8 Ways to Find and Activate Data-Driven Insights That Improve Business Results


While the marketing industry has been talking about “big data” almost non-stop for the past five years, many publishers and marketers are still having trouble putting together capable analytics teams and establishing workflows that allow them to get the most out of their data.

As a follow-up to Brian O’Kelley and Catherine Williams’ conversation on the uses (and misuses) of big data, we asked three key members of the AppNexus data science team to give us their best tips for finding and activating data-driven insights that improve business results. Here’s what they had to say:

Build a data science team with a diverse skillset.

“I think an ideal data science team should really be a mix of people with all different kinds of skills. There should be someone who is really sophisticated in terms of coding and engineering knowledge. There should be someone with a statistical background. And there should be someone who understands client needs because, a lot of times, the client’s asks will be very different from what they actually need. Data science teams can get in the weeds, which makes it hard to pull back to see the larger perspective and effectiveness of whatever it is they’re doing. So, having that mix of personalities and backgrounds creates an opportunity to catch each other when that does happen.” — Liz Zoidis, Lead Client Insight Analyst (Publisher Technology Group)

Two qualities that make a good data scientist is being ego-free and auto-didactic. They should be able to go to their peers and give and take knowledge without worry about how they’re going to be judged. If you’re able to learn and ask questions, you’ll do really well.” — Adam Petranovich, Data Scientist, Buy-Side R&D

When investigating your data, start small and know what you’re looking for.

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Not All Was Quiet in Q1: AppNexus’ Q1 Index Report


Certainly by the standards of digital advertising, Q1 has a reputation for being a quiet season for buyers and sellers alike. After bulking up on their credit card debt over the Q4 holiday season, consumers tend to try and trim back on their spending for the next several months. On the whole, advertising campaign budgets tend to follow that rule, too. ‘Tis no longer the season.

But as our new AppNexus Q1 Index  shows, not everything about the first quarter of the business year is dull and quiet. After examining data from over 9.48 trillion global impressions collected during the first three months of 2016, it’s true that we saw a market-wide dip in ad traffic during January and February. But in certain industry verticals, particularly Sports & Events and Sporting Goods, we actually saw days in Q1 where CPMs eclipsed anything we saw in Q4.

It’s not hard to see where these sport-related spending sprees came from, and how that affected many verticals. In the United States, in the days leading up to and immediately following the Super Bowl on February 7th, CPMs skyrocketed for the Food & Drink category (and surrounding Beyoncé’s Super Bowl half-time show, the Music category also saw a 30% rise in CPMs). But that was just the primer for the month after. The real advertising blitz came in the form of the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. Not only did March Madness brackets generate more than $9 billion in revenue in sports betting, the tournament caused CPM rates in Sports & Events and Sporting Goods to increase by a factor of eight on certain days. Sure, Villanova might’ve beaten UNC by just three points – but they outscored Q4 advertising by millions of impressions.

Meanwhile, the Six Nations rugby championship caused impressions in Sports & Events and Sporting Goods to spike in several major European advertising markets. England and France alone saw percentile increases of 19.9 percent and 29.7 percent, respectively. All of this is good news for Q2, once the Summer Olympics hit Rio – and UEFA football fever sweeps across Europe.

But Q1 wasn’t all sports, sports, sports. Other verticals saw their web traffic climb as well, most notably that of Law & Government. As the Democratic and Republican primaries continued through Q1, so did increased spending on political advertising. As the election season heats up, expect Law & Government spend to remain at an increased level all the way into November.

Finally, we noticed a larger trend emerging across the market: namely, the global adoption of header bidding across 77 different countries. From North America to Nigeria to New Zealand, digital publishers are catching on to the fact that they can earn more incremental revenue by hosting header bidding auctions where multiple ad exchanges and networks are permitted to compete simultaneously for publisher inventory.

Main takeaway: Q1 traffic might have been slower than the holidays. But does that mean Q1 was quiet? Let’s put that notion to bed right now.


For more information, download AppNexus’ new Q1 Index Report below.

Download the US Version

Download the EMEA Version

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7 Ways Marketers Can Prevent Users From Pressing “Skip” on Their Video Creatives

Programmatic video advertising is on a streak. In only three short years, eMarketer has estimated that video advertising spend has almost tripled to reach $9.59B in 2016, with over 40% of that spend going towards mobile video ads. As AppNexus sees adoption and experimentation on our own video platform climb, we thought it was a good time to step back and assess what marketers could do to make their video creatives more impactful and less likely to be skipped.

See the presentation below for some advice from our services and technical account managers on how to make sure you get the most out of your video investment:

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Header Bidding: Still Essential, Still Our Commitment to Publishers


Last month, Google announced that its ad server, DoubleClick for Publishers, would allow publishers to access real-time demand from third-party exchange partners. While the announcement raised as many questions as it answered, several news outlets wondered whether “Exchange Bidding in Dynamic Allocation” (EBDA) would herald “The End of Header Bidding,” or whether “Header Bidding is Done For.”

Recently, our Publisher Technology Group (PTG) considered whether AppNexus should participate in EBDA. Based on what we currently know about the program, we asked ourselves two questions:

First, can we be sure that EBDA allows publishers to work directly with their chosen demand partners, and that those partners can bring the full heft of their demand? Second, does EBDA enable us to be fully transparent and honest with publishers?

With the information before us, we ultimately opted not to join the program. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Google in other ways.

Our commitment to helping publishers realize the best market price for their inventory is sacrosanct. As a result, we will double down on header bidding, the best solution for publishers currently working with DFP.

Header bidding enables publishers to work directly with multiple demand partners, to sell inventory in a fair and transparent auction, and to avoid the “AdX” tax. We don’t have to guess whether it works. We know it does, on the strength of multiple case studies [for instance, here, here, and here].

To be sure, header bidding isn’t without its problems. If installed incorrectly, it can lead to latency (though if installed correctly and asynchronously, it can actually reduce latency). But the answer is to fix those problems, rather than accept a world in which publishers cede control of their destinies.

In that spirit, I am pleased to announce that AppNexus is working with Index Exchange to ensure that header bidding integrations between AppNexus’ header API and Header Tag Wrapper, and Index Exchange’s header API and prebid.js, run more smoothly. We’re also reaching out to other market participants to encourage similar improvements to their wrapper solutions. Ultimately, we want to remove as much friction as possible from header bidding.

As I’ve argued in several recent op-eds, publishers and advertisers are fed up with the opacity and supply chain inefficiency that has long been associated with programmatic. We need to make it easier, not harder, for publishers to clear a direct and well-lit path to their demand partners. It’s an imperative of the new, programmable age.

We’re excited to collaborate with our neighbors at Index (headquartered all the way across the street from our New York office!) and look forward to working with other exchanges as we improve the whole system in a way that benefits publishers and ensures a more open and vibrant ecosystem.

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6 Things to Consider When Picking the Right Mobile Technology Partner


“Real-Time Op-Ed” is an ongoing opinion series that is authored by AppNexians. The views in this series do not necessarily reflect the views of AppNexus, but we think they’re pretty interesting and want to share them with our readers.

The cat is out of the bag: mobile ‘in-app’ header bidding is here to stay. While no one in the industry’s quite sure what to call the new technology just yet, at least nobody’s slapped another 3-letter acronym on it (there’s always time).

In all seriousness, it’s not a secret that mobile advertising has been static for some time. The ecosystem consists of a few, tired workhorses yielding more or less the same results for mobile publishers. But over the last few months, there are some new players in town.

Just as header bidding has provided incremental revenue for web publishers and new channels for demand partners to access inventory, the same revenue opportunity now exists for mobile app developers. Mobile header bidding – or whatever TLA you want to stamp on it – is still in its formative days. But the essential point abides: Continue reading

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