TubeMogul Takes Direct Aim At Google In 'Manifesto For Independence'

Programmatic software provider TubeMogul has taken on the 800-pound gorilla -- Google -- in a new and unprecedented ad campaign that aims to call into question the company's "walled-garden" strategy and self-interested tactics where programmatic advertising is concerned. The campaign, which broke on Monday, includes targeted digital video, outstream video and print ads in several trade publications.

In a pointed blog post entitled “Manifesto For Independence,” TubeMogul challenges Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager -- the largest player in the space -- much in the way that Apple’s iconic 1984 campaign took on IBM. Both TubeMogul and Google have enormous stakes in the programmatic advertising space.

The post goes on to say that TubeMogul prides itself on its independence and transparency and that it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. “Early on, we decided to be a buy-side platform, maintaining a singular focus on advertisers. That means we do not own media or make money from publishers in any way; our only incentive is to do what is best for marketers. More broadly, we believe that this balance between the buy and sell-side is crucial to maintaining trust in advertising.”

The digs specifically suggest that Google has a conflict of interest being part of both the buy and the sell sides. Furthermore, TubeMogul implies that Google’s business has little transparency, shares data that shouldn’t be shared and doesn’t allow advertisers to choose where their ads should run.

The post concludes with a call to action to download a white paper that asks the following questions: Why is Google trending toward consolidation? What does Google’s walled garden mean for cross-channel advertising? How does the architecture of Google’s walled garden compare to an open ecosystem?

But it doesn’t stop there. It literally arms brand advertisers with five questions that they should ask Google reps before they decide to use Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager:

1. Can I use an independent data platform to control and analyze exactly where and how my data gets used? Answer: Your data should belong to you.

2. In addition to the software fees I pay you, do you have a financial stake in the media/publishers? Answer: Making money on both sides of a transaction is a conflict of interest.

3. Can I pick my exact sites, formats, devices, and audiences? Answer: You should be able to handpick the exact targeting strategies for the exact media sources you want to buy.

4. Can I bring in new inventory sources or private inventory deals? Answer: You should have complete freedom to integrate any inventory source into your strategy, no matter how it was bought.

5. Can I define my own metrics for success? Answer: You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand, not compromise on performance-based metrics like cost per view.

TubeMogul executives could not be reached by deadline for comment. Due to the stealth nature of the campaign and a non-disclosure agreement, it wasn’t possible to contact Google for this particular story.

The Manifesto also includes a video of TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson speaking at a TubeMogul University event telling the audience that its only incentive is to do what’s best for advertisers, that advertisers deserve to know exactly where their dollars are spent—on fees, metrics, etc, and  that their data is theirs and theirs alone—it shouldn’t be shared with publishers and competitors. He reminds the audience of the company’s value proposition: It automates processes that used to be manual—planning, buying measurement and optimization.

And, further, Wilson says in the video: “You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand, not compromise on performance-based metrics like cost per view.”

A scathing faux commercial that’s likely to go viral depicts what TubeMogul thinks will happen to Google if it continues going down the path it’s on, poking fun of Google’s perceived nonchalance in moving to skippable video ad formats in January 2016 “because it’s better or something” and noting how angry brands demanding transparency and data are storming the “walled garden."

Separately, two additional videos use Google’s own voice recognition technology to show that Google search results won’t answer advertisers’ questions. “Google, show me results for articles on ‘conflict of interest’ or ‘advertising conflict of interest.'" In the video, Google declines to answer the questions.

In calling Google out, TubeMogul makes plain that it believes the giant has misaligned business incentives and has a conflict of interest with advertisers.

3 comments about " TubeMogul Takes Direct Aim At Google In 'Manifesto For Independence'".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, March 7, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

    Thanks for linking to the TubeMogul blog post. The post states "TubeMogul was born at the University of California at Berkeley. You might know of Berkeley as the home of antiwar protests in the ’60s, or the Free Speech Movement. But you likely don’t know that the university is where plutonium was discovered. Or that it is the birthplace of UNIX, the basic architecture of most modern operating systems". That statement about UNIX is NOT correct, and I find it hard to believe the techs at TubeMogul don't know it. In fact, Berkeley developed only one version of UNIX, back in the 1980s. I used it. It is still available and known as Berkeley UNIX, or Unix BSD. The truth is, Unix was developed by the old Bell Labs, when they were part of the still regulated Ma Bell. As such, they couldn't sell the software as their own, so released it for others in the burgeoning sofware industry to modify. Numerous competing versions of Unix came out, essentially from the first oopen source software.

    Google it to verify.

  2. Tobi Elkin from MediaPost replied, March 7, 2016 at 5:50 p.m.

    Hi Henry,
    Thanks for your comment, and I wonder what your take is on the campaign.

    On UNIX, here's what Wikipedia had to say: "Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is a Unix operating system derivative developed and distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the Univ. of Calif. Berkeley from 1977 to 1995. Today the term "BSD" is often used non-specifically to refer to any of the BSD descendants which together form a branch of the family of Unix-like operating systems. Operating systems derived from the original BSD cod remain actively developed and widely used.

    Historically, BSD has been considered a branch of Unix, Berkeley Unix, because it shared the initial codebase and design with the original AT&T Unix operating system. In the 1980s, BSD was widely adopted by vendors of workstation-class systems in the form of proprietary Unix variants such as DEC ULTRIX and Sun Microsystems SunOS. This can be attributed to the ease with which it could be licensed, and the familiarity the founders of many technology companies of the time had with it."

    In addition, for what it's worth Wikipedia says: "Plutonium was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940 by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, Joseph W. Kennedy, Edwin M. McMillan and Arthur C. Wahl by deuteron bombardment of uranium-238 in the 60-inch cyclotron at the University of California, Berkeley."

  3. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, March 8, 2016 at 10:58 a.m.


    Thanks for looking it up - as I did to verify what I remember from working with Unix BSD, Unix 4.3, Xenix and Unix for VAX (Ultrix) - all from 1980s till mid 1990s, when PCs and their operating systems took over the marketplace.

    The campaign itself is a bold move - I read the lengthy position paper on TubeMogul's site and watched the video after your ever alert team at MP posted this. But I don't understand why TM would make such a bold claim about UC Berkeley "birthing" Unix, when it would be sufficient to remind viewers that it was the creator of a groundbreaking widely, perhaps most widely used version of Unix. They could have che cked it out first, only taking a moment to do so. Accuracy, clarity matter when vendors reach out in this way. As for Plutonium, I have no concerns about that. (Perhaps that should be left to Sheldon Cooper and his friends.)

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