“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Chris O'Hara, Chief Revenue Officer at NextMark.
I’ve always loved the notion of programmatic RTB. As a data hound and an early adopter of AppNexus, the idea that advertisers can achieve highly granular levels of targeting and utilize algorithms to impact performance is right in my wheelhouse. Today’s ad tech, replete with 300 companies that enable data-driven audience segmentation, targeting and analytics, is a testament to the efficiency of buying ads one impression at a time.
But what if driving efficiency in display actually does more harm than good?
Today’s RTB practitioners have become extremely relentless in pursuit of the perfect audience. It starts with retargeting, which uses first-party data to serve ads only to people who are already deeply within the customer funnel. No waste there. The next tactic is to target behavioral “intenders” who, according to their cookies, have done everything but purchase something. Guess what? If I searched four times in the last three hours for a flight from JFK to SFO, anyone who serves me enough ads is likely to eventually get last-view attribution for my ticket purchase. Next? Finding “lookalike” audiences that closely resemble past purchasers. Data companies, each of whom sell a variety of segments that can be mixed to create the profile of a 35-year-old suburban woman, do a great job of delivering audiences with a predilection to purchase.
But what if we’re serving ads to people who are already going to buy? Is efficiency really driving new sales, or are we just helping marketers save money on marketing?
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