Recently, I gave a presentation to the Atlanta chapter of the AMA. It was titled, “The Future of Display Advertising.” One of the topics included was the role of the trading desk in modern media. Where we are going in regard to display media buying is truly an exciting time for geeks like me.
So how do you find the right audience with the right message? To answer this question, you have to acknowledge that buying digital media has changed and the future of display buying, which is actually now, is programmatic buying.
Per an article in Business Insider in September 2012, “Programmatic buying is the process of executing media buys in an automated fashion through digital platforms such as: exchanges, trading desks, and demand-side platforms (DSPs). This method replaces the traditional use of manual RFPs, negotiations and insertion orders to purchase digital media,” (Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/programmatic-buying-whats-in-it-for-you-2012-9#ixzz29xjjfrVz).
To appreciate where we are today and where we are going, we have to look at the evolution of how we got here and why. Digital media has evolved over the past 15 years and will continue to evolve as we get smarter with the data.
At first, we had to go to directly to websites. Not just one or two, but every website we wanted to consider for a campaign. This was limited in scale and could be very expensive. It was difficult to optimize the websites, as we could not move money from one to another easily or quickly.
Then came ad networks. With the ad networks, however, we gave up control:
- There was not complete site transparency.
- We did not control where the banners were running; therefore, we could not reallocate in real time.
- Much of their inventory was purchased ahead of time rather than when our audiences were actually surfing.
- We did not have powerful insights — understanding audiences in detail and being able to take action.
Then came real-time bidding (RTB) on the exchanges. RTB is programmatic buying and ensures that we are only buying the impressions that are most valuable at that moment in time.
To do RTB across multiple exchanges, you need a trading desk. So what is a trading desk? It is an efficient way to access all addressable inventories; it allows you to bid on what is available on the exchanges at that time. It also allows you to do audience segmenting and targeting. And it lets you do dynamic creative to make sure that the right audience gets the right message. In addition, it provides insights on how a campaign is performing to allow you to optimize to the goals set for the campaign, all of which is done in real time. It also provides centralized reporting.
Trading desks were really introduced in 2010. At the November 2010 AdTech conference, this was the buzz that year. During this time and well into 2011, only the largest agencies could afford to have a trading desk. Specialists ran them. The software and technology cost millions. Midsize to small agencies could not afford this or bring this technology to their clients. Agencies like Engauge had to continue to use ad networks or companies that would work with one or two of the exchanges.
In the last year, this technology has been made available to midsize agencies with large brands in their portfolio, allowing them to have a seat at the exchanges. Engauge is one of these agencies. Now, our clients can reap the benefits of their digital advertising investments.
Everything is moving to “Data is King.” With optimizations that we are doing in real time, campaigns get smarter and smarter. This leads to even better campaigns in the future. If you have the ability to use data for targeting, data for purchases and data to plan your next campaign, you have harnessed the power of the Internet. Now that is exciting.