This was written last night somewhere between Chicago and Raleigh… As I’m flying the wonderful airlines known as Southwest, I have hundreds of thoughts in my mind about how companies are using digital media and how other agencies (and publishers) are explaining it to them – and all of these provocations were awoken again by a simple meeting between an Agency Partner of ours, myself and a potential client today. To exercise my digital driven mind even further, I pulled out the April issue of OMMA Magazine only to enjoy the fact that it happened to be an issue focused on audience targeting in the media buying world. There was a lot of chatter about where networks are going, why behavioral is better, DSP’s (Demand Side Platforms) and what have you – but it all connected very simply to me… I don’t care how you get there, but show me the ROI on my media buy.
I guess this makes me a simpleton, but when I reflect back on my 12 year career in digital media (yes, I’m an OldTimer), the capabilities and the technologies have changed fast and furious. The metrics are more and more difficult, but the measurability is all that more precise. Data is real-time, social media is following your every move (whether you like it or not), and the government is trying to clamp down as quickly as the IAB can lobby one more year of self-regulation.
But what does this all mean for digital display media buying? To me, whether you buy your media direct with a publisher, you utilize an aggregator (ad networks), you overlay behavioral targeting or DSP’s on your buy, you can’t lose touch with your audience and why they’re there in the first place. They’re there to interact with the content of the publisher. If your ads are not relevant – I don’t care that your data says this person has visited your site 25 times and is the “premo” of all “premo” targets – they are not going to buy if your messaging is out of context or impeding their interaction with the content they searched out. I would even argue to brand advertisers that you are doing yourself a disservice by creating an annoyance rather than a resource to your target audience (the same way I would argue against the old “no such thing as bad PR” statement).
Be relevant. Understand all of the different ways you can help your business by utilizing ad exchanges, direct content buys, social media, affiliate programs and more – but be relevant. If you can’t provide relevance to your audience, it doesn’t matter how you bought the media, it’s bound to underperform. With ROI the key ingredient to any advertising campaign, you need to fully understand the marketplace you’re buying as well as the audience you’re targeting.