By Matt White, VP of Quantcast EMEA
With every click of the mouse, internet data grows, creating a vast ocean of information on behaviour, preference, and intent. Yet, its value is lost when we are unable to make sense of the patterns at play.
For publishers, the ability to deliver content that is relevant and useful to consumers relies on in-depth audience understanding. Without it, they can only assume. This hinders their capacity to grow their audiences and, consequently, attract the advertisers needed to fund their free, quality content.
It’s a challenge that has become increasingly complex over time, not because of the amount of data available but because of the uneven terrain on which the internet stands. To maintain an internet that is free and open, we need to level the playing field and empower publishers to know and grow their audiences, so that they can deliver what matters the most to consumers. By doing so, not only will publishers and advertisers thrive, but consumers will benefit from free, high-quality, and relevant digital experiences.
Advertising: Powering the internet since 1994
While digital advertising may have emerged in 1994 with the creation of the first banner ad, the reality is that advertising dollars have long funded content. In fact, advertising was born alongside newspapers in the 16th and 17th centuries, as publishers sought to offset printing and distribution costs with advertisements.
With the advent of the internet, this approach was duplicated in the digital realm. Yet, as internet activity proliferated, much of it became concentrated within a few platforms, who have kept their technology, audience, and inventory cut off from the wider web. These so-called walled gardens exist as closed ecosystems alongside the free and open internet, keeping their data to themselves.
The problem with the walled gardens…
Over time, the walled gardens have amassed considerable power, thanks to their mammoth communities and ever-growing trove of user insights, over which they maintain absolute control. With their slick solutions, they have made advertising on their platforms excessively easy, enabling brands and agencies to book in programmatic campaigns in a flash. However, the convenience comes with a hefty price tag, not to mention a lack of transparency on actual advertising performance.
Today, 80% of digital advertising spend flows into the walled gardens. That’s incredible, for platforms who don’t produce any of the content themselves. And yet, they profit immensely from distributing content produced by publishers elsewhere on the open internet. Just think of all the times that you’ve read an article on social media! But because of their data advantages and easy advertising solutions, the walled gardens are sucking in advertising budgets, to the detriment of publishers everywhere.
The dominance of the walled gardens means that power is currently tipped in their favour. However, the playing field can be leveled for publishers, who need to monetise their own inventory so as to sustain their business, and advertisers, who need to maximise every ad dollar spent.
To grow and advertise to your audience, you need to know them first – and this requires data. The walled gardens are flourishing because they have it, and it makes their audience understanding unparalleled. Historically, it’s been less clear elsewhere with advertising on the open internet, but that’s changing. Thanks to a new era of audience intelligence powered by AI and machine learning, major inroads are being made towards knowing and growing audiences on the wider internet and reaching the right person at the right time.
Deciphering audiences on the open internet
Insights are the holy grail in advertising, but many solutions focus primarily on traffic and engagement.
At Quantcast, we understand the importance of putting together a more nuanced portrait of audiences. That’s why we focus on dissecting demographic and behavioural make-up, to unearth interest and intent. Our solution, the Quantcast Platform, draws data from more than 100 million online destinations to paint that comprehensive, real-time picture of user behaviour across the internet.
Ara, our AI and machine learning engine, then transforms that rich repository of data into behavioural patterns, preferences, and predictions, presenting granular, actionable insights. It’s not just about collecting data, but also making sense of it, so that we can better understand audiences, match consumer interest to the right businesses, and deliver advertising that is relevant and timely.
[The Quantcast Platform in action]
Many brands and companies can now spearhead data-driven digital campaigns that are anchored in nuanced, real-time audience insights. For example, the denim brand G-Star RAW was able to identify potential customer segments across local markets, broaden their reach, and land tailored messaging more effectively. Boosted by Quantcast’s advanced technology, brands and advertisers can now scale and automate their campaigns on the open internet with spectacular ease.
Yes, the walled gardens may be an entrenched part of our digital landscape. However, by leveling the playing field and eliminating the advantages currently wielded by those walled gardens, not only will publishers and advertisers thrive, but consumers will benefit from more relevant and useful digital experiences – on a free and open internet.