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Irfon Watkins of Coull: why content consumption is the key to making programmatic trading work

I’m seeing this – why?

Today’s digital advertising models are failing to serve users in any sort of a valuable way and the result is increasing consumer apathy.

Advertising needs to be personalised and relevant, in order to capture a user’s imagination, generate crucial audience engagement and foster greater ROI.

Close to 80 per cent of US-based consumers say the last ad they saw wasn’t relevant to them, according to an Infolinks study analysing banner blindness among all genders, ages, income and education levels.

What’s more, only 2.8 per cent of those surveyed said they found the ads they saw useful.

youtube-mobile-ads-310x252As an industry, we are doing a terrible job of delivering appropriate advertising to consumers. This has resulted in the Skip Now generation on YouTube (left) and the increasing popularity of plugins like Adblock, which blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads, even on social media sites like Facebook.

Adblocking has crossed over from the early adopters and tech enthusiasts into mainstream audiences. The number of internet users installing ad-blocking software rose by 69 per cent between September 2013 and September 2014, according to a report produced by PageFair and Adobe.

41 per cent of American internet users aged between 18 and 29 use ad-blocking software and this is exactly the demographic that advertisers are often targeting.

A thriving digital economy hinges on a value exchange between users, publishers and advertisers. Content and platforms are free, but in order for them to remain that way, they must be supported by advertising.

However, currently, users expect free access to content and platforms, but are increasingly switching off from advertising. This means that advertisers see less value and so therefore do publishers, which in turn affects their ability to produce the content users want to access.

The rise of programmatic trading – automating the process of buying and selling digital media and advertising by using software instead of people – is helping marketers to target users better with their advertising and to achieve that at scale.

Advertising delivered via programmatic uses a wealth of data from multiple sources to inform ad buys, increasing effectiveness for advertisers and raising the value of publisher inventory.

The vast majority of the data fed into the programmatic marketplace features information about the user who is available to be served an ad, such as age, gender, location, which helps advertisers decide whether to target them or not.

The data that’s not currently being supplied to the marketplace is information about the content a user is accessing when they are about to be served an ad. Accessing this content-level data gives brands the means to deliver an ad that’s not only relevant to a particular user, but also to the content experience they’re having. This is what we’re striving to provide at Coull.

Supplying advertising that’s appropriate for the content a user is consuming adds value to their online experience rather than proving a nuisance. Relevance leads to an improved user experience, which in turn benefits the content producer. It’s win-win.

Coull_Irfon_Watkins_3000Irfon Watkins is CEO of interactive video platform Coull.

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