The Anvil

The Optimal Metric For Web Advertising Success: CPW

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By David L. Smith, Mediasmith Founder & CEO

Almost 20 years into Web marketing, too many advertisers are basing success on click based metrics. In today’s world, the astute advertiser is looking at success based on ROAS (return on advertising spend) which is displacing ROI as an ideal metric. I like to call this CPW or “cost per whatever” the advertiser is trying to measure.

Why CPW is important

CPW is a back end metric, while clicks are a front end metric and incomplete at that. While clicks, view through and engagement are important concepts at the front end, what really matters to most advertisers is selling product, raising awareness or causing the consumer to perform some type of action. The closer we can get to “whatever” the advertiser is trying to accomplish in our metrics, the better off the advertiser and the industry are.

Some Background


I first wrote an article on CPW in 2001. We had been using this term at Mediasmith for several years and thought that we needed to put a stake in the ground on the term. Since that time, it has been used by select people in the industry but only recently has gained broader acceptance as the industry strives for metrics that can be understood by all.

About CPW

What is CPW? It is simply “cost per whatever” the advertiser is basing their ROAS on. This can be cost per sale, cost per download, cost per sign up for a newsletter, whatever metric means success. It could be an action such as registration or purchase; it could be a passive measure such as pageviews or unique users. Cost-per-pageview has proven to be an especially effective measure for media whose whole model is selling advertising on their site. In effect, they make money on the spread between the difference in pageviews that they sell and pageviews that they buy. Or it could be based on brand lift, utilizing tools from Nielsen or other companies.

CPW can also apply to more sophisticated metrics. For instance, an advertiser may wish to evaluate a visitor not on their first visit, but may want to try to emphasize sites and creative that brings back visitors multiple times. We had one client that believes that visitors are only valuable if they come six or more times to the site. In this case, we would measure repeat visits and place future dollars on sites that do the best job of bringing consumers who are frequent visitors. If a confirmation page on a web site can be dedicated to the action, this action can be the “W” in CPW.

Replacing CPC

We all know (or should know) by now that CPC needs to be replaced as a success metric. Yes, it is still a method for selling ads but we have the ability to evaluate success far beyond the initial action. . Clickthrough rates, once the hallmark metric of Web success, have proven to be largely irrelevant and it is time we moved on. Actually, they have been irrelevant for years but the success of Google has made this metric pervasive. The web has taught us however that the old method of computing what media costs does not make a lot of sense. What does make sense is how much it costs to drive success or ROAS.

Time-tested analysis has established that there is very little relationship between clickthrough rates and success of a Web campaign. View through and engagement are all components and a good piece of analytics will include all three on any front end measurement. We are not suggesting that CPW be a basis for payment. Although we do expect that some sites will offer this as back-end tracking becomes more sophisticated. There continues to be talk about systems that could not only eliminate the need for third party ad servers but could give the seller as well as the buyer visibility on view through and associated conversions. This would be a breath of fresh air for all as too many networks still have to optimize on clicks as the only action that they can see. CPW should, however, be the basis for evaluation of sites and creative. After all, isn’t it all about the advertiser and ROAS?

Now we recognize that the concepts above are not necessarily new but could be called simply a new label on something old. But sometimes names are everything in achieving clarity in communications. Some people call this method CPA. But since CPA is also a method of selling, we find that the use of CPA to describe back end evaluation sends the wrong message in analytics wherein some readers of a report do not understand that the underlying buy is, in fact a CPM buy.

Lastly, the use of the term CPW injects a little smile when someone first hears it. And any analytics conversation can use that.

Super Bowl Advertising: Waste of Money or The Anchor for a Great Campaign?

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By David L. Smith

mediasmith-football-adsRecently, one of the most popular topics seemed to be what else a company could do with the $4.5MM that a Super Bowl ad buys. It’s easy to show the alternate options and to call the SB buy an extravagance. Yet, there are advertisers who step up every year to higher and higher prices.

So, the question is, why do they do it? And if I wanted to do a SB ad, how could I maximize the impact? It’s not too early to plan for next year, so read on for the answers.

Unduplicated reach is difficult to attain. In order to do so, you must find a way to attract audience across the spectrum. The Super Bowl does this. It reaches the sports fan. But, like all big event advertising, it reaches the hard to get upscale, lighter viewer. With an SB ad, people will see your spot that might not otherwise be exposed to your brand.
TV remains the best way to introduce a new product or service to the broadest possible audience, both from a reach standpoint and from an efficiency standpoint. It’s that sight, sound and motion thing. Sure, Web video has it too, but not yet in the big, unduplicated reach numbers that TV has.

What not to do
The Super Bowl can be a waste if it is a “one off”. There were advertisers in SB 49 that we had never seen before. And others we had not seen for a long time. The question is, what will they follow it up with? If it’s the start of a campaign, it’s a good investment. If we never see it again, it’s a waste.

How to do it right
It’s not about spots. It’s about campaigns. The effective campaign meets certain reach AND frequency goals. The Super Bowl spot goes a long way in establishing reach. But an advertiser must be willing to follow it up to establish some campaign continuity. The conventional wisdom is that effective frequency is a minimum of three exposures to an individual to effectively communicate your message. The sweet spot is generally regarded as between 3 and 10 frequency against each individual in the target. After 10 exposures (to an individual), you might need to be thinking about a new spot or at least an extension of the spot.

The pre-release of Super Bowl spots is interesting, but does not do much to establish frequency. First of all it depends on earned media (sharing) which is a difficult way to build frequency. Secondly, the frequency you are building is not on any reach base being before the big rated spot in the SB.

To be effective, think about the campaign in the 24 hours after the Super Bowl. And in the week after, then the month after. Establish specific levels of advertising for each of these three periods within TV or at least on cable. Web video is also a great way for an extension post SB.

Other media can be considered here too, both from a frequency and a conversion standpoint. A few years back, AT&T introduced a new product in the Super Bowl, buying 2 or 3 spots. However, since they did not buy the name of the product on Google or other search engines people who wanted to find out more could not. “They didn’t tell the web guys” what they were doing. Don’t forget the search component. And don’t forget social media after the fact. Don’t just run your campaign and your war room before and during the big game. Web display ads, whether they be gifs or rich media can also add to the frequency as well as assist in conversion.

A few years ago, a client asked me if he was crazy to consider buying a Super Bowl spot. My immediate answer was that the crazy part would be not supporting it with at least an equal spend in the following days and weeks. He actually listened. We bought a weeks’ worth of cable TV in the next 24 hours, a number of web site takeovers, and extended it with a 6 week campaign. It was the biggest volume period the brand had ever seen.

In summary, I don’t think Super Bowl advertising is a waste at all. That is, if you are willing to look at it, not as a $4.5MM spend but a $10MM+ spend. Set yourself up for success. Otherwise, it’s all corporate vanity.

Combating Impression Fraud: It’s Easy

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Editor’s Note: This article written by Marcus Pratt was first published by AdExchanger in the “Data-Driven Thinking” segment on January 31, 2014

“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Marcus Pratt is, VP, Director of Insights and Technologies at Mediasmith

Some estimate that a quarter or more of exchange media could be fraudulent. This has generated much discussion within the industry, with some claiming that only buyers can fix this issue, while others contend the problem sits squarely on the sell side. Naturally, the ad-tech community has been questioned, with DSPs more or less stating: “We’re working on it.”

This issue is clearly far from resolved even though nearly everyone is aware of the problem. In an ideal world, the sell side, ad-tech companies and buyers would all work towards a solution. Although we’ve seen some progress made with initiatives like the IAB’s Traffic of Good Intent, it will take time to impact the average media buy.
Buyers should not wait for the industry to sort this out. Here’s how they can take action today to reduce their exposure to fraud.

Read More

Third Party Ad Serving: Whither Now?

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January 15, 2013

Editor’s Notes: This article reflects a speech given by Mediasmith Founder and CEO, David L. Smith, at I-COM in Rome and was first published in iMediaConnection on December 17, 2012. 

Ten years ago, Ad servers represented the total or at least the vast majority of agency tech budgets. Today, this component is less than 10% of the total media tech spend for most digital agencies. This is the LUMAscape we are all familiar with. It shows the complexity of the digital display marketplace.


Ad serving today is a small part of this overall pie.

Ad Servers

Innovation came slow to this category while pricing dropped. Standalone companies began to crop up that should have been ad serving features.

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If you haven’t heard the news yet, Mediasmith’s website has gone through a recent renovation! Our website is better than ever featuring drop down menus for quick and easy access to information on what we do, who we are, clients, news, and more! Please drop by and take a look around and tell us what you think!

There are a number of companies that have cropped up that arguably could have been introduced as features of the third party ad server (3PAS) had they innovated. Most notable is the DSP. For many agencies, the DSP has 10x or more of the spend of the ad server. Some of the categories of companies that could have been 3PAS features include:

Rich media: major companies like mediamind exist only because 3PAS companies did not sufficiently develop rich media. This includes not only the creative vendors, but survey vendors, integration of survey data into the cookie stream and creative content management systems

Attribution: connections between disparate sources for web display, search, social, site side is still an expensive effort affordable to only the largest advertisers from companies like Marketshare, VisualIQ and MMA.

Tag Management: Tagging systems were virtually invented for 3PAS, yet we need companies like BrightTag to bring this capability to fruition

Optimization: It took the advent of DSPs like Mediamath to give us advertiser side optimization beyond the click. We still cannot share view through with sites for optimization on regular buys. And we still need creative auto-optimizers. Many media directors will admit that they find optimization by people still superior to automation.

Verification: This whole category exists only to establish if the ad was served correctly. 3PAS should have done this. It is a feature, not a business. Companies like DoubleVerify, Adsafe, Adometry, Media Trust and now comScore do this for us.

DSP: The 3PAS company was, for the most part, our exclusive technology vendor. They could have brought real time bidding interfaces, bid management systems for SEM, etc. to us. Instead, the DSP (along with media management companies) have the largest part of our tech budgets. Again something that could have been a feature. MediaMath, Invite Media, DataXu and Triggit are all good examples here.

Targeting and Data Aggregators: targeting information is collected every day from companies using social or lookalike targeting tags inserted within the 3PAS envelope. Companies like Quantcast, Media6degrees and 33Across are good representatives of the new targeting capability. Companies like BlueKai and Exelate are leaders in this category

Retargeting: Invented by Doubleclick with Boomerang. Perfected by other companies due to Doubleclick’s failure. Now everyone does it.

R/F and GRP metrics (Measurement and Analytics): The third party ad servers were at the table but failed to follow the lead of the ARF in the early part of the last decade, (the advice to fuse data with panel companies) . This has left GRP development to traditional research companies like Nielsen and comScore. They have taken over the GRP calculation from the 3PAS, the only source of census data on a campaign.

RFP/workflow (Media Management Systems): still a major pain point for many agencies. Sites fill out agency RFP spreadsheets and too much insertion into the 3PAS trafficking is done manually. Systems started by 3PAS to do both this and publish site side specs and standards were never kept up to date. Mediaocean is a solution only available affordably to the largest agencies. Although their mBuy division shows promise for smaller agencies.

Content: No reason why site side CMS cannot be powered by and ad server like technology to personalize site experiences. Companies like Zite are doing this today. In addition, companies like Peer39 and proximic assist in contextual targeting.

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To show our appreciation to all Mediasmith supporters, we’ve compiled a single Spotify playlist which contains music from our ‘Playlist of the Week’ created by Mediasmith employees.
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If you already have an account click here to open up the playlist or
Click here to sign up for a free account or register using your Facebook account. Once complete, download the Spotify application & install.

Here is the same list graphically. A large percentage of the overall LUMAscape is covered by this list.

LUMAscape Candidates for Consolidation

Here is the look of the LUMAscape if there were consolidation under the 3PAS. While this is a simplistic look at this, you hopefully get the point.

LUMAscape after consolidation

What’s next? Will the DSP or the media management technologies take over as the primary agency tech partner? Will Doubleclick reemerge as a factor due to the acquisitions and roll-ups being created by their now owner, Google? They have at least maintained strong market share of publishers despite the fact that Google bought them. And Atlas may be sold for virtually scrap. Still, a great deal of the ad server function today seems to be trafficking, cookie distribution and management/tag distribution. Will the need for ad serving disappear as newer technologies include ad serving as a feature rather than the other way around? What will a roll up of services look like and who will drive it? Should be an interesting time seeing what happens next.

Mediasmith also would also like to thank Terry Kawaja of LUMA Parters for permision to use the LUMAscape in the manner shown above.

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We’d like to thank Business Insider for sharing the deck they put together “The Future of Digital” covering the current trends in digital media with Mediasmith. The BI Intelligence team includes Marcelo Ballvé, Alex Cocotas and is lead by Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider.The chart below summarizing the shifting mix in ad spending in the U.S. is just one example of the great content they put together. This chart shows:

  • Google ad revenue is now greater than that of Outdoor, Radio and Print combined
  • And, together Google and all other online vendors now capture 47% of the Ad-dollar pie, approaching TV’s still healthy 52%

Mix in Ad Spending in US


Programmatic Platforms Vs. ‘Standard’ Digital Platforms

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Editor’s Note: This article was first published by AdExchanger in the “Data-Driven Thinking” segment on September 30, 2013. We felt this article was a valuable read and gained Eric’s permission to feature it in this edition of the Anvil. 

Eric Picard is CEO at Rare Crowds.

Eric is a Microsoft veteran and was the founder of Bluestreak, an early venture backed ad technology company that was one of the first rich media advertising technology companies, and successfully moved into Ad Serving and Email Marketing. He brings over 16 years of industry experience to his role at Rare Crowds. 

There has been a quiet shift in the digital ad ecosystem over the past few years, although it isn’t clear to many people working in the space. When we think about the ecosystem these days, we typically look at the Lumascape, which overlays companies onto various “ecosystem buckets.”

But while this is a helpful view of the world, it’s more than overwhelming. So let’s dive into the ecosystem as it’s evolved over the last few years, and use a diagram I put together as the foil for the conversation. 

Note that I’ve used very simple color coding here: red for publishers, blue for advertisers and buyers and purple for companies that sit between them – maybe we can call them “aggregators.” 





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Study: Men shop mobile more than women

In a recent study “The Roles of Gender, Geography and Age in Mobile Commerce”   and reported in Chain Store Age, the results revealed that women are more likely to have shopped online in the past year than men (57% compared  to 52%), but that men are more likely to have made a purchase via smartphone (22% compared to 18%) or tablet (20% compared to 17%). The report, however also reveals that among the youngest age group, 18-to-24 year old adults, the results are slightly different and women are actually more likely than men to shop via smartphone (21.6% compared to 21.3%) and tablet (20% compared to 14%).


Other interesting results from the study include:  

  • Both sexes typically use tablets for shopping in their living rooms (44.2%) and bedrooms (22.5%), while 9.8% of respondents make purchases in the bathroom.           
  • Nineteen percent of men and 25% of women use mobile devices to check prices and read reviews in the store.
  • Fifty-one percent of consumers in the Northeast and 71% of consumers in the South have made a purchase online.
  • Six in 10 shoppers age 65 and older have made an online purchase this year.


Reported in Chain Store Age on October 4, 2013 by Dan Berthiaume and fielded by SeeWhy




The ecosystem is quite complex, and no diagram I’ve seen can accurately map this complexity. In the case of my diagram, I’ve had to smoosh some things together, such as demand-side and data-management platforms;  “adjacency” in this diagram shouldn’t imply too much. For instance, publisher ad servers can plug directly into DSPs and buy-side programmatic direct vendors. And media-buying teams can buy directly from supply-side platforms. What adjacency here does imply is that there is a clear relationship between ad networks, exchanges, SSPs, media-buying teams and publisher ad servers.

This diagram ignores many different kinds of vendors, including the various yield-management companies and other vendors who plug into the entities that are represented. Data vendors are good examples – they plug into DSPs, SSPs, exchanges and publisher ad servers.

Let’s look at a few of these blocks in particular for a moment and talk about how these interact and how they’ve evolved over the past few years: 



The Rise Of Programmatic Direct

The rise of programmatic direct is a big deal – and the recent announcement of Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo all releasing their premium inventory via programmatic direct is a seismic shift in the ecosystem. Programmatic direct is really born out of the massive inefficiency in the market for directly sold inventory. Not only do sales teams have to manage the customer relationship, they need to respond quickly to RFPs, come up with creative ideas to offer to buyers, put together all the details of the contracts, figure out what inventory is available and ensure that the final campaign is configured properly to deliver.

In the world of programmatic direct, the RFP process, including the contracts, insertion orders and all related work items, becomes fully automated. Buyers can find inventory that they want without waiting for sales teams to respond, and sales teams get unshackled from the RFP treadmill. This is so clearly a win across the board that I predict that nearly all sales will be fully automated in the next decade. I won’t commit to saying that the current approach to programmatic direct is the final one – but we’re on a path, and it’s exciting.

What I find particularly interesting is that the trading desks are beginning to build programmatic-direct buying practices – giving them access to guaranteed premium inventory that previously was held apart from their bailiwick – that are reserved only for media-buying teams. And while I’ve drawn the trading desks on this diagram as seemingly “owning” the relationships with DSPs, DMPs and programmatic-direct vendors on both the buy and sell side, this isn’t really the case. Many media agencies are engaging in programmatic direct – directly, meaning that buyers are accessing these tools and the budgets remain outside of the trading desks.

The buy-side programmatic vendors are a great way for them to do this – and there’s been some exciting early adoption of these tools by standard media buyers across the industry. Of course, the future gets much more difficult to predict, especially when it will arrive. The likelihood is that trading desks get blown up in the next few years and absorbed back into the individual holdings within the big holding companies. This is inevitable since budgets in programmatic RTB and direct are growing very fast, and the individual holdings will want to pull that revenue back inside their own P&Ls.

The race that I find exciting will be the race to make all the complexity of media buying disappear – to create enough automation among the RTB and programmatic-direct stacks that a standard media buyer, rather than a DSP-using specialist, can use these tools to execute their work. We’re getting very close to this as an industry, and all sorts of creamy goodness will come oozing out when that happens.





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Since minutes on the desktop have not declined, conjecture would have it that many of the phone and tablet minutes are actually double-tasked minutes or time that used to be spent talking on the phone.



Source: comScore MMX Multi-Platform (Beta), U.S., Dec. 2012



Blurring Of The Lines

Another area to discuss is the blurring of the lines between the vendors and business models for the ad networks, trading desks, DSPs, DMPs, exchanges and SSPs. Several years ago, there were dozens of DSPs, and then there were DSPs calling themselves DMPs and DMPs adding DSP functionality. There were trading desks that were just business operations teams, and trading desks trying to build their own technology (that’s mostly stopped now), making them sort of like DSPs.

Then there’s the whole controversy about the trading desks operating on arbitrage, much like ad networks. The SSPs began offering direct sales of inventory to media buyers, basically becoming ad networks. Then the ad networks began offering API access to their inventory, and some of them began operating a lot like DSPs or trading desks. Some of the SSPs then began offering buying tools, becoming sort of like DSPs. And the exchanges began offering everything to everyone.

Suddenly all the lines between all these entities are quite blurry, especially at the company level.

New Trends And More Blurring To Come

Other trends that aren’t represented in this diagram yet include the new focus being of marketers and publishers to build out their own stack of technologies and bind them together in custom workflows that represent their own needs. Many marketers realize that their agency partners have become oddly financially incented due to the arbitrage inherent in the RTB models, and are beginning to form their own direct relationships with vendors. This will likely explode in the next few years since the percentage of spending going to RTB is growing significantly – and the procurement oversight that most marketers fall under won’t allow the arbitrage to continue. For big spenders, it makes perfect sense to bind together their own vendor relationships with a DSP, DMP, ad server and CMS system, then grant access to these systems to their media agency partners.

Similarly we’re seeing the biggest traditional media publishers adopt much more sophisticated approaches – basically learning from the native digital publishers, including Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft, which invested heavily in technology for yield optimization and private exchanges, and now in programmatic direct for guaranteed inventory sales automation. These traditional media publishers are investing more than ever in technology vendor relationships to drive their sales and yield upwards, often with incredible results.

With changes coming to the way that cookies are handled, the push of the technologies to first parties – advertisers and publishers – is inevitable. We’ll see the vendor space really heat up with consolidation and new investments to support this. The biggest vendors will invest heavily in the entire stack of technologies, either building or buying their way across the whole stack.


Follow Eric Picard (@ericpicard) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 



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Wineries, Networking, Prizes & More

Get Your Ticket to the BAARC Bash Today!

Mediasmith has always supported BAARC (Bay Area Advertising Relief Committee)

What better way to spend a Friday, than networking and tasting award-winning wines in the beautiful Julia Morgan Ballroom? Even, better, you know that while you’re having fun, you’re also helping your peers in the community.

What:   BAARC Bash


Where: Julia Morgan Ballroom
              465 California Street, San Francisco
When: Friday, October 18th , 11:00am – 1:30pm


Tickets: Individual tickets and tables available now !


Click here and read news all about BAARC.


Dave Smith’s Keys to Longevity in Media

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Editor’s Note: A shorter version of the interview was first published by Digiday on 5/21/13. Some additional comments are added from several iMediaConnection articles that appeared several years ago.

David Smith has spent more than 40 years in the advertising industry, beginning as a media planner at Mad Men-era Benton & Bowles in the late ’60s. Not much has changed. “The main thing that we did differently vs. the show was we didn’t drink in the office before noon and rarely at all,” he said. “Everything else (on the show) is spot on.”Now, the founder and CEO of Mediasmith is an internationally recognized digital advertising and media expert. He’ll be at the Digiday Agency Innovation Camp mentoring some of the most talented digital ad executives under 30.———————————————————————————————————–
What was your introduction to marketing?I sold a lot of things to my neighbors door to door. When I was in grade school, middle school and high school, I sold soap to go to YMCA camp; I sold greeting cards; I delivered Fuller Brush catalogs. I had several newspaper routes and whatever else I could do to make a buck. I did things myself from the time I was about 8 years old. My neighbors at some point saw me coming.And what did you learn from that formative experience?

If anybody says no, there’s another door right next door. There’s always somebody who will say yes a few minutes away.


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You Know What’s Cool? 1 Million Advertisers On Facebook

Facebook just hit 1 million advertisers, a milestone signaling that it has become a mainstream advertising channel for small and medium-sized businesses.

A couple more telling stats: Facebook claims more than 2 billion connections between members and local businesses, with 70% of users in North America connected to a local business. On average, local business Facebook pages produce 645 million views and 13 million comments (not always positive, it must be said).

Best work you’ve ever done?The best work has always been the work I’ve learned from. Early on in my career when I was a media planner at Benton & Bowles for Crest Toothpaste, somebody high up at P&G wanted to know what would happen if we spent less on advertising. So instead of doing an increased spending test, we did a reduced spending test. And in the area we advertised, it ruined the brand development in that region for about 10 years.Another example: When TV was the basic medium, the learning said do a good job of establishing effective frequency of 3+ at a good (40-50%) reach level. When we introduced CBS MarketWatch, they had deals across the CBS network of properties. This effort included out-of-home, radio, TV, and of course digital. We learned that with the new consumer, vertical integration, establishing frequency across media rather than within a single medium could be effective.There are many other examples I could give. I like to think that our best work is what we are doing for clients today as the world of technology and data is more and more complex all of the time.You ruined the brand development for a decade and that was your best work?

I learned a lot from that. I learned that advertising does matter.

If I knew then what I know now?

I would’ve learned how to code. Because software engineers get paid more and because it would give me more control of my own fate if I could generate some of my own solutions.

What you look for in a young executive?

I want them to understand the sociographic makeup of the marketplace. They need to understand what makes the consumer tick. They should have street smarts and understand innately why people do what they do. And, of course, it helps tremendously if they’re good with data.

What do you want to see from the executives at the agency innovation camp?

I want to see their energy.

Most traumatic career moment?

In 1983, when a client stuck us for all of their media bills. We had undergone an almost two-year battle, and I had to declare personal bankruptcy and lost almost everything. But the wonderful thing was that the next day was a sunny day, and I realized I still had my brain, the good will of my contacts and a willingness to “get up and do it again”. They can’t take that from you. And I started all over again.

Below are a few more points that were not part of the interview but are Dave’s added observations on the topic…My top things to do for longevity:Find your nicheLearn one thing better than anybody in the agency. Specialists and experts are highly valued. Pick something that you do regularly (competitive analysis, R/F runs, demographic analysis, third-party ad serving analytics…you get the picture) and go as deep as you can with it. Take reach and frequency analysis as an example. Don’t just learn how to do them in the medium you are working in; study up on use of this tool for other media and experiment. You may learn some things from one medium that you can apply to others. Then, learn how to accurately combine reach and frequency data from disparate media into an overall plan R/F. And learn how different plans of the same level show varying frequency distributions. Whatever you are studying, read the documentation and take all of the training that is available. Then, apply what you have learned and quietly let those around you know that you can help them out when they are tackling this tool or process. The word will spread, and you will gain respect and visibility among higher-ups. Then, over time, broaden yourself by taking on other initiatives to grow your expertise and reputation.

Think like a producer

Learn how to do everything, or know someone who does. Tap into the other experts in your media department. They may be people outside of your chain of command. They may even be in another office of your company. When asked for help, people are generally flattered and will go out of their way to assist in solving your problem.
Keep the big picture in mind: develop a true understanding of all media from a management standpoint and know someone who is an expert in each.

If there is no expert in your company, find someone willing to learn it, or learn it yourself. This includes TV, radio, newspapers, OOH, magazines, web, search, WOM, viral and technologies like web video, VOD, third screen, podcasting and blogs, as well as user-generated advertising, RSS, advergaming, social networks and mobile.

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Targeting is a Key Advantage for Digital Video

Almost three-quarters of marketing professionals worldwide planned to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in the next year, according to a survey conducted by AOL Networks in April 2013. More than 50% of that group said that the added investment would come from TV and display budgets. Only 4% of respondents planned to draw back spending on digital video ads.

In keeping with digital advertising’s frequent role as a direct-response vehicle, the study found that digital video ads beat out TV ads for achieving engagement goals: 58% of marketers thought digital video ads performed better than TV ads by this measure, compared with 15% who said engagement was worse for digital video ads.

video vs tv

Read more here.

Thanks to eMarketer for their permission to reproduce this graphic.

Pick up the loose initiative

If you ask, there are always things on management’s plate or within the maintenance of a brand that have not been gotten to. Find out what they are and take them on. Again, following the rules above, you don’t actually have to do all the work, just see that it gets done.

For example, work with other planning or buying groups in your agency to collect all of the buys done in a single medium by vehicle on a post analysis versus pre-buy or planning basis. You will learn a lot by looking at the variations on pre-buy versus post-buy, and by studying the trends; you’ll learn which vehicles have the potential to over deliver.

This is something you and others can use in your future planning. Make your superiors know that you will deliver and go the extra mile on these projects; they have great visibility.

Make friends with the creatives

Find ways to generate ideas in concert with them.

A while back at another agency, I found out that one of the head creative guys on the most visible account loved bowling. So we did that for lunch! It became easier to talk once we found common ground. Sometimes the collaboration flow starts socially. Sometimes it starts in hallways. Don’t count on it happening in meetings. Go out of your way to make it happen.

Pull one of the creative team that you connect with aside after a group problem-solving meeting. Offer to go into greater depth with them on a specific area that came out of the ideation. You just might strike up a great partnership that extends far beyond the life of the project at hand. One of the other ways to make friends with the creatives is to make their work famous. Finding ways to buy media that stands out helps the client and makes you a creative favorite.

Toot your own horn

Write an article or two and be willing to appear in public showing off your work, including the reason you succeeded.

Digiday, iMedia and other venues are always looking for good case studies on effective plans that worked. There may be some aspects of your client’s data that is confidential, but there may be other aspects that are acceptable to discuss. Many of the speaking venues in our industry are open to proposals, as well. Be persistent and you will find places to talk about your work. Writing is not that difficult. The hardest part is finding a topic, followed quickly by getting started. In this case, you know the topic: it is your favorite plan.  I get started by opening up my word processor or notepad and jotting down as many ideas as I have. Then I organize them and proceed to flesh them out. Pretty soon, I have a first draft. You’ll find a lot of people within your organization who are willing to help proof and make your writing better. And, you’ll find the trades very willing to discuss publishing your work, if it is quality.

Mediasmith MorselTwitter is Developing Geo-Targeted Ads for RetailersAs soon as the end of the year, Twitter is planning to let brands show promoted tweets to people who open its mobile apps within close range of their stores. Twitter will enable ads to be targeted to people who are near specific latitudes and longitudes and could be ready as soon as the fourth quarter, according to two people briefed on the product. This kind of radius-based geo-fencing could potentially be useful for the likes of a pharmacy chain like Walgreens or even a quick-serve restaurant like McDonald’s. It’s for marketers who are looking to drive up their in-store traffic with the carrot of a deal or a special, or just by tipping people off to their presence in the immediate vicinity.

Let others toot your horn

Win an Effie and countless other awards for your work, creating demand for your services inside and outside of your organization. This can be done. Maybe not the first time around, but if you keep learning, keep the big picture in mind, collaborate, experiment with new media and document your success, you can win.

You don’t have to start with an Effie or Cannes. There are more media awards every year and many are for ideas in individual media, not an overall plan. Keep applying for the awards and you’ll get better at that too.

After all, as they say, “you can’t win if you don’t enter.”

Some final thoughts:

Work in NYC at least once in your career

The earlier the better. Your network will be stronger, you will learn a lot quickly and you will be challenged big time. “if you can make it there, you can make in anywhere”

Get a mentor

If someone has not adopted you, find one. I have seen a number of successful people find a mentor when one did not take them on early.

Pay it forward

Don’t worry about what you are going to get from an interaction. Maximize what you can do for the other person. Give your time and your best advice. The payback will come in having a very strong base of supporters all around you.

By David L. Smith, Founder and CEO at Mediasmith, Inc.

Indie Agency Mediasmith Managing A Tech Stack Says David Smith

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Editor’s Notes: This interview of Mediasmith Founder and CEO, David L. Smith was first published in AdExchanger on January 22, 2013.

In a recent conversation with San Francisco-based independent agency Mediasmith and its CEO David Smith, AdExchanger discussed the company’s technology practice and how it balances the need to stay ahead of the automation of advertising while servicing the client. For CEO Smith, it begins with what he calls the Mediasmith tech stack. See it.


AdExchanger:  Can you discuss your approach to ad technology and what you’re calling your “tech stack?”DAVID SMITH: Sure. Our “stack” contains the approved technologies for Mediasmith to use internally when people want to start or create a campaign.  And, for the average campaign that we launch today, there are eight to twelve technologies.

Part of the job of what we call the media tech planner is to advise the media planner on which of these 8 to 12 technologies they should be deploying in order to make their campaign work.  And the media tech planner is the expert on this – it’s an interesting concept that goes in combination with our tech stack.

When did you realize that you needed to formalize a tech stack?  Any tipping point?


It was a year-and-a-half ago – and we didn’t make it visible to people at first.  When John Cate, our president, came over three years ago from Carat, where he ran Carat’s digital operation nationally, he had the idea of organizing it by process so that when we talked to people about the tech stack, they’d understand it better.  I thought this would be much more complex than it turned out because when you look at Terence Kawaja’s Lumascape, it’s just a bunch of logos on a page.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it.

Our tech stack is dynamic.  There are companies that are getting bought.  There are companies whose names change.   And – this is just the tech stack for display.  For mobile, it would be different as would the one for programmatic television buying.  But, display is the biggest part of what we do, and so the visual is the best way to showcase it.

Now, we certainly don’t do everything via programmatic buying.  But, even when we don’t, a lot of times we apply the tools of programmatic buying to forward buys such as Forbes or The Wall Street Journal, and then, for example, overlay a Bizo or Quova (now a Nuestar service) solution, and so on.

Mediasmith Morsel

David geeks out with MediaMath!

Recently featured on MediaMath’s Client Stories and in their campaign in digital display plus print, our CEO talks about how working with MediaMath helps eliminate half the advertising techniques that don’t work while delivering results and a greater impact for Mediasmith clients.


Watch the full video here.


What’s your thinking on the role of the agency today, given your thoughts in having to create a tech stack? 

Other agencies will have a lot of these technologies that they’ll be using, but they’ll keep it inside a black box. In their trading desk, they’re arbitraging.

We believe that if you are an agent of the client, that everything must be transparent.  Because the minute you start to not be transparent, and you start to arbitrage, you’re not an agent of the client. You’re a vendor.

An agent is a strategic ally.  An advertising agency is a strategic ally of a client … of an advertiser.  A vendor is somebody who could have very trusted status, but they can be switched in and switched out.  And they’re not necessarily involved in the strategic layer of the company. What some of the trading desks are doing through arbitrage, is they’re devaluing their status within the client/agency relationship.  We’re kind of old-school. We believe that we need to maintain the status of being strategic with a client.

The guy who founded Coca-Cola said, “Everybody who works with Coca-Cola has the right to make a profit.” Parenthetically, he wanted to know what that margin was. We want to work with clients who believe that we have the right to make a profit.  And we do make a profit.

One of the reasons that demand-side platforms (DSPs) came on is because the ad networks were arbitraging, and the agencies believed that by adopting this DSP technology, that they would take arbitrage away and would make it more transparent.  But the temptation to arbitrage is great – as long as you can meet the client goals, why not make a little extra money?  Part of it is also driven by the procurement people [on the client side] who might be driving the agency down to such a low percentage of margin that the agency’s not making enough money, so they’re forced to arbitrage – so the client is complicit.


So, are you still working at a fixed margin that you agree upon with the client?

We don’t work on a fixed margin.  Our most common way is pretty old-school in that we often work on a percentage of the spend.  And that might vary by medium, because it is much more complex to execute digital media than print.

The mark up is generally 2x higher with digital than traditional media. And when we deploy technology, it is with the full knowledge and agreement of the clients.  It’s as if we’ve become a systems integrator, because we’ve got to vet and make all these technologies work together.  So just as we should get paid for deploying media, we should get paid for deploying technologies.  And we also mark that up in a method that is transparent to the client, not unlike where agencies have historically marked up third-party ad serving because there’s a lot of handling that happens when you get involved with a third party ad server.

Mediasmith Morsel


Recently, one of the Mediasmith board members, Jim Spanfeller, had his piece on “the Myth of Unlimited Inventory” published by AdExchanger. His article provides a knowledgeable perspective on the common misconception that web inventory is an endless trough. 


Jim founded the Spanfeller Media Group three years ago, developing and launching “” Previous to that Jim was CEO of 


Read Jim’s article here:


What about working on a performance basis?


Everybody wants agencies to work on a performance basis.  But, the issue is that with today’s changing world, many clients don’t have enough of a track record to know what really causes people to buy right now.  Many of the companies that we work with are brand new companies, and they don’t know their cost per acquisition (CPA) or what the lifetime value of a customer is.  They might know their CPA in search, but that’s not accurate because it might have been display or television that caused somebody to go in and type in a keyword phrase.

If companies really knew what their cost per acquisition was, and were willing to allow us to make a margin if we improved that cost per acquisition, then we’d be willing to take on performance activity.  But, many companies want us to take on things on a cost per acquisition basis based upon a CPA and a business plan.  And it’s not proven out – or they don’t have enough data about attribution to prove out what their CPA is, and so we can’t. If we do take it on, we want you to do it on a performance basis and we’ll pay you based on this CPA.  And we say, okay.  We want to be paid on both click sales, and sales that come through viewthrough.

Regarding viewthroughs, I talk to many people on the client-side who don’t know what that means or don’t believe in viewthrough. It’s data that needs to be taken into account in the equations.

Everybody wants agencies to work on a performance basis, but a lot of companies are not prepared and don’t have the knowledge base to fairly compensate an agency on that basis.


What percentage of your clients’ ad spend is programmatic media grabbing today?


It’s currently north of 25%.  But, that’s going to continue to increase – for example, we’re taking on some performance clients where 100 percent of their spend is in programmatic.  They work on what I call a CPW basis – “cost per whatever.”  I use this acronym because it’s not just an acquisition.  It could be a whitepaper download or it could be a lead, for example.   We do programmatic buys on a CPM basis, too.

We do a lot of work with MediaMath, and with The Trade Desk.  We have experimented with many others.  Quantcast, Google Display Network and Facebook Exchange work very well from a programmatic standpoint, too.

All I know is that overall, every year programmatic is going to get larger. I like to call it data-enabled buying. We not only buy through RTB sources, but forward buys that have a data overlay.


What milestone are you thinking about in the next 3 to 5 years for the advertising industry at-large?


There are still pain points in the process that goes from planning to buying to ordering to optimizing – it’s not all a single vendor, or vendors, that work together through their API’s painlessly.  There’s too much manual work done through our industry, where people are putting stuff into spreadsheets and shipping them off to other people.

The workflow is killing agencies.  We have to get our hands around this big data problem and get the tools in our hands that we can more easily handle.

One of the big changes will not be something that’s very sexy at all – it will be fixing and fine-tuning the infrastructure of our industry that will make it possible for us all to do a lot more of what we’re not doing relative to television.

Trends we’d like to share: 


According to KPCB’s Mary Meeker in her year end 2012 Internet Trends report:

  • Over 29% of USA adults own a tablet/eReader compared with 2% less than three years ago
  • iOS/Android have a combined 45% share of computer operating systems vs. 35% for Windows
  • Global smartphone+tablet installed base should exceed PC installed base by Q2 of this year (2013)

We do live in times of amazing change.

Five Ways to Target B2B Effectively

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Editor’s Note: An alternate version of this article, written by Mediasmith Associate Media Director Dawn-Marie Miesner, was first published in Direct Marketing News on April 8, 2013.

Lately there has been talk in the trade press about the difficulty of applying the targeting techniques used for consumer advertising to B2B. One article in particular that caught our attention was Al Urbanski’s Targeting Remains a Challenge for B2B Marketers, on the Direct Marketing News website.

B2B marketers are facing a perplexing situation. While they understand the value company size and industries bring to the quality of a lead, they are less likely to use this level of targeting in their advertising campaigns. According to a survey released in December 2012 by DemandBase and Ziff Davis, 45% of respondents state that they used company size when evaluating leads, while only 25% say they devote resources to targeting larger companies.

Mediasmith Morsel

Lead Generation Poses Biggest Challenge to B2Bs

Business-to-business (B2B) companies are constantly seaching for new client prospects that can benefit from their services. As a result, lead generation has proven one of the most critical and challenging B2B pursuits. BtoB Magazine surveyed US B2B marketers and found that in 2013 generating more leads remained their top challenge, cited by 60% of respondents. That was followed by the related challenge of successfully reaching their target audience.

Building brand awareness and accurately measuring performance were also important challenges to nearly two out of five B2B marketers. Customer retention was cited by one third of respondents in 2013.


 Marketing challenges

Thanks to eMarketer for their permission to reproduce this graphic.

We at Mediasmith, Inc. have a vast understanding of the B2B space, and after working on countless campaigns, we’ve identified five tactics that can help B2B marketers maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns.

1)  Job industry/vertical targeting helps B2B advertisers cut the waste by reaching key verticals that are most likely within the target audience of their product/service. For example, one publisher’s business-category targeting enables advertisers to show ads to users based on the industry they work in and the size of the company.

2)  IP targeting lets marketers identify whether a customer logs on to the Internet from a business or home connection. While some eschew IP targeting due to privacy concerns, this kind of targeting permits advertisers to reach key accounts and cut the waste.

Mediasmith Morsel

Newer Social Tools See Big Growth by Small Businesses

Smaller businesses are starting to use a broader mix of social tools as a part of their overall marketing efforts and 2012. Companies like LinkenIn, Twitter  and YouTube saw a lot of growth in 2012. Most businesses had already been using Facebook pages which continued to show growth, but the newer social tools saw the biggest gains overall by the end of the year.

Social media platform

3)  Combining vertical targeting with job titles and company size refines the B2B advertiser’s coverage to ensure that they’re reaching the right consumer with the proper message. There are several publishers that offer this. Some collect data from registrant records across thousands of websites to pull the business professionals’ industry, company size, job function, and seniority. Others derive all of their professional data from their own business social network. This provides some of the richest, most current data.

4)  First-party data targeting allows advertisers to reach more prospects that share the same characteristics as their current customer base.In doing so, advertisers are able to find their best prospects. This includes lookalike targeting, social graph targeting, and a combination of the two coupled with search history targeting.

    • Lookalike targeting – Builds a profile of the advertiser’s customers by modeling based on real-time visitor and purchaser data.
    • Social graph targeting – Reaches the social connections of most recent customers based on the content they share with their peers and what they follow. Data is pulled from vendors’ proprietary social sharing tools, including sharing widgets and link shorteners.
    • Multi-graph targeting – Starting with a lookalike model of the advertiser’s customers; search history, behavioral, and social data is layered on to refine targeting.

5)  CRM data targeting takes a look at an advertiser’s customer database, identifies key characteristics between the different profiles, and finds new prospects across hundreds of email lists and websites that match the advertiser’s current customer profile. CRM targeting can be deployed across email, direct mail, and display campaigns. Some vendors create a profile that advertisers can deploy through their preferred DSP and manage on their own, while others will build the profile and execute the buy across their inventory sources.

Contrary to the concern about lack of options, B2B marketers have many resources and methods available to help them limit waste and focus their media dollars on the prospects that matter most to their business. At Mediasmith, our partners heard our needs, recognized our appetite for this type of targeting and developed solutions to better equip our B2B planners.

By Dawn-Marie Miesner, Associate Media Director at Mediasmith, Inc.