That was the underlying theme delivered by executives from Yahoo!'s Right Media Exchange (RMX) as they sought to portray an image of a mature, yet vibrant business during yesterday's Right Media forum at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center of The Arts.
Mixing art with science, Right Media chief Brian Silver began the festivities of the Forum with a discussion of RMX's ongoing commitment to innovation while meeting customer needs. And, he took the wraps off new branding - and even a a new twitter account. RMX clearly positioned itself around openness and an energy that seemed to resonate with members of the crowd surveyed later.
Next, RMX exec Eran Metzer delivered a detailed list of stats and updates on the exchange which included RMX facts such as 11 billion daily cleared impressions per day, 300k buyers and sellers, 90 global markets and 3,000 bids per auction. Within the list of updates, more evidence of openness as it was announced that RMX would adhere to the OpenRTB standard (originally begun in 2010) as the industry continues to whack away at impediments to the efficient buying and selling of digital media. Metzer added that Right Media Exchange was also the first platform to support Do-Not-Track and promised more details to come.
Finally, contextual is the hot, new audience targeting parameter as Metzer said that contextual signals will become part of the audience platform from vendors including Peer39, Vexigo, Adsafe and Proximic.
Thereafter, a panel discussion ensued led by LUMA Partners' Terence Kawaja. The subject was moving the programmatic buying and exchange world to the upper-funnel, brand world. In addition to hearing from Yahoo!, Google (which also professed "openness"), Microsoft and IPG Mediabrands representatives, the panel included the insights of a brand marketer as Kellogg's Bob Arnold provided his perspective.
Arnold admitted, "We are the untapped market for digital advertising." "We" being the brand marketer who has continued to spend billions in traditional channels. Client-thirsty audience members at the Forum surely strained to think about how they could get Arnold to steer some of his Kellogg's budget their way. The takeaway: direct response may be telling the exchange story today, but Yahoo!'s Right Media wants brands tomorrow.
Still, measurement remains a concern in this new programmatic world as Kellogg's Arnold explained that his company doesn't really look at the clicktrough as a valuable metric - much to the dismay of D.R. marketers in the audience. Arnold added, "From our point-of-view, everything we do, we measure. We really try to understand audience vs. contextual relevancy and which one plays out the strongest for us. Of course, nirvana is when you can do both at the same time, but that's not always possible. [Nevertheless,] the audience piece has worked out well for us. And, sometimes when you reach the right audience, contextual relevancy is not quite as important. But I wonder if there's a clear, easy way to judge the quality of the content you're advertising on." Do I hear "scoring content" solution, anyone?
Overall, yesterday's forum felt like an energetic step in the right direction for Yahoo! and its Right Media Exchange strategy. Proof will be in the data-driven pudding, of course. Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson knows he needs to figure this one out.
By John Ebbert