Shop Talk is a blog series exploring advertising industry news and trends. They are casual yet informative, diving into the latest relevant topics for fellow industry professionals.
A conversation with Arm Candy team leads, Alysia Ehle and David Mahaffey, about data analysis, reporting and ad tech.
Note that the following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
DM: What is the difference between an insight and a regular data point?
AE: A data point is descriptive. It’s more of a fact. Insights are actionable and explain why we’re observing data points and what they mean for a client’s business. They explain why a data point exists, and how it came to be. It’s the most important part.
DM: What makes a bad dashboard?
AE: Well the chart guru in me says that a dashboard full of tables is bad, since I *literally* dream about charts and pretty visuals. But the real answer is that a good dashboard has a concise summary that highlights the KPIs a client wants to see. The main focus should always be on the agreed-upon KPI. Then, get as descriptive as the client team likes to see.
DM: What is the best dashboard you’ve ever seen?
AE: I mean. Cyris. Hands down. I can’t wait until it’s ready for everyone to see!
DM: Care to enlighten everyone what Cyris is?
AE: It’s Arm Candy’s proprietary media intelligence technology that powers our planning methodology that collects all of Arm Candy’s first-party campaign data, which informs all our media strategies. And it’s made from my dreams.
DM: How’s that different from any other dashboard?
AE: It has a focus on actual media and business outcomes, not audiences and segmentation. The focus for media strategies has the desired business goal at the heart of any decision, because that is what matters most.
DM: Wait a minute, it’s not JUST a dashboard?
AE: It’s a dashboard and an algorithm. Within Cyris, our planners have the ability to explore all historical campaign data to observe historical trends.
DM: I feel like I have to interject here as the tech guy who cringes anytime anybody says “‘algorithm”. What makes this any different than any other tech vendor selling an algorithm ?
AE: Most other vendor platforms, when it comes to planning, focus on inventory availability for a specific audience. But really clients care about selling products, generating leads, and the like. It doesn’t necessarily matter who buys their product if the product actually gets sold. That’s why understanding campaign parameters and honing in on what the media is meant to do is the focus of the Cyris algorithm. It takes into account business goals, seasonality, industry trends and other parameters to come up with the best media strategy to achieve the goal.
DM: You sound pretty fired up about this.
AE: I’m full of fire. Honestly… nothing I have ever worked on has excited me more. Not even getting my PhD.
AE: Let’s talk more about ad tech.
AE: I read an article about Yahoo partnering with Lowe’s. What’s up with that?
DM: It’s a new ad network. Since I typed this – three other companies launched similar ad networks. How does a chain survive dwindling retail numbers, heading into a recession? Easy. Offer up ad space! Some folks are years ahead of the game, like Wal-Mart, others, like Dollar General, are brand new, and hoping to prove out their ad network.
AE: So that means, Lowe’s is making money from advertisers on Yahoo’s DSP?
DM: Correct. They did it the smart way: leverage your data and partner with an existing DSP rather than trying to build the tech from scratch.
AE: Why was that a smart business decision?
DM: Building their own solution would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a bunch of expertise and a massive headcount. That’s tough. Better to partner with somebody, like Yahoo, who has been doing this for decades!
AE: Here’s another one…Bloomberg is exiting the open market. What do you think is the driver for some brands to monetize their site, and others to pull out altogether?
DM: Well—other websites don’t have the privilege of being owned by a guy who can spend a billion dollars on a vanity presidential run!!
DM: Even Bezos’s Washington Post runs ads, and honestly they are one of the best publishers out there.
AE: WaPo is on the open exchange though, right?
DM: They are, which is why I think the Bloomberg announcement feels like a PR move rather than any shift in the marketplace. What reasonable company turns down millions of programmatic impressions and revenue? The interesting move for publishers is to group their data, and sell it across ad networks.
AE: According to AdWeek, the open exchange was only 5% of the revenue for Bloomberg, though I can imagine that is still a hefty amount of dollars. So, you’re right… turning down millions.
DM: For them, the better business decision is to cut down on the amount of SSPs that can run their inventory. ESPN.com, as an example, should have tighter control of its inventory. If a brand reduces the amount of ways advertisers can buy ad space, they are only increasing value to brands and advertisers.
AE: A prediction! Maybe ESPN will roll out next…
DM: And enter more walled gardens.
AE: Break-ups with the ad tech middle man is to come?
DM: We can only hope!