Ahead of the Game; Advertising Strategy for 2013

By Jeremy Bloom, Co-Founder of Integrate

The technology advancements of 2011 and 2012 will drive the platform and product adoptions of 2013. Marketers are already starting to push away the antiquated solutions of yesteryear in favor of automated, real-time tools that enable omnichannel strategies. So, what can you expect from the 'Net advertising of the future?

Mobile RTB will take off in a big way

In 2012, U.S. marketers spent $2 million-plus on digital display ads purchased through a real-time bidding (RTB) exchange or platform, doubling the previous year's figures. The value of RTB is clear: It provides advertisers with the ability to reach a unique user in real time, increasing ad relevance and spend efficiency. Most Internet users have an identifiable browsing history supported by cookies, and advertisers can use RTBenabled exchanges and platforms to pinpoint specific audience segments using cookie-based targeting.

Mobile, one of the fastest-growing marketing channels, has been all but absent from the RTB chatter due to its lack of cookie targeting. Mobile inventory is currently available on an RTB basis only through specialized providers, such as Turn, Moolah Media and Tapad. However, 2013 will be different, as we can expect to see a meteoric rise of RTB in the mobile space courtesy of Facebook's cookie-less mobile ad network, giving advertisers the ability to purchase high volumes of mobile display inventory using RTB systems.

Although RTB-powered mobile ad buying is currently available, adoption has been slow to ramp up. More accurately, adoption rates are closely following industry trends. Since mobile ads usually redirect to a mobile site or an app store landing page, buying mobile ads on an RTB basis is reasonable only if your mobile site is optimized for mobile devices or your goal is app downloads.

Further, although the rise of mobile advertising has made it easier for marketers to reach their target audiences on the move, tracking and attribution platforms cannot accurately compare the performance of mobile ads to other paid media, at least not currently. This limits the effectiveness of mobile analytics on the path to understanding how mobile ads drive users through conversion paths. As more marketers develop and optimize increasingly engaging mobile experiences and learn to quantify the bottom-line result of mobile ads with evolving cross-channel media attribution platforms, mobile RTB spending will increase.

The elephant in the room, and what will largely determine the rate at which mobile RTB ad buying grows, is Facebook's mobile ad network. The social network recently paused a test of its beta ad network, which allowed marketers to serve ads on third-party mobile apps using Facebook targeting data. This nifty feature circumvents the problem of targeting mobile users without cookies and enables advertising based on the content that Facebook users have shared or liked.

Strategy #1: Prepare yourself for the return of Facebook's mobile ad network by experimenting with current mobile RTB platforms like EveryScreen Media, Strike Ad and Tapad, but only if your mobile sites and landing pages are optimized for the small screen. If your goal isn't app installs, don't waste time with mobile ads until you've created a flawless mobile experience.

B2B will look more like B2C

B2B marketers have traditionally paid 10 times more than B2C marketers for media buys due to the finite inventory that exists in the B2B market. With the advent of programmatic buying, and more B2B marketers becoming involved in retargeting and RTB through demand-side platforms (DSPs), many marketers had "ah ha" moments in 2012. They discovered that B2B decision makers were buying products and converting outside of the premium B2B placements they were paying a pretty penny for.

By leveraging DSP-enabled technologies, B2B marketers realized they could gain insight into where their audiences live and convert once they clock out of work for the day. Since marketers are generally being asked to do more with an equal or smaller budget, the tech-savvy B2B marketer will embrace and test more segments with DSPs. We'll also see more placements of B2B brands and offers with relevant B2C publishers. This is great for B2C pubs and B2B brands, though somewhat concerning to B2B publishers who have been living high on the hog with exorbitantly priced CPMs - the good old days are coming to an abrupt end, and the machines are taking over. However, B2B publishers that shift their strategies to combine new technology and methods with their existing industry expertise will continue to monetize their inventory effectively.

Strategy #2: To avoid neglecting profitable opportunities, B2B marketers should understand and stay abreast of trending B2C marketing strategies (e.g., targeting individual as well as business characteristics) and realize that every B2B target is also a consumer.

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