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With U.S. ad spending on digital set to overtake TV spending by 2016, according to research firm Forrester, advertisers are strongly evaluating how to move their budgets from traditional media channels to digital.1 Of course, digital isn’t a one-size-fits-all bucket. Within it are a myriad of choices – devices, sites, targeting techniques, buying methods and more.
One aspect of digital that is helping it accelerate growth is programmatic ad buying, which helps advertisers specifically target audiences in real time. We spoke to Jason Barnett, director of programmatic strategy at Centro, one of our technology partners, to dive deeper into this trend.
Jacobs & Clevenger: Can you explain the process of audience targeting at a high level?
Jason Barnett: At a high level, audience targeting is using data pulled from cookies on browsers to target audiences wherever they visit on the web. The emphasis is reaching the right audience, as opposed to a focus on content. This may be a more efficient approach because it eliminates wasted ad spend by choosing who to target, as opposed to serving an ad to everyone who visits a site, whether or not they are relevant to the campaign.
J&C: Today, digital is a cross-screen (mobile, tablet, PC) experience. How has that changed the way audience buying is done?
JB: It presents broad opportunities for advertisers to engage their audience in more meaningful ways. For instance, you can target an audience with a different message in desktop display after they previously completed a video view. It’s usually easier to scale video campaigns in ad exchanges because the inventory is more readily available. It’s also more efficient since it reduces the need to contract with multiple vendors. Instead, an advertiser can reach multiple digital channels through one platform.
J&C: We often hear a lot about “big data” and “data-driven” audience targeting. Can you explain how data plays a role in targeting an audience?
JB: Data, in the form of prior search behavior, clicks or other online measures, can be a strong proxy for future purchases or actions. Data allows advertisers to create, target and analyze custom audiences or any other segmentation the advertiser wants to explore. First-party data is data that is owned. For advertisers, first-party data includes data taken from their owned web properties, their Facebook page, their CRM files, etc. Third-party data is data that is owned by others. This data is available for purchase to target specific audiences. An example of a third-party segment is an in-market auto intender segment. Advertisers focused on car sales, car insurance, car maintenance, car financing and other related businesses may have interest in this audience. Big or small, data is only valuable when insights are gained. First-party audiences, whether for publishers or advertisers, should be used to more deeply engage the audiences, since it’s their clients coming to their site. Plus, unlike third-party data, first-party data is free!
J&C: What types of data companies/partnerships/advancements are interesting to you?
JB: I have a lot of interest in buying premium inventory with programmatic efficiencies. I’m also excited by the potential for automated optimizations and the power of extracting actionable insights from data. The technology is very sophisticated and robust. I believe all media buys will be more automated in the future than they are today.
J&C: Should every advertiser be executing audience targeting/buying? How do advertisers evaluate where to start?
JB: It’s likely not for all advertisers. It’s a great fit for advertisers who want to target audiences, contextual channels or cross-screen solutions. Examples of contextual channels include an auto channel, business channel, etc. These are built from sites that are contextually aligned with specific content. A strategic approach is balancing audience targeting along with targeting contextually relevant content. That way, you can target specific audiences and add a branding layer to discover new users/audiences. It’s a great lower funnel approach to efficiently target the right people and you can easily run upper funnel initiatives with video and premium inventory as well.
Whether you have strong knowledge of the digital world already or are a novice, there are many innovations and techniques you can use to help build your presence. Register now for a one-on-one assessment with Jacobs & Clevenger that will help teach you some of the best marketing techniques you can test in 2015.