The word “optimization” when used in context of media planning obviously did not originate with online ad networks, nor is it web-centric. “During my 20 years of selling magazine, cable TV, placed-based media and now online, I have used the word many a time referring to maximizing media dollars,” says Myles M. Fuchs, VP of Advertising Sales at CareerBuilder.com.
From the media seller side, he says, “I first used it to ‘take back’ budgeted money that was ear-marked for another magazine and ‘extend’ the reach of the media buy to include my property.”
For example: “take one page from your Wall Street Journal schedule of 12 pages (cost: $150K) and apply that money to my magazine. You will increase the reach of the media plan by reaching more readers than that single WSJ page.” That’s optimization for you!
Online, however, “optimization” is a horse of a slightly different color. Without getting too geeky, it’s an automated process (deeply rooted in complicated mathematical formulas) that allows ad servers to place the most relevant ads in the optimal locations.
It used to be that you’d buy a test run-of-network campaign, run a few different creatives to see which ones did well on which sites, and adjust the buy to include only those sites and banners that gave you the desired results. Optimization technologies automate that very process.
More simply put, depending on your campaign goals—number of impressions, click-throughs, or conversions—ad servers can tell you which of your ads are most effective on what sites and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
So, it’s no longer a question of “will you optimize my campaign.” Rather, it’s a question of “why should I pick your optimization technology over the other networks’?” Make sure you’re comfortable with the answer. — Masha Geller