Using data to optimise digital campaigns

Carolyn Bollaci

Carolyn Bollaci
Regional vice president, Australia & New Zealand, Sizmek

In digital terms, it is only fairly recently that data mining and ad serving technology have been both robust enough and in sync, to enable digital advertisers to dynamically execute micro-targeted ads for consumer segments on a massive scale.

Now the technology exists, as an industry we can begin to look at the benefits advertisers are gaining through using data to maximise campaign performance.

But first, it is worth looking at what is meant by data driven campaign optimisation. In the ad serving world, this simply means making use of the mountains of user data the industry amasses to build better targeted ads. We can also use data to optimise live campaign performances.

Previously, mountains of data existed but we lacked the technology framework to do much with it. Successfully syncing and choreographing publishers and ad servers platforms with agency and advertisers creative campaigns, in all their global variations, lay beyond our reach.

Now technology enables advertisers to automatically and dynamically modify almost any variable in new or current running ads. Think product SKUs, price codes, still and video images, audio, language and more, which can all be changed either automatically or with minimal tinkering.

Moreover, with improved consumer tagging on most publisher sites, advertisers can develop sophisticated algorithms to incorporate live conversion, click, engagement, audience and behavioural data. This determines who is responding best to which ads and where they are located. They can then serve versions accordingly.

As an example of this, Tourism Australia recently ran a digital ad campaign in New Zealand that used data algorithms to identify and serve the most popular ad the majority of times. As a result, the optimised ad placement achieved a click through rate (CTR) of 0.82 percent, while a non-optimised placement with similar creative, publisher and size, recorded a CTR of 0.15 percent – an improvement of 447 percent.

At the individual level, advertisers can also use data to retarget ads to consumers again based on browsing patterns. Macquarie University is just one of many well known brands doing this right now. If a user clicks on one of the graduate or undergraduate programs, Macquarie retargets those users with appropriate display ads in attempt to lure them back to its site, and eventually into one of its degree programs.

The lift in CTR results for both targeting and retargeting so far prove strong. In our own research based on six billion impressions, data usage for targeting and retargeting saw CTRs jump 73 percent. Actual conversions also increased by an average of 40 percent, with as much as 389 percent for some advertisers. Often the advertisers with better conversion rates were those who retargeted users with additional incentives, such as a promotional offers on an item the user abandoned in a shopping cart. It was a deal sweetener that secured the conversion.

For the advertiser, using data this way improves ad relevancy, cuts costs and makes global campaigns more amenable to local markets. It is also easier for campaigns to be integrated into regional and seasonal efforts, as well as behavioural, contextual and geo-targeted ones.

Using data optimisation technologies moves digital advertising even further away from the old “spray and pray” approach of advertising. That makes it attractive to advertisers and even sometimes to consumers.

After all, serving the right consumer the right ad at the right time can only help advertisers to become more relevant, and ultimately more successful.