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Retargeting & Rethinking the Click

Retargeting & Rethinking the Click Walter Knapp
There’s too much online ad inventory.  CPMs are plummeting.  Click-through rates are a third of what they were a few years ago.  Banner blindness is pervasive.  Clickers are “naturally born.”  RTB means “Race To the Bottom.”

At least that’s what we all read in the mainstream adtech press.  And it’s no wonder.  There are an estimated 20 – 30 billion ad “opportunities” for standard display impressions everyday and that’s in the U.S. alone.  Everyone bears some degree of culpability in this massive pool of inventory sloshing around.  Publishers slap too many ads on a page.  Sites are being custom built for more ads.  Ad networks trade media with each other.  And marketers just keep on spending at breakneck speed.

We operate in an “it depends” industry with plenty of gloss and not enough specificity.  Does re-targeting work? Of course, but it also depends.  Does conversational marketing work? Of course, but it also depends.  Does the click matter? Of course, but it also depends.

It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, what your budget is, and how sophisticated you want or can be.  More is coming, not less.  The ability to determine like-affinities and the ability to leverage situational data are just two examples of new thinking we’re seeing being employed by sophisticated marketers.  The tools are available and it’ really no excuse not to learn and use them to drive real performance and return.  The best part is that the increasing sophistication of the adtech industry is closer than ever to making it more holistically doable with complete attribution, global frequency management, and biddable purchasing to dial up or down spend based on efficacy of the tactics.

Take for example a high-quality conversational marketing campaign that’s purposefully native to the environment.  Perhaps is an urban style author writing and producing video content about a new electric car designed for city dwellers.  The content is authentic, detailed on topics the audience finds interesting, informational and entertaining.  The campaign content is amplified over social media and shared among publishers through related content suggestions and interactive display ads.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Those unique readers that touch or somehow engage in the conversation can be re-targeted in concentric circles.  On like content, across a more diffuse network of sites, perhaps even taking a page from Facebook and re-targeting friends or others that exhibit similar behaviors or affinities.  Now do that when the situation suggests the person just searched on a specific topic.

Because the environment today is completely accessible and increasingly biddable across all these media, it’s really up to the marketer to flex their creative muscles and do it all in a way that delivers for their clients.  It can be done at competitive price points, all the while managing the flow of performance and attribution.

This of course takes knowledge, planning and work.  The good news is that there are plenty of vendors vying to help – make them work for it by being explicit with your goals and metrics so they have a fighting chance of delivering for you.  There are good and thoughtful people here that have a close pulse on the publishers and the audience. They’re motivated and willing to help because we need each other to get past the rhetoric and make digital advertising live up to what it really can be – relevant, compelling, and performant.

Walter Knapp is COO of Lijit Networks and EVP of Platform Revenue at Federated Media Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @wtknapp.

Walter Knapp is the CEO of sovrn Holdings. Most recently he was the Chief Operating Officer at Federated Media Publishing and Lijit Networks. With more than 20 years of business and operations management, Walter has been an investor as a Partner and...

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Commenter: Pete Danks

2008, April 10

Great article Tod - but I still feel there are very few online video 'events' - in the UK apple did well with mac vs pc, but compare that with the ammount of people that discussed the Honda TV ads, or Guinness, or Cadburys and then it becomes hard to argue that TV doesnt have an extra special ability to generate huge buzz and interest - and truly become an event that is talked about well outside industry circles.