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Two questions that define display advertising performance

We’re reaching an inflection point in the UK digital ad industry; last year 45 per cent of display ads were programmatically traded. A staggering 61 per cent year-on-year rise with £960m worth of ads served on a foundation of data. As more brand budget flows programmatically, are marketers truly maximising the programmatic potential?

In a programmatic marketplace, to achieve performance, real-time data is the golden ticket for advertisers. The predictive nature of data modeling at the top of the sales funnel is becoming a critical component in today’s digital ad strategy to achieve scale. Targeting models define the audience we show ads to and whether those models are created from conversion data, CRM data or even search terms, it needs to be accurate and have the ability to scale.

Advertisers today are incredibly savvy and those asking the right questions of their technology partners will be the ones who develop a successful holistic digital ad strategy. But, what are the right questions?

Question 1: What is your data source?

This question uncovers a key differentiator in data quality – is the data proprietary or bought from a third-party?

Buying third-party data creates two major issues. For example, let’s say I’m an advertiser and want to target 25-year-old single men who are in the market to purchase headphones. It is highly unlikely that this particular segment exists as a whole, so I take a spray-gun approach and buy all 20-30-year old men (who may or may not be single) and those in market for electronics. The end result will be displaying ads to a vast number of people.

There is no guarantee that different segments will overlap so the likelihood that I end up targeting the exact segment I wanted is incredibly low. Data partners must have the ability to navigate and manipulate the entire data set because a niche audience is just that: niche. The nuances required to find that customer set would be lost if we cannot analyse an entire data set instead of disparate, ready-made segments.

If the data you’re advertising with isn’t proprietary then not only are you more than likely targeting the wrong cookies but also targeting them after they have dropped out of market.

If you’re buying third-party data, it’s not real-time. Let’s say it takes a couple of weeks to package cookies that are interested in headphones. How long does it take to buy a pair of headphones online? After two weeks, even the most indecisive person would have either bought them or lost interest.

Question 2: How real-time is your data?

The accuracy of audience modeling relies on data recency. The lag, between when data is collected and when it helps guide decisions, is a key factor in online marketing effectiveness.

Think about your own browsing behavior, most people have very short windows of browsing when they are in market, the time to serve ads to people is when they are displaying strong signals of intent that they are in market, real-time data allows you to do this. Without real-time data, advertising decisions are made week-to-week or month-to-month not hour-to-hour, day-to-day. With this lag, programmatic advertising never reaches its potential; people have moved on or have bought the product, have you ever been served an ad about a product or service you have bought or are no longer interested in?

In a real-time world we come into contact with cookies many times and score them against advertiser models. Yesterday a cookie was not showing high value behaviour. Static, 3rd party data would prevent the advertiser from seeing this cookie again. Today we score the cookie again and it exhibits different behaviours, e.g. a retail customer browsing shoes or fashion blogs; displaying the same browsing patterns as high-value customers. In this instance, thanks to real-time data, we would serve the cookie an ad and drive it through the funnel to becoming a customer. Real-time data enables advertisers to achieve holistic scale through their online advertising.

Matt White is the UK Managing Director of Quantcast, experts in real-time advertising and audience measurement. Meet the team at dmexco in Cologne in Hall 7, stand #F046 on the 16 and 17 of September.

To explore how big data is radically improving connected experiences and transforming how we make sense of the world, on October 21st we will host Supernova, our second Big Data Summit in London. To reserve your place, visit the website:

Matt White, Managing Director UK, Quantcast

Tel: +44 (0) 203 322 7863