The Three Biggest Lies of Hypertargeted Digital Campaigns

With the digital ad industry’s pivot to programmatic ad buying, you’re probably deluged by a sea of potential programs for your brand, many indistinguishable from the another. The key to the “me too” syndrome that permeates the latest group of targeted programs is the data used to focus the program’s working media. How are these data sets unique?

On behalf of our clients, we evaluate and track the various methods of targeting digital display ads, and the focus has shifted from comScore measures of top publishers, to qualitative measures of data integrity. We’ve taken thousands of meetings with potential partners, and we’ve heard it all.

Here are some of the things we’ve heard that indicate a red flag:

Lie #1 – “There’s no other way to reach your target other than using our data.”

The new landscape has introduced a million and one new ways for advertisers to reach their target audiences. And we have yet to encounter the audience, however obscure, that can be reached in only one way. If anyone tells you otherwise, it’s likely because they’ve made an expensive investment in audience data and need to monetize it. When you hear this from a potential media partner, it’s wise to reach out to a strategic partner for a reality check.

Lie #2 – “We have access to ad inventory that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Partners promising unique ad inventory do exist, but if they’re selling display inventory web-wide, it’s unlikely to be true. That’s because almost every digital publisher of consequence spreads their risk across multiple programmatic channels, direct sales forces, and network relationships. To do otherwise is simply bad business. This is why unique ad inventory tends to be something of a unicorn, and if someone promises it to you, it’s probably time to have a strategic partner evaluate that promise.

Lie #3 – “Our algorithms are the most efficient at reaching your target.”

For many digital media sellers, this is an uncheckable fact that can be made with a straight face. After all, what marketer has written their master’s thesis on artificial intelligence? Again, a good strategic partner will help separate the wheat from the chaff. In evaluating potential media partners, we’ve found that something described as an “advanced optimization algorithm” was nothing more than a group of college students sitting in a data center overseas. In other cases, we’ve found that these algorithms were geared more toward ensuring the highest possible profit for the publisher while doing almost nothing for the advertiser. Beware of unverifiable claims when it comes to algorithms.

The realignment of the digital display market has been groundbreaking. And it can be disorienting even for seasoned digital marketers. Just be aware that you will need to rely on strong strategic partners to help evaluate these partnerships and determine which will help your brand reach the right audience.

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