In one of my favorite scenes from the Seinfeld TV series, Jerry snags a plane’s only available first-class seat right out from under Elaine, who has never flown first-class. He wins the seat with a simple argument: “See, you won’t know what you’re missing. I’ve flown first-class, Elaine. I can’t go back to coach. I can’t! I won’t.”
Most of us have been there. Once we get used to a certain level of customer service or VIP treatment, accepting anything less is a difficult adjustment.
This phenomenon is currently occurring with premium brands engaged in audience buying. These advertisers have become used to first-class treatment from publishers. They have leveraged their buying power and attractive ad content to secure attributes that come with upper-class service -- highlighted by priority placements in a quality editorial environment.
A New Priority Class
While dramatic growth in online ad inventory has provided ubiquitous opportunities for premium advertisers to reach target users, there has been little improvement in the ability to find these users in locations that provide quality content and allow for rich media.
As a result, brands looking to combine the right audience with minimal waste and creative freedom require priority treatment over those effectively “flying coach” -- smaller advertisers with inferior buying leverage.
What if premium advertisers could reach specific audiences in a guaranteed and transparent manner? What if they could get this special treatment while saving brand dollars? It wouldn’t quite be first-class, but rather a new priority class for advertisers -- a thrifty, yet more comfortable, way to go than coach.
Direct and Transparent
Did you ever fly airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet overseas? Their prices were great, but the inability to choose your own seat created an entirely new fear-of flying-category. Advertisers that buy audiences with limited knowledge of sites and placements find themselves in a similar situation: “Here is my ad budget. I hope to get a good seat.”
A new priority class would empower online advertisers to buy custom segments via direct trading, while retaining the right to choose their own “seats”-- or, more specifically, their own sites and content.
Since 2001, companies such as PointRoll, Unicast and Klipmart have evangelized how rich media provides great value to brand performance and lift. But too often, brands have needed to compromise the creativity possible with rich media in exchange for the audience targeting they crave. The transparency and directness of the new priority class would allow them to achieve both goals.
The industry’s ongoing attempt to migrate more and more dollars to real-time-bidding, based on third-party audience data and direct response-based metrics, is the equivalent of flying coach. If you’re like Seinfeld -- and me -- you don’t want to do that anymore.
The new priority class, by allowing brands to buy online audiences while retaining the perks they get from direct trading, would result in guaranteed audience buying combined with creative freedom and rich ads. You could call it audience “futures” buying.
By prioritizing the familiar methods of buying inventory with audience-driven capabilities, you create a new brand ad platform that allows true evaluation of the quality of data and inventory. That may not be first class, but it isn’t coach, either. Let’s make it our new priority.