Ad Automation and New Metrics – Innovation or Obfuscation?

Ad Automation and New Metrics – Innovation or Obfuscation? Big advertising agencies like WPP, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe, as well as smaller ad networks are increasing placing client advertising through computerized trading desks. These “bid and post” systems help to optimize impressions for advertisers, but sometimes disperse the ads to a large number of sites. The question is increasingly arising – are ad automation and new metrics innovation or obfuscation? Do they hide advertiser visibility?

“Our members continue to voice concern about the transparency of trading desks,” said Bill Duggan, group executive Vice President of the Association of National Advertisers. “It’s become a complicated environment with a lot of things going on behind the scenes.”

The challenge is the automation systems are so different than the Mad Men or In Good Company model. The new models, as demonstrated by Xaxis, a division of WPP pricing, do not look solely at ad space, but rather bundles the space with other data and services. Rather than the old one way information flow of just buying 2M adult females 18 to 24, now becomes a two-way flow where the impressions are delivered, and demographic information that goes much deeper on those females is returned to the advertiser. Valuable to the advertisers, but not always actionable.

For most advertisers, I have not seen offers with the same level of return demographic data, however, I do believe the information is being collected, and for some large advertisers may be a part of agreements. For those of us who are smaller accounts, we are not yet receiving the information.

This thinking is a part of what drove the realignment of Twitter’s advertising metrics announced a couple of weeks ago. They have added four new metrics, including the breadth of the audience exposed to the content, but not logged in. If history is a guide, new metrics usually are only created when the old ones do not deliver the expected results.

If you are a heavy advertiser, whether with trading desks or new Twitter metrics, our advice is proceed with care.


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