Data brings sexy back to display advertising


Now, how many of you have experienced this? You’ve been planning a holiday trip to somewhere, and have been looking up tripadvisor and other travel sites for holiday ideas, and suddenly, on a daily basis, you’re being bombarded with banner ads offering airfares, accommodation and day trips?

Coincidence? Nope.

You’re actually being targeted by very smart ads, using data collected from your surfing habits over the past X days.

People are generally divided into 2 camps on this:

1) WTF?! They are watching my every move on the internet?!?!? No fucking way! Respect privacy blah blah Big Brother watching blah blah How can I surf porn in peace blah blah

2) Wow, does that mean I’ll get more relevant ads in future showing me what i’m actually looking out for? Great! Bring it!

The way we used to (and a lot are still doing it this way) buy media is that we’ll purchase a chunk of impressions on Yahoo or MSN or Google, and hope that of these 1,000,000 impressions bought, we’ll hit some of the people who will buy into the ad and convert.

Most times, we’ll add on some targeting filters like news, technology or entertainment category. But these are still purchases off the content and on sites.

There’s still too much wastage and uncertainty.

Real Time Buying/Bidding (RTB)

The current darling of display technology lies in RTB. The ability to assess, in real time, whether this “person” seeing this page, is who we’re targeting at, and whether he’s a possible fit, and if so, to show him the ad.

And we do this on an impression by impression level, and its done via an “auction” where different advertisers “bid” for the right to show their ad to this “person”.

For example, if you’ve been to sites like sgcarmart or searched for car brands in the last month, we assume you’re in the consideration phase for buying a car, and can serve you an ad for a car advertiser.

If you’ve recently bought an air ticket and hotel accommodation, we can assume you’re planning for a trip, and we can show you an ad for travel insurance.

In a nutshell, RTB is able to target and show you ads that are relevant to your current needs, and increase chances of you clicking and converting.

Higher efficiency, lowered wastage, better returns on investment. That’s the RTB proposition.

RTB has been around for a few years, but it has been ramping up on growth over the past 12 months, especially in APAC. So marketers, I suggest getting to know RTB on a deeper level, or at least set up a decent budget to trial and see the results for yourself.

Privacy concerns

Of course, there are upsides and downsides to every emerging technology. In order for us to serve you better and more relevant ads, we first need to know more about “you”.

That being said, no personable identifiable information is ever released, or tracked.

What’s being tracked are your cookies, and what we track from cookies are simply sites you been to, content you have been consuming, search terms you’ve been keying.

With this data, we then extrapolate and build an audience behavioral pool, and make certain assumptions based on those information.

For instance, this cookie visits sites like flowerpod, motherhood, parenting sites and constantly searches for Kim Kardashian, Survivor winner, Ivanka Trump and Desperate housewives.

We then make certain assumptions that this cookie belongs to a woman who’s probably married, and enjoys reality shows and is or could be thinking of having a kid. We then serve ads based on what this “cookie” may need in her life, like baby clothes, women’s fashion brands or DVD sets of certain shows.

I’ll talk about how users are being tracked online in the next post.

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