Tag Archive for cookies

The Header Bidding Conundrum: The problem it solves and problems it creates

Header BiddingHeader Bidding: Why can’t header bidding be done server side?
What’s the reason all header bidding implementations are client side, can’t the same be achieved server side? So instead of a waterfall do an auction by getting pre bids from all the demand partners? What would be the down side to that?

This question was asked on Quora, below is my answer.

Header bidding is designed to expose the clearing price of exchange and SSP auctions so that a publisher’s technology can make an informed decision about which ad to serve. These prices are pitted against each other as well as the publisher’s demand from their primary ad server, usually Doubleclick.

In a perfect world all of this would be done on the server side. The primary benefits would be reduced payload size and lower latency in the browser. It’s not likely to happen, however. It would require SSPs, exchanges and ad servers to figure out how to work with each other in a server-to-server relationship. These companies tend to be competitors; count that as a business reason that will prevent a server side solution. Read more

Digital Advertising Predictions for 2015

The marketing department at Signal asked several people at the company to make digital advertising predictions for 2015. With their blessing, I’m publishing my predictions right here. I also added a couple of additional topics at the bottom.

Advertising Predictions - 2015

The Ecosystem

2015 will be a big year for IPOs and consolidation. Startups will form in nascent categories, but not so much in established ones. Luma will produce a new set of Lumascapes to accommodate the rise of new categories. This is hardly a shocking prediction.

Cross-Channel

Cross-channel will be the rule in 2015. Companies with a single channel solution will be the exception (and the Dodo).

Programmatic

We’ll see the rise of the Meta-DSP where Agency systems will be plugging into DSP stacks via APIs. Smarter systems will be able to segment users across DSP buying systems and regain control of Frequency and Reach.

Native advertising

Native Normalization: Native ads will begin to follow responsive design techniques. “Standardized Native Ads” will become the biggest oxymoron of 2015. Native ad specifications are already working their way into the OpenRTB API Specification. The road to standardization is very short from that point on. Read more

Data Leakage is still a concern among publishers

Does connecting website X to an RTB exchange enable all potential bidders to track all traffic and users in such website X?

In other words, can bidders build full user behavior history of what the users do inside website X on a pageview by pageview basis?

This question was asked on quora, below is my answer.

The short answer is yes. Connecting your site to an SSP, or RTB exchange opens your inventory and your users up to being tracked by as many DSP buying platforms as are enabled on your inventory.

Data Leakage

Data LeakageEvery impression is put out to bid, along with that a user identifier is passed. This gives the buyers the information they need to make a decision, “Do they buy or not?” If the buying platform decides to track the user and build a profile on that user’s behavior, there’s little the publisher can do from a technology perspective. The shorthand for this misappropriation of information is Data Leakage.

Sell side platforms and exchanges generally have contracts that restrict buy side platforms (DSPs) from taking advantage of this situation. Data leakage was a serious concern in the early days of RTB and publishers were quick to ask for assurances from their SSP partners.

It’s a two-sided issue, though. The publisher is concerned about their user population being profiled, tracked and then purchased on cheaper inventory. The buyers have concerns about their advertiser intent data being tracked. The publisher can use this data to raise prices on the inventory or cut the buy side platform out of the deal.

Private Exchange

Both buy side platform companies and sell side platform companies are striving to introduce more controls over inventory and ad deals in RTB. The concern over data leakage has largely been subdued. Higher valued inventory and advertising is being sold privately using enhancements made on the RTB ecosystem. These private exchanges limit the exposure of high-value inventory to a subset of buyers and vice-versa.

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

Opportunities and Challenges in a Fragmented Mobile Landscape

This is the first in a series of posts walking readers through the mobile advertising space. Stay tuned for more posts over the coming weeks. This is also posted on the Rubicon Project blog.

Fragmented Mobile

Fixing Mobile

Everyone recognizes that mobile advertising is a rapidly growing market. How fast is it growing? eMarketer has current year revenue estimates at $3.9 Billion. According to the Yankee Group mobile ad sales should nearly triple by 2016 to $10 Billion.  I think this estimate is low given the acceleration in market growth we’ve experienced so far this year alone. Revised eMarketer numbers now indicate nearly 100% growth for 2012 over 2011.  Further, eMarketer predicts that mobile will grow to over $23 Billion by 2016. This is much more consistent with Mary Meeker’s prediction of a $20 Billion mobile market.

Given this tremendous market opportunity, we have seen first-hand that numerous publishers are moving to mobile – building mobile applications, optimizing their web content and trying to figure out how to turn that mobile content into a dependable revenue stream. We are glad publishers are jumping in and are excited to be in the mobile space as well. However, we have also witnessed headwinds in this developing market and would like to use this blog to help publishers address these challenges.

The mobile display advertising space has some distinct challenges that fly in the face of the status quo of online display. These challenges conspire to make it more difficult for publishers to advertise across their mobile inventory. A primary complication is that there are three major operating systems (plus Blackberry), each with subtle differences that require research and technology to overcome. Let’s explore how each of these platforms differ.

Apple’s iPhones do not support Flash and ship with third party cookies disabled by default. The lack of Flash strongly affects the user experience and the ability to deliver Flash-based rich media creatives that render in online display (troublesome on iPad, where standard display ads are typically viewed with little loss of fidelity relative to their online counterparts). Additionally, the lack of third party cookies makes it difficult to perform simple audience targeting that we’ve grown accustomed to.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform is touted as having twice as much HTML 5 support, but still lags behind Chrome (Android), Safari (iOS) and even Blackberry.  We are hopeful that Windows Phone 8 will support HTML 5 to the point that publishers and advertisers can leverage the same mobile web ads across platforms.  However, there is a possibility that a lack of full HTML 5 support will require custom ad units for this platform. On top of that, Windows Phone 8 may also ship with the new Do Not Track (DNT) flag turned on, severely limiting the ability for publishers to achieve higher rates through traditional tracking and targeting.

Google’s Android platform seems to be the most compliant to the needs of the industry.  Android supports 3rd party cookies, DNT is disabled by default, device IDs are available in the app environment and it even supports Flash.  Of course this all supports Google’s advertising business, but they’re nice enough to keep the platform open for a variety of complementary and competitive third parties. By creating an environment most closely resembling online display, Google has made it easier for publishers to incorporate Android to their mobile experiences.

Where does all of this fragmentation leave us? Many publishers have been successful in traversing this fragmented market. If you are new to mobile, it can be daunting to figure out where to start. A logical starting point is to figure out what mobile devices are most common among your audience and focus on building your mobile presence there (at least initially). That way you limit the number of challenges you have to deal with. Eventually you will have to accommodate users across a variety of devices and platforms, so working with a partner that is platform-agnostic is critical. Look for partners that have a history of ad serving across platforms and formats.

In this series of posts, I hope to help provide some insights to help publishers that are still trying to make sense of the market. What challenges do you face in mobile? What specifically would you like insight and tips on? Comment below and I’ll incorporate into the subsequent posts.