We had some fun with the cover of this issue of The Programmatic Mind. Not only is the cover catchy, it also has a message. While our aspiring cowboy sits down for a bit of leisurely online reading, some very sophisticated advertising technology takes place behind the scenes to determine which ads will be most relevant to him. Delivering the right ad to the right person at the right time is the aim of every marketer. However, precise targeting also creates a better experience for consumers by helping them discover the content and products that interest them.
In order to deliver the right ads, you need to put your data to work. There is an unfathomable amount of data available to marketers, but not enough of that data is being translated into actionable information. According to a 2014 Forrester report, most companies only analyze 12% of the data they collect. That's the bad news. But the good news is that more and more brands are coming to appreciate the value of data that reveals consumer intent—which is why programmatic is projected to be a $33 billion industry by 2017.
Which brings us back to our would-be cowboy. Our cover illustrates the cowboy's intent to buy boots based on the article he is reading, "How to Ride a Horse." But reading online articles is just one of the many ways consumers reveal their intent and tell marketers which ads they should be serving. Let's take a look at some of the other ways our cowboy might have revealed his intent to buy boots:
One of the most popular forms of online targeting is known as site retargeting, which allows brands to serve ads to consumers who leave their sites without making a purchase. Zappos is one of the brands that made site retargeting famous. You can bet that if our cowboy looked at a pair of boots on Zappos, he'd see an ad for those very same boots as he navigated to other sites. And because premium inventory can now be purchased via programmatic, he might well see an ad for his boots atop one of the premier newspapers or magazines in the world.
Items in Shopping Cart: Bandana, Spurs, Chaps
When it comes to great targeting, few signals are more powerful than the items a consumer places in an online shopping cart. Our cowboy doesn't have to put boots in his cart to reveal he's likely to buy them. Savvy programmatic marketers can make surprisingly accurate predictions about what a consumer will buy next based on items that have made it into an online cart combined with other signals.
Songs Streamed: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys"
Earlier this year, Spotify revealed its plans to join the programmatic revolution by allowing marketers to target consumers based on their music choices. Our wannabe cowboy, of course, could reveal his passion for boots by listening to every cowboy-themed song he can find.
With the rise of mobile in recent years, entirely new forms of targeting have become possible. Marketers using geo-targeting techniques would know to serve ads to our cowboy when he ended up at the rodeo and then traveled to the Spotted Horse Ranch. And the marketers wouldn't be limited to mobile display. With video in-stream and native ads taking hold on mobile, our cowboy can get immersive ads in the perfect locations.
Mobile targeting is no longer about capturing consumers in the right city or right part of town. Beacons and other technologies now make it possible to interact with consumers based on the items they're looking at in a store. To appreciate the power of in-store programmatic, just imagine our cowboy gazing at a pair of boots and then turning to his phone to find a 20% discount for the boots he so desperately craves.
This is just the beginning of the data that can reveal whether our cowboy is ready to buy his boots. The more data that goes into the equation, the easier it is for a boots brand to serve the right ad and for our cowboy to find what he's looking for. Now let's just hope he figures out how to ride a horse by the time his boots arrive.
About the Author
Alex LePage is responsible for Rubicon Project's Buyer Cloud go-to-market strategy and plays a key role in sales enablement and product innovation. He joined Rubicon Project through the Chango acquisition. In his previous role, Alex built the Chango client development competency and team. Previously, he directed the newly created Hearst/iCrossing joint business, integrating premium editorial content and digital expertise. He also held a managing director role at iCrossing, overseeing a $20 million portfolio of clients, including Sears, Lands' End, Procter & Gamble, HSN and LEGO. Before iCrossing, Alex led the Toys R Us strategic and operational transition from the Amazon.com partnership to its current stand-alone operation and directed online marketing for the resulting $500 million online business. Alex began his career in business strategy consulting at Wunderman/Y&R. He holds an MBA from Yale University and is based in New York.
About the Sponsor
Rubicon Project has engineered the Advertising Automation Cloud, one of the largest real-time cloud and big data computing systems. The company's mission is to automate the buying and selling of advertising by offering innovative products to connect buyers and sellers globally.