Since 2000 when I started to work in digital there has been a constant learning curve for agencies, advertisers and publishers alike. The fantastic part of working in digital but also the greatest challenge is that it rarely sits still for long, leaving people constantly chasing the next level of knowledge. If I look back over the last thirteen years there have been some key milestones. First we got this whole thing off the ground around 2000 in a real manner. We then saw the rise of Search as a real revolution of the digital business. The dot com crash and overall stagnation saw little innovation until Youtube, social media start up around the middle of the decade. Just as everyone was comfortable along came Real time bidding and exchanges.
Each sector of our business has responded differently to each of the challenges and seen different challenges and opportunities. In the last 12 months I have been asked to talk at a couple of B2B events on the subject of RTB, it is a business that was traditional in nature and could understand digital from a search and targeting perspective, mainly because they could replicate the very industry specific offline approach online. Many websites, content specific and so on. The trouble is RTB is not about the content. It can be part of the equation, but it is not the driving force. The driving force is Audience and reaching that audience.
At first that felt wrong to people but actually I have had many conversations over the years where we wanted to target small business owners or IT professionals and the conclusion was that these professionals ‘were just people’ and we should target them not just in work specific environments but also in their spare time, catching them where you would expect them to be. How many campaigns run on Golf sites in the hope of attracting C-level execs?
At the heart of the issue is that, how do you target very specific audiences without being in very specific content. Reaching the investment community, IT hardware budget holders, small businesses, you name it. Well RTB has some answers and the marketeers of B2B and Publishers alike need to start testing and creating their own very bespoke audiences. The data is there, as an advertiser you have visitor data, registered user data, you have data from your social presence and more. Publishers collect information all the time and there is even more they can do as sophistication increases. Planning is not what it used to be, planning starts by creating profiles and target segments using your data, publisher data and third party data. Start to create and test, RTB allows you to switch on and off in an instant and so the opportunity to learn is immense.
I sometimes have this impression that people still see RTB as the remnant of the industry on long tail sites. This is a misconception so I advise a marketeer to go an investigate. The world’s leading content is now in the exchange ecosystem, whether through private marketplaces or public. If the FT, Guardian, Telegraph most IT sites all see opportunity then the marketeer should also. The technology and the data can now be applied intelligently to all this premium inventory and combine that with intelligent use of dynamic creative and you have a powerful opportunity. And after all of those benefits you can apply the macro benefits of RTB – you dont buy upfront, you buy what you need to buy, one impression at a time. You can frequency cap, single reporting and achieve transparency of what you are buying. These are vital in the new digital ecosystem marketeers should be demanding this as standard.
I often spend time explaining to advertisers that we have changed our agency model, the publishers have adapted or are in the process of adapting to this revolution in digital, but many times we dont challenge the advertiser to change. That would be my core message here, dont do what you have always done, you should change and if you agency partner is not challenging you to do that then you have the wrong agency.