Media planning has become a complex science and one that has seen growth and increased discipline over the past few years through the introduction of new technology.
The technology has morphed from audience segmentation to audience profiling, but the most recent wave of technology to affect media planning is based on audience screening, which can be defined as the opportunity to purchase an actual audience online rather than impressions.
Audience screening incorporates a number of different technologies including behavioral targeting, progressive optimization and the more advanced audience-profiling engines.
Audience screening allows the advertiser to identify the audience represented from an impression on a network or a portal and determine if that audience member is more or less likely to act in response to an advertisement than the general audience.
If the audience member is regarded as highly desirable, then the ads are exposed. If the audience member is not deemed highly desirable, then they are not exposed to the ad and the next sequential audience member is evaluated for desirability and match to the potential customer base for the advertiser.
This process happens in fractions of a second and can be used to allow advertisers to reach only those most likely to convert as well as the publisher to generate a higher cost basis for their inventory.
The technology behind audience screening is not new, but it does represent the evolution of traditional behavioral targeting, which allows the publisher to identify and bucket groups of impressions together based on the audience profile and past traffic experience.
Once an advertiser identifies the audience they are looking to reach, publishers can sell this inventory accurately. The problem with this model is it is not as fluid and flexible as the Web appears to be.
The experiences and profiles of the audience change quickly and are reactive to the environment around them, so the past behavior of an audience is still flawed. The audience screening model actually identifies this information in real time and can be updated faster and with more detailed accuracy.
Audience screening takes into account audience profile data, preferably in conjunction with industry reliable sources, such as Claritas or Simmons, and merges those data with data referring to the page where the ad is shown, the category of the site and more recent events (e.g., news).
The technology for audience screening is beneficial to the publishers because it allows them to further segment their audience without the weight of customer surveys and deeper analytics packages being overloaded in their existing inventory.
(This article was originally published in the June 2007, DMNews Essential Guide to Engine Marketing.)