Commentary

Why Relevant Is The New Premium For Programmatic Buying

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, June 30, 2016
Industry investments in programmatic buying continue to grow at a rapid pace, with no sign of slowing down this year. AdRoll pegs this increase at 66% in its State of the Industry 2016 report, while eMarketer thinks this figure falls somewhere around 50%, depending on whether you’re talking about desktop or mobile ads.
 
There’s a good reason why marketers have jumped on the programmatic bandwagon and plan to spend more. The programmatic channel offers a highly efficient way to reach audiences at scale. That’s certainly good enough if you’re a direct-response advertiser and you care less about where your ads run, as long as you get people to visit your Web site and buy. But for brands looking to build awareness and drive engagement, inventory quality and relevance matter a great deal. Brand-safe often isn’t good enough.
 
Unfortunately, brand advertisers must make a difficult tradeoff today when it comes to exchange-based buying: Enjoy the cost efficiency and scale of an open exchange, but settle for low quality content and often irrelevant placements -- OR, hand-pick well-known media brands within the confines of private exchanges and settle for higher costs and reduced scale.
 
The problem is that this tradeoff rests on the false assumption that Web sites still drive the bulk of content discovery. Thanks to the rapid growth of mobile, social, and content aggregators people simply don’t visits sites directly anymore. More than 25% of publisher traffic is driven by content sharing on Facebook alone. Consumers check their mobile phones more than 150 times per day, jumping from article to video to article from various feeds. This means that traditional definitions of premium and relevant content -- typically defined by Web sites or groups of top-level site domains -- are increasingly unhelpful.
 
Say you’re a beverage brand who wants to target female, music-loving millennials and Beyonce’s new album is the buzz of the moment. Targeting the music category on exchanges is more likely to get you on sites like downdloadfreemusic.com, rather than next to relevant articles about the new release. Ditto for targeting keywords like Beyonce, if it was even possible to predict the dynamic interests of this audience in advance. You could also buy premium entertainment or music sites via a private exchange, but you’d pay more and miss out on hundreds of other relevant placements. For example, if CNN broke a huge story about a relevant artist, the article may spread like wildfire, but it’s unlikely you would have targeted CNN.com or this audience. 

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The good news is that the open exchange model may actually be the perfect approach to help address the continued hyper-fragmentation of consumer attention (and relevant content). After all, programmatic platforms excel at delivering highly targeted advertising at scale. They just need the right data sets. And the massive volume of content sharing and commenting happening right now across the Web generates hundreds of millions of valuable data points every day. This data can be mined to understand precisely what content specific audience segments are talking about and sharing in real time.   

By better integrating this data into buying decisions, programmatic platforms can finally break the trade-off for brand advertisers and deliver private exchange quality and relevance, with the scale and cost efficiency of an open exchange. For the first time, brands can enjoy real-time relevance alongside real-time audience -- and, most importantly, better align their advertising approach with the current reality of audience behavior.  
2 comments about "Why Relevant Is The New Premium For Programmatic Buying".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch, June 30, 2016 at 11:56 a.m.

    To take best advantage of the process described by Mr. Avner, brand advertisers will need relevant, high quality ads on hand that are served to the desired target audience, since the ad should match both the audience segment and the interest, trending topic that co bine to make the match.

  2. Jeff Pugel from Essex Digital Platform, June 30, 2016 at 12:31 p.m.

     "Brand advertisers must make a difficult tradeoff today when it comes to exchange-based buying: Enjoy the cost efficiency and scale of an open exchange, but settle for low quality content and often irrelevant placements -- OR, hand-pick well-known media brands within the confines of private exchanges and settle for higher costs and reduced scale."

    Completely disagree with this statement.   This is more indicative of trading desks and/or programmatic teams applying a set it and forget it approach to programmatic.  IF you're actively managing a programmatic buy (which you should be doing), then this becomes a non-issue as you are properly stewarding your buy.  Based on performance you'll be either investing or optimizing out of placements based on their performance.    Also just because you're buying a "premium" site does not mean it's going to perform better nor that the ad will appear in a higher "quality" environment.   Some of the mass sites are some of the most cluttered environments I've ever seen and have the low performance scores one would expect from a terrible user experience.  

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