Friday, April 06, 2018

Next Up: Ads That Can Predict the Future

Advertisers' ability to be highly specific in whom they target and the message that they send is constantly improving with technology. Think of the ability to "geofence" to within accuracy of 10 feet, thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones: a capability that brick and mortar retailers would have only dreamt of not long ago. Or for a specific kind of e-commerce seller, like an online shoe store, the ability to deterministically target an individual shopper who abandoned a pair of shoes in his shopping cart.

These increasingly granular capabilities are adding to demonstrable ROAS (return on ad spend), which is a great general trend for advertisers. For device users, the impact is mixed: in the best cases, an ad for a truly relevant and helpful product is shown and a transaction occurs. In the worst cases, it's a spooky invasion of privacy.

One great way to tip the scale in favor of the former is to apply the same R&D and technological rigor to the content of the creative itself as has been expended on the "pipes" (that is, the technology that has enabled the delivery of the creative). In other words, why not double down on the concept of "dynamic creative," making it about more than just the ability to show a specific SKU to a specific consumer? Wouldn't a more engaging creative, one that inspires a "wow, how did they even do that?" increase the likelihood of productive engagement?

Google's recent ads during the final four - this is Google acting as an advertiser for the Google Cloud product - provide a great example. In this case, what made the ads impressive were not any form of hyper-targeting that might provoke the privacy response; it was data science wizardry that brought about what turned out to be highly accurate predictions for the game that was about to be played. And while it may seem like wizardry, the math required to produce it was likely fairly rudimentary. Far more rudimentary, at least, than the R&D that goes into the development of adtech development pipes.

In a data-driven world, advertisers have an opportunity to drive engagement through clever technology not just through highly specific targeting, but also by leveraging clever algorithms that result in data or visuals that are engaging from a user's intellectual perspective.

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