The New Currencies For 21st Century Media

Brands have traditionally planned media buys based on gender, geography and white lists of known users as well as buying the Top 20 portals on the Internet. In this increasingly programmatic, audience-centric media marketplace, new currencies backed by new products and players are emerging, which could set the industry on the cusp of a fundamental transformation in the way that digital advertising is bought and sold.

Clearly, the industrywide focus on creating non-cookie solutions that traverse and connect single consumer identities across multiple devices is what’s driving the search for new currencies. One major dynamic now emerging is the shift in emphasis away from solely looking at audience IP addresses as a foundational pillar in targeting and buying to now utilize a broader focus to include store location as a dynamic currency of trading. 

New in-store location services will enable retailers to provide point-of-sale incentives and marketing communications. This would include the use of beacons by retailers, which are Bluetooth-enabled devices that communicate with shopper smartphones with the aim of enhancing the in-store shopping experience. Beacons are capable of sending on-premise shoppers various media including ads, coupons or supplementary product information. If the potential of this and other emerging technology is meaningfully leveraged, the way media agencies and their technology partners execute digital buys for marketers could change dramatically in a RTB, programmatic environment. Our smartphones could become an even more multi-functional device ranging from payment system to personalized advertising and coupon terminal.

The mobile in-store locator will need to deliver the promise of relevant coupons to the consumer based on their location in a measured manner in terms of frequency to prevent spamming them off the retail floor and hiding at home on eBay and Amazon. In order to prevent that disastrous scenario from occurring, advertisers need to render exciting media experiences using location as one key. However, in order for these efforts to be successful, brands and publishers need to climb the learning curve of more effectively analyzing consumer behavior and preferences in regards to digital content that will offer pinpoint insight to better shape shopper deals in-store. In effect, buyers need to apply the principles of keywords in display-based programmatic media that have proven so effective in search advertising over the past decade. Keywords working as a broader base of targeting in the display world to combine with geotargeting, behavioral and other contextual methods will optimize the relevancy of reaching the right person in the right place at the right time that Search has delivered so well. 

Search advertising has dominated the ad tech market for a decade now with growth escalating from zero to $20 billion over that period of time. Similarly, many forecasters are predicting the RTB display market reaching that same $20 billion threshold within a handful of years. And while programmatic has largely removed the friction in dealmaking with its superior automation, we as an ecosystem have yet to fully adopt the wider lessons of search in display. Indeed, search teams often operate in different silos to display. This needs to change if we want to seize the opportunity to maximize control, transparency and attribution in display as we have in search. Google search always gave buyers full control and transparency, and they got the inventory they requested. No more no less.

Further to this end, planners have not played a leadership role in the RTB process thus far, and that must change. Planners have traditionally driven the shaping of the parameters of deals so the fact that they have taken a backseat in the process in programmatic display is quite surprising and counterproductive to generating the best results for clients. As the importance of private marketplaces relative to open exchanges rises, it will be even more critical for planners to adopt all the currencies to help buyers achieve marketer objectives.

Every second of the Internet day, we are transmitting our consumption habits by the way we tweet, Facebook Like, load pages and run apps as we swap back and forth between desktop, smartphone and tablet. Our increasing ability to define consumer interest in a granular, highly refined manner is being facilitated by emerging technologies. Facebook is clearly coming to the fore as a major arbiter of new currencies, having invested heavily in multiple partnerships with such leading researchers as Nielsen, Axciom and Datalogix. These partnerships could glean even more granular insights that would impact how brands and publishers negotiate media buys.

The new currencies are available for optimizing digital media buying in a programmatic universe. The opportunities of location technology and the growing primacy of keyword targeting as outlined in this piece speak to the imperative for the focus and strategic commitment on both sides of the transaction to be elevated. In partnership, buyers and sellers can generate wealth and results heretofore unseen. 

John Snyder is CEO of Grapeshot.
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