One implication that programmatic has brought to advertising is that users are targeted based on who they are in a non-personally identifiable way; i.e. in groups of users defined by cookie (on the web) and device ID (mobile) segments. These data segments are produced from many different companies including MasterCard (looking at your transactions), AddThis (looking at your social web behavior), Experian (credit data) and Blue Kai (an aggregator and distributor of many data products).
Some of the data includes the media you consume online and offline, the purchase behavior you exhibited in the past (and are likely to in the future), searches you make, the size of your home, your financial and generational cohort, the products you bought at the market (we see you Oreo lovers – #milk), and the car you may be interested in buying.
In a single system that I use, I have over ninety thousand data segments to target. I don’t know the name, social security number or address of the people I’m targeting, but I do know they fit within the defined targets.
Other data includes how your devices are connected, like your mobile phone and your computer. There are ways to connect them to the same household – either specifically because you log in to the same account, say your Facebook account, on both devices – or probabilistically because you connect to the same wifi devices and go the same places repeatedly. There are hundreds of factors at play, and this is a simplification.
There is also website and device data, so you can target people who recently went to a site, put a product in the cart, and then went away. You can serve them a coupon to incentivize them to complete the purchase. This technique, called remarketing has proven to be very effective for digital marketers of all sizes.
There is a massive ecosystem in this space filled with hundreds of companies who help advertisers and publishers maximize their opportunities. For advertisers, these technologies are called Demand Side Platforms (DSPs). For publishers, they are called Supply Side Platforms (SSPs). SSPs help publishers maximize their site revenue. DSPs are your control board that let you use the data and define where you want the ads to run – via banner, video, mobile, social and native.
Many of these advertising automation transactions happen through an auction. Within 200 milliseconds of a page loading the auction occurs and the buyer paying the second highest price wins the auction and the ad gets served on the page. There are ample targeting options, like site (only run on the sites you love), price (pay the price you want), location (down to the block and zip code), context of the page (targeting ads to pages with certain words on the them), data (mentioned above), web browser (ex. Chrome vs Safari), and mobile device (ex. iPhone vs Android).
There are so many reports you can spend your days looking at trends, analyzing CPC, looking for top sites, and really honing in on the best parts of your campaign. For a data nerd like me, I love this part of the job! Data tells the story.
These powerful advertising automation solutions are becoming available to small and midsize businesses as programmatic executives are leaving the big advertising agencies and solving for these challenges. The service and results that large advertising and media agencies provide to large clients should be accessible to the businesses that need them most – small and midsize marketers. Businesses should be remarketing, serving ads to their recent site and app visitors. They should be targeting niche data segments like the 90 thousand data points I mentioned above.
Hyperlocal targeting should reach users on their mobile devices just around the corner from a business. They should be amplifying their messages on Facebook by targeting their fans, and reaching new fans based on the targeted behavior keywords. Creative should be dynamic, so that each user gets a unique message based on their interests, and so that the most robust creative messaging gets seen by the most people.
Advertisers should have someone looking at their advertising campaigns every day, pulling reports, analyzing performance and optimizing into the most highly performing targeting options.
Advertising is a data-driven business today; sophisticated marketers use thousands of data segments and advanced marketing controls to make very smart ad serving decisions. This control results in robust media campaigns and the need for daily campaign optimization. The outputs are very targeted and high-performing campaigns.
See more about advertising automation and marketing from Brand Quarterly.