International search remarketing using programmatic display

By Krishan Nursimooloo | 13 Jul 2015

With the endless amount of information available, including product reviews, recommendations, location access and price comparison sites, consumers don't always follow the linear path of search, click and buy. Today, the purchase funnel resembles a flight map as consumers engage with multiple screens and channels during their shopping journey and evaluation process.

A majority of consumers begin their quest for information with major search engines, and then navigate to other sites where they investigate and explore their buying options, whilst consuming a variety of news and social content. During their path to purchase, they may be influenced by a variety of media channels, including traditional and digital.

According to comScore, billions of searches are made every month, with 35% occurring beyond major search engines and across vertical, eCommerce and shopping comparison sites. The act of searching across online entities is second nature to a majority of consumers. As consumers search, they indicate explicit intent, making keywords a highly valuable source of targetable data.

The foundations of a programmatic display campaign

When consumers are in purchase mode, they browse pages within a media owner or advertiser's site, exploring various products, services and information. This either leads to a sale or site abandonment. Site-level data informs marketers which customers visited their site, indicating products viewed and buying behaviours, which signals a high degree of purchase intent. It's this intent, and the data that surrounds it, which can be developed into the strategic foundation of a programmatic display campaign.

An example of such a strategy would be as follows; a user searches for a keyword that is relevant to Advertiser X. Once the keyword has been indexed, the decision-making engine within the platform will establish the value of the individual user and their propensity to convert with Advertiser X.  The engine is a combination of semantic technology and algorithmic profiling that analyses hundreds of behavioural variables surrounding the individual user, which will establish the likelihood of that user converting.

It goes without saying, therefore, that programmatic display campaigns are rooted in data. From a search remarketing perspective, this data includes elements such as recency, subsequent searches, domain, frequency and geographic location. The Demand Supply Platform (DSP) then finds the user at the right place and the right time and bids on impressions in real-time to serve the relevant creative. The DSP uses custom bid logic to alter its bidding strategies based on the value of the user, to ensure that the most valuable users are served the most relevant ads. 

Let's look at this from a global perspective

The fundamental issues surrounding the search language used to access content, and the geographic location of that search, become irrelevant when targeting international audiences, as audience segmentation and campaign optimisation techniques remain largely the same across the board. It's a moot debate that focuses on the international element of search retargeting, as global context is an inherent part of the technology.

In short, the work has already been performed by the publisher, who will proceed to delineate highly specific groups and sub-types on a global scale, which will be made available on Supply Side Platforms (SSP), such as the Rubicon Project, PubMatic or Ad X. These packages are then augmented through the use of 3rd party search retargeting tools, which specialise in pooling internal search data from premium publishers. Each geographic environment will have specialist suppliers that have built a network of key relationships, which can be leveraged via a preferred SSP.

The final phase is to perform a batch transfer of keyword data - which will automatically apply to the relevant international markets - allowing programmatic display systems to make better informed decisions regarding media buying requirements.

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