Targeting You. Automatically. AdTech SF Highlights

April 11, 2013

Ever wonder why that same ad for a rug or a new car keeps following you as you traverse the Internet from site to site? More often than not, the answer lies in ad retargeting technologies powered by real-time programmatic advertising. At this year’s AdTech SF, this topic was on everyone’s mind as the rise of programmatic – an automated form of display ad buying, selling and delivery – aims to replace people with algorithms to drive ad sales and placement across the Net.

During CEO of AOL Tim Armstrong’s keynote address on Tuesday, he talked about the compression of the industry from both the advertisers and publishers, and how for every advertiser dollar, DSPs and SSPs each take a 15-20% cut, resulting in only about 45 cents making it to the pockets of publishers. He asserted that this model needs to change in order to create a more efficient and sustainable industry.

Armstrong hailed programmatic advertising as the future of the industry, and also made a case for the need to balance out the machine-driven backend with a softer and more elegant creative approach to ad design.

This is all great in concept, but what does this shift in ad buying and delivery mean for the 15 billion dollar online ad industry?

Think of real-time bidding as a mini stock market for advertisers and buyers, with hundreds of thousands of bids flooding in every second. And those bids — essentially what your attention is worth to advertisers —determine whether you see an ad for, a new Hyundai or a used Scion, for sandals or a toaster oven.

Being able to self-manage your online campaigns or execute online media buying through programmatic methods is believed to be more cost-effective and operationally efficient. As with any new technology, naysayers exist, working to poke holes in the programmatic media-buying paradigm by focusing solely on a short-list of imperfections. And while they may be valid, these doubts may hold back the long-term vision of a streamlined way to conduct business.

This year’s AdTech conference in SF was brimming with behind-the-scenes technologies that people encounter on a daily basis, whether they know it or not. On the panel called Building Mobile Apps That Don’t Suck, BPR client Zumobi presented about the value of native advertising on the mobile platform and how an integrated approach can seamlessly bridge the gap between editorial and advertising content. Zumobi Co-Founder and VP of Product Design John SanGiovanni presented the results of a mobile campaign they created for Chevrolet that resulted in a 37% engagement rate, 3x over industry benchmarks.

All in all, this year’s AdTech SF provided a fresh perspective on where the ad industry is headed, and what advertisers can do to stay ahead of the curve. Now, if I could just somehow replace my convoluted writing process with a set of programmatic algorithms, I would marvel at the speed of my productivity. Yes, that would be cool indeed.

Richard Tso

PS: We can’t stop watching this

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