Digital Advertising Insights. Q&A with Sean O'Neal

Sean O’Neal, President of Adaptly, has been in the advertising technology business for about 20 years and so he has experienced the gradual yet transformative change in the digital advertising funnel.  In this interview, O’Neal discusses his company Adaptly as well as digital advertising metrics, the impact of connected television on his part of the business, the trends overall for the digital landscape and the future transformation of media.

There are six videos in the interview:

Subject                                                 Length (in minutes)
Background                                                  (4:01)
Adaptly                                                         (8:16)
Native Advertising, Metrics, Smart TV    (7:26)
Digital Landscape                                        (6:32)
Predictions                                                   (9:06)

Here is a short excerpt of the full interview:

Charlene Weisler interviews Sean O'Neal who talks about his background in the 4:01 minute video:

What is Adaptly? Sean O'Neal explains his company to Charlene Weisler in this 8:16 minute video:

CW: What is your definition of native advertising?

SO: There are a lot of ways to  define of native advertising The most basic criteria for advertising to qualify as native is simply that the ad adopts the look and feel of the surrounding environment in which it is delivered.  There are different flavors beyond that. For example, content marketing could qualify as native advertising because it takes on the format and look of editorial content. However, not all of native advertising is content. Some types of native advertising are simply ads that adopt the look and feel and the same format as the content. But it is very clearly an ad and is not attempting to look like content per se.

CW: Adaptly’s native advertising efforts are clearly labeled as advertising?

SO: Yes. One of the best practices of successful native advertising is that it be always labeled as such. In Facebook and Twitter, ads are clearly marked as either promoted or sponsored. The point of native advertising is not to trick the consumer, but to add value. Probably the best way to add value is for native ads to have content that is in synch with what already interests the reader. Entertainment ads in entertainment sections, auto ads in auto sections or feeds, etc.

Charlene Weisler interviews Sean O'Neal who talks about Native advertising in the 6:32  minute video:

Sean O'Neal talks to Charlene Weisler about the full digital landscape in this 6:32 minute video:

CW: What type of metrics does Adaptly collect and how do you use them?

SO: We collect just about every possible marketing metric that is made available to us through our integrations with our publisher platforms. So we consume just about every form of data whether it is the number of ads that have been served, how many unique users the ad has reached and the types of engagement rates. In the case of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, engagement data includes shares, likes and retweets. We’ll also take a look at response metrics and click-throughs. And then typically we are also tracking backend metrics like conversions, sales and new customer acquisitions and the actual dollar value of transactions - in some cases both online and offline.

CW: How do you account for viewability?

SO: Viewability is a still a fairly hot topic in the industry. I think however it is a remnant of what I would call a “commodity media”. This is the display advertising ecosystem for most traditional websites where everything on the page is loaded at the exact same time – the content and the ads (or maybe the ads are loaded first). Viewability is a question in those environments because the user may or may not actually scroll down to that ad but the ad server might actually consider the ad as delivered even though the ad has not been viewed or given the opportunity to be seen. With the platforms that Adaptly is integrating with, the ad is not served until it is scrolled into the newsfeed so there is no chance that the ads are not seen..

Charlene Weisler interviews Sean O'Neal who offers some predicitions about the media landscape in this 9:06 minute video:

CW: Sean can you give me some predictions for the media landscape over the next three to five years?

SO: I think we will see a decline of commodity media where advertisers are forced to buy media across very standardized, very undifferentiated media properties, who have standardized for the purposes of ease and efficiencies, creating marketplaces that make it very simple for buyers and sellers of media to interact (but at the same time that standardization compromises the user experience. We will continue to see a proliferation of autonomous marketing platforms who are act very independent in creating their own systems with their own delivery systems and their own advertising and media formats. My second prediction is that the notion of paid owned and earned which has been the holy trinity for the last 3-5 years in digital media will start to overload somewhat. We have already seen that delivering organic content across social networks has become increasingly difficult because there has been so much competition. We will start to see a real shift in focus as it becomes increasingly difficult to reach your audience on these social networks without using paid media.

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