Today's column is written by Amiad Solomon, Founder & President at Peer39.
Look up the word "remnant" in a dictionary and you'll find definitions that pretty accurately describe how the word is used in any situation. Except one. In the online advertising world, remnant is not "a small part", or a "fragment", and it's certainly not a "scrap" of anything. Online advertising's dirty little secret is that remnant represents the vast bulk of available online impressions. For some well-known publishers, the great majority of their inventory is unsold, unloaded, and unloved.
It has become fairly clear from the recent and ongoing growth of innovative networks, DSPs and yield optimizers that many publishers have chosen to make their non-directly sold inventory available to the highest, or sometimes lowest, bidder. Till the emergence of these platforms, content owners were stuck getting very low CPMs on the majority of their content as long as their ad spots were filled.
And on the other side of the equation, many marketers are still willing to purchase ad placements with no data or transparency. They are resigned to the 80/20 rule. The concept is that a small minority of highly targeted ad impressions usually drive the vast majority of attributed conversion activity. Brands buy in to the notion that in order to generate their desired consumer engagement and achieve the appropriate performance from their ads, they must take up the majority of their ad buys with low-value, poorly targeted ad spots to promote branding, and they expect very little activity from those ads.
This practice is outdated. Content targeting systems today can offer actionable data and insights on oceans of impressions across massive inventory networks. There is no need for advertisers to waste impressions and for content owners to delegate a significant chunk of inventory to the remnant bucket with no hope of serious monetization. Brands can see significant conversions from that mass of impressions, by infusing them with helpful data and making them more relevant and valuable.
Publishers and brands should change the way they approach remnant. As soon as inventory is labeled as remnant, there emerges a defeatist attitude which says "I cannot monetize on this inventory." Instead, think of it as mass targeting. Most of the inventory in the remnant bucket today has value that is just beginning to be exploited. Rather than focusing only on further refining the targeting of the "20%", all players in the advertising ecosystem, from publishers to advertisers, should widen their focus on getting the most out of their entire inventory.