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Without (good) data, can digital marketing exist?

Data is the engine of digital marketing. So why isn’t it a priority?

by Chris Patheiger, VP Marketing & Communications

A couple of months ago, Teradata and Celebrus published their ‘Digital Marketing Insights Report 2014‘.  At first blush, it’s one of your standard corporate whitepapers – albeit fairly high-quality, and the data seems sound, even if the sample size isn’t huge – but I’ve found myself returning to it several times because of what it seems to say about the way marketers are thinking about data.

For example, take a look at this chart from the report:

biggest priorities for digital marketing 2014

I was a little surprised to see ’email marketing’ at the top of this list, but the survey was mostly aimed at the UK, German and Dutch markets, and was promoted heavily through email campaigns (according to the report), so perhaps it’s just a function of a self-selected group.

What was more interesting to me was that while more than 50% of respondents said that email, search and social media marketing was a high priority for them, only 27% said that ‘big data collection and analysis’ was. Except – can you really do email, search or social marketing without big data collection and analysis?

It’s true that some respondents may have been put off by the term ‘big data’ versus ‘data’.  I know that there are still lots of marketers out there who are unsure about when their data counts as ‘big’.

But then I saw the next chart:

data challenges facing marketers 2014

(The report goes on to say that only 38% of respondents have a centralized database for customer data – in all other cases, the data is stored in different departments, on different systems, with different means of access by different levels of users.)

Here again there is a sort of ‘one of these things is not like the other’ category:  the 15% wedge labeled ‘Making the data actionable’.  Because the rest of your data challenges – storage, quality, legal issues, etc. – really don’t matter if what you end up with isn’t actionable.

Now, the report does go on to ask why data storage (in a single centralized consumer view format) seems to be so difficult to achieve, and it gets an assortment of answers:


I think that first response is the most true:  Fixing the data just seems like it’d be too time-consuming. But it’s time-consuming because of many of the other factors:  The marketing department doesn’t have anyone with the right skills; the sales department is always competing with marketing and doesn’t like to share information; individual employees still aren’t doing a good job actually using the CRM system which is supposed to be capturing data…just thinking about spearheading a database initiative brings on the same exhausted panicky feeling you get in one of those recurrent nightmares about missing a final exam that will prevent you from graduating from university because you pulled an all-nighter and now you can’t remember where the exam is or where your clothes are.

So how do we do better with data?

In many ways, I think the advent of programmatic is going to go a long way to fixing the data issues.  Big-budget programmatic means new skills in the marketing department:  data management, data analysis, data interpretation – as these skills become better represented in the marketing mix, it will be easier to get buy-in for data management efforts.

But in the meantime, we need to do a better job of differentiating between ‘objectives’ and ‘tactics’.  ‘Data collection and analysis’ and ‘actionable data’ aren’t tactics or reasons or excuses – they are the goals we should be shooting for when it comes to data.  The sooner we have a better handle on those goals, the easier it will be to get to them.


Publishers: RTB Best Practices

For publishers, smart RTB strategy is evolving


by Chris Patheiger, VP of Marketing & Communications

It seems like only a couple of years ago that publishers were just starting to dip their toe into the ocean of real-time bidding and programmatic.  While larger publishers, with multiple sites and plenty of ‘remnant’ inventory, were happy to experiment with a channel that offered them some revenue on possibly otherwise-unused inventory, smaller and specialized publishers were still seeing reasonable returns with their traditional arrangements.

But now it’s almost the end of 2014, programmatic has grown so large that it’s almost consumed RTB, and while most publishers have joined the programmatic/RTB bandwagon, the landscape has changed.  The growth of programmatic and the corresponding use of Big Data means that advertisers – and media planners – are looking for more information than ever so they can segment, refine and hyper-target their audiences; the marketplace is shifting between open exchanges and private exchanges (and the jury is still out on which is better); and display ads are just part of an advertising solution set that includes audio, video, rich media and mobile.  All while native advertising – especially on large, trusted sites – is becoming more popular and more accepted by consumers.

So what’s a publisher to do?

This infographic from SmartAdServer offers 6 best practices for publishers in the new RTB marketplace.

We agree with all 6 points offered in the infographic, but we’d like to offer a couple of additional ones:

  • The more you know about your visitors and their behaviour, the better positioned you’ll be to take advantage of hyper-targeting and retargeting – both gaining in popularity (and budget). Sure, straight traffic numbers are still important, but as CPMs decline in popularity as a core measurement or KPI, the publishers who have accurate information about the demographics, psychographics and purchasing patterns of their visitors will win the war for media budgets
  • Great content will still (eventually) win the day.  Advertisers’ biggest hot-button issue right now is ad fraud – but ad fraud tends to be a problem mostly when a site is a little shady or doesn’t publish high-quality, original content.  Sites that demonstrate consistent, original, genuine content will be the biggest beneficiaries of advertisers’ growing programmatic and RTB spends.

real-time bidding programmatic best practices for publishers




Only 59% of marketers understand programmatic (and less have used it)

The gap between ‘buzzword’ and ‘WTF’ is larger than many of us realize


by Chris Patheiger, VP of Marketing & Communications

Call it a knowledge gap, cognitive dissonance, or just plain old early adopterism:  A new study of 148 client-side marketers by Forrester and the Association of National Advertisers found that when it comes to programmatic, only 23% of marketers actually understand it and have used it.  Between those marketers and the 12% who said they’d never heard of programmatic, there lies the 67% of marketers who aren’t nearly as excited about or familiar with it as the ad tech media would have us believe.

This is, then, the real programmatic story in the next 12 months:  Before the industry can truly address ad fraud and viewability, programmatic needs to be better understood by the marketers who control the dollars which are, ultimately, the real catalyst that causes change to happen.

The study also asked some interesting questions about where programmatic dollars are being spent, the benefits of programmatic, and the barriers to buying programmatic. However, with just 23% of respondents in a position to answer those questions from based on real-world experience, we should probably take these findings with a grain of salt.

programmatic survey trends infographic


2014 Programmatic Trends: Are they really accurate?

Just because someone says it’s a trend doesn’t mean it is.

by Chris Patheiger, VP Marketing & Communications

It’s almost September, which means that everyone’s starting to think about fall marketing strategies.  So it wasn’t surprising that, this week, many of the conversations around the office had to do with ‘trends’ in digital marketing.  We don’t always agree, of course, which is what keeps it interesting.

Following one of these conversations, I came across this April infographic from Wolfgang Jaegel. I liked it because it offers some unusual predicted trends for 2014 – you don’t hear enough about ‘flow advertising‘ yet, and you probably should know more about it – but now that we’re two-thirds of the way through the year, are these trends actually playing out?

Let’s take a look.

2014 programmatic trends


TREND 1:  Mobile growth

Probably correct, though the $14.5 billion figure is still up for grabs – almost everyone is recalculating programmatic/RTB numbers from week to week.  I’m not certain about the ‘50% of internet users will carry tablets’ factoid, since every forecast I’ve seen lately says that tablet sales are slowing because the average person finds that a combination of smartphone + laptop delivers just about everything they need.

TREND 2:  Emergence of flow advertising

Certainly more marketers are incorporating this into their programs, but in our experience, it requires the kind of partnership between creative and data that just isn’t optimal yet.  I expect this to really hit its stride in late 2015, maybe 2016.

TREND 3:  Native advertising won’t scale

Native advertising is growing fast, as consumers are more accepting of it (of course, consumers have always ‘accepted’ it – they just haven’t always known they were accepting it).  So in that sense, native advertising is definitely ‘scaling’.  But can you syndicate/automate native content across multiple platforms and still reap the benefits of native?  Probably – it’s just a matter of the right technology and suitable context.

TREND 4:  Good news for mobile advertising

The good news for mobile advertising in Canada is that there is currently lots of inventory.  The bad news, however, is that despite all the predictions of exponential programmatic mobile growth in 2014, it just hasn’t happened yet.  Why?  It’s hard to tell (and this subject occasioned several lively conversations around the office this week):  It could be that publishers haven’t yet suitably optimized their mobile sites; it could be that media strategists haven’t yet seen the possibilities for mobile across all target markets; it could be that there are too few specialized mobile programmatic media buyers.  Whatever the reason, mobile programmatic hasn’t yet achieved the potential everyone predicted, and it may be well into 2015 before it does.

TREND 5:  Marketing silos gone

Ah, if only this were true!  Yes, many agencies are doing a better job of integrating marketing channels, but the truth is that there is just so much to know these days that it’s getting increasingly difficult for even really senior, really seasoned marketers to be able to keep up with trends and best practices across digital advertising, traditional advertising, content marketing, PR and all the other zillion ways to connect with consumers.  At the same time, success in newer disciplines like programmatic and search requires practitioners to become hard-core specialists.  How this will play out in the next few years will be interesting to watch – but I’m pretty sure the notion of ‘marketing silos gone’ is more a dream than imminent reality.

Maybe that’s the mark of a great infographic – it’s one that gets the audience thinking!


Join the CPM #ProgrammaticIQ tweetchat, July 29th

Discussing ad fraud, viewability, and new industry standards

Our sister company, Canadian Programmatic Marketplace, is hosting the latest in their #ProgrammaticIQ series of tweetchats on Tuesday, July 29th from 9:30-10:30pm.

Join Brock Bradley and other senior members of the Redux and CPM teams to ask questions, offer insight, and share knowledge in what’s sure to be a lively discussion about one of the hottest topics in ad tech today.

tweetchat with Canadian Programmatic Marketplace, Brock Bradley and Sarah Welstead



We look forward to hearing from you!


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