#SESNY 2010: Don’t Be Negligent, Carpe Display

The rise of exchanges in display advertising is making it look a hell of a lot more like search. Display is making headway from a shot-in-the-dark branding channel tactic to a highly targeted conduit for brands to capture the right audience, with the right dialog at the right time.

Well folks, there’s no doubt about it; I threw out my neck, but for good cause. At the session Ad Networks & Exchanges: How the Search O/S is Changing the Display Game at SESNY, I found myself nodding in agreement a little bit more than usual. Not to be gratuitous, I just really jived with the information proffered.

Moderating the session was the lovely Bianca Gardner (Hey, Matt…never mind), Digital Media Supervisor, Publicis Modem. Alongside her, the stellar lineup; Jonathan Mendez, Founder & CEO, Yieldbot, Dax Hamman, VP of Display Media, iCrossing, Paul Pellman, CEO, Click Forensics, Inc. and Justin Merickel, VP, Marketing and New Product Development, Efficient Frontier.

First up was Jonathan Mendez and it went a little something like this.

  • No matter what the medium, great ads are all about delivering relevance. Display has pushed hard to achieve that goal and will only continue to advance in this area.
  • Search is really a matching problem. The idea is to match highly relevant messages to inventory. Of course the power here is the ability to select the exact inventory (and funnel location) you’ll purchase. Display is on its way there.

“People don’t read ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes that an ad.” – Howard Gossage

  • #1 lesson: Context
    • Relevance is having context with what you do and timing
    • Relevance is very temporal – timing is everything
    • Display has a way to go but its moving towards relevance
    • 5 Core Pieces to Search and Display
      • Intent
      • Segmentation (people do this for you. Think about Facebook)
      • Creative
      • Buying (making the most headway here, becoming more like search playing field)
      • Campaign management

Jonathan then took a look at how display once was and how it is now.


  • Used to be based on awareness. Looking at reach and frequency against a CPM.
  • Now performance is becoming intent and data driven, backing everything into cost per action (CPA or CPL).


  • Used to be bulk, site/demand past behavior
  • Now differentiated, audience and current behavior. Data we’re getting now is much more temporal, this equals better targeting.


  • Used to have no conversion at a high cost with a long lead-time.
  • Now creative is targeted and highly dynamic, (shown based on your location) self serve. We’re in the early days of this dynamic creative. This is the key to delivering relevance.


  • Used to be rate card, call them up then i/o
  • Now bid & real-time bidding

Campaign Management

  • Used to be pricey – high min, no optimization
  • Now low minimum, no switch $, and you can optimize

Last words of wisdom: Technology only helps you aim. The best marketers are people not machines.

Next up was Dax Hamman.

Dax creates the typical large client scenario:

  • Pressure to grow revenue
  • Sophisticated SEM program
  • Need alternative ROI channels

This scenario has really pushed display ads to evolve. Historically display was seen as a high-cost branding tool. It was like standing on a corner and blapping your message to walk by traffic. It really ignored both social interaction and the buying cycle.

Search is about the individual. They come to you and tell you what they’re interested in. You have the opportunity to develop a one-on-one conversation with potential customers. This makes it easy to define ROI.

Q: So where should you start if you’re just getting into display?

A: Search re-targeting and site re-targeting

Search re-targeting

  • Individual searches term related to your business
  • Individual is tagged with a cookie
  • Individual clicks on an ad that isn’t yours
  • Individual can be identified by you 15 minutes later and shown your ads

Note: Marketers are eager for a bigger crowd but its not available yet.

Site re-targeting

  • Individual arrives on your site
  • The visit is recorded by a tracking pixel
  • Our tagged individual is identified again
  • Individual clicks on the ad and is brought back to your site
  • This gives you the opportunity to get in front of potential customers after they’ve abandoned the search process.


  • A media exchange allows us to buy audiences instead of inventory
  • Like search, display becomes an auction environment; success comes from combining technology, data and people.
  • Groups about aggregate people with intent. You can now bid on these people

What is social re-targeting?

  • Find your customers – individual visits your site through any channel
  • Social graph mapping – individual’s closest contacts are identified from social sites
  • Targeted delivery – targeted ads are shown to customer’s closest friends
  • Creating scale – one customer lead can turn to ten potential customers
  • Cookie them, then map what other social profiles they interact with. From that you can garner their 10 best friends. Once we figure that out we can serve them ads. Birds of a feather buy a lot of the same stuff!

Remember… display is an art as well as a science.

Next to the podium was Justin Merickel.

Display is a performance channel and Justin showed us how.

3 primary trends from a performance optimization platform perspective

  • Massive reach on high quality display at auction-based prices is available in the exchanges/meta-exchanges inventory.
  • Targeting is widely available – pursue to intent data
  • Real time bidding – a lot of noise in the industry. Inventory sources will push impressions to performance platforms.

Display in 3 parts

  • Premium
  • Non premium networks
  • Non-premium exchange

(His company is focused on the exchange.)

  • Biddable display is a huge market. This is the growth channel in online marketing. 40-50% growth rate here. This will get more competitive and more expensive.
  • If your not doing retargeting your missing the boat on something that works.
  • Need to attribute conversions to the right actions based on last view and last click. This is a big challenge.


  • Attribute success the right way
  • Think of Inventory and data side – try to unbundle it
  • Test and learn. This market is immature

Last up was Paul Pellman.

Paul touched on some of the trends occurring in the market place and how that will change the landscape moving forward.

  • 1st – More money will be brought into display, driven by people spending more time online and media spend has not caught up.
  • 2nd – Improved media buying efficacy. The resource it takes to do display campaigns is extremely high. This cost is passed on to the advertiser and needs to be reduced and its on its way down.
  • Side effect: More efficient platforms create less transparency where those ads are being placed. The challenge is making sure clients are getting what they paid for.
  • 3rd – Disaggregation of data used to target media – Creation of new media data providers.

Pellman shared a data showing media buys between several different channels. Media buys for TV are 10x the amount spent on Internet. Smart marketers cannot continue to pay high CPMs to reach a shrinking audience; they absolutely need to put their money where it is going to do work.

  • Data insight layer will start become more targeted enabling the placement of ads in the proper places.

Big Issue:
According to Kantar, ad spend in all media categories was down in 2009 with the exception of freestanding inserts and display ads. Now things are picking up, but a lot of these channels will never come back such as print, radio, even television is threatened.

Search Vs. Display

  • Similarities
    • Efficiencies of media buying – (Allows you to spend more money efficiently)
    • Enhance campaign refine capabilities
    • Similar campaign platforms and approach
  • Differences
    • Its going to be a lot more difficult (analyzing 1st and 3rd party data)
    • Going to need a lot better metrics and attribution
    • Data, data, data

Last thoughts

  • Online display spend migration will be higher than most experts predict
  • Beware of privacy rights – new targeting approaches may worry consumers

-End scene-

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