment requires constant tracking and optimization to the businesses goal rather than to surrogate metrics.

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