Big Data in Marketing: What it’s Good and Not Good For

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Big Data in Marketing

Big data has been revolutionizing the way business and institutions create their strategies, forecasts, and predictions. However, for every big data success story, there are more big data failures. Nate Silver addresses this in his latest book, “The Signal and the Noise.” He dissects scenarios where big data has been essential to forecast predictions across a diverse array of fields like weather, finance, and real estate.

What’s most interesting, is even with terabytes of data, how many of these predictions failed. This happens not only in the fields listed above, but in the world of marketing. As marketers, we have predictive analytics, dashboards, data providers, and other tools which help us gain as much insight as possible and yet, there are times when our efforts completely flop. Why does that happen?

It’s Great When Big Data is Accurate

Meteorologists have been able to greatly increase the accuracy of their predictions over the last two decades. This has happened because they not only understand all the data they collect, they also understand the context behind the data itself. They know exactly how tornadoes form, how tropical storms turn into hurricanes, and are able to collect incredibly accurate data on these events.

Marketers also have access to a plethora of data, and we have the context. With digital channels such as social media, email, display advertising, and paid search we have multiple touch points to analyze. With cross-channel analytics we even know how these ecosystems interact within an integrated marketing strategy. Thanks to first and third party data, we have know our audiences better than ever before. This type of knowledge allows us to use these digital formats and get tremendous scale.

In digital, marketers have control of almost every factor including targeting, channel, copy, and the creative. Yes, the advertising platform algorithms have the final say on when ads are shown. But with all this data, and an in-depth understanding of how the different ad platforms work, marketers can make good prediction on how their campaigns will play out.

But When Big Data Fails

Even with big data, the science of earthquake prediction has made little progress. Seismologists provide a date “range” of when an earthquake will happen, but their official positions is that earthquakes cannot be predicted. Why? Even with all the data that’s been collected, plate tectonics are still not well understood. Thier shifts happen deep inside the earth and making it hard for scientists to observe. The data sets we study and collect represent the results, not the actual movements of the plates.

In marketing PR, organic search, and referral traffic parallel the challenge seismologists face. The data we collect on these channels only represents the results, or the end product. Unlike digital channels, so many factors that determine the outcome of these channels are not easily observed or in the marketers control.

PR is a great example, most marketers know that PR is key in driving great marketing and awareness. The predicament is, even with all the tools and analytics we have in place, we will never be able to create an accurate forecast or prediction on the results of PR. There are just too many factors that are out of a marketers control. For example, it’s hard to predict exactly how a publication will react to a press release, and it’s impossible to predict what other news will get released at the same time. Big data is worthless without accurate data sets, from well understand and repeatable scenarios. Yes, we will be able to formulate a general idea of how PR will perform, but making an accurate prediction is nearly impossible.

Aim for A Happy Medium

With big data, we have the power to take our marketing efforts to new heights, but it can’t solve everything. It’s great for uncovering meaningful patterns in areas of marketing that are well understood and easily measured, like digital advertising or email. However, there are still some areas where big data can’t have a meaningful impact, such as PR. It’s by understanding and working within the limitations of what big data can and cannot do, that it will have the most meaningful impact on your business.

What Is Mobile Ad Mediation And How Does It Work?

Most mobile publishers have more inventory than they can sell through one ad network or their direct sales team. To maximize fill rates and sell more of their inventory, most publishers work with multiple ad networks at the same time. Ad network performance can also vary for a given publisher, with some offering better performance in a particular geography or industry than another. This means some ad networks will produce more revenue for a publisher than others.

With ad mediation, publishers can match the right ad networks to the right inventory and monetize more of their impressions. Mediation increases fill rates, maximizes eCPMs, and helps publishers get the most revenue possible from every impression, making it a critical monetization solution for publishers.

How Mobile Ad Mediation Works

Ad mediation is technology that sends ad requests to multiple ad networks to ensure publishers find the best available network to fill their ad slots. First, publishers rank ad networks in order of preference. Second, the mediation platform tries the top ad network. If the top ad network can’t fill the ad request, the mediation platform tries the next preferred ad network until it fills the request.

For each ad request, the mediation platform chooses the ad network that best matches the publisher’s priorities. Often, publishers will choose the highest revenue option and prioritize the ad network that offers the highest eCPM. Alternatively, a publisher may give preference to a specific ad network for ad requests coming from that ad network’s country of origin.

They key technical benefit of ad mediation is the ability to centralize access to ad networks with just one SDK, instead of managing hundreds of SDK integrations directly. The single SDK approach allows publishers to add and remove ad networks through the ad mediation platform, instead of pushing out an app update to all app stores.

Mobile Ad Mediation

 

How to Get Started

For a publisher, the first step with an ad mediation partner will be to prioritize a list of ad networks to which inventory will be allocated. To do this, publishers can start by running a test with the mediation platform and place the best performing ad networks first. Publishers can expect payments to come directly from each ad network. With hundreds of ad networks to choose from, mobile publishers will find it necessary to choose an ad mediation partner to maximize fill rates and eCPMs.

What Businesses Can Learn From This Year’s World Cup

World Cup

The greatest of all sporting events has come to a close and the Germans have been crowned World Cup Champions. This years World Cup brought to life many lessons for individuals and businesses alike. We can learn things from not only the teams that won, but also the teams that lost. Here are takeaways from this years World Cup that can help your startup succeed.

1. Never Say Die

When the odds are stacked against you, and that light at the end of the tunnel starts to dim, it can be easier to just give up and quit. But this is when the best teams dig deep, and rise to the occasion going on to victory. The best companies, just like the best teams never quit. They persevere and come back even stronger. It takes enormous courage, but if you believe in your team and they believe in you, your startup can overcome any challenge.

2. Pragmatism Over Emotion

The World Cup is an inspiring and emotional. But being too emotionally vested can actually make it difficult for a team to stay focused. Just like in sports, emotions in business can also run high. In these situations it is crucial to, remain objective. Makes sure you get all the information you need, before making any important decision.

3. Find Your Competitions Weakness and Exploit It

In professional sports the best teams study their opponents carefully, analyzing videos of past matches, and even hiring scouts to observe competitors during practice. In business getting accurate “competitive intelligence” from tools, technology or other methods of research is essential. Once you have access to information, get more people involved in the marketing process. This will enable you to see different points of view on your competitors. A more holistic view will enable you to create the most successful strategy that exploits potential weaknesses of competitors.

4. Have a Clear Goal and Know What It Takes to Get There

Using visuals can be effective. The German World Cup team’s training facility had images of Estádio Maracanã, the World Cup stadium in Brazil and the FIFA World Cup trophy all over the building. This was to help them focus on their goal, not winning the match they were about to play during the season, but to go on to become world champions. In businesses focus your team or organization on a common goal. Keeping everyone on the same page will increase collaboration, transparency, and improve overall performance.

5. Never Let Off the Gas

During Mexico’s last match against the Netherlands, Mexico held a 1-0 lead with eight minutes left to play. Instead of applying pressure the rest of the game, they relaxed and gave up two goals in five minutes going on to lose the match. Complacency like this can happen in business when a company is too successful too quickly. When sales are up the office environment could not be better. No one should take it an opportunity to slack off. When you have a lead over a competitor it’s essential to keep the pressure on. Work to extend that lead and make it impossible for any rival to overtake you.

6. There is no “I” in team

Brazil’s World Cup dreams this year were shattered when their star player was injured. Relying on superstar players in both sports and in business is high risk. It can often backfire. The best businesses, just like the best sports teams, should be built as teams – not organizations designed to support one superstar. Remember that everyone in your company, no matter how seemingly small the task may be, has a very important role to play. And they need to play together. Yes, superstars can be very effective, but even Pele once said, “The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players.

TapSense Selected by AlwaysOn as a Global 100 Company to Watch in 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, July 11, 2014 — Today, TapSense, the leading independent mobile advertising exchange, announces its selection by AlwaysOn as a Global 100 Company to Watch in 2014, in the B2B mobile category.

The list showcases companies providing innovative technology solutions for a fast-paced, demanding customer base, with substantial returns for their inventors and rapid revenue growth in the short term. These companies re-invent legacy industries, bringing much-needed efficiencies to consumer and business users.

Ash Kumar, CEO and Founder of TapSense, says, “I am thrilled that TapSense is part of the AlwaysOn Top 100 Companies to Watch in 2014. We’re experiencing tremendous momentum this year. The advertising technology space is competitive and we’re honored to be included on this list. This recognition highlights our market leadership in mobile, and the success we have achieved in relatively short amount of time. I also want to congratulate all the fellow honorees who are helping reshape the technology landscape.”

The AlwaysOn Global 100 Companies to Watch in 2014 were selected from hundreds of other entries nominated by leading venture capitalists, investors, researchers, journalists, and industry insiders. The AlwaysOn editorial team conducted a rigorous selection process to finalize the list.

About TapSense

TapSense is the leading independent mobile advertising exchange, and has been featured in publications including Forbes, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, GigaOM, CMO.com, MediaPost, Entrepreneur and AdExchanger. Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, California, investors include top Silicon Valley venture firms, Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Maynard Webb, a board member of Salesforce and Yahoo.

TapSense was named one of the 2014 AlwaysOn Global 100 Companies to Watch, and is a member of the Mobile Marketing Association.

About AlwaysOn

AlwaysOn is the leading business media brand networking the Global Silicon Valley. AlwaysOn helped ignite the social media revolution in early 2003 when it launched the AlwaysOn network. In 2004, it became the first media brand to socially network its online readers and event attendees. AlwaysOn’s preeminent executive event series includes the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, OnMedia, OnHollywood, IMPACT Venture Summit Mid-Atlantic, Venture Summit East, OnDemand, Venture Summit Silicon Valley, OnMobile, AlwaysOn Australia, and GoingGreen Silicon Valley. The AlwaysOn network and live event series continue to lead the industry by empowering its readers, event participants, sponsors, and advertisers like no other media brand.

TapSense Announces Version 2.0 of Its Private RTB Exchange

I am excited to announce that TapSense’s Private Mobile RTB Exchange V 2.0 for premium app publishers went live this morning. Our team has been hard at work for the past six months and all the late nights and weekends have paid off. For the first time in mobile, app publishers can now fully control their ad revenues.

Public RTB exchanges have a bad reputation as they are notorious for lowering premium publisher rates as well as leaking data. Unlike public exchanges, the private exchange model allows publishers to better control pricing and ad inventory.

Now with TapSense’s Exchange V 2.0, publishers have more fine-tuned control over their data, ad creatives, and demand management. Some key highlights of the new version include:

  • Control first-party data access by specific buyer. You can control who gets access to over 20 different data fields, right from our easy-to-use dashboard. This helps reduce data leakage, which is a very serious issue in mobile.
  • Tighter control over ad creatives run by buyers. Publishers can see all the ads running on their inventory in real-time. They can also block an individual creative or an advertiser, such as a competitor, instantly from the dashboard.
  • Maximize revenue. You can create complex price floors and tiers to maximize revenue as well as use new high-CPM ad formats such as video and native ads.

We at TapSense believe that publishers create enormous value. Our aim with this update is to give publishers controls and tools to maximize your ad revenues. We are very excited about this update and I hope that you like the new features as well!

If you are a publisher and interested in learning more about our private exchange, please contact us at publishers@tapsense.com

Sincerely,
Ash Kumar
Co-Founder and CEO of TapSense

Ready or Not, Here Comes The Wearable App Ecosystem

heres-our-favorite-apple-iwatch-concept-design-so-far

The popularity of apps is no longer limited to the smartphone. As the wearable smart device market grows, apps are proliferating everywhere. The Pebble smartwatch, an indie Kickstarter project for hobbyists and popular with early adopters, already has 3,000 apps in their store.

Third-party app ecosystems are also emerging for Google Glass. Many of the most popular apps have been ported over to the Glass platform, including Yelp, FourSquare and Facebook. The Samsung Galaxy Watch, which sold over 500,000 units, supports apps through it’s own OS. And recently at Google IO, two new smartwatches were announced by LG and Motorola, which run Android apps.

The sheer popularity of apps is undeniable. Flurry recently reported that mobile web usage on smartphones, which was already small at 20%, actually declined in 2014 to 16%. With the emergence of wearables, it’s going to be apps that link users to the internet, not the browser based world we’re all familiar with on the PC. This has big implications for business, not just media and advertising.

Apps Evolved Differently Than the Web

The web, was built on a very simple system, that made it easy for anyone to make a website. And everyone did, from the Whitehouse all the way down to your corner deli. As the web grew in popularity, it took on an incredibly democratic tone. But utopian visions of internet hyper democracy were quickly crushed under a sea of spam emails, malware, phishing scams, copyright infringement, and a general lack of usability. Because there’s no single governing body that could impose any standards and create consistency across websites.

Having witnessed the wild wild west world of the web, the mobile internet was determined to evolve differently. Mobile operators gated the mobile internet around their own content. Devices like Sidekick, launched with apps built in and limited web browsing support. When the iOS and Android app ecosystems emerged, the platform operators put standards and policies in place to help prevent the chaos that still plagues the web today.

Prepare for the Wearable App Explosion

The popularity of apps created an entirely new and different ecosystem from the web, and end users love it. Why? Apps have a reputation for being easy to use, efficient and more secure, when compared to the web. It’s also important to note that content in the app ecosystem was given a much greater value than it was on the web, platform operators were able to get user’s to pay for music, movies, and games. This made it possible for developers to build pureplay app content companies, the best example being Angry Birds, who built a licensing empire off their successful smartphone game franchise. This never emerged on the web.

Wearable apps, will extend these trends across a wide variety of devices, and the smartphone will remain as the hub. New features, data and access from wearable devices will enable new types of exciting apps to emerge.

Google Glass has shown real promise in the Business to Business arena, with a variety of medical, cooking and security applications being tested. In Dubai police are testing Glass apps for traffic enforcement. On the consumer side, the smartwatch has found a core market with hobbiest and tech enthusiasts, with 1,000s of apps having been developed specifically for them. Most are games and entertainment apps. FitBit, Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up lead the fitness tracking segment and while none of these devices currently support third party apps directly on the device. They do support app integration on the smartphone and those ecosystems are growing fast, with over 50 apps interfacing with those devices.

Big Opportunities and Big Challenges

As the volume of wearables sold increases, big opportunities will emerge for app developers just like they did on the smartphone. The mobile app space saw some amazing success stories like What’sApp and Instagram for example. Challenges do remain; battery life, interface design, and of course wearable app distribution.

I’m confident the opportunity for wearable app developers, in next three to five years, will be as big or bigger than the smartphone. The most interesting opportunities will be the ones where developers take advantage of the unique features and extend the best of the smartphone experience to wearable devices.

TapSense Announces Support for Wearables Including the Pebble Smartwatch

Read the coverage on TechCrunch here.

SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, 2014 — Today, TapSense, the leading independent advertising exchange, announces support for wearables, including the Pebble smartwatch apps. This new feature provides wearable app developers with an entirely new marketing channel, by allowing them to promote their apps directly through the TapSense exchange. You can view a video demo here.

It works by serving an ad to promote a Pebble app. TapSense targets iOS and Android devices that are Pebble smartwatch owners. When a user clicks on the mobile ad for a Pebble app, the ad link will connect directly to the app in the Pebble appstore. Users can then click “Add” to install the advertised Pebble app.

Ash Kumar, CEO and Founder of TapSense, says, “With over 3,000 apps in their store, the Pebble smartwatch demonstrates that the future of the mobile developer ecosystem is with wearables. TapSense has always been committed to providing developers tools to promote and monetize apps. Support for wearables is an important aspect of this and we plan to add support for additional devices, including wearables from third parties like Apple as they are released.”

Jonathan L. the Creator of Music Boss, a popular Pebble application and early beta tester of the TapSense wearable app promotion platform says, “It’s not a trivial task to have your Pebble app adopted by the masses of Pebble users, currently it requires a lot of work through social media. Unless users are combing through the Google Play Store, the Pebble appstore or following specific social streams they may not discover all the great things being created by all the Pebble developers out there. The TapSense platform is bringing an innovative and refreshing take on Pebble app promotion.”

Andrew Abdalla & Mohammed Abushawish, co-founders of Xulu Software and the creators of BBQ Steak Timer, a popular Pebble application to time outdoor cooking say, “In reality, the most difficult obstacle as Pebble developers is not creating the content, but rather showcasing the content. TapSense allows us to depart from the traditional methods of promotion, such as word-of-mouth, and instead embrace a new marketing platform for Pebble applications.”

About TapSense

TapSense is the leading independent mobile advertising exchange, and has been featured in publications including Forbes, Bloomberg, VentureBeat, GigaOM, CMO.com, MediaPost, Entrepreneur and AdExchanger.

TapSense was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco, California. Investors include top Silicon Valley venture firms, Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Maynard Webb, a board member of Salesforce and Yahoo.

TapSense is a member of the Mobile Marketing Association.

TapSense Announces Mediation Support for Video Advertising

Today, TapSense announces support for video mediation on iOS. Using the TapSense Video Mediation solution, Publishers can now tap into video demand from leading video partners to improve their monetization.

Video as an ad format is experiencing strong growth and is increasingly preferred by mobile app publishers due to the high CPMs it offers. On the demand side, several brand advertisers are allocating a larger portion of their budgets to mobile video. Today, about 75% of video ads are delivered through apps, 80% of which are on iOS.
(http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/75-mobile-video-ads-happen-app-157217)

With TapSense Video Mediation, publishers can work with multiple video demand partners at the same time. Mediation allows publishers to dynamically alter their traffic allocation based on their fill rates and eCPMs. Further, publishers automatically get access to brand video demand from the TapSense RTB Marketplace through demand partners, which include agencies, direct advertisers and demand side platforms (DSPs).

TapSense dynamically auto-optimizes the publisher’s inventory allocation between RTB, and non-RTB demand based on eCPM and fill rates to deliver maximum revenue to publishers.

If you are interested in learning more about our video mediation offering, please contact us at publishers@tapsense.com

Why the Private RTB Marketplace is the Future of Publisher Monetization

Private RTB

In spite of its obvious efficiencies, RTB or Real-Time Bidding of ad placements on the PC web continues to be dominated by direct response advertisers buying remnant inventory. While many attempts have been made, premium publishers remain reluctant to put their inventory on public exchanges. They fear a “race to the bottom” in CPMs, as they compete against the sheer volume of impressions thrown off by social media, email and other utility type sites.

In mobile, the RTB ecosystem is evolving differently. New approaches, better technology and smarter implementation methods are emerging that promise to overcome many of the hurdles that RTB still faces on the PC Web. It’s the private marketplace model in particular that’s gaining traction and helping lead the way forward for premium RTB. This set up allows premium publishers to control their inventory and overcome the public RTB exchange pitfalls.

Avoiding the “Race to the Bottom” for Prices Seen on Public Exchanges

On the public exchange, it’s hard for premium publishers to differentiate. On these exchanges, buyers see their inventory as a small portion of very large pool of low quality impressions. There is little information available to help buyers make decisions. Most RTB exchanges only provide a source URL to define the inventory. This favors the mega providers who have literally billions of impressions they want to offload. Because it’s all happening in real-time, in many cases RTB ends up reducing the value of premium inventory. Conversely, RTB should be increasing inventory value by increasing the competition between buyers.

Premium publishers, particularly in mobile, have found that deploying a private exchange can help mitigate the CPM drop they experience on a public exchange. There are four major reasons for this. A private exchange allows for 1) the ability to set CPM floor minimums 2) the creation of an approved list of buyer tiers or whitelists 3) making actionable unique first party data to buyers and 4) the ability to market a private exchange separately from the public exchange.

Making First Party Data Actionable to Trusted Buyers is Key

Making first party data actionable is the core component that significantly increases the value of premium inventory. Most premium publishers have lots of great data about their users. The private exchange allows them to easily to capitalize on that data and get a premium for it. On a public exchange, if a premium publisher makes their data available to buyers, they face a host of issues, such as data scraping. This is where unscrupulous buyers, ad networks and other third parties scrape the public data from the exchange. They then cross reference it with other data and resell it, all without the publisher’s knowledge or control. This hurts the publisher’s brand, as unknown third parties sell targeting that’s of poor quality due to limited data access.

A private exchange easily solves this problem, because buyers can only access a premium publisher’s inventory through their private exchange. Also, the buyer must adhere to the rules and policies that the publisher puts in place. The data, targeting and impressions are all protected inside a walled garden that’s within the publisher’s controls.

Worries About RTB Cannibalizing Direct Sales are Unfounded

Most large media companies and their digital divisions worry that RTB and automation will cannibalize their direct sales, that in turn will reduce CPMs across the board. This “horror story” scenario is just not true. Any high quality private exchange technology provider should have the systems in place to manage a publisher’s direct-sold campaigns. In fact, they can give preference to direct-sold campaigns over all the other buyers on the exchange. This ensures delivery of direct sold campaigns in full. In this scenario, automated buying is used to fill the gap of unsold impressions. Blinded

Private RTB Exchanges Maximize Revenue

With RTB in place, large publishers can actually earn more money by easily monetizing their international traffic. Most publishers are leaving money on the table, and not effectively maximizing international sales. Why? Because publishers don’t have the impression volume in those regions required to sell the inventory directly. The RTB exchange model allows publishers to sell this traffic to demand side platforms that specialize in repackaging and selling of global traffic. These specific inventory pools can be blinded to prevent data scraping issue through international sales.
The same technique, repackaging excess inventory, can be applied in reverse. Most media companies own a number of small niche sites. Offering them on the RTB exchange as one single buying source is an easy way to maximize sales. With a private exchange in place, it’s also possible to apply unique first-party targeting data to the inventory, which vastly improves its value. As the industry evolves, the hurdles to getting RTB right for publishers are significant. Those who make the investment will be well positioned to reap the benefits.

Using Proguard with TapSense Source Attribution Framework for Android

Proguard is a commonly used tool by android app developers to shrink, optimize, and obfuscate their apps. It works by removing unused code and renaming classes, fields, and methods with semantically obscure names.
TapSense has a popular Source Attribution Framework that is used by advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their mobile marketing campaigns across all free and paid channels. Using this framework advertisers can accurately attribute app installs, measure post install activity, determine user Lifetime Value (LTV) and measure Return on Investment (ROI) across all marketing channels. If you are using the TapSense Framework, please add the following to your proguard config:
-keepattributes InnerClasses

-keep class **.R
-keep class **.R$* {
    <fields>;
}
The reason for the above is because the framework loads a config file using reflection and it constructs the file name at runtime.