Efficient Frontier Launches Platform Supporting Display, Search Ad Buys

Efficient Frontier chart

Efficient Frontier plans to announce its entry into the display advertising space Tuesday with an integrated display and search marketing optimization platform. The goal is to make marketers understand that the two advertising media should not live in silos, but work as an integrated campaign.

The features in that platform combine search and display advertising, supporting real-time bidding and the ability to leverage predictive modeling to forecast performance based on overall goals.

The platform integrates with advertising exchanges, such as Yahoo's Right Media and Google's AdEx. It also taps into Google's real-time bidding technology and application programming interface to improve results for clients. Advertisers can also expect integration with Microsoft's adECN.



The real-time bidding technology lets Google send an individual impression through an API. The technology identifies the impression and attributes, including the audience segment the profile might fit into. Based on those attributes, the platform determines the bid price for the Efficient Frontier advertiser and delivers it to Google.

Technology companies like Efficient Frontier are striving to make it as easy to purchase display advertising as it has been to purchase search. For many advertisers, search and display campaigns remain in two separate silos. "Thinking about an individual channel being isolated is a false way to support marketing," says Justin Merickel, vice president of marketing and new product development at Efficient Frontier. "The integration allows us to track the interaction and attribute the success to the appropriate channel and give the appropriate value."

Merickel says the Efficient Frontier platform can track and monitor the probability of conversions and change the bid price in real-time relative to changing customer segments.

Through the platform, advertisers will have access to reporting that captures, calculates and attributes the value driven by a combination of search and display advertising. They should see significant cross-channel activity, along with improved tracking attribution.

Another major problem the platform solves is the integration with inventory ad exchanges, such as Right Media and AdEx. At one time, reps from major publishers had to negotiate buys with many publishers. Since media buyers could only manage a handful of relationships, ad networks rolled up fragmented ad inventory. Buyers went from many to a few or one point of contact.

Ad networks allowed media buyers to tap into fragmented inventory without managing hundreds of relationships. They still have several points to connect with, not just one -- Yahoo to MSN to The New York Times to a variety of ad networks.

Auction-based markets emerged for display ad inventory that allows companies to integrate technology platforms on the back end through APIs. This lets agencies or advertisers bid on inventory directly, eliminating the need for the ad network to remain the middleman, Merickel explains.

Advertisers can also set performance metrics by telling the system there's a specific return on ad spend or how much they will spend per sale. That drives some of the optimization and modeling structures that work to establish the bid for the inventory.

As the ads are served to consumers, Efficient Frontier's technology tracks the interactions with advertisements and advertisers' Web sites. The data identifies whether consumers make purchases and the ads they view. That information sometimes is tied to third-party platforms and data from companies like BlueKai.

So retargeting plays a role, too. Often, companies will see that 15% of display impressions with conversion activity have a search click prior to conversion. Compare that with between 20% and 30% of last view conversions with a preceding search click, the impact from retargeting, according to Efficient Frontier.

Shar VanBoskirk, principal analyst at Forrester Research, believes that offerings in the DSP space are a "terrific idea," but they hinge completely on data quality and access to inventory. "Right now, all of the players that call themselves DSPs are still building up more data, better data and access to more and more inventory," she says.

VanBoskirk declined to compare one company's platform with the next because she has yet to study specific features of each. "In my opinion, it is a bit too early for that anyway," she says. "If I were a marketer, I would trial campaigns across a host of them and see which ones perform the best for me."


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