Instant Ads: Targeting Perfection in Real-Time

A few years back, I was experimenting with songwriting and free-form poetry.  Creatively, traditional boundaries were killing the sound my head wanted to hear.  I wrote, “Eyelids blink, but what truth reveals?  That squinch of time between a blink and a-h-aa.  Revelation.” 

Today, with a digital marketing industry that’s grabbing new and existing ad dollars, these words carry a truth that could solve the dominant online advertising challenge, that is how to bring the economics of targeting precision to display media.  With the SEM and SEO industries maturing and their ability to grow sales naturally constrained by the limitation of consumer demand, this could be the old-guard display advertising’s missing ingredient.  

Led by Google, Yahoo and Bing on their respective exchange platforms, advertisers can pinpoint consumer interest as it’s happening.  Instantly, literally, ads are served based on what was just learned about what someone was looking for and doing.  And you can know how many ads they’ve already seen and when. 

Imagine you’re the Martin Guitar Company trying to reach people looking to buy a guitar that’s perfect for Eric Clapton’s style of acoustic blues.  If you could be in front of a prospect at the precise moment they left a Guitar Player Magazine article about Eric Clapton’s 1992 “Unplugged” album and his use of 3 Martin guitars1 and who, 10 minutes earlier had already clicked on The Guitar Center and looked at acoustic guitars, you’d pay a premium for that.  It’s like being part of a Facebook exchange as people are buzzing about exactly what you’re selling and you can show and tell it, right at that moment. 

Technology like what AppNexus has built makes it possible to not only target these ad exchanges but, also, to bid manage and optimize in real time.  And, it’s a bidding model that squeezes out cost inefficiency, not a circa-1995 cpm pricing model.  While publishers may hate the thought of further price deterioration of their old model, radically improved performance is already driving higher prices.  Marketers need the scale and audience growth potential of display media.  In fact, they crave it. Performance pays, and that’s where the money is. 

As if the NYT and WSJ pieces didn’t already cinch it, EyeBlaster’s IPO filing lit the match:  the rage is about to begin.  I won’t be a bore over the privacy issues, but they are real and being heavily debated on the Hill.  Could this be more consumer-friendly?

Right in that millisecond between a blink and a-h-aa is the money moment. 

1 EC played a 1939 Martin 000-42, serial #73234, which sold for $ 791,500 US at the Crossroads Guitar Auction 2004; a 1966 Martin 000-28 (converted to Style 000-45 pearl inlay by Mike Longworth), serial #208511, which sold for $186,700 US at the Crossroads Guitar Auction 2004; and, a Martin D-12-20 12 string guitar which I’m assuming he still has.

Chris Paradysz is CEO of PM Digital.

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