Focus on the Audience

Or, How the IAB’s view of the advertising landscape leaves out the most important force in media & marketing: People

A blog post by Rich Sobel, Director of Product Marketing & Platform Strategy, PubMatic

As usual, the annual IAB meeting brought out the luminaries of publishing (and yes, there are more “rising stars,” this time for digital video) an update on viewability, big data vs. creative, lively discussions on native ads and the future of display.  For me, the biggest introduction was IAB’s updated view of the online advertising eco-system (, a much simplified version of the fabled LUMA-scape of Terence Kawaja.

The IAB has long complained, rightly, about the need for clearer value propositions for ad technology companies and I applaud their efforts to move from a messy, logo-ridden process flow to a more holistic vision.  It’s elegant, it’s aesthetic!  My gut reaction is that they missed something: people.  They’ve chosen brands as the central force.  So, yes, Randy, you’ve left out the human side of advertising.

While brands power media spending, the core is always the consumer.  Everything starts with a relationship. That relationship between the brand and the people who choose to engage with the brand (either through content or purchase activity) is paramount.  Content’s engagement with a consumer, and the entire audience created, is both the driver and the pinnacle of everything the content creator’s business is based on.

In our media ecosystem, with that human-centric core, everything comes down to data.

Data may have gotten big and can be valued in bits and bytes, but in the end, all data does is tell us something about people: how they engage and interact with media, and develop intent to take action in their lives.  Engagement, interaction, and intent are the foundational elements of understanding and responding to an audience.  That goes for both publishers and advertisers.  Data, used in the right way, is about making it all more personal:  the experience of media and the experience of advertising.  Publishers use data to inform their user experience and drive a more engaging and content-rich relationship with their audience, and advertising brands use data to develop products and drive consumer relationship with those products.   Retargeting is a straightforward example of a brand deploying data to re-engage people who have shown intent and offer them something of value.

Data provides the “why” in what we in advertising do as a business, and the relationship with the consumer is a value exchange.  In return for content and products, people provide data that indicates their engagement with that content and products.  The core value proposition of ad technology companies is to take the knowledge gained from the experience of a consumer and improve the next point of engagement.

Ad technology platforms, like PubMatic, provide the “how” to take data and apply it to make advertising more personal on a publisher’s media property.  A Private Marketplace allows publishers to apply their audience data in a direct sales environment without risking the open market commoditization of their data, and leverage the power of their audience relationship, blending the premium and programmatic sales channels without conflict.  It’s only one of the paths forward we see in a simplified ecosystem where people and their experiences with brands (both publishing and advertising) are increasingly personal, relevant and positive.  

As we attempt to explain the business we are in, we cannot forget that everything begins and ends with a consumer relationship.  We should be more focused on defining the problems we face and the solutions we provide than with creating a chart.  Let’s solve our customers’ problems and drive great experiences.


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About pubmaticblog

PubMatic gives premium publishers a real-time media selling platform for managing revenue and brand strategy. PubMatic’s platform combines real-time bidding (RTB), the most comprehensive brand protection tools, unified optimization and audience insights as well as hands-on support to serve the world’s leading publishers. PubMatic is privately held, backed by funding from August Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Nexus Venture Partners, and Helion Ventures, and has offices around the world in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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