It’s happened to all of us: We visit a webpage to learn about a product, and then ads for that product follow us around the internet for days or weeks afterwards. Does this actually encourage consumers to purchase the product? Or does it just creep them out? Brandon Rea, the VP of Sales at Vibrant Media, suggests that this there’s a better way for businesses to target customers that doesn’t involve invading their privacy.
[00:00:00] Seth: Hello, and welcome to the bad marketing advice podcast. This is the show where we invite marketing professionals to tell us about the worst marketing advice that they’ve ever heard. And they’ve heard a lot of bad marketing advice. There’s a lot of stuff floating around that’s just no good. I’m your host.
My name is Seth Wrestler. I am the founder of Community Marketing Revolution. We produce branded podcasts for companies and organizations. So if you have been, say to yourself within your own company, Hey, maybe it’s time for us to start a podcast. It absolutely is. Please go to community marketing revolution.com.
We can help you out with that. Our guest today is the VP of Sales at Vibrant Media. Vibrant media is, and I’m about to read the boiler plate here. And if you aren’t following it, don’t worry. ‘Cuz I don’t think, you know, that I understand it either, but we’ll figure it out together. I promise you that. Vibrant media is a technology company that addresses the full range of agencies and marketers, contextual data and privacy, safe advertising needs.
They do this through an engagement based ad network and data targeting at scale across the global bid stream. Welcome to the show. Brandon Rea. Hi, Brandon. How are you?
[00:00:48] Brandon: Doing great, Seth. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:49] Seth: All right. So I gotta ask for my listeners who speak English, what does your company do? Who are the target customers? And what’s the problem that you solve?
[00:00:55] Brandon: So basically we contextualize the internet. And what that means is that we are reading and scanning every single page that is out there trying to understand the true meaning of the content. So we’re looking at the title, the subtitle and byline and all of those paragraphs and photos that are on the page to truly understand, is this an article about automotive and the Ford focus, or is this an article about photography and the focus that you would use on the lens?
Right? So there’s a lot of different semantics that we’re looking at to understand what is the content and then we will target advertising in or around that content to be relevant. Once you have relevance, we all know that the [00:01:30] performance and engagement will go up because you are talking to like-minded individuals who are in the mood and most receptive to that message from a brand marketer.
[00:01:37] Seth: So if I understand it, you might find some content that’s about photography, but it could be very different because it could be an article where the audience is models who are being photographed, or it could be an article where the audience is the photographers themselves.
And obviously what you are advertising you’re gonna place next to that content is gonna be very different depending on which of those two audiences it is. Is that right?
[00:01:52] Brandon: Wow, Seth, you really are fantastic.
[00:01:56] Seth: Thank you. I, uh, I, I try to, you know, that’s, my job here is to make sure I understand, because there’s all these big fancy words floating around and I didn’t do so well on the SATs. So I gotta put ’em into shorter words that I understand.
[00:02:04] Brandon: Another great example would be if we’re looking at a page or a user has gone to a page and it’s about the Chevy traverse. Is that about the 2022 Chevy traverse or the 2018 Chevy traverse? That is going to immediately be an indicator to us. Should we serve the certified pre-owned ad or the new car lease $199 a month incentive ad. Does that make sense?
[00:02:24] Seth: Got it.
[00:02:25] Brandon: Does that make sense?
[00:02:25] Seth: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. Are you doing this for text content only or are you also doing it for video and audio?
[00:02:31] Brandon: So yes, we are doing it across the board across all forms of media. Text is obviously the most comprehensive. However we do look at images. We look at video and audio. The only thing that we’re having trouble with at this moment is within apps. It’s simply, we cannot look into that further. We can only see sort of on the surface, what type of app it is, but we can’t actually see the content within the app at this time.
[00:02:50] Seth: Got it. And so is the value proposition here “Hey, we have a deeper understanding of the content out there. And so we’re just much better at placing ads” and are your customers, the actual advertisers themselves and you’re in the business of placing ads for them? [00:03:00]
[00:03:00] Brandon: Correct. We place ads on behalf of our customers who are agencies and brands direct, and the value proposition is precision. Making sure that you are targeting the exact customer and content that is most relevant to your campaign.
[00:03:12] Seth: Got it. And period, are you working with companies of a certain site? You gonna do the pizzeria down the street or is it only little Caesars and dominoes?
[00:03:18] Brandon: So at this time, we have really focused most of our efforts because we are sort of a managed service offering that we have minimums in place that sort of preclude us from being able to work with the mom and pop down the street typically with larger advertisers.
[00:03:30] Seth: Got it. Very cool. How do you market yourself to large advertisers? What, what are the marketing efforts that you put in place to try and get them to come over?
[00:03:37] Brandon: Well, so we do practice what we preach. We run a campaign that targets media buyers and CMOs and marketers, where we are running adjacent to content that talks about digital marketing, you know, precision targeting, contextual things like that.
We also of course run search on Google and other outlets in order to drive traffic that way. And then a lot of efforts are also done through PR and working with great outlets like yourself and other media where we can kind of talk shop.
[00:03:59] Seth: Got it.
[00:04:00] Brandon: If you will.
[00:04:00] Seth: Got it. So, so you got a rockstar PR agent who booked you on this show here. So thank you to them. Uh, and is, are you looking for people at a particular pain point? I mean, are you looking for people who that probably doing advertising already and they’re sitting there going either we’re not reaching the right people or it’s just costing us too much money to reach the right people and they wanna be more effective with it.
[00:04:16] Brandon: Yeah, so it usually kind of boils down to scale. So when you’re trying to hyper target the way in which we do, you need a lot of page views. You need a lot of opportunities to reach these folks and to do that manually is next to impossible. So you need an [00:04:30] ad tech provider like ourselves that is contextualizing basically tens of millions of domains which translates to billions of individual URLs. That again, we can hyper target and be very, very precise on where we push these advertisements to.
We also work with publishers. So folks that want to either drive more traffic to their own site in order to sell advertising or sell services at the same time, we can help them monetize their traffic a little bit better because again, the more precise that you can target, the higher the demand is, and therefore you can charge a little bit more. So publishers like that.
[00:05:01] Seth: So, what are you actually doing with a publisher? When you sit down with them, are you reviewing their content and saying, Hey, you know, if you massaged it and kind of did this with it, took it in this direction, it would reach this specific audience which advertisers are trying to reach.
[00:05:09] Brandon: Exactly. So when they’ll say, Hey, our average price that we’re, uh, getting for advertising, let’s just say is $10. And they’re just generally targeting across their site. They could actually be getting an average price of $15 because they’re more precisely targeting across their site.
[00:05:23] Seth: Got it. Got it. That’s fascinating. I love learning about this stuff. That’s what’s great about this podcast is that there’s so much in marketing out there. There’s always a lot to learn. So thank you for breaking it down for us. Let’s get into your bad marketing advice. What is the worst piece of marketing advice you’ve ever heard?
[00:05:34] Brandon: Well, so I spent some time on the agency side, early in my career. And what the piece of advice that I was given was, Hey, why don’t you go ahead and start doing audience based data to target campaigns for your clients. And those were retail and automotive clients. And you know, when I went to go ahead and do that, I ran into a lot of problems. One of them was the audience wasn’t always receptive.
When we were targeting them outside of like endemic content. So again, I’ll use the automotive Chevy traverse [00:06:00] example. I wanted to hit them when they were reading about the Chevy traverse. Instead, audience based targeting or using cookies will say they have read about the Chevy traverse, but now they are in their email. They’re gaming. They could be just reading the weather or maybe even a cooking recipe. And now I’m hitting them with this Chevy traverse message. Traverse message.
[00:06:17] Seth: So we’re talking about those ads that follow you around the internet long after you’ve left the website that essentially stalk you.
[00:06:21] Brandon: Creepy.
[00:06:22] Seth: Yes, it is very creepy. It is very, I mean, we’ve, and sometimes it’s websites I’ve visited, but it’s also my girlfriend and I will have a conversation. And I don’t know if it’s Alexa listening to us or Siri, who’s listening to us or all of ’em who are listening to us, but then ad starts showing up on her phone for the thing that we just talked about. And it weirds me out.
[00:06:33] Brandon: Does that make you wanna buy the product?
[00:06:35] Seth: No, absolutely not.
[00:06:36] Brandon: Okay.
[00:06:36] Seth: Absolutely not.
[00:06:37] Brandon: And that’s the exact analytics that I saw. And so for that, I started to move away from it. However, my clients were still very intrigued by this. And so later I started to dig into it further. And what I found was that the data source could also be stale. And that many of the users had actually moved on. So again, we’ll stay with Chevy traverse. If you keep hitting them weeks, or even a month later, they may have already made that purchase. And so you’re just wasting advertising dollars and frankly, creeping them out further saying, wait a minute, I already bought this. Why do you keep doing this? What we would call data cleanliness is a big issue as well. That you want to be able to use this, but only for a set period of time and a lot of those companies aren’t set up to do that. They’ll just kind of keep going and going and going with that same cookie.
[00:07:18] Seth: So is data cleanliness largely a matter of putting an expiration on much like my milk and my refrigerator. Like, don’t use this after a certain date.
[00:07:23] Brandon: You got it.
[00:07:24] Seth: Yeah, that makes sense. I should probably do that more with my milk too. So [00:07:30] if you are cleaning the data out, if you are throwing out the data after a certain point, and again, I’ve been in that situation where I’ve purchased something and yet I’m still getting ads for it. 2, 3, 4 weeks later. Doesn’t that just necessitate gathering even more data. And isn’t that creepy also? I guess.
[00:07:42] Brandon: Yeah, a little bit creepy for sure. Now, one of the things though, where I did find some small pockets of good ROI was when we actually matched the audience cookies with contextual. So again, now I’m using Chevy traverse. I went ahead and I’m targeting now automotive content when actually they’re reading about the Buick enclave. But I know that they visited the Chevy traverse page as well. That was a great tactic. That is okay, because now again, they may not have made the purchase yet. They may be checking out other competitors and things as they’re researching this huge purchase.
[00:08:13] Seth: And let me make sure that I understand these two things correctly. When you say cookies, we’re talking about following the past behavior of the potential consumer. When you say contextual data, you’re saying, looking at the actual content itself that they’re on. And you’re saying if you can use those things together properly, that that is effective and in some ways perhaps less intrusive, correct?
[00:08:29] Brandon: Correct.
[00:08:29] Seth: Then just relying on cookies alone. Got it. That makes sense. I mean, how do you, how do you balance it? Because I find that the things that I get excited about as a marketer freaked me out as just an everyday citizen of the world. How do you balance those two things? And is it shifting, especially as we’re seeing people like Tim cook, really try and champion privacy as an issue over at apple.
[00:08:45] Brandon: Well, I really believe that as a consumer, that I wanna just look at relevant ads. I mean, period, that are going to be important to me that are going to help me discover new products that I may not have heard about yet. So I’m actually a huge believer in all of this. Again, as long as there’s compliance that says that [00:09:00] you’re not going to be stealing other important parts of my data, because we all know that there’s pretenders and contenders in everything. Good people and bad people. And so, as long as you’re kind of again, using it to make sure that I’m not receiving feminine hygiene ads. And likewise, I’m also receiving ads that are based on what I’m interested in today. Then that’s great. You know, I just don’t wanna see something that I’ve, I’ve already bathroom remodeled. I do not need any more of that. And frankly, it makes me a little anxious because that bathroom remodel was a pain in the butt.
[00:09:25] Seth: Right. And now you’re, now they have you second guessing it. Oh, should have used this, right?
[00:09:27] Brandon: Yes.
[00:09:28] Seth: Understand. Since you work in this space, What trends are you seeing and what are you predicting for the future? Because obviously Europe has passed laws that are protecting privacy and clamping down on this. You know, there is a lot of talk that states here in the United States may do that. What do you think’s gonna happen to privacy? Is this gonna become an issue? And is it gonna change the way marketers work in the coming five or 10 years?
[00:09:43] Brandon: So what I think is gonna happen again, most of the internet will say is free. I can move around, find all of the information that I could ever ask for. And it’s all free. And it’s all because of advertising now. Yes, there are paid subscriptions here and there for some higher end content and things. But what I think is gonna happen is, is that users are gonna need to start take control of their data and use that as currency to trade for access content. Now that’s pretty deep. I understand that. However, it’s the only real way to kind of say like, yes, you can have access to the fact that I visited the Chevy traverse page before, but I’m only giving you that access if I can read more about automotive reviews. Or I can access the local weather in a 10 day forecast, right?
Like that would be a trade off that I’d be willing to do. But when you start to then understand like, oh, I have a 401k portfolio that is X amount of dollars and things, that’s too much. I don’t wanna give you. Access to that. So [00:10:30] you can then target me with more rollover IRAs and things. I just want you to draw a line. Does that make sense?
[00:10:37] Seth: Yeah, it sounds like you expect a shift of power back to the consumer. Not that they’re not going to trade their data away, but that they are at least going to have more choice in the matter and be a little bit more deliberate about doing so who’s going to drive that. Do you think, is that going to come from the tech companies like apple?
Is it gonna come from, you know, lawmakers? Is it gonna come from a ground swell of consumers saying that they think that this is important? Where do you think that’s gonna be driven from?
[00:10:55] Brandon: I think that consumers have already said it’s important. And I think that apple and the big tech companies have been listening greatly. Unfortunately, the lawmakers have no clue what’s going on. They it’s hard for them to get their head wrapped around it. So it’s really ultimately gonna be driven by those tech companies. And frankly, you already see that that was a big competitive advantage for apple.
[00:11:10] Seth: No, it, it really is. I mean, they’re, you know.
[00:11:11] Brandon: It’s, it’s one of the reasons why people choose apple over another company right now is those privacy controls.
[00:11:16] Seth: Yeah. It’s fascinating to watch cuz yeah, they really are marketing that and banking on it. So, well, look, this has been fascinating, Brandon. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
[00:11:23] Brandon: I appreciate you, Seth. This has been great man. A lot of fun.
[00:11:26] Seth: Uh, Brandon Ray is the VP of Sales at Vibrant Media. I am Seth Wrestler. I’m the host of community marketing revolution. Again, if you’ve ever thought about doing a branded podcast for your organization, please head over to communitymarketingrevolution.com. I’d love to talk to you about it until next time. Stay safe. Stay private.
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