Data-driven targeting on publishers' websites may be headed for a "natural correction," according to Chris Copeland, president of ad-tech platform Yieldbot.
The correction, Mr. Copeland argues, will come as marketers trim spending on certain consumer targeting to compensate for rising minimum prices on publishers' inventory.
His view isn't universally held -- more on that below -- but Mr. Copeland said several red flags have already materialized. In August, for example, No. 1 advertiser Procter & Gamble said data targeting had limited effectiveness for certain products.
"I think what brands need to understand is what targeting is really a needle mover and what targeting makes them feel all warm and fuzzy," Mr. Copeland said. "It's a bit of, 'Do you really need a seven-course meal if a three-course meal is going to fill you up?'"
In this scenario, the key change is the proliferation of header bidding ad technology, which has let premium publishers see that their inventory is often worth more than the bids they used to accept.
"What header bidding meant for the marketplace is suddenly inventory that was historically bought at a lower price starts to rise," Mr. Copeland said. "There's more competition and different valuations to different inventory. And floor prices are being put into place."
Should floor prices rise, sophisticated data overlays -- such as targeting that can tell marketers whether a given web surfer shopped at Walmart last week -- will get a hard look from advertisers.