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How brands should meet the challenge to find the right target audience

Posted By: SME SA


I have been following the debate on programmatic media buying for a while now and felt that it was necessary to provide an African perspective to this controversial topic.

There is a clear lack of knowledge across the industry when it comes to programmatic ad buying, which essentially means being data-driven, targeting specific audiences and having automated processes to do so.

Telmar established in 1968, has been the most used  guide for media buyers South Africa and globally, but due to the fact that publishing changed dramatically with the rise in new small to medium publishers, mobile  apps, and other new forms of inventory currently not covered by the service, it may be losing its relevance .

Brands as content producers

There is a huge surge in user generated content through social media and blogs. 

We almost have “too much information”, and therefore as consumers spend a considerable amount of time filtering and following only certain “influencers” we trust, this phenomenon makes it a challenge for brands to find the right target audience.

"Advertisers are looking for ways to better engage
with their target audience"

Just like consumers have become publishers, brands have also become publishers and are looking to enhance their expertise in content driven marketing. 

Finding the mark

It therefore makes sense that automation would create efficiency and technology should simplify the process of making adverts more contextual, relevant, based on individual preference and permission.

Advertisers are looking for ways to better engage with their target audience, to improve visibility of their advert in a fragmented online media space especially in Africa, and to enhance their ad performance.

The moment we add location data, which implies advertising in real time or at the point of purchase, the need for technology is even more critical.

Supply and demand

The ecosystem has become more complex with advertisers being approached by DSP’s (Demand Side Platforms) who then often use Ad exchanges to get to the relevant publishers who have the relevant target audience. 

It may seem like the food chain has become too fat and therefore brands with large media budgets are not only relying on ATD’s (Agency Trading Desks) but are establishing their own, so they can have more control over their spend and results . 

Real-time bidding (or RTB) is one of the most popular forms of programmatic buying where advertisers bid on available inventory in an auction-based environment.

Following the economic rules of supply and demand this should be a more efficient process and allows for spending across multiple publishers. It also offers more control over optimisation, and more advanced audience-targeting so you can look for a similar audience or “look alike” audience to the one you already have as your customers - therefore enhancing the success rate of your campaign. 

You can also test your campaign based on real results and only spend a fraction of your budget while you analyse your ROI. The analysis will yield whether you achieved your key performance indicators for your campaign or decide to change your strategy to different publisher or DSP to achieve your desired results. 

The challenges

As chief marketing officers' focus is shifting to return to marketing investment rather than just “branding”, technology has certainly provided a new set of tools but as it happens with most new trends there is a misconception or misinterpretation of the use of the technology and some challenges to be aware of.

"The focus is too skewed on reach rather than engagement"

There are a number of fraudulent sites across exchanges that generate traffic by bots. For someone not well-versed in all aspects of programmatic, these ‘sites’ look great. High CTR, impressive reach, cheap CPM. For a marketer whose KPI’s include reach and clicks, choosing quality sites may decrease these KPI’s for them. The biggest issue with fraud is that there is no significant economic reason for anyone to do something about it. Everyone in the media ecosystem is still getting paid even if that means impressions being served on fraudulent sites.

There is an opportunity for auditing firms or industry bodies such as IAB or MMA to play an active role in ensuring fair practice and transparency.

 The WFA  Media Forum is great example of providing education on programmatic buying and a voice to the industry. It is a network of advertiser associations and multinational advertisers, focused on media planning and buying. The combined spend of WFA members’ accounts for approximately 90% of global advertising.

Another big issue is the fact that focus sometimes is too skewed on reach rather than engagement. Important questions that need to be considered are how much time are visitors spending on these sites? Are they clicking away from the page before your ad even loads? Are they simply scrolling and leaving?

Local publishers

Engagement and dwell time are an important component in creating the customer experience. Choosing sites that show their visitors spend a significant amount of time consuming content, trustworthy and credible content are critical success factors.

In Africa, MNO’s have the opportunity to be the biggest publishers as Digital adverting is primarily mobile, but they have not embraced mobile as a media yet. Google and Facebook dominate reach and insight and therefore media spend. We have some great local publishers emerging as well but the ad revenue and immature ecosystem does not support them well enough.

We have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes in other markets and create a unique online media environment using technology to create engagement, promote local content, ensure adverting is contextual, based on permission marketing, provide full transparency and ensure that programmatic is used for its purpose rather than being problematic.