The Upside For RTB

Everybody’s talking about “big data.” It’s the summer’s biggest buzzword.  Talk about abstract terms like terabytes and petabytes all you want -- I’m a Ph.D. and I can barely tell you what a petabyte is.  But here’s one element of big data that should rock the collective world of any publisher. Over the next 24 hours, 10 billion bids will be placed on digital display impressions, according to Quantcast. It’s a daunting number. But like any huge number that gets thrown around these days, there’s opportunity. In fact, that 10 billion number represents 10 billion opportunities. RTB has a huge upside for publishers and content owners.

The upside is in creating higher value. And the only way to create higher value is through a data exchange that unfortunately is missing from the current marketplace. Ad exchanges need to a better job of adding some transparency to those 10 billion bids. A trusted business relationship can’t sustain the black-box method of advertising.  Let publishers know what content and even individual pages are performing well in terms of reader engagement, ad viewability and ad performance. On the other hand, publishers need to provide more data attached to the same.  Everyone has to work on this together. 

Here’s five types of data that can help publishers navigate the RTB marketplace and create value for their properties:

Brand lift: If you don’t think brand lift is important, I need to ask you to go no further than Nielsen’s purchase of Vizu on July 2. Arguably the biggest media measurement company in the world purchased a small company that makes it its business to map digital marketing efforts to traditional brand metrics. On the surface it might seem to be an impossible task. But inform ad exchanges about the pages and properties that result in the best brand lift for the display ads placed on them, and you will create value.

GRP: Provide data about the insights gleaned from content and you create value, even in an RTB environment. We work with one publisher who has been able to show that its most valuable pages attract customers who index very high in terms of online video viewership, provide excellent coverage for New York and LA, and are in the market for travel frequently. That is valuable data. RTB exchanges will do a better job for you if they have it.  GRP is the magic measurement that has helped the television and cable companies continually grow their multibillion-dollar marketing upfronts.

Purchase intent: This is similar to brand lift, but different data in an RTB environment. Sites that attract affluent customers purchase goods and services twice as frequently as others. That’s a good data point to start with -- but when you drive down into travel, auto, finance and other verticals it becomes even more valuable.

Social sharing: Some customer simply share information and recommend products at different levels. Content owners that can prove this via data create value. Example: Some of the content sites we work with have customer profiles that share more than 74% more often on social networks than the average. I would argue that this data is more important than any marketing plan that tries to capture and validate the networks themselves.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t advertise on Facebook. I’m saying that RTB exchanges will more highly value a site that reaches customers that will recommend a product on Facebook. Word-of-mouth measurement is so important that almost 80% of CMOs across the country are making social media a top priority.

Value-specific segments: Valuable inventory is important. The segments that value specific inventory are even more important. The more data that a site can produce about its segments in terms of income, family size, and attitudes, the more it will demand higher bid prices on RTB.

Data would actually drive higher value from advertisers and agencies, even in an RTB environment, but only if the data is there. We talk about making measurement matter. Content owners and publishers should be making measurement make money.   If we do not bring simple data or “Big Data” into the RTB environment, then its lack of data will have RTB stand for “Race-to-the-Bottom” due to only having a bidding system with prices and brands -- not key measures like brand lift, GRP, purchase intent and social sharing.

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2 comments about "The Upside For RTB".
  1. Walter Sabo from SABO media , July 13, 2012 at 4:36 p.m.
    What's RTB?
  2. Blake Weisel from The Post and Courier , September 18, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
    Real-time-bidding. It involves a platform with some similarities to Google AdWords (as a point of reference) but for Display media buying. It is much more complex in that buyers can choose to layer in data segments and additional targeting options, all typically at a very inexpensive price point. Turn and OpenX are two of these providers and a good resource for more information.