Scale & Targeting on the Open Web: Interview with Rafael Amieva, Outbrain


In association with Outbrain.

In this exclusive interview on the eve of ATS Madrid 2023, ExchangeWire speaks to Rafael Amieva, general manager, Spain, Outbrain, on how marketers can maximise scale and privacy-conscious targeting capabilities following the deprecation of the third-party cookie.

What options are available to marketers on the open web for scaled advertising campaigns following the deprecation of third-party cookies?

The open web is a great opportunity for marketers and the deprecation of third-party cookies should not be considered a limitation to a campaign’s scalability.

Advertisers can truly overcome their heavy reliance on third-party cookies while providing results that matter to them. Contextual targeting has progressed considerably and is now not only based on the content of the article page, but also more advanced signals, such as weather or census data. At Outbrain, we leverage these advanced signals, and through AI tools we are able to better predict performance.

Additionally, interest targeting includes the usage of proprietary interest profiles to serve campaigns based on proven interests and at optimum moments of relevance. We have more than 15 years of insights and learnings generated through continuously optimising our Interest Graph, which doesn’t rely on cross-site profiles, rather it is based on reading habits across individual publishers, meaning it is a future-proof targeting solution.

Rafael Amieva, general manager, Spain, Outbrain

Additional capabilities available to marketers include AI-powered bidding strategies, which consist of campaign performance optimisation solutions which utilises artificial intelligence to automatically adjust the marketers’ bids according to a specific goal. Furthermore, AI predictive deals can be used to maximise programmatic campaign performance.

Similarly, how can advertisers maximise the effectiveness of their campaigns on mobile, eg for app installs, in the wake of the rollout of Apple’s anti-tracking protections?

Despite changes by Apple, advertisers have a number of technological solutions to maximise the effectiveness of their mobile campaigns such as contextual targeting, interest targeting, and the use of AI tools, such as intelligent automated bidding strategies. This means readers benefit from tailored experiences without compromising their privacy, and brands achieve real results in the open web.

It is important for app marketers to adjust how they measure performance moving forward, without reliance on personal identifiers and fingerprinting. Tools like target CPA and target ROAS to ensure advertisers can continue to reach marketers’ app-focused goals. In addition, we are growing our volume of in-app inventory and want to ensure we support methods for attribution between apps as much as possible. In the wake of Apple’s anti-tracking changes, it’s important to work with partners who have adopted Apple’s SKAdNetwork to view Apple’s conversion data.

What are the current targeting capabilities of contextual advertising solutions? How are these set to evolve going forward?

Contextual advertising is becoming increasingly popular due to concerns over privacy and data collection and the iminent deprecation of cookies by major tech platforms. In its revival, contextual targeting has evolved to become a richer, more dynamic, and measurable approach.  On top of this, we now have the option of leveraging AI and improved machine learning to deeper understand the meaning of text and predict the most contextually relevant ad/article combinations. As this technology continues to advance, we expect these targeting capabilities to become increasingly sophisticated and less reliant on manual optimisation. Algorithms that can conduct more granular content analysis, including audio and video content will accurately predict which ads are most likely to be effective and serve highly relevant ads without compromising on privacy.

How is the role of advertising within the open web set to evolve in the wake of anticompetition regulation designed to curb the dominance of large walled gardens?

Competition is vital for a healthy digital advertising ecosystem. Current regulations aim to increase competition in our industry by making it easier for smaller players to compete with the large tech companies, which should lead to a more diverse and innovative digital advertising landscape. This should grow and sustain the future of advertising on the open web. We believe that advertisers will increasingly diversify their media plans and balance their investment in the walled gardens with greater emphasis on open web inventory. This will help support the publishing industry who invest heavily in producing high-quality content users know, trust and love.

Nonetheless, the walled gardens will continue to be important for advertisers and we will likely see them become more open and work more closely with the industry as a whole. This could lead to the development of new industry standards that allow advertisers to access and measure their campaigns across multiple platforms more easily, rather than in silos. The evolution of advertising on the open web in the wake of anticompetition regulation will, however, depend on how these regulations are implemented and enforced.

How can native advertising campaigns be advantageous to marketers following identifier deprecation, from both branding and performance perspectives? 

Thanks to more sophisticated contextual capabilities, native advertising can drive greater user relevance which will naturally lead to higher engagement and help build positive brand association. Research has shown that non-intrusive native forms of advertising resonate better with targeted audiences which establishes trust, builds brand awareness, and drives increased performance for advertisers.

From a branding perspective, the presence of native advertising on a vast network of premium publishers means marketers can choose premium content environments across the open web with the necessary impact and scale to deliver campaign results, without the need of identifiers. From a performance perspective, the ability to deliver a range of rich and engaging creatives in a cost-effective way makes native an essential medium for all advertisers regardless of their objectives.

ATS Madrid 2023 will be held on May 9th at Teatro Amaya. Tickets and further information are available via the ATS Madrid 2023 event portal.