Is Your Technology Helping You Win or Lose in the Digital Media Landscape?
Media buying desks are so 2009. I mean, who doesn't have access to 800-plus exchange inventory sources and 30 different third-party data providers? In a world where well-heeled demand-side customers have all of the tools to buy audience efficiently, how do internet marketers effectively communicate?
Today's digital display advertisers love the idea of audience buying because it seems unique. The concept of buying an audience rather than the site it's on is truly revolutionary and will be a continuing part of the digital media conversation for a long time to come. However, many technology companies are being funded, started and run on the misconception that audience buying versus site-specific buying is a binary choice. It's not.
Large holding company shops are trying to migrate client budgets over to their media buying desks; demand-side platforms are trying to displace ad networks; and ad "platforms" are attempting to skim the media cream on all real-time transactions by promising better performance via centralization. All of these tactics are doomed to fail.
Unless you're going cheap and deep by buying remnant inventory at under 50 cents cost per thousand (CPM) or going data-heavy and spending upwards of $5.00 CPM using segmentation to find a highly specific premium audience, you're going to need context. In the former case (running wild with sub-50 cent bids across exchanges), you face the issue of low clickthrough rates and the accompanying issue of low brand safety. Your ad is getting out there, but God knows where it's serving. Then again, at 50 cents CPM, why not "spray and pray"? With machine learning, you can easily optimize against a conversion pixel and let your bidding technology find all the performance that a cheap CPM can yield.
On the other end of the spectrum (using expensive V12 or Bizo segments, for example), you have a highly targeted audience but a problem achieving scale against such specific targeting goals. Also, while you may be hitting your desired segment, you may be hitting them at the wrong time. As a frequent traveler, I've often been targeted with exactly the right ad (a cheap JetBlue flight to San Francisco) at exactly the wrong time (during my fantasy baseball draft).