MarTech Interview with Ben Brenner, VP of Business Development and Strategy at Digital Remedy

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Advertising trends and investments in adtech took a shift during the pandemic as more and more marketers saw the need to change the outlets they used to reach customers in 2020. How will adtech and marketing trends shift through 2021 as pre-pandemic days still seem a long way off? Ben Brenner, VP of Business Development and Strategy at Digital Remedy shares a few thoughts in this chat with MarTech Series:

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Tell us a little about yourself Ben, we’d love to hear about your role, a typical day at work, biggest marketing and sales moments so far?

I joined the Digital Remedy Team back in the summer of 2018 as the Sr. Director of Partnerships and Development. Over the past three years I have worked with our Product and Technology Teams to build our Flip OTT attribution platform from initial ideation, up through its launch at the start of 2020. Since then, my focus as VP of Product Marketing has been educating advertisers about the intricacies of the OTT landscape, and continuously optimizing Flip’s capabilities to best meet the needs of our clients. Flip has seen so much growth in its first year on the market, that we have already driven enough growth to invest money back into the product in order to continue developing and launching new feature releases.

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What are some top trends / predictions you’d like to talk about for marketing and marketing technology in 2021 – suited to the tech and B2B marketplace?

In the past year, as stay-at-home orders were put in place across the country, more and more eyes turned to streaming, forcing advertisers to shift their budget towards this growing outlet. While the impact of OTT/CTV on the advertising industry was inevitably going to grow, the pandemic certainly accelerated it.

As consumers flocked to streaming services, there has been an influx of ad tech innovation as a result to meet the demands of the industry. There has been a whole different type of “streaming wars” going on behind the scenes as companies work to develop the technology and build an ad-supported ecosystem for the streaming generation. Products like Flip allow advertisers to connect OTT ad views to physical actions and conversions, providing full-funnel attribution.

But that is just the beginning. As OTT continues to grow as an advertising powerhouse, and more and more brands transition their ad dollars away from linear, I think the innovations that we will see as a result are going to revolutionize what OTT is capable of.

As marketers explore and adjust to the fast changing privacy and adtech space, what are some top observations you’ve been noticing off late?

As privacy guidelines continue to evolve in the ad tech world, OTT is the safest space for advertisers who are trying to navigate the post-cookie landscape. The updates to IDFA and iOS 14 will have very little impact on OTT, as IP addresses are used as the key identifier, rather than cookies. While it doesn’t provide you with the granular targeting capabilities on a personal level, it does allow you to target by household.

That being said, that flexibility could, and likely will, change. OTT is still an emerging medium, and because the space is new, it is ripe for fraud. It is essential to work with a partner who can manage your campaigns through direct deals with publishers, and monitor performance to ensure valid traffic.

Regardless of where you choose to invest your ad spend, working with a verification partner is essential to confidently navigate the guidelines and legislation that will continue to evolve.

What are some of the top standardization metrics that you feel marketers need to be focusing more on today?

In the world of OTT, advertisers have been able to look past video completion rates (VCR) as a standard metric, and shifted towards full funnel attribution. Brands want a better barometer for success, and with Flip, we are focused on measuring the actions that matter after an ad exposure. Did someone visit your website after seeing your ad? Did they make a purchase? For how much, and what is their order number? These metrics are becoming more and more prevalent, and while they were once a novel concept, they are now setting the new standard for OTT reporting.

Looking forward, attribution is merely a stepping stone. Brands want to know how OTT performance fits into the rest of their funnel, and what the path to purchase actually looks like. This will mean being able to customize how they credit OTT sources, and where that credit gets assigned– from first and last touch attribution, to everything in between. This will allow advertisers to make more informed decisions, and optimize their campaigns towards the specific performance metrics that matter most to them.

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Take us through some of the biggest challenges you are seeing marketers struggle with when it comes to their use and implementation of adtech? A few best practices as well?

I think one of the biggest challenges that marketers are struggling with today, especially with the implementation of adoption of OTT, is understanding the questions that they should be asking from an agency or media execution partner regarding the impact of their campaigns. Things like demo audiences, reach and frequency goals, or VCR benchmarks are all moot points when it comes to streaming. Those elements can be filtered out and hard set pre-bid, and since OTT spots are not skippable, VCR is a fairly irrelevant metric.

Instead, marketers should be asking–how can you deliver on my goals for CPA or ROAS (return on ad spend)? How can you affect my bottom line? How can you show me the incremental effect of this media?

OTT has evolved very rapidly over the past year alone, and it’s important to find a vendor with products like Flip that can change the expectations marketers set for their campaigns, and with people who have the knowledge and expertise to remain at the forefront of that evolution.

A few takeaways for marketing leaders in 2021: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year?

Just as we have seen with the recent acquisition of Dataxu by Roku, I think we will continue to see more and more partnerships between streamers and DSPs as OTT/CTV continues to grow and brands aim to beef up their ad stack. Migration towards OTT was already well underway well before the pandemic, but 2020 has certainly accelerated what was already happening.

As we begin to see a bit of normalcy return to our day to day lives, there is a chance we could see a slight dip in viewership as people start to go back outside. But even if we see the acceleration of OTT begin to slow, we will not see it move backwards. If there was a time for advertisers who are still curious about OTT to start seriously exploring the space, it is now. Find a partner who can help you navigate the OTT space, develop your attribution methodology, and better understand how audiences are engaging with your brand.

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Digital Remedy

Digital Remedy delivers advertisers, publishers, and agencies the innovation, technology, and customer service they need to make the most of their online advertising endeavors.

Ben Brenner is the VP of Product Marketing at Digital Remedy

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