OMMA Global – Morning Track Sessions on Search and Targeting

For the first track session, I joined the Marketing Track for a panel that claimed that “If You Don’t Know Search, You Don’t Know Jack!”  As the moderator noted, Jack couldn’t make it, but the following speakers were on the panel:

Dax Hamman, VP of Display Media at iCrossing (moderator)

Ben Plomion, Manager of Communication and Public Affairs at GE Capital

Gerry Bavaro, VP and Managing Director at Resolution Media

Ben Seslija, Senior Director of Acquisitions and Analytics at Clickable

Will Crew, Director of Strategic Projects at Kenshoo

Gord Hotchkiss, President and CEO of Enquiro Search Solutions

Hotchkiss believes that search marketing skills are valuable because search crystallizes user intent.  Bavaro believes that search is driving a transition from an audience-centric view to a consumer-centric view in online planning.  Plomion feels that search is helping GE Capital create micro-segments in its business operations.  His concern is that the greatest risk developing a search strategy is the threat of developing silos that limit the ability to share and use data.

Data management will be a universal concern, according to Bavaro.  Before behavioral data can be used across a company’s operations, the data must be gathered and stored in a way that it is accessible across the organization.  Hotchkiss would love to see a “customer insight” department at the center of an organization.  If a company redesigns its corporate organization around the customer, then it’s moving in the right direction.

Seslija sees social media as a bridge between search and display.  Crew sees micro-segmentation as the key to provide relevant display advertising to consumers.  Hotchkiss notes that if you are going to micro-segment, you have to know what metrics are important.  To understand which data is necessary (Hotchkiss feels that “we talk too much about data at these conferences”) companies must understand how their customers are behaving.

Hamman asked what the role of creative is today in light of all this new technology.  Bavaro sees the role of creative shifting from what message is being shared to how content is managed across different channels.  For example, how can a piece of content be optimized for use across social media channels so that it earns a better search position?  Hotchkiss believes that the definition of creative is changing.  Instead of distracting users from what they are doing, creatives must now integrate consumers’ actions into a campaign.  The role of creatives is evolving as the ecosystem evolves.  Bavaro notes that creatives must now develop blocks of content that must change based on users’ inputs.

Because Facebook is so large and collects so much data, creative development and data mining has to become more complex, according to Sesija.  Hotchkiss looks at Facebook as something more than just millions of eyeballs; it’s millions of social interactions.  The focus of marketers must move from scalability to relevance.  As data ownership is becoming more fragmented, Hotchkiss sees a potential loss of value.  In regard to privacy, he feels that consumers must own their data (or “footprints”) and have a say in how it is used, rather than just being another data point in aggregation.

Next, I jumped over to the Media Planning track for a panel that sought to answer the question, “Will Behaviorial Targeting Kill Contextual Targeting?”

Ryan Griffin, VP and Director of Media at Digitas (moderator)

Bill Demas, President and CEO of Turn, Inc

Yoav Arnstein, CEO of Legolas Media

Dave Coffey, CEO of The Coffey Group

Jeanne Howeling, VP of Demand Partner Group at Pubmatic

Justin Evans, SVP of Audience Development at Collective

Griffin understands the Behavioral vs Contextual targeting is not a balck and white issue, but the key is to determine the blend and balance of the two options.

Demas notes that people have gotten used to advertisement as a way to get free access to the internet.  It’s critical, however, that the ads add value to the experience.  To accomplish this, the ads must reach the right consumers and encourage engagement.  Evans shared an anecdote about how impressed he was with the very focused targeting that he saw offline when he recently moved houses.  On the other hand, he sees a lot of online marketing as a waste.

As a consumer, Arnstein sees contextual advertising as a niche activity.  The amount of time that you view ads related to content rather than consumer is small, so more focus and budget should be spent on behavioral targeting.  Unlike many typical consumers, Howeling noted, marketers tend to ignore more internet advertisements.  She feels that the importance of context doesn’t go away entirely; although her own ad-driven behavior is based more on how she has interacted online previously (e.g., following an ad for Jetsetter after booking a vacation), she realizes the importance of ads sitting on pages of the same brand strength, so as not to diminish the strength of the site or the ad.

Advertisers have to speak clearly and squash the “bad actors” who abuse data that is collected through advertising.  Moving forward, Howeling expects more dis-aggregated data and more data whose use is controlled by publishers.  Evans noted that audience-based targeting had a much larger effect (10X) on brand esteem than action-based targeting.  While he understands the necessity of advertising in line with great content (to use the context to your advantage), he still has not seen this fully quantified.  Brand stewards must ensure that ads are placed in the proper environment, according to Howeling.

Data and advertising inventory are commodities, the former of which whose value is still being determined.  Arnstein believes that until the value of data can be easily determined and verified, the right mix of targeting will be elusive.  Another metric of data that is critical to understand is how it ages, according to Howeling.  Change of life activities (like home sales) offer data a longer life than more time-sensitive or impulse sales.

Evans sees pressure on advertising based on innovation, as the tools become more sophisticated.  Demas foresees a kind of transformation and explosion of use in display advertising that we have previously seen in search advertising.  He notes that the market needs transparency if it’s going to be large, liquid, and effective.  Evans sees that value in display advertising will ultimately come from the very question that this panel sought to examine: the balance of behavioral and contextual targeting.

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