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To the point – Flashtalking as attribution modelling solution

Flashtalking is an independent advertisement serving, tracking and technology company, providing digital advertising products, service and support for online advertisers, key media buying and creative agencies. The company produces products in favor of advertisement server market and facilitate the management, delivery and tracking of all forms of digital advertising across desktop, tablet and mobile. Core aspects of focus consist of display (including standard ads, dynamic, rich media, video, HTML 5 & mobile), search, social and affiliates.

The company, Flashtalking, that started operations in 2001 serves billions of advertisement impressions throughout the United States of America, Europe and international markets for media groups including WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, Monarch Airlines, and Havas.

From its head office in New York, and its regional offices in London, Leeds, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cologne, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Sydney, it focuses on the industries such as travel and hospitality, automotive and financial services. Under its clients are names like Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, and the TUI Group.

The company is headed by John Nardone, as CEO. Under his guidance, the company has a revenue split of 80% from software and 20% from services delivered. The type of services the company provides are that of campaign management and creative support. These sort of services are enhanced by their trafficking tools. In addition, the company provides technical development and data support. The combination of technical and data support ensures that they can work on large digital advertising campaigns.

Still, the areas in which Flashtalking specializes in, are advertising serving platform, Innovative creative technology and production tools, advanced targeting, dynamic advertisement ‘DCO’ Technology, Rich Media & Video Ad Formats, as well as tracking & analytics for Online Marketing. Although different and diverse areas of specification, the overall focus of its Encore suite is to provide a streamlined, lower costing Multitouch Attribution (MTA) solution for self-service focused marketers.

Underpinning the work of Flashtalking is the methodology it is based on. Flashtalking’s solution Encore uses different models, one being the random forests model. Random forest can be defined as an ensemble method that combines many dozens (or hundreds) of decision trees, which adds randomness into the test conditions at each node to reduce over fitting.

The Flashtalking solution Encore, relies on log files, and not on tags. More so this solution offers relative ease of implementation and good value for time spent. Plus, the Encore solution aims to be a realistic substitute to enterprise attribution vendors. This edge that Flashtalking has, is due to its trademarked technology of ensemble attribution. With this framework, which tests, trains, and validates different models and gives a weighted output. As a result, performance can be evaluated based on media and competitive benchmarks.

The Flashtalking solution should be considered if you are a performance marketer looking to examine attribution across a longer time frame — Flashtalking contracts average 12 months. Alternatively, if you are a mid-market player who lacks the budget and/or the patience to engage with one of the pricier “white glove” platforms.

That said, the product is progressive in some ways, in others it has quirks especially when it comes to ease of usability. One of its limitations is the speed issue. It takes a rather long delay for tags to populate and to make sure everything is functioning. Therefore, it’s not ideal of quick turn a rounds if you are going to use high volumes, since it can be slow. The product has an expensive cost per thousand impressions compared to its competitors. In addition, you need to be very direct with the data to ensure everything matches and they do not provide their own data to base creative and decisions off of.

Furthermore, as more and more companies roll out their dynamic solutions, Flashtalking should become more automated and efficient to stay on top of the developing trends. That said, Flashtalking has partnered up with other companies such as Integral Ad Science, a leader in quantifying digital media quality in mid-2016. The end goal, to improve accuracy of attribution models. By having access to Integral Ad Science’s verification data, Flashtalking’s Encore attribution models will achieve even higher clarity and predictive accuracy in delivering actionable insights to advertisers across the globe. Therefore, in reality it means that Flashtalking can produce more accurate insights and recommendations to advertisers, since bot users and ads that can’t be viewed are excluded from the analysis.

The combination of verification and attribution, led by the partnership, could imply as an effort to make advertising more transparent and accountable, but also that the analysis is more impactful and seamless for the client. In return, Flashtalking can improve on its precision and measurability of analysis of advertising messages.

In the end of 2016, Flashtalking partnered up with Tapad, a cross-device marketing company. This partnership implies that Flashtalking would have access to Tapad’s Device Graph technology. The technology of Tapad, allows Flashtalking clients to measure the consumer journey in a unified way across devices. Therefore accuracy but also an increase of return on investment.

Therefore, as companies are diving into the open waters of digital marketing, it is vital they have the guidance that the monies spend on advertising matches up with their needs, and results in a return on investment. Companies, such as Monarch Airlines, has gained benefit. But this benefit was not just from Flashtalking themselves, but more the partnership that Flashtalking begun with Tapad. The partnership allowed Flashtalking to deliver new insights to marketers and provides a unified view of the customer journey. The use of cross-device marketing technology solutions has led to a 35% increase in display in return on investment for Monarch. One should state the success was due to understanding Flashtalking’s capacity issues, and that it needed to enhance its performance with the aid of a complementary technology.

About Adriaan Brits

I'm Adriaan Brits, a digital and strategic marketing consultant, Linkedin learning instructor and outreach media owner. I authored the popular Linkedin course "Digital Marketing Research" with more than 120 000 enrolments to date. I help businesses and agencies plan their PR and media buying: See my boutique marketing agency at www.adriaanbrits.com and connect with me on Linkedin

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