The Value of Contextual Targeting – Q&A with Yieldmo’s Chris Bolte

Industry veteran Chris Bolte of Yieldmo sits down with us to discuss our cookieless future and the value provided by contextual targeting.

By R. Larsson, Advertising Week

Q: You have worked at a variety of different companies, from the performance marketing side at Overture, to the publisher side at Yahoo, to the client-side @WalMartLabs. What attracted you to Yieldmo?

I have always been attracted to companies that are solving big problems and have the technical talent to develop the solutions to help solve those problems. From my vantage point, Yieldmo has some of the most talented, experienced technology and product minds in the industry.    In addition, the company’s solutions are built with the future of advertising in mind, powered by forward-thinking machine learning and data science, making this an  exciting journey to be part of.

The problem and opportunity that the team is focused on addressing is the biggest challenge digital publishers and advertisers face today: enabling effective advertising in a cookieless world. This is not something that can be solved with light tech. To give you a peek behind the Yieldmo curtain, we are building machine learning-based consumer targeting techniques, layers of algorithms designed to optimize advertising performance, as well as new advertising formats that contribute to significant performance improvements. All of these elements work in tandem to deliver the results to publishers and advertisers that in many cases, are equal to or even better than the cookie solutions.

Q: Cookies loom large on the mind of every advertiser. Are they doing enough to prepare as the deprecation deadline inches closer?

Broadly, everyone is keeping an eye on cookieless solutions. At the strategic level, people know that their business will be changing and are beginning to explore solutions, but on the tactical, execution level, we’re not seeing much change day-to-day.

It is not surprising that many advertisers are not rushing to embrace cookieless solutions – they have made significant investments on the back of the cookie: from people, systems, platforms, and partnerships. They have deep muscle memory around cookied advertising.  And… they can still use cookies in their advertising efforts, so why change? Why all the fuss?

It’s not ‘if’ the cookie is going away, but ‘WHEN’.

Today, Yieldmo sees over 50% of the advertising impressions coming through its exchange without a cookie. This number continues to climb every day and when Google finally does decide to terminate the cookie (projected 2023), the percentage of cookieless inventory will be sub 10%.

Further, the price of cookied inventory is climbing as advertisers all bid on an ever-shrinking supply. For some advertisers today, the price of cookied inventory is already breaking their price-to-value calculations. As cookied supply continues to shrink, more and more advertisers will find themselves upside down in their price-to-value calculations.

For a point of perspective, Cookieless inventory (main iOS & safari), is approximately one-third of the cost of cookied inventory. The amount of cookieless supply, coupled with the current price efficiency represents a huge opportunity for advertisers that are early adopters of cookieless advertising.

Q: What solutions to the loss of the cookie do you see as being the most effective?

First off, we are advising marketers to continue leveraging cookied advertising programs,   while at the same time testing cookieless solutions, to learn how to effectively advertise in a cookieless environment.

Different ‘ID-based’ solutions are having varying degrees of success though some would say that ID-based solutions could be short-lived as they will likely eventually encounter the same privacy concerns that caused regulators to bring the hammer down on cookies in the first place. First-party data solutions are also interesting and effective, yet many advertisers lack the scale of first-party data for it to be a strategy that can really scale.

For us, while we support cookied programs, as well as first-party data programs, we are focused on non-ID-based solutions that can deliver superior performance at a high scale.

While contextual targeting has been around for a couple of decades, the approaches to it have remained quite basic. Now, thanks to the evolution of machine learning and data science in the last few years, contextual targeting has become far more powerful and effective in its ability to reach targeted consumers. Yieldmo’s contextual targeting solution analyses hundreds of different data points on each page and on every user interaction on that page (situational, environmental, contextual, and attention) to enable advertisers to generate effective advertising campaigns. Further, Yieldmo’s unique and proprietary advertising formats accelerate performance ever further.

Q: What do advertisers and marketers need to do moving forward?

Now is the time for action. Begin testing different solutions that do not rely on identified users and develop effective strategies that can deliver performance and scale.

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