TargetCast Bringing Search Budgets To Display – Or Vice Versa

sloan-targetcastFor many media agencies, Search has always commanded a significant percentage of client budgets.  But over the past few years, with the “search-display” paradigm trumpeted within the ad technology landscape, data-driven display ad platforms have increasingly complimented Search budgets as agencies look to address the “right” audiences across the Web.

Philippe Sloan, SVP, Director of Digital Marketing at TargetCast, has seen the shift first-hand as he works both the strategic and execution sides of client campaigns for his media agency. “When I reference ‘ad technology,’ I’m talking about aligning clients with companies and platforms that provide scale across the Web. It’s definitely resonating with clients – clients who I find are up-to-speed with what’s happening in the world of digital advertising.”

To stay ahead of the game, Sloan and his team are constantly reviewing new platforms and looking for ways to reach their clients’ targets– especially as an extension of search.  Among the solutions he has implemented recently is from ad platform Yieldbot. He says, “Yieldbot was appealing to us in that it capitalized on the power of search by reaching out to people who are actively trying to engage with our brands, and hitting them with something that went beyond a text ad or a banner ad on a site. I viewed it as a combination of the best of search combined with the power of display and the power of an image.”

From his point-of-view, Yieldbot CEO Jonathan Mendez sees untapped data within the pages of web publishers that media agencies can use for targeting.  “Search does it really well – it’s a navigational tool for intent. It gets you to where you want to go. But how do you build a collection mechanism that’s outside of search within content? That’s what we’ve done.”

Given the steady expansion of tactics used by agencies to compliment Search, one might think that Search as a tactic has “capped out” for certain clients in terms of available scale which may give all the more reason to look to new platforms. TargetCast’s Sloan disagrees crisply, “Consumers still rely heavily on search to get to where they want to go. Will that change down the road? Hard to say.”

Nevertheless, having used Yieldbot for a CPG client who wanted consumers to download a coupon, Sloan explains that the ad platform allowed TargetCast to have ads on content sites that users visited after having searched relevant terms to their client’s brand –  terms that they could not secure position one, two or three for in Google’s Search marketplace.  And counter to the impression-based buying advantages of exchanges, Sloan saw the importance of Yieldbot’s publisher network: “Their network of sites catered very well to the target demo that this CPG brand had – a lot of moms with kids.”

Network aside, Mendez doesn’t necessarily think of his company as cannibalizing Search in favor of Display for the buy or sell side.  Unless you’re Google. He says, “From the advertiser’s perspective, we have built a marketplace that easily serves into IAB standard units – and we’re proving them performance and click-through rates that are as good as paid search.  On the publisher side, we’re taking money from Google Search and bringing it to publishers.”

As for the challenges with creative that an opportunity like Yieldbot’s might present a media agency, Sloan cites the blurring of responsibilities between media and creative departments as well as the importance of communication, “TargetCast is a media agency and, while we do have some creative capabilities, we work very closely with creative partner agencies to make sure we’re executing correctly.   All the results that we track and report on end up informing both our media decisions and creative decisions that the creative agency is making.”

And as it relates to programmatic buying, Sloan sees momentum for the strategy at his agency.  But what about “pain points” with programmatic? “I haven’t really seen any. We’re still in a relatively early stage of ad tech and programmatic buying, even though it’s been around for a few years. Yet, it’s really starting to become more of a mainstream way to buy media.” He adds, “If I had to choose one pain point, it’s that people  are still feeling their way around as to what role programmatic buying occupies on the media plan. Is it just used for a DR-specific initiatives? Does it have a place for pure brand initiatives? I think it has a place on both, but I think that’s something that’s being figured out right now.”

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