Simpli.fi’s ‘Local Programmatic’ Growth Shows Increased Demand For Direct Response And Brand Affinity
The platform just passed 25,000 live concurrent campaigns as SMBs adapt to automation for mobile and video ads.
Since local programmatic platform Simpli.fi sought to close the loop on its automated ad serving, bidding, and the use of “unstructured data management” last spring, the company is currently running 25,000 live campaigns — a 3x gain over the last 18 months.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based platform operator’s pitch to local businesses is — no pun intended — simple: Most programmatic offerings are geared toward large enterprises looking to run national, or even global, campaigns in real-time. But local businesses want to automate their ad targeting to the “right person, right place, right device” in real-time as well. It’s the definition of “audience scale” that’s different.
What Simpli.fi does is tie together a marketer’s programmatic display, mobile, video, and social advertising to small and national brands who are thinking of specific audiences in tightly organized places.
As for the difference made by Simpli.fi’s reliance on “unstructured data,” the term basically refers to the avoidance of pre-determined, pre-packaged models — in the case of online advertising, it’s about not using targeting methods based on a defined list of audience segments. Instead, solutions like Simpli.fi’s rely on the use of specific keywords to package groups of consumers that can then be carefully targeted by ads on the local level.
Simpli.fi says its unstructured data enables it to aim its ads based on 1,000 to 10,000 targeting elements on each campaign compared to the the typical 10 targeting segments used by segment-based platforms.
“Advertisers of all sizes are finding that they can achieve improved performance by optimizing audience targeting to local markets, instead of using pre-packaged audience segments typically built for nation-wide campaigns,” says Frost Prioleau, Simpli.fi’s CEO. “Because our platform uses unstructured data instead of traditional segments, we are able to deliver customized local audiences at scale, and help our partners who want to deliver hundreds or thousands of campaigns to localized audiences.”
GeoMarketing: How do you see the value of specializing in “local programmatic?”
Frost Prioleau: Our general view is that programmatic business is one of the most important advertising technologies available to marketers since the advent of search. But for the most part, programmatic services have tended to be built out around national advertisers. Because of our unique approach using structured data, and because of our experience in the local space, we can bring the benefits of automation to high volumes of localized campaigns.
How does it work in practice?
The example I always use is the Toyota dealer in Palo Alto, who’s got lots of little Priuses, has a very different audience he’s targeting than the Toyota here in beautiful Fort Worth, Texas, which has a lot full of tons of pickup trucks.
Because of the structured data, we’re really able to target and customize audiences to local themes. And thanks to our deep history of using automation to power ad sales, we’re able to get huge performance out of small campaigns.
Most programmatic platforms target the customer with 10 campaigns for a thousand dollars a day. We’re dealing with partners and multi-location brands that more typically have a thousand campaigns that run ten dollars each per day — or even less than that.
As you’ve grown Simpli.fi, what areas are you typically concentrating on?
We started off in display world and mobile wasn’t even a thing then. We’ve seen a huge growth in the mobile this year. Then also, very large growth, very rapid growth small base in video advertising.
As Simpli.fi has grown, has as the client base changed at all?
There two types of clients that we serve: the SMBs and their channel partners, primarily all the media companies, newspapers, TV companies, etc. They understand that programmatic needs to be part of their advertising mix.
For example, Facebook is part of their advertising mix, but programmatic advertising doesn’t stop there. The question they face is, “How are we going to target these users who are on the rest of the Internet?”
That’s really where local programmatic comes in. We’re seeing greater demand from SMBs for programmatic as well as brands who want to localize their budget.
We’re seeing a big advancement in the sophistication of the buyers. In the past, tended to be interested in the familiar KPIs and performance metrics they were used to, but now, they’re asking more specifically for lower cost-per-action, cost-per-lead and away from traditional metrics.
How does Simplif.fi view the divide between balancing the direct response messaging typically associated with programmatic and real-time ad buys and the need to target brand affinity campaigns at the local level?
It depends on the segment. One segment that we see a lot of is auto-dealers running localized auto campaigns across display, video, mobile ad formats. I believe we have more than 3,000 auto campaigns running on our platform right now. Those advertisers want to take their video from TV over to programmatic video, which demonstrates the two goals you’re talking about: cost-per-lead as well as brand awareness in order to attract people for test-drives and check out the showrooms.
But there are others who focus quite a bit are more on the branding side, particularly local lawyers. They do want to make sure that their message gets to the right person, at the right time, with the ultimate goal of creating a familiar name in their local market. Household services is another market we’ve seen where branding is part of the goals.