Real time advertising (RTA) is something we’ve been talking about in the display team at STEAK a lot over the last 18 months or so, and to be honest something that initially didn’t excite me greatly, primarily because I feared for my job! Recently though I’ve come round to the idea, I’m embracing it, and have a better understanding of what it will mean for my clients, myself, and the overall planner/buyer role.
So in the vein of embracing change I recently attended ‘Real Time Advertising – The Evolution’ a conference hosted by the IAB, in their words ‘aimed at advertisers, agencies and publishers who need to know more about this rapidly growing sector’. I’m not sure if the order was just coincidently in alphabetical order or if the most important people were listed first, but given that ad spend in the display sector increased 13.4% YoY you would think that the conference would be filled with, not only agency folk keen to find out how they can better use RTA to help their clients, but also the clients/advertisers themselves intrigued to find out more about this RTA thing. But that wasn’t the case as a hands up poll at the beginning of the conference revealed that there were four/five advertisers, a couple more agencies but the majority of the people there were DSPs, Ad Exchanges or publishers!
It was joked that if the words, ‘social media’, ‘video’ or ‘mobile’ had been noted in the synopsis of the event the theatre would have been packed with advertisers, and sadly that’s probably true. So what’s going on? Why aren’t advertisers excited about RTA and pushing to know and hear more about how it can drive their brand forward in the same way they have been doing with social, video and mobile?
Could it be that they don’t see the reason for another acronym to be added to their digital marketing efforts, or are they of the opinion that anything that speaks of a pipe feeding a brain is complete tosh and will never catch on? Possibly. But it’s more likely the case we as agencies are not doing our jobs properly in educating our clients about RTA, and the advantages that it can bring in reaching their desired audience, and as a result decreasing CPA and increasing ROI. It’s our job to be our client’s trusted advisor in all things digital so we should be pushing them and educating them as much as possible about the RTA space. Getting them excited at how much more efficient their advertising spend can become, showing them how the brain evolves and grows becoming more sophisticated over time, and perhaps most importantly how targeted this space can be. Through RTA we become focused on data, no longer pushing untargeted ROS or RON buys and hoping that somewhere within the five million impressions bought we might reach someone who is interested in the product, and hey, might even click! But rather, the new way of doing things is powered by data and complex algorithms to ensure that every impressions counts, and in real time we can bid for that impression based on how valuable we see that user.
Where it gets really interesting is when we start using the data to inform creative, ensuring the ad is not only served to the right users at the right time but it’s the right ad, with a relevant message. To just touch the surface of what’s possible it could be an ad upselling based on a previous purchase, cross-selling, or even CRM messages; ‘thanks, now how about recommending a friend!’ RTA can and should be used to tell stories to a brands audience and current customers, and this is all possible thanks to the data and technology available to us.
I’m not worried that I’ll be replaced by a media planning robot, as one speaker noted in the conference we can use technology to bring everything together but this should be magnified by people. There’s also still a need for a display strategy to sit above all of this technology and data, with many areas still not available in the RTA space, e.g. online audio and in-game advertising. RTA does bring a whole new breed of person than the traditional planner buyer into the mix, but we just have to adapt, learn from them, and combine our knowledge to continue to achieve great results for our clients.
I do understand, data might not be as sexy as social media or video, BUT we can’t let the idea that ‘it’s just data’ restrict our thinking. Now is our time as agencies to use this technology and push the data available to the max driving efficiencies and make the most of creative opportunities. It’s something I’m talking to my clients about now so watch this space!