Audience And Context, Not Audience Or Context

By Amihai Ulman One of the longest standing debates in digital advertising has been the superiority of buying audience vs. buying context. You will often see the colors of both sides on the stages of OMMA and IAB events discussing the benefits each has in terms of reach, lift, and relevance. It is an odd feeling to be sitting in the crowd listening to some of the smartest people in the industry discuss a topic that you know with certainty both sides are completely correct about.

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

In a better media buying environment, media buyers can price the attributes of the audience that they find most valuable and the attributes of the ad placement that they find most valuable. Next generation programmatic guaranteed does just that. More importantly, separating the price of the audience attributes from the ad placement attributes provides buyer and sellers the price discovery needed to understand how each influences performance.

The more buyers understand the value of what they are buying, the better price will reflect value. Good inventory will get more expensive and bad inventory will get cheaper. That's better for both sides.

Let’s look at an example. After consulting with the client, the media planning and buying team decide to target females between the ages of 18 and 35 that belong to an affluent consumer segment. In conjunction, one of the creative implementations chosen is a 300x250 in-banner video. Having the ability to price context separately from audience enables an analysis to determine the market value of the audience segment, the market value of the context and ad placement, and the ability to measure the unique publisher brand value that you just can't get anywhere else. With this data in-hand, the media buyers and planners can make very disciplined decisions about what to buy, where to buy it, and what to pay, based on market data and conditions.

While this may seem like a Utopian dream, the reality is that all of this can only be achieved with a balanced approach that provides equivalent value to the publisher and sets a level playing-field to enable buyers and sellers to come together. Further, the strategies of buyers and pricing strategies of sellers all have to be hidden from the broader market while simultaneously providing transparency to each side of the transaction. A guaranteed programmatic exchange provides true price discovery, price transparency, counterparty transparency, and transactional anonymity.