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Debate: Why do advertisers still buy on eyeballs and wide demographics?


Debate: Why do advertisers still buy on eyeballs and wide demographics?


Publishers and measurement agencies are providing rationalised and qualified audience data. Broadly, marketers and media buyers are failing to adopt this and are still buying on eyeballs and wide demographics.



Michael Robertson

Michael Robertson

Regional managing director, Oceania

Effective Measure


Neutral: I have found that publishers and measurement providers are providing some, but not enough, qualified audience data. Because of this, there is a gap in the market for a product, tool or system that can provide detailed audience data for both major and long tail publishers alike.

I’ll give you an example: say, for instance, a niche business such as a tropical fish supplier wants to break into the Australian market. Right off the bat, the supplier’s marketing team would find the process challenging.

‘Where do I find tropical fish enthusiasts? What else can these platforms tell me about these enthusiasts to help craft my message? Where do these enthusiasts gather?’

These questions remain, for the most part, unanswered, due to the limitations of the current measurement platforms, leaving little alternative for the advertiser except to place a bet on massive reach and wide demographics to possibly, maybe, reach those tropical fish enthusiasts.

Every day a new niche site, blogger or community/ social network springs up, causing audiences to migrate away from major publishers in a market. This presents a huge challenge for a media buyer. Compounding this even further is the struggle to understand these new audience profiles in relation to the media buyer’s objective.

With the right tools, that tropical fish supplier could efficiently be connected with the enthusiasts they desire. The right approach is to provide audience profile data for all publishers, large or small – down to the site, section or even video stream level.

It’s important to prove the quality and relevance of a publisher’s audience against an objective, giving long-tail publishers the chance to showcase their audience on a level playing field with the major publishers, to advertisers, marketers and media buyers.


Gabbi StubbsGabbi Stubbs

Head of research and insights



Affirmative: Broadly speaking this is true. From a ‘big data’ view point, there is a tremendous amount of great data available to marketers. The key to the data puzzle is understanding it.

While publishers and measurement agencies do provide rationalised and qualified audience data, it is platform relevant. The challenge for marketers and agencies is the ability to assess a qualified audience in the context of total campaigns… they currently can’t do it!

This is further fuelled in Australia by differing measurement metrics being available and a general lack of familiarity or consistency in using them. When we look at the nitty-gritty of online specifically, the default for some is to talk in terms of monthly unique browsers, when (locally) the more accurate measurement and industry standard is monthly unique audience.

Old ‘eyeball’ metrics only give maximum reach. Online publishers can understand much more from our data, providing an opportunity to meet advertisers’ demands for relevance. If you asked a marketer whether they wanted to reach an estimated number of eyeballs within a demographic or present an exact audience a contextually relevant message that doesn’t interrupt the media experience, the answer would be obvious.

The industry needs standards in the measurement system so we can simplify both the buying process and measuring the success of campaigns. Agencies also need to up-skill to stay ahead of the curve to fully capitalise on publisher offerings.

Creating value from data, however, presents the largest prize. It also offers a huge partnering opportunity between publishers and agencies. Only then can we expect the old ways of buying audiences to truly evolve.


Gabbi StubbsPaul Bennett

National managing director

Sapient Nitro


Affirmative: Compare Amazon’s ability to recommend books and products you may like to another bookseller serving you banner ads on a news publisher’s home page.

While general eyeball measurement is useful for issues of scale, behavioural information – when collected and used with respect to relevant privacy guidelines – can help brands to offer users a richer, more personalised experience.

It’s generally accepted that a great number of companies are sitting on a gold mine of data, but they don’t know how to use it.

In this age of technological innovation, data about consumer behaviour, at the segmentation level and even the individual level, and the insights that can be gleaned, broadens the scope for brands beyond serving one-dimensional marketing messages to being able to create immersive customer experiences. The data is there, so why isn’t it being used?

Privacy is one issue. But more, many traditional companies have not yet invested in the technology to capture real-time data, via an ecommerce platform for example, and so have to rely on historical data (number of viewers/ readers, sales made). The brands that are getting it right are often pure play digital companies that have been born into the world of behavioural data, and use real-time customer tracking to their competitive advantage.

Social media tracking and community managers (for example, on Facebook brand pages) are great examples of tapping into the rich seam of information consumers are freely offering up to brands. Failure to listen and respond in a timely fashion may result in a brand becoming irrelevant.

As consumers demand better experiences from brands, in real time, this will motivate both brands and their agencies to better understand the value of behavioural data, and how to use it.


Esther CarlsenEsther Carlsen

Head of sales, New South Wales and Queensland



Affirmative: Advertisers and marketers both understand the power of data. They have been collecting, analysing and using data in their marketing activity for years. Whether it’s through gathering insights via their own consumer databases, working with offline data companies to help target specific consumer segments or using sales and purchase data to measure their marketing campaign’s success, data and its importance are really nothing new.

The fact that digital provides marketers with another channel to utilise data effectively is a massive tick in the box for Australian marketers. We are seeing marketers embrace targeting throughout their digital campaigns. There are very few Yahoo!7 campaigns that don’t have at least one element of targeting as part of the overall plan. In fact, over 30 percent of Yahoo!7’s total revenue is coming through either standard behavioural targeting segments (such as ‘mums with kids’) or through customised segments that our organisation builds for our individual advertisers based on a combination of their data insights and ours.

Nonetheless, there is a new wave of targeting upon us, where we are starting to combine online and offline data. Garnering a 360-degree view of Yahoo!7’s audience based on their offline and online worlds means we can help our advertisers target consumers based on their wants, needs, likes and, ultimately, purchase behaviours. However, the sheer volume of targeting products, companies and technologies out there, combined with the sometimes ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach to what products can and can’t do, is really in danger of overcomplicating this new world. Add to that the fact that targeting can be used to solve so many different business challenges, and you have a very real opportunity to make this all ‘too hard’.




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