There is an abundant amount of digital inventory available to brand advertisers looking to purchase ad space, but what is the best way to spend ad dollars?
On one hand, there is premium ad space that is well known to everyone. Think ESPN.com or NYTimes.com. You know what you’re buying, you can integrate your content, and you know the audience you are reaching. This is how advertising has been bought and sold since it was invented.
But there are fewer and fewer spaces with known audiences at scale because the media landscape keeps fracturing down to smaller and smaller niche sites –think Cars.com, Travel.com, DealNews.com. The trend today is to buy audiences or “hand raisers”: find out everyone who has been searching for a new pair of shoes and then serve them an ad on whatever site they happen to be on at the moment.
So far so logical: fewer big sites, more and more data, so we use data to buy audiences across the smaller sites.
On Facebook, advertisers are not able to place cookies, so they can not collect insights on consumers and target them based on their behaviors. Google blocks advertisers from seeing their URLs and you can’t buy Google data separately from the media that goes with it. Amazon is a closed system; the site’s data is not shared at all and Amazon is not interested in sharing it. Ditto for Apple.
These companies are building walled gardens around the ads they sell to protect their market share. In online advertising, the big innovative players are Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. But they are all — in their own way — trying to buck this trend of allowing advertisers to use their own data, or third party data, to purchase inventory on their sites.
What Does This All Mean For Advertisers?
Well first of all, lets follow GM’s lead — if you can’t get what you want, stop spending money there. I’m referring to GM’s decision to pull all of its buys from Facebook.
There are very few brands and products that can afford to do without data to help figure out who their audiences are, but there are a few. A product example of this would be Kleenex. Everyone uses tissues, so a targeted audience does not matter as much in the long run. Adding data to the mix won’t affect the results, as it is already a widely used product. In this example, reach is more important than targeting.
But for every brand like Kleenex, there are hundreds or thousands of other brands who need targeting. If you are Ford, you are well aware that consumers are not in the market to purchase a new car all of the time. It’s not in your best interest to advertise to people who aren’t in market, so finding those folks — using data — would be the best route to take.
You Don’t Need The Big Guys
If the place you want to buy doesn’t allow you to use your own data, then bypass them. Remember, although these online advertising behemoths are large, the biggest companies do not control even 50% of the online advertising inventory. For example, only 4% of time spent online is spent on a search engine. So, don’t get too hung up on how big Google’s share of ad inventory is. Don’t be afraid to move beyond the large players; pressure them into allowing the use of your data in their inventory.
When it comes down to it, there is really one thing that matters to a brand advertiser — whether or not you reaching the right audience. We’ve entered into a revolution where data and audiences are just as important as the inventory itself. Make sure we continue the trend toward more and more transparency and portability of data across media
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.