Manager, Publisher Development
For those of us not familiar with TripleLift, please tell us a little more about your platform and core offering.
TripleLift is the world’s largest native programmatic platform (source: comScore March 2016 Unique User Reach).
Our technology allows advertisers to amplify their brands and content through in-feed native ads that match the unique look and feel of each website or app they render in. For Publishers, TripleLift is a full stack platform that enables them to create and grow their native revenue stream through direct sales, private marketplaces, and an open exchange.
TripleLift was the first RTB-enabled native exchange, and we focus on creating scalable, custom creative.
We’ve made it possible for brands to use just three basic assets to easily buy native ads across thousands of unique environments. Advertisers provide their logo, copy, and a visual asset (image, video, or cinemagraph). Our proprietary computer vision technology then ensures those assets render beautifully across thousands of premium websites.
TripleLift is one of the premier players in cross-device native advertising, with publisher partners like Conde Nast, The New York Times, eHow, Saveur, and 2300 premium publishers. Why the focus on native, and specific verticals like Food, Fashion, Beauty, and Home?
At TripleLIft, our goal is to deliver a better advertising experience for publishers, advertisers and consumers. Native ads enable us to deliver on that goal.
For advertisers, native is outperforming traditional display on every KPI – awareness, clicks, engagement. For publishers, native allows them to unlock increased revenue and new budgets. For consumers, we’re delivering ads that are not only viewable and relevant, but also respectful of their browsing experience.
We work with advertising clients and publisher partners across all verticals. We have a number of partners in food, fashion, beauty, and home; we also have a number of lifestyle, finance, news, B2B, auto, and entertainment sites and clients. Currently about 2500 advertisers spend on the platform each day.
It was recently reported that impression volume on AppNexus fell by over 90% after fraud was removed from their exchange. What do you think this means for marketers that buy / have been buying on open exchanges?
For the first few years of programmatic, you saw this focus on volume. Everyone wanted to transact more billions of impressions, which made the ground fertile for fraud.
Now you’re seeing the pendulum swing to quality first. Look at the publishers who are winning – Complex Media, Buzzfeed, Business Insider (disclosure: Complex and BI are TripleLift partners). They all have unique, high-quality editorial and visual content.
For marketers, I think buying on open exchanges continues and they simply choose the platforms and publishers that work.
I also expect to see growth in private deals between publishers and advertisers. While the industry is still working to get everyone on the same page from a workflow perspective, private marketplaces ultimately make sense. There’s trust and transparency like traditional IOs, but the data makes it more valuable. Both sides (advertisers and publishers) just need to commit.
Lastly, the recycled content arbitrage sites’ days are numbered. You’re already seeing that model fade each time Facebook adjusts its algorithm. Better content on premium sites will become increasing valuable.
‘Native’ is a pretty broad industry term that, like ‘Programmatic’, doesn’t have a specific set industry definition that everyone uses. How would you define both Native and Programmatic?
You’re right, native takes on many forms – it includes ads delivered in social feeds, content that looks and feels like publisher content, and even ads placed within search results. But regardless of where it’s delivered, at its core, native takes on the look and feel of the environment where the ad renders.
TripleLift focuses on delivering ads seamlessly within the flow of content. Our ads tend to be visual in nature (using aesthetically appealing images and videos, rather than just text) and match the unique look and feel of the sites they’re delivered on. With “programmatic,” we refer to the real time auction that takes place where advertisers evaluate and bid on each impression based on its data.
In-Feed native ads match the look and feel of content, and tend to be more beautiful than regular display and video ads which can be disruptive to the user experience. However, consumers always end up experiencing banner blindness or creative fatigue after seeing certain ad units or formats too many times. Do you think this will ever happen with native?
The more templated ad formats are, the more susceptible they are to being ignored by consumers.
Our strategy is to stay ahead of that curve in two ways: customization and new formats. The computer vision tech allows us to make every ad unique and flawlessly execute every impression. We truly have no size or design constraints, no standard format. We have in-house designers that code the ad templates individually for each publisher.
Why did TripleLift decide to launch a native exchange? How has your success been so far?
Our founders were early AppNexus guys who knew the programmatic space intimately and knew that brand dollars were shifting that way. But they also knew that traditional digital performance was declining and intrusive ads were not the answer. They saw the need for ad formats that bring a better user experience and work better (a rare combination).
So they set out to build a platform that could deliver consumer-friendly ads programmatically. The timing was excellent. We were the first to integrate with all of the major DSPs – MediaMath, The Trade Desk, DBM, etc. – and now that every marketer is moving spend to native and they want to do it programmatically, we’re already equipped to help them do it. We’re in the midst of hockey stick growth in programmatic native spend.
Have you had the chance to work on private marketplace deals with any agencies or brands? If so, what was your experience with them?
About a dozen of our publisher partners are actively doing PMPs (soon to be many more). You saw a slow start industry-wide but it’s growing. Late 2016 I think you see PMP mature a lot for the reasons I described above. Everyone is thinking about it. Once a few brand teams really commit and stop using IOs in favor of all programmatic, you’ll see fast adoption.
The typical challenge for publishers is very low fill. But we’ve seen some great successes, particularly Car Throttle and EA who did an in-feed video deal for Need for Speed. That worked because the context was relevant (car content, car video game) and because EA kept their targeting broad enough. This works for mid- and upper-funnel campaigns. People just need to buy in.
There has been a lot of commotion about ad blocking recently, especially with the recent announcement by Three Telecom on the UK of a carrier-level ad blocking partnership with Shine Technologies. What do you think of this ad blocking issue, and does this affect native ads at all?
Theoretically native ads align well with the stated mission of ad blockers – improving user experience. But the reality is that they’re for-profit businesses and we have yet to see them allow any ads without someone paying.
Opinions on altruism vs. extortion aside, the fact is they have traction, and that’s because ad tech has created frustrating experiences. Finger pointing doesn’t solve it. So we need to own up and fix it with things like better ad formats and lighter data load.
You’re already seeing solutions from Google with AMP and Facebook with Instant Articles. Their mission of creating a fast, enjoyable user experience aligns well with ours. We’re currently helping publishers monetize on AMP and building tools for publishing and monetization on the big social platforms.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the digital advertising industry faces today?
The biggest challenge I see is fragmentation. We have different devices, different social platforms, apps vs. web, different ad formats – and the variations are only growing.
As a marketer, it’s a lot of work to distribute effective ad content to all of these distinct destinations. As a publisher, you not only need to distribute your content but you need to monetize it, too. This increases overhead on both sides, makes attribution more difficult, and leaves room for more companies to pop up and skim CPMs off of the campaigns along the way.
Google and Facebook get all of the money because advertisers only need a few creative assets to reach billions of people.
We need to leverage technology to connect the dots between all of these entities. Make it easy to publish and advertise at scale not just across devices but also across platforms.
Lastly, what is your take on the future of cross-platform native advertising?
I view cross-platform native advertising just like cross-platform display and video advertising, but more effective. People like the ads better and they’re objectively more effective so it will continue to grow.
The companies that survive and grow will be the ones that make cross-platform advertising easy. The value can’t just be in the effectiveness of a single type of ad. There are too many platforms now for that to work and the number is growing. Point solutions will die or consolidate. If it takes tons of resources to distribute a campaign across different platforms; the cost increases and efficacy decreases. Marketers and publishers both suffer.
We’re focused on enabling marketers to quickly and seamlessly reach the right consumers in a way that those consumers respond positively to. Do that and you’ve cracked the code of advertising that works and isn’t annoying.
TripleLift makes native programmatic simple, scalable, and effective. Leveraging pioneering computer vision technology, TripleLift seamlessly transforms content like images and video into engaging in-feed native ads that match the unique look and feel of a publisher’s website. Accessible via the industry’s first and largest real-time, native programmatic exchange, TripleLift helps marketers reach millions of consumers across any device, at scale. Since 2012, TripleLift has delivered meaningful results for some of the world’s biggest brands through what it calls the next evolution of display advising. TripleLift was named 212 NYC and The New York Times Ad Tech Startup of the Year, joined the Forbes list of Most Promising Companies in America in 2015 and was named one of Crain’s New York Business’s Best Places to Work in NYC. For more information, please visit http://www.triplelift.com.