Targeting seems like a big differentiator to those new to the demand-side platform (DSP) or online advertising marketplace. However, unless an ad management platform has their own server-side cookie database or proprietary technology (and some do), pretty much everyone has the access to the same data. But what data is that exactly? What’s available? What can data not do? And most importantly, what works?
In this article, we‘re going to break down different types of targeting and tell a little bit of truth about each type.
Third party user data
There are an ever-profilerating number of companies in the marketplace collecting and segmenting user data. Some of the big names in this space are BlueKai, eXelate, AlmondNet, Bizo and TargusInfo. To use this data, an ad network or a DSP forms a partnership with one or more of these companies and then sells that data through their platform to their customers in the form of audience segments.
Recent hysteria to the contrary, none of this data contains information that makes any one user personally identifiable to the data provider, DSP, ad network or, further downstream, agency or advertiser/client. In fact, if it did, it really wouldn’t be of tremendous value. The main benefit of this kind of data is in the volume of users in any particular segment. If a segment doesn’t contain enough users, the network or DSP isn’t going to see enough impressions to achieve whatever back-end goals the agency or advertiser may have. One perfect user isn’t equal to one million sort of perfect users. The power of digital media is in its ability to scale to achieve reach. If you want one perfect user, send them a letter.
When a user visits a web page, cookies can be used to “tag” that browser. That tag allows an advertiser to them show ads on other sites for that advertiser’s products after that user has left the advertiser’s page. In combination with a big push in other marketing and advertising channels, it is possible to get a lot of browsers “tagged” in a short period of time.
This is not technically complicated and nearly any online advertising management platform can do it. Particularly if an advertiser has not implemented retargeting before, it can provide a tremendous boost to traffic and, ultimately, conversions. The trick is not to implement it clumsily, which is where a good agency or ad operations team will be an asset. Retargeting is one of those display advertising tactics that can come off as “creepy” to an individual user (for example, the pair of pants that followed one user around the internet for weeks, even after the person had made a purchase). However, done correctly, retargeting is both effective and appreciated by users, who like seeing ads that are relevant to them better than ads that have nothing to do with their interests.
Targeting typically costs a little extra than just serving as many impressions as many places as possible for as little cost as possible, but it’s also more effective when implemented by a talented ad operations team or competent interactive agency. Have you used third party data? What do you think about recent conversations about restricting the use of targeting?