A number of years ago during the dot-com boom, I worked at an online grocer managing its direct marketing programs. (Remember HomeGrocer.com and Webvan who acquired it?)  Although we were an Internet-based company, an offline direct marketing channel, direct mail, was the most cost-effective for us in acquiring new customers.  What mattered to us was reaching the right audiences by getting the right mailing lists to drive new customer acquisitions. We tested hundreds of mailing lists to reach different audience segments—everything from magazine subscribers to consumer-compiled files—in an effort to reach the right audiences and generate new customers cost-effectively.

Since then, direct marketing has changed a lot. We have a lot more options in digital marketing. Display advertising has also changed significantly, with several new opportunities:

  • ad exchanges
  • demand side platforms
  • data management platforms
  • everything in real time

As Things Change, Marketer Objectives Have Stayed the Same

Ultimately, we want to reach the right audience with the right message to drive a conversion, and we want to do that meeting our marketing ROI, or cost per conversion, goals.

To meet our marketing ROI and cost per conversion goals, it is and always has been about reaching the right target audience with the right message. What changed, with a big impact on display advertising, is that we now have Big Data. Advertisers now have access to huge amounts of audience data for targeting of display ads that includes website activity and analytics data plus offline customer data. Marketers can use advanced technology platforms to manage audience data and to reach their audiences with display ads and content across the Web in real time.

Today, display advertisers are using demand-side platforms (such as Adobe Media Optimizer for Display) to reach their audiences across ad exchanges and optimize their campaigns to meet their objectives. Many are also adopting data management platforms (like Adobe Audience Management, which is a capability of Adobe Media Optimizer) to better identify, segment, manage, and activate their high-value audiences and give them a holistic view of their key audiences across their business, online and offline, and across third-party data sources.

Efficient Audience Targeting

When planning a real-time bidded display campaign, we have to consider the usual challenges of a display advertiser.

  • We may not be meeting our marketing ROI or cost per conversion objectives and need to better identify and get access to more high-value audiences that do perform.
  • If we are meeting our performance objectives, we often aren’t getting enough of those audiences—our target audiences are too small.  We need to increase the size of the addressable audience and reach more of them across the Web.
  • It’s difficult to reach our audiences across different channels and user touch points. A challenge may be that we are using different and separate systems for Web analytics, display (demand-side platform), ad serving, on-site optimization, and these aren’t all working seamlessly together to enable an advertiser to reach their audiences across channels.

Doing audience targeting more efficiently can address some of the challenges of display advertising.


Identify Your High-Value Audiences

Many advertisers don’t have visibility into what makes up their best performing audience—what pages have they visited on their website, what keywords have they searched for, what products have they purchased, what are the demographics and business attributes of the users, etc. Having more visibility into your high-value audiences gives you the opportunity to find more high-value and high-performing audiences.

An audience management platform lets an advertiser compile audience data from various sources, identify high value audiences, and make them actionable for cross channel marketing.

First-party data is typically the foundation for building out an audience for a real-time bidded display advertising campaign—these are the highest performing audiences.  An audience or data management platform (DMP) like Adobe Audience Management can ingest first-party Web analytics and offline CRM data and make it available for retargeting.

  • First-party online data like site visitor data from your Web analytics solution shows you the users who have expressed interest in your brand or products by coming to your website and have shown intent through their behaviors on your site. Have they have abandoned the shopping cart, visited product pages, downloaded a white paper, filled out an application, searched for a specific keyword before coming to site, engaged with content, etc.?
  • First-party offline may include CRM, products purchased, marketing, point of sale (POS), call center engagement, and other customer data.

First-party audiences can be augmented with third-party data to increase the size of the addressable audience and extend the reach of those valuable audience segments for display advertising.

  • Most audience management platforms are integrated with the top third-party data providers.
  • These may include business and consumer data.  As examples, Bizo provides business data (job titles, industry, income level), and Exelate provides consumer demographic data (gender, age group, lifestyle interests).

An audience management platform can activate audiences for cross-channel marketing.

  • Audiences are syndicated to external ad targeting and content delivery platforms.
  • An advertiser can deliver a consistent and relevant experience across their display advertising, on their website, and other channels.

Here is how audience management can work with your demand-side platform to help you meet your display objectives.

Demand-side platforms

  • Reach audiences in real time across the Web to drive conversions.
  • Reach high-value audiences across top ad exchanges (Google Doubleclick Exchange, Facebook Exchange, etc.).
  • Meet performance objectives. The platform allocates ad budget across display campaigns to optimize for a customer’s objective and evaluates each impression in real time and optimizes bids at the impression level to maximize performance.

Audience management

  • Ingest audiences data from various sources including first-, second-, and third-party offline and online data.
  • Drive better performance with more access to high-value first-party audiences through seamless analytics integration.
  • Increase addressable audience by augmenting first-party data with second- and third-party data, and look-alike models.
  • Activate audiences for cross channel marketing, enabling an advertiser to deliver a consistent and relevant experience across the display ad, website, and other channels.

Although the world of marketing has become much more complex, our objectives have ultimately stayed the same.  For display advertising, we can meet those objectives more efficiently through audience targeting and management.

For more on this topic, check out the Adobe Summit session “Unleash the power of display advertising through analytics and audience targeting.”