Phil Macauley Talks Analytics, Data Strategy And How Quantcast Is Helping European Publishers And Advertisers

With the upcoming Data Economy conference only a matter of weeks away (March 03), it’s only fitting that the first post of the year on ExchangeWire focuses on data. 2011 will be the year when the European buy-side and sell-side get smart about data in terms of leveraging it, managing it and valuing it. Quantcast is one of the key players in this space. And if you had the opportunity to see Konrad Feldman’s excellent presentation at the recent Ad Trading Summit you will know why the company is leading the charge in the data market. But what does it mean to be “quantified” and can a “lookalike” really help improve campaign performance. ExchangeWire recently caught up with Phil Macauley, Regional Managing Director, to get an overview of the Quantcast offering and how it is helping both European advertisers and publishers.

Can you give an overview of the Quantcast offering?

PM: Quantcast launched four years ago, and today our solution is deployed worldwide and is used by, and integrated with, leading marketers, agencies, trading desks, publishers, ad networks, DSPs, SSPs and Exchanges everywhere.

Quantcast is the ultimate application for significantly increasing performance of advertiser campaigns. It helps the real-time media world measure and reach audiences through the introduction of real-time machine learning technology, which is totally new and unique to this marketplace.

We provide two classes of solution: 1) Quantcast Measurement, which is free audience measurement and insights; and 2) Quantcast Audience, which is detailed audience targeting.

These serve the needs of advertisers, publishers and the many important supporting technologies and businesses in our ecosystem.

Tell me more about Quantcast Measurement?

PM: Quantcast Measurement (QM) is the world’s favourite audience measurement solution. Based on Quantcast’s pioneering direct measurement approach (Vs traditional panel based method), QM combines machine learning with massive quantities of data to provide detailed audience insights for publishers and marketers. Covering reach, traffic, frequency, demographics, interests/lifestyle, geography and even business characteristics of every audience measured, our solution delivers the richest set of audience data available for any site, subdomain, network (including syndicators), individual video, ad campaign, landing/conversion page and paid search.

Quantcast Measurement is used across millions of web destinations around the world, including hundreds of the world’s leading marketers properties and a who’s who of the world’s largest media companies. Including industry leaders as the BBC, NBC, Hulu, Fox, Time Inc., Washington Post, Huffington Post, Economist, IAC, LinkedIn, MTV Networks, Discovery, and WordPress.

Our measurement service is the only service to achieve media ratings council accreditation and that is free of charge. Why is it free of charge? We think that traditional audience measurement is the back bone to real-time targeting and this is what we charge for.

How does Quantcast Audience work?

PM: Quantcast Audience (QA) provides real-time targeting technology which is used by leading agencies, enabling platforms, marketers, publishers and ad networks in the US and UK.
Quantcast Audience can be used by media buyers or sellers to delilver their audiences in real-time and is made up of two key offerings:

1. Demographic Targeting which allows targeting according to demographic attributes, for example age, gender and income; and

2. Advertiser Lookalike Targeting which allows targeting defined by the attributes belonging to the advertiser’s best performing customers.

How does the Lookalike product perform so well? Quantcast employs an innovative method using machine learning techniques that process vast amounts of data, mathematical models and algorithms to understand the distinctive characteristics of an audience that is unique to a particular advertiser. We use this knowledge to create a targeting model (a “Quantcast Lookalike”) to ultimately instruct the ad-server to serve impressions to the selected users. In other words, we use the Quantcast Lookalike as a blueprint for the marketer’s best performing customers and by applying this model to the entire Internet population, every consumer can be scored for similarity to this model, i.e. the marketer’s best customers; the highest scoring group are selected and are used by the marketer to reach across the web. Quantcast’s technology considers over 300 billion new media consumption events every month, from well over 1 billion global Internet users (including virtually all users in the UK). So, we are in the prime position to consider specific audience(s).

Quantcast Lookalikes are also portable across different inventory sources and can be used to buy media from exchanges and SSPs, through trading desks and DSPs and can also be used to buy high performing audiences directly from publishers and ad networks.

How does it all this help advertisers and media buyers?

PM: This approach delivers exceptional performance and at scale. Quantcast Lookalikes consistently deliver performance for marketers in every vertical segment. Performance is not just about achieving the lowest cost; it is also about driving high volume of new business, consumer awareness and favourability (cut through) that will make a telling and tangible difference to the advertiser.

Every Quantcast Lookalike is unique to each advertiser’s customer set and only available for use by that advertiser and only Quantcast Lookalikes are portable, allowing their use across the publishers, ad networks and exchanges of their choice.

How does Quantcast work with publishers – and what are the benefits partnering with you?

PM: We make it easier for a publisher to win new business and ultimately increase demand for their inventory. Publishers are among the largest users of Quantcast Audience. With Quantcast integrated directly into their ad server and/or SSP, publishers use it to sell both demographic audience segments and to deliver bespoke Quantcast Lookalike audiences. Ultimately it is about being able to create audience packages that complement great content and allow the publisher to satisfy demand from a wider range of advertisers. Using Quantcast, leading publishers are greatly expanding their customer base and are making it easy for leading brands to reach the right audiences in premium environments.

Are there any success stories in Europe you can share?

PM: We are delighted at the reception received since our launch in Europe just a few months ago. We already work with every major agency group, the top leading independent agencies and the top-tier advertisers from every sector. Our solution is driving outstanding performance for advertisers. For one of our early advertisers (a motor retailer) we increased the conversion rate by 154%; for others we are driving higher volume, roughly 50% increase, at their current CPA target, and the response from the seller-side has been very strong. Ultimately, we measure our success on the re-booking levels that we and our publisher partners see, and right now we are very pleased with the take up!

Does Quantcast have enough penetration in the European market to make this “lookalike” data work?

PM: Absolutely. In terms of sheer data processing, the UK is our #2 market globally after the US.
We have terrific penetration in Europe’s major markets, as we do in most parts of the world.

Is the data market maturing now in Europe? How do you think it will develop over the coming twelve months?

PM: It is a little early to talk about maturing in a market that is still growing and we are excited to be involved in driving forward the development of this market.

Over the coming 12 months, the market will continue to learn and evolve the most effective ways of utilizing data to reach the right audiences and achieve high performance results. In tandem we will see a renewed focus by thought leading agencies and marketers relating to campaign success and attribution. It is accepted that measuring success based on the last ad or click before an acquisition can be misleading and today it is leading to the wrong sort of tactics, for example, increasing the frequency against small retargeting pools, rather than trying to find new customers to fill the funnel.

A recent ExchangeWire post, “Spray and Pray”, on cookie-bombing suggests little has changed in the European display space – despite all the perceived innovation in ad tech. Is this something Quantcast is presently seeing in the European market?

PM: This article talks about how both networks and trading desks are entirely focused on winning the last cookie and that the benefits of operating in real-time to increase campaign performance are currently being hindered by this approach, so calls for the industry to find a solution.

We totally agree with the author’s point of view that employing last ad seen tactics are predominantly being used today, and I believe that these tactics are being used specifically because of the imposition of the current success criteria (attribution model).

We think 2011 is going to be the year that the “last ad seen” methodology is seriously challenged, and are already hearing advertisers ask a lot of questions about this topic. Things will begin to move towards more grounded success criteria and advancements in technology are starting to enable this. These more grounded success criteria will employ communication strategies and tactics used in other media. I.e. reaching the right number of the right audience with an effective frequency in order to engage and drive the audience down the conversion funnel.

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