Today's column is written by Amiad Solomon, Founder & President at Peer39.
In recent years, the focus of online advertising has shifted toward audience targeting, using cookie data to find users anywhere across the net. While audience targeting delivers respectable results to advertisers, it overwhelms and undervalues one of the time proven factors in advertising: the placement of the ad. It is a pretty simple idea, really - ads perform better when they are in harmony with a page's content, and can be delivered at scale. Moreover, when marketers target ads strictly according to audience, without respect to where the media is actually placed, brands can suffer a blow to their potency and image. Audience targeting, irrespective of placement, can turn a powerful brand into a generic one. By maintaining the harmony of the marketing message and its adjacent content, placement can unleash the power of the brand, spark user engagement and maximize ad effectiveness.
Consumers have many different motivations when surfing the Web, but the content they're reading at any given time reflects their interest at that specific moment. Targeting ads based on content aligns ad placement with interest, synchronizes message and content, and undoubtedly makes for a far more successful ad campaign that can reach an immense number of users.
One of the key ways audience segments are created is by observing and cataloguing the type of content a user consumes. Consumers reading a lot of business content are often tagged as 'Business enthusiasts.' If targeting solutions use previous behavior to serve ads after the consumer has moved on to new, non-related content, then serving an ad relevant to current content should be even more effective. The best time to present an ad is when it is directly related to what is being read at the moment.
Of course, this is not a new concept; advertisers have always cared about context. However, in recent years, due to a technological inability to target effectively by page meaning on a massive scale, there has been an over-focus on audience targeting at the expense of placement. Brands have settled for audience targeting and forgotten about their own individual powers as brands to reach users when they are most likely to engage. Audience targeting can generate positive results for a brand's ad campaign, but brands risk losing their competitive advantage in the marketplace and their impact on consumers.
Placement matters because brands matter. It is not sufficient simply to reach the target individual; an advertiser needs to truly connect with the market. When marketers buy online media by audience alone, brands miss out on reaching a universe of potential customers at the point of engagement - at the right place and at the right time.
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