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Building Effective Reach Through Programmatic Media Buying

JedBregerWhat is Effective Reach? A: Percentage of targeted-audience that is exposed to a particular ad during a specific period, to effect (brand awareness and) the purchase of a product or service. (Source: BusinessDictionary.com)

The answer to the question “why do you want to work in media research” was the one that landed me my first job in advertising, as a media research analyst. My answer: “I know that advertising works. I only want to understand why and how”. Effective reach was an early lesson as Marc Green, my media research director began to teach me how advertising works. I observed that when media (traditional) planners present reach, they are presenting effective reach. I asked why and I was sent to the ARF library to read about the 30 or 40 years of research around the subject of Reach and effective reach/frequency. At the time, I was responsible for maintaining the media research library, software and systems and I learned how important reach and frequency is to the media planning teams and the overall media planning workflow.

A few years later I entered interactive (new) media planning and before I departed I asked Marc his thoughts and he said “media research will always be here if you decide to come back.” But, I never really left since data, research and analytics was always the cornerstone of my work on every client engagement for my years in Digital Media.

A media research frame of mind has always been built into my media planning and I noticed there was always a divergence between the traditional plans that I saw early in my career between JMCT and MVBMS traditional plans and my digital plans. When you presented reach on a television or print plan, you presented Effective Reach (ER). You presented ER because of the many years of media research that showed you need to reach a consumer 3 or 4+ times, (depending on medium, client, campaign and ad unit) to shift the needle in awareness or sales or your KPI. Then the internet came and media planners forgot about ER.

There are two data points that most Interactive Media plans have seen over the last 20 years:

  • Practically all campaigns over 100MM impressions, you will see that the ER (3-8) is between 14-20%, 28% at best. The only exceptions I have seen are when a brand buys a “netflix level of omnipresence” or when a client buys a campaign against a very small target, surround session or an immersive content sponsorship deal.
  • Every Dynamic Logic, Insight Express, etc study shows that there is a number where effective reach happens. I have seen anywhere from 3-8, but never less than 3 in dozens of studies.

The programmatic Effective Reach project started when I was working with a DSP on a large corporate client and we were trying to craft a media plan like traditional plans were done for the 30 years preceding Digital Media. My goal was to reach 65% ER in a Digital plan.

The campaign was targeting Business Executives and we were buying contextually and behaviorally using 3rd party data. The campaign was designed as 2 months with ~40MM impressions, Goal was max reach, with effective reach (4+) of 65%+.

The solution came in a two part equation. (i) Bid higher for 2nd 3rd, etc.  Frequency and (ii) close the cookie pool after you achieve desired reach you want to build frequency against the target audience.

We started with Part 1, bidding higher for each additional frequency level. In a short period, it was going in the right direction, as ER was at 20% early in the campaign and then ~40% several weeks later. But, then we stalled, which is when the idea for a methodology “tweak” was suggested – Closing the cookie pool.

The pool opens by launching a campaign and building reach. At day 6 or 7+, you close the cookie pool and do not serve any more impressions to new cookies. You only serve impressions to those cookies (users) you reached in days 1-7, which provides frequency to the target audience.  Your RTB purchasing criteria are now limited to your existing pool of users who have been served an ad previously. You can re-open the pool at any time to build additional reach. Closing a cookie pool will cap your reach.

The combined tactics of increasing bid by frequency were keys to success, as several few weeks later the campaign reached ~ 71% ER. Shortly thereafter due to a change in digital creative, the campaign was terminated.

Effective Reach should be common practice for all brand and direct marketers in programmatic Media to achieve significant effective reach percentage to best meet client branding and sales goals.

XES Trading was launched by Jed Breger in May 2014. Before entering programmatic trading, Mr. Breger had been working in Interactive Media since 1993, with client spending of $500MM across 30+ categories including clients such as NSI, Intel, GE and zinio. He started his career in media research and analytics. Research and testing has always been a core in his media planning. 

XES Trading offers trading desk and consulting services for clients. We have licensed with the largest global DSP/SSP and have a full suite of targeting capabilities and data partners.

  • http://www.tv-thenextgeneration.com John Osborn

    Thanks Jed – a stimulating and even somewhat surprising (despite its logic) way of looking at managing programmatic buys.

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