This time it’s personal. With the explosion of programmatic advertising over the last two years, the emphasis for media buyers, planners and their clients has been to unleash the power of machine learning-driven algorithms to maximise the efficiency of media plans. Now, the promise of people based marketing (PBM) is to add a human dimension to those machines through combining first-party and third-party data in an unprecedented way.
“Media buying has changed with the introduction of programmatic, which has driven a focus on automation and efficiency. We see people-based marketing on addressable media as the next phase - it brings personalisation into play and the ability to target a real person,” Michael Twomey, SVP people based marketing at Signal told DataIQ barely two hours after stepping off a plane from Australia where he is based and formerly worked as head of programmatic for supermarket giant Coles.
Rejoicing in a potentially industry-first job title, Twomey is warming up the UK market for the launch of Signal's addressable media solution this year in the wake of successful deployments in Japan and Australia, where leading shopping rewards scheme flybuys is a foundation client. Signal is about to compete in a marketplace that is currently dominated by three major players - Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Google’s Customer Match and Twitter Tailored Audiences.
Where they have combined the reach of their social and search tools with advertisers’ customer data, Signal is aiming to expand the range of PBM choices available. “In the past, marketers have only had the option of Facebook and Google. We are bringing them the option to do PBM across many more publishers,” he says.
By introducing an independent platform, the company hopes to encourage more publishers to offer not just programmatic inventory, but also fully-personal ad solutions. In doing so, they can benefit from better returns. Says Twomey: “It draws a premium because it makes advertising more efficient for media buyers and planners, so they are getting a higher ROI and reduced mis-targeting. It is the next phase in the industry - programmatic is about efficiency and transparency, PBM is about real people and increased ROI.
Signal also fixes one of the biggest concerns among advertisers about the DMP environment they have to use when buying from Facebook, Google and Twitter. In research carried out among 350 North American media buyers and marketers by Econsultancy on behalf of Signal, 78% were concerned with data governance when working within walled gardens, 74% were troubled by the customer data they hand over in the process, and 77% said that, because walled gardens don’t give back user-level data, they are concerned about not being able to properly close the loop on attribution.
A point of difference for the soon-to-be-launch PBM platform is its open data strategy. This has been in place since it became the underpinning of Yahoo Japan’s move into PBM where transparency and cross-channel data sharing has been central to its success. Using Signal Fuse, matches are made using a deterministic identity graph which links activity across channels - tens of thousands of websites which use Yahoo Tag Manager as well as Yahoo’s own estate, plus advertisers’ CRM data.
This allows intent data, such as viewing a product page, to be added to drive display advertising in real-time, rather than delayed behavioural retargeting. By avoiding a walled garden approach, Signal argues that digital advertising becomes more targeted and relevant. “Our focus is on making media addressable to real people across sites and devices,” says Twomey.
Central to enabling this process is the way the PBM platform creates matching profiles but de-identifies the data first. Twomey argues that this process, combined with first-step cookies consent and the ongoing opportunity to opt-out of intention-based advertising means Signal is compliant both with current data protection legislation and the forthcoming demands of GDPR. As he says: “We know it works, now it is about bringing it to market.”
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