If you’re not yet familiar with programmatic advertising and what it’s all about then don’t worry too much, you’ll be hearing a lot more about it during the rest of 2016.
Briefly, programmatic advertising is automated ad-buying across numerous digital advertising channels.
We’ve all heard about the “science” of advertising with Facebook – where targeting 25-year-old fans of ice cream in East Timor who are single and speak more than 2 languages, for example, is apparently a piece of cake, but if you prefer your ad buying agencies a little smaller and more dedicated to your needs, say a fellow startup like yourself, then you might want to think about signing up for Match2One’s beta service.
The startup raised $260k in May, from the likes of Bo Mattson, founder of Cint, a software development company which recently exited to Nordic Capital for over £100m, Nepa founder Ulrich Boyer and Fredrik Månsson, founder of Emric and Hyper Island, to develop its AI and machine learning capabilities and help companies reduce their reliance on the human decision making element in the digital ad buying process by automating it through software.
Match2One’s CEO Mikael Kreuger says “the rapidly growing area of programmatic is shifting the digital landscape and cannot be ignored”; he’s right – according to emarketer, programmatic ad-buying is set to make up as much as $14.88 billion of the $58.6 billion digital advertisers will spend this year – up $5 billion from last year’s figure of $9.9 billion.
The beauty of a service like Match2One, say its founders, lies in its ability to help identify the “perfect next customer” by evaluating the success of campaigns in real time and making adjustments to ensure the right audience demographic is being reached at the right place, with the right message – at the lowest price available.
Says Kreuger; “using programmatic, brands can connect the dots between content audiences and media buying to ensure they reach their target audience based on their likes, preferences and behaviours right here, right now; businesses that implement these practices will have a competitive edge and can build lasting conversations with their fragmented audiences while creating new revenue opportunities.”
“This is a hugely powerful asset for brands, especially within e-commerce”, he adds.
The startup takes first party data, e.g. website, mobile app, proprietary social media, and adds third party data e.g. data from social media sites and platforms, and processes it at high speed using machine learning and algorithmic techniques to make the advertiser’s job easier, and cheaper; firstly because there is no need for a human being to make decisions once they have identified their audience and set their goals and secondly because the automation includes negotiating the cheapest prices possible at all times.
Match2One also automates the complex parts of planning a campaign so a client can get up and running in a few easy steps, and then try to discover behavioural patterns in order to work out who to target next and where the next ad should appear.
The platform also provides reporting and analytics which the client can analyse themselves to help understand their customers better, and schedule those reports to be delivered by email as a PDF, if they want.
Programmatic advertising began by providing “real time bidding” services, which is the difference between being able to buy blocks of ads which are shown to whichever user happens to visit a particular site irrespective of demographic, and being able to bid for the right, against other advertisers, to show an ad to a particular user that is of more value to the advertiser. This effectively means 2 different users visiting the same site at the same time may be shown different ads – the ones which are, in theory, most relevant to them.
Programmatic also allows advertisers to pursue their target audience across different channels and devices, and is even now being used in TV ad buying, so a person may watch an ad on television, then see it again, in different form, on their tablet device or desktop when they switch devices. Mobile is the toughest nut to crack for the digital advertiser, where cookies are least effective and users are harder to identify.
There is of course a danger that poorly put together programmatic ad platforms get things wrong and send out the wrong message at the wrong times to the wrong users, and the service has been found susceptible to certain kinds of fraud, for example a practice known as “URL masking”, where a publisher simply pretends they are another, completely different website that has more clout with advertisers.
That’s where platforms like Match2One, with cash to spend on development, have the opportunity to enhance programmatic advertising’s reputation, by providing extra levels of granularity and giving users options, for example to buy only ads performing in the top 10% of view duration, and such like.
If it’s done correctly, programmatic in theory should be able to beat human curation every time, just as trading algorithms have done in investment banks, where traders increasingly monitor output and let computers make their buying and selling decisions for them.
Match2One say they are breaking down the high barriers to entry that prevent smaller companies from entering the programmatic market, and streamlining the process and making it easier to use and interpret, with rich data and a more personalised, dedicated service.
The company, which currently has 8 staff, has offices in Stockholm, London and Kiev, and boasts plenty of experience, including CTO Michael Dewhirst, who has worked at M&C Saatchi and Adstream, has founded several of his own digital agencies and sits on the board of K1t capital.
Match2One has access to major platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft Ad Exchange and AOL.