Commentary

OMMA Global: Discussing The Perks Of Targeting

OMMA Global Lunch-Hirsch, Larrison and Zinman

In the shuttle ride from the OMMA Global conference to the San Francisco airport Thursday night, I had a conversation with Katy Katz, director of strategic relationships at Fuor Digital, a digital media and planning agency. We spoke about creative display ads and her experience of how well data feeds work because they assist in targeting display ads.

While I referenced my discussion with Neil Mohan, vice president of product management at Google, Katz told me reasons why advertisers are reluctant to try these types of new tool and technology. For starters, it can cost nearly twice as much as running a traditional online display ad, but yields more than twice the conversions.

At the conference, I heard many advertising and marketing executives talk about how data can more accurately target both search and display ads to consumers. If data is king, than why don't advertisers rely on it to support more campaigns across search and display advertising?

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Isn't it better to receive more-targeted search and display ads than more ads consumers will simply ignore? I felt a real sense during the conference that marketers and agencies are beginning to make headway with brands.

During a lunchtime panel discussion, Gian Fulgoni, chairman and co-founder of comScore, asked if "we all agree that search is behavioral targeting," to which Dave Zinman, Yahoo Display Advertising general manager, promptly answered, "in the broad sense, yes."

Search is behavioral targeting because the person searching on keywords demonstrates intent before being served up targeted ads, explained Jeff Hirsch, AudienceScience president and chief executive officer. "With search you have less room for mistake."

Fulgoni asked if targeted display advertising demonstrates or identifies problems with branding, as opposed to search. The answer: Not really, but advertisers spend so much time targeting people they tend to value only the immediate response.

Contextual relevance to keyword search becomes the most important piece of information a search terms offers that behaviorally targeted cookies and technology on their own don't, Zinman said. Yahoo, for example, offers a tool that targets people with display ads directly after they do a search. The precision exists, but there are many advertisers that don't use it.

Why are advertisers spending so much effort on search and not porting the keywords over and buying the audiences in display advertising? If companies want the precision, they need to realize the benefits and invest in both, Zinman said.

Fulgoni suggested perhaps it's not as simple to get a "sales lift" for marketers running targeted display campaign compared with a search campaign. Hirsch said someone conducting a search knows especially what he wants at that moment. He pointed to the pricing models as being the biggest issue: display, CPM; search, CPC. In an advertiser's mind, there's a direct correlation for paying per performance and less headaches in search advertising compared with display.

If the price is low enough on a targeting campaign, maybe marketers and agencies can justify the cost, Fulgoni added. Dynamic creative ads generate higher returns on investments, but rely on early efforts from the media team to design the ads that work with this technology.

The panel talked about a Hewlett-Packard search and dynamic display campaign where both types of advertising delivered the same ROI results. That's great -- until you realize the display campaign reached more than 100 million people, an effect you'll never be able to duplicate in search, panelist agreed. They wondered how long it will be before the industry takes full advantage of all the technologies now available.

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