Advertising should be simple, but often we get caught up in the acronyms and marketing-speak, from CPA to CTR to ROAS. We’re excited to introduce Quantcast Academy, a free certification program that breaks advertising down into snackable bits to help you learn the language, tools, and processes involved in digital advertising–so you can get simply smarter. 

Here are four tips to get you started:

  1. Digital advertising should be easy and approachable

If we cut through the buzzword bingo, digital advertising was born out of real-time bidding–the auction process by which digital advertising inventory is bought and sold. As with any auction:

  • The item (banner inventory on websites) is presented (as a bid request)
  • You have a moment to decide if you want it (based on data)
  • If you want the item, you name your bid price
  • You are told if you “won” the item, based on the price you named
  • If you are successful, an ad is then served

Now imagine that process, but faster than humans could decide. In real-time bidding, in the milliseconds it takes for a website load, an auction is taking place in the background.Core to it all is data and infrastructure. Now this is where I can throw out a bunch of acronyms that make up the ad tech ecosystem–Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), Data Management Platforms (DMPs), and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs)–but in their simplest terms, these are just ways to pair rich audience data with publisher inventory. These ad tech providers are the back-end players that allow for the technology, tools, and automation it’s-math-not-magic to happen. 

To gain more insight into the advertising ecosystem, take our Quantcast Academy Digital Advertising course

  1. Make the strategic shift from media planning to audience planning

Media planning is part of the old way of thinking–getting sucked into processes, specific KPIs, and tactics so much that you lose sight of the overall business. To understand what we mean tangibly: typically, media planners start by thinking “who is my audience?” To action on their audience strategies, they send a Request for Proposal (RFP) out to publishers and partners that they think will hit the desired audiences, negotiate and run media with their chosen partners, and leverage data to measure and validate whether they hit their intended audience.

But there are two main issues with this process: 

  1. These steps are disconnected because they use a variety of tools that don’t necessarily talk or translate to each other.
  2. This is a linear process that media planners are not actively learning from. There is no mid-campaign feedback loop.

What if we could rebuild programmatic advertising from scratch and make it a learning loop, i.e., adding innovation at the end to constantly learn and iterate? Media planners and buyers would be more confident in what their audience looked like, what kind of things they did online, what media they consumed, and who interacted with their ad and converted. They would be able to experiment and run test campaigns based on insights. Everyone would speak the same language, tying directly to business impact. Core to this mental shift from media planning to audience planning is understanding that who your audiences are drives superior business outcomes. 

  1. Measurement aligned with customers, not conversions

Measurement is supposed to be hard. It’s the fundamental challenge in marketing and it sets the literal bar, and hence the incentives, for the trillions of dollars that are spent every year. While we can’t distill campaign performance down to a single quantifiable metric, there are informed choices you can make. 

Good measurement starts with:

  • Admitting that one metric doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s about using a combination of metrics along with a gut check.
  • Weighing the pros and cons of different approaches and establishing clear methods to reduce bias.
  • Making decisions knowing that the measurements you choose to use set the tone and the incentive for your marketing strategy. Only if those incentives truly align with the outcomes you’re looking to achieve will you drive optimal business outcomes.
  1. Lean into the efficiency of automation and platform tools

We spend too much time looking at spreadsheets, making manual optimizations, manipulating data, and trying to bring together disparate tools. Ad tech is moving away from these manual levers so that humans can get back to creativity and innovation. The future is automation and platform tools. 

The Quantcast Platform was designed from inception to unify planning, activation, and measurement and put audiences at the very center. The same data and audiences as practitioners use in planning are used in activation, creating audience fidelity across workflows and giving practitioners the confidence that their planning and campaign  strategy was faithfully executed in activation. It also allows for effective collaboration across large teams. Take our Quantcast Academy Platform course to make you a platform expert within your organization and take your career to the next level. 

Get simply smarter

If you enjoyed those tips and want to dive deeper, we encourage you to sign up for Quantcast Academy. Through our Digital Advertising and Quantcast Platform courses with content modules specifically designed around these topics, we give you a career-advancing understanding of the digital advertising ecosystem, strategic media planning shift, smarter measurement, and more efficient platform tools. Get certified today!