Quantcast and our long-term client Roman Originals were recently featured in a Marketing Magazine article that took a deeper look at the advertising that went on behind #TheDress – a story that was hard to miss.

But just in case you did miss it: On Wednesday, February 25, a little-known Scottish singer posted a picture of a dress to Tumblr asking (she and her friends couldn’t decide) whether it was white and gold or blue and black.

Not exactly the biggest news story of the decade … except it almost was, and by Friday not just the Internet but even international news stations were asking, “Blue and black or gold and white?” For one party in the debate – Roman Originals, the manufacturer of the dress and a long-term Quantcast customer – the answer was obvious: blue and black, just like the actual dress. However, the story did raise other questions: What does this mean for us and how can we use it?

The nature of viral Internet trends is no different than any trend on the Internet – they happen constantly and all too commonly are missed. You need to have the ability to spot these trends and be able to react to them. In the case of the dress, Romans turned to Quantcast.

According to Quantcast data, on Friday the 27th product detail pages were seeing a lift in visits of over 3000% on the average, and thanks to this real time data both Quantcast and Romans were able to make some quick decisions to react to this unplanned phenomenon. Off the back of the data they launched an ad containing a gif of the dress changing color and the hashtag (#TheDress). The ad either informed people it was back in stock or invited them to join the debate. This ad was then served to anyone in the target population for Romans.

The ad Quantcast built for Romans in reaction to #TheDress

The ad was launched on Friday afternoon. Because of the relevance to current events, it garnered a CTR 20% higher than the average Romans ad over the weekend. This activity is a great example of relevant advertising driving customer engagement.

Not only did engagement with the ad and the Romans website skyrocket, they saw an increase in conversions of 182%.

In digital advertising it is important to remember that there is a time and place for every ad and we shouldn’t just serve ads to everyone in the general population. However, it is equally important that when an opportunity arises marketers should have the ability to see it, understand it and react to it in a timely manner.

This is a glimpse into the future of digital advertising where ads are built in reaction to the latest external trends, tech that can read the Internet and present a great creative option – the future is closer than you think.

Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate

Quantcast has been an authoritative source for measuring the size of top digital properties since 2006. Publishers, advertisers and or media planners use our list of the Top 100 Sites and our Site Ranks to get a description of the audience size of a particular property. However, Measure users can take this one step further by directly comparing the audiences for different sites within publisher profiles.

The Compare tool makes it easy for publishers and developers to quickly see how their own traffic stacks up against other properties or competitors. Users without a Quantified property can also do competitive research, or inform media planning and advertising buys.

To use the tool, simply go to the publisher profile of any website and check out the traffic report right at the top of the profile. You will see the Compare button at the top right corner of the traffic chart.

To see the comparison, simply click on Compare, and enter the website you would like to compare audiences with. You can choose up to three properties to include in the comparison, and the traffic report will re-populate to show you the traffic trends over time between the two properties.

You can use this feature for any of the Quantcast metrics, whether you want to compare Pageviews, Uniques, Sessions or People. You can also easily adjust the dates to look at trends over any period of time. For publishers, advertisers and researchers, this simple tool makes it easy to compare any site over any period of time.

Posted by Nick Binder, Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Solutions

This week, The Wall Street Journal published a story about the vast differences in accuracy from the many available data vendors. The story was based on a study conducted by the agency Mediasmith, with media funded by Quantcast. The study was large and expensive — eleven vendors, six segments each, in both the US and UK — here’s why we were willing to pay for it.

First, we believe in the value of third party targeting data, and many in our industry don’t. Third-party data is often dismissed as inaccurate or viewed as a class below first-party data. Some advertisers and publishers are justifiably skeptical given their bad experiences, which can include underperforming campaigns or campaigns with no delivery. Poor-performing products have poisoned the well for third-party targeting data. But an important distinction is often lost: All data vendors are not created equal.

Marketing from data vendors doesn’t help. We all sound the same, making it impossible for publishers and advertisers to get real clarity about the quality of different data vendors. Many brand name vendors that are expected to perform don’t live up to expectations. I imagine that if I used Tide in my laundry and my clothes still came out dirty, I’d question the value of laundry detergent too.

Thankfully, we now have validation services such as Nielsen OCR that can objectively compare the accuracy of different vendors. When working with potential customers, we’ve looked to these validation services to demonstrate our advantage, benchmarking our performance against other vendors they might be considering. The proof is in the performance, not in the marketing.

Which gets us to why we funded this Mediasmith study. We saw that there was no incentive for others to pay for this large-scale controlled testing. Certainly not other data vendors. But even for advertisers and publishers, many of whom aren’t aware of the vast performance differences, it would be hard to justify the time and expense.

Quantcast has an unfair advantage over other targeting vendors, not because of our involvement in the study, but because of our massive proprietary dataset, technology advantage and modeling expertise. That sounds like marketing, but these advantages translate into real benefits for our advertiser and publisher customers. We invested in this study because no one else would, and because it’s time for targeting customers to raise questions about the accuracy of their data vendors.

Posted by Jag Duggal, Senior Vice President, Product Management

On January 22 we celebrated our campaign with top 100 retailer Missguided by winning the award for best digital marketing retail campaign at the Northern Digital Awards.

The judges highlighted, among other things, our high level of technical innovation as the reason for winning the award.

The campaign, which started in 2013, is a prime example of how true personalization in digital advertising can yield amazing results. Through the use of our dynamic retargeting technology, Missguided is able to show every user a fully personalized ad based on what they have browsed and where they are in their customer journey, resulting in a 25% increase over the targeted ROI.

Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate

Every January CES brings together the most innovative minds in consumer tech to showcase the products that will impact the way we work, live and play in the future. New ideas are everywhere, but one that is increasingly important is the role and responsibilities of ad tech companies in ‘the Internet of Things.’

Ad Tech at CES
Ad tech companies are attending CES in greater numbers every year, because their clients now are. Brands, publishers, media agencies, creative agencies and tech platforms are all attending, in force. In fact, in response to the increased presence of ad tech companies and their clients, a relatively new track called C Space has been introduced, designed to curate content focused on brands, agencies, publishers and creative communicators. It’s still in its infancy and taking a booth is not the ROI driver — it’s the strategic discussions between brands and technologists that are happening at this venue. Overall, CES provides a way for brands to continue to strengthen relationships with their customers and stay relevant; understanding what’s coming next is key.

The Future: Sensors and Data Abound
CES introduces the future of not just interesting gadgets and technology, but also the way we’ll live. Among the gadgets and gizmos presented this year, there seemed to be one constant: sensors. Sensors were seen in practically every place you could think of — from pacifiers with Bluetooth that let you identify where your child is, to self-driving cars with new internal configurations optimized for conversation and comfort rather than driving. There were even smart mirrors that diagnose your skin condition to tell you whether you’re dehydrated, and if so, what moisturizer you may need.

The ubiquity of sensors points to the fact that this is the year where it’s clear that in the future, everything will be measurable. This sets up some interesting opportunities not just for marketers but also for society as a whole.

The Importance of Relevance
For marketers, the ubiquity of sensors means that the challenge of figuring out what data is relevant and how it is relevant will become of even greater importance. The art of machine learning and big data will become even more critical as we sift through this next wave of data inputs, coming from our cars, bracelets and more. Brands that maintain the most powerful relationships with their consumers will understand what their audiences are doing and what’s important to them, and deliver value through ever more tailored and relevant experiences.

Consistent Measurement
The ubiquity of sensors also means that in order for technology to support and deliver on the types of relevant experiences that are actually valuable for consumers, we’ll need consistent ways of measuring consumer behavior across all of these platforms. The parties that can provide a holistic view of the consumer — and, most importantly, help marketers take action on that — will be the ones who are able to truly help them build the future of their brands. This will be a significant undertaking because a consistent approach to measurement, and the technological infrastructure necessary to make sense of that data and make it actionable, will be possible by only the most skilled tech players and true big data companies. For this, we must look to the ad tech industry.

Benefits and Risks
All of this obviously comes with some very important questions for our society as a whole that were being actively debated by the marketers in attendance. These technical advances offer incredible benefits to almost every aspect of our lives, but only if we execute on them in a secure and safe way that provides transparency for consumers to control their data and promotes and encourages good behavior among technology players. It’s a step beyond the debates over online cookies that we are still having and is an issue that is going to require business, government and citizens converging to debate the benefits and risks of what is coming. Bringing ad tech companies to the discussion table is a great first step to ensuring the best future for a more connected world.

Posted by Konrad Feldman, Co-Founder and CEO

Jim Bankoff has been at the forefront of the rapid evolution of digital media for some time. As CEO and chairman of one of the largest and fastest growing digital media companies, Vox Media, he is part of a new group of digital leaders driving real-time content that is more topical and social. In the closing session at Supernova NY, Bankoff shared his perspective on the present and future of digital media.

There has never been a better time to be a media consumer. Learn from one of the most experienced professionals in the industry in this fireside chat between Bankoff and Konrad Feldman, Quantcast CEO and co-founder, at the Supernova NY Big Data Summit:

Posted by Capri LaRocca, Marketing Communications Associate

For the first time in its history, the NCAA football champion will be determined on the field by a four-team playoff, when Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State square off next month. Many advertisers are hoping the new college playoffs can be the next major tentpole in the sports marketing calendar, alongside the Super Bowl and March Madness. Given this potential, smart marketers will leverage data to dig into the larger college football audience.

Despite its wide national appeal, college football is also a regional sport with niche audiences. The fan bases of the final four playoff teams exemplify how unique these different groups actually are. We partnered with Vox Media’s SB Nation to take a look at visitors to sports blogs of each of the four playoff contenders as proxies for those fan bases: Roll Bama Roll for Alabama, Addicted to Quack for Oregon, Tomahawk Nation for Florida State, and Land-Grant Holy Land for Ohio State. Despite the fact that each focuses on a nationally recognized team, each blog boasts its own unique demographic audience.

Click on any of the images to download a deep dive on any of the playoff teams:

College Football Is a Year-Round Sport

The first thing we took a look at was the yearly traffic pattern for each of these blogs, and it turns out that fan bases have very different interest levels throughout the year. It’s no surprise that traffic for Roll Bama Roll and Tomahawk Nation reached peak levels later in the season. Both fan bases have seen prolonged recent success, so it appears these readers simply expected a lengthy postseason run.

Meanwhile, the Addicted to Quack and Land-Grant Holy Land blogs saw more consistent traffic throughout the year. Both teams were widely anticipated to be championship contenders after several years of coming up short, so their audiences were likely reading up in anticipation throughout the offseason.

Hometown Ties

College sports will always tie into strong regional loyalties, and college football might be the most intense example of that. However, for all of these blogs, the majority of visitors were from outside of the school’s home state. In fact, only 27% of Roll Bama Roll visitors were from Alabama.

Instead, many readers are dispersed among the nearest major job centers, which oftentimes are not in the same state as their school. In the case of Roll Bama Roll, 11% of the visitors were from Georgia, and Atlanta was the second-largest DMA among its readers (behind Birmingham). Atlanta was also a top five DMA for Tomahawk Nation, whereas two of the top five DMAs for Oregon were the major job centers on the West Coast: Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Deep Wallets

All four blogs have different profiles when it comes to average household income; however, each over-indexes on the high-income demographic groups that marketers covet. Ohio State and Alabama readers in particular are more likely than the average US Internet user to make more than $150k.

All Football, All the Time

When we dove into the browsing habits of visitors to these blogs, we were not surprised to find that their readers are hardcore football fans. For most of the blogs, eight of the top 10 sites that their readers were likely to visit were other college football sites.

However, Oregon fans who visited Addicted to Quack did show a broader range of interests, with five of the top six sites they were most likely to visit being local news sites. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Oregon has only recently become a dominant football team, and the Pacific Northwest lacks the regional football reputation that South and Midwest enjoy.

Fans for Life

Not surprisingly, all four blogs over-index on the age 25-34 demographic, as recent grads are the most likely to read up on their alma mater’s football team. However, Alabama and Ohio State readers also strongly index against older demographics, with both over-indexing for every age group through age 65. In fact, Ohio State readers are 26% more likely than the average US Internet user to be older than age 65.

Growing the Fan Base

The other way to become a fan for life is to be born into a household of fans; Alabama and Florida State appear to have a leg up in this regard. The readers of Roll Bama Roll and Tomahawk Nation are both more likely than the average US Internet user to have kids in the household.

Takeaways for Marketers and Publishers

To take advantage of what is quickly becoming one of the premier events on the sports calendar, marketers should not treat every college football fan equally. There are broad similarities, but each fan base represents a unique audience with widely varying demographics. Smart marketers can use data to dig a level deeper and find their true target audience, while publishers can break down the wide “college football fan” segment to easily display a more niche, valuable audience to advertisers.

To learn more about using Quantcast Measure to get granular audience insights, reach out to us at support@quantcast.com.

Posted by Nick Binder, Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Solutions

Who says big data and creativity can’t mix? When confronted with a large revenue growth target for North America, British Airways turned to data to create an emotional, engaging and brand new marketing campaign. In this session, British Airways demonstrates the power of using big data to fuel creativity and drive a 65 percent increase in sales. Oh, and win a 4As Strategy Grand Prix.

Donna Morton, director of joint business transformation at British Airways, presents “The Power Couple” – big data and creativity. Be sure to catch the award-winning video at the end of the session.

For more information on Supernova NY visit the summit website, and keep an eye on the Quantcast Blog for more video recordings of the sessions!

Posted by Capri LaRocca, Marketing Communications Associate

Digital audio is having a cultural moment. There’s the Serial phenomena, and Slate has published a whole series to mark the tenth anniversary of the podcast, but perhaps the most compelling proof is that there are now 159.8MM people listening to digital audio every month, according to eMarketer. To learn more about digital audio, we spoke with Leigh Newsome, co-CEO and CTO of TargetSpot, a Quantcast Measure and Advertise user.

QC: Can you tell us about TargetSpot?

LN: TargetSpot provides a technology platform to manage digital audio ad campaigns with highly advanced targeting. We started as self-service bidding platform for audio campaigns. While we still retain that core technology, we have developed it into a fully managed service platform for agencies and publishers. We work with just about about every major agency and over 85 publishers, such as CBS Radio, Entercom, Univision, SBS, Grooveshark, and our owned and operated service Radionomy.

QC: Is digital audio advertising today more like terrestrial radio or digital display? Where is it headed?

LN: It is a little of both. Currently, we are moving towards more of the digital display end of the spectrum. Digital audio advertising is a very interesting place to be right now. It maintains many of the benefits of advertising on terrestrial radio. You are able to cut through the clutter and noise more effectively since listening to an audio ad is a one-to-one experience between the listener and the advertiser, you don’t have multiple ads competing for a listener’s attention like you do in display advertising. You can only hear one thing at a time!

Brands are able to to connect with people on a passion point; people are very invested in and seek out what they listen to — a Country music fan self-identifies as a Country fan, just like a Classical music fan thinks of herself in a way that aligns with Classical music. What you listen to is a very personal choice and is not an arbitrary decision.

However, digital audio also brings many of the efficiencies and benefits inherent to any digital medium. Firstly, digital audio overcomes the hurdles of proximity and scale as it’s not restricted to the strength of a broadcast signal. New Yorkers can just as easily listen to KROQ, an L.A. based station, as they can listen to WPLJ, a popular NY based station. While that may not seem significant in itself, add that to the efficiencies of digital: highly targeted ads, 3rd party data, buying and executing campaigns digitally, analytics and optimization, etc. and you suddenly end up with a very powerful platform for reaching consumers.

QC: How does digital audio listenership compare to the broadcast audience?

LN: We ran a study on attitudes towards advertising in digital audio and interestingly enough there are big differences between digital audio and radio broadcast listeners. We found that, when asked for reasons people stop listening to a broadcast, radio broadcast listeners were 23% more likely than digital audio to stop listening because an ad was disturbing/offensive or because it was not personally relevant. Also we found that 70% of digital audio listeners are comfortable receiving ads based on their Internet radio usage and/or content preferences. I think this speaks to the level of sophistication and acceptance of Internet users towards “relevant” online advertising. I believe more people are okay with being advertised to if they are receiving value for their attention. People, for the most part, know that the “free” Gmail address they use or their Facebook account are paid with the currency of their attention to ads. And digital audio listeners are even more receptive to this idea of a value exchange when we give the right message to the right listener.

QC: What are advertisers looking for in digital audio spots?

LN: Typically we see marketing goals split along two buying groups, broadcast radio buyers and digital teams but increasing the dividing line is starting to blur between the two. Digital teams are looking for more granular audience segmentation across various psychographic categories, campaign optimization, analytics and many parameters they use to measure their digital display and video campaigns. While broadcast buyers tend to focus on demographic targeting, frequency and reach, pricing efficiencies, share of voice and other variables in broadcast radio buys. However, we’re seeing these two group coming together and informing each other further up the media planning stream. Agencies and brands are starting to incorporate digital audio more holistically into their media campaigns. It’s been interesting to watch some of the broadcast people become way more digitally savvy and probably even more interesting to watch some of the digital teams think a little more analog.

QC: How are you working with Quantcast?

LN: We’ve been working with Quantcast as well as with DMPs for a while now to add additional layers of audience verification and psychographic targeting to our ad serving capabilities. In our industry, we are known as the technological leader in advanced audio ad targeting. With that in mind, we’ve really doubled down on getting deep insights on our network and audience. We’ve integrated Quantcast Measure to learn more about our audience from gender, age, ethnicity, education, household income, and more. We’re also using Quantcast Advertise to deliver targeted advertising, including based on our audience’s purchasing behaviors which are outside our scope of visibility. It’s important to us to know not only what people are listening to but also what are some brand messages that they’ll find valuable. For our brand partners there is an obvious value in that information but for our publishing partners it helps them offer users a better listening experience.

QC: Are there any recent successes you’d like to share?

LN: 2014 was a huge year for TargetSpot. We completed our merger with Internet radio platform Radionomy to form the Radionomy Group. We’ve had an eye on expanding internationally and Radionomy, as one of the leading global Internet radio platforms was a great fit for us. We also purchased streaming platform SHOUTcast and media player WINAMP from AOL, which means we now power roughly half of all Internet radio globally. That’s huge!

The market has reacted very positively. We were awarded the 2014 RAIN Award for Best Overall Digital Strategy, edging out some excellent semi-finalist like iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), NPR, TuneIn, etc. And in 2015 we’re laser focused on driving the digital audio industry further towards more data driven marketing and more granular audience segmentation.

Posted by Art Prateepvanich, Head of Product Marketing, Publisher Solutions

Over the past few weeks we have posted some of our favourite sessions from the UK Supernova Big Data Summit but there is still much more to see over on our Vimeo channel. There you can see videos including Kenn Cukier (Data Editor, The Economist) talking about the new frontiers of Big Data and a panel session chaired by Tess Alps (ThinkBox) discussing the effectiveness of digital advertising.

Another highlight from Supernova London was the opening keynote from Quantcast CEO and founder Konrad Feldman, in which he explained the importance of incremental improvements on the road to achieving great change, how Big Data has progressed over the years, and how consumer relevance is key to everything Quantcast does.

Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate