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myThings UK MD David Kiashek on real-time retargeting

MyThingsAs publishers move increasingly towards paid content, member clubs and ecommerce, retargeting users intelligently through display ads could be an important focus for increasing sales and conversions. David Kiashek is Managing Director of myThings UK, which offers real-time adaptive and fully personalised retargeting ads. Its client list includes Littlewoods, Dell, Pixmania and Orange, and earlier this year, it was the winner of an Econsultancy Innovation Award. We caught up with David to hear about some of the latest developments in display technology.

Can you tell us about your new product, myBroadcast?

Before we launched myBroadcast, when a merchant wanted to start a sales campaign, we’ve had to work in advance with them, allocate studio time and physically change the banner templates, of which there would up to 5, in 8 different sizes and formats. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work, just to reflect a sale for our studio – bearing in mind also some of the campaigns are based around very short term sales, that might last only 1-2 days. MyBroadcast enables merchants to directly upload a sales message and promo code in real time through our advertiser portal – it has transformed the speed we and the retailer can create and launch promotional campaigns.

What is the cost involved for merchants and publishers using your services?

The big difference between the way we work at MyThings, as opposed to other retargeters like Criteo and Struq, is that we work on a cost per acquisition (CPA) basis, meaning we only charge when one of our display ads results in a sale. Some of our competitors, who work on a cost per click (CPC) basis, have been known to serve as many banners as possible, and to optimise for clicks on banners, rather than for sales. This can invariably lead to issues around serving users too many impressions just to drive the click. Because we are CPA, we optimise for sales, are focussed on the ‘hotter’ segments of traffic, and only retarget those who’ve shown good engagement with a merchants’ site. Also, we frequency cap – meaning we serve a limited number of impressions to each user. This ultimately provides a better guarantee of brand protection for merchants. Finally, we unpixel after conversion – meaning after a sale goes through, we completely stop serving those banners. This is a practice not currently done by other companies, and again, there is a big potential difference in the resulting brand impact. All of the companies working in retargeting will most likely have a maximum cap, but that may only be reached after a month or more in some cases.

Is the forthcoming EU cookie legislation a concern for you?

In terms of privacy, we are signed up to the IAB initiative on this – currently the ‘I’ icon on our banners links to our own opt-out, but it will shortly link to the IAB’s new Your Online Choices opt-out, so consumers can opt-out of all retargeting in one go – most publishers will be implementing the same within 6 to 9 months. Frequency capping goes a long way to helping to address these issues though, from a user perspective – when it's not implemented is where retargeting can get very annoying, not to mention recency capping. Our opt outs are currently at the .00x percent level – but it will be interesting to see the data from IAB coming through on this, to compare where this stands with our competition. There is a greater burden on retailers and publishers – still - reasonable, practical steps need to be put in place.

The next stage in myBroadcast’s development is going to be around segmenting audiences, and further personalising banners – how will that work?

A segment might be a category of product, or a level of engagement – i.e. serving a targeted ad to people who have just abandoned a shopping basket, as opposed to people who have simply viewed a  category page. Our next launch will come around Q4/2011, and will allow tailored ads to be scheduled precisely by day (as mentioned before – giving our merchants more control over recency capping), allowing even more powerful messaging, and even more focus on different segments. Retargeting still in its infancy, but it is an emerging, powerful channel. We are already seeing merchants moving some budgets away from SEO/SEM towards retargeting.
After all, everyone understands that if a merchant has a 2% site conversion, it will promptly be losing 98% of the traffic it buys - one metric we provide is the uplift in the merchant’s return conversion figure. This measures the baseline of visitors who return and convert, and compares this to the retargeted return conversion rate. And we’re seeing an uplift of between 300 and 700% on this metric.

Data and the state of digital advertising are two of the subjects being covered at the AOP Summit on 14 October – find out more about this, our flagship event of the year.