Report: Publishers Squirm as Advertisers Want Better Targeting

Is content still king? Not necessarily. Some advertisers would compromise it for targeting in a heartbeat.

Targeting is fun. When you’re planning a campaign, it’s comforting to have some sense of who you’re going to be hitting. In the direct marketing world, you have the benefit of a list which, to some extent, you trust. If it’s comprised of people who have opted in, it’s even better: these are people generally want to hear from you. When you go to buy ads – especially when you’re more accustomed to direct – an uneasiness sets in. Do you really know what you’re getting?

So, it’s not exactly surprising that advertisers are clamoring for more opportunities to target … and that publishers are feeling the squeeze to step up what they’re offering. According to the latest from eMarketer, nearly half of publishers in North America have had to turn down requests for proposal (RFPs) because they couldn’t deliver sufficient ad targeting alternatives. Another 23 percent of respondents to the PubMatic and DIGIDAY survey said they weren’t sure.

What makes this situation worse? Well, two thirds of publishers indicated that the number of RFPs with audience segment targeting were increasing, while only 3 percent said they “had seen no such requests.”

It’s a pretty rough scene. Especially when you take a look at the hunger advertisers have:

The demand for audience targeting is huge. Nearly all advertiser and agency respondents to the study (97%) said they would be using audience targeting this year, and nearly half (47%) said they would use audience targeting for a majority of their online advertising spending.

The situation has become pretty extreme, with eMarketer noting, “Targeting the right audience has emerged as more important than the right content.”

Could this be? In the age of content marketing?

It makes perfect sense. You can have a rockin’ message. Put it in front of the wrong people, and you’ll only hear crickets. Now, before you start dashing of copy without sufficient thought, there is a middle ground you’ll need to find. Laser-like targeting isn’t going to get you far if the content you’re pushing is awful. It’s the nature of the beast. You need to find the right people and say the right things to them.

Content is still important, but targeting is gaining priority. As a marketer in fairly narrow B2B markets for most of my career, I see the need for both. The average person isn’t going to spend $3 million on a consulting engagement or a few hundred thousand on complex risk management solutions. If only they would, my job would have been so much easier.

What’s interesting is that the need for targeting is having serious implications for ad spend. eMarketer continues, “Substantial majorities of brand marketers and agencies said they would increase their real-time bidding budgets if they had direct access to real-time bidding platforms at publisher sites.” Net spend could rise if publishers could meet demand.

But, it looks like that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. While more than 60 percent of media buyers had already gotten their hands dirty with real-time bidding previously, a mere 20 percent of publishers offered inventory this way.

What’s the moral of the story? Publishers are leaving money on the table. Mature the product, and the revenue will follow.

Publish date: April 7, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT