The Reality Of RTB & Today's Mobile Ad Tech Landscape

Much has been made of the use of premium inventory vs. performance inventory on RTB platforms. Some detractorsclaim that RTB traffic is worthless and that DSPs are polluting their premium traffic with remnant inventory that costs the same but doesn’t convert. This may have been true of RTB platforms in their early days. But now, especially in the case of mobile, RTB has proven itself as both a branding tool and a way to engage consumers in the context of relevant content in real-time.

According to comScore, Americans started using smartphone and tablets to connect to the Internet more than PCs for the first time this past January. This phenomenon is becoming more common, and is driving the value of mobile RTB for branding. Mobile RTB takes advantage of the time users consume content on their mobile device, time when they’re likely not engaged anywhere else, to deliver higher-touch branding campaigns, as well as direct-response.

But the real value proposition of mobile is the fact that, for perhaps the first time ever, it allows marketers to augment online data-driven user profiles with offline insight. Layering what we know of a user’s shopping habits online atop physical location data from their mobile devices paints a much more comprehensive picture of how consumers use both online and offline outlets to research, price compare and then ultimately buy products.

For instance, mobile location data and mobile browsing data can tell us not just that Consumer A is potentially in the market for lighting fixtures for a home remodel project, but that she has visited the physical locations of specialty lighting stores that sell only high-end fixtures. So, although A is looking for home building products, Home Depot may not consider her a qualified lead because she is shopping for luxury lines that the big box stores do not carry. This type of precision targeting and waste prevention at scale can mean a great deal to a marketer’s bottom line, but could only be accomplished by analyzing location data within context.

That said, there is a misconception that the value of location data lies in finding consumers visiting physical locations and targeting them later when they’re browsing online. In reality, the value extends far beyond those efforts to augment our intelligence about consumers on both an individual scale and as part of the larger picture of the market. Marketers can now predict brand affinities using data that derived not just from media consumption but also from real-world behaviors. Further, proper data intelligence is what informs a dynamic campaign and takes a consumer’s full journey into perspective for long-term results.

At this point, most smart marketers would ask about scalability. And scalability is where RTB makes a significant impact on mobile marketing. Programmatic RTB enables brands to increase scale without sacrificing data accuracy by leveraging automated platforms and sophisticated data science to both amass intelligence and act upon it in real-time. Programmatic RTB using mobile location data allows marketers to become essentially device-agnostic, building intelligence for current and future campaigns without the gap that occurs between the online and offline worlds, and engaging qualified targets at scale. It’s a new era of mobile, and the possibilities are endless.

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