Advertising Loading... is getting faster, more efficient and targeted. In the age of real-time bidding (RTB). Ad buyers can now pay just to reach people would be interested in their campaigns at that particular moment (here's a handy 30 second guide to RTB for the uninitiated).
In the last six months we've seen a real influx of US adtech companies setting up offices in the UK and Europe, hoping to attain global traction with media owners and agencies. We've recently interviewed Google-owned Admeld, App Nexus and tackled the confusion and expectations of the sector.
The sector's latest company to set up here is Turn, a data-led demand-side platform (DSP) whose technology makes 500,000 decisions a second on which ads to serve where It's used by big name agencies in the US to make ad buying more efficient. The company has more than 150 staff in the US, has rasied $50 million in funding and already has an office in Amsterdam with other European satellite offices coming soon.
Turn is extending existing relationships with WPP, Aegis, IPG and others in Europe with a new shiny London office (which at the moment doesn't have many people in it), meeting what it calls a growing demand for adtech products.
I met with CEO Bill Demas to see where Turn fall on the hype vs genuine contender chart.
TheMediaBriefing: Can you describe what Turn is?
Bill Demas: We are a cloud-based platform and in the US and increasingly in Europe we're the cloud marketing platform of choice for advertising agency folks as well as enterprise marketers. We focus on two goals and keep it simple: media buying and optimisation and digital where the end goal is to make the marketer make better decisions, get better ROI on their campaigns.
When Turn first started a lot of the emphasis was on bringing the efficiencies of search to display and the advent of real-time bidding (RTB) and first, third-party data that's become a lot easier. The other thing we do is data warehousing which enables you to better target your audiences and do it in real-time. Since the goal of marketing is to connect brands and audiences, we're able to do that and expand that.
There's still some reticence from agencies and media owners right now to get involved with the RTB - is there an ROI to be gained from day one?
There's a definite ROI. The goal is that as you invest in advertising, that translates into the measurement (growth) for your brand or actions, if it's a more direct response campaign.
We've definitely run campaigns where we've been given unlimited budgets (from advertisers), where as long as you can reach these targets and goals, we'll let you spend as much as you want. As long as you keep finding users that are going to convert, we'll keep paying and that's really helped us grow.
Can you explain how you use data to target users differently to others? And what about people worried about data ownership?
Here's an example of how it's used ineffectively by some: if you have a retail shop, you have shoppers that are going into your stores and they're the same people who are shopping online. Yet is there some sort of anonymous user profile to say 'who is this individual?', is there stitching going on?
On ownership, it's never our data. We aew using data on behalf of our clients. Turn really is just a technology provider for agencies and direct clients.
What is a premium publisher to you?
I'm not sure I'd look at it that way. Is it a premium publisher or is it premium content, because all publishers... are capable of publishing premium content.
Most publishers have some level of premium content, which I would define as something they'd would put attention to direct sales on, then there's the classic ad exchange content and then what we're seeing the US is semi-premium content which is going through ad exchanges.
It's not a bifurcated world of premium or not, it's a blend of greys. Sometimes there might be $0.10 bids, sometimes there might be $5 bids.
So you don't really mind where an ad is placed as long as it's relevant?
Not only that, there's a temporal component. If you're looking for a golf Loading... club and we know you as an anonymous profile on the system, you may be on the golf site with maybe average content but that content at that moment in time is very valuable whereas the next day it's worth nothing to us. Timing means everything.
(He gestures to a Turn software client whirring away, showing live bids on impressions at $2.83, £2.81, $3.48...) These are real winning bids for this fashion advertiser. These are not what I'd call low inventory bids. If we were doing this a year ago or so in the US you might see an average median price might be $0.50.
We're making 500,000 decisions a second on whether to serve an ad to the dozens of ad exchanges we're connected to, based on thousands of criteria. The IT and data nature of what we do is really what we're about.
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