With the vast amounts of data and technology available today, brands are increasingly pushing to pinpoint their exact target audience, an act industry veteran Shawn Riegsecker described as a “fool’s errand.” Riegsecker, president and founder of the digital media services and operations firm Centro, spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher to share his thoughts on the most effective methods of audience targeting and where he believes the advertising space is headed over the next five years.
eMarketer: What goals and objectives do your clients typically set for their display advertising campaigns?
Shawn Riegsecker: Centro is primarily a brand-based company. So, we tend to direct our clients toward high-funnel goals like brand perception, message awareness or brand favorability vs. lower-funnel goals like clicks.
eMarketer: How are you leveraging display advertising to help clients achieve these top-funnel goals and reach the right audience online?
Riegsecker: If our goal is to scientifically reach the right audience for the advertiser, there are three different approaches advertisers can take.
The first is to use registration data married with purchase data. That is by far the most valuable audience targeting data anyone can have; unfortunately, it’s not widely available yet. The people who really own that data are Amazon and eBay—and the relationship between Nielsen and Homescan is about as close as you can get.
The second most valuable data is first-party registration data obtained by partnering with brand publishers and registration sites like NBC Universal or social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. We can’t leverage that data offline, but we can go to an NBC Universal or News Corp. and be able to use their profiles of registered users against all their different properties to target them across their owned-and-operated networks.
There is a significant drop in efficacy between the second and third most effective way to target audiences, which is by using universal, cookie-based behavioral targeting data off of ad exchanges. The practice of using content as a proxy for audience would also fall on this level, but we actually prefer using content as a proxy for audience vs. buying universal cookie data, which is just not that accurate or effective.
eMarketer: Is there a specific type of audience targeting that has been most effective for your clients?
Riegsecker: That depends on a marketer’s goal. But I will say, from a one-to-one performance standpoint, if you’re going to compare all types of display ad targeting, retargeting is by far the most effective.
eMarketer: Where do you see the future of display advertising headed?
Riegsecker: In the future, we have to put the customer—the audience—at the center of our discussion. Today, the industry attempts to create a strategy to reach that person on TV, but someone else is creating a strategy to reach that person through a newspaper or on the internet or using social media.
I expect this to all be wiped away within a five-year window. By 2016, we are not even talking in terms of online and offline media—because it’s all just media.
It has to be about the customer and their journey. We need to look at how they bounce from offline media to online media, back to offline, and we need to make sure that we have a firm understanding of where they go. Without that, we’ll never be able to reach them.