How the Air Force Changed One Viant Employee’s Life and Career

November 11, 2018 in Blog

Before he was a Technical Producer at Viant, Adelphic’s parent company, Andy Neitzert spent four years in the Air Force in Texas, Florida and Missouri. Neitzert originally joined the service as a way to move away from home (like most 18-year-olds!), but soon realized the experience was much more than just a job.

In honor of Veterans Day, Neitzert discussed his four years in the Air Force, working with a B-2 Bomber and how civilians can best honor those who’ve served.

Q: Why did you decide to serve your country, and how did you decide on joining the Air Force?

Initially the reason was selfish. I was 18, I wanted out of my parents’ house and I didn’t want to have to spend any money or learn anything new to do it. Obviously, just a few weeks later those reasons had changed. The reason I chose the Air Force was because while I was pondering how to get out of town, I attended an Aerosmith concert where I sat next to two Airmen. They sold me on it by simply telling me I didn’t have to think about what I wore or have any job security concerns – coupled with the generous bonus I would receive upon completion of technical training.

Q: What was your role and what were your primary responsibilities?

I was what was called an Aerospace Maintenance Journeyman. Which, simply put, was an aircraft mechanic. I was assigned to a specific B-2 Bomber (The Spirit of Alaska) and I would do everything from keep up its paperwork to changing the oil to giving it a bath. I was also the one who marshalled the aircraft when they launched (the guy with the wands who salutes the pilot).

Q: Where did you travel while serving?

Although I fought to travel as much as possible, I only was able to see Texas, Florida, then Texas again, before finally settling in glorious Missouri. Which, coincidentally, was thousands of miles from my requested station. But, as luck would have it, the B-2 Bomber lives in Missouri.

Q: When you look back on your time in the Air Force, what stands out the most?

I look back on my time in the service much like many look back on high school: I could have been better at what I did. I could have been more active in my career instead of myself. In the end, the experience was amazing. I wouldn’t take it back for anything. It did take me a long time to acknowledge the actual effect my time in the served had on me, even though I never left the country.

Q: Is there anything you learned during your service that has helped you succeed in your role at Viant?

Military culture is very, very, very different from the open-office culture at Viant. You had orders, rules and regulations you had to follow. We had to wear the same thing every day and it had to be worn the same way every day. Your physical appearance down to your weight could determine a promotion. My time between the Air Force and Viant was interesting, though. I went to college, worked in interesting and fun career fields and never really had a structure that I didn’t make myself. So Viant is a good blend of what I’ve experienced over the last 20 years and I appreciate that.

Q: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day to me means taking the time to honor those whom I feel did more than I should have. I was 18-22 while I was in the service, and although it was only four years, they were formative. My “college years” were formed very differently from most. So I take this time to honor those who joined for unselfish reasons and fought for an unselfish cause.

Q: What do you recommend as the best way for civilians to observe Veterans Day?

There really isn’t one catch-all for honoring our veterans. Everyone looks back on their time differently. Some don’t want to talk about it, while some only want to talk about it. Some don’t consider themselves worthy of being honored. Some complain about how easy people have it today, mostly in part to the sacrifice they’ve made. So, in the end, if all you do is Google what is going on in Veterans’ lives today, there’s an endless list of issues they face as well as causes and organizations in place to help them on their varying paths. Find one that speaks to you and read up on it. Volunteer, donate, tell a friend. It all helps.

If you’re looking to contribute this Veterans Day, Andy’s favorite veterans charities are America’s Vet Dogs, which provides and trains service dogs for veterans, and Vet Tix, which donates tickets to veterans to events that help them remain engaged in their communities

How Machine Learning Can Solve Your Viewability Challenges

October 29, 2018 in Blog

Increasing the scale of viewable inventory is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s advertisers.

But did you know that machine learning can help solve it? In fact, our machine learning offering can increase viewable scale by 4x.

You’ve likely heard a lot about machine learning in recent months, as it’s among the industry’s hottest topics. Below, a taste of just how it can help increase viewable inventory and what you should know before considering whether to adopt it.

Q: What is Machine Learning?
Machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence to make data-driven predictions or decisions. By giving computers access to data, machine learning provides the ability to recognize patterns and learn the appropriate response for the future. The computer is able to perceive environments and take action to maximize the chance of successfully achieving a designated goal.

Q: What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is the ability for computers to perform tasks that are traditionally considered ‘cognitive’ or representative of human intelligence such as decision-making, problem-solving, learning, visualization, language translation, and speech interpretation.

Q: What are the benefits to Machine Learning Viewability?
With a deeper understanding of each incoming bid request, Machine Learning Viewability aims to increase scale of viewable inventory when compared to using an IAS segment alone.
By increasing viewable impressions, advertisers are increasing the overall impression volume that are known to be visible and thereby likely to be seen by consumers. Additionally, by knowing how many ads are actually being seen allows advertisers to more precisely measure ad performance.

Q: What is Adelphic Machine Learning Viewability?
Adelphic, Viant’s DSP, utilizes machine learning to drive KPIs based on historical patterns and insight into performance to train real-time decisioning. Adelphic’s Machine Learning Viewability will determine whether an incoming bid request is desirable with likely access to a viewable impression by leveraging historical training and feedback related to previously observed, known viewable impressions.

Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast: In-housing Remains a Hot Topic

October 18, 2018 in Blog

According to eMarketer’s newly released report “U.S. Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast Update 2018,” programmatic advertising is digital display advertising. As we near the end of this year and beyond, the amount of spend dedicated to programmatic is only expected to increase.

Something else that is on the upswing as well? The movement toward in-housing, in which brands are bringing some or all of their programmatic efforts under their own rooves. It’s a conversation that won’t be going away anytime soon, according to on Schulz, CMO of Adelphic’s parent company Viant.

“More companies are building their sophistication outside of channeling their budgets,” Jon Schulz said. “They’re moving toward more holistic budgets. Since many media channels are digital, there’s measurement and attribution they can use to understand how it all works together.”

Schulz said he expects this to continue as brands look to centralize buying efforts and measure their endeavors more holistically.

Read more at eMarketer.com

Dun & Bradstreet on How and Why Data is Critical to B2B Success

September 5, 2018 in Blog

Our Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Anudit Vikram, Senior Vice President of Audience Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet delivers comprehensive business data and analytical insights. With over 300 million business records, from tens of thousands sources, D&B helps companies improve their business performance through the power of data and insights.

We recently onboarded Dun & Bradstreet’s B2B data into the Viant Advertising Cloud, enabling B2B marketers to target and reach their customers with unmatched accuracy and precision.

We sat down with Anudit Vikram to talk about all things B2B data. In his role, Vikram is responsible for leveraging Dun & Bradstreet’s vast commercial and contact data assets to solve sales and marketing challenges in the physical and the digital world.

Q: Ads reach people, but most companies are targeting accounts. How should marketers be thinking about the intersection of these two ideas to reach their B2B target?

Being able to tie people back to the companies where they work – or understand the digital identifiers associated with job profiles and roles and then map them back to companies – becomes critical in B2B use cases. Accounts are the key off of which B2B companies base their marketing strategies, but those accounts are composed of people. Using the right data assets, which have consistent and persistent account identifiers that tie to personal and role information, is critical to your B2B success.

Q: The B2B buying cycle is complex. It takes a long time and involves many stakeholders. How are brands addressing the challenge of tracking a single account (and the people associated with it) across a long, complex buying cycle?

This, once again, comes back to having a way of managing the account identity. What you need is a consistent and persistent identifier, which is immutable as it is transferred across systems, platforms and channels. Having such an identifier – and an identity-management framework around it – allows you to roll up the individuals you see to the accounts they represent and also track them as they span systems and channels – both offline and online – over the selling cycle.

Q: Transparency is still a hot topic in programmatic. How is technology developing to help address brand safety and ensure brands know who their ads are being served to?

Organizations such as the IAB with their ads.txt initiative and companies such as TAG with their certification program are helping fight fraud and increase the transparency in the ad tech ecosystem. Then there is also the potential of blockchain, which is being talked about nowadays (though I believe the jury is still out on how effective it will eventually be or if we are simply blinded by the shiny new object that is in front of us at this time). Frankly, transparency and fraud will not be addressed purely via technology, but will also need some changes in process workflows and in business models, which incentivize the right behaviors.

Q: What is the next frontier for programmatic? We’re hearing a ton about machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). But what does it really mean?

Programmatic lends itself very well to ML and AI. It is all about finding efficiencies in the smallest of transactions and in deriving insights from the multitude of signals that are presented. However, I think we are over-rotating on the belief that these techs will solve all our problems. It is important to understand that ML and AI systems are only as good as the data that is feeding the models and the methods being used to make decisions. I believe that ML and AI will help us in specific use cases but also that they will make even more obvious the need for good data, especially for making programmatic successful.

Q: With more public awareness and scrutiny around data collection and use, will programmatic targeting be impacted?

I don’t think so. Programmatic is about efficiency. It is about being able to execute at scale and make decisions on micro points. That – efficiency at scale – is the direction the world is trending in, and there is no reason to back down from it. Programmatic relies on data, and I believe all this scrutiny coming about nowadays will in fact clean up the data ecosystem. Good data will continue to exist and be used. The not-so-good players will get weeded out of the system. The concerns being raised about the validity of data assets will get allayed because the awareness and scrutiny will ensure that the data assets that continue to exist are those that are indeed clean, good and effective.

FreeWheel’s Justin Beere on trends in Connected TV

August 28, 2018 in Blog

Our Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Justin Beere, Senior Director of DSP TV Development at FreeWheel. FreeWheel, a Comcast company, provides a comprehensive advertising management solution focused on the New TV ecosystem.

As Senior Director of DSP TV Development, Beere focuses on DSP TV partnerships.

Q: CTV (Connected TV) advertising spend has increased significantly over the last year. Do you see this focus as a complement to linear TV buys?   

There’s a clear opportunity to reach audiences via CTV advertising as consumers mix and match how they access television content. While many people still watch TV in traditional ways – eMarketer states that four of five TV hours watched per day is linear – there’s no question that over-the-top (OTT) share is increasing. Interestingly, FreeWheel data indicates that audiences treat CTV just like they do linear TV: watching large amounts of live-streamed content and tuning in during primetime hours. As a result, we’re seeing linear buyers adopt CTV as they seek to capture large TV audiences for their campaigns. When working in tandem, we’ve seen CTV deliver incremental reach on top of net-direct buys, as well as help brands drive frequency amongst light TV viewers. And, as the supply chain for CTV becomes more standardized and consistent, we also see digital buyers gravitating towards the reach, quality and targeting that CTV offers.

Q: The increase in spend is largely due to dramatically increasing audiences. Are there any trends in, or observations about, CTV audiences that advertisers would want to know?

When I started at FreeWheel four years ago, CTV accounted for 3% of the ad inventory flowing through our system – the lowest share of any inventory type. CTV now has the highest share of ad inventory at 34%, and it’s growing at a rate of 20% year over year. We refer to this, along with the advent of STB VOD inventory, as “The New Living Room.”

When it comes to reaching consumers in “The New Living Room,” advertisers want to know if they are delivering ads to a new audience, and data from FreeWheel’s OTT Signature Insights report indicates the answer is yes. The median CTV viewer is 23 years younger than the traditional TV viewer, and they have a median annual household income that’s $10,000 higher. The other thing to note with respect to CTV is the level of engagement. According to our Q1’18 VMR, 97% of CTV content consumed is either live-streamed or full-episode (FEP) inventory, which means viewers are opting in and leaning in to the experience.

Q: There isn’t necessarily a consensus on how best to evaluate the efficacy of CTV ads. What do you think are the most meaningful KPIs?

Generally speaking, there are a couple of performance metrics associated with CTV that are quite compelling. As an ad server, FreeWheel measures completion rates for every ad impression we serve across every type of device. The completion rate on CTV inventory is 98%, meaning almost every single ad we serve is viewed to completion, which is an important KPI to brand marketers. Another stat I love that doesn’t get talked about enough is co-viewing. It’s largely understood that desktop, tablet and mobile ads are only seen by one user at a time, but the average viewership of a CTV impression is higher. According to Nielsen, 34% of CTV impressions are viewed by two or more people, which means there’s a much greater likelihood that multiple people are exposed to your ad when it runs on CTV.

Q: The ads.txt initiative has helped buyers ensure they’re purchasing authorized digital ads. Do you see this program extending to CTV, or do you envision a similar initiative being established specifically for CTV?

Yes, in the long run we believe some form of supply-chain verification will make its way to every inventory type as more media is transacted programmatically. At the moment there’s not a tremendous sense of urgency for such an initiative because CTV is a less open environment, and I mean that in a couple of ways. First, because premium CTV inventory is in high demand, there’s very little volume being made available via the open exchange. That means buyers are taking the extra step of seeking out private marketplace access to inventory from known suppliers. Second, the ecosystem is far smaller and more tightly controlled. The web has billions of display ads on hundreds of millions of websites, with thousands of ad tech intermediaries to service all of it. In contrast, the entire AppleTV app ecosystem is ~15,000 apps, all of which had to be approved by Apple itself before being made available to consumers.

Q: With competition increasing in the CTV space, what is the most ideal way to create a unique value proposition as a premium video platform for publishers?

We think it’s important to keep it simple and think about the ultimate goal: driving results for marketers.  This means providing access to high-quality CTV inventory, at scale, with targeting and measurement capabilities that satisfy the needs of the brand.

Focused on OOH? Here’s What to Look for in a DSP

August 21, 2018 in Blog

According to AdExchanger, out-of-home (OOH) advertising spend is projected to grow almost 12% by 2020 – but to many, buying OOH programmatically remains a novel concept.

As with any new technology, programmatic OOH comes with its own unique set of challenges and benefits. So, if OOH is a priority, what, exactly, should you be looking for in a DSP?

To answer that question, we spoke to Wade Rifkin, SVP of Programmatic at Clear Channel Outdoor, one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies that has more than 675,000 displays in more than 40 countries.

Q: OOH is rather new to the programmatic sphere, how important is it for brands to understand the differences between traditional OOH buying and programmatic OOH buying?

It’s critically important, much in the same way that brands needed to recognize that programmatic in display/mobile wasn’t just about cheap, biddable CPMs – it’s about affording more buying control and flexibility, with greater optimization potential relative to a direct buy. For a channel to truly go programmatic, the paradigm must change, and that has happened here in DOOH.

So, the key questions to ask are: 1. How can these new capabilities let me buy the same DOOH formats I’m used to, but in a complementary way to the contracted, guaranteed buys I’m doing? 2. What can I do with this medium that was previously very difficult or not even possible?

That’s what’s exciting, unlocking new possibilities from one of the oldest media channels in existence.  We’re working with buy-side partners to come up with new use cases on a consistent basis.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges in choosing a DSP when you’re prioritizing OOH?

The reality of adjusting a DSP’s 1:1 set up for targeting, reporting and even counting impressions is that there’s real technical work that’s required to accommodate a one-to-many channel like OOH. While some DSPs, like Adelphic, have invested the time and effort to champion that development, not all DSPs have. So, when you’re interested in adding DOOH into your cross-channel programmatic media mix, it’s important to vet the quality of the integration work the DSP has done to ensure they’re offering the end user features that’ll let them effectively transact DOOH.

Q: What, specifically, should you look for in a DSP when focusing on OOH?

When we advise buyers on which DSP to choose, some of the points we advise them to consider are:

1. One-to-many impression counts and reporting: Can the DSP process some of the data points that SSPs pass that are specific to impressions in the OOH space? Can they use them for dynamic bidding, as well as for reporting in their UI?

2. Targeting: Can your DSP decision the media and creative against things like daypart, day of week and geo data points that come through in the bid request?

3. Connectivity to mobile: Can the DSP geofence OOH boards and retarget devices with mobile display or other channels?  Can the DSP layer on mobile data-driven attribution for store visitation or other metrics?

Q: How key are targeting and measurement capabilities?

Targeting and measurement are both critical. Programmatic buyers expect a variety of targeting mechanisms, as well as accountability and ROI. We’ve taken this to heart, through the development of our CCO RADAR suite of solutions, which offers up proprietary targeting, retargeting and attribution against multiple KPIs (foot traffic, tune-in lift, brand surveys and more), powered by high fidelity, privacy-compliant mobile data. This is available today, and supplemental to any of the capabilities our DSP partners offer for targeting and attribution. The latter piece, DSP productization around the use of data for DOOH, is one of the most exciting things to come on the horizon for our channel.

Q: What has made your integration with Adelphic work so well for you?

Adelphic’s done the necessary integration work to accommodate a one-to-many medium in a sophisticated way. Adelphic can ingest and decision off of the unique data fields and open RTB extensions for DOOH, along with offering geo-targeting and geo-reporting that’s necessary based on the location-centric nature of the medium. The development work has paid off, as we’re seeing seamless and effective transaction happening on campaigns that buyers activate with us through Adelphic. I’m excited about what’s to come as we continue to evolve to better serve advertisers in this traditional-gone-emerging programmatic channel on the world’s largest screens.

Grapeshot on Brand Safety Trends, Customization and Contextual Intelligence’s Role

July 9, 2018 in Blog

Our Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Jessica Reid, Product Marketing Manager at Grapeshot. Grapeshot is a global leader in contextual intelligence solutions that enable brands to connect with consumers by unlocking the power of real-time context.

As Product Marketing Manager, Reid is responsible for educating and informing the market about contextual intelligence.

Q: There is a lot of buzz in the industry about context in general. In your opinion, what role does contextual intelligence play in the brand safety conversation?

Contextual intelligence, in our opinion, is the biggest part of the brand safety conversation, especially in 2018. Looking at context through a macro lens, 2018 has brought the conversation around consumer data to the forefront. People are paying attention.

The power of contextual intelligence is predicated on the concept of relevance. Brand safety is just as much about making sure that a brand’s message appears in the right environment as ensuring that it does not appear in the wrong one. Therefore, the right environment enabled through the right contextual solution can provide both relevance and safety, and huge value for both the advertiser and consumer.

 Q: What are some trends that you think brands and agencies need to take notice of?

Transparency and measurement are some of the big industry trends at the moment, prompting conversations surrounding how we can leverage these to understand how to collectively drive better outcomes for advertisers in 2018 and beyond – and brand safety is a big piece of that. With an influx of large-scale and very public safety breaches in recent history, we are seeing a large push for industry alignment and a unified and holistic approach to ensuring safe environments across the advertising ecosystem. Everyone has a part to play!

Q: Grapeshot talks a lot about customization and what that means for brands. Can you elaborate on why this is so important for advertisers to consider?

Custom brand safety adheres to the tenant that each brand is unique, and what is considered safe for one brand may not be safe for another. Each brand has their own sensitivities and, thus, their own risk tolerance and brand safety needs. In this case, a standard view of risk just isn’t good enough, and brands should look to an always-on custom solution to give them a curated insurance policy over potential brand safety slip-ups. The Internet is a vast place, and content generation and augmentation have only gotten easier. Unexpected events arise that are out of the direct control of the brand, and often won’t fall under the parameters of a standard view of risk. Thus, a custom solution is a more vigilant approach to ensuring alignment with only safe and relevant content.

Q: Why do you think brand safety remains as such an important topic in the industry?

At its core, brand safety addresses the breach of trust between a brand and the consumer, and once that is broken, it is not easily redeemed. The damage is reputational in nature and can have serious revenue implications. Customer acquisition and retention are very important metrics for brands, so any inkling of a threat to either of those is cause for concern. Recent stats cite that half of consumers would abandon brands if their ads appeared next to offensive digital content or fake news, on top of the fact that it can take brands that have faced brand safety breaches anywhere from 2 to 10 years to recover from reputational damage. This can result in severe financial consequence – something brands don’t want to risk.