Contributed by Chris Reilly – CEO of Unleashed Online Media
We’re living in the midst of an incredible technology revolution. The web has created an explosion of new ways for marketers to reach their target audience with ever-increasing precision and personalization. Its driving incredible outcomes: Kellogg’s reports 6X better ROI with programmatic media buying, and many of our clients report similar if not better results. Rather than making blanket assumptions about which types of consumers are consuming which media (25-54 Males LOVE this show!), Real Time Advertisers can reach across every medium and precisely target the exact consumer they are trying to influence (36 Male, Excellent Credit, 2 kids, in-market for a luxury car). As immensely powerful as that is, it makes it challenging for marketers and media buyers to keep up with the explosion of logistics that it creates. Are we ready to advertise in real time?
There are many terms, and many more acronyms applied to this paradigm shift. We see Real Time Advertising as a combination of three main trends:
- RTB: Real Time Bidding is a class of technologies that allow for automated bidding for media placements. Instead of negotiating deals for blocks of placements, each advertising impression is auctioned off across 1000’s of advertisers in the span of 30 milliseconds. Not all Real Time Advertising uses RTB inventory, but that format offers the most speed and flexibility. This is the technology behind those ads that seem to know exactly what you’re shopping for and follow you around the web, known as “Retargeting”, and it is increasingly being applied to other formats including video, audio, mobile, and social advertising as well.
- Data-Driven Media Buying: Real time advertisers use actual performance data to track results and optimize buys. Instead of “hoping the cash register will ring” it is now possible to track which ad variation and targeting generated how many leads, orders, calls, visits, and more. Dollars can be shifted to the most effective tactics and cut immediately from those that fail to perform. This is in stark contrast with the long-term contracts and high costs to change creative associated with traditional media.
- Real Time Creativity: Speaking to your audience in timely and relevant ways is now not only possible, but expected from brands. Oreos earned the title for having the most timely marketing ever with their ‘light’s out’ tweet at Superbowl 2013. Now brands are developing newsrooms to have real-time response capabilities and launch timely, relevant creative work at an alarming pace.
The Big Disconnect: while the fundamentals that drive this amazing technology revolution in advertising have now been in place for years, the means for actually buying and selling is still painfully outdated. The reality is that the majority of the campaigns placed in the $175+ Billion US advertising industry are still bought and sold with faxed insertion orders! This dated way of working between media buyers and sellers is the main reason holding companies back from realizing the potential of real time advertising.
My company, Unleashed Online Media, offers a human side to digital advertising. We help agencies and advertisers plan, execute, and optimize campaigns across all programmatic online media sources — search engines, social networks, display, video, mobile, and audio exchanges – that reach 99% of the US online population. In essence, we help get your message to the right people online, no matter where they are. We are one of the first of a new class of “real time media agencies.”
Yet, our company hasn’t been immune: we relied upon getting hard copy signatures on proposals. Gaining approval on ads and changes in targeting has been both highly manual and painful for all parties. We would sit for hours pulling reports from disparate systems into Excel for calculations and Word for formatting and branding. This process made it so only monthly reports were practical to offer to clients. There were many opportunities for making campaigns work better that we noticed right away, but the logistical nightmare of actually implementing them from a commutations standpoint held us back from making them happen.
We’ve embraced the cloud in a big way. Our company now runs on a custom application built on the Force.com platform. We use DocuSign to get proposals approved in minutes, not days. Approvals happen lightning-fast but stay legally compliant. With DocuSign’s platform integration with Drawloop, we’re able to build branded client reports across every media source in a few clicks, enabling reporting to happen weekly or daily instead of just once a month. All of our data is complimented by having a social context that we use to collaborate internally and externally, and 100% of the data is available on any mobile device. So when we make a recommendation to our clients on real time media, they are able to review and accept in minutes with DocuSign rather than days or weeks when we used fax machines.
I’m pleased to see our firm has some of the best technology infrastructure available in the world today. We have the horsepower of a Fortune 100 company on the budget of a tiny, bootstrapped startup. This allows us to be nimble and effective in making more strategic decisions quicker, and our clients are loving the benefits. If you’re trying to embrace real time advertising as well, its time to toss the fax machine and start using the cloud to move quicker and start realizing the ROI when you do!