Smartphones go mainstream as the programmatic advertising sands shift

Thus, for the first time, well over half of Irish consumers are now available to be targeted with advertising via mobile, making it an even more valuable platform for marketers. This is particularly so as smartphone owners are almost a third more likely than the average adult to be in the highest (AB) social grades and over a quarter more likely to have a family income greater than €75,000.

The rise of programmatic advertising

Reaching these consumers online brings with it the prospect of doing so programmatically. Programmatic advertising has exploded on to the scene in recent years, seeing rapid growth in particular in the form of retargeting consumers with real time bidding (RTB).

This involves consumers being retargeted with online ads - by an ad trading desk bidding to advertise on a site to a particular individual in the time it takes the page to load - for the services of a site they previously visited (which is what makes it cookie-based) but where they may not have made a purchase.

The value of programmatic to online publishers

Publishers have found this an efficient way to sell off their – particularly less premium – inventory and of course brands and ad trading desks enjoy the fact they know they are reaching an individual already engaged at some level with the brand.

The dilemma for programmatic’s ongoing growth

However, today programmatic finds itself at something of a crossroads. Its growth has led it to the door of premium inventory, which is still largely sold outside of a programmatic environment, for a number of reasons, including:

  • Non-cookie based targeting reduces bid pressure on inventory sold through cookies
  • It is a tried and tested formula which has worked successfully for many years
  • Cookies are far from infallible as a means for targeting – their quality can be questionable and they can get deleted
  • Cookies running on fraudulent activity is still a big concern for brands who are often worried how much wastage they might be subject to in a programmatic campaign, without being aware

The value of placement has never been more important

Programmatic’s rise has meant a shift in strategy for brands from one built around placement to one built just around audience, meaning online display advertising is increasingly driven by performance metrics alone.

However, ad placement is still of importance to brands. For all the efficiencies of programmatic, they do not want to see their ad running against online inventory that is at odds with their values or positioning – what if an ad for Louis Vuitton handbags were to appear on an online bingo site?

Proving the value of online inventory is key

Consequently, there is greater onus than ever on publishers to prove the value of their online inventory to assuage brand concerns about placement. Similarly, as much as brands do not want to see their campaign appear on the wrong kind of site, publishers do not wish to see their premium inventory devalued by the wrong kind of ad appearing on it.

First party data only goes so far for publishers seeking to demonstrate premium nature of their inventory

To prove their inventory’s value by profiling the characteristics of their audience, publishers need as broad and granular a range of consumer metrics as possible in order to unearth the most compelling arguments to take to brands. The more options they have, the stronger the arguments they can find. This means profiling all aspects of consumer behaviour, characteristics, attitudes and media consumption.

Publisher first-party data can be a key component in supporting audience value, but suffers from two prominent drawbacks. Firstly, by its nature it is bespoke to the publisher and thus cannot be used as a bartering currency between media seller and media buyer. It also generally lacks the breadth of consumer insight that gives the publisher the most powerful arguments for its audiences.

With the pressure to prove the value of audiences never more acute, publishers increasingly require new tools from the media research industry that facilitate enhanced promotional arguments. This is an area where we at Kantar Media TGI, amongst others in the industry, are developing new solutions that mean publishers’ and other media owners’ commercial and sales teams can make more robust use of the insights that we have in our TGI study.

As seen in the Irish Marketing Journal, April edition

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