OpenX Blog

OpenX Intern Series: Insight From the Next Generation

By Bob Hancock, Director, Talent Acquisition

At OpenX, we believe an internship program is more than just an opportunity to build your resume – an internship at OpenX is the opportunity to build long-term relationships, garner new skills from hands-on projects and participate in an all-inclusive workplace where each person has the ability to directly impact the business.

From Pasadena to London to New York to Menlo Park, you won’t find any member of our intern team sitting in a corner doing maintenance work – you’ll find them deep in a fascinating project alongside industry experts helping to build the next generation of OpenX.

Our goal is for each OpenX intern to build lasting relationships that will lead to full-time employment to those who ‘knock it out of the park’.

Over the next few months, the OpenX blog will feature insights into the OpenX internship program directly from the source — the OpenX interns. Exploring their decision behind choosing OpenX, getting an insider’s perspective on problem solving in the ad world and uncovering how to survive and succeed at an Ad Tech Company are just a few examples of what you can expect from the intern team this summer, as they share their uncensored experiences with the world.

Check out the first of OpenX’s “Insight from the Next Generation” series post below:

From Creative Writing to Ad Tech:
Why I Chose OpenX for My Summer Internship

By Harrison Brunelli, Intern, Business Development

As a student majoring in History with a background in creative writing, many people are confused when I tell them that I am an intern on the business development team at an advertising technology company. Although ad tech is a relatively obscure industry to undergrads, and OpenX might not be as commonly known as some tech giants like Facebook or Google, OpenX provided me with the perfect internship opportunity. What ultimately drove me to choose OpenX? My connection to the company’s fundamental statement of purpose: “We exist to help publishers build their businesses by monetizing great content.”

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As a Southern California native and someone drawn to the problem-solving ethos that defines much of the technology industry, I was interested in finding a tech company in the LA-area that I could contribute to over the summer. The first question was how I could add value to a tech company. I don’t consider myself a technical person and I certainly don’t have coding or engineering chops. After speaking with individuals working in tech, I quickly realized that the skills that defined a good business development associate were all areas where I thrived: strong communication skills, ability to build relationships, thinking creatively and strategically, and a knack for problem solving.

The more difficult question was figuring out what type of technology company I wanted to work for. I had to determine what kinds of problems I cared most about solving. When I heard about the work OpenX was doing to revolutionize digital advertising, I quickly identified with the fundamental purpose of the company. But how could someone with a background in creative writing and the liberal arts contribute to a business like OpenX? I have a fundamental belief that creative content is essential for any culture to thrive. Great content can come in the form of intellectual dialogue, artistic expression, pure entertainment, and much more. I realized I could use this point of view, in addition to my skillset, to work with the business development team in their efforts to build relationships with publishers and hold meaningful conversations with them about how OpenX can help them build their businesses around great content.

In the digital era, the Internet has become the primary platform for content creators to access their audiences. The internet allows content creators to reach a more broad and diverse audience than they ever could in print and television; however, this transition has made it more difficult for content creators to monetize their content in the same ways that were available in traditional media. I was acutely aware of this challenge because I grew up immersed in print media – learning to read the sports page in first grade, thanks to my Dad’s job in the industry. I knew that for good content to survive and thrive in the digital age a new monetization model had to be developed. I wasn’t aware of a solution until I learned about what OpenX was doing with real-time bidding.

Learning about about OpenX’s capability to allow demand partners to bid on an impression-by-impression basis, driving up revenue for publishers, made such an impact, that I knew I had found a company solving problems that I was passionate about. Conversations with enthusiastic employees actively involved in carrying out this mission only reinforced my confidence that interning at OpenX was the right decision. OpenX’s approach to programmatic advertising is an approach that allows publishers to continue to produce great content in the digital era, and for me that is a problem worth solving.

 

Getting Forecasting Right: 4 things to consider when thinking about your forecasting tool

By Ben Johnson, Sr. Product Manager at OpenX

Accurate forecasting is a critical tool for anyone in a business selling goods or services. For publishers selling digital advertising, getting it right – or wrong – can have a significant impact on revenues. It’s surprising, then, to see how many publishers settle for tools that are unable to help them maximize their inventory management. While it’s true that forecasting tools have traditionally been cumbersome to use and hit-or-miss on accuracy, there are solutions that break the mold.

There are a variety of factors that complicate forecasting – constant fluctuations in Internet traffic, increasingly complex targeting capabilities, and the dynamic nature of today’s digital sales team. In order to maintain a holistic view of how all of these affect selling your inventory, there are four key attributes your forecasting tool needs to have. They are: data transparency, a consumer-grade user interface, consideration of pre-campaign revenue impact, and accommodation for seasonality.

Data Transparency: Trust but verify

How often do you go back to check the accuracy of your forecast reports? That’s sort of a trick question but an important one nonetheless. Most forecasting engines don’t provide users with that information.

A post-mortem analysis of your forecast report will tell you how accurately you’re selling your available inventory and provide valuable insight that can help pinpoint discrepancies that can be adjusted ahead of the next campaign. More importantly, by regularly comparing what was forecasted to actual results, publishers learn to trust their forecasting systems, and their teams will have more confidence when responding to clients about inventory availability.

Make sure your current or prospective forecasting tool provides you access to the data you need to do a post-campaign analysis in order to assess the accuracy of your forecasts.

Consumer-grade User Interface: Let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be

Most forecasting systems are difficult to use to start with. That difficulty is compounded when you consider the different users of these tools and why they use them.

Forecasting needs vary from one department to another. For example, direct sales teams generally use these systems when a client asks about inventory availability. Sales team members are naturally more people-focused than software-focused. So, they need a tool that makes it easy for them to go into and out quickly to find the limited information they’re seeking.

Meanwhile, ad ops teams are power users who spend the majority of their day using ad serving software. They need a comprehensive forecasting tool that gives them control over every lever that can be adjusted to optimize campaigns, while also keeping the needs of the sales function  in mind. The right balance can be found in tools that have focused heavily on both creating an intuitive design and building powerful capabilities on the backend.

Another important aspect of intuitive design to consider is the ability to save your forecasts. Your future self will thank you! It sounds so basic, but the ability to save a forecast is not common for most  forecasting systems. They usually limit users to keeping a forecast only as long as their browser remains open. This leaves Sales reps with only limited  – and frustrating – options. They must either export the forecast or take a screenshot of it to send it to a client. Even worse, sales reps might  stumble upon the perfect set of targeting criteria, but without the ability to save the forecast, there’s a good chance that they may never rediscover the exact permutations that led to those results. This can easily lead to loss of the sale.

The solution is simple: your forecasting system should be intuitive enough to work well for users throughout your organization, and include basic functionality like enabling forecasts to be saved so they can be referenced and reused anytime.

Revenue Impact: Go beyond the buying model

If you’re reading this blog post, then you likely operate in a complex advertising environment that runs thousands of campaigns simultaneously. Whenever you consider an offer from a client, there’s always the chance that the hypothetical campaign will divert impressions away from existing ones. Wouldn’t you like to understand the overall revenue impact of the campaign when making your decisions?

The problem is most forecasts typically rely on the buying model as the main tiebreaker when deciding which campaigns should serve over others. But what happens in cases where two campaigns with similar buying models compete for the same impressions? In such cases, price should be the deciding factor. Unfortunately, most forecasting tools can’t take price into consideration.

Forecasting tools should allow your sales teams to enter both the buying model and the price the advertiser is willing to pay, allowing the engine to predict the number of available impressions as well as the net impact on revenue.

Seasonality:

Forecasting systems – or people – can’t predict spikes in traffic that occur when unanticipated world events create an impact, but they should take into account anticipated seasonal events. For example,  we know sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the World Series occur annually and affect traffic. We also know the World Cup and the Olympics consistently take place once every four years. Today’s forecasting systems can only track events that happen every year. However, the better forecasting systems allow users to manually override specific anomalies or events whose effects we know will be felt.

Make sure your forecasting tool covers the basics of accommodating for seasonality and also allows you to input information that make it work even smarter.

These features seem like they would naturally be included in any forecasting system worth its salt – and they should be! However, this goes beyond what’s available with the average forecasting tools available today. Data transparency, an intuitive interface, and consideration of revenue and seasonality impacts are all issues that directly affect yield for nearly every publisher I’ve ever worked with.

Forecasting really is the foundation of any ad serving operation, on top of which everything else is set up and executed. So, you can see why it’s important to make sure you have the right tools in place to do it well and to make it accurate. When you do, you’ll see the difference in your top and bottom lines.

 

OpenX Cares Heard Round The World

When your boss announces the company will be kicking off summer by trying something new, you can’t help but envision relaxing on a beach, catching that big summer blockbuster, or at OpenX, an epic afternoon Ping-Pong tournament. But you may never have considered kicking off summer with a new and different type of opportunity called OpenX Cares.

At OpenX, we spend a lot of time focusing on supporting our people and our business partners. At the same time, we all live and work in broader communities that also deserve our attention. In an effort to meet the urgent and unique needs of each of the broader OpenX communities, we launched OpenX Cares – an initiative where the OpenX offices across the globe joined forces with local non-profits, leveraging our passion, innovation and unparalleled energy to give back to our communities.

OpenX prides itself on its commitment to contributing to community all year round, spanning from Thanksgiving food drives to Adopt-A-Child holiday giving to walking in support of Autism awareness. One of the greatest points of connection for our global company is when we work as one, contributing to each of our local communities. That is exactly what happened yesterday in London, Munich, New York, Pasadena, and Menlo Park.

Here is a recap of the first annual OpenX Cares initiative:

 

In Pasadena, our team assembled food bags for delivery with L.A. Food Bank – an organization whose singular mission is to mobilize resources to fight hunger across the greater Los Angeles area. Dozens of the OpenX team in our Pasadena office assembled bags for distribution for over 23,000 senior citizens.

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In Menlo Park, members of the OpenX team joined Stop Hunger Now to package meals for the undernourished globally. In just under two hours a group of 30 to 40 volunteers packaged over 10,000 nutrient rich meals for those in need.

Menlo Park

 

In New York, OpenX teamed up with Only Make Believe, transforming the office into a costume workshop helping kids heal through the magic of theater in the New York City area.

New York

 

Our London and Munich offices spent the day reclaiming and maintaining green spaces with The Conservation Volunteers in both communities.

London

OpenX Cares first annual day of giving back was an enormous success with participation from around the world. We’re eagerly looking forward to the next one!

How to Thrive in the Rapidly Changing Programmatic Market?

According to Ian Davidson, Senior Director of Platform Demand at OpenX, advertisers tend to be more nimble and fast-paced than their publisher counterparts. That said, advertisers are often the driving force behind new trends in the fast-changing programmatic industry. Given the pace of change in the industry, success for a publisher can be best achieved by focusing on fast-and-nimble trends while keeping a watchful eye on slow-and-steady trends.

In a recent MediaPost article, Ian examines four key trends in programmatic today – native advertising, private marketplaces, viewability, and brand safety – and makes the case that when publishers keep their clients’ needs front and center, “the algorithms that now buy your inventory will start to pay more for it, obtaining higher CPMs and deriving more value from your content.Read the full piece here.

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From Programmatic Scale to Sophistication

Study shows 64% lift in demand and 26% lift in supply worldwide for programmatically traded inventory

The 2014 Global Programmatic Insights Report is the first study of both buying and selling behaviors in the OpenX marketplace, covering programmatic trading across screen types and buying models.

Our unique visibility into programmatic trends provides us with a more comprehensive picture of the health and direction of the market. Key findings from 2014 include:

  • Programmatic enjoyed strong growth in 2014, with demand up 64%, and the volume of supply up 26%.
  • Growth in demand was led by five industry sectors, and accounted for nearly 40% of total ad spend. Those sectors are: CPG, insurance, telecom, retail and health & beauty.
  • Both supply and demand are growing globally. Nearly half (48%) of all ad requests stemmed from outside the US. In Europe, programmatic spending increased by 80%, and in Canada by more than 100%.

The growth in sophistication is particularly notable. In 2014, programmatic campaigns routinely included more screens, formats and buying models.

For example, mobile programmatic continued its upward trajectory.

  • In 2014, demand for mobile inventory grew at 4x the rate of demand for desktop ad units.
  • Based on 2014 growth rates, mobile will likely account for 50% of all programmatic ad spend in 2015, eclipsing spending for desktop.
  • Mobile now accounts for 25% of ad requests in the OpenX Ad Exchange, nearly tripling in volume since 2013.

The expansion and adoption, of newer models for transacting programmatic campaigns, also point to increasing sophistication among buyers and sellers.

  • According to eMarketer, PMP spending will more than double in 2015, generating $2.53 billion in revenue, bringing new ad dollars to programmatic.
  • CPMs earned in PMPs are 3x higher than those earned in the open ad exchange — a positive trend for publishers seeking to optimize their programmatic yields.
  • Although open marketplaces will get the lion’s share of spending, programmatic direct is expected to gain quickly, growing from 8% in 2014, to 26% in 2015 and 42% in 2016, eMarketer reports.

The global programmatic industry saw substantial growth in 2014, driven in large part to the increasing sophistication among buyers and sellers. We continue to see important trends emerging such as the substantial growth of mobile channels and configurable buying/selling models making programmatic an increasingly desirable transaction method for digital advertisers who are now more than ever interested in collecting and executing deals backed by audience data.

Click here to download the full report.

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Ask an Expert: Pixalate CEO “Trust is a Critical Component of Success” in Advertising

By: John Murphy, VP of Marketplace Quality

The serious issue of fraud in the online advertising industry is – or should be – top of mind for us all. The good news is that key industry players are taking action to expose fraudulent traffic and set definitive standards to create and maintain safe and trusted advertising marketplaces. One such company, Pixalate, has debuted its own set of standards via its Global Seller Trust Index, to provide much needed transparency into RTB marketplaces.

This week, we had a chance to chat with Jalal Nasir, Pixalate CEO and Co-Founder, to get his thoughts on why quality standards are an increasingly critical ingredient to eliminating fraud. Jalal also offered his insights on the future of the industry as a whole.

OpenX: Why does the industry need quality standards, such as the Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index?

Jalal Nasir: We saw that open markets succeed best when there are independent ratings that can serve as a trusted benchmark. Trust is a critical component of success for any open market. Pixalate is in a unique position, because of our access to the global RTB data stream, to offer actionable insights into the challenges faced by RTB with a neutral assessment. An independent quality rating standard represents a powerful opportunity for the programmatic industry to measure itself; a quality benchmark standard driven by data also challenges us to think deeply about how we’ve been measuring success.

It’s not that RTB marketplaces have struggled to find trust; it’s that the traditional metrics used in advertising have actually always had that struggle. An independent rating standard that assesses quality, not reach, for instance, provides the holistic framework we need to drive successful adoption of programmatic.

What was the most surprising finding as you conducted the research for the Index?

We focus on overall trends in the data rather than particular events or performers. The most powerful trend we’ve seen, month after month, is that reach does not correlate to quality—it’s not even a question. Raw numbers simply do not equal results. That upends everything we’ve assumed in online advertising and web analytics since the first dot com era, but it’s undeniable. Reach is a legacy metric, and the reality is that in the programmatic era, reliance on reach harms brands.

Do you see a need to offer measurement in other areas?

We are actively working with partners across formats, channels and verticals to develop the Index to best serve the market. Pixalate is committed to providing a comprehensive rating standard for the industry that helps point the way toward meaningful solutions.

How would you summarize 2014 in terms of TQ?

What has been really encouraging to witness is an early shift by more progressive players away from a point solution approach to a holistic quality approach. Discrete challenges like fraud, or viewability, or publisher masking, really aren’t discrete at all. You can’t have quality inventory if you’re addressing things symptomatically. The phenomenal level of interest in the Global Seller Trust Index launch in December, from analyst reviews to media coverage to industry engagement, is a testament to the desire by the industry to address these challenges in a serious way. We have a long way to go, but we’re on a positive trajectory.

What are your predictions for the industry in 2015? For TQ in 2015?

I think we will continue to see plenty of mergers and acquisitions. We’ll see a lot more investment in, and focus on, mobile and video, particularly app fraud. As an industry, not only will the conversation continue to shift towards an emphasis on quality—more importantly, we’ll see solutions start to surface.

Specifically, I think the industry will get sharper. Buyers and publishers will become savvier. Buyers, for example, are going to want to know how programmatic players are working at the user level, for instance. In changing what we measure, we must also change how we measure. Discussions can be very helpful within the industry, but to cement market credibility, we’re going to need real solutions, real standards. Data will be the most important element in programmatic success in 2015 and beyond.

When It Comes to Fraud Detection, Not All Platforms Are Created Equal

By: John Murphy, VP of Marketplace Quality

Traffic quality serves as an umbrella term for a host of related topics: fraud, bots, URL masking and viewability. Catching crooks and cleaning up the ecosystem is a focal point for buyers and sellers in 2015 – and while it won’t be easy, the war to keep inventory clean can be won.

One scary stat to place this in perspective: a recent study found bots generated 11% of display ad impressions and 23% of video ads. All together, advertisers could lose more than $6 billion globally to ad fraud in 2015.

That’s a number that has the industry taking action: Multiple IAB task forces; the ANA and 4A’s collaborative coalition; the ANA and White Ops “Marketer’s Coalition”; comScore’s Industry Trust Initiative; and major ad tech player’s individual initiatives are working to put an end to fraud in the industry.

In 2014 there was an increased focus on traffic quality across the industry. Google purchased spider.io largely to get access to anti-fraud tech, and AppNexus announced it would invest in a certification program to counter buyer feedback about quality. Industry organizations continued to form while third-party specialists like Integral Ad Science and Pixalate emerged to tackle quality measurement. 

Pixalate recently unveiled the Global Seller Trust Index ranking the industry’s top players. For the second consecutive month, OpenX ranked number one in the critically important category of inventory quality. This recognition isn’t something that happened overnight. Several years ago, OpenX made the strategic decision to invest heavily in inventory quality. The investment and pay-off is evident by the continued high rankings in the Global Seller Trust Index and feedback from partners that OpenX runs the industry’s “cleanest exchange”.

Not all platforms are created equal – each has its own take on how to combat (or ignore) fraud. OpenX has a deep commitment to ensuring all elements of traffic quality are being addressed. One key aspect of our traffic quality initiative is our approach to data.

Our fully integrated system uses a combination of big data and client-side techniques to identify fraudulent and suspicious activities. We aggregate huge amounts of data and look for anomalous patterns that suggest non-human behavior. As an exchange, we have the advantage of code on the publisher page at the time the request is submitted, which means we get the earliest possible look at inventory and then decide if we want to expose buyers to that inventory. This differs from others, where verification happens after the ad is delivered.

Major publishers are increasingly being pressured by advertisers to put safeguards in place to reduce fraud and robotic traffic. Although the buy-side continues to make investments to protect themselves against ad fraud, they count on publishers to be equally aware of non-human traffic and in-view rates, two crucial pieces of information for pricing inventory appropriately

Publishers must ensure that their exchange and SSP partners share the same standards for traffic quality and are also making the necessary investments to prevent fraud. They should work with trusted third-party vendors for monitoring inventory quality and setting up real-time filters. 

For more about OpenX’s leading traffic quality initiatives, check out OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan’s discussion with The Wall Street Journal.

Programmatic Gains Momentum in U.S. Digital Advertising

by Ronald Ramlan

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) declared ‘programmatic’ as the marketing word of the year for 2014. Surveying its members, the association discovered that marketers had woken up to the potential of programmatic.

Does it follow that 2014 was the year of programmatic? Let’s look at the trends in digital advertising, and the driving forces behind them:

Big Picture
Online ad revenue is growing at unprecedented rates. In December 2014, the IAB and PwC reported that online ad revenue reached a historic high of $12.4 billion in Q3 2014, up 17% from Q3 2013, and was on pace to top an impressive $50 billion in 2014. What’s fueling that growth?

Programmatic
Nearly 90% of US digital advertising spend comes in two formats: search and display. Although search continues to represent the lion’s share, the gap has been shrinking. In its report titled “US Ad Spending – Q4 2014 Complete Forecast”, eMarketer estimates that display will overtake search beginning in 2015. One reason for that shift is programmatic, which has radically transformed display advertising over the past five years, and is now a $10.9 billion industry in the US (up 45% from 2013). Continue reading

OpenX Annual Conference: The Potential of Programmatic Sophistication

OpenX recently hosted its third annual conference, bringing together senior publishing executives and ad buyers for frank and direct discussions on the state of programmatic, as well as insight on the OpenX product road map.

OpenX CEO, Tim Cadogan opened the event on the promise and potential of programmatic sophistication. Stating that only five years ago, programmatic advertising was merely a concept. Today it’s an industry worth $7 – $8 billion. While that’s an astounding (and rare) rate of growth, it’s only the first chapter for programmatic.

 

 

Continue reading

Private Marketplace Best Practices: How to Set-Up Deals that Work and Scale

Miki Rapoport, Director Product, and Eric Salsa, Business Operations

As programmatic premium takes off, many advertisers see private marketplaces (PMPs) as an ideal buying model that will deliver the audiences they shutterstock_181788290need at scale adjacent to premium, relevant content. For the most part, this is a correct assumption; PMPs do offer access to high quality and brand-safe inventory that deliver great campaign results- but just like any deal, they need to be executed effectively!

Every day we work with both buyers and sellers in PMP deals, and we’ve seen first-hand that campaign success, scalability, and operational efficiency aren’t given with PMPs; they’re targets that buyers (and sellers) must work towards. How do buyers help reach these targets? Below are some best practices we’ve witnessed for creating PMP deals that work and scale. Continue reading