Features

The Age of Enlightenment Has Arrived for RTB

Written on
Aug 4, 2014 
Author
Steve Yi  |

Data-driven targeting is old hat in many corners of the advertising world. Advertisers now draw on limitless forms of data to target the best consumer at the most opportune time and speak to them in the most appropriate way. Yet RTB has still not fully shaken off its dubious reputation of being murky and opaque. There’s still a sense in which “data-driven” in the RTB context has a less rigorous definition or, even worse, applies only to the bidding strategy being used!

Ad buyers should expect RTB campaigns to keep up with the trend of vastly more targeted advertising. There are many platforms vying for ad buyers’ attention and advertising dollars, but how can buyers see who has truly embraced RTB’s age of enlightenment to deliver optimal value?

There are three key areas advertisers need to see addressed by RTB platforms in order to see their bids live up to their full potential.

Granular data-driven targeting: knowing every bid inside and out

Programmatic markets add much more value for buyer and seller when high degrees of first party, third party and proprietary data are involved. The third party data from cookies only tells part of the story behind every ad’s target. More targeted forms of online advertising are the sweet spot for elevating RTB above the wastelands of remnant display ads and powering every bid with more information on the lead than ever before.

The old standard of third party data can now be coupled with more dynamic forms of first party data, which will gain increasing importance as third party data becomes more difficult to access due to privacy concerns. Even in the RTB space, advertisers are able to create custom bidding strategies which combine a range of different data sources.

RTB’s new data-empowerment allows advertisers to build insightful approaches that benefit from hyper-granular targeting. These approaches have the potential to make RTB a powerful value-add in an advertiser’s lead generation arsenal, helping buyers achieve key campaign objectives and spend their budgets in a smarter way. And as data sources change over time, advertisers will be able to continue to customize their bidding strategies to become more effective.

High intent customers: taking first party data to the next level

Ad technologists have brewed the perfect storm for targeting high intent customers with a combination of first party, third party and proprietary data. High intent customers are the ultimate lead generation opportunity – if advertisers can correctly identify them and be relevant to them at the right time. There are many industries with vast advertising budgets currently invested purely in eyeballs that should refocus and invest in both identifying high intent users adequately and deftly targeting them with first party data.

First party data is increasingly important to driving ad relevancy, and the internet’s culture of divulgence gives brands vast repositories to draw from. But this data source is most effective when an RTB exchange can draw directly from it. An example of the optimal first party data source would be insurance quotes or mortgage and loan quote request forms. Through a quote generation form, advertisers see a red flag go up next to customers who are on the cusp of making a purchase, alongside all of their relevant demographic data – from geographic location to credit rating and lifestyle. They can then approach them accordingly and be assured of greater odds of conversion and greater bang for their buck when it comes to the value of individual bids through their RTB exchange.

Data-driven transparency: illuminating the shadowy reaches of every ad impression

Transparency is one of the ad tech world’s biggest buzz words. Ad buyers find that there is still an obstacle between them and a true understanding of the value of every impression – and it comes down to transparency. They don’t have a full view of the audience that is viewing their ads and sometimes even the publisher where it appears. They often can’t see a chronological or geographical breakdown of engagement per impression. Missing out on that level of transparency makes it difficult to judge the efficacy of an individual ad campaign, or the true quality of a publisher’s inventory.

It should go without saying that data-driven strategies go hand in hand with transparency. Assurances from publishers that their targeting strategies are on-point are useless without the reporting to back it up. Transparency allows the advertiser to see the full life cycle of a bid, and while the first party, third party and proprietary data about the potential lead is vital to making advertisers’ budgets work, whether the lead converted and the chronological, geographical and demographic background of the ad is equally important to analyzing the effectiveness of individual campaigns. Capturing data throughout an ad’s life cycle empowers advertisers to identify the best publishers and lead buying strategies, and make more insight-driven decisions.

Ad buyers have complained in the past that RTB inventory is not as premium as other forms of programmatic, and the prices remain too high for buyers to see pronounced value. But increasingly mainstream programmatic trends are seriously shaking up the RTB space and ushering in a data-driven Age of Enlightenment, when the value of RTB is being reassessed and reinvented. In this new era of hyper-impactful RTB, the value of every bid and the true meaning of every impression can be data-verified and help ad buyers not only get greater bang, but more qualified leads, for their buck.





Steve Yi is CEO of MediaAlpha, the emerging technology leader in performance-based insurance advertising. Prior to MediaAlpha, Steve co-founded Fareloop.com, a travel comparison engine that was acquired by Oversee.net. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President and General Manager at Oversee.net, where he led its lead generation arm. Steve graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

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