In the rapidly evolving online advertising industry,
it seems like there is a major battle brewing among the various platforms to see who can better track users and interfere the most with their privacy.
One of the most common buzzwords I hear today is “Big Data." All of the leading ad-serving platforms are bragging
about the different type of clustering and user profiling they can do in real-time, which in turn is fueling the ever
growing RTB market.
Over the years, many users seem to have developed “banner blindness” to standard display advertising, and this is where we believe that real change is needed. A 728X90 Banner, whether located on the top of a page on a fashion site or food related site, looks exactly the same even if it is powered by a very smart ad-serving technology.
Don’t get me wrong, these smart serving capabilities are essential, and I’m a big fan of data and BI myself, however, in order to get real quality results and a true understanding of users, this “robot driven decision making” is simply not enough. My belief is that the right path lies in finding the balance between implementing advanced behavioral technologies and a mature understanding of the user’s psyche and their unique behavior per site.
What I see frequently when I surf the web, is a single ad following me from site to site with the same banner creative everywhere I go. We at C.A.S.T know that there must be another way here. Grabbing the user’s attention with advertising can't only be correlated to how frequently I see the ad everywhere I go until I'm in a mood to click. In fact, like other users, I often end up ignoring them further. To really get the users’ attention, there is a need for original out-of-the-box thinking, a need to break the standard that the advertising industry is desperately clinging to.
We believe that every site has its own identity. When a specific user is visiting his favorite technology site,
he is not in the same mood as when he is visiting his insurance company’s site. On the former, he is in a mode
of content consumption and browsing for new information, while on the latter he is potentially in a mode to compare
prices or make a purchase. Showing him the exact same ads on both sites only because his cookie is still active
simply doesn’t work.
In the world of programmatic buying, publisher sites have completely lost their unique identity; advertisers on the other hand are buying specific users and finding them where they cost the least. The end result is unfortunate; premium publisher sites are losing their unique selling point edge and are not being properly rewarded for their site’s brand and the added value it gives their advertisers.
Over the past two years, we have devoted a big chunk of our time and resources to create an ad platform that is flexible enough to create a very different solution for each partner based on their identity and needs. We’ve incorporated many new types of native and customized ad units that can be easily tweaked to fit different types of sites and user experiences.
According to recent research, standard display ad CTR's (even the fancy dynamic ones, delivered after
millions of real time calculations) hover around 0.2-0.3%. After serving more than 200 Billion of our own
native ads, we clearly see that the average CTR of these type of ads ranges between 1%-2%, almost 10 times more
than the standard display ads, which of course eventually creates a significantly higher CPM for our publishers.
Given the above comparison, why do most companies still cling to standard ad units? The answer in my eyes is actually quite obvious - they are afraid of low inventory and the challenge of scaling customized units. The biggest advantage of working only with IAB standard ads is the assurance of maximum fill rateby using unlimited advertising feeds. Our philosophy on this is very clear. High quality premium publisher sites should be serving native, content-driven effective ad units and we have created a platform which makes this very straighforward and, more importantly, easy to scale.
In the rapid race for better tracking and targeting technology, most companies seem to have overlooked the
tremendous importance of an innovate product design and effective UI and UX.
Most ad platforms today require you to have at the very least a PhD in order to operate them, plus at least two full-time people and several additional external tools to properly optimize the platform’s results.
Just like in performing arts, even when you are doing something which is really really hard, the key is to make it look like it is actually very easy… and this is what
we aim to do.
I have no doubt that the online advertising industry will soon come to a point of realization that in order to show real innovation, not everything can be normalized to the lowest common denominator across the industry. Even after serving many billions of impressions ourselves, we still feel like we are still just scratching the surface.
Native ad units can only be created after a process of learning the user flow in every site, and creating specific units to fit this behavior.