Marry targeting with inventory

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David L. Smith, CEO and founder, Mediasmith
David L. Smith, CEO and founder, Mediasmith

The digital landscape is confusing. Anybody who has viewed the Terry Kawaja Display Landscape slide knows this. Despite that, we have the opportunity to do the targeting we've only dreamed of before.

Targeting those who intend to buy a product. Those actively shopping. Those who shopped but did not buy. We also have the ability to not buy an impression when data indicates a website visitor is not a potential customer.

We aren't taking advantage of this capability. The demand-side platforms interface with exchanges to buy efficient inventory on an impression-by-impression basis. Above them are sophisticated agency trading desks yet the emphasis is on unsold low-priced inventory or the best performance. You'd think we were advertising to save, not make money.

There isn't much emphasis today on the purchase of “premium inventory” from a technology or programmatic buying standpoint. Agencies and publishers are responsible. The opportunity for agency trading desks to grow is to attract more affiliated media agency clients. They believe the easiest way to do this is offer cost savings. Publishers are reticent to permit trading desks to tap into premium inventory using technology, fearing buyers will cherry-pick the good stuff. Trading desks want exclusivities on premium inventory. Some publishers will only let new advertisers into their exchange set up by their supply-side platform (SSP). That's shortsighted.

Sites can permit programmatic buying for premium inventory. We deploy advanced targeting through technology against premium inventory for one client. The buyer and seller agree on advance buy terms. Our client has a deep list of customers and prospects they think are valuable. We also have target information regarding title/function. We can supply the site or the programmatic buying interface with this data and accept or deny impressions as they are about to be served. This must be done in milliseconds, so the technology must be bulletproof. Selection of the impressions served this way is a win-win.

Every advertiser wants to target their prospects and get rid of waste. In this case, the impressions denied by the first advertiser are from major companies and are in demand by another. The impression given back does not need to go into unsold inventory. It can be sold for the same price as the original deal.

Astute marketers will encourage agencies to pay the right price for targeted inventory and not drive prices down, putting them in a position of buying leftovers. Marketers and agencies should lobby publishers to make their entire inventory available for targeting, not just inventory relegated to exchanges.

By opening up premium inventory to programmatic buying and providing their own data, publishers can improve efficiency and attract more advertiser dollars. We need to communicate better to make that happen.

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