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RTB is having its moment. No longer just the domain of retargeting, RTB has morphed from a streamlined media buying approach into a full-scale Reason To Believe. The reason for this change? A new level of intelligence behind ad targeting platforms. That was the takeaway from co-presenters John Mracek of NetSeer and Rocket Fuel’s Eshwar Belani at last week’s ClickZLive NY conference, where they discussed the top missed opportunities in RTB.

Retargeting, also known as “remarketing”, is an established practice and a revered tactic. Why? Because it works. The catch is that retargeting only reaches the ‘hand raisers’ who’ve explicitly interacted with a brand. According to Mracek, the next frontier lies with ‘lookalikes’: ad targeting to audiences that resemble those that have already converted. He sees lookalikes as a path to reach new audiences, rather than remarketing to the same pool.

Mracek and Belani were of the same mind that another major missed opportunity in RTB is brand advertising. Far more than a means to simply automate media buying, RTB is primed to function as a complement to endemic ad placements – but at a scale of billions of impressions, with an unprecedented efficiency. Exchange-based inventory is finally moving beyond dated perceptions that no longer are in sync with the actual quality and caliber of inventory available every day.

Among the forces driving this change are a series of checks-and-balances that govern the ad exchanges. One such check is a recent move by the IAB advising a shift in ad measurement from “served” impressions to “viewable” impressions. Mracek was quick to enumerate the immediate benefits for advertisers: viewability eliminates the guesswork around whether or not your audience saw an advertisement, and it takes a bite out of media waste.

Another prescriptive take on missed opportunities addressed RTB in the context of real-time and branded-content marketing. Given the blur between earned, owned and paid media channels, Mracek weighed in on what he sees as a strategic opportunity to use breaking news and events as RTB campaign-targeting triggers to give brands a timely voice on a topic – rather than just relying on social channels, which increasingly are paid anyway. In a similar vein, he discussed the massive potential for RTB as a branded-content amplification and syndication service, using contextual alignment to drive engagement and traffic to the content that marketers are constantly creating.

The ClickZLive audience Q&A session touched on a cross-section of thorny topics on the minds of marketers, resulting in a lively discussion on a variety of issues ranging from consumer privacy to cross-device targeting to programmatic buying’s place in TV advertising.

For growth to happen on RTB, and to embrace missed opportunities, Mracek left the audience with six practical takeaways to remedy missed opportunities in RTB:

1. Change your metrics or attribution model when using lookalike targeting to move beyond remarketing

2. Allocate spend toward viewable impressions for both brand and direct response campaigns

3. Assign separate in-funnel CPAs to differentiate prospecting from remarketing

4.  Don’t rule out RTB for brand advertising – particularly when it follows premium programmatic guidelines

5.  Use RTB for distribution of your branded content

6.  Align brand messages with real-time or event-based trigger topics, at scale

 We’re looking forward to the next event!