The Attribution Revolution Panelists Take on DMA 2013!


For those who missed Magnetic’s Attribution Revolution series, you’ll have another chance to see the Attribution panelists at DMA 2013 in Chicago! Magnetic CEO James Green will be moderating the panel “Attribution: Who Gets Credit for Online Purchases?” during the Data & Analytics track. The panelists include Stefan Schnabl, Product Manager at Google, Paul Pellman, President of Adometry, John Bates, Product Manager, Predictive Marketing at Adobe, and Jeff Greenfield, COO and Co-Founder of C3 Metrics. These industry experts will discuss a variety of concepts relating to the different attribution models applied today. Topics will include viewable ad impressions, how measurement varies from branding to direct-response campaigns, and ways to make attribution actionable. Panelists will speak to many of the difficult questions about media measurement–Which ads are working? Which ads have the most impact? How do I move beyond last click/last view? Which ads or targeting strategy should actually get credit for the sale? You won’t want to miss out on this lively and informative discussion!

The panel will take place on October 14th from 11:15am to 12:15pm. You can join us by registering for DMA 2013 today!



Why Marketers Should Know Bots: A Definition of Bots and Botnets


Why Marketers Should Know Bots

A Definition of Bots and Botnets

By: Advertising Age 
Published: June 18, 2013 

Bots are software that perform automated online tasks, such as web crawling. A botnet is a network or group of computers that run such software. Often bots and botnets can be used for nefarious purposes, such as click fraud, spreading viruses, or enabling fake ad impressions.

James Green, CEO of Search Retargeting Firm Magnetic on Bots:

What’s a botnet? It’s a combination of two words: robot plus network. The “robot” bit is code that resides on your computer to do something, and the “network” bit means that there are lots of them out there (thousands or more) and they are all coordinating to do the same thing.

In ad tech, that usually means making your computer look like you are visiting lots of sites and clicking on lots of ads. In advertising, we worry about botnets such as Chameleon, a bot discovered by, which causes display ad impressions to be served to the botnot rather than to actual human site visitors. This one example of a bot is estimated to have over 120,000 infected computers in the U.S. that have been generating billions of ad impressions per month and have visited over 200 sites.

These sites in turn have put their ad inventory up for sale on ad exchanges. Because the inventory is from a known site, the ad exchange accepts the traffic and then advertisers bid for the right to show an ad. The person with the highest bid wins and delivers an ad that will never be seen by a real person.

Not only do advertisers pay money but receive no results, publishers are negatively affected by bots because they make it look like there is way more advertising available for sale than there really is. Publishers have had a hard enough time without now having to compete with ghosts.

Kicking Third-Party Cookies To The Curb: The Fallout For The Digital Ad Industry

With the latest announcement that Firefox is blocking the use of third-party cookies by default, marketers, ad technology companies and ad agencies have been forced to consider alternative strategies for reaching consumers with targeted advertising.

Safari was the first to move against third-party cookies, but the controversy heightened when other browsers followed suit. Even more troubling is that on mobile – the fastest growing Internet access method — iOS/Safari has over 60% market share.

Cookies are not used for insidious purposes. They are crucial to helping advertisers effectively track performance and targeting. They also benefit users who can dump them and begin anew. However, if cookies go away, it doesn’t mean that the ability to target and measure digital ads will go away as well. Digital advertising is a $40 billion industry in the U.S. alone, and about half of that spend requires using third-party cookies to locate and target relevant consumers. If all third-party cookies are banned, advertisers and the digital industry will simply be in a position to figure out other ways to reach consumers with relevant ad messages.

As traffic shifts more and more to mobile devices, the industry will need to devise various ways to identify each of these devices to anonymously target relevant users—like Apple’s proprietary version of the cookie: The Apple ID for Advertisers. Whatever this technology is, it will end up being adopted on “desktops” and all other devices that access the Internet, but it will be more difficult for the consumer to control.

Companies like Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple are not, in fact, helping the user. With each browser setting different standards and approaches, combined with the growth of tablet and other smartphone usage, users will find themselves moving from a simple life where they knew what was going on and had control  in their hands, to having their control fractured into a myriad of inconsistent choices.

Read the full article from Marketing Land here!

Four Real-Time Questions About Real-Time Bidding

With the rise of the Facebook Exchange, and predictions of a 59% growth in RTB spend by 2016, real-time bidding continues to prove itself an important force in the advertising world. As inventory sources, audience data and creative opportunities expand, here are four most pressing questions facing RTB:

1.    How will RTB continue to grow over time? What are the contributing factors to growth?

In the future, almost all advertising buys will be contracted through exchanges, and ads will be delivered through an exchange platform. RTB provides scale, efficiency, and reliability at a lower cost and with fewer people involved than current methods. Additionally, RTB allows advertisers to control and monitor all the aspects of data across an entire buy. It’s largely due to the wide adoption of site and search retargeting that RTB has experienced and continues to experience such widespread growth.

2.    Are more branding dollars really moving into RTB territory, and why?

Although TV is still a much larger platform for brand advertisers, digital is the largest growing form of brand advertising. Digital dollars are moving to RTB because it provides a place for advertisers to experiment with data, test different strategies, gain audience insights, and see what works best for their campaigns.

3.    What does FBX mean for the future of biddable media?

One important benefit of FBX is the security that it offers advertisers of knowing exactly where their ad will run: on Facebook. In the future, however, when all digital media will be made available via exchanges, FBX will be just another player in the marketplace. FBX is a great example of how retargeting and RTB go hand in hand.

4.    Are private exchanges really beneficial for buyers and sellers?

Yes. The benefit of private exchanges is that both the buyer and seller know who they are working with. This allows the seller to maintain an “exclusive” element to his inventory because not everyone has access to it; in return, a direct relationship allows the buyer to know exactly where his ads are going to run.

Click here to read the full article from MediaPost.

POV: Interview with James Green

Tell us about Magnetic and its inception. What differentiates it from other search retargeting companies?

Billions of searches are happening around the Web each month, creating valuable audience data for brands and marketers alike. Magnetic provides brands with the opportunity to reach consumers who are searching in their product category at multiple stages of the consumer funnel by leveraging intent and interest-based search activity. You can think of it as behavioral targeting on steroids: Instead of targeting people based on where they’ve been, we target them based on what they’re looking for.

Magnetic was the first company to focus 100 percent on search retargeting. Although we offer site retargeting as well, we remain one of the only companies to focus primarily on search retargeting.

Part of Magnetic’s “secret sauce” is our proprietary keyword generation tool. This allows us to automatically identify millions of relevant keywords, thus greatly increasing scale and reach across display media.

Can you give us a quick overview of how search and site retargeting differ? How can they be used in tandem for an increase in results?

Search and site retargeting are entirely different. In fact, it’s a great shame that they share the word retargeting. Site retargeting is a way for you to effectively remarket to your existing customers and/or people who have visited your brand website or online store. Alternatively, search retargeting is the best way to reach people who are interested in your product category and/or brand but may or may not be aware of your particular offering and certainly have not visited your site. Therefore, search retargeting is higher up the “purchase funnel” than site retargeting, yet it still reaches consumers within the consideration phase. Think of it as the difference between maximizing return on existing customers (site retargeting) and acquiring new customers (search retargeting).

We started to offer site retargeting to clients a few years ago because it complements search retargeting, and therefore it made sense for clients to use Magnetic for both their site and search retargeting needs. Using the same company for both makes it simpler to manage who should receive credit for converting a customer — a practice known as attribution.

Why should brands and advertisers invest in search retargeting?

Search retargeting is a way to extend one’s search marketing efforts and expand display campaigns to bring in new customers. In the end, search retargeting will result in a greater ROI than demographic, psychographic or behavioral targeting because you are reaching people who have specifically indicated that they are searching for what you sell.

This year, researchers and vendors have adopted a standard that only counts viewable impressions. Why is this important? What problems do you foresee with these standards for advertisers and publishers?

I believe that the viewable impression movement is the most important initiative in digital advertising today. Tracking viewable impressions breaks down into two halves:

  1. Ad placement: It’s great to be sure that the ad you are buying is above the fold or in the window that a consumer will be viewing. Therefore, standards around this will help brands ensure that they are paying for what they really want. However, this is the less important part of the initiative.
  2. Traffic quality: There are many impressions on ad exchanges (places where you buy ads in real time) that are generated by robots and technology that is developed to seem as though it’s real and performs with a high click-through rate. However, many of these impressions are never seen by a human. This is the second and vastly more important part of the viewability initiative: making sure that every impression is a real impression, seen by a real person, on a clean, well-lit website. This is absolutely crucial for the success of our business, and there are already a variety of tools that have been released by companies such as Integral Ad Science and to help us get there.

The less obvious reason why viewability is so important is that if you have one or two people in a basement producing impressions that seem legit but are priced well below market value and a buyer is unable to determine the difference between these “legitimate” impressions, then the market price that a publisher can sell ads for will be reduced. This will mean that the publisher will have less money to invest in content, and, as a result, ad environments will be less appealing — leading to even less money for publishers. So before you know it, you’ve got a downward spiral of revenue and quality.

What are some tips for advertisers who hope to use retargeting effectively?

First and most importantly, make sure you understand the difference between the various flavors of retargeting. Next, ensure that you have a way to judge the value of different marketing efforts. Each effort should have a different break-even point. For example, you’re going to spend more money to obtain a new customer than to upsell an existing customer. Lastly, don’t follow your gut. Use an attribution model and follow the numbers.

How has the evolution of big data affected how marketers can reach the right person with the right message?

Big data is simply more information, and the amount of data that is available to us is mind-boggling. The best way to figure out what to do with it is to start at the place where you have the largest return, and then only focus on that one place. Ignore data that doesn’t inform the decision that you’re currently working on. Talk to people about how they can find out about your product and how they can convert. Next, look at the data that’s available to you and focus on what you don’t know. If you know what it costs to get someone to your site but you don’t know how or why they convert once they get there, then focus on that until you do. The right message to the right person at the right time depends on who they are, where they are and how you reach them. So, these messages will change even when dealing with the same customer. Big data is the key to understanding the best way to communicate with your customers at every stage of the purchase funnel.

Why should brands/marketers only hire one company to perform retargeting?

When you’re conducting a test, you need to have only one variable. If you have multiple variables, then it’s difficult (and sometimes impossible) to know why you got your results, and that can be VERY frustrating! In the case of site retargeting, every vendor is going to target the same audience (people who have visited your site), and they are likely to have massive overlap on where inventory is purchased from. Thus, if two people are bidding on the same user on the same site, you are going to get confusing (and probably more expensive) results.

However, it is possible to have multiple retargeting campaigns running simultaneously as long as you follow these rules:

  1. Test them alone without other partners — or at least in an environment where they are the only variable — so that you know what effect the vendor is having on your overall campaign.
  2. If you have multiple vendors targeting the same audience, make absolutely certain that your vendors are buying that audience in different locations (e.g. FBX vs. ADX vs. AdNetworks).
  3. It’s fine to run different types of retargeting simultaneously because you are targeting different audiences. Just make sure you are not using multiple vendors to target the same audience.

With so many forms of advertising sending visitors and consumers to a given website, how can marketers understand and track the true value of targeted ads?

Don’t buy anything that you don’t understand. If you are being sold a product that cannot be explained to your full satisfaction, then don’t buy it! Use a sophisticated attribution model to measure what you’ve bought, and determine what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been running a free seminar for our clients called “Attribution Revolution” to help promote better attribution.

As retargeting matures, how will sub-segmenting audiences be used to more effectively reach the right consumers at the right time, and for the right price?

The vast majority of ad dollars still use content as a proxy for audience: Television remains vastly larger than any other form of advertising, and buying audiences on TV is still difficult. In this environment, marketers have a fixed price (GRP or gross rating point) that they are prepared to spend to reach an audience — effectively paying a different price for each buy but the same price for each individual within the buy. 

Believe it or not, a surprising number of people are still buying in real time using fixed bids. But the more sophisticated players compute the fair market value of each member of an audience in real time using variables such as audience characteristics, media location, advertisement type and our old favorites — reach and frequency — to determine what someone is worth. Figuring out what your customer is worth at every stage, and then working with internal and external partners to develop algorithms that work out how to bid on each different ad is the key. 

What trends in marketing/advertising do you find most interesting/exciting?

The evaporation of guesswork and its replacement with cold, hard facts.

One reason you love what you do: It changes human behavior.

Favorite ad: “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”

Must-read book: “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

Connect with James on LinkedIn or follow @JamesANGreen.

Originally published on The Agency Post 4/9/13.

Attribution Revolution Roadshow: Chicago

This past week, search retargeting leader Magnetic brought the Attribution Revolution Roadshow to Chicago. Attendees closed out the day with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a lively panel discussion with some of the greatest minds in digital ad measurement.

The panel, which included industry experts from GoogleAdobeC3 Metrics and Adometry, provided a deep examination of the probing questions that surround media measurement in today’s digital age. Panelists shared insight as to how measurement varies across branding and direct response campaigns, which campaigns work more effectively for whom, and varying strategies of implementation and integration.

Moderating the panel—and bravely battling a cold—was Magnetic CEO James Green. The panelists, Jeremy King, Senior Product Manager for Analytics at Adobe, Paul Pellman, CEO of Adome try, Jeff Greenfield, COO & Co-Founder of C3 Metrics, and Stefan Schnabl, Product Manager at Google, began with an overview of the emerging methods of attribution, and the pros and cons of last-click attribution versus other multi-channel analytics platforms.

According to C3 Metrics and Adobe, a focus solely on the last-click attribution model may lead to inaccurate metrics. However, Google’s Stefan Schnabl argues that because of last-click, marketers know that there’s a huge part of the conversion funnel that hasn’t yet been looked at, which is where most of a company’s branding efforts will become visible.

Jeff Greenfield’s advice for reconciling the two methods?

“We still live in a last-click world, but you don’t need last click in order to make decisions. If you decide to stick with last-click, be smart about it. If you’re downloading raw data and then assigning credit after the fact because you don’t have a real-time platform like what [C3 metrics] or what Adometry offers, at least say: the average person takes 3 minutes to convert. I’m going to throw anyone out who jumped in at the last second to try to get that last-viewer, last-click credit.”

Despite any differing viewpoints, all parties stressed that, because it is difficult to tell how and where conversions actually happen, marketers need to closely examine their data both when developing attribution strategies, and when deciding what and how to integrate.

As James Green reminded the panelists and audience: “Half the challenge is cultural within an organization.”

Check out the video to hear the full debate!

The Darker Side of Viewability

According to Magnetic CEO James Green, there are two sides to the issue of viewability that plagues marketers today. One side is the problem of viewability, which is relatively manageable, and the other is fraudulent activity, which is becoming an increasingly widespread issue.

The most common forums for fraudulent activity are ad exchanges, on the worst of which, up to a third of all ad impressions are not generated by people. Some exchanges are better than others, with ”suspicious traffic” below 5%. It is therefore important for marketers to avail themselves of the various tools and resources out there to research different exchanges.

There are some common tactics that marketers have fallen victim to when purchasing impressions on RTB:

1.    Purposely serving ads into a 1×1 pixel.

2.    Viruses that run on computers and open websites on hidden windows so that a real person appears to be visiting web pages and seeing ads.

3.    Bots that run on websites to mimic people – some bots also click on ads and show up on client sites. Examples can be seen by comparing large network volumes available by some players in RTB and cross-tabulating them with comScore metrics, whose panel’s population is 100% human.

In order to improve the situation then, marketers should focus on attribution, use viewability products, find and reward credible exchanges, and be suspicious of promises from exchanges that seem too good to be true.

Read the full article from MediaPost here!

The Road To Understanding Viewable Ad Impressions

According to a recent comScore study of a dozen major brands, including Allstate, Ford and Kellogg’s, 31 percent of online ads go unseen by consumers.

Recently, I moderated a panel of experts in the field, and they all said they’d seen typical rates of unseen ads coming in at over 50%, and, in the worst cases, up to 80% of ads are going unseen.

How can this be? Perhaps because of where an ad is placed (below the fold, in another window, etc.), page load times, or in the case of a few bad actors, downright fraud. Consequently, many of us in the industry are engaged in an ongoing debate about creating a new “viewable impression metric.”

What Exactly Is A Viewable Ad Impression?

If the entire page was only loaded for one-second before it was closed, can marketers claim the ad on the page was seen? If all of the ads are refreshed on a screen after inactivity for five minutes or more – were any users there to see them? If there are 20 ads on a page that was designed just to lure consumers to it – did visitors actually see an ad on that page?

While it remains clear that a viewable ad impression metric is needed within the industry – exactly what that means is still being debated.

Where Does Data Come Into Play?

Another factor that influences viewability, at least viewability by the right audience, is the accuracy of data — this is because viewability really only comes into play if you are buying ads in real time (RTB) or via aggregators/networks.

If you want to be sure your ad is seen, just buy from a site directly. Although even the biggest and best publishers are occasionally tricked by fraudsters, this is rare, and if you are buying a full-page take-over or other custom placement, according to experts I’ve talked to, it is very likely that your viewability rating will be in excess of 90%.

This approach will actually not work for most marketers because their budgets are not big enough to buy media in that way (it’s expensive to buy large custom units from big publishers), or because like so many people, the marketer is buying the ad placement because s/he has data on the person viewing the page – demographic, customer data, psychographic data or search history.

Some of this data is well known and verifiable – for example, if you are re-targeting people who have visited your site — but if you are buying third-party data, there’s lots of information around to suggest that much of it is inaccurate.

If so, how are you going to verify that you really reached the segment you were targeting? Put another way, if your ad was seen by someone outside your targeted segment, do you want to count it is seen or “viewed”?  So, just as we move forward with standards in viewability, we’re going to have to start thinking hard about standards for data, as well.

Will Viewability Affect The Value Of Display Ads?

The true evil of unseen ads is that they flood the market with inventory, thus lowering prices for publishers. Lower publisher prices means less investment in content, which inevitably means worse ad placement and thus, worse ad performance, which starts a downward spiral of lower quality and pricing for everyone.

Of course, it’s terrible that an advertiser pays for an ad that is never seen, but the effect on pricing in the ecosystem is potentially much worse and more dramatic.

Most People See Most Ads, Isn’t That Good Enough?

I’ve heard some digerati disparage the entire viewability debate by suggesting that we are being held to too high a standard. After all, we all know that not all 30-second spots are viewed on TV, and yet, that industry still dwarfs the digital world.

This is a spurious argument. Just because something is broken somewhere else doesn’t mean it should be broken in the digital world. We have the ability to know exactly who has seen what ad and where, and while an error rate of 5-10% is probably acceptable, anything much beyond that is not.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still striving to be the best I can be regardless of what everyone else is doing.


SEMPO LA Event: The Power of Retargeting

Join Magnetic CEO James Green and other industry experts at the SEMPO LA Event: The Power of Retargeting for a lively panel discussion about the continuously increasing importance of retargeting for marketers today! Attendees will network with the top search marketers and learn how brands are using retargeting to amplify search marketing efforts.

A panel of industry experts will cover:
•    What’s impactful, scalable and relevant in retargeting
•    Best practices and techniques
•    What’s next in the world of retargeting

•   James Green – CEO, Magnetic
•   Dave Roth – VP, Performance and  Social Marketing,
•   Christina Park – Sr. Marketing Director, Triggit
•   Alexa Barron – Product Solutions Specialist, Google
•   Jessie Mamey – Media Director, WebMetro

Members – Free
Non-Members – $15

Event Schedule
6:00 Wine and Appetizers Reception
6:30 Program Begins
8:30 Event Concludes

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
6:00 PM

340 Main Street
Venice, California 90291
United States

Contact Lydia Chen Shah ( for more details!

Register for the event here!