Employee Spotlight: Henry Chen

Henry ChenHenry ”The Ops Guy” Chen

Responsibilities at Drawbridge: I lead the Tech Ops team at Drawbridge. My team is responsible for all production infrastructure and IT. We work with lots of open-source technology and constantly improve on system automation.

With a small team, we manage infrastructure in three data centers; hosting a platform infrastructure serving 200K+ queries per second and three Hadoop clusters with 1PB+ of storage capacity and 3K+ CPU of computing capacity.

Background: I spent eight years with a previous startup (acquired), then Yahoo!, then Proofpoint (IPO’d), and have been with Drawbridge for almost three years.

While at Yahoo!, I led the effort to design and deploy the next generation of the Display Advertising serving platform and a self-serve Inventory Management System. After learning about online advertising at Yahoo!, Drawbridge’s vision to solve the cross-device problem made complete sense. I was working on my MBA when Drawbridge called, but I felt it was a real exciting opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It’s fascinating to see what our data scientists are solving each day!

Interests Outside of Drawbridge: When I want to be active, I enjoy exploring trails with my mountain bike. When I want something to relax me, yet frustrate me at the same time, I take up golf.  Working at a startup, sleep is never enough… so I’m definitely interested in that.

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Cross-Device Advertising Myth #2: Multi-Device Equals Cross-Device

Drawbridge CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan recently busted five myths about cross-device advertising. We’re expanding on her presentation in this five-part series of blog posts.

Myth #2: Multi-Device Equals Cross-Device

Multi-Device Insertion Order

Why Does This Myth Persist?
Does this image look familiar? Most Insertion Orders specify spend on mobile, desktop and tablet – a multi-device campaign. Because there are a lot of buzzwords in the industry today – multi-device, cross-device, cross-screen, omnichannel – there’s confusion between these terms, and most people assume they are one and the same. Our industry has admittedly not done a great job defining and differentiating these terms. Until now…

Here’s the Truth…
A campaign that randomly happens to hit the same consumer on different devices doesn’t make it a cross-device campaign. Allocating spend in multiple channels is different that deliberately reaching consumer across devices.

How Do We Know?
Cross-device advertising enables a multitude of targeting options that “multi-device” campaigns could never dream of. In addition to retargeting users from desktop to mobile, or mobile to desktop, or even mobile web to mobile app, cross-device identity allows advertisers to run more interesting campaigns, such as conquesting campaigns that target users of a specific product or service. Location-based campaigns can serve ads on desktop based on where that consumer was earlier with their mobile phone, and can tell advertisers how online ads affect offline behavior. Sequential messaging allows advertisers to tell a story that guides a consumer to a conversion event, even as the consumer switches devices. With “multi-device” campaigns, advertisers are lucky to hit the same consumer twice – let alone deliver advanced campaigns.

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Employee Spotlight: Sanjay Agarwal

Sanjay Agarwal, Director of Engineering

Responsibilities at Drawbridge: I manage platform engineering. My team is responsible for building core systems, such as ad servers to process incoming ad requests, and Hadoop-based batch-processing systems for reporting, targeting, and plumbing for our cross-device graph.

We have adopted a wide array of open-source technologies and have had great success with this approach. Drawbridge’s technology stack contains Hadoop (CDH5), Kafka, Java, Spring, Hibernate, CouchBase, and MySQL as main components.

One notable accomplishment of the team’s work is our low latency ad servers. We process up to 200,000 queries per second with an average response time for each request of less than 20 milliseconds!

Background: My background is in advertising, data processing, platforms and highly scalable real-time systems. My passion for advertising and building something new and cool brought me to Drawbridge.

Interests Outside of Drawbridge: I love the outdoors – especially camping and hiking. I also enjoy playing tennis. I like to keep track of what’s going on in the Valley and the new problems people are trying to solve.

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Cross-Device Advertising Myth #1: Mobile Isn’t Targetable

Drawbridge CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan recently busted five myths about cross-device advertising. We’re expanding on her presentation in this five-part series of blog posts.

Cross-Device Advertising Myth #1: Mobile Isn’t Targetable

Myth #1: Mobile Isn’t Targetable

Why Does This Myth Persist?
In meetings with brands and agencies, and on panels at industry events, we regularly hear that “mobile doesn’t have cookies,” meaning that those devices can’t be properly linked, their owners can’t be tracked across the web, and targeting isn’t accurate. Just check out these headlines from industry publications that perpetuate this myth:

In addition to this problem, there’s the issue that within smartphones, there are essentially two devices. Connecting mobile web browsers to mobile apps on one device is tough, let alone linking that device to tablets and desktops. In addition, iOS mobile devices block third-party cookies by default, which makes tracking on iPhones and iPads more difficult than on Android devices.

With all of these issues with tracking on mobile, it’s no wonder that the industry has been convinced that mobile devices aren’t targetable.

Here’s the Truth…
Marketers need to target consumers – not devices.

How Do We Know?
Cross-device consumer targeting drives mobile performance. By leveraging desktop data, mobile app behavior, and location – we can target and retarget users based on any number of dimensions from demographics to interests and intent. Drawbridge has connected over 1.1 billion consumers across 2.6 billion devices, and when we run a targeted campaign for an advertising partner, we’re optimizing towards the types of consumers that are likely to engage with the ad and ultimately convert. iPhones and Android tablets don’t convert – their owners do. So advertisers need to target the users, not the devices.

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Employee Spotlight: Obuli Krishnaraj V

obuliObuli Krishnaraj V, Software Engineer

Responsibilities at Drawbridge: I lead the Hadoop platform team, which is responsible for building profiles for each and every device based on historic actions. I am also responsible for Drawbridge’s reporting and conversion tracking platforms. I’ve been with Drawbridge for two years.

Background: I was part of the Search and Cloud Platforms group at Yahoo! for six years, and worked on Hadoop from its initial stage. I wanted to work at a start-up working on big data and Hadoop, and came across Drawbridge. From my experience at Yahoo!, I understand the difficulties that are present when trying to learn more about users based on their actions. This becomes even harder without personally identifiable information. I find the way that Drawbridge is trying to solve this with big data challenging and exciting.

Interests Outside of Drawbridge: I like going on long drives, reading science-fiction and fiction novels, and watching Tamil movies (one of the Indian languages spoken in my home state).

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Five Tips for Effective Cross-Device Advertising: #5 – Input Drives Output!

Drawbridge recently released the “Five Tips for Using Cross-Device Advertising Effectively” white paper, which detailed easy practices for maximizing the performance of cross-device campaigns. In this series of blog posts, we’ll dive deeper into each of the five tips.Tip #4 – Input Drives Output!

Aside from using campaign data to optimize on the fly during the course of your campaign, providing as much data as you can to your cross-device advertising platform partner up front will be beneficial for a number of reasons. Historical data from previous campaigns will give the Ad Operations team a head start in optimizing the campaign to reach your goals, and any first- or third-party customer data you have can be utilized for targeting or creating lookalike audience segments.

Campaigns run through Drawbridge are both machine-driven and manually optimized by account managers, and the more data provided to both the algorithm and the team, the more data there is to crunch to look for trends. If you don’t have data to provide, setting clear performance indicators and tracking towards them throughout the campaign will help you reach your goals, as the team and self-learning bidder will have a head-start in optimization.

In addition, sending post-conversion data will help your campaign in multiple ways. Drawbridge’s Connected Consumer Graph enables advertisers to see how ads served on one device influence behavior on other devices, including conversions that were previously unattributable. Providing post-conversion data also allows you to make more informed decisions in future campaigns. And arguably most importantly, inputting post-conversion data into the Drawbridge self-learning bidder, specifically customer lifetime value data, enables the bidder to target customers with similar qualities to your most valuable users.

Just remember – the better the input, the better the output!

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Employee Spotlight: Xiang Li

Xiang Li

Xiang Li, Lead Data Scientist

Responsibilities at Drawbridge: Anything with science and optimization involved, from CTR and CVR estimation, to bidding strategy, traffic allocation, and device-pairing.

Background: E.E. Ph.D. in speech recognition. Worked at IBM, Ask.com, and one social network startup before joining Drawbridge.

“I’m really fascinated by the cross-device and mobile advising problems that we are solving at Drawbridge, and the intelligence of the people that I work with.”

Interests Outside of Drawbridge: I am an avid airline and hotel point collector. I love to collect various points and miles and redeem them for international travel in premium cabins and high-end hotels. There are two CPMs that I care about the most, the regular CPM (cost per impression) at Drawbridge, and the spare time CPM (cost per miles) when I do a mileage run.

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Cross-Device Insights Launched!

Drawbridge Cross-Device Insights

Today Drawbridge announced the availability of Cross-Device Insights, a suite of reporting and analytics tools that provides advertisers with a complete view of the consumers they are reaching.

In a first for the industry, the Drawbridge Cross-Device Insights product is available to advertisers who run on inventory through any buy-side platform, including Drawbridge’s own Cross-Device Platform.

“The idea of linking devices to consumers to both tell a story and measure conversion paths across devices is game-changing,” said Nick Fairbairn, Senior Director, Acquisition Marketing at Provide-Commerce, whose online gifting brands include ProFlowers, Shari’s Berries, Personal Creations and more. “Many ad tech and media companies claim to have cross-device solutions, but the fact is, most solutions can’t do it at real scale. Drawbridge has done a great job unifying how we can reach and message users across devices, and telling us how many desktop or tablet conversions occurred from mobile ad exposure. Their reporting interface is slick and gives real value to ad exposure for conversions across devices and a true, unified view of our customers.”

Resources:

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The State of Cross Device: Mobile OS Adoption in the US and Europe

State of Cross Device

Drawbridge recently produced two infographics on the “State of Cross-Device,” looking at user trends across smartphones and tablets, and digging into those trends by gender, age group, and location – both in the United States and in Europe.

By leveraging data from the Drawbridge Connected Consumer Graph of over 1.1 billion consumers across over 2.6 billion devices, we looked at individuals that own both a smartphone and a tablet, and asked ourselves a few questions:

  • Are people loyal to their operating system across devices? Meaning, are iPhones owners more likely to own iPads than Android tablets? Likewise, are Android phone users more likely to own Android tablets than iPads?
  • What are the trends or major differences between genders/locations/ages?
  • Are there any interesting outliers?

The results showed some truly interesting trends in every category, but let’s dig further into location trends.

Let’s start with the United States.

US

Right away it was clear that multi-device owners on the East and West coasts, in general, gravitate towards iOS devices, whereas users in the middle of the country prefer Android. An initial thought was that larger cities leaned towards iOS, but New York City proved a major exception to coastal/iOS correlation, with users being about 25% less likely to own iPhones than other coastal cities. Additionally, Chicago and Houston (the third and fourth most populated cities, respectively) are more similar device-wise to Denver (22nd most populated) and St. Louis (58th) than Los Angeles (second) or Philadelphia (fifth).

Charlotte is the most iPhone-heavy city, with fewer than 25% of multi-device users owning Android phones, and Washington, DC is the most iPad-heavy.

Moving across the pond to Europe, the trends aren’t as clear.

Europe

Of the countries that we looked at, almost every country is very mixed in terms of OS-affinity. The immediate numbers that jump out are that the Spanish and Portuguese overwhelmingly use Android devices, and the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and Icelandic overwhelmingly use iOS.

One interesting point on the Nordic countries – while Scandinavians in general lean towards iOS devices, Finland is arguably the most fragmented country for device ownership. We see a roughly 50/50 split between iPhone and Android phone ownership, and the four phone/tablet combinations (iPhone & iPad, iPhone & Android tablet, Android phone & iPad, Android phone & Android tablet) are fairly evenly split as well.

Check out the complete infographics for the United States and Europe to see more trends, including by age groups and gender.

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