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Programmatic ads take hold in tech marketing

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Programmatic ad buying is growing rapidly, and its impact on technology marketing is significant. The proliferation of Big Data—along with the abilities to parse those data and to automate ad buying and serving—is helping tech marketers better reach technology decision-makers with relevant messages and offers. Almost one-fifth of U.S. display advertising expenditures will be automated this year, according to a report from eMarketer Inc. The consultancy projected that spending on real-time bidding this year will hit $3.34 billion, 74% higher than last year and representing a 19% share of all U.S. digital display advertising. eMarketer attributed RTB growth to the need to better target prospects, increasing advertiser familiarity with automated bidding and its cost-effectiveness. It projected RTB for display advertising will continue to experience double-digit growth through 2017, reaching $8.69 billion by then and accounting for 29% of all U.S. digital display ad expenditures. “Where this is getting interesting is leveraging some of the underlying technology capabilities that are part of the programmatic world for direct programs,” said Mike Kisseberth, chief revenue officer at TechMedia Network, a technology and science publisher that relies on programmatic advertising to reach subscribers to the publications in its network. Its brands include BusinessNews, Laptop, Tom's Hardware and TopTenREVIEWS. Kisseberth said native advertising, for example—the serving of ad units that resemble editorial content—is a natural for programmatic advertising in the tech world. “Marketers will never move away from that deep dive to connect with the audiences of specific publishers that have germane expertise and insights,” he said, “but there is so much efficiency to the programmatic buying process and the ability to fine-tune the audience with real-time buying capabilities.” Closed ad networks such as TechMedia's are increasingly common. News Corp. last month said it will launch a private programmatic ad exchange to automate the placement of ads solely within its own media properties, such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and MarketWatch. On the technology marketing side, Federated Media Publishing, a network of independent brands that includes numerous technology sites, plans this month to introduce a programmatic platform that will automate the buying and delivery of native advertising within its network of publications. The Content Reachtargeting platform enables advertisers to distribute stories “to just the right people at just the right time in just the right context,” said John Battelle, Federated executive chairman-CEO, in a recent blog postabout the platform. “The possibilities are quite diverse and very exciting,” Battelle wrote. “You could create concentric circles with branded content at the core, identifying audience members who have shared the content, viewed the content or simply visited sites where the content is hosted. ... Or you can narrow down your messaging to just those who have shared the branded content.” But ad buying in the technology world is more about the audience and less about the specific site, said Clark Frederickson, VP at eMarketer. “You don't use programmatic just to buy an ad on PCWorld,” Frederickson said. “It has to do with whoever just arrived at that site; the data and profile they fit in; their IP address; plus what their cookie says about them—for example, if they've also been to Cisco.com, Intel.com and IBM.com.” Frederickson said that advertisers may still want to place ads on specific tech sites rather than use programmatic ad buying. This is because a premium publisher site may be most appropriate for a particular topic or because a programmatic ad buy—which follows the user around the Internet, regardless of site content—may not resonate with that user at a certain time and place. “That's why publishers are developing private ad exchanges that offer targeted capabilities with a guarantee of content and a branded site,” he said.
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