What Is State-Of-Mind Targeting? Q&A With Engage:BDR's Dhanik

Ted Dhanik, CEO of engage:BDR, has worked in a range of Silicon Valley companies, from Xoriant and NexTag  to LowerMyBills and MySpace. His current company, founded in 2009, is in the programmatic space in display and video ad ecosystems.

Dhanik explains, “We pioneered OutStream ad formats, enabling publishers to monetize their non-video content through the units. We auction an average of five billion daily video opportunities across our RTB ecosystem, First-Impression Marketplace, and are currently inviting advertiser-direct demand partners to join via openRTB integrations.”

Charlene Weisler: Is the ad ecosystem different from when you started in 2009? If so, how?

Ted Dhanik: The introduction and adoption of programmatic has been the biggest change, and fostered the most other changes. It has really changed the way everyone does business — starting with what advertisers can expect in terms of measurement and execution, and trickling down all the way to how publishers can grow their overall yield.



Also, consumer behavior really changes the ecosystem. Consumers shifted to watching more video content online, and from that, a major shift happened across the ad industry. In 2009, display was a huge focus, but today, video is just as big, if not bigger. Lastly, today's ecosystem has the tools and interest to have extremely low tolerance for low quality from any point in the chain. That is a huge, driving force at present that was extremely nascent in 2009.

Weisler: What exactly is Outstream, and how does it work?

Dhanik: OutStream is the name for a video ad placement that is not followed or preceded by video content, often utilized by publishers who don't produce video content but want to provide video ad inventory.

This can come in many forms — a player sliding in from a corner, floating at the bottom of the screen, or even showing up in the text of an article. These placements are designed to deploy only when in-view, so they help solve for two major industry problems by adding highly viewable scale to a limited space.

Weisler: Is there a future for 30-second spots?

Dhanik: There is, but execution is key here. Thirty-second creatives are not ideal for a lot of digital inventory, but they can play a role in creating rich storytelling across devices. You don't want to run a 30-second creative in the middle of a newsfeed; seven-second spots are ideal here.

That said, if you are showing consumers a seven-second spot while they're browsing on mobile, and that user is very relevant to your campaign, they may be open to watching a 30-second spot when they get home, on a desktop computer. You might use this as an opportunity to share more information, tell a story, and create value for your highly targeted users, which can be effective in driving engagement.

Weisler: Is there a future for traditional television?

Dhanik: We do see smart TV as a huge area of growth that will take up some of the audience of traditional TV. Traditional TV isn't dying, but television networks and advertisers alike are going to have to learn how to take a holistic approach. Content creators will have to be savvy about a multiscreen approach — how do we keep users engaged on their device of choice, whether it be smart TV, on a computer, on a traditional TV — and advertisers will have to match that approach to reach a full audience, as well as learn the nuances of each device's audience.

Weisler: Describe the different types of targeting in this space.

Dhanik: We have quite the toolbox available to us. We offer contextual targeting (by keyword), content targeting, day and time parting, behavioral targeting, retargeting, geo-targeting down to precise points of latitude and longitude, offline targeting through a data-agnostic policy, and state-of-mind targeting.

Weisler: What is state-of-mind targeting, and how does it work?

Dhanik: State-of-mind targeting allows us to access the right person, at the right place, during the right time. Essentially, we overlay rich behavioral segments with precise geo-targeting of locations during very specific periods of time.

So, for example, we might serve an Oscar Meyer ad to non-vegetarians only who are attending a specific Dodger Game.

Weisler: Looking ahead the next three to five years, give me some predictions about how the media landscape will look.

Dhanik: I certainly predict cleanup in the space. There will be fewer players, as anyone who survives needs to add value, and there are so many players currently in the space solely focused on reselling inventory — which hurts publishers, advertisers, and users alike.

Looking from a more consumer-focused perspective, I see personalization as a key area of growth- it's in incredible demand by advertisers. I think this will grow in sync with the ability to access users at many more points during their day-to-day. With the rise of the Internet of Things), we will see some really holistic, creative executions utilizing growth in many areas — data, dynamic creative, new smart devices and more.

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