Engage:bdr Expands Mobile Location Data For RTB Display, Video

Marketers don’t want to choose between “branding” and “performance” models in 2015.

Engage:bdr's Ted Dhanik
Engage:bdr’s Ted Dhanik

There are several “must-have” functions that ad tech companies are universally called upon to satisfy these days:

  • Provide access to major real-time buying and selling ad marketplaces.
  • Show transparency about what is actually being bought and sold on those marketplaces.
  • Allow for the targeting of specific audiences across all platforms at scale.
  • Present, collect, and synthetize actionable consumer data for the aforementioned audience targeting needs.
  • Make sure it works especially well on mobile.

Los Angeles’ performance-based marketing provider Engage: bdr has pretty much completed that checklist as it begins rolling out its targeting capabilities for marketers that will encompass data based on consumers’ latitude and longitude across mobile video and display channels.

In addition, the company recently privatized its Buy-Side Platform for use by its licensed demand-side platform clients. The latter is considered a major step in combatting invasive malware — a threat that continues to depress digital ad spending.

Matching Online And Offline

Over the past year, Engage:bdr has offered lat/lon RTB tools in a limited capacity to some clients, most notably for L.A Mayor Eric Garcetti’s political campaign, which involved matching offline voter file data for online ad targeting.

“We’re going to be making lat/lon targeting data available as part of a gradual roll out of the technology,” says Ted Dhanik, Engage:bdr’s CEO/president/co-founder. “We’ll open it up to some of the marquee clients who have expressed interest in this capability. We’ll then make it available to anyone who wants it.”

The demand to “eliminate waste” from the buying and targeting process has been one that Dhanik and Engage:bdr have consistently heard from clients this past year. Giving customers and partners greater precision when it comes to serving ads to consumers with place and location as factors is designed to ensure marketers’ messages are concentrated and directed towards the most likely prospects.

“If I’m bidding $100 CPMs in a highly-concentrated area, the chances of getting every available impression programmatically is very high,” Dhanik says. “It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be that effective because how many people could be in that area? Not a lot. You could bid $1,000 per CPM and you may not even spend $100. It’s very, very powerful.”

Branding And Performance Hybrid

It all comes down to a fairly self-evident value of, for example, targeting mobile coupons from McDonald’s— an Engage:bdr client in L.A — against people in close proximity to a Burger King. It’s a matter of doing the same thing for Toyota ads that are served to people who have been near a Honda dealership in the past 30 days.

Although there’s no guarantee that switching a BK or Honda devotee — if such people do exist in mass numbers — to another brand can occur, it does increase the likelihood of finding a receptive audience given the mindsets of consumers who find themselves in locations surrounding those businesses’ respective areas.

Ultimately, bringing location data to bear on mobile users also means expanding the promise of online advertising from its low-cost, direct response roots into more lucrative brand affinity marketing messages, Dhanik says.

“We are now reaching the apex of direct response,” Dhanik says, aware of the description associated with most performance-based marketing players like Engage:bdr. “The brand world is now much more progressive. Generally, the direct response community and the performance marketing world are the first to adopt new technologies that are cutting edge. But that’s changing.”

For example, desktop video and mobile video are generally sold on a branding-friendly CPM basis, meaning that the cost of the inventory is relative to how many pairs of eyeballs have been exposed to an ad, as opposed to charging marketers according to the number of clickthroughs.

The changing practices by branding-focused marketers is why Engage:bdr is adding lat/lon targeting capabilities to the real-time bidded video and display mobile ads it places. In essence, the move reflects the hybrid of traditional branding, which involves building up ad exposure and affinity for a product, service, or business in a consumer’s mind, and performance marketing, which is about measuring tangible actions taken by targeted customers (“Did the user click an ad? Did the placement lead to a purchase either online or offline?”).

Engage:bdr's Steve Smelt
Engage:bdr’s Steve Smelt

Still, as Steve Smelt, Engage:bdr’s director of programmatic, notes, this expanded appeal to the brand side doesn’t mean the company’s profile as a provider of performance will change a great deal.

Starbucks doesn’t care if they’re the best known coffee brand following an ad campaign — they care about selling coffee,” Smelt says. “At the end of the day, all brands are direct response and performance-oriented. But in addition to continuing to focus on how they can increase sales, they want to be able to increase awareness, which then results in higher sales. We can achieve that with wider use of location technology to deliver the right message, to the right person, in the right location and time.”

A License To Bid

It’s the current ad landscape’s hybrid state, and the concomitant demands for greater transparency and targeting accuracy, that what led to Engage:bdr’s other development: the privatizing and white-labeling of its Buy-Side Platform.

Engage:bdr’s services have always revolved around offered in two solutions: There’s an integrated solution that has Engage:bdr account people having a hand on managing a campaign; and on the other side is the automated, platform solution.

Its programmatic offerings have historically involved Engage:bdr operating as a demand-side platform instead of as a larger marketplace for both buyers and sellers. By licensing the Buy-Side Platform, as that service is known, Engage:bdr can avoid the conflicts that inherently come with working closely with agencies and marketers on one end and publishers on the other.

“We’ll be better able to deliver for both sides if we can bring buyers and sellers together around premium inventory,” says Sydney Goldman, Engage:bdr’s manager for Marketing and Communications. “So it’s better for us to put more control in those buyers’ and sellers’ hands by licensing access to the platform to them. It allows everyone to concentrate on what they’re best at.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.