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Adelphic & PushSpring Launch ‘Mobile to Mobile” Partnership, Offering Access To App Data

September 12, 2016 in News

Adelphic, a mobile and cross-channel demand side platform (DSP), on Monday announced a partnership with PushSpring, an app-based mobile audience platform, to offer ad buyers the ability to target audience segments with attributes adelphic-pushspringincluding app ownership, personas, and demographic targets. The partnership will use PushSpring’s proprietary mobile app audience data to implement targeted mobile and cross-channel ad campaigns at scale using  the Adelphic platform.

Through the PushSpring Audience Console marketers and agencies have the ability to create custom segments or access pre-built segments, export audiences for activation, and upload them for analysis, expanding the scope of Adelphic’s data offering to cover both mobile Web and in-app insights. The deterministically sourced and verified device-level data contains more than 180 million unique device IDs which can be used in conjunction with Adelphic’s recently-launched Behavior Graph to deliver targeted ads across mobile and desktop.

“Extending PushSpring’s mobile app data cross-channel, as ad buying moves from a screen-specific to a more audience-based approach, ensures that our clients have the data they need to achieve their advertising goals,” stated Gina Kim, head of partnerships for Adelphic.

To view this article in its entirety, visit MediaPost.

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Adelphic and Grapeshot Announce Turnkey Integration for Precision Live Audience Targeting and Brand Safety

August 25, 2016 in News

First Application of Grapeshot’s Keyword-Driven Targeting and Brand Safety Tools on a Mobile First Platform.

WALTHAM, MASS – August 25, 2016 – Adelphic, the leading mobile and cross-channel demand side platform (DSP), and Grapeshot, the advanced keyword technology provider, today announced that ad buyers can now leverage Live Audience, Grapeshot’s pre-bid keyword targeting solution, via Adelphic’s mobile-first programmatic media solution, to reach live audiences consuming relevant, brand-safe content. This integration is the first time Grapeshot’s technology is being made available in a mobile first application, working seamlessly with Adelphic’s Behavior Graph™ to allow brand safety controls and contextual targeting for marketers wherever they engage their users.

Through this integration, Grapeshot’s algorithm, which quickly interprets and categorizes the content audiences are consuming on individual mobile webpages and apps, will work seamlessly within the Adelphic platform, ensuring ads adelphic-grapeshotare displayed alongside content that is contextually relevant and brand safe across 29 languages. This level of precision helps improve targeting, reduce waste and increases returns, globally. Brand and agency ad buyers can create custom audience segments for individualized targeting or select Grapeshot’s standard audience segments for universal applications. These segments can be seamlessly included or excluded in the Forecasting and Targeting products on Adelphic’s platform. For increased brand safety, ad buyers can overlay Grapeshot’s Whitelist or PG Rated standard safety targeting to ensure campaigns run on safe inventory.

“Consumers are turning to ad blocking as a reaction to unwelcome advertising. However, with better audience targeting and more considerate creative, more advertising should be welcomed. This is why we’re delighted to bring our keyword targeting capability to the Adelphic platform to improve the campaign performance and the return on advertisers spend,” said John Snyder, CEO and Founder of Grapeshot. “ Our partnership with Adelphic enables real-time evaluation of mobile web or in-app data at scale, eliminating the need for site lists, and providing contextual reach with vertical-specific keywords and phrases. “

“Quality is top-of-mind for every programmatic ad buyer, and when we talk to clients, our conversations uncover two questions: Will the correct audience see my ads and will my ads run in brand-safe environments,” said Gina Kim, head of partnerships for Adelphic. “Grapeshot’s technology provides our programmatic audience buying platform a protective guardrail as well as keyword-based advertising that targets live users based on context. Grapeshot empowers our clients to shift budgets with the assurance that their ads are served on relevant content and on sites that are appropriate for the brand.”

About Grapeshot

Grapeshot is a global privately-owned keyword data provider that provides data to help brands, agencies, trading desks and publishers navigate advertising choice. Grapeshot builds connections for clients and partners using our page crawling algorithm, providing audience and keyword targeting and analytics solutions in open and private programmatic environments. Grapeshot’s core technology and product suite offers a fully customizable, transparent and scalable solution, giving our clients simple, integrated control over brand safe targeting. Grapeshot is integrated with all major programmatic trading marketplaces including AppNexus, MediaMath, Turn, The Trade Desk, AdForm, iPinYou and AOL. Grapeshot receives over 3M QPS, 3T classifications per month, recognizing 100+ languages and deploying standard segments in 30+ languages. Grapeshot has offices in Cambridge, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney.

About Adelphic

Adelphic is the leading mobile and cross-channel demand side platform. Adelphic provides an enterprise-ready software solution for agencies, brands and other large media buyers to make meaningful engagements with consumers on the move. The company’s platform is fully RTB-enabled and delivers global scale through access to all leading inventory providers. Adelphic’s patented technology overcomes the limitations of user identification in mobile and across networked devices, yielding rich, nuanced portraits of real consumers. Founded in 2011, Adelphic is funded by Matrix Partners, Blue Chip Venture Company and Google Ventures. For more information, visit adelphic.com.

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Adelphic To Offer Access To Dailymotion Exchange’s Premium Video

July 12, 2016 in News

Media Post LogoMobile demand-side platform Adelphic has struck a deal with Dailymotion’s giving its clients access to premium inventory on the Dailymotion Exchange (DMX), a network delivering more than 3.5 billion monthly video views.

The deal provides access to DMX’s desktop, mobile Web and mobile app inventory, utilizing Adelphic’s “mobile-first” insights.

Dailymotion CRO Damien Pigasse characterized the agreement as “access to our premium digital video inventory,” adding it “is not just a simple addition to our DSP roster.”

DMX is a private video exchange for trading Dailymotion’s video player instream inventory.

To view the article in its entirety, visit MediaPost.

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Adelphic Partners With Dailymotion Exchange to Enable Mobile-First Premium Programmatic Video Ad Buying

July 12, 2016 in News

Global partnership provides Adelphic’s clients with access to Dailymotion’s premium mobile instream inventory to reach audiences across platforms.

Dailymotion Integration with Adelphic

Adelphic, the leading mobile and cross-channel demand side platform (DSP), today announced a partnership with Dailymotion Exchange (DMX), the private video exchange of Dailymotion, one of the largest video platforms in the world with more than 3.5bn videos views per month. With the addition of Adelphic to Dailymotion’s roster of DSP partners, Adelphic advertisers can enjoy seamless access to DMX’s premium mobile instream inventory on a global scale.

According to eMarketer, digital video consumption continues to climb with mobile video consumption surpassing desktop in 2015. Marketing dollars are following the trend and Adelphic’s high performance platform enables its brand and agency clients to access DMX’s desktop, mobile web, and mobile app inventory via Adelphic’s mobile-first insights.

“As our audience on mobile has now reached 50% of our global audience, it is strategic for us to build strong partnerships with demand-side platforms, that think mobile-first and that can help us facilitate the connection between advertisers and our mobile viewers,” said Damien Pigasse, CRO of Dailymotion. “Adelphic works with the top agencies and brands world-wide, and we’re excited to enable them access to our premium digital video inventory to continue to reach and engage consumers. Adelphic is not just a simple addition to our DSP roster, but one with a strong expertise in mobile.”

DMX is the private video exchange that exclusively monetizes the Dailymotion video player instream inventory. DMX’s video inventory is offered in more than 180 countries and enables advertisers from all over the world to connect with more than 300 million unique viewers per month, within premium and engaging thematic contexts. More than 10 million videos are uploaded monthly on Dailymotion by leading media publishers across a large panel of verticals (sports, news, entertainment and more).

“Video drives KPIs for branding as well as performance,” said Gina Kim, head of partnerships for Adelphic. “By incorporating DMX’s mobile inventory into our buying platform, we’ve added more scale for our clients to reach their audiences on the move, on whatever device.”

To view the release in its entirety, visit PR Newswire.

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Can Cash Back for Ad Fraud Make Brands Trust the Web Again?

April 7, 2016 in News

Two Programmatic Platforms Are Offering Refunds to Clients Who Fall Prey to Ad Fraud

Ad Fraud

Lexus dealers were so unnerved by online ad fraud a couple years back that they began urging Monica Mellier, group media director at the agency Team One, to redirect their ad dollars from digital media to legacy platforms such as TV or outdoor signs.

“We had a lot of conversations about how we could prove to them that what we were buying was reaching real people,” Ms. Mellier said. “They were definitely concerned because they never had to deal with bots in traditional mediums like TV or magazine. The idea that a nonhuman could be engaging and causing this damage was futuristic or sci-fi to them.”

But in November 2014, her programmatic media buying vendor, DataXu, began promising refunds for fraudulent impressions when they totaled more than 3%. “They gave us back money,” she said. More important, the vendor eased the Lexus dealers’ fears.

Last week, TubeMogul, which helps marketers place video ads programmatically, adopted a similar money-back guarantee, even when ad fraud is below 3%.

The moves come as ad sellers in other media have taken to using ad fraud as a cudgel against their online rivals. Last fall, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America ran a campaign during Advertising Week in Manhattan that used billboards and trucks with messages directly attacking ad fraud. The campaign led to a 6% sales boost for out-of-home ads, the OAAA said. And ad buyers can expect to hear TV executives talk up online ad fraud, whether onstage or sotto voce, during their upfront presentations this spring.

“This is an operational burden,” said Keith Eadie, chief marketing officer at TubeMogul, of the guarantee. “But it is the right thing to do. We want to remove fraud as a concern for everyone who uses our platform.”

Fraudsters scam marketers in a number of ways, but essentially charge for ad inventory that nobody sees and yet is engineered to seem to have good traffic. It’s all but impossible to completely prevent fraud in real time because modern ad tech means transactions take place in milliseconds. So TubeMogul is working with White Ops to gauge ad fraud after the fact, while DataXu works with DoubleVerify.

TubeMogul’s fraud rate is already low, Mr. Eadie said, with around 1% of the impressions it sells failing to reach an actual human consumer. But refunds can help suppress marketers’ fears about ad fraud, he said.

They could also turn ad fraud into a net positive for those who offer them.

“It will be part of what differentiates us,” Mr. Eadie said. “We have a lot of inbound interest globally from this initiative because ad fraud is such a hot topic. Removing ad fraud from the equation is part of our marketing.”

Whether money-back guarantees spread may depend at least as much on that dynamic as their ability to defend digital media as a whole.

Still, some industry players doubt refunds will shift money one way or another.

“While fraud is an ongoing concern, we believe that at the end of the day the market is pricing all these concerns into the media cost,” said Yael Avidan, VP-product at Adelphic, whose programmatic platform focuses on mobile devices. “As long as the ability to provide a 100% fraud-free environment is out of reach, the market will price that risk in.”

Marketers have likewise calculated for a certain amount of unavoidable waste in other media, she suggested.

“Each channel carries its own challenges,” Ms. Avidan added. “If out-of-home and TV were measured using online metrics, their viewability would have rendered them borderline fraudulent.”

Michael Parmley, digital marketing manager at Hotels.com, said his company already bakes in the cost of ad fraud when advertising on certain digital platforms. But reclaiming the actual money wasted might be better.

“Looking at our approach in a programmatic space, we want to make sure we are properly validating impressions, the website and viewability rate,” Mr. Parmley said. “But ad fraud is one of those pieces that is so tough to nail down.”

In its first full year, DataXu CEO Mike Baker said his company’s guarantee saved its clients $54 million and increased business for DataXu (even after deducting the refunds). Each month, nearly a dozen of DataXu’s 700 or so clients receive checks, he said. “This is something we mention at every phase of a conversation with a new customer,” Mr. Baker added.

To read the article in its entirety, visit AdvertisingAge.

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Facebook Pulls Plug on Ad Serving Software

March 8, 2016 in News

Facebook Ad ServingLast year, Facebook tested ad serving software that would represent a bold expansion of its display ads business beyond its own inventory, a move potentially worth billions in revenue. Using a demand-side platform, or a DSP, marketers would be able to use Facebook users’ identity data to bid on ad slots across the mobile and desktop Internet in real time.

But Facebook recently yanked the bidding software from service because the tests showed that banner ads that were served attracted too many fraudulent impressions by bots trolling the Web, the company confirmed to The Information on Friday.

While Facebook’s current advertising business centers mostly on its own mobile inventory and apps plugged into its ad network, many in the industry have been awaiting its plunge into the mobile web’s programmatic ad marketplace. Its ad server, Atlas, which on Monday added capabilities to serve video ads and track offline purchases, can measure whether users saw ads across digital devices. But because of the pulled DSP tests, the ad server doesn’t yet have a bidding platform that would expand its pool of marketing clients wanting to tap this programmatic marketplace.


Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president of advertising technology, described the decision to stop DSP tests as a way to keep control on the “value” of buying ads through Facebook. He said the ad-tech team “saw a ton of waste, a ton of fraud” from the banner ads it served. Banner ads, which make up the bulk of inventory on DSPs, even on mobile, “don’t drive the kind of value we see on other ad formats like native and video,” he added.

Higher Value

Facebook will still build a bidding platform that would be similar to a DSP, but it will likely have narrower capabilities than DoubleClick. After scrapping the DSP tests on banner ads, Facebook “shifted toward higher-value areas,” like native and video ads, Mr. Boland said. He declined to elaborate on what exactly its next attempt to build an ad-buying platform would look like. Two people with knowledge of the company’s plans said Facebook is building ad-buying software that enables bidding on inventory that exists on it own sites and its ad network, Audience Network.

Native ads now make up only a sliver of the mobile ad inventory across the web. Focusing on native and video is likely a bet on the future growth of those ad units on mobile as a way of catapulting Atlas ahead of DoubleClick, which was built out predominantly as a desktop-focused business. Just like Facebook has tied its fate to mobile as a publisher that supplies ads, it looks to be doing the same as it feeds demand for ads.

Michael Collins, CEO of the ad-buying platform Adelphic, said Facebook won’t be able to fulfill all the needs of advertisers by just offering native and video ad-buying. But he said Facebook seemed to be sticking with more lucrative ad units, which it knows best.

“Your average brand will need access to more than just Facebook. Will it be of value to brands? Yes, but it will be a piece of the solution,” he said.

While marketers like Facebook’s powerful identity data on users—evidenced by the social network’s 81% year-over-year surge in ad revenue last quarter—its system to serve ads across the web is closed and fragmented. Without a bidding platform, Facebook’s ad server Atlas doesn’t have all the functions a marketer would want.

Ad servers Atlas and LiveRail, which Facebook bought for a total of about $600 million in 2013 and 2014, are not considered successful yet. In January, Facebook shut down the video ad serving part of its LiveRail unit because of similar ad fraud it saw in its DSP tests. In the meantime, publishers using LiveRail can use other Facebook ad-tech products to manage their inventory. “We are taking a principled approach focused on value and yield for publisher,” Mr. Boland said.


Bright Spot

Of course, Facebook’s ads business overall is far from struggling. The company’s bright spot in ad-tech has been the two-year-old Audience Network, an ad network that was built in house to place and track ads on apps and mobile websites. Audience Network generated a run rate of $1 billion in for advertising spend for the first time last quarter, the company has said.

Because apps can use people’s Facebook identities to enable them to log in, app developers can easily add Audience Network software to leverage the social network’s data on those users. The app maker gets ad revenue, and Facebook gets a hefty cut for using its software and data.

Those ad sellers “get the benefit of Facebook’s knowledge about the end user. The quality of that targeting data leads to higher prices,” said Ben Tregoe, senior vice president of business development at Nanigans, a Facebook ad-tech partner. “You get an avalanche of advertiser demand that is clamoring for more Facebook-like supply.”

This kind of system is preferable for Facebook, which prevents the social network’s closely guarded identity data getting out. The ad network doesn’t allow marketers to have much control over where their ads go. Plus, Facebook controls the price instead of an open bidding process.

If Audience Network continues its momentum, it’ll continue to grow Facebook’s already rapidly growing mobile advertising pot from its flagship app. Eighty percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue–$4.5 billion overall– came from mobile in the fourth quarter, when it also started running ads on its popular Instagram app. That total represents an 81% jump from the same time last year.

To read the article in its entirety, visit The Information.

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2016 Edition: A Marketer’s Guide to Cross-Device Identification

February 29, 2016 in News

Cross-Device IdentificationIt’s been a busy 10 months since AdExchanger published its inaugural Marketer’s Guide to Cross-Device Identification. Since then the market has seen significant developments, including technology evolution, merger activity and shots across the bow from government regulators.

Below, we pick up where we left off with an important update to our overview of the cross-device landscape.

As device fragmentation increases, so has the industry’s adoption of cross-device technology.

“We were talking about the cookie – now we’re talking about cross-device identification,” said Brian Anderson, a partner at LUMA Partners, speaking at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview event in January. “[Cross-device] is a critical component in the marketplace in order to provide mass personalization.”

It might be folly to call 2016 the “year of cross-device.” As Mike Juhas, senior director of sales at CPXi-owned AdReady, noted, “The bottom line is that cross-device strategy should be an integral part of any scalable campaign and not be considered this year’s hot new thing.”

Regardless, as time spent on mobile continues going up and to the right, cross-device technology is in the spotlight as marketers start to ramp up their spend in a material way.

But significant challenges remain, including privacy issues, reach vs. accuracy and the thorny little matter of the Internet of Things.

A Quick Recap Before Diving In

There are two primary methods used to establish user identity across devices – deterministic and probabilistic.

Deterministic matching taps into known user data to make a match, generally an email address used to log into multiple devices. (Think Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, AOL.)

The probabilistic approach draws on a variety of anonymized data signals like IP address, device type, browser type, location and operating system to create likely statistical connections between devices. (Think Drawbridge, the recently acquired Tapad, Crosswise, Adelphic, Adbrain.)

Probabilistic ID vendors will often use what is called a truth set – a core of licensed deterministic data – to train their algorithm over time.

That makes it sound pretty black and white – but it isn’t.

There is also a growing trend around data companies like Oracle and LiveRamp adopting a blended approach, using a combination of probabilistic to complement their deterministic matching capabilities in an attempt to reach the scale of players like Facebook and Google.

akindergarden_2As LiveRamp product VP Anneka Gupta told AdExchanger in November when LiveRamp revealed its partnership with Drawbridge, “[This is] becoming really important in channels like mobile where it takes more time to aggregate enough deterministic data to have significant reach.”

Walled Gardens

The deterministic players – mainly Facebook with Atlas and Google, which finally came out with its own cross-device solution in June after months of speculation – are often referred to as walled gardens, aka enticing and effective Shangri-La playgrounds of near-perfect cross-device identity matches where marketers can achieve both scale and accuracy with one noteworthy catch: Marketers can’t take their insights with them. What happens in a walled garden stays in a walled garden and can’t be used to inform campaigns elsewhere.

Although marketers generally find this state of affairs frustrating, it hasn’t stopped them from spending with the big guys, as clearly evidenced by Facebook’s and Google’s respective blockbuster Q4s.

Facebook has demurred that it’s all in the name of privacy. Patrick Harris, Facebook’s director of global agency development, has said that if he had his druthers he would replace the term “walled garden” with “privacy garden.” (It hasn’t caught on.)

The Privacy Question (With No Clear Answer)

The proliferation of devices has made it harder – in fact, near impossible – for consumers to opt out across devices.

Cookie-based opt-outs are half a headache. As Adobe privacy product manager Vinay Goel acknowledged on a June conference call with brand clients and partners about its then forthcoming cross-device data co-op product, “If you clear your cookies and then the consumer comes back to the site, they are being targeted and profiled again. This is one of the limitations and challenges with cookie-based opt-outs.”

Although self-regulatory programs like AdChoices and AppChoices, created by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), aim to help consumers get a handle on where their data is being used, there are obvious limitations.

For one, the opt-out process requires an heroic amount of effort and industriousness on the user’s part. Users who want to opt out have to do so on a per-browser, per-device basis – and then diligently maintain their preferences. It’s asking a lot.

The industry is just “not there yet” when it comes to universal opt-out, admitted Genie Barton, VP and director of the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program. Barton was speaking during a panel discussion at the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) November workshop on cross-device tracking in Washington, DC, attended by policymakers, academics, privacy researchers, technologists and ad industry reps.

“When folks in the advertising space talk about scaling up cross-device tracking in an exchange, they tend to be talking about a probabilistic solution and that introduces some challenges,” said Jonathan Mayer, privacy advocate and newly minted Federal Communications Commission chief technologist, in a previous interview with AdExchanger. “If they offer an opt-out, they can only do so with a likelihood, but no guarantee, that the opt-out will transfer to other devices.”

The FTC Digs In

The FTC’s cross-device workshop was a watershed moment, making it clear that the commission, although not motivated to regulate, has its eye on the industry.

As is its wont, the FTC attacked the issue from the consumer protection perspective.

“I think it’s fair to say this area is evolving rapidly and may be … challenging traditional consumer expectations about their privacy,” said Justin Brookman, policy director of the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation, at the workshop.

optoutsFor research purposes, Brookman and his team ran a mini analysis of the top 20 sites for news, sports, shopping, games and reference (100 sites in all) to see if they could tell when cross-device tracking is happening.
“We spent days trying to get a sense of what’s going on,” Brookman said. “It’s really hard to determine objectively, from the end user point of view, when cross-device tracking is going on … [And] that raises the question: How much transparency should there be? What do consumers expect? Do they want to be overloaded with information? If cross-device tracking is going on, what should consumers be told and how?”

The industry is still hashing all of that out, but some consumers aren’t waiting to sharpen their pitchforks.

The FTC accepted public comments on cross-device in the months leading up to and the month following the workshop.

A number of respondents had choice words for the ad industry, including James from New York, who said: “Please make an effort to inhibit the intrusion of almost anyone into the lives of almost everyone.” Paula from Georgia was even more to the point: “‘Relevant’ advertising is a negative for me – not a positive. Please make sure my privacy is more important than the almighty dollar!”

The Thing Is…

There’s another question to add to the end of Brookman’s list: What are the privacy implications of cross-device tracking when the Internet of Things enters the scene? Arguably, anything that gives off a signal is fair game for the device graph, whether it’s an Apple Watch or a connected toothbrush.

But before the proverbial smart toaster becomes a fixture in the kitchen, smart TVs are getting comfy in the living room. By 2019, smart TVs are slated to make their way into more than 50% of TV viewing households across the US, UK and Japan, according to recent research from IHS.

In November, right before the FTC’s cross-device workshop, an article in ProPublica called attention to the fact that smart TV maker Vizio had updated its privacy policy to say it had begun collecting and sharing cross-device user data with advertisers. Users who weren’t interested had to proactively opt out.

A few days after that, a piece in Ars Technica decried a practice known as audio beaconing, which takes advantage of inaudible, high-frequency sounds embedded in ads to track user behavior across devices, including TVs, phones and tablets.

Both scenarios call attention to the thorny issue of what notice and choice, aka privacy policies, should look like in a world where anything that can be connected to the Internet will be connected to the Internet.

The cross-device landscape is still either the privacy Wild West or a hotbed of innovation, depending on your perspective. And, privacy policies, rather than the privacy safeguards most consumers believe them to be, are really just legal documents for companies to protect their derrieres in the case of a breach.

(According to research from University of Pennsylvania professor and privacy pundit Joseph Turow, between 55% and 65% of US consumers believe that when a website has a privacy policy it means that site won’t share user data with other companies, which is patently untrue.)

“We fully understand the important part that innovation plays … [but] if you’re looking at your TV kind of side-eyed and worry about what’s going on there, that could turn into a dangerous spiral,” the FTC’s Brookman observed at an International Association of Privacy Professionals event in November. “For consumers, everything they own is a little black box and we’re trying to make sure that their interests are provided for.”

Reach vs. Accuracy

Privacy issues aside, the industry is dealing with its own issues, namely how to strike the right balance between reach and accuracy.

A device graph – the mapped connections between devices – is only as effective as its ability to find a lot of matches (reach) with a level of statistically relevant precision (accuracy).

For companies that aren’t deterministic titans like Facebook or Google with both scale and accuracy, one usually has to suffer in favor of the other. If a marketer wants reach, match accuracy usually goes down. If a marketer wants exactitude, scale goes out the window.

There’s an extra nuance there, though. As Tim Abraham, director of data platforms at Adbrain, explained:

“Accuracy is a metric that doesn’t necessarily mean what people think it does. In the context of cross-device identification, accuracy is calculated as the number of matches correctly identified, as well as the number of non-matches correctly identified. In other words, it’s the number of times a probabilistic prediction was correct, but also includes ‘non-match’ predictions from the total pool of predictions it made. Marketers don’t care very much about the non-match predictions because they want the predictions of correct device matches. But there will actually be many more non-matches than correct matches, so this massively skews the accuracy score, making it look much better than it really is.”

In other words, device graphs are getting credit for being accurate about inaccuracies. It’s a head-scratcher.

So is the fact that the two primarily probabilistic device graphs on the market have been verified by Nielsen as being insanely accurate. According to Nielsen, Tapad’s cross-device connections are 91.2% accurate, while Drawbridge received a 97.3% accuracy score.

To put that into perspective, when AOL worked with comScore on a verification project in 2014, the results came in at 93% accurate – and that’s for a deterministic data set.

How, then, were the Tapad and Drawbridge numbers so high? The answer could lie in the subtle difference between accuracy rate and match rate. While the match rate is defined as how many times one is able to correctly connect two or more devices, the accuracy rate includes correctly identified non-matches.

Nielsen compared samples from both the Tapad graph and the Drawbridge graph to data from its own third-party panel as the truth set.

In the test with Nielsen, Drawbridge’s accuracy rate was 97.3%, but its match rate was 10.3%. (Tapad didn’t publicly release its match rate.)

Tyler Pietz, a VP and programmatic strategist at IPG trading desk Cadreon, explained it like this: “For the purposes of a study, it’s pretty easy to focus on the stats that position you in the best possible light – but you can’t provide a 10% match rate for an advertiser. … To put this in context, if an advertiser has a pool of 100 desktop cookies and wishes to find a corresponding mobile device for each, then a 10% match rate would equate to identifying a match device for 10 out of the initial pool of 100 desktop cookies.”

There is a fair amount of skepticism in the industry around probabilistic methods and whether cross-device recognition and targeting is as advanced as the vendors who sell it claim.

firstdance1As evidenced with AOL’s comScore number, even deterministic matching isn’t 100% accurate 100% of the time.

Cross-Device Consolidation

But that hasn’t dampened M&A in the cross-device space.

The biggest move by far was Verizon’s $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in May. Verizon is no noob to the cross-device game. In 2012, Verizon Wireless rolled out an addressable advertising division in the form of Precision Market Insights, whose stated goal is to solve for consumer identity using mobile.

Verizon’s move to snap up AOL looks like a clear sign that the telecom wants to go toe to toe with Facebook and Google.

Telecoms feel like they’ve been “missing out on the marketing action that Facebook and Google have dominated for a long time,” said Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO of Drawbridge. “They’re awakening to the fact that data has been transacting on their networks, but they have had no real piece of it. This is the first step in creating a strong digital presence, and the next step is connecting the devices, either using technology or in a more explicit manner. … The carriers will be very active acquirers in the near future.”

Prescient words. In January, Drawbridge’s top competitor, Tapad, was acquired by Norwegian mobile carrier Telenor for $360 million.

Telcos see lucrative potential in cross-device recognition and targeting, wrote Matt Keiser, CEO of programmatic email platform LiveIntent.

Keiser elucidated his point with a ”Wheel of Fortune” reference in a recent column for AdExchanger:

“Verizon and Telenor have the consonants of deterministic data, in terms of the actual devices and their respective anonymized IDs. They recognize the biggest opportunity is having the option to dial up accuracy or scale to best serve marketers across devices and channels. So they went shopping for vowels, which took the form of AOL and Tapad, respectively. For me, buying letters to get closer to solving the puzzle in ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is the most obvious parallel to cross-device. It’s just the ‘Tip _f th_ ic_b_rg.’”

Also in January, Verizon Ventures, the investment arm of Verizon Communications, sunk $5.5 million into intent-targeting platform Qualia, which recently merged with cross-device vendor BlueCava in an effort to capitalize on the combination of their respective data signals.

It’s a sign of the times, Verizon Ventures executive director Mark Smith told AdExchanger.

“Being able to take intent data and on a real-time basis look at where those consumers are going across screens is vital, because no action today is done in isolation,” Smith said. “Combined, they’re addressing how you can begin to piece together a story around ad decisioning and provide attribution about how a [mobile] exposure contributed to a sale or other action.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit AdExchanger.

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