The Monday Stack: Flexing Digital Muscles

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The Monday Stack: Flexing Digital Muscles
The Monday Stack: Flexing Digital Muscles

I guess the lengthy downtime around Independence Day is over, because a slew of news hit the desk this week, including — from a number of source — commentary about a sharp decline in the programmatic market. 

The original source seems to be MediaRadar, the advertising intelligence platform: Its 2016 Consumer Advertising Report, released last week, revealed a 12% drop between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017 in programmatic advertisers. In a press release, Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder, said: “After years of growth, the decline in programmatic buyers is likely attributed to concerns around brand safety – especially given recent problems for companies like YouTube.”

If true, that may portend the beginning of a longer-term decline, because a water-tight fix for brand safety hasn’t yet been found. Look out tomorrow for my podcast discussion with Alex Cheeseman of Storyful on this and other topics.

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Another subject we’ve been discussing in podcasts recently – for example, with Corey Silverman of BEN – is branded content. Here’s a nice example of combining branded content with a social cause from The Weather Channel, which partnered with Ram Trucks to tell the story of Elk City, an Oklahoma community hit by a severe tornado back in May. 

Ram Trucks created Ram Nation to provide a forum for dealers and owners to come together in support of community relief. The Weather Channel’s editorial team told the story, using 360 video as well as text and images: The Spirit of Elk City.

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Speaking of the environment, one thing which is going to impact it in the coming years, socially and economically, is the IoT — especially combined with the powerful AI engines which will be necessary to make IoT data truly actionable. A number of big tech players are maneuvering for position in the IoT space: for example SAP, which last week announced a series of new AI/IoT products around its Leonardo portfolio. 

SAP Leonardo (well, Einstein was taken) is a “digital innovation system, integrates breakthrough technologies and runs them seamlessly in the cloud.” Among the new announcements, SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge, a configurable role-based digital command center giving operations managers unprecedented visibility and ability to act in real time; and SAP Global Track & Trace, a cloud-based offering for unified, end-to-end tracking, monitoring and reporting of objects and business processes.

Think this means nothing for marketing? Sure, the immediate relevance of these solutions is to the supply chain, but when it comes to a unified view of the consumer, the IoT will be the glue which joins online and offline together. Watch this space.

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Announcing our best places to work in marketing tech this week, we awarded the laurel for start-up sized companies (it’s actually not a start-up) to digital marketing and ad fraud protection firm eZanga. And by coincidence, we received some eZanga news.

eZanga is now partnering with IBM to thwart bot-based and other types of ad fraud. Its new solution, Anura, which sits on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform, optimizes traffic sources by sorting the humans from the bots. 

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How many ways to does digital transformation matter — in marketing, of course, but also across the business? One non-trivial way is shareholder value, and global agency Isobar set out to measure the connection. Its Digital Strength Index measures the digital performance of 1,000 top U.S. public companies.

Using metrics appropriate to digital channels, the Index measures the volume of a brand’s digital interactions with customers, and links it to shareholder value. Isobar warns: “The long-term impact of being a digital laggard is devastating, with a 12% loss in shareholder value over a three-year period, a decline that increases with time.”

Unsurprisingly, and perhaps reassuringly, the companies performing best across digital strength categories tended to be tech companies like Alibaba, Salesforce, Apple, and Amazon, with Facebook performing best overall. Among the non-tech companies with serious digital muscles? Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and a hoard of the top banks.

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No surprise, then, that there are opportunities out there for digital marketers. A new report from interactive content marketing platform Ceros, and analytics vendor Parse.ly talks about the skills needed to remain in demand (based on LinkedIn data and interviews). 

Two trends in expectations from employers: digital specialists should have a presence as well as competence when it comes to social media and other digital channels; and they should have a facility with data: “When searching for the skill ‘data’ on LinkedIn, the term turned up over 527,000 results, across industries.”

Monday Stack logo by Hilary Allison

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