Robbing From Display To Pay Search?

by Joe Mandese, MediaPost  

Fascinating data coming out of WPP ad-tracking unit Kantar Media this morning. The headline was that Kantar has begun tracking paid-search figures and breaking it out from digital’s whole. Why is this news for RTBlog to comment on? Because of the corresponding insight that the display ad marketplace currently is one of the fastest-eroding ones. So I asked Kantar Media research chief Jon Swallen whether it was ironic that one biddable medium (search) was the fastest-growing, while another (RTB display) was the fastest-declining, and his answer had more to do with what people often describe as another medium -- mobile.

According to Swallen, the truth is locked in another set of data that Kantar hasn’t yet figured out how to crack: mobile display and mobile search. But based on what he can infer, he wouldn’t necessarily make a direct correlation between paid search’s rise and display’s fall, so much as the fact that a lot more of the action is taking place on the mobile side of both media.

One simple explanation for display’s erosion is that more user traffic has shifted from desktop display to mobile display and therefore so has some of the ad budgets targeting those users. As for display systemic decline, Swallen says he simply doesn’t know -- yet -- because Kantar doesn’t have the data to determine it.

“Programmatic may be contributing to [display’s] CPM declines, but I can’t test that hypothesis with our data,” he concedes, explaining: “The pricing info we get is at a very aggregated level.”
While there’s no perfect answer yet, Real-Time Daily has been working with some sources -- especially Owner IQ -- to analyze the past couple of years of data from the RTB 500, and it may shed some light on that. Stay tuned -- we’ll publish it in the next few days. As soon as we understand a little more about it. Meanwhile, feel free to analyze it yourself.

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