Toronto-based Casale Media has launched a new website featuring a real-time media-trading index streaming live bids and benchmarking wins by specific industries and categories. The index also features an eye-popping heat map of real-time bidding activity, viewable across to North American options -- the U.S. and, you guess it, Canada. Casale’s Index Exchange is actually an enhancement of an earlier version the ad trading tech firm previously hosted, but it comes as others are beginning to release indices and dashboards that are more reminiscent of Wall Street than Madison Avenue, reflecting the rapid shift from old school media haggling to programmatic media trading and audience-buying. We asked the index’s author, Casale Vice President-Strategy Andrew Casale, to walk us through what some of the elements mean and how to read them.
RTM Daily: How representative is the index? It says it’s based on tracking more than 40,000 brands and advertisers globally, but what share of the total market (roughly) does that represent?
Andrew Casale: There are a lot of different ways to quantify who we are. If you use the age old comScore ranking, we’re number five in total reach. Index processes 3 billion to 4 billion bids per day. That’s a formidable footprint, by any measure. Our exchange is directly integrated with all the major DSPs, so we are exposed to their collective demand footprint (Invite, Turn, MediaMath, RocketFuel, DataXu, TheTradeDesk, etc). We also work with a lot of large publications across more than 3,000 clients, featuring some of the world’s largest media properties like the BBC.
RTMD: The Demand Trends Data boilerplate says it’s based on a “statistical sampling of exchange activity.” Can you be more specific. Ditto: How representative is it?
Casale: The numbers are produced using industry standard tests and statistical models, which confirm that they are viable and consistent. We can also model within the data. Our Index Quarterly reports are well respected and very accurate, and much of the underlying analytics behind those reports are what goes into our real-time data feed on the site. We look at a portion of the stats, that’s because we’re processing tens of thousands of transactions per second. We can only put so much of that on the site, or it would explode the screen. But our baked-in statistical models insure that the data we’re showing is both accurate and representative.
If you’re in a sector, let’s say retail, the data on the site goes back to the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2012 – spans over a year. Comparatives are pretty easy to do. If you look at individual sectors, you can see real trends. You can see holiday trends from last year, and compare it with what we’re seeing this year (i.e. what’s tracking in real-time). This is the type of data that’s available in real time on the Index site.
RTMD: Are the prices in the Price Stream feed real prices? And if so, are they a stream of all bids, or just winning bids? In either case, how relevant is it to look at a constant stream of bid pricing without the ability to aggregate them?
Casale: Yes, these are real prices directly from the bid stream (i.e. a stream of impressions that were sold). The top bid you see in any auction, is the one that won. We are also exposing historical aggregates. If your client is in a particular sector, you can compare that sector’s result with another one going back to the fourth quarter of 2012. It is nice data to look at, but it also has some practical applications as well. If you look at it long enough, there’s some interesting information in there. If two different industries are after the same impression, it only drives the price up, which may actually be the only way to drive pricing to where it actually needs to be. The idea here is to show customers that all of this stuff we all talk about at conferences is actually real. Marketers are always pushing us to open up the data. We couldn’t be happier about opening up the “black box” and making it transparent. In time we’ll bring more and more of this type of information forward, as we continue to open up the data.
RTMD: How quickly is the index refreshed? Is it really real-time?
Casale: Sector rankings are historical, and updated every day, but the rest is in real-time.
RTMD: What do the Ad Sector Rankings represent? Is a measure of performance, pricing, or something else?
Casale: The sector rankings represent spends and market share. We’re saying retail is spending the most relative to that sector. This is the overall budget that we are seeing. Not too surprising, retail is a hallmark industry within RTB. If you drill down, you’ll see that the sector does a lot better in the fourth quarter. If you look at finance, you’ll see that it is growing incredibly quickly. This is important information for anyone trying to navigate programmatic in these sectors.
RTMD: In layman’s language -- people who aren’t traders -- what’s a winning bid?
Casale: The winning bid is the one with the highest price relevant to all the other bids. Essentially, who pays the most to win the bid.
RTMD: What do the geographic references mean in both the map and the Price Stream? Are they snapshots of where the winning biddable impressions are being served, or something else?Casale: The geography represents where the impression came from. It’s where the individual user – in the city where they that went to a website – was bid on programmatically and served an ad. This data is not a snapshot. It’s actual, unaltered data for all winning bids, by location.