Stop guesstimating and get with the program.

Stop guesstimating with programmatic advertising

We contrasted the differences between data rich User Profiles for ad targeting and the shallower profiles used by search engines and social networks in our recent post “Getting personal” .

For targeted campaign success, data rich User Profiles can win out in a big way.

Here’s a real-world example where the same advertiser tried both – a Google-based strategy by a search engine agency and a User Profile strategy that we provided.

By every measure, the MarketServ™ strategy out-performed the Google strategy.

Google Campaign by Others
Name Spend Clicks Cost/Click Impressions
Display $6,625.77 2,748 $2.41 614,090
Search $5,908.56 2,461 $2.40 82,306
TOTAL $12,534.33 5,209 $2.41 696,396
MarketServ Campaign by Iris
Name Spend Clicks Cost/Click Impressions
Audience Targeting $7,500.00 6,456 $1.16 2,425,040
Content Targeting $9,700.00 10,992 $0.88 4,741,133
Site/Search Retargeting $2,799.00 16,962 $0.17 1,082,862
TOTAL $19,999.00 34,410 $0.58 8,249,035

The reasons shed light on the rapid growth of Programmatic Advertising, which applies data analytics and information technology to advertising tactics and operations.

Programmatic Advertising has arrived in full force because it works. Computers replace guesswork in ad spending to deliver higher ROI.

Big sets of data and machine-driven analytics develop User Profiles for better targeting precision from campaign planning through execution. And information technology similar to the stock market optimizes the “next ad served” at the most efficient price throughout the campaign rather than human guesswork to make “wait & see” adjustments in the Google campaign.

Audience and Content Targeting:

The MarketServ™ campaign served ads to an Audience developed from proprietary User Profiles of recorded behaviors that match those of the client’s customers. Detailed online histories identified their lifestyles, shopping habits, browsing and search habits, and the web sites they visited regularly and on what type of device.

Google served ads to those who searched and discovered the client’s site regardless of any match to characteristics of its customers or objectives of the campaign.

Site/Search Retargeting/Remarketing:

Because the MarketServ™ audience was so highly qualified in the first place, retargeting to its audience resulted in a very high click through rate and correspondingly low Cost Per Click compared to Google.

Information Technology and Management:

The software that managed the MarketServ™ campaign is used by the biggest brands for their campaigns. Its algorithms continuously optimized the campaign to serve the next ad based on predictive analytics of preceding responses in the campaign.

Experienced ad traffic managers directly at the data management platform interpret statistical results and manage adjustments.

Google campaigns require intensive management time by the advertiser (or at least a surrogate). Its software does not have optimization capabilities. The human interface has to “best guesstimate” everything from keyword refinements to what bid price will win to expose the ad.

Will every advertiser get the same results? Of course not.

But rather than replace the human element, Programmatic Advertising helps advertisers make educated decisions to best achieve marketing and campaign objectives to drive traffic to your web site whatever your goals – such as generate leads for your funnel, build sales, or create awareness to support other advertising channels.

To maintain competitive edge, businesses need to get on board to the transformational opportunities of Programmatic Advertising.

Getting personal. The better you see your target, the better you’ll aim.

Getting personal

Of the various Internet targeting tactics, User Profile-based targeting has distinct advantages for hyper-targeting.

User profiles – the richer, the better – allow you to proactively target your message to those that have scored as more likely to have a personal affinity for what you send to them.

As more and more data can now be accumulated and analyzed in massive data sets, three trends are emerging:

  • Advertising dollars are continuing to shift from print, direct mail and broadcast to digital.
  • User Profile targeting is gaining share of wallet among SEO, Social and other digital tactics.
  • The time spent on handhelds like smartphones and tablets is surpassing laptops and desktop computers, so cross-device campaigns need User Profile data to reach each individual with the right message at the most receptive times.

Let’s be clear. We’re focused on mega-files of anonymous data. And because the user profiles are anonymous, SIZE MATTERS. The sheer number of profiles and the number of individual attributes within each profile affect what marketers want for a campaign.

  • How precise is my targeting?
  • Is my target audience large enough (scalable) to sustain the campaign?

Of course, not all User Profiles are created equal. So the QUALITY of the data also matters.

Because profiles are anonymous – and to get a little technical here – they are created from Deterministic and Probabilistic information gathered online and offline.

  • As marketers, we love Deterministic input. It’s real “hand-raising” action that, for example, tracks specific logins, purchasing history, browsing history, and downloads to reveal what the individual buys, cares about, and brand relationships of specificity and type.

Social Networks and Search Engines profiles are essentially created from Deterministic information.

  • We also like Probabilistic input because it infers information about the individual based on algorithmic modeling to match anonymous profiles to how, when and where the same user connects on different devices to serve ads in formats for the device. They also predict browsing behavior so our targeted ads can be displayed on sites the target likely visits.

Ad networks and data management platforms weigh in with more Probabilistic input to more precisely refine the profiles for better targeting.

  • How much is first party data? The more, the better.
    • First party data are what sets competing profilers apart.
    • How many attributes of first party data are in the user profiles?
  • How much is 3rd party data? Some 3rd party data is better than others.
    • Through affinity and partnership deals, advertisers share proprietary 1st party data to enrich user profiles on data management platforms with competitive safeguards for everyone.
    • There are also data collections of real anonymized people offered by 3rd party vendors. These are useful for demographics like age and gender.
    • How frequently is each Profile updated? Real time? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? This will become ever more critical to keep pace with viewers’ at-that-moment needs and competitors that reach them before you do.

So what’s a marketer to do? Here’s where your budget and results – your Bottom Line Metrics – come into play.

Generally speaking, the major sources for User Profile targeting differ on pricing and precision.

  • Search Engines and Social Networks maintain shallow data profiles on lots of users. And they leave the end-user with the task of combining these few targeting options to create the audience.

This allows do-it-yourself advertisers to create small budgets – usually starting at a few thousand dollars for a campaign.

  • Internet Advertising platforms and networks are designed to gateway people and advertisers. They also reach upwards of 100% of U.S. online users, but their profiles are much deeper to match their mission.

That’s how these service providers make their money, and because it’s so technical, they need to be in the process from start to finish. That’s why advertisers and agencies turn to them for campaign planning and execution from Audience development to Campaign delivery.

It’s shouldn’t be a surprise that larger budgets – starting in the low 5-figures – result from more sophisticated User Profile targeting.

And think about it. How different are those Business Development advertising scenarios from the pre-Internet era?

Some advertisers did it themselves. They knocked on doors, went to meetings, handed out business cards and flyers, and hung signs in their windows. To grow, they scaled up their locations and personnel to do more of the same.

Others budgeted bigger for broader reach by looking to publishers and broadcast networks to locate their audience and deliver their campaign. To grow, they scaled up their print quantities, circulations, and broadcast reach.

Finally, to see results, and gauge your campaign ROI, you need to be committed to a campaign for at least a couple of months with enough budget to serve enough exposures to get a response.

A traveler’s guide to Geo-targeted Advertising

A traveler's guide to Geo-targeted AdvertisingAdventure travel and geo-targeted Internet advertising have a lot in common.

Consider this definition from Wikipedia: “Adventure travel is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel with perceived (and possibly actual) risk, and potentially requiring specialized skills and physical exertion.”

Well, maybe not the physical exertion because you’re doing the heavy lifting at your desk, but you’re certainly risking dollars with your specialized skills.

Geo-targeted display ads are the rage promoted by the major tour operators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo, Bing. They’re all clamoring for your ad dollars.

And while the Web can take your ad anywhere in the world, your campaign may not come back with the souvenirs like you hoped when you planned your adventure.

So, here are some travel tips before you set out on your journey.

Know the technology that’s being used to deliver your ad. And remember – your ad is targeted to devices, not the users and profiles of those users (more on that later).

IP-based targeting is the underlying technology – the compass – used by the search engines and social media ad programs. The limitations of IP mapping can be like magnets that throw the compass’ needle out of whack.

IP-based targeting delivers your ad to the computer’s geographic location based on the Internet Protocol address assigned by its ISP (Internet Service Provider). The IP address does not have a direct correlation to exact geography like a ZIP code. Private networks, corporate networks, rural and exurban areas (from where ISP’s reroute users to their server buildings) are just some of the intervening factors.

Travelers TipTravelers Tip: IP mapping accuracy is not 100%. The more granular you get, the less accurate it becomes so your ad will be delivered to viewers who aren’t in the territory. It’s pretty good down to the City/Metropolitan area level. It’s offered at the zip code level, but approach cautiously.

A/B test until you get it right. For example, bundle a few neighboring zip codes rather than using just one or expand/contract the radius around your center point.

Mobile or Location-based targeting is the other underlying technology, but despite the huge gains in mobile access by users, it has not gained traction with the advertising programs offered by search engines and social networks.

Mobile or Location-based targeting gets its geographic information in one of two ways: Confirmed or Derived. Confirmed location targeting depends on the user turning on the device’s GPS capabilities or when the user “checks in” at a location. Derived relies on inferences such as tri-angulation of cell towers and mapped Wi-Fi hot spots.

IP-base targeting to devices is much less sophisticated than targeting actual users that fit an actual profile of your target audience. Since search engines and social networks don’t maintain the depth of user information to support user profile-based advertising, IP targeting works for them.

Travelers TipTravelers Tip: IP-based geo-targeting is a good way to get your campaign into the general area for most of your audience, but it’s not a precise map to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You need to include other targeting factors when planning your campaign.

So user information comes into play. You need to know who are you targeting.

The search engines and social networks aggregate their data and also apply some analytics to create modifiers to refine the Geo-targeting for better ROI. Google, for example, uses the search histories of their users. Facebook uses Profile information and aggregates information on users’ friends to better define the individual.

User-profile based targeting is highly effective for hyper-targeted campaigns because the profiles have much more direct 1st party online data that have been gathered from multiple sources. All kinds of behavioral and shopping history data are in each profile. Geographic information – both IP and Location-based – are just a couple of the hundreds of attributes within each profile. This allows the data managers to create very specific campaign Audiences from millions of profiles with hundreds of attributes on each profile.

Geo-targeting and User profile targeting can both lead to great campaigns. Like travel plans, your campaigns cost thousands of dollars. Plan your budget to try both, and scale up what works best over time.

Happy Trails…