What programmatic advertising should learn from US elections

Nov 10, 2016

Collective failure of polling industry to predict the outcome in this presidential elections is shocking. A lot of money goes into methodology of collecting data and analyzing that data to predict outcomes. This is surprisingly similar to what is going on in online advertising tech lately.

In programmatic advertising, consumers are polled with different questions on every impression and they vote on every click. Technology makes it possible to perform billions of polls and billions of elections every day, globally. Algorithms are trying to make sense of vast amounts of data to understand consumer preferences and personalize the advertising, just like good political strategist would.

As a consumer online, every time you ignore an ad, you are obstructing elections. Every time you click an ad, you vote for something. When you install ad-blocker you wipe yourself out of the voters registry, and more importantly, from the phone book for pollsters as well.

Adage reports that suspected causes for wrong predictions were shame and sampling – it is hard to reach a representative sample of voters because there is no real ‘phone book’ anymore, and when you do ask them The Question, they don’t necessarily tell you the truth.

This makes all polling data very unreliable, which reminds me of the hurdles marketers go through today with impression-based media – adblockers prevent us from ever addressing majority of audience, and viewability is supposed to comfort us that at least they were asked the question.

Who cares if they saw the ad! We learned yesterday that the only thing that matters is what people actually do.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy media based on actual actions, rather than implied probable behavior? Programmatic-native advertising platform Zemanta allows you to do just that, at scale.

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Our story started in 2007 when we built one of the first web-based personal assistants in the blogosphere, the first native advertising unit for online publishing and the first, what is now called, “native exchange”. In 2014, we built and launched the first content/native DSP. The rest is history – history in the making.

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