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NextMark Now Enables Private Deals for Direct Ad Buys

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Top-Secret

NextMark today unveiled new features in its Digital Media Planner tool that enable media planners to record and utilize private advertising deals when creating their media plans.

Keeping track of special advertising deals is a challenge for advertising agencies and for their media planning teams. In the past, media planners had to rely on their own memory and files to recall the special deals they’ve made with publishers. And it was difficult to know if others at your agency had already established a deal with a given publisher. With these issues combined with time pressure and the high turnover in those positions, special deals deals are often overlooked and negotiating leverage is lost. Ultimately, advertisers’ working media dollars are wasted every time a deal is missed.

NextMark Planner solves this problem by enabling you to enter your private deals directly onto the publisher’s data card adjacent to their standard placements and prices. With Planner, you can now set your own prices and create your own custom placements. You can see if others at your agency already have a special deal in place. Your special deals are stored securely and only available to authorized planners at your agency.

These special deals come in handy when you’re creating your media plans. Planner automatically displays all your agency’s custom placements and automatically defaults to your special rates. You’ll never again be embarrassed by missing out on a deal.

Along with the previously released private marketplace features, these new features give you a powerful tool to create and maintain your own directory of preferred vendors, contacts, and deals.

You can request your free trial of Planner here: http://www.nextmark.com/planner.

The Unexploited Middle

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
YieldCliff

Programmatic Direct technology will make it easy for the demand side to exploit this rich pocket of quality inventory.

I recently sat through some great presentations on “programmatic direct” media buying at the recent Tech for Direct event in New York. With almost 70% of digital display dollars flowing through the negotiated (RFP) market, everyone wants to be in the game. One of the presenters, John Ramey of iSocket talked about what has happened to the advertising yield curve for digital display. This curve starts at the upper left corner with premium inventory capturing the highest CPMs, and is supposed to flow gently downward on the x-axis, towards the lowest value of inventory, ending on the lower right corner. A classic marketplace yield curve.  In this world, ESPN can charge $20 CPMs for their baseball section, sites like Deadspin in the mid-tail can charge $7, and the networks and exchanges aggregating hundreds of sports blogs in the long tail can charge $1. Nice and fair, and rational.

This is not what has happened, though.

As Ramey correctly points out, we have a yield cliff now. This is world in which there are two types of inventory: The super-premium, which is hand sold directly for double-digit CPMs; and the remnant, which is sold via RTB on exchanges or surviving ad networks, often for pennies. In this world of the Haves and Have-Nots, there is no middle class of inventory—even though one could argue that $7 inventory on Deadspin might actually outperform its upscale cousin, ESPN. This inventory disparity we have created in the digital advertising industry has nothing to do with supply and demand, but everything to do with the process by which we transact.

Premium mid-tail buying is a great idea. Back in 2009, marketplace platforms like TRAFFIQ were bringing this innovation to the space, and enabling marketers to cherry pick and aggregate premium quality sites that could offer friendly CPMs and URL-level transparency. It’s not a new concept. In fact, I think premium mid tail buying is the canary in the coalmine for programmatic direct; when today’s technology can make it easy to put together a large array of guaranteed buys, and enable fast and easy optimization, then we will have succeeded. Here what was missing in 2009, and what we need to succeed today:

  • A Centralized Directory:  You can’t buy stuff without knowing what’s available and how much it costs. Other media channels like direct mail have published prices for mailing lists, right down to audience targeting. You want to reach people who have bought something from the Cabela’s catalog in the last six months, and restrict the mailing to men only? No problem. You can find out what it costs, and who sells it. The digital display market needs to be organized in a directory, down to the placement level. You shouldn’t have to wait for an e-mail back from an RFP to find out what known inventory costs. That work is being done now, but has a lot more work to go through before it is comprehensive.
  • An Extensible Platform: Today’s API-driven technology makes it easy to enable buying directly into publishers’ inventory. A link into DFP means buyers can discover availability and start serving ads with a few button clicks. The problem is that agencies want a Single System to Rule Them All. So far, agencies have been stuck with installed, legacy systems that have more to do with billing and reconciliation than media planning and buying. Agencies want new, web-based ways to discover and buy great inventory, but they also want a system that plugs into their existing tools. They are not going to log into another buying system if they don’t have to. A system that can enable premium mid-tail buying at scale either has to integrate directly into existing media management systems—or replace them. Right now, there are a lot of tech companies at work retrofitting old technology or creating new technology that promises to make this a 2014 reality. It’s a horse race, and agencies are starting to place their bets. The winners are the one with the most extensible platforms that are good at integration, and they will be richly rewarded. The rest will fail, or become a point solution in someone else’s platform.
  • The Right Model: This is may be the most important factor in determining programmatic direct success. If you are charging anywhere north of 10% (and some would argue a LOT less than that) to help media buyers aggregate inventory, then you are not a “programmatic direct” technology company. You are an ad network, or media rep firm. The reason for industry consolidation is because disintermediation through technology has its own yield curve: The disruption that occurs always benefits the middle layer first, but markets always rationalize later. Mike Leo, former Operative CEO, told me about how another industry solved a similar problem that was occurring in the media business, where ad agencies were starting to rebel against specialized media buyers who in the middle of the transaction, with opaque pricing methodologies. The year was 1968, and agencies teamed up and decided that a standard rate of 15% was all they were willing to pay for television buying services (and then they eventually bought all of the media buying companies, but that’s another story). Anyway, markets always rationalize themselves, and right now even 15% feels like a big vigorish for agencies with ever-shrinking margins on their media practice.
  • Standards: It’s 2013, and we are still faxing IOs. This is largely because there are no accepted standards—and no protocol—for electronic orders. This is actually not a hard problem to solve, but getting adoption from buyers and sellers is what’s needed. Right now, a few companies are working with groups like the IAB to get real traction with standards, and we need that to succeed to make programmatic direct buying a scalable reality. Electronic orders suck a lot of the viscosity out of the deal pipeline, and start to let the machines do the grunt work of order processing, rather than a $50,000 junior media planner.

The good news is that there has been a tremendous amount of progress in 2013 on all of these initiatives. The promise of true programmatic direct buying is closer than ever, and there is enough real development behind the hype to make these dreams of efficient media buying a reality in the near future. In that future, it just may be possible for a buyer to use demand-side technology to aggregate the “fat middle” of premium mid tail publishers, and start to reward the middle class of inventory owners who are currently getting paid beer prices for champagne content.

NextMark Now Enables Private Marketplaces for Direct Ad Buys

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

private-marketplace

The latest release (version 2.2) of NextMark’s Digital Media Planner enables you to create your own private marketplaces of digital advertising programs. With tens of thousands of choices available, it’s a living nightmare to navigate to your ideal media plan. With NextMark’s Planner, you and your colleagues can now “endorse” preferred media programs and make them part of your private marketplace. Once endorsed, those programs get special priority in media plan formulation.

NextMark’s private marketplace is an antidote for the infamous clutter of the Display Lumascape. Now, media planning teams at advertising agencies can easily create and share a preferred vendor list.Instead of sifting through thousands of unqualified options, only those that are approved by your agency rise to the top of the heap.

For publishers, earning an agency endorsement gives you a huge advantage in winning the next media plan. Your work in building the relationship will be recognized in a concrete endorsement. And your endorsement will pay off every day by earning top placement in searches and recommendations.

NextMark is the first media planning tool to enable the creation of private marketplaces. It was created in response to frustrations expressed by both media planners and ad sales teams. This new feature is available immediately and free trials are available at www.NextMark.com/planner.

The Happiness Gap

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Today, I presented “The Happiness Gap” at Upstream Group’s Seller Forum. What a great way to spend the day! I highly recommend the Seller Forum for anyone in a senior position in digital ad sales. Doug Weaver is a fountain of knowledge. But this is no “sage on the stage” event. It’s a true forum where much of the value comes from talking with other attendees. Everyone there was top notch and willing to share both successes and failures.  During the day, I was able to validate ideas and came away with at least 5 new ideas. Best of all: I met a bunch of smart, new friends!

Here’s the quick summary of The Happiness Gap for digital publishers:

(1) More than half of your employees plan to leave in the next two years

(2) They are leaving because they are unhappy (no surprise, right?)

(3) The best way to retain them / make them happy is to provide training and a career path

For more, see the full presentation above. Let me know if you want to learn more.

 

Tech for Direct: The Renaissance of Premium – NYC June 5th

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Tech for Direct: The Renaissance of Premium

Real-time bidding changed everything about how remnant inventory is bought and sold, and was responsible for dramatic efficiency gains for both advertisers and publishers. But we haven’t had the same level of a technological shift for the biggest piece of the pie for premium publishers: direct sales. There’s nothing efficient or advanced about sending spreadsheets back and forth, but until recently there wasn’t another option. With the rise of programmatic direct there’s finally technology that’s making direct sales sexy again, but is the industry ready for it?

Find out next Wednesday, June 5th in New York City at an event NextMark is co-hosting with Maxifier and iSocket called “Tech for Direct: The Renaissance of Premium.”  For more information and to request you invitation, go to the event website: http://techfordirect.com/

“Air Traffic Control” for Media RFP Proposal Management

Friday, May 10th, 2013

NextMark Planner RFP Manager Visualization

Last night, NextMark’s Digital Media Planning system was upgraded to give you a new tool for automatically keeping track of your Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and the proposals that come in response.

RFP management in digital advertising is well-known to be a frustrating mess. Despite recently celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the banner ad, sending RFP requests and handling proposal responses is still a highly manual effort involving emails, Excel spreadsheets, shared file folders, phone calls, sticky notes, and plenty of manual labor. Despite its many failings and costing agencies more than $3,000 per campaign in labor, nobody has yet developed a widely adopted alternative to this time consuming and expensive process.

Fresh on the heels of version 2.0, NextMark Planner v2.1, released May 9, 2013, brings much needed automation to RFP management:

  • Send RFPs from your media plan – with contacts pre-filled for you (no more tracking down contact info)!
  • Automatically keeps track of who has viewed your RFP and who has responded with a proposal
  • Makes it easy to send reminders to those that have not responded
  • Automatically organizes all your proposals and documents (screen shots, media kits, etc.) all in one place
  • One-click access to proposal details
  • One-click accept or reject of proposals
  • Automatically tracks the status of every proposal – pending, accepted, or rejected
  • All this and more in a clean and super easy-to-use interface

This new set of features is now available to you if you’re using NextMark Planner. If you don’t yet have access, you can request it here: www.NextMark.com/planner.

RFP and proposal management just got easier with Planner 2.0

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Proposal-Manager-Screen-Shot

NextMark today announced an upgrade to its digital media planning software, which adds key functionality for handling RFPs and media proposals.

The Request for Proposal or RFP process in digital advertising is well-known to be a frustrating mess. Despite recently celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the banner ad, sending RFP requests and handling proposal responses is still a highly manual effort involving emails, Excel spreadsheets, shared file folders, phone calls, sticky notes, and plenty of manual labor. Despite its many failings and costing agencies more than $3,000 per campaign in labor, nobody has yet developed a widely adopted alternative to this time consuming and expensive process.

NextMark streamlines the RFP process with the latest upgrade to its Digital Media Planner system. Version 2.0 of Planner extends the platform’s functionality by enabling media planners to directly interact with publishers to request and manage media proposals. Now, instead of using spreadsheets and e-mail to negotiate pricing and placements, Planner’s Proposal Manager module enables you to:

  • Quickly and easily request proposals from any publisher
  • Automatically track the status of all RFP requests
  • Source additional proposals through Media Magnet
  • Receive proposals online with all documents automatically organized
  • Collaboratively review and negotiate proposals online
  • Accept proposals directly into your media plan with a button click

Unlike prior efforts to solve the RFP mess, NextMark has invested heavily into the design of the user experience for both buyers and sellers. Unlike other solutions, NextMark employs two modes of sourcing proposals: The typical RFP method and a new patent-pending Request for Consideration (or RFC) method. That latter enables qualified publishers to request consideration for plan-appropriate media, giving planners a wider array of choices when they construct their media plans.

“NextMark has been listening to its customers, and is building the right tools for digital media planning,” said Sean Cotton of True Media, an early Planner pilot user. “Adding RFP functionality to the planning tool really extends the functionality, and puts more of the workflow in a centralized place. Agencies have to start leveraging web-based tools to get smarter and more efficient about the way they plan and buy media—and get their planners to focus on more high value tasks that drive their clients’ success.”

Since its initial release only four months ago, Planner has already been upgraded four times based on new ideas from customers.

“This upgrade is another giant leap forward in delivering on the promise of programmatic direct buying,” remarked Joe Pych, NextMark’s President. “We’ve been getting fantastic advice from our development partner agencies, listening closely, and working diligently to realize this amazing vision. As a company, connecting media buyers and sellers is what we have been doing for 13 years, and I am glad we are starting to bring that same efficiency to digital.”

Planner 2.0 is available today. Free training is available to all registered users. To request more information or access to Planner, go to http://www.NextMark.com/planner.

NextMark nominated for ASPY award for “Best New Technology”

Monday, April 15th, 2013

nextmark aspy award nomination

I’m extremely happy to announce that NextMark has just been nominated for an ASPY award in the category of “Best New Technology” for our new Digital Media Planner tool. This award is given to “The company that has created the most impactful new technology platform specific to media, ad operations, social media, or mobile marketing. Nominees must include products specific to the advancement of media and advertising.”

It’s a tremendous honor to get this nomination because it comes from people who really know the business: highly respected industry veterans in the iMedia community who’ve seen just about everything and are experts in running digital advertising agencies. For them to select NextMark out of the hundreds of new technologies recently developed is a huge validation of the products we’ve been building to streamline digital media planning workflow. It’s also a huge validation of the fantastic advice we’ve been getting from our development partner agencies!

The winner will be announced on May 7th at the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, Texas.

RFP Template for Digital Advertising

Friday, April 5th, 2013

request-for-proposal

After speaking with dozens of digital media publishers and planners, I’ve come realize that two things need to happen in order for more digital media proposals to be accepted:

1) The digital media planner (buyer) must communicate the campaign objectives, acceptance criteria, and detailed requirements in a manner that leaves no room for error or misunderstanding.

2) The digital media publisher (seller) must respond with a relevant proposal that includes all of the requested information. Take a look at the top 5 things you’ll find in digital media proposals that win.

The good news is that digital media spending continues to increase, and you can expect to see an even greater lift in demand for premium guaranteed inventory when interactive media buyers and sellers are effectively matched, consistently concise, and clearly understood.

Based on input from digital media buyers who have expressed their needs, I developed an EASY-RFP template using the desktop application most frequently used in 2012 by digital media planners; that’s right — Microsoft Excel!

I would like to thank Ali Hockenberry (IMM), Ed Frack (Klunk & Millan Advertising), Joel Nierman (Critical Mass), and Michelle Burnham (Burnham Marketing) for their insights and RFP template suggestions.

Click here to download your free RFP template for digital advertising. Feel free to use, modify, or incorporate this for your own RFP template. Your feedback is welcome!

You can use the Easy RFP template in conjunction with NextMark’s Digital Media Planner application. Planner eliminates the hassles associated with sending RFPs, managing proposals, and accepting proposals into your media plan.  Best part? It’s free. Request your access to NextMark Planner here.

Budgeting just got easier with NextMark Planner v1.2

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

NextMark Planner Budget Overview

Tracking to client budgets can sometimes be a challenge in digital media planning. With the latest release of NextMark’s Digital Media Planner (version 1.2 released Friday, 1/25/13), you now have a handy visualization on your homepage that makes it easier for you to stay on budget on all your campaigns.

Want to get NextMark Planner? Request your free access here.