Buying the (Blueberry) Farm

One of the more interesting decisions I’ve made was buying into the blueberry farm. It came about “innocently” enough. My brother and father conspired to pitch an investment opportunity in the form of blueberries.

From Email to Farm

Blueberry FarmersIt was 2006 and I was reaping the benefits of the email business I started with a partner back in 2002. We, of course, starved and scrambled to find work for the first two years, but then something hit. One of our clients, a good friend from before the bubble burst, got us pointed at an email platform. We built it, and then managed to find another client who needed one. So we licensed it, and so began our email business.

By 2006 the business was humming along. We had several clients and were expanding into other opportunities. There was a substantial surplus of cash that we opted to take out of the business. This allowed me to pursue other ventures, like farming. Internet technology and farming go hand in hand, right?

Long Term Investment

I talked over the opportunity with my wife and she was up for it. We became financiers of a blueberry farm called O’Berry. We started with two or three acres in 2007. That expanded to 10 acres in 2008. Did you know that it takes up to five years for berry bushes to mature? It’s a fact. This farming business was not a short-term investment. An Audi R8 is a short-term investment. We gave that up and a bit more before we had 10 acres, a well, two or three tractors, a shop, drip irrigation, a four-wheeler and a bunch of other stuff that farms need.

Harvest takes place in the middle of summer, usually it lasts through July. This year’s harvest is just about over. It came a little earlier than normal. The spring has the most impact on when the harvest will begin and how condensed it will be. We haven’t quite figured out the pattern yet.

New This Year

New on the farm in 2014 was a drone quad-copter that we used to chase the starlings away. We still have to fly it manually, but next year we’ll make it completely autonomous. Also new since last harvest are seven additional planted acres. These aren’t harvest-able yet, but in a few years we’ll start picking.

We’ve harvested about 88,000 pounds this year, with at least one more picking left. That will put us over last year’s yield, but not quite as high as I’d like. I’m aiming for 200,000 pounds per 10 acres. Getting there is not up to me, it’s up to the plants. Go plants!

Skadoosh

Audi R8I’m glad I decided to do something interesting with the surplus of cash that I had at the time. As you can see, talking about a blueberry farm is more fascinating than talking about an Audi R8. As a bonus, I don’t feel like a douche when I talk about my farm. I think I might get that “fresh” feeling if I were talking about an R8. Still, someday I’d like to put that theory to the test.

How is an RTB winner chosen in the case of identical bids?

When multiple advertisers are bidding for a certain (impression) and more than 1 enter the same bid amount, (each) being the highest, how does the RTB (auction) determine which ad should be displayed.
This question was asked on quora, below is my answer.

Identical BidsIdentical bids are not unheard of, but they are rare.  Bid prices are presented as a CPM value with up to five decimal places.  That means that the actual impression can bid upon with precision down to eight decimal places.  So in that rare event, when there are two or more matching top bids, the winner is chosen at random.  This is only the tip of the iceberg, though.

Features are being added to RTB systems that allow for preferential treatment of preferred DSPs, agencies, trading desks and even advertisers.   Deals that are struck between site owners and buyers are being executed through the RTB infrastructure.  Those deals can supersede standard auction mechanics, resulting in a winning ad from a preferred partner in the presence of matching (or higher) bids from other parties.

As time goes on and the RTB system is exploited for more and more features, having equal footing in an auction will be more rare, relatively speaking.  There will always be general auctions where no bids are given special consideration.  We are, however, entering an era where premium inventory is available to buyers through RTB.  With that inventory comes a more carefully crafted environment to buy and sell.

SEO: Simple Search Engine Optimization for Small Business

Search engine optimization should be used in conjunction with online advertising to drive more users to your site.  It can, in some cases, allow a small business to reduce the month-to-month costs of advertising by bringing “organic” (unpaid) traffic to their web site.

SEO for acupuncture in ChicagoSearch engine optimization (SEO) consists, at the simplest level, of three things: knowing your target keywords, optimizing your content around those keywords and building inbound links from relevant external pages.  That doesn’t sound so simple, does it.  I’ll break down these three points and expose my experience optimizing my wife’s site for her acupuncture practice in Chicago. Read more

Small business advertising

Rather than Small Business Advertising, I was going to title this post, “Eating your own dog food,” but I decided that a more descriptive title would get the benefit of SEO.  I recently took on the task of advertising for my wife’s small business, here’s our story.

Small Business Advertising for Leslie Smith MD

Leslie Smith MD

My wife’s acupuncture practice recently moved into a larger space; her patient capacity almost doubled overnight from one to two treatment rooms.  I say “almost” because she’s still just one practitioner.  With acupuncture, once the patient has been needled, they simply rest comfortably in pin-cushion mode.  The practitioner doesn’t need to be in the room.  That’s where my wife takes the opportunity to start treatment on a patient in room number two.

I took it upon myself to do some online advertising for her practice to fill up that second room as frequently as possible.  Now, my wife is not your typical acupuncturist.  She’s an herbalist, a holistic medicine practitioner and, most uniquely, an MD.  One would think that her résumé would do the marketing for her.  That’s not the case, obviously.  We have to let people know just how fabulous she is.  So, here’s the long story of how I used my background in advertising, my wits in video production and my fabulous wife’s personae to kick off her marketing push for the new office. Read more

One bid per DSP per impression – why?

Why historically (and currently) only one single bid was allowed for each DSP per impression? Why hide demand from the exchange and create opportunities for the DSPs to arbitrage? – I know this is changing now with the possibility of multiple bids per DSP (openRTB v2) but why ad exchanges let this happen at the beginning?
This question was asked on quora, below is my answer.

One bid per impression, why?Short Answer

A multiple bid response was discussed at the very first OpenRTB meeting.  It was not seen as a favorable feature by the demand side, at first.  They preferred submitting one bid.  Supply side partners were not in a position to force the issue, nor had the necessary research been done to support the idea.

Early Days

From the supply side’s perspective, as with many transaction systems, early efforts in RTB were focused on connecting the pipes.  RTB represented a new source of demand and the pressure was applied to getting plugged in to as many DSPs as possible. Read more

Coming to a screen near you: Fewer Cookies

I wrote an earlier post called “In a world without cookies” which was my early response to the default setting in Apple’s Safari browser.  This issue has expanded such that we’ll see even fewer cookies out there, so I’m going to bring a little more light to the issue of privacy and privacy compliance in mobile, tablet and the desktop.

For the purposes of addressing privacy, the physicality of the device, whether it is a tablet, phone, or a desktop computer, can be mostly ignored.  The real technical distinctions with regard to privacy are between browsers and apps.  It’s also important to understand the need for advertising companies to maintain compliance with organizations like the NAI and initiatives like the OAB.  Together, the OAB and NAI dictate opt-out rules that online advertising companies must adhere to.

3rd Party Cookie Blocking

Block 3rd Party Cookies Results in Fewer Cookies in the Browser

Apple’s Safari browser has a default set to block third party cookies. Firefox will soon have a similar default setting.

The most prolific obstacle in privacy and compliance is probably a result of Apple’s move to disable 3rd party cookies by default in their Safari browser.  This is not just the Safari that ships on your iPad or iPhone, but all Safari browser installs, including that one on everyone’s beloved Windows machine.  Now, the team behind Mozilla’s Firefox browser has pledged to do the same.  Blocking by default causes two problems: advertising companies can’t do simple things like frequency cap using a cookie, and there’s no way to determine the user’s actual intent.  If the default setting was to allow 3rd party cookies, a user’s intent would be crystal clear if it was set to block. Read more

What are the most important KPI’s to monitor when launching a proprietary demand side bidder?

What technical, operational and campaign performance [bidder] KPI’s should be considered when ramping up, and are there any industry benchmarks?
This question was asked on quora, below is my answer.

Some bidder KPIs can be monitored with tools like graphite (not angry birds).From a technical perspective you’ll want to measure how many different types of inventory you support: mobile, app, web, video, facebook ads etc… You’ll want to track how many SSPs you’re integrated with and how many impressions are available to you. You should look into creating a feature matrix and decide which advertising features you and your customers find most important.

On the operations side you’ll want to make sure your bidding system is responding to bid requests quickly. The round-trip time for a bid response, from an SSPs perspective, should be no more than 100ms – and even that is pushing it these days. Your internal bidding algorithm should probably make a decision in less than 30 or 40ms. This allows about 60ms for network latency between the bidder and the SSP. Some SSPs have DSP latency monitoring available. This type of monitoring will give you insight into what the SSP is seeing. Read more

How do SSPs work with Google Ad Exchange?

I am not clear if SSP send a impression to a ad exchange and get ad from it, and how it works? I know ad exchange send a request to DSP then DSP send back response. But how SSP work with adx?
This question was asked on quora, below is my answer.

Ad Exchange nested in the Lumascape

Luma creates a distinct categories for Exchanges, and SSPs.

In its purest form an SSP would only send bid requests to DSPs. Google’s Ad Exchange actually behaves like an SSP in this regard. The Ad Exchange, however, does not behave like a DSP. It does not receive bids from SSPs, nor would it bid on them if it did. Ad Exchange receives inventory via a traditional ad request using an ad tag.

Online advertising has very few companies filling a single role, such as the role of SSP. Most SSPs are also in the yield optimization business. In cases where a yield optimization platform runs an impression through their SSP technology and doesn’t receive a bid that wins the impression, it’s possible that the impression may be sent to Google’s Ad Exchange via an ad tag redirect.

In some cases the publisher may even be responsible for such an occurrence. The publisher might have a pass-back tag set up with their SSP which, in the event that there’s no winning bid, redirects traffic back to the publishers adserver which, in turn, would redirect the impression to Google.

Google does have DSP technology, but it’s not AdEx. It acquired a DSP company called Invite Media in 2010.