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Marketers are asking the wrong questions about mobile ad targeting

Digital marketing is being disrupted by the opportunity to become privacy-first. For Niall Hogan, managing director, APAC, Ogury, this means marketers need to familiarize themselves with their audiences’ interests, focus on viewability and build a more sustainable data strategy.

There has been much debate about the future of digital advertising and what next steps advertisers should take. As part of that debate, brands are asking themselves many questions. Should I switch from an ID-based to an ID-less? When should I switch? Are my ads considered viewable?

Mark Victor Hansen was right when he said: “You can’t get the right answers if you’re asking the wrong questions.” These are indeed the wrong questions, and they perpetuate a cycle of advertisers wasting budgets.

Whether the solution is ID-less or ID-based, the only thing that matters is advertisers understanding the interests of their key audience. It’s the only way to truly reach the right audience with relevant ads for products and services that they either like or will grow to love.

Furthermore, advertisers must change their mindset on viewability. Regarding it as merely a tick box exercise is yet another pitfall for advertising leaders that only burns holes in pockets. It’s time to disrupt the status quo in favor of metrics that paint an accurate picture of ad performance.

With laser-sharp focus, advertisers must cut through the noise of the plethora of solutions on the market to seek out one that will deliver the most sustainable performance. Meanwhile, the consumer experience must remain top of mind, engaging them on their most-used devices, while respecting their privacy.

How deep is your knowledge of your audience’s interests?

The first question advertisers should be asking is: “How well do I know my audience’s interests”. And that’s knowledge of their interests outside of their own apps and websites, to get the most complete and accurate picture of who they are talking to.

Historically, adtech companies were reliant on identifiers and indeed much of the ad industry today is built around their use. However, the pool of accessible data is only set to get smaller as regulations around data privacy tighten.

While Europe led the way with the introduction of GDPR in 2018, Brazil, California, New Zealand and other jurisdictions have since followed suit. GDPR requires that it should be as easy for consumers to refuse consent as it is to give it, and regulators are increasingly demanding that this be respected. Consequently, opt-in rates for modern consent managers are less than 50%.

To solve this dilemma, many adtech companies are taking steps to offer “new”, data-safe solutions based on context and semantic data, but they lack audience intelligence. At the same time, some vendors are still holding onto the old way of targeting, clinging to personal data to conduct personalization. These technologies continue to fall short of advertisers’ expectations as they can only tell them about an audience’s activities within their ad network, leaving them with fragmented data and insufficient knowledge of an audience’s interests to reach the right consumers effectively. So, the industry's dilemma continues.

The Viewability Trap: Your message is not being seen and understood

To make matters worse, what industry standards consider as seen is only partially visible to the consumer, which limits memorability and understanding of their offer and wastes ad budget. This totally goes against any effort to build brand awareness.

Imagine an out-of-home billboard hidden by a large tree or telling a friend a story with one in two words muted. Your message will not be conveyed accurately or clearly. It’s the same principle with mobile advertising, and it impacts performance.

Therefore, the question advertisers should be asking isn’t “are my ads viewable?”, because according to industry standards, they are. These standards count a video as viewable if 50% of the pixels are viewable for two seconds. If you blink, you’ll miss it. This isn’t good enough to give advertisers an accurate picture of their ad performance.

Instead, advertisers should be scrutinizing the metric used to measure viewability. Measuring video completion rate (VCR) alone is misleading. As such, advertisers should opt for a metric that considers VCR and how much of the creative is visible to the consumer. Finally, brands should look for solutions that offer Full-Creative VCR, which counts as 100% of pixels viewable during the full exposure time of the video

Build a sustainable strategy

To overcome this industry dilemma, brands should choose a solution that has complete audience interest knowledge to deliver superior performance while protecting consumer privacy.

The idea of using data related to a wider group rather than an individual is not necessarily new. In 2015, Gartner coined the term: ‘Personification’. This is defined as presenting consumers with digital experiences, not based on their personal identity, but rather on their inferred membership to a persona segment.

The concept of personification is the foundation for a new class of technology called Personified Advertising, which has grown significantly since the changes to IDFA were announced. Unlike other solutions, Personified Advertising uses audience interest data to qualify impressions rather than personal data to qualify users.

Personification data is based on years of audiences’ mobile journey data across all apps and sites to provide an in-depth understanding of audience interests. This unique mobile journey data is consistently updated and validated through both survey data.

This powerful combination of data is truly unmatched and can reveal key insights such as the #1 interest of gym enthusiasts in building their careers. Or that readers of Rolling Stones magazine are far more likely to want to travel than the general population. Knowing those types of audience interests can really enhance advertisers’ targeting performance and provide an undoubted competitive edge.

Targeting based on audience interests is still king. Therefore, when assessing the abundance of solutions on the market today, advertisers must select one that can unveil the insights they don’t know about their key audience.

This is where personified advertising rises to meet advertisers’ challenges. They can still receive great performance and incredible insights while respecting consumers. Everyone benefits from this new and sustainable approach. From media agencies to the brands they represent, the publishers and most importantly the consumers, who retain relevant ads without intrusive ad tracking.

Niall Hogan is managing Director, APAC at Ogury.

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