Moving with the audience

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on January 16, 2018

Brian Gleason, CEO, Xaxis, Group M’s programmatic advertising company

Programmatic Creative unifies data to personalise the message for different people

The march of digital has meant the rise and rise of programmatic advertising . Simply put, programmatic is the use of machines to buy ads. At Zee Melt, a festival that celebrates creativity, the question posed to Brian Gleason, CEO, Xaxis, Group M’s programmatic advertising company, was how could data and machine-dependent buying be creative? To which his counter was to offer something called Programmatic Creative - unifying data to personalise the message for different people. Excerpts from an interview:

What’s new in programmatic?

I think the issues that we face in programmatic are, number one, viewability and fraud. Making sure we have clean environments. Two is audience activation above silos. Right now we talk platforms. And three is that programmatic requires all media – right now we are talking digital but it will move to television and so on.

What about ad blockers?

They are prone to digital, in general. The context of an ad blocker is, what’s the relationship between consumer and content – that relationship needs to be understood. That’s a far greater issue to tackle.

So how are you moving beyond digital and into TV?

Roughly 40 per cent of our revenue globally is video. That traditionally was online video. Now we are moving towards addressable TV. We have been thinking, how do we bring our audiences if there are specific deals on local and others. We are also looking at, from a video standpoint, a tighter integration between Google and YouTube to be able to bring audiences to those platforms too. It starts with one audience – that audience should be able to be reached on digital display on mobile, on search, on TV.

In terms of screens, is there a movement back from digital to TV?

If you look at the percentage of young adults who are watching connected television, their number is down. People watch television but the way they watch television is different between generations. The younger generation prefers to watch TV on cellphones. They like the idea of personalised content – when they want to watch, what they want to watch. For me, I enjoy watching TV on a larger set. The idea of personalised content and discovery is a challenge.

So how do you deliver one to one when you don’t know where and what they are watching?

There are different technologies that enable you to deliver that. If somebody is watching live event versus recorded or on demand. The first thing at a most basic level is to continue to understand consumers’ consumption behaviours and where we can and when we can find ways to engage with them. Sometimes we won’t be able to but sometimes we will be able to have a conversation with them.

So what are the technologies?

There are three basic technologies. One is Turbine, which is our audience platform. It’s in 46 markets, it has tremendous scale. We can take Turbine to virtually all media – we can take it to Google, to Facebook, that itself is a massive advantage as the brand can define an audience rather than let somebody else define it.

Two, another platform that is unique to us is a visualisation platform in real time that gives us signals. It is like a dashboard that allows brands to pivot

Lastly, an interesting product is an algorithm that allows us to treat bidding technologies or intelligence differently. We can bring different intelligence to DSPs (demand side platforms) so that it allows us to treat a CPG (consumer packaged good) brand differently from others, say, auto brands.

Give an example of pivoting because of visualisation.

A sporting goods maker had originally allocated x per cent to mobile, x per cent to video. They found video was being consumed much more in a mobile environment than on a display platform. They quickly pivoted to the mobile environment. They also found it was being consumed by a different demographic than they were targeting. They were targeting men aged 28 to 34. They found women aged 30-42 were the consumers. So they could pivot their campaign in an hour.

Can you change the creative too that quickly?

You can change the messaging quickly. It’s understanding the signals from marketplace and pivoting instantly.

What are consumption patterns you are getting from your data?

There is a huge mass of opportunity in mobile. It is still under-served. People are not just doing social or Facebook but consuming video and other stuff, so video on mobile is a mass of opportunity. Then the bandwidth that is coming, pricing becoming accessible, the medium is only going to explode.

What’s the latest on display? We have been hearing about the death of display.

The big thing on display is native. Typically we thought of display as low-cost inventory which is performance-based. That will change. You will see more native branded content. More social is being done on mobile devices. Consumers have changed to mobile device – how will that change their desktop consumption behaviour. I don’t think we have seen enough data on that. We still spend a lot of time on computers. We need to understand that – the type of content that is being used on the device.

Published on September 08, 2016

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