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Making RTB advertising a dynamic force in lead generation

Making RTB advertising a dynamic force in lead generation Steve Yi

It's no secret that real-time bidding (RTB) has become a staple of brand advertising. While brands are starting to see more direct benefits of RTB as an approach to driving sales, the industry still has work to do to ensure RTB lives up to its full potential and is seen as a credible tool for directly generating leads. Advertisers often don't have a complete picture of the audience that is viewing their ads or the publishers where they appear, leaving them vulnerable to ad networks that cut their premium inventory with second-tier publishers in order to boost impressions. Many digital marketers see their ad budgets simply disappearing without a clear sense of the granular performance of their campaigns, and as a result, miss out on an opportunity to improve ROI. This obstacle is sparking discussion in the industry, but there has been little leadership dedicated toward finding a practical solution.

However, end-to-end transparency is emerging as a game-changer in the RTB space, and gone are the days when advertisers don't care why a campaign succeeds as long as it performs well. Every cent of ad spend needs to be optimized. Traditionally in digital advertising, intermediaries have reported on overall campaign performance, but today's advertisers should have the ability to see the complete life cycle of every bid. Ad networks and publishers need to empower advertisers by sharing with them not just a number of clicks or views, but critical insights into which leads converted and what they looked like.

When running an RTB campaign, you may be serving millions of impressions. Advertisers should have the ability to drill down to the full demographic background of each target, how and when they were directed to the ad, how they engaged with the ad and what actions their engagement resulted in. When they have access to this level of granular reporting, advertisers can use data from a past campaign to evaluate its success and identify new audiences, allowing them to make more strategic, data-driven decisions going forward. For example, if a fashion brand runs a campaign for a new line of sunglasses, it may discover that more leads converted during the week than on the weekend, and that it was the most effective with females ages 35 to 48. Next time, the campaign won't prioritize men from ages 18-29. Going even deeper into the data, they may find that people in urban communities with annual incomes over $60,000 experienced the highest conversion rates. With this insight, advertisers can then customize bidding strategies to target this demographic specifically.

This data is even more valuable when it comes from a combination of first- and third-party sources. First-party data is critical to helping advertisers correctly identify and be relevant to high-intent customers -- the ultimate lead generation opportunity. For example, when shopping for auto insurance, consumers fill out detailed quote request forms, alerting ad networks that they are on the cusp of making a purchase. Viewing this data alongside third-party data, such as credit rating and past purchases, reveals a deeper profile of the lead so that advertisers can approach the individual accordingly, ultimately increasing the odds of conversion. For advertisers to truly benefit, publishers not only need to provide this information, but they also need to share this data in reports that are easy to understand.

For too long advertisers have been left in the dark when it comes to planning and evaluating lead generation campaigns. However, transparency is transforming RTB into a key partner in lead generation for digital marketers. Advertisers are now able to see the complete life cycle of each bid, gaining insight at every step of every campaign. When coupled with data-driven strategies, end-to-end transparency helps everyone win: ad buyers get more qualified leads, strong publishers are able to amplify results and ad networks deliver true ROI. We're now beginning to shed light on the true potential of RTB and lead generation for today's digital marketer.

Steve Yi is CEO of MediaAlpha.

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Steve Yi is CEO of MediaAlpha, the emerging technology leader in performance-based insurance advertising. Prior to MediaAlpha, Steve co-founded Fareloop.com, a travel comparison engine that was acquired by Oversee.net. Previously, he was a Senior...

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