Jason Tafler is the CEO of PointRoll, a rich media advertising provider.
JT: A lot of it comes down to what users are doing online. If you start with the user and see what they're doing, how they're interacting, you can see where you need to go as an advertiser. We’ve seen a lot of great innovation in our industry around targeting and efficiency. A marketer can know everything about a user, but if they don’t serve them the right creative, then all the targeting intelligence is wasted and the advertising isn’t effective. As online advertising evolves as an industry, we need to make sure we don’t forget about the creative because that’s what ultimately drives ad effectiveness.
We should always be creating emotional connections, building brands and driving sales. PointRoll operates at the intersection of creativity and targeting, ensuring that the most relevant, interactive and engaging creative is dynamically presented to each user at the right time. Rich media allows us to tap into deeper levels of engagement, connecting with the user and becoming part of their interactive experience. Ultimately, that's how you create more effective ads.
What is AdControl and why is it important for online advertisers?
AdControl is a dynamic ad creation platform that helps brands and their agencies easily produce, target and deliver the most creative rich media campaign executions with customized creative elements. With AdControl, brands can maximize the effectiveness of their ad spend by delivering highly compelling, interactive and relevant ad experiences dynamically to create a custom user experience. With robust measurement tools, AdControl minimizes waste, increases optimization effectiveness and provides deeper insight into what ads work best for what users and where. We’ve been successfully deploying AdControl for close to a year for leading brands such as Ford.
AdControl can also empower creative teams by eliminating time spent producing and updating hundreds or thousands of ad versions, freeing up their hands and minds to develop new ad concepts and strategies. Using these tools means everyone can focus on their core competencies and excel in their fields.
As the advertising space continues to change, how can rich media play an important role in the creative’s toolbox?
With the challenging economy, fewer resources and budget cuts, some brand marketers have sacrificed creativity for what they feel is efficiency. They use basic Flash banners and animated GIF ads even though studies show these methods aren't as effective in either driving brand or performance metrics. We believe this is a painful regression back to the 1990’s and call upon the industry to get back to empowering creativity. Because these non-rich ads don’t deliver brand messages effectively, marketers are actually decreasing the impact and ROI of their online campaigns.
Many industry leaders now are rumbling about how creative is being ignored. We couldn’t agree more. Rich media helps brands make the greatest impact, whether for branding or direct response. By leveraging new tools like AdControl that make it easier to create and run rich media, brands can have creativity and efficiency with rich media and dynamic, targeted ads. And they can do so with cost effectiveness, garnering a greater return on their investment.
What is your view on ad exchanges and recent announcements by ad agencies to create demand-side buying platforms? Will rich media and PointRoll play a part in the evolving ad exchange model?
I’ve spent time talking with many agencies about efficiency tools for the media buying and planning process. These tools provide increased visibility and transparency while helping planners and marketers gather additional data. They also provide more information for us to understand our audience and make informed targeting choices for future campaigns and strategies. However, targeting and efficiency without the right creative is not going to maximize ad effectiveness. Rich media needs to be a key layer on top of the ad exchange / buying platform equation. With these platforms, the audience information gathered is useful and targeting is critical, but we’re going for a high level of creativity, interaction and engagement. Anything that we can do to focus targeting is ideal, but it doesn't help deliver the creative side of the message, which is a key element for any highly effective campaign. We believe layering on rich media creative will play an important role in how these platforms are used to connect with and impact target audiences, allowing agencies to gain much-needed efficiencies without sacrificing ad effectiveness.
Can you see in-stream video ad inventory available through an ad exchange model someday soon? What are the complexities?
I can see it occurring once enough publishers agree on incorporating their in-stream inventory into the exchanges. That's only going to happen when brands and marketers put enough pressure on publishers to deliver a standardized in-stream creative ad solution. That’s been one of the major obstacles to scaling in-stream campaigns. This is where the importance of standards comes into play. Standards will help everyone easily use and implement video ads, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every time. I think agencies are looking for a solution that will allow them to shift more of their spending to in-stream video. Incorporating exchanges into this will hopefully push the process forward, but not unless the creative standards problem is solved at the same time.
In a competitive rich media landscape, how does PointRoll fit in and how do you differentiate?
For almost 10 years, PointRoll has led the rich media industry in solving our clients’ problems and enabling more effective advertising through a combination of innovative technology and service quality. We offer four solid points of differentiation in the market: creativity, innovation through our technology and products, a full-service approach, and deep insight into performance with extensive data and analytics to drive the most effective rich media campaigns. We’re focused less on what we are able to do and more on what marketers need — creativity, service, relevant technology and insights. We also serve more rich media than anyone else, and have scaled our business to serve over 85 billion rich media ads per year.
How is your target client evolving? What are they looking to PointRoll to provide? Do they need to be more technically adept, less? More focused on the "big idea"?
Clients are becoming more adept at navigating digital and integrating it across their campaigns, because the digital world is no longer a niche area. We're helping them navigate the ever-more complex digital media landscape. Of course, clients are also becoming more knowledgeable as the line between digital and mainstream blurs. As their understanding increases, so too does the creativity of their ideas. With PointRoll, clients don't need to be rich media or technology gurus. It’s our job to provide the expertise, technology solutions, support and rich media creative application that helps bring their ideas to life and create engaging, high-impact campaigns. That’s our company’s main strength, what we focus on, and what we share that with our clients daily.
How can PointRoll help the web publisher?
From working directly with thousands of publisher partners, we’ve recognized their ever-growing need for more creative, high-impact ads and custom programs. PointRoll recently introduced new tools designed specifically to help publishers differentiate their offerings and increase revenue opportunities. Our Channel Team, which is dedicated to supporting publishers and developing new services for them, now offers PointRoll Dig@torials, enhanced video and interactive offerings, viral and mobile solutions, and expanded dynamic messaging. These products help publishers find new ways to leverage existing content, create highly relevant ads, and protect CPMs. Ultimately, we’re developing ways for publishers to save time, reduce their costs, and open up existing and new revenue channels.
If you were a CMO or an executive-level marketer at a Fortune 1000 company today, and given your knowledge of how digital is evolving, what strategic steps would you take to prepare your company for a more digital future?
First, I’d make sure that I had the right people and partners on board who truly understand the digital landscape. Second, I’d gain a strong understanding of my customers’ actions online; how they communicate and engage across the digital spectrum. It’s important to use this knowledge and meet consumers where they are online. Third, I’d work to ensure my marketing strategy and messaging is integrated across all media channels. Finally, I’d set clear performance goals and targets for my digital initiatives.
There’s so much data out there in the digital world, but if you don't have a clear definition of what you want to accomplish, it's going to be hard to determine results.
It’s also important to determine how you’re going to leverage digital. What’s the right strategy for your company or brand? Some marketers go for the latest digital trend or fad, which isn’t always the best fit to achieve the results they want from their campaign. That’s where we like to be, finding the balance between technology, targeting and creativity; between what’s new, what’s right, and most importantly, what works.