At last week’s Virtual NOVA events, I was thrilled to unveil the culmination of a three-and-a-half-year journey: the Quantcast Platform. This new and innovative intelligent audience platform for AI-driven audience planning, campaign activation, and measurement, started out as a simple idea: to make open internet advertising as easy to use and effective as the walled gardens. Getting to this point has taken a lot of talented people, relentless focus and belief in our vision, but I’m proud to announce to the world that we can now put these amazing capabilities in the hands of brands, agencies, and publishers.
In the words of Roy Amara, great technology makes “simple things simple, and complex things possible.” When we started this journey, I used the phrase “as simple as social and as effective as search” to articulate our vision both internally and with some of our early adopter customers. This is not because I believe that open web advertising should be used in the same way as social or search, but to recognize that the tools practitioners had access to in the walled gardens were intuitive, accurate, and effective. The open web needed the same – a platform that makes simple things simple and complex things possible.
It All Starts With People
Taking on one of the biggest challenges in the world requires leveraging some of the best talent in the world. We built our engineering centers in the locations that have been attracting the best engineering talent in the world for decades: San Francisco, London, and Seattle. Our product and engineering teams (as well as our wonderful product designers, modelling scientists, data scientists, and many more specialists) have been running towards hard (sometimes seemingly impossible) problems with passion, dedication, and tenacity for the last three and a half years to develop the platform needed to level the playing field for the open internet
While we are certainly not “done,” I would like to thank the hundreds of incredibly talented individuals who have dedicated their work life to this vision, developing our incredible platform (and also generating over 100 patents). I’d also like to thank the customers who have provided invaluable and honest feedback throughout this journey; we could not have developed our platform without your support and guidance (and please keep it coming)!
Then Comes the Data
Data is at the heart of making smarter advertising decisions. We’re very privileged to work with one of the largest real-time data sets on the open internet, powered by over 100 million web and mobile destinations. While data on its own is not enough, it is a necessary foundation to rival closed ecosystems like the walled gardens when it comes to understanding, reaching, and influencing audiences.
When we talk about data, we don’t mean “segments.” We mean huge real-time data streams: observations about the real world that are directly collected and immediately available. The data we have access to is raw, messy, diverse, and noisy – each datapoint by itself is usually completely meaningless, yet without data we are blind!
This Is Where Machine Learning Comes In
To make sense of the internet at scale and in real time, we have built technology that scans the internet to understand the topics and meanings of the content consumers browse, media models to predict things like brand suitability and viewability, and campaign-specific models to predict outcomes – all used in real time, so that we can act in the moment.
The fundamental technology that makes all of this possible is machine learning – making sense of data, finding patterns, and making predictions – which ultimately leads to smart decision-making. Ara®, Quantcast’s AI and machine learning engine, is the product of these efforts and enables brands, agencies, and publishers to know and grow their audiences, maximize outcomes, and grow revenues across the advertising ecosystem.
I am often asked questions like: “Is contextual targeting as good as behavioral targeting?” My response is always: “Why are you picking one?” A huge advantage of applying technologies like Ara to decision-making is that you don’t have to reduce the value of an impression to the limited dimensions a human can reasonably control (such as an allow list, some segments, and a few bid factors). All signals can be used, and systems can auto-adapt to the dynamic world around them
Solutions for a Post-Cookie World
We can’t really discuss data in 2021 without talking about the demise of third-party cookies. We’re very fortunate to have been in the advertising ecosystem for well over a decade, adapting quickly as needed. From our point of view, the deprecation of third-party cookies is not new; with the changes to the Safari browser, they have been going away for years. We built this platform from the ground up to withstand that demise, putting consumer privacy, transparency, and trust at the forefront of our identity solutions. It meant we had to forego third-party data because we couldn’t trust that it would be there in two years. This foresight allows the Quantcast Platform to seamlessly connect planning, activation, and measurement into a single platform, so that marketers don’t have to worry about how their data gets from one system to the next; they can concentrate, instead, on their marketing strategy.
We have also been developing technologies to enable our customers to understand the effectiveness of their advertising in environments without third-party cookies (like the majority of Safari traffic today). If you want to know how the whole internet will look in a couple of years time, you can sign up for our early adopter program and join one of our cookie-less pilots (with no powerpoints, just data and tools)!
The Proof Comes From Helping Our Customers
We’ve been helping advertisers and publishers with high-performing advertising for years, and now with the Quantcast Platform, we’re putting it into their hands, making it available as an easy-to-use, self-serve solution. We saw how much time brands, agencies and publishers were spending on tactical work, which didn’t free them up to think about which messages they want to test with which audiences. So with efficiency in mind, we set ourselves some pretty ambitious goals in terms of ease-of-use – from ideation to execution to measurement. And we’re really proud to say that we’ve achieved all of our ambitions. Today, marketers can understand their audiences and test different messages in a matter of minutes.
We’re Definitely Not Done
We’ve been very privileged to work with some amazing customers so far, and they continue to push us to solve bigger challenges. Right now, we’re testing connected TV to make this new environment as seamless to buy as display, native, and video advertising. We will also continue to work with some of the largest brands, agencies and publishers in the world, testing new brand awareness and incrementality solutions and bringing the ability to discover, execute, and measure “direct buy” opportunities that are usually executed outside of the programmatic tool chain! I encourage anyone to join us on this journey by signing up for our early adopter program today.
It’s been an absolute privilege to come on this journey. I’m super proud of my teams and incredibly grateful to the customers who have helped us get to where we are today. Here’s to the future of advertising in 2021 and beyond.
Interested in Learning More? To learn more about the new Quantcast Platform, watch the full Virtual NOVA event. To understand how the platform can help you know and grow your audiences to deliver outstanding business results, hear from our satisfied customers.