Digital Reach Gets a Makeover

This week’s Business of Digital “Digital for Reach” event left the Canadian online advertising community with a lot to think about and to celebrate. While the industry works against the cookie clock to re-vamp the ecosystem to enable a privacy-first approach, the future of reach is looking brighter than ever.

With first-party data taking center stage for advertisers, Quantcast kicked off the event with a comprehensive discussion on why consent management matters. Ensuring a free and open internet in the future will require an increased reliance on signals sent through the supply chain. These consent signals will become the most critical ones enabling privacy compliant advertising that respects consumer preferences while preserving the ability to receive highly relevant ads.

Next up was an in-depth discussion on advanced contextual advertising by ZEFR, followed by a roundtable with the Globe and Mail, IAS, Innocean and Teads. ZEFR outlined the benefits of contextual advertising and its ability to deliver privacy compliant reach that rivals the walled garden traffic levels and provides excellent results. Using contextual signals to unearth relevant audiences shows tremendous potential for the future of addressability in a privacy-first world. 

Technology has enabled enhanced contextual intelligence through natural language processing and more accurate sentiment analysis. Several case studies served as proof points around leveraging intelligent content signals and analysis to make smarter decisions on media placements ultimately leading to extended reach. Innocean described two scenarios where initially blocking content due to contextual suitability concerns, transformed into impressive media opportunities with the right creative resulting in excellent performance. 

AV Communications reminded us that mainstream digital reach in Canada is actually multicultural in content and that very often, media plans tend to over-index on the same platforms. The presentation featured impressive results where media budgets were allocated to culturally appropriate channels and made us all think twice about the true definition of reach in Canada.

MIQ presented then showcased the exciting advancements being made in the advanced TV measurement space. Looking at the Biden presidential campaign, the case study covered off the complex requirements to reach swing states through both linear and advanced TV. The analysis showed an impressive lift in unduplicated audiences within one of the states. Using ACR technology, the campaign was able to reach audiences with video that would not have been available through linear TV. Considering we are still in the early days of connected television, the progress is quite exciting.

The Advanced TV panel that followed included Samsung Ads, Roku, Magnite and LG Ads. There was great discussion around the incredible growth of the channel with an estimated 60% of share now on Connected TV vs. Linear. The panel discussed the power of sight, sound and motion and how the brains of digital are now fully unleashed onto the big screen. The group touched on privacy and consent as the top priority across the board.

Acast, Triton, Spotify and Inuvo took the stage to discuss audio as an emerging force in the reach arena. With advertisers looking for flexibility and contextual relevance, digital audio is having its moment. The ability to replace the scale that was once achieved through radio is an exciting prospect. The disruption of the channel has led to exciting opportunities for advertisers to get into deeper funnel activity. 

Another exciting panel with Hivestack, APEX, Bell Media and AllVision unpacked the amazing opportunities that are emerging through the Digital Out-of-Home channel. With more inventory coming online and the ability to purchase through programmatic channels, advertisers are finally able to reach audiences across the entire customer journey. Traditionally seen as an awareness-driver, the highly sophisticated digital underpinnings are now enabling bottom funnel activity and the panel made it clear that this was only the beginning.

Finally, Amazon presented the broadening of capabilities from the bottom up. The presentation shared some great examples of engagement, unexpected moments and meaningful interactions with consumers driving home the point that relevant experiences are the most powerful approach to breaking through and delivering results. Amazon also pointed to the importance of purpose-related initiatives. Consumers are increasingly investing in brands that support the cause they care about. 

In summary, the event celebrated the advancements in technology that are re-shaping the way we define reach. While the term once referred to low-cost high exposure media, the new definition is all about refinements and qualifiers. Reaching scaled audiences in 2021 and beyond will require consent management, intelligent contextual signal analysis, creative adaptation to deliver on contextual experiences and a revitalized look at investing in channels that have moved from traditional to dynamic capabilities. The industry is rising to the unprecedented challenges it faces and this week’s sneak peek into the renovated ecosystem left us convinced that the future is looking bright from all angles.