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“The road to advertising people want” / Affectv on the evolution of advertising / Ray Jenkin, Affectv

An article by Affectv on the evolution of advertising by Ray Jenkin, Affectv

We are at a really exciting point in the advertising technology story. The emergence of technology, like real time bidding as a protocol, the demand side and data management platforms, have opened up huge opportunities for finding and engaging audiences in a way that has never before been possible.

Taking a look back at the emergence and growth of audience targeting we can really understand how revolutionary these new technologies are for this industry and also point to the new and exciting opportunities emerging as well as the challenges as an industry we face.

Audience targeting

Audience targeting first became meaningful between 2001-2005 with emergence of some of the base technologies like ad server advancements, semantic technology and audience segmentation methodologies to target audiences, alongside the proliferation of the ad network model. A few factors were driving the trend forward. Advertisers were pursuing and demanding what they had always wanted from online advertising, greater accuracy and less wastage of their ad spend.

Publishers were trying to find more effective ways to effectively monetise their remnant inventory that their direct sales teams were not able to sell. Ad networks, as aggregators of huge amounts on inventory, were looking to exploit this scale to drive up their rates.

New types of targeting Whether it be segmenting audiences based on the content they were on, the websites declared or assumed demographics, or a range of sites a consumer visited to infer their interest, these new types of targeting were emerging quickly and the ad networks specifically, were exploiting these opportunities to drive up their rates and create differentiation in what was becoming an increasingly crowded and competitive landscape. Over this period we even saw the emergence of “pure play” audience targeting networks such as Blue Lithium, Tacoda, Audience Science and Wunderloop who sold against “traditional” ad networks on the premise of being audience-first rather than purely website inventory focussed. While the advancements in both the technology to identify audiences and serve them ads were significant, limitations began to emerge around scale. The vast majority of ad networks and publishers were benefiting from stronger performance and better rates, however they were not able to collect audiences at scale, or find those consumers as they moved around the web. The holy grail of right person, time and message was still out of grasp.

This all began to change with emergence of the ad exchange and subsequently the demand side platform (DSP) from 2007-2010. These platforms allowed for the buying and selling of ad inventory at a scale previously limited to only a few, mostly listed companies and also the increasing ability to buy and sell in near real or real-time.

Along with this relatively cheap access to inventory, new advancements such as cookie matching and the big-data technologies to handle huge quantities of data were creating new scalable audience targeting opportunities in existing ad networks and publishers. This was a major catalyst for a new generation of data led companies to emerge and grow that would have not existed without these new platforms. This trend unlocked some of the most exciting innovations in audience targeting in our current ecosystem. Some advertisers are using the data they know about a specific consumer to tailor advertising, in real-time. Others are building out sophisticated analytics and customer engagement tools to help better understand audiences and engage with them on a customer and sales support level.

At Affectv we are looking at what can be done to not only find new audiences for clients but actually change the creative message and content that the consumer views, in real-time, based on the signals they have exhibited. These new manifestations of audience targeting and engagement are getting all of us closer to that holy grail of right person, time and message.

That is not to say that all of this comes without its challenges. As the data collecting, segmentation and manifestation becomes more prevalent and sophisticated so too does the need to be both mindful and respectful of the consumer in this process. Throughout the last decade various bodies have stepped in to control the audience tracking and targeting industries, most recently the Google “right to be forgotten” initiative in Europe. Ad fraud, and now audience fraud, are both problems to be overcome. The metrics to measure both the impact and value attributed to audience targeting are still unclear and greater need for standardisation and acceptance of new measures is needed to move the mind-set from one of purchase to all the other consumer stages brands value in their other advertising efforts.

Need to engage consumers

Meanwhile, new devices and platforms for consumers are emerging at a rapid rate, meaning the need to engage consumers in these environments is an increasing demand from advertisers. Audience targeting companies still have some way to go to convince advertisers they can find audiences in a meaningful and scalable way across devices like the tablet, mobile phone and connected TV.

These challenges should be front of mind for any players within the space as this sector takes on its fastest growth period yet. That said, all parties can look forward to some of the most exciting stages in the evolution of audience targeting in the next few years as we really start to implement the innovative and exciting big-data opportunities and come up with more interesting ways to find and engage audiences.

An article by Affectv on the evolution of advertising by Ray Jenkin, Affectv