Category: Uncategorized

Thankfully, The Click May Take a Back Seat

This guest blog submission is from Scott Roulet, president of BBN Networks.

“Be careful what you ask for because it may come true”. The over-used cliché captures the sentiment we face as the digital advertising industry begins to de-emphasize the click and emphasize the less defined ad engagement.

For years, CTR has been source of cynicism around media watering holes as well as the more high intellect industry conferences. Outside of media sellers looking at the landing pages of prospective advertisers or marketers trying to gain insight on a competitor’s campaign, who really clicks on these ads? In fact most of us have met few, if any, web users compelled to intentionally press the mouse while hovering over a clever message embedded inside a 300×600 ad unit. Adding to the CTR mystery, is the elusive bot with its daily havoc that distorts reality and threatens the sanity of ad ops teams.

Relief may be just around the corner because we will soon be redirecting our attention to ad impressions that are actually within view of the user. In theory, this is sensible measurement. Unless an ad is actually seen, it’s merely a self-rewarding creative work of art. Accountability for ensuring the ad can be seen is imperative for the integrity of the this medium. Many publishers, especially in B2B, filled their web pages to look like a NASCAR but you don’t see sponsor logos on the bottom of the cars and expectations for digital media should be no different.

Companies like Moat have developed amazing tools that measure a user’s engagement with website ads. Our company has implemented Moat to provide inventory and campaign analysis but there are alternative tools including DoubleVerify and ComScore with similar functionality. While the industry has mandated a certification process for technologies that assess viewability, there is not a common methodology standard to minimize the reporting discrepancies between systems. Similar to the variances between the ad servers for publishers and advertisers, viewability statistics vary. These companies are dedicating some of the brightest minds in ad technology to enhance the accuracy and compatibility so it’s only a matter of time before those gaps are closed.

Publishers must develop page designs that raise the in-view rates for their inventory while considering a strategy that fairly distributes the inventory allocation across advertisers with various requirements. Major buying agencies and trading desks have already begun the adoption so publishers will soon be challenged with the dilemma over which advertisers are assigned placements with the greatest in-view rate. Historically, “premium” positioning came at premium rates, however, that approach is an unlikely solution since the downward CPM pressure is driven by the same buying groups demanding higher in-view rates.

The momentum for viewablity is a logical progression for a medium in constant search of improved measurements for intelligent validation with greater accountability. The speed bumps along the way are inevitable but standardization will come and premium publishers will adapt with web properties that maximize engagement with the brands.

Ready to just go back to worrying about CTR? Be careful what you ask for.

Scott Roulet is a digital media entrepreneur, and publishing veteran. He is a Co-Founder and President of BBN Networks, a B2B digital marketing company connecting marketers with business decision makers. For more information, please visit:


The Future of Private Exchanges

This guest blog submission is from Scott Roulet, president of BBN Networks.

For an industry built to on the basis of driving efficient advertising performance, it should be no surprise that programmatic buying represents nearly half the digital display advertising spend. The acceleration of buying and selling automation has exceeded even the most aggressive forecasts at more than $10 billion in 2014 in the US, according to a recent survey by eMarketer. However, the long term viability of the growth of open-auction exchanges has been recently put into question by both buy-side and sell-side market influencers. Major media buying organizations including WPP’s GroupM have announced plans to abandon open exchange investment and turn to trusted media partners to form private marketplaces.

Website display advertising models have been built for volume, efficiencies and accountability. The open ad exchange paved the way to for the evolution of an interconnected ecosystem of digital media commerce that met the volume and efficiency criteria. Publishers have exposed their inventory to an expanded universe of advertisers while advertisers have uncovered unique media environments that drive value to their brands. However, that system has also enabled unintended consequences with inventory secrecy and malicious attacks that compromise the integrity of the entire market. The bot activity has plagued the industry has interfered with progress toward accountability and led to advertiser skepticism. Solve Media estimates bots accounted for 40% of the web traffic in the US last year and Incapsula reported up to 30% of the global web traffic was malicious non-human activity. Additionally, the lack of transparency and misrepresentation of inventory by some media suppliers have perpetuated suspicion. The result has been the growth of an unhealthy wedge in the supply and demand chain. But, that dynamic will shift as media companies offer walled garden inventory that can be verified and purchased within the automated buying platforms.

The walled garden private marketplace (PMP) will create a renewed partnership spirit between media buyers and sellers when they are integrated into the streamlined programmatic systems that eliminate the traditional labor intensive buying process. The PMPs are analogous to quality products on a store shelf. The advertiser demand side platform is the fastest growing store front for digital media buyers and your media must be on the shelf. The location of the shelf-space is critical for maximizing sales, therefore, media suppliers must build relationships with buyers to put their products on the “end-caps”.

The reporting analytics from the AppNexus, Rubicon and other exchanges provide publishers a window into their customers’ media buying activity. Media buyers are in the business of buying media that translates to success for the brands or clients, regardless of the success measurements. The private marketplace plugs into demand side platforms which unveil important insights about advertiser intentions as well as the actual media purchases. Those insights can foster important conversations that enhance that relationship between buyers and sellers.

The race to gain access to current and developing private exchanges is happening as marketers continue to reallocate and expand digital advertising investment. Major media buyers that historically connected to stockpiles of inventory through open exchanges are now stitching together private networks with premium media brands. The programmatic market is prime for premium publishers with unique, quality inventory. However, the current pricing models cannot currently cost justify the infrastructure implementation for publishers with limited inventory. As a result, many specialty publishers are turning to supply-side platforms (SSPs) with common domain expertise. Our company recently launched a private marketplace to ensure our member B2B publishers are represented to large-scale media buyers within this buying environment. While programmatic buying is still rare for many endemic B2B media buyers, it is an inevitable model that will quickly evolve. BBN and other SSPs are connecting the pipes for their inventory partners that will have them prepared to accommodate programmatic demand from publisher-direct advertisers.

As programmatic buying becomes the dominant engine for digital media commerce, advertisers and premium publishers will rely on private exchanges. It is important that marketers and publishers alike continue to build relationships of trust and accommodation to ensure viability through the age of advertising automation.

Scott Roulet is a digital media entrepreneur, and publishing veteran. He is a Co-Founder and President of BBN Networks, a B2B digital marketing company connecting marketers with business decision makers. For more information, please visit:

B-to-B editorial expenses on the rise

The primary driver of editorial costs for any media enterprise is compensation. You have to pay your content creators. But how much should a business-to-business media company be paying its writers and editors?

ABM asks its members that question in its annual Managing Profits research, along with a lot of other detailed questions on expenses and revenue. And it turns out that print brands spend the most. They spend 34% of their total compensation budget on editorial compensation (salaries, bonuses, and benefits), representing 12% of total expenses for the brand.

Digital brands spend 26% of their total compensation budget on editorial salaries, representing 10% of total expenses.  Event brands spend 14% of their total compensation budget on editorial salaries, representing 4% of total expenses.

And when we look year over year, the ABM/MPA Compensation Study, conducted by Towers Watson, reveals that editorial salaries rose from 2011 to 2012. For eleven business-to-business editorial job titles, only one compensation package declined over the two year period, and that one fell only 4.2 percent. In contrast, five of the eleven rose by single-digit percentages, and another five rose by double-digit percentages. Only two of the job titles failed to outpace 2012’s 2.07% inflation rate.

That means more money in content creators’ pockets – but that’s okay by publishers, who saw total revenue increase over the same 2011-2012 time period by 4.4 percent.

By Michael Moran Alterio