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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ad Server features which helps Media Planners

I am writing this article essentially, for all online media planners.I would discuss, the most commonly available ad server features which, would help all the media planners out there, to do an efficient media plan and productive campaign execution.I would highly recommend, all the planners to gain some basic ad server feature knowledge from the publisher ad serving person/Traffickers.

Frequency capping:It is a feature, which allows one, to set a limit to the number of times an advert shown to a given user at a given interval.

Example:A Frequency cap of 1 in 1 hour.For this setting, the Ad server would throw an advert to an unique user only once in one hour.
Ad Priority:Every ad server would allow, to set priority to an ad delivery.If you want, your campaign to deliver fast, you can check with Ad serving person to set higher priority to deliver fast.Similarly, you can reduce priority for slower delivery.

Even delivery:This option would ensure that, through out the campaign period the impression burn rate is consistent.No surge and spike in impression burn.You can check, for the availability of this feature.

Daily capping:This feature allows to set a daily impression limit for a campaign.Once this limit is met, the campaign would not run for the rest of the day.

Category Set:By this feature, we can restrict the display of similar products of other advertisers appearing on the same time on the same page.Media planners can check with an ad serving person for this feature so as to ensure other advertiser's similar product does not get displayed when your advert is shown.

Companion positions:Sometimes if you have two campaigns of same advertiser on two different ad slots on a same page, the problem is both the advert might appear at the same time.Is not the inventory waste if you do a performance based campaign?In order to avoid this you can set the Ad server accordingly.This would stop the same advertiser's advert appears on the same time on the same page.Thereby, saving loads of inventory.

Targeting options:There are wide range of targeting options available.You can target based on area code, Zip code, Postal code, telephone code, city, country, state, operating system, browser, User behavior, Age, Gender, Internet Bandwidth, Time and Day,.. etc.So, use it.

Creative delivery:Many ad servers would have various options to deliver a creative based on its"Weightage, Clicks and Impressions". So, check with your ad trafficker if you want to manually increase weightage of your creative or setup can be made on the Ad server to optimize the creative based its upon impressions and clicks.

As jotted few features there would be lots many more which can help significantly help you .So, remember to spend some time to prepare a detail Ad server feature list and their use of every publisher you work with.Because, this would help you not only to Media plan but also to run efficient campaigns.

Tips for Testing Campaigns

I was pondering for a while on the topic to post.At last managed to get a topic for today.The post would focus on few ideas to test new ad and creative type on live environment.When you traffickers receive any new creative/ad format which you wanted to know how it would look on the live publisher, here are the ways you can carry out this test
  • Live testing of campaigns MUST be executed in short time.Once the test ad is live, test what you needed, and turn it off instead running it for days(which is a huge mess)
  • Always check for the preview and click through on the ad server before going to make live
  • If you wanted to do a quick test, book huge inventory, set highest priority, and scheduled it for one day(simply traffic as exclusive/roadblock campaigns).So this test ad becomes live as soon as the Ad server pushes.Note very very importantly this type of test should be finished in short time, say 10 ~15 min after the ad server pushes.Else, it would results in unnecessary impressions delivery and also would compete with other premium advertisements running.So be utmost careful while executing this
  • Another good practice is to target.By this you actually reduce the competition with actual live ads scheduled.Pick the less traffic page group of the publisher to target.Usually the publisher would have less ads scheduled, so the possibility of competing is less
  • You can also geo-target .Idea is , you target the test ad to to your local(country/state/city)this way you narrow down and keep yourself out of competing with scheduled ads.Example if you are in india further drill down to city level say " chennai/bangalore/mumbai" which is your target city
Testing campaign on live environment is a good practice, but do abide your limits and its impact.Always carry out within shorter time and immediately turn off once testing is done.More the testing time, more the inventory loss and higher the cost we would be liable to ad server vendors.

Ad Operations/Online Advertsing

1.       What are the various modes in online advertising?
Advertising using internet technology (WWW)
Display advertising –Static, RICHMEDIA & Mobile/PDA
Email advertising refers to advertising displayed in an email environment. It includes: Display, text, opt-in Search/Keyword marketing
2.       What is Display Advertising?
Display advertising refers to web advertising displaying the message using graphical information beyond text.  Includes image, rich media, floating, transitional, etc.
3.       Various creative formats?
Static Image – Gif, Jpeg
Rich – Flash – swf
RichMedia – Floating, Expandable, transitional, video, Motif

4.       What is an online campaign? Types of campaigns?
Online campaign is program
a.       Branding (awareness and message reinforcement)
b.      Direct response (ROI/acquisition-focused)

5.       Explain Frequency capping?

6.       What are the various types are targeting in online adverting?
Content – Various sections on the website pages
Geographical – Country, State, city, pin code, zip code etc
Time and Date
Computer System 
Internet Related
7.       What is RFI>RFP>IO (request for info/proposal, insertion order)? Explain

8.       Define Impression and click ?
Impression: one exposure to one user of a display or text ad
Click: One mouse click on the ad displayed.
9.       Types of cost structure and explain
CPM (cost per thousand impressions)
CPC/CPA (cost per click of acquisition/conversion)
Flat rate (special sponsorships such as fixed placements)
10.   Sony has booked an ad slot of 728x90 @ 4 CPM and 300x250 @ 2CPC on Yahoo. If in 1 month yahoo records 400,000 impressions on 728x90 and 2000 clicks, then what is the total cost? Who should pay?
Cost 728x90 = 400000x4/1000 = 1600
Cost 300x250 = 2000x2 = 4000
Total cost = 5600
11.   Explain the following terminologies used in online advertising industry
a)      BUYERS - Buyers are companies that buy ad space to advertise on it. Direct advertisers, Agencies and small business.
b)      Agency - Agencies are companies that handle the advertising process on behalf of the advertiser.
c)       Sellers - Sellers are companies that Sell ad space to advertise on it. Portals, Ad Networks, Content sites and Social networks
d)      Publisher - Web-publishers will monetize their web content via advertisements by creating ad spaces.
e)      Ad Network - An ad network acts as an agency for the publisher. Ad networks do not own the content, and they are responsible only for selling ad inventory on behalf of the publishers.
f)       Remnant - Selling ad space that a publisher cannot sell. They try to buy ad space at low prices and sell it at a higher price by packaging it through targeting capabilities and reach
g)      AD Exchange - Virtual marketplaces bring together online advertising buyers and sellers. Mainly focused on: remnant (unsold) inventory and inventory from publishers with no sales structure (long tail)
h)      Media Planning: Managing the process of researching media and planning the campaign.
i)        Media Buying: Managing the process of buying the media and price negotiation. Usually buyers use an RFP process to request proposals from the publishers that satisfy the goal of the buyer.
12.   Explain the complete steps involved in Buyer/Advertise side online ad serving process
Media Planning >Buying ad space on Publisher>Creative Generation > Trafficking >Reporting>Optimization >Invoicing
Media Planning: Managing the process of researching media and planning the campaign.
Media Buying: Managing the process of buying the media and price negotiation. Usually buyers use an RFP process to request proposals from the publishers that satisfy the goal of the buyer.
Creative Management: Managing the design process from the storyboards to the actual creative. Most of the time the design process is outsourced to creative agencies or freelancers.
Centralized Tracking: The buyer needs to have a centralized view of campaign data to see how the campaign is performing across the media they bought. One key requirement online (especially for direct marketers) is the ability to track the leads/sales and what activities led to it.
Media/Creative Optimization: The buyer needs to optimize the creatives to the right audience and make sure they stay “fresh” to avoid burnout effect (displaying the same creative over and over). They also need to make sure the media purchased delivers the expected results.
Accounting: The buyer needs to be able to pay the publisher based on the pricing models set forth in the purchase order and the delivered results.

13.   Explain the complete steps involved in Seller/Publisher side online ad serving process.
Proposal generation/IO >Inventory Management > Trafficking > Reporting>Optimization >Invoicing
Account management: Managing the relationship with the buyers
Proposal management: Managing RFPs and proposals during the sales process
Inventory management: Managing the ad inventory available for sale
Order/placement management: Managing the proper delivery of the orders/placements that are sold
Yield management: Maximizing ad revenue
Accounting: Managing invoices and payments
14.   Example of adserving platforms
Publisher side – DFP, 247 OAS, Yield manager, Pointroll, Eyeblaster, Yahoo Rightmedia
Agency/advertiser side – DFA, ATLAS, Accipiter, Yahoo AMP. OAMS, ADMODUS, Helious iQ
Exchange tools – Ad Exchange

1.        What is browser/proxy server caching? What is caching?

A:  Information, such as web pages, images, etc., are saved on a user’s computer or proxy server so that the information can be accessed more quickly. The information is accessed more quickly because the browser and/or proxy server need not re-contact the original source. This is a natural occurrence in the web and is responsible for making sure that web pages load as quickly as they do.
In an attempt to speed up user experience around the web, most browsers implement a technology called cache. This mechanism allows information, such as web pages, images, etc., to be saved on a user’s computer. Therefore, if the user calls for a previously requested web page, the browser will recall the information from the cache and not make another request from the site itself. Once the browser receives a DoubleClick ad image, it will store the image in the cache. Further calls for the ad image will be drawn from the cache – not from DoubleClick -- and an impression will not be counted. In order to defect the browser cache mechanism, Cache busting (aka Random Number Generation (RNG)) is implemented. 

What is Random Number Generation (RNG)?

A:  RNG is the process of inserting a random number in HTML tags to defeat browser/proxy caching. Random numbers change every time the tags are requested and sent. To be sure, cache busting can be achieved via the inclusion of any random string; however, this string is most commonly a number.
Browser caching can be defeated by dynamically creating unique tags for each ad image served. This ensures that when a user navigates from page to page the ad image is not delivered from the browser’s cache, but rather a new image is delivered from the DoubleClick servers for each request. To accomplish this unique tagging, a different random number is added to the image tags that reference the ad image. Typically, when a browser sees another image call with the same name, it pulls the ad from cache. To defeat this, an ord= attribute is added to the HTML tag, and when implemented correctly, prevents the images from being pulled from the cache. Tags with different “ord=” values prevent this caching problem because the different value forces the browser to retrieve a new banner from the ad server. If not implemented correctly, though, browser caching will not be defeated.

1.       What will happen if I do not use RNG to defeat caching?

A:  Web pages, images, etc. will be served from the user’s computer or proxy server rather than from DoubleClick’s servers. This will result in the undercounting of impressions and will cause counting discrepancies. This is an issue that can negatively affect both the Advertiser/Client and the Publisher website.
18.  Conversion tracking and how do you track the same?
What happens after a viewer sees a banner and doesn’t click ? Are they coming back? Converting?
Process of tracking the information beyond click and impression like post click and post impression. This will be tracked on the landing page. We need to use 1x1 pixel calls on the each page of the landing URL (Advertiser website) where you want to track the conversion activities.
When a browser hits a page on the advertiser’s site that contains a conversion/spotlight tag, the browser initiates an “HTTP get request” for a 1x1 pixel to the ad serving tool. In the process of making this request to DoubleClick, a user’s browser passes back information in the tag including IP address, operating system, browser type, cookie ID and the URL of the tag itself.

19.  Postclick/post impression
post-click activity :An action performed by a user in a web page that contains Spotlight tags, where the visit is a result of having clicked on an ad.
post-impression activity
An action performed by a user in an advertiser’s web page that contains Spotlight tags, after having seen an ad for the advertiser

20.  Why do we use clickTag in flash creative?
We use clickTag because it allows us to add our click tracking string to the final click through destination. Typically, clickTag is implemented in a button action like so
on (release) {
            getURL (_level0.clickTag, "_blank");
21.  Explain the following reporting metrics
Click Rate
The percentage of impressions that resulted in users clicking an ad.
Calculated as:
Click Rate = (Impressions/Clicks Recorded) * 100
Clicks Recorded
The number of times users have clicked ads in a campaign to date.
Effective CPM
The cost per thousand impressions.
Calculated as:
Total Cost [$] / (Delivered Impressions / 1000)
Impressions Delivered
The number of impressions that have been delivered to date.
Media Cost
The cost of all delivered impressions and clicks. The cost type and the cost entered against the placement are also factored in the calculation. This information is determined by the advertiser when pricing information is entered in the Trafficking module.
The media cost does not take into account run dates, but does take into account hybrid pricing.

22.   What is an invalid click?
Invalid click  is any click that is not generated by an actual human user. Causes of invalid clicks: - Spiders, robots, crawlers, and other automated agents: - Programs that download entire websites for offline use:  Link analyzers and code validators: This is a click fraud technique.
23.   Why do we have to send screen shot?? Explain
Once the ad is serving live on the website for a new campaign, we need to provide a proof of the same to advertiser. So agency will take a screenshot on website once the ad is showing and this will be shared with Advertiser as a proof.
  1. What a sales person in publisher end do?
Selling the ad inventory, checking the availability and booking the ad slot and preparing Insertion order.
  1. What are the basic element needed to traffic an ad
Trafficking instruction/IO, creative assets and Landing page URL
26.   What are various types of creative rotations?
Random, sequential, weighted, best performing etc

Online Advertising & Terminology - 6

Online Advertising File Formats


The compression format designed for photographic images, the JPEG format is used for ads that are photography-based. Typically, text and illustrated non-photo graphics tend to look visually poor in this format.

Format created by CompuServe compress file sizes for delivery on their online service; typically works best with non-photographic and text heavy ads. Unlike JPGs, the GIF format supports animation, which quickly made it the most common graphics format for online ads.

Macromedia Flash

Flash has become commonplace but is still more complicated than simple GIFs and JPGs and has special requirements when used in online advertisements. Macromedia’s vector animation based program allows for more complex animations within file size constraints, but requires a browser plug-in. Macromedia claims that 97.6% of internet users possess the ability to display Flash*, but best practices dictate that all Flash ads are accompanied with a substitute GIF or JPG version that will display for browsers which don’t. Flash is capable of delivering of animation, streaming video and audio and provides for programming of complex interactivity.

Rich Media

Rich media is an umbrella term used to describe the use of web technologies such as Macromedia Flash, Java applets and DHTML to create online display ads that feature advanced functionality including interactivity, animation, and streaming audio and video. An estimated 97% of all Rich media is Flash based. Flash alone can create online ads or may paired with technologies such as Eyeblaster, PointRoll and DoubleClick Motif for additional advertising functionality (mainly tracking based). Nielsen//NetRatings reported that rich media accounted for 35% of all ad impressions in December 2004.* These ads may utilize standard advertising spots or take a “beyond the banner” approach, such as a leader board that expands when clicked to display more information.

Trafficking Controls

Without a third-party server, trafficking ads to multiple publishers is a problem. It can be complex, with many points of failure. A good third-party server simplifies the process of trafficking campaigns and should provide valuable accounting methods for successful delivery and approval of your ads by the publisher.

Dynamic Ad Serving

Most publishers have a limit on the number of ads they will accept at one time. Usually this ranges from 5 to 10 creatives per week. Third-party servers use dynamic ad serving to rotate multiple creatives through one ad tag. This allows the advertiser/agency to traffic as many creatives associated with those tags as they want. This simplifies life for the advertiser and the publisher by cutting down significantly on the work done by both.

Geographic targeting.

Geotargeting is similar to site-side servers but somewhat less effective. You pay for the media regardless of whether you had an appropriate creative for the users an ad was served to. Wherever possible, try to geotarget at the publisher level.

Profile-based targeting.

As I detailed last time, ads can be targeted based on Web-surfing habits. Third-party ad servers have the same issues as site-side servers do.

Session-specific targeting.

Specifics include domain, browser type, and operating system. Again, this can be accomplished on the site side, usually to greater effect as the publisher only shows the ad (and bills you) when there is an appropriate fit. When served by a third party, you pay for the media even if it doesn't fit your demographic.

heorem, Inc. Expands UK Operations


Theorem, Inc. Expands UK Operations

Opens New Offices, Promotes Marcus Harding to Director of Business Development
LONDON & CHATHAM, N.J. – Theorem, Inc., a global leader in creative services, media operations and analytics, has announced the opening of new UK offices and promotion of Business Development Manager, Marcus Harding to Director of Business Development, UK.

Theorem opened its first UK office in 2008, located in London’s Soho district, to deliver sales, business development capabilities and provide client services solutions. In over two years, the UK team has grown to a dozen multilingual account managers supporting the Microsoft Advertising account. The new offices, based at 48 Charlotte Street, Central London, also serve clients such as Channel 5, Citywire and over 20 other leading digital marketing companies.
“Since partnering with Theorem in early 2009, we’ve found them to be a solid and reliable support to our digital operations team. They focus on delivery and accuracy and our relationship with them has allowed us to free up a lot more valuable resource time.” – Gareth Williams, Operations Director – Citywire (February 2011)
In his new role leading the UK operations, Harding’s responsibilities include acquiring and on-boarding all new clients, successfully representing and promoting the services of the company and proactively driving revenues for the region. Prior to Theorem, Harding spent over 10 years working within the media and digital professions including time as an Agency Sales Manager at Tacoda-AOL and Account Manager for Viacom Outdoor (CBS Outdoor).
“The impetus in expanding our UK operations was increased market demand and existing customer feedback,” said Jay Kulkarni, Theorem Founder and CEO. “We plan to continue our international growth to better meet the needs of our multinational customers.”
About Theorem, Inc.
With over 700 employees on four continents, Theorem, Inc. is a global leader in creative services, media operations and analytics, providing localized account management to over 100 leading agencies, publishers, networks, technology providers and brands. For more information, visit or call 0203 178 7203.


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