Ads People Want

Conversations with People Who Know What It Means
Next Article

Customizing the Ad Playlist:

Top Tech Companies Are Tuning into the Beat of Relevant Data

Ever get a mixtape from a friend that seemed to predict your mood? It would somehow play that perfect tune just as you began your road trip, had a tough day, or felt the urge to get up and dance. Just as personalized playlists enrich our lives in ways we didn’t know they could, new technologies also help accommodate and improve the user’s experience. Using troves of personalized data that go beyond basic demographics, such as interests, events, moods, personalities and preferences, marketers can now predict the wishes of their consumers, making their lives easier. Services that once started as simple online music, movie, shopping or mapping providers have become big time opportunities for marketers and advertisers in the predictive marketing game.

Close X

People don't mind seeing ads as long as they are helpful to them.

With more and more user-experience technologies and services coming to market, the amount of data available to marketers is only growing. There is so much available data that, according to a 2014 Forrester report, most companies only utilize 12 percent of the data they collect. As brands begin to catch up with the deluge of pertinent data, marketers are seeing the efficiency and relevance of automated targeting and are incorporating it into their messaging strategies. There’s a reason why programmatic buying is projected to reach as much as $33 billion by 2017: marketers are starting to recognize the advantages of a “playlist” of data collection. By incorporating a mix of intent, behavioral, social and CRM data, they are better equipped to understand their consumers and provide a desired ad experience. As advertisers spend more programmatically, this is a way for them to deliver value through branded content, product advertisements, and informative messaging.

People don’t mind seeing ads as long as they are helpful to them, says a recent Accenture survey. Nearly 60 percent of consumers want real-time promotions and offers while shopping at a retailer, and according to a recent Forrester survey, nearly 46 percent of customers don’t mind receiving messaging from companies they’ve opted into as long as the offer is relevant. The keyword is relevant. Consumers want to participate in a dialog with brands. However, that means everything from messaging to in-store transactions need to conform to a unified conversation so that the consumer doesn’t lose trust along the way.

So what does the playlist look like? What will these new user experiences do to benefit the consumer and help advertisers tune their strategies? Let’s start with some music to set the stage.

Playlist targeting makes a pretty good guess about what you‘re doing based on the music you’re listening to, and helps marketers deliver ads that are relevant to your activity.

The Soundtrack to Your Life

Marketing customization is one playlist that Spotify wants to help you craft. As of May 1st this year, the music streaming service that serves nearly 100 million people worldwide, introduced playlist targeting. Playlist targeting makes a pretty good guess about what you’re doing based on the music you’re listening to, and helps marketers deliver ads that are relevant to your activity (provided you have opted into Spotify’s data sharing). This is driving a new ad environment which is more personalized and targeted for listeners and gives marketers the opportunity to provide ads people might actually want to see or hear.

This move comes as no surprise. Spotify has been collecting and sorting consumer data for mood- and interest-based marketing while opening up a market for personalized, emotion-based advertising. Spotify didn’t invent this type of intense information pooling and it’s not the only contender in personalized, data-driven targeting. However, if it’s any indication of the direction of advertising, emotion-based predictive targeting is only getting stronger. Case in point: A recent Stanford research paper concluded that computers can now judge a human’s personality better than friends or family can, just by using Facebook “likes.” As of now, there are only 15 activities and moods marketers can choose from, but if it is successful, you can be sure there will be more options in the near future. Personalized targeting doesn’t stop at music channels, it also extends to everyday entertainment mediums, such as online streaming and TV shows.

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE

The widely successful Netflix-produced show, ”House of Cards,” was masterminded as an acclaimed hit before users even knew they would be binge watching it. Its success was no lucky guess, but a careful analysis and aggregation of specific data points. Based on past viewership of David Fincher’s, “The Social Network,”

Netflix had the necessary data evidence to predict the popularity of “House of Cards” before they took a $100 million risk. With these abilities, Netflix knew it could suggest the show to those subscribers it had already predicted would love the series.

For Netflix, nearly 75 percent of viewer activity is driven by spot-on recommendations. With more than 60 million customers, Netflix has numerous data points to feed its predictive algorithms, including playlists, length of time spent viewing content, and viewing time and dates. This data is then used to mirror similar viewing patterns for the future. As with “House of Cards,” this information also serves to create new content to keep up with audiences’ ever-changing preferences. For advertisers, the predictive model based on meticulous deciphering of subscribers’ behavior and interests carves out opportunities to meet a demand for ads that people want. It helps create desired messaging for a person’s anticipated future needs and interests.

MORE TOP PICKS FOR YOU

Online shopping retailers are also benefitting from data-driven predictions. The internet retail giant, Amazon, can take a good guess at what you might purchase next based on more than just your interests. In fact, Amazon creates something truly relevant for its consumers and bridges large swaths of products by merging its system of recommendations with market forecasting and social analytics to gain a broader idea of why certain products are more popular.

The e-commerce company’s platform, Amazon Web Services, gives users open access to the same sort of machine-based learning that predicts which products a consumer wants to see when shopping. For 10 cents, developers will receive 1,000 data predictions, a price that is half the cost of what it was for this type of service two years ago. At this price, the opportunities are plentiful for those tapping into recommendation targeting for their business or services. More importantly, this illustrates the trend towards data-driven predictions that extend beyond shopping preferences. Specifically for retailers, the integration of market forecasts, social analytics and the growth of data technologies, will improve retailers abilities to connect with their audience.

MAPPED OUT

Location is another way to customize your ad playlist. Map apps on smartphones have proven to be a highly informative space to track consumer behavior. According to a 2014 eMarketer study, at least 33 percent of consumers have found that mobile ads helped them locate something near them, and as many as 31 percent of consumers were enticed by an ad to try something new.

Map-based targeting gives advertisers an exciting opportunity to get even more precise with their messaging and closer to their consumers as they travel from point A to point B.

When used with smartphones, Google’s Eddystone and Apple’s iBeacon can provide users with everything from a restaurant menu while standing outside of a restaurant, to showing context-specific coupons based on the consumer’s location. It’s quite likely we’ll see Google and Apple introducing indoor maps to guide consumers through shopping mall experiences so they can access specific store information. For Eddystone development in particular, Google said it would eventually work with other Google products and services. Just last year, they synced Gmail to communicate calendar appointments with Google Maps directly, showing reservations or other calendar details above the location of the event. The cosmetics retailer, Sephora, is testing Apple’s iBeacon in-store as a way to show customers makeup tutorials as they walk past certain products.

Consumers are catching on to “on-the-go” personalized services, and advertisers are not far behind. Whether they are being guided through their shopping journey at their local mall or venturing the make-up aisles of Sephora, marketers in the lead have caught on and are incorporating geo-targeted messages into their strategies.

The rapid growth of data technology allows companies to reach their consumers in a more personalized manner than ever before.

Ad to PLaylist

The rapid growth of data technology allows companies to reach their consumers in a more personalized manner than ever before. What started as unique services for consumers from Spotify, Netflix, Amazon and more became a whole new world of user experience that opens up a big market for marketers and advertisers. The technology shrinks the distance between brand and consumer in a way that allows for highly personalized offerings that enrich the lives of users, not hinder them. However, this data is only useful when analyzed and utilized intelligently. Programmatic, and intent marketing specifically, offer the vessel through which to harness the power of this growing market because it shares the philosophy that puts consumer needs first. It’s not technology for technology’s sake, it is innovation based around the needs and wants of the consumer. Ad playlists, when combined with the right data and predictive elements, are highly valuable to both advertisers and consumers.

Back To The Future Marketing

Kim's Automation Tale

Sometimes fiction can be the best way to reveal the truth. That’s why we love to share the adventures of Kim, a digital marketing heroine in a fast-changing world. Kim is a made-up character, but she’s based on the real-life marketers we work with every single day. Loyal readers will remember that Kim oversees digital campaigns for a CPG company and that she has a borderline unhealthy obsession with data.

Close X

In past installments of this series, we revealed how Kim’s love of data manifests itself as a passion for programmatic marketing and open ad exchanges. Kim continues to spend a significant portion of her budget on traditional programmatic campaigns.

The reason is simple: No matter what product she’s advertising, programmatic allows her to target the specific individuals who are most likely to convert.

The problem? (You knew there had to be one, right?) Kim has a new product — a fair trade coffee brand — that requires premium placements on a wide range of major media sites. And, crazy as it seems to Kim, many of those premium sites have not yet entered the programmatic era. This means that Kim is going back to non-automated buying for the coffee campaign, something she never dreamed she’d have to do again.

Still, the inability to buy the inventory she wants in an automated manner doesn’t seem like such a big deal at first. Kim is old enough to remember a time before programmatic, and she knows how to buy inventory the old fashioned way. “It’ll be nostalgic,” Kim thinks, “sort of like going back to a print novel after years of reading on the Kindle.”

Kim smiles at the thought, but, two weeks later, she is no longer laughing. Having spent the last few years buying programmatically, she had forgotten what advertising could be like when the process isn’t automated. From the sending out of RFPs and I/Os, to the back and forth negotiations with agencies and publishers, every last aspect of running a campaign feels a thousand times more complicated and time consuming than it needs to be.

No amount of advertising is worth the time that she and her team members are losing every day as they manually set up each campaign.

One night, Kim is alone in the office, worrying that she’s going to lose it. The papers are still flying back and forth and a single ad for the coffee brand has yet to appear. For the first time since she can remember, Kim feels as though she’s letting her employer down. Her CMO, Dave, hasn’t said anything about the campaign that is now behind schedule, but Kim has seen the growing concern on his face.

Kim walks around the dark office thinking. It’s on her second lap around the kitchenette that she notices the print novel she’d started to read - her one attempt at taking a break from the Kindle. That’s when Kim realized she’d only read one chapter of the print book. Having come to love reading on the Kindle, she’d been unable to go back to print. “Sometimes the new ways are just much better,” she says out loud to herself.

Suddenly it all seems so much clearer. “No more,” she tells herself. “If we can’t automate our buy, we’re not buying,” Kim is surprised to hear the words come out of her mouth, particularly as she’s alone in the office. But she knows there is no other option. No amount of advertising is worth the time that she and her team members are losing every day as they manually set up each campaign.

Perhaps if there had really been no other way, Kim would have kept going with all the RFPs and I/Os or even considered going back to agency – which if you recall she had ruled out long ago. But Kim knows there is a better way. Some of the premium sites she’s interested in have already made the transition to “automated guaranteed”—a process that brings all the benefits of automation to the world of premium direct buying.

This lets Kim log in, reserve the inventory she needs, and log back out, knowing exactly what she’s buying. After six weeks of trying to buy premium inventory without direct automated buys, Kim feels as though her frightening journey into the advertising past is finally over. She can continue to rely on the programmatic techniques she knows and loves for most placements, and, when need be, she can turn to automated, guaranteed buys for her premium inventory needs. Kim’s coffee campaign is already kicking in some results with placements running exactly where she wanted them to be.

“I feel like Marty from ‘Back to the Future,’” Kim says to Dave, who has finally stopped walking around the office with a look of panic. “Automated guaranteed brought me back.”

“That’s great,” Dave says. “So long as I’m not Doc in this story.”

For the first time in several months, Kim can laugh again.

An interview with mashable's:

STACY MARTINET

How Mashable Re-Invents The Re-Inventions

One way to stay up-to-date with emerging digital media trends is to cater to the Digital Generation – aka today’s new media enthusiasts and super-sharers. As CMO of Mashable, Stacy Martinet regards just about every innovation as a potential opportunity to better engage Mashable’s community. Rubicon Project caught up with Stacy to learn how native advertising, programmatic and mobile video can help brands to connect with this important demographic.

Close X

Programmatic can be a huge resource for brands that want to reach a targeted audience. It allows marketers to clearly identify key demographic groups and serve content directly to those consumers.

Mashable’s design feels more like Pinterest than the New York Times or Buzzfeed. What’s the thinking behind it?

Mashable’s overall design is heavily influenced by audience consumption and distribution. Mashable’s homepage has been through many changes, and in 2012 we re-launched our site to be fully responsive. The current homepage design is driven by social and mobile consumption, and the rapid growth of visual and video storytelling.

Prior to Mashable, you were at the New York Times. How have your role – and the marketing landscape – changed in the last few years?

When I started in this role at Mashable, CMOs weren’t prevalent in media companies, and if they did exist, it was to drive subscriptions. Today, marketing departments are fully integrated to cover all aspects of the funnel and are responsible for building brand as much as they are for growing the audience. Technology has played a role in this transition. Actionable data has made the role of marketing more essential, both day to day and in the development of long-term strategies.

Our social strategy is to live where our audience lives and to provide value specific to our communities on those platforms.

Mashable is quite successful with native advertising. What’s the future of it?

The rise of mobile has certainly influenced the prevalence of branded content, both on Mashable and in the industry. As 21st-century publishers, it’s our job to figure out how to tell stories in a new format and a new voice, branded or not.

What does Mashable do to create strong affinities with younger audiences, particularly Millennials? And how important will platforms such as Snapchat be for that strategy?

Our social strategy is to live where our audience lives and to provide value specific to our communities on those platforms. Mashable’s community is social, and it always has been. We create custom content for every platform, from ‘traditional’ social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, to ephemeral apps like Snapchat, as well as Meerkat, Periscope and other emerging platforms. To ensure continued innovation in the social space, we’ve created the Mashable Collective, a creative group within marketing that’s tasked with experimenting with emerging platforms, creative tools and technologies.

How do you address viewability and other performance metrics for video campaigns?

Viewability certainly is a hot topic, and it’s important that the industry gets it right. However, we shouldn’t be tied to only one metric when analyzing video performance. At Mashable, we use a range of KPI’s to measure the life cycle of our video content and we measure results in the context of individual campaign goals.

Our audience is the Digital Generation. They’re early adopters and super-sharers who immerse themselves in technology and digital culture.

What excites you about the future of digital marketing?

The ability to utilize both data and creative to adjust campaigns in real time, and to make content more interactive. Traditionally, the options for marketers were limited, and campaigns took months to plan and even longer to analyze. Today, feedback is immediate and marketers gain instant insights into what resonates with their target audiences.

What makes Mashable distinct among publishers?

The Mashable community. Our audience is the Digital Generation. They’re early adopters and super-sharers who immerse themselves in technology and digital culture. Mashable readers regularly participate in social challenges and “IRL” Meetups to connect with our brand, both on and offline. Our community truly cares about the content they engage with and they want their voices heard.

How can programmatic tactics help marketers build their brands?

Programmatic can be a huge resource for brands that want to reach a targeted audience. It allows marketers to clearly identify key demographic groups and serve content directly to those consumers. And it provides results that can be reliably tracked.

Facebook has shown that short-form video content is both highly engaging on mobile devices and a strategic way to monetize. What is Mashable’s strategy around video?

Our audience has always had an appetite for short-form video, which is why we’ve wanted to master the format early on. We’ve seen great results with it across platforms and plan to make varied and complex videos, including documentaries, original series, and news updates on hot stories.

What book are you currently reading?

Right now I am reading The End of Power by Moises Naim. It’s a fascinating analysis of how power has and is shifting in all aspects of global culture, from politics to gender. I definitely recommend it!

FIT AND TONED MARKETING

Fierce Ad-Tech Workout Basics

What’s the secret to a strong advertising strategy? An ad-tech workout plan that works for your brand. Just as the right exercise regimen can improve your body, it takes training to build a winning digital marketing program. Here’s how to make it as powerful as possible.

Close X

The Soundtrack to Your Life

The first steps in getting your digital marketing into shape is to determine your target audience and establish your campaign goals. Is your customer spending more time on desktop or mobile? Does meeting your objectives hinge on branding, direct response, or both? Knowing what you want out of your campaign is critical to achieving it, and can mean the difference between a positive ROI and a strategy that’s just plain weak.

Target Your Core (Customer)

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, it’s time to find them. Intent data is essential to building a tight campaign core. Whether your data takes the form of search phrases, social media, or patterns in browsing behavior, it’s what your core needs. With intent data crunches you can identify potential customers, capitalize on their interest, and push them down the purchase funnel. A solid ad-tech workout is about understanding a customer’s interests and responding with engaging messaging in real time.

Pump Up Display Ads With Dynamic Creative

Display ads lose muscle mass as they age. Because of ad clutter and banner-blindness they no longer have the same power to convert consumers. Whip them into shape using customer data, and bulk up by adding information specific to each user’s browsing and purchasing behavior, location, or site page content in real time. Every customer is different, so skip the one-size-fits-all strategy and opt for a customized creative solution that will make your messaging more personalized, more relevant, and more effective.

Cross-Channel Fitness That Fits Your Customer‘s Life

Search, social, mobile…brands need to address all of these channels to maximize audience reach. The solution? A full-body workout for well-balanced strength. Consumers are always on the go, making purchasing decisions on different platforms and devices throughout their days.According to research, only 7 percent of marketers believe their companies are adequately prepared to execute a cross-channel campaign. Flex your marketing muscle with a friendly data-management system, automated ad delivery, and precision targeting to reach your audience across the customer journey and ensure that you’re present at every touchpoint.

Build a Beautiful Brand with Programmatic

To keep your brand looking great, focus on a healthy diet of building brand awareness, recall, and loyalty online. More than 60 percent of US marketers now use programmatic marketing for branding, and branding is right behind retargeting and acquisition in advertisers’ top programmatic goals. Quality display and video inventory, along with reliable data, can translate into big improvements to the way consumers perceive your brand.

Cool Down with Analytics

At the end of every workout it’s a good idea to take stock of your performance and prepare for your next effort. Understanding data analytics is crucial because there’s more to success than individual actions like newsletter signups and completed video views (or lunges and bicep curls). Let data science and analytics teams with deep expertise in machine learning guide you through your results. Once you catch your breath, you’ll be on your way to becoming a lean mean programmatic machine.

Automation, Mobile, and Native: BFF’s at Last

Imagine if you could take the three most exciting trends in digital advertising and put them together into a single advertising format. Now imagine that it’s not just any format, but an organic creative execution that fits seamlessly into the mobile apps that people love, on the devices they carry with them all day, and is entirely automated so that it can easily scale to achieve meaningful reach.

Close X

Mobile native ads offer as much as five times the engagement of mobile banners and inspire three times more sharing.

Imagine if you could take the three most exciting trends in digital advertising and put them together into a single advertising format.

Now imagine that it’s not just any format, but an organic creative execution that fits seamlessly into the mobile apps that people love, on the devices they carry with them all day, and is entirely automated so that it can easily scale to achieve meaningful reach.

It all sounds too good to be true — like some sort of digital marketing utopia. And yet, all of the criteria listed above describe automated mobile native advertising - the most in-demand format available today. Programmatic automation (the ability to scale and use data to target the right audience), mobile (the ability to travel with that audience), and native (the ability to integrate seamlessly into an app’s intended look and feel) are all game-changing trends in digital marketing that won’t come as a surprise to anyone in the industry. This exciting new development comprises the three hottest trends in media today.

Overall mobile programmatic ad revenue will account for more than half of all mobile-display related revenue by 2018.

Why is an idea as good as automated (or programmatic) mobile native only taking off now? From a broader perspective, this new format only became possible when an entirely new standard in real-time bidding was created by industry leaders and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, known as OpenRTB 2.3. Scaling native ads on mobile devices required industry-wide standards and specifications, including those for app walls, newsfeeds, chat lists, content streams and other popular mobile formats.

As for why so many in the industry are excited about the convergence of automation, mobile, and native, well, the numbers speak for themselves. Mobile native ads offer as much as five times the engagement of mobile banners and inspire three times more sharing.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), overall mobile programmatic ad revenue will account for more than half of all mobile-display related revenue by 2018 – that’s up from a less than ten percent share of the market in 2013. Considering how quickly native is growing on mobile, and how popular mobile videos are becoming, the IDC’s predictions might turn out to be conservative.

Digital advertising changes quickly. There is always another trend to keep an eye on. But if trends are a regular feature of the industry, it’s hard to think of another time when the three of them have merged so naturally. The days of imagining the ideal digital formats are over. Native advertising is here now and it’s changing digital marketing as we know it.

Download Issue 9