Quantcast continues to pave a path that distinguishes the research firm from its audience measurement competition. In its latest offering, the firm will allow media buyers to put their own audience data to use to define targets and actually buy online media through Quantcast.
The Quantcast Media Program is in its nascent stages, though agencies including Havas Digital have tested it the past two months. While most targetable audience segments are determined by the media supplier or third-party tech firms, Quantcast believes audience segmentation should be driven by the advertiser or agency.
The company may, for instance, help an automaker tag its own site to determine the makeup of the people visiting in terms of psychographic or demographic characteristics or content affinity. It would then help the advertiser apply those insights and Quantcast’s data to find a much larger group of people with similar qualities throughout the Web.
“That is flipping the model on its head,” said Quantcast Chief Marketing Officer Adam Gerber. While standard behavioral targeting or retargeting simply delivers ads to people who have visited a particular site, this approach broadens the targeting pool. “That has been the missing link in this digital media marketplace for quite awhile now,” he added.
The system essentially connects Quantcast’s audience measurement capabilities with a more recent offering allowing marketers to track their brand advertising and content to determine profiles of audiences interacting with their brands. The new Media Program lets ad buyers and sellers transact based on that information.
“It’s a very logical progression for them to come out with a media product,” said Ed Montes, managing director for Havas Digital North America, calling the program “a collaborative effort” between Quantcast and the agency or advertiser using it. Havas has used Quantcast’s measurement offerings and plans to use the new product in the future. Montes believes the Media Program will serve large agency holding companies, many of which have built out audience-based buying specialties.
Media buyers can actually use the system to purchase media, from participating Quantcast publishers, or use it to buy direct from the publishers. Quantcast is not controlling any ad inventory; the company will work with publishers, ad networks, and exchanges to provide inventory. “We are going to work with everyone in the marketplace,” Gerber said.
Though Quantcast’s measurement and audience profile tools are free, the firm will earn money from the new system by charging a percentage of an advertiser’s media spend.
Time, which runs sites including People.com and Life.com, has agreed to package and sell its inventory through Quantcast, according to Gerber. For publishers, the promise is the ability to “unlock the audiences that they have access to,” said Gerber. A financial site, for instance may sell to advertisers looking to reach high income males, though it also attracts less-obvious demographics mirrored on other Quantcast-connected sites.
“It’s almost like long-tail monetization,” said Montes. “They’re finding poorly valued segments.”
Audience measurement remains a thorn in the side of most Web publishers, who often argue that third-party research firms’ assessments of their audiences are not accurate. By providing tools that focus less on numbers of unique visitors or impressions and more on audience makeup, Quantcast could be seen as more friend to publishers than foe.