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trading desks

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All you need to know about Cookies

It is not a coincidence that your Web ads, whichever site you may be on, match your interests or indeed your browsing history. Cookies are making advertising increasingly more effective.


So what are they?

Cookies are the passive part of a tracking mechanism. They are usually small text files with ID tags that are stored on your computer's browser directory. Cookies are created when you visit a website that uses tag management to keep track of your movements within the site, helps you resume where you left off, remembers your registered login, theme selection, preferences, and other customization functions.

The next time you visit that site, your PC checks to see if it has a cookie that is relevant (that is, one containing the site name) and sends the information contained in that cookie back to the site.

Some cookies are even more sophisticated. They might record how long you’ve spent on each page of a site, the links you click, even your preferences for page layouts, colour schemes and language. They can also be used to store data on what is in your ‘shopping cart’, adding items as you click.


Good things about cookies:

  • Cookies limit the number of times an ad is shown particularly in the case of annoying popup ads. Cookies ensure that a popup only shows up once per visit.

  • Cookies help the website you're viewing and remembers the pages you've visited, enabling ads to show up in a particular order.

  • Cookies enable advertisers to know how many times their ads were shown on publishers' websites.

  • Cookies allow advertisers to keep track of how many people visited the advertisers' websites through a click or a response on the ads shown by third party ad serving companies on publishers' websites. This feature helps both the ad serving company and the advertiser determine if a particular advertising campaign produced the desired results.

  • If you do not complete the purchase on a website and return to the online store at a later time or date, the website can retrieve the items in your basket from the cookie information stored on your device.


Types of Cookies

  • Session cookie

Also called a transient cookie, this is erased when you close the Web browser. Session cookies do not collect information from your computer.

  • Persistent cookie

Also called a permanent cookie, or a stored cookie, a cookie that is stored on your hard drive until it expires or until you delete the cookie. Persistent cookies are used to collect identifying information about the user, such as Web surfing behaviour or user preferences for a specific Web site.


Good news!

When cookies first started to appear, there was controversy. Some people were worried that their data was collected without their consent, which could then be used to build a picture of their browsing habits. EU law now requires all sites that use cookies to seek your express permission to store and retrieve data about your browsing habits. You can see this when you first visit a site’s home page.


Cookies: here today, gone tomorrow?

People are using increasingly more mobile platforms, across multiple devices. This could therefore make cookies obsolete, and sooner than we think. Cookie tracking has become outdated. It lacks the sophistication to accurately identify consumers. The tracking is limited to a single browser within a single device. Technology needs to adapt, and is expected to do in the next 3 years or so. Cookieless tracking will place greater importance on cross-channel attribution modeling to accurately access publisher performance and overall effectiveness.

Here at The Media Trader, we are using cookieless tracking mechanisms. Instead, we implement unique user ID technology (UID) as a tracking device. This means that when users click onto our website, they will be given the same ID no matter what device they are on.


14 days until the Web Summit. See you there!




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The Complexity of Data

Let’s start with a fun fact: according to IBM, “everyday, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

Frequent readers of this blog will have noticed that we are constantly mentioning data - with a special emphasis this week. It really is vital to today’s competitive digital advertising landscape. Data offers companies a huge competitive advantage, if analysed and used correctly.

It is so rich a source of information that it can inform advertisers what customers need and want and how or why they buy. Data drives programmatic buying so that advertisers can target the people they want with absolute precision, making their advertising more efficient.

Sanjay Mirchandani, chief information officer at EMC, claims that “the onus [...] is to leverage data.” Data gives decision makers more authority, as it is difficult to argue with facts. By leveraging data, you are able to understand your customers and their preferences better, and therefore able to create better, personalised ads for them. The more your business grows, the more data you acquire which is beneficial to you for reasons mentioned above.

We have also mentioned that due to huge advances in technology, it has become more affordable and easier to gather information. This is fantastic for businesses and governments alike, argues McKinsey. Big Data (vast amounts of data) has created new growth opportunities and entirely new categories of companies, such as those that aggregate and analyse industry data. We talked about these yesterday - Data Management Platforms (DMPs).


While this is all well and good for businesses and their strategies, the issue is just how much data is out there. So much so that in order to gather, analyse and store it, technology and machine-based systems have to step in. There’s also the cost of storing data - the greatest cost to those who benefit from it most.

Big Data, Big Complexity

With people owning several devices at once, companies now have different ‘touchpoints’ on everyone. That is to say that they now can collect more data on individuals and connect it all together. Consumers are becoming more and more careful about how much data they give to companies, perhaps without even realising the value of their data. Consumers are also entitled to know how much data a company may have about them and how they are using it. The Sony hacking scandal demonstrated that anyone can be targeted, and can have their dated leaked: the issue is not a new one. Confidential data about employees and their families as well as employee’s salaries were leaked, consumers became skeptical as a result and have started educating themselves about handing over data.


With these growing concerns, some good news has arisen in that there is now standardisation on the cloud (internet) of safe storage for data. Companies such as Rackspace are ensuring greater safety standards when storing their customer’s data on their cloud. They want to ensure the same level of security when it comes to protecting virtual assets as companies would protect their physical assets. They break down their security process and look at Cloud Threat Protection, assess vulnerability and protect their customer’s most sensitive data. Furthermore, advertisers can use a White-label registry (e.g Bluekai), providing consumers with complete transparency on their data that has been collected, as well as giving them the choice to ‘opt out’.

The change of the adtech industry on the concern of ad fraud has prioritised the best practice of the market. According to Media Math, it is through education, clear standards & policies, and industry-wide data-sharing that the industry can improve itself, ensuring safety for consumers.


Here’s the main take away: the combination of incredibly smart technology, data safety and transparency are vital for digital ad success.


Here at the Media Trader, we take transparency and data safety very seriously because we fully understand its value, not only to us, but to our clients. We don’t sell data, we simply analyse it using Skylads software giving you better insights into effectively serving adverts to the most relevant people.


19 days until The Web Summit in Dublin. See you there!







The modern consumption process (where consumers do extensive online research before they make a purchase, buy products online or using their mobile, etc.) generates a lot of data. In the past, with everything being done on paper, things were a lot more inefficient. Now, however, all of this data can be gathered, shared and transferred much more easily.

In fact, data has become more important than ever before. With brands and advertisers all vying for the attention of the Millennial Generation (consumers under 35, who make up 25% of British adults), there is a massive push towards data-driven marketing. This approach to marketing has been heralded as the main way forward.

A recent report by Turn and Forbes revealed that marketers are six times more likely to report a higher profit when using data-driven marketing.

Indeed, one thing many of the big players can agree on is the importance of data.


A global review of data-driven marketing by GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group found in its survey of 3,000 marketing professionals that nearly all recognize the importance of data in advertising and customer experience efforts, with over 77 percent saying they're confident in its prospects for future growth.

According to Pierre Naggar, managing director of Turn Europe, “marketers can base their decisions, for marketing campaigns as well as to inform wider business decisions, on what their customers really want, rather than rely on guesswork”.


According to Brendon Ritz, Meltwater’s Growth Hacker,

“Armed with… data, you can make informed decisions to help set goals, surpass them, grow the company, and prove the department’s worth.”


We thought we’d sum this up for you in the following diagram.

Despite the growing importance of data, there are many amongst us who may still fear it, thinking it means complexity and confusion.


After all, as per Brendon Ritz, “some people are uncomfortable with numbers and metrics. For many of us marketers, our strengths are in relationships, language and other softer skills.”

So let us first try to get to grips with exactly what data is.


What is data?

Data refers to the figures and statistics that have been collated for analysis.


Types of Data


First Party Data

This data is collected from your own audience and customers, and it is generally thought of as the most valuable because of its quality. Whatever is decided regarding third-party cookies, first-party data will always be your own – which makes it the safest form of data.

First-party data can come from:

  • Data from an advertiser’s web and mobile analytics tools

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems

  • Transactional systems

  • Data collected from subscriptions and newsletter signups


Second Party Data

Second-party data is first-party data that you can acquire from the source (who collected it). Second-party data can be acquired if you enter into partnership with a particular the person who owns it.

Companies with complementary customer sets (or selling complementary services) can share audience data and extend the insights they’ve derived from their own customer engagement data to enrich customer profiles, reach audiences at scale or help with ad targeting.

An example of this is when you buy a car from Audi or Seat and the information is sent to the mother company, VW, which of course offers complementary services.


Third Party Data

Third party data is collected by external data collection companies (or aggregators) and sold to companies for use. They then analyse the data and express it in summary form.   

Third party data is used to develop marketing segments for targeted marketing initiatives and can either be from data modeling or registration-based data.


  • Data modeling

This refers to when the data is processed, and the range of data is increased to include ‘look-a-likes’ i.e those who could potentially be targeted based on their online behaviour. The accuracy of this is considerably lower than that or registration-based data (i.e 20-50%).


  • Registration-based data

This is when an internet user is registered as a potential buyer based on searches. The accuracy of this is much higher, roughly 70%.


The benefit of third party data is the sheer volume of user data you can access. It can also be used for demographic, behavioural, and contextual targeting. Third party data also plays a critical role in solutions like audience targeting and audience extension.


Here at The Media Trader, we thrive on complexity and no problem is too difficult for us. Using sophisticated algorithms, we are able to process massive amounts of data, no matter how complicated, breaking it down and simplifying it for our clients. We help our clients to make sense of data, turning it into insights that they can use, and therefore producing the best results possible.


P.S.: 21 days to go until the Web summit, Dublin. See you there!





Anyone in the AdTech industry will have heard about words such as ‘Programmatic’ and ‘RTB’ and how they are used by trading desks in programmatic buying.

Just to refresh your memory, real-time bidding refers to the buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions that occur in the time it takes a webpage to load.

Here’s something to give you an idea of how RTB works.

During the loading of the webpage, the user’s information is passed on to the Ad Exchange which puts the advertising space in an auction, operating on the Second Price rule. This means that the highest bidder wins but the price paid is the second-highest bid.

But what is so good about RTB? Why is everyone in the digital advertising industry talking about it?


In the past, advertising inventory was bought and sold in bulk. (Ad inventory refers to the quantity of ad placements available for selling to advertisers during a given period.) With print media, there are limits as to how much advertising space there is. This is not the case with digital marketing, as it is on the internet, and adverts can be placed in several places. The opportunities are endless. Hence, there was still some available inventory leftover.

In order to monetise the leftover content, publishers pushed this through ad exchanges on an auction basis. Publishers were also able to reap the benefit of the vast amount of data available to them, which made even more precise targeting possible.  

Even though it was publishers who started using RTB to monetise their content,  advertisers soon discovered the many capabilities of RTB as well. So much so that, for some companies, it has become the tool of choice for ad buying. The fact that entire companies that specialise in RTB have sprung up in recent years demonstrates just how well it is working.


When you compare RTB to traditional advertising (for example print and broadcasting), you are sending your message out to the masses. However, you have no idea who is seeing your ad, if they have seen it at all. You don’t even know who your customers are. With programmatic, you are able to target the people you want. You are also more certain that it has been seen by the right people. With RTB, you are able to show them relevant advertising in real time.  


According to Leon Siotis, Director of Media at BrightRoll


“The ability to show the right ad, to the right person at the right time appeals to every advertiser no matter what their intent, and this is something that can only be done if you are making that buying decision in real time.”


So, who does RTB benefit?

RTB can benefit both the buy-side (advertisers) and the sell-side (publishers).



RTB gives advertisers greater control over the performance of their campaigns. It enables them to achieve more targeted results for themselves. This is because RTB ensures that advertisers are immediately reaching their desired audience on more than one website and device. This also increases the scale of their advertising. 

Additionally, as they are serving the right impression to the right audience at the right time, their spending will be more efficient. They no longer have to worry about wasted impressions. (An impression refers to a single instance of an online ad being displayed.) Finally, the auction process dispenses with the need to work directly with publishers or ad networks to negotiate ad prices, offering greater transparency.


RTB can help publishers generate more revenue from their ad inventory. If you refer back to the above diagram, you will remember that the ad exchange auctions the space to the highest bidder. Therefore, the higher the bid, the higher the revenue generated from the sale.

The auction pricing system has resulted in concerns that RTB benefits advertisers at the expense of publishers. After all, since publishers are no longer naming the price, some worry that RTB would result in advertisers paying them less for their inventory.

However, there are ways for publishers to retain control over prices. Publishers can set a price floor (the minimum price at which their inventory is sold). The reserve price must be met in order for a transaction to take place. This enables publishers to open their ads up to an auction while ensuring that they maximise inventory revenue.

Here’s the main takeaway: RTB is no longer a thing of the future; it is our present. The benefit it offers in terms of efficiency, precision targeting, transparency and scale means it is here to stay. The reason everyone in the digital advertising industry is talking about it is because everyone wants a bite of the RTB pie. And yet, it remains something that not everyone has the expertise to do.

Here at the Media Trader, we are a trading desk specialising in the use of RTB to optimise the execution of your ad campaign. Our aim is to help you to reach the right person at the right time on the right device.

P.S.: 25 days to go until the Web summit, Dublin. See you there!



Thinking about trading up?

As we spoke about yesterday, a trading desk is a key player in the world of programmatic buying. We exist to optimise advertising budgets by reaching a large audience at a fair price across multiple devices.

But let’s go back to the basics: what exactly does a trading desk do?

Most of us are familiar with the idea of trading on Wall Street and what it means in the financial world, even if we don’t know the ins and outs of how it works. Hence, to understand the role played by digital trading desks, it may be useful to see it as the case of exporting the Wall Street business model and applying it to the advertising industry.


First off, the environment that a digital trading desk operates in is similarly fast-paced and competitive. Secondly, the concept of trading remains much the same but the commodity being traded here is online ad space and the people who see those ads. 

How does the trading happen?

1. Publishers, in order to monetise their content, link their ad space to the buying ecosystem.
2. With the help of the trading desk, advertisers decide who they want to reach and which space would be the most effective to enable them to reach this audience.
(General rule of thumb: The more popular the space, the greater the price the client is keen to pay for it.)
The trading desk puts forward a price to bid for each space according to the people watching the content, the screen they are using and the support.
3. The auction takes place, with the one paying the most winning the space.
4. This entire process happens in under 250 milliseconds. This is incredibly fast, demonstrating that it is happening in real time, hence the name RTB (Real-Time Bidding).


This business model arose as a way to enhance publishers’ online ad space using data.  This broke with traditional methods of online advertising. The reason why it is working so well is because advertisers now know their audience. It is no longer the case of them taking a stab in the dark. There has been a movement away from previous reliance on mass media, such as print and broadcasting, towards linking your message with specific people.

To provide you with an overview, there are basically 2 types of trading desks: agency trading desks and independent trading desks.

Agencies have incorporated the trading desk as part of the full range of services they provide to advertisers. Examples include Havas-Adnetik, Publicis-Audience on Demand and WPP-Xaxis. Their expertise in online advertising was relatively low and did not yield such results as someone who is specialised. As a result, advertisers wanted to move their trading in-house. Clients were therefore uncertain about the process and the possibility of being taken advantage of.  

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the independent trading desks. An independent trading desk is a company specialising in trading, that is not directly related to a media agency.

The case for independent trading desks:

We are focused on online advertising, mastering our own technology, and helping advertisers embrace the digitalisation of their clients. As we are experts in our field, the decisions we make can drastically influence the placement and pricing of your advertising. The fact that we do not have to answer to a large holding company also prevents any conflict of interest. We focus solely on the buy-side. Furthermore, we offer greater visibility regarding price and data and ad serving by using an independent tracking device owned by Google. This demonstrates to our clients that we are helping them achieve their goals and assures them of the trust they can have in us.

Finally, as we are a company specialised only in trading, clients need not worry that they are paying us to both manage their ad campaign, as well as for our trading services.

Here’s the main takeaway: As an independent trading desk, the Media Trader is committed to transparency, cost-efficiency and re-establishing your control over your ad campaigns. Educating you about what trading desks do is what we see as the first step in this process. This is what differentiates us from other trading desks, whether they be independent or agency.





When people think ‘advertising’, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘creative’, and it is true that the industry has long been the domain of creatives. However, with the recent boom in digital media, the spotlight is now being shared by the technological players that make it all possible.