Is Your Technology Helping You Win or Lose in the Digital Media Landscape?
Context does matter. Reaching premium surfers when they're engaged in consuming premium content is still relevant. That's why people pay what they do for full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, and that's why WebMD will never accept third-party advertising. Context matters, intent matters and a user's mind-set matters.
When I'm reading an article about Carmelo Anthony on ESPN.com and I'm in the market for basketball sneakers, I'm more likely to buy them because I'm in a basketball mind-set. Catch me with the same sneaker ad when I'm replying to my friend on Hotmail and it's highly unlikely that I'll break task and respond.
Almost as important as context is the way an ad is served. The majority of online audiences visit about three sites a day — and one of them is Facebook. It's tough to get into the media mix for the average site. There are two approaches modern digital publishers can take to deal with this reality. The first is to search engine optimize the hell out of your site. Drop enough tags to ensure an automatic, steady flow of exchange and network advertising.
The second approach is to firewall your exclusive content and only serve guaranteed advertising. Hybrid models are the norm, but publishers must manage the inevitable channel conflict and data leakage that come from opening up premium ad slots to networks and exchanges. Getting this blend right for websites is step one.
Modern publishers also have to go beyond the website. Today's publishers aren't only offering a blended approach to solving these marketing needs in modern request for proposals (RFPs), they're going beyond the typical RFP response to craft unique digital offerings that reach users who are engaged with digital content on multiple screens. You can't effectively target pure audience yet on iPads, iPhones or Android devices, but that's where a lot of content consumption is rapidly shifting. Companies like Phluant are at the forefront of adapting display advertising to the new mobile environment where it will be seen.
If your development plans don't include interoperability with the multiscreen media world in which we currently live, then you're already becoming irrelevant. In the near future there will be no such thing as "mobile networks" and "in-app" advertising. There will be platform solutions which enable cross-platform messaging (and accompanying analytics) in real time.
A lot of the biggest mistakes modern media buyers make can be attributed to pricing. Todays' digital media options don't lend themselves to a single RFP with a static pricing range. The typical marketer looking to find high-income, middle-age men who are "auto-intenders" may top out at $12 CPM. This is ridiculous. Marketers (especially old-school direct mail marketers) know the value of finding their exact audience could be in the $100 CPM range (if they know they're reaching that exact qualified customer) or it could be in the $1.00 CPM range (if they simply want to blanket their message to "men" in a certain geo-targeted area).
Audiences are variable but buying methodologies are not. In the near future, media buying will become programmatic, enabling marketers to populate a more robust RFP template with data and receive systematic buying templates that span both buying methodologies (guaranteed and real-time) and pricing methodologies (CPM, cost per click, cost per action).