OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 12/03/2012 By Mark Glaser & Courtney Lowery Cowgill

The vital importance of audience data

It used to be that advertisers held all the data cards – that a publisher could give broad numbers and solid content to attach ads to and that was it. It was up to the advertisers to do the targeting. But that’s not the case anymore. Now big brands are asking publishers to deliver uber-specific data and offer advertisers tight targeting. Some say this kind of targeting will be absolutely necessary for publishers, including Vikram Somaya, a former VP of operations and audience at Reuters, who told PaidContent’s Jeff John Roberts, “Anyone who hasn’t picked an [audience data] product, is behind… it’s not an option to ignore anymore.” Netezza’s Brad Terrell writes in ClickZ that one aspect of data management could be key for marketers: yield optimization, or making sure the right inventory is priced right for the right viewer. “In other words, when it comes to yield optimization, the marketer who analyzes the most data fastest wins,” he wrote.

One company at the top of the list of data services is BlueKai (Somaya’s former employer, by the way) which has started offering products not just to advertisers, but to publishers as well. BlueKai has been growing exponentially and is even now the top “cookie dropper” for the 1,000 most-trafficked sites on the Internet, according to research from the University of California at Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. But, the big question remains: Does all of this mean that all publishers need to invest in big-time data tools like BlueKai? Maybe, maybe not, writes Roberts. For a company like Time Inc., which just announced plans for “Time Engage,” a new campaign to optimize ad placement by using its own data, as well as data from advertisers and third parties, it may in fact be a necessity. However, for smaller or niche publications, it may not. One executive and BlueKai patron told Roberts: “While we are a BlueKai customer, our experience is that most advertisers do not require audience segmentation data as part of their buy. It certainly sometimes comes up, but it’s the relatively rare exception, not the rule.”