Don’t Abandon the Non-Behavioral Portion of Your Campaign

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ADOTAS – In his recent article “Five Horrible Ad Placements That Could Have Been Avoided,” Peer39 CEO Andy Ellenthal points out the dangers of incongruent and even inappropriate contextual adjacencies that can arise in the execution of retargeting campaigns. But rather than a few ad placements with marginal contextual relevance caused by retargeting, what about the largely undirected, non-audience portion of the campaign?

That’s where bad — in some cases, very bad — contextual adjacencies abound and opportunity for improvement lies within reach.

Most marketers and their agencies understand and accept the tradeoffs around re-targeting that led to examples shown in the article. After all, they see the direct ROI in this approach across millions of impressions, not just a few page level examples like those shown that are, well, taken out of context in the overall campaign.

While the agency brand manager would not be running down the hall to show these screenshots to her boss, she may do so with the campaign results, knowing that despite marginal contextual relevance, the conversion results were positive.

The bigger problem arises from the large percentage – in fact the majority – of display ads that are not audience-targeted. Even within the bounds of what verification companies deem acceptable, a huge amount of display ads are still served without regard to content/contextual adjacencies. Like Peer39, uKnow employees see a wide range of sites in the course of their work and found the following examples that would, at a minimum, be highly disappointing to the brand managers involved.

After regaining their composure, the brand or agency executive might be tempted to stop using intermediaries. But networks, DSPs and trading desks provide tremendous value and efficiency in the execution of media campaigns. A better solution would be to give those partners specific guidelines or directions around the non-audience based portion of the campaigns.

Why not use tools available in the market to better plan, target and optimize this portion of the buy, even when directing budget towards intermediary channels? And if you are a network, DSP or trading desk, why not employ solutions that help you optimize contextual relevance for each campaign?

Because most brands, products and services are unique, creating custom semantic channels for each campaign that carve out optimal placements within each body of inventory you access makes complete sense. Inventory supply vastly outstrips demand, so why would you ever allow your ads to be placed on irrelevant or inappropriate content adjacencies? Sadly, spray and pray is still widely seen.

Given the success of audience-based targeting and the plethora of data services that have arisen, a disproportionate amount of time is spent in this area. Equal focus should be given to proactively targeting that content which is most appropriate to each brand’s sensibilities and to its ROI objectives.

Using context as a proxy for audience is a long-standing tool, and given the Do-Not-Track initiatives underway and advent of better browser-based tracking controls, employing strategies and tools that provide better contextual planning, transparency and control – while maintaining scale – are essential.

So while Ellenthal’s points have merit, they miss the bigger problem and in it, the opportunity for agencies/brands and their distribution partners. Protect the brand and increase ROI by creating custom semantic channels for the non-audience portion of each campaign.

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