Advertising has always seen to be the forte of creative minds while the technology and automation aspects were always considered the province of the geeks. However, the two have now amalgamated.
The buying, displaying, tracking and selling of advertisements is critical for any organization on the internet and this process is being truly revolutionized. Now the process has been to a large extent shifted to automated systems. Automated or Programmatic advertising is now drawing marketers, ad agencies, and advertising technology firms to its fold. It marks a coming together of technology, data and creativity.
To a certain extent, automated advertising owes its birth to the advent of social media. With the uprising of social media advertising channels as well as scores of websites, it was definitely a little cumbersome for organizations to manage their campaigns across varied networks and hence emanated the need to automate the process of online advertising, which also gives a distinct advantage of optimizing the campaign as per set goals and metrics.
Globally more than half of the digital display advertisements are automated. The Ad space bidding happens on a large scale. Google’s automated exchange, Adx, receives billions of bids for advertisement space every single day. The fact that more and more advertisers are adopting this technology is evinced by the fact that around 75 percent of digital advertising spending by P&G (which is considered to be the world’s largest advertiser) was automated. In fact, as per a study by Google it is expected that by 2017 more than 80% of the spending on digital advertisements maybe managed through automated systems.
While till some years back, the advertising budgets were spiraling, the global economic downturn changed it all. The marketers were put under pressure to cut ad spending and to demonstrate that the advertising and marketing efforts were bringing more bang for every dollar spent. This is why automated advertising works in today’s scenario. It not only is cost effective, but also offers a precisely targeted placement of ads, to reach the target audience of the advertiser.
Evolution of Automated Advertising in the online media
In yesteryears, when buyers had to request for an advertisement on a particular website, a chain of lengthy email exchanges and phone calls followed. This was a complex process involving a lot of manual work. With the growth of Internet came a soar in the number of websites and an accompanying growth of online advertising.
This led to the birth of advertising networks which may be considered the precursors to the current automated exchanges. These networks gained wide usage in the 2000s and worked on the concept of selling buckets of ad space as a package. The inherent flaw in this system was that networks served as middlemen and the advertisers often had only a foggy idea of where their advertisements eventually appeared.
In such a scenario entered, Automated exchanges and suddenly the advertisers had more control as they could bid for particular website space or even on a particular set of targeted audience and demographics. These exchanges could be comparable to a stock market just that instead of shares, digital ad space is traded here.
Real Time Bidding
Real-time bidding involves placing ads to target specific audience in real time. Completed within the seconds it takes for a website to load when a user clicks it. As a webpage loads if there is ad space available on it open for real-time bidding the information about the webpage as well as the visitor to the page is transferred to an ad exchange.
All the bids of advertisers who are looking for a demographic/ target audience similar to that web page’s visitor will be compared and the ad with the winning bid will appear once the webpage has fully loaded. lt then appears on the webpage when it has finished loading. It’s really interesting that the entire process gets completed within the seconds it takes for a webpage to load.
Also known as automated guaranteed’, this is an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction. For advertisers buying a large percentage of ad inventory of a publisher, certain deals are offered wherein the buyers can get negotiated prices for future ad space through a digital exchange.
How are advertisers really benefitting?
We are all now used to comparing hotels and flight fares online and we know firsthand how smooth these experiences are compared to calling different travel agents for the same. It is the same case for advertisers opting for automated advertising.
It has now become easier for the marketers to measure the key metrics and track the results of their advertising campaigns in real time. Automated advertising has offered the option of customizing specific messages to a specific audience, at a specific time.
Technology giants like Microsoft, IBM, and Google have all jumped into this arena and are offering tools that can help marketers in predicting ideal targeting for campaigns as well as quantify the success of every campaign.
The next step
There is still a lot of scope left in the field of “Automated Advertising”. Automation buying in other media channels is the way to go. Today as every medium becomes accessible, automated ad buying is slowly extending its spread to mobile devices, digital out-of-home display, television and slowly it is expected that it will become even more mainstream.
The evolution of this mode of advertising will only bring more personalized advertisements across all media that will be a win win for both marketer and the consumer. As the number of networks and media channels that come under the fold of automated advertising increases, so will the number of automation tools.
In fact, marketers foresee an increased use of automation even in content marketing and native advertising. The future is not far when software systems will enable management of ROMI, or return on marketing investment with a previously unknown level of rigor.
While bidding on ad exchanges is already in real time, soon the creative as well as the content execution may have to be made available, the same way.
Advertisers will be able to change content, images and various other creative aspects of their campaigns based on factors such as the audience who is viewing the ad at the time, the location, past preferences and even local weather conditions etc.
Interestingly, the agency M&C Saatchi has already developed an outdoor campaign which changes and evolves advertisements based on the reaction of the viewers. As per the agency it is the world’s first artificial intelligence poster campaign. Currently located at a single site in London, it is a campaign for the coffee brand Bahio and it constantly changes creative elements such as copy, layout, font and image of the advertisement based on audience reactions (which are monitored through a camera). The creative elements which engage audience more are retained and the others are removed.
As per a IBA Research it is expected that by year 2020 more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the “internet of things.” This will truly offer a unique opportunity for marketers to use automated buying of advertising space across devices and engage with consumers in real time.