Prep & Predictions: ChoiceStream's Anna McCarthy On 5 Things You Need To Know For 2016; Clients Will Demand More

Anna McCarthy is vice president of client development and oversees the creative team at ChoiceStream, a premium programmatic platform.

McCarthy took pains to tell me that ChoiceStream is different from MediaMath, RocketFuel and their ilk because of the company’s proprietary, poll-based data which enables it to create highly niche, granular audience segments. The company uses its data to scale audiences across devices and channels. The data can enable ChoiceSteam clients to understand their customers in a very granular way because consumers who take the polls are asked specific questions like: “What type of mattress do you sleep on?” and “Do you prefer wearing boot-cut or boyfriend-style jeans?” You know, questions like those. ChoiceStream is targeting, at scale, niche audiences -- and delivering these audiences to its clients’ customers.



Here, McCarthy takes a crack at 2016 predictions and places an emphasis on creative. She says 2016 will be a year of “truly meaningful creative when it comes to digital advertising” but it will also cost more. ChoiceStream clients include Zappos, Logitech, Zipcar, PillPack, Equifax, retailers and banks.

1.  Your Customers will Demand More:

McCarthy: "
2016 will see a pay-to-play increase in CPM pricing for more premium ad placements, a trend that will shock programmatic pure plays. There is now a shift toward efficiency, but what clients want are premium ad placements. I'm already seeing CPMs that are 20% to 30% higher this holiday season." 

On viewability:  “Viewability will no longer be a feature that sets companies apart. It will be the standard in 2016, with customers already expecting it from every programmatic provider." McCarthy says clients want, at minimum, 50% viewability: They want their ads rendering as soon as possible when someone goes to their site. In other words, viewability is table stakes.  In addition, “We will be asked to deliver above-the-fold premium placements. Customers will also demand transparency, brand-safe and contextually relevant content.”

2.   Positive Impressions vs. Impression Numbers:

McCarthy: “The days of impression-based advertising are coming to end. 2016 will be all about impact-based advertising, focusing on whether or not an ad left a positive impression on a consumer, opposed to whether or not it was seen."

On impact-based advertising: “The message is that it’s no longer about hitting an audience and having some level of measurement. For branding clients, success was unique reach and good click-through rates. Now the focus is on more on ‘did that ad do something’? We want to know was there engagement with that ad. We’re working with Moat to monitor if there was engagement with the ad, whether it was replayed, time spent with the ad and how long did the impression render with the audience, things like that.”

On branding clients: “Success was unique reach and good clickthrough rates, now the focus is on more on ‘did that ad do something’? We want to know was there engagement with that ad. We’re working with Moat to monitor if there was engagement with the ad, whether it was replayed, time spent with the ad and how long did the impression render with the audience, things like that.”

3.  Looking Toward the Hyperlocal:

McCarthy: “Brands are seeing the value in providing tailored messages. Location-based personalization will be key to the success of campaigns in 2016 and powering campaigns intelligently across multiple devices and platforms. [There will be]weather-based targeting: pair the right product with the right weather condition with the right dynamic ad."

On The Targeting Piece: “We worked with Factual, and the cross-device story is that we can target someone at their current location via mobile. We can retarget -- and then target people across devices. We can leverage mobile learning to the desktop. We are working on a methodology to come up with attribution. We can look at, say, three impressions served on a mobile device and determine whether the next or subsequent one resulted in a conversion.”

4.  Anything-But-Basic Creative:

McCarthy: “It’s time that brands embrace the creative side of marketing and open their minds to new ways to reach consumers. More than ever, ad campaigns will be designed and curated for the target individual and specific devices delivery, including the tailored copy, images, offers and even color. The creative we serve for Zappos must be highly personalized to the geographic region.

“Creative is a collaborative process. We work with both the agency and client to identify the viable and available assets. What are they? What is the right solution, mobile or desktop? There are different processes for each medium. How do we pair our technology, and what we want to host on our dynamic server [geared] to the goal of the client. For example, a client may want to run 500 different pieces of copy, messaging, SKUs, images, etc. We’ll optimize for the best-performing combination. And does the client want a template or to go custom? We work in display advertising, native, mobile and video. Clients give us their own video assets and we also have access to Facebook Exchange. Our clients test there.”  

5. Optimized For 'Less is More' Targeting:

McCarthy: “Brands are beginning to step away from the notion that showing an ad to as many people as possible is the best and only strategy. 2016 will see a focus on the quality of tailored audiences over the quantity of people in that audience. Getting your ad in front of the right people will be the top priority. Programmatic providers will offer lower-frequency reach with higher-precision targeting across screens.”

Less is more: "We need to run at a respectful frequency: It might be 3x per user per month or 4x per user per month. We want to make sure that when clients are running a cross-device campaign that they’re optimizing the individual at the optimal time. It’s more about making sure that your impression counts, and it’s targeted. It goes back to: Do you have the data and intelligence in the system to reach that person?”

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