Silicon Valley’s $12 Million Bid to Rethink Brand Advertising

Major brands of every stripe and the platforms which employ the advertising technology used to facilitate digital advertising, like Google, are rethinking the way marketers measure the effectiveness of digital ads. The death-knell for the traditional click-through metric, which judges an ad as successful when a consumer clicks on it, has sounded and now Silicon Valley is moving towards funding alternatives.


Moat, a one-year-old software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup launched by former Right Media investors Jonah and Noah Goodhart and Mike Walrath, has caught the eye of Silicon Valley powerhouse investment firm The Mayfield Fund and won $12 million in Series B financing from the 43-year-old company. “We have reached a point where it is critical to move beyond the click and start presenting solutions to the market that can enable brand advertising growth in the future,” Jonah Goodhart said in an interview with The Advertising Technology Review.

According to Goodhart, brand advertisers need a better metric than the traditional click-through, and Google’s recent efforts in cooperation with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) to bring user-friendly measurement tools from the offline world, like the gross measurement point (GRP), to digital advertising “is definitely part of the story.” Google’s efforts to make advertising technology easier to use for brands is a “huge validation for the space that Moat is focused on,” Goodhart stated.

The Mayfield Fund is a venture capital firm which focuses on investments in mobile, cloud, social, energy and big data. “Unlike typical ad tech startups that are ad networks, arbitrage plays or tech layer abstractions, said The Mayfield Fund’s managing partner Tim Chang, “Moat is uniquely positioned as a SaaS category leader in the space, and has the broader potential to evolve the whole industry beyond the obsolete and incomplete metric of clicks.” “This is a much bigger prize at stake here that we’re playing for,” said Chang, who will join Moat’s Board of Directors.

Moat’s approach to analyzing consumer engagement shifts the focus away from click-throughs towards diagnosing why some ads resonate with consumers and others don’t. The company has developed a patent-pending analytics platform that permits real-time attention tracking for online ads, allowing advertisers to derive insights that can inform creative and ad buying strategy on-the-fly. Moat’s first ad intelligence product, Moat Ad Search, has been used by more than fifteen-thousand businesses to track ad placements globally online. Moat CEO Jonah Goodhart said the company will use the funds to expand its development team.

Rethinking Business Intelligence

IBM, according to Interbrands Best Global Brands report, is the world’s second most powerful brand, behind Apple. Yuchun Lee, former founder and CEO at Unica, is vice president and general manager of IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management Group, which consists of the combined Coremetrics and Unica businesses. Mr. Lee spoke with The Advertising Technology Review about the challenges of looking at Big Data not as a size problem, but as a complexity challenge.

There seems to be an element of hysteria to the Big Data conversation– what are CMOs really talking about?
The number one take away from our last CMO study was that CMOs are certainly talking about big data, but it’s not the quantity of the data, but rather its complexity. If you think about traditional databases, such as purchase record transactions, call center records, these are very simple database frameworks compared to data from social networks and social media– this entire web of data that has to be handled differently. This is the data that marketers have to deal with if they want to attain marketing goals. A company’s fight for relevancy is really its fight for survival going forward. Big Data is key to maintaining relevant communications to clients and relevant service to clients. There needs to be a change of resources and strategy to incorporate research and that “left brain” — analytics– into marketing as much as possible

So what is the first step in tackling Big Data?
What we have seen work well is partnerships– the CMO truly partnering with the CIO. The fundamental competencies for CMOs going forward are analytics and the innovation in the creation of content. On the creative side for the longest time marketers have relied on agencies as partners. On the tech side they need to work with their technology partners. The biggest progress that we have made recently is the industry acknowledging the need for a technology knowledge partner, they realize that they can’t keep buying a low-level point product from some technology vendor somewhere; those CMOs would be fired if they continue doing that. There are problems that cannot be solved within individual channels. Critical data is integrated within multiple aspects of the strategy and must be dealt with holistically. When there’s a problem, you can’t just rely on a mobile technology vendor that deals with only that technology. When you try to examine what every vendor that you used to rely on for working with a siloed channel has to offer outside of that singular channel, in terms of data solutions, you find it’s very light. We think that the vendor space will decrease from several hundred to a handful, when CMOs begin to rethink what is really available.

How will Big Data continue to impact the advertising technology and data management space?
The space is complex because there is no consistent way of pulling together, for example Twitter data, point of sale data, web browsing behavior- each data type has a different schema, a different structure. If you think about some of these data sources some of them are so huge that you can’t solve the problem by just downloading that data to your database- you can’t download the entire internet to get a 360 view. You are starting to see emergent technology that is looking at that. There will be a series of applications coming out that deal with this question of  ”how do we use machines to link together deep level complexity when the core technologies are no longer viable?” These core technologies are, for example, the traditional way of looking at data, as in “I have this nice table and let me download it and look at reports.” We are talking about massive volume and very complex web data with interlinking relationships- data for which you have to write algorithms just to cut through the processing of it. We need to be able to deal with the volume, complexity and the pace that is coming down the pipeline. What we have to do is harness all of the power of the cloud. The traditional way is to take a machine, put it behind a firewall and analyze the data. What we’ve found is that because most of this data lives in the cloud , for both economic reasons and complexity reasons, we needed to build a hybrid technology that harnesses both a traditional software and software that lives in the cloud. By in the cloud I mean not just infrastructure, but software-as-a-service in the cloud- and that will be a link to the on-premises software. We want to stop the madness of having to stitch together 150 different applications to solve a problem. IBM, for example, is assembling a suite of best of breed applications and pre-integrating them into our service. Newest Movies APK

How are CMOs approaching  some of the most complex data, social data?
CMO’s want to figure out the brand sentiment in social conversations. As in any technology there is generational change. The last generation fundamentally is not able to deal with the type of complexity and the volume that’s coming out of social and big data. If you reflect back on the space of web analytics, you would think that it would be a natural space for business intelligence vendors. You would think that these guys should be in the upper right quadrant of the web analytics space. Except none of them are. That’s the effect that you see and the different effect that big data has on technology- the type of technology that’s needed is different. The technology is different and the tastes of the industry for methods of solving these problems is different. In order to know your customer you have to be able to leverage all of the data that you have on them effectively.

Yuchun Lee, formerly founder and CEO at Unica, is vice president and general manager of IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management Group

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