Why You Need More Cowbell


I believe it was the late, great Bruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken) who advised a cowbell-playing Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell) to “explore the space” in SNL’s hilarious interpretation of Blue Oyster Cult’s recording of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”  Yes, it’s fictitious – but Bruce’s sage advice led to music-making (and comedic) genius!  So I implore you, modern retailer, to do the same…

For nearly a decade, retail advertising dollars have been heavily allocated to retargeting vendors and third-party cookie distributors alike – and for good reason: to leverage brand familiarity to breed campaign success. But therein lies the problem: in focusing your advertising efforts on an already- familiar audience and not reaching new audiences, campaigns can’t scale. And, the data is expensive – far too expensive for the performance-minded retailer seeking a cost-effective way to drive sales online. Fortunately, with the advent of next-generation demand side platforms (DSPs) – whose reach extends across 100% of the internet audience – retailers can purchase the same retargeting solution at roughly a third of the once-leading vendors’ costs.

Let us for a moment equate the world of eCommerce to that of brick-and-mortar. Would it make sense to show television and OOH ads only to customers who had already visited your store? No, that would not be a good investment. The truth is, consumers are typically drawn to a store through a variety of ways, such as repeated advertisements, strategic ad placements, referrals from friends, etc. eCommerce should be no different in this regard. It’s time for internet retailers to grow their businesses, engage new customers, and choose display so that the customer chooses you.

Early DSPs and ad networks – if they haven’t already left a bad taste in your mouth– will face their greatest challenge yet: winning and retaining the business of performance advertisers with their static pricing models. Next-generation DSPs (like DataXu) offer true dynamic pricing via programmatic buying technology and automated campaign optimization. In other words, we have optimized well-past the click and far beyond your “likely” audience.

With early DSPs and ad networks, retailers could not effectively discover new audiences. Both forced the advertiser to pay for overvalued impressions (caused by rule-based [i.e. manually set] bids and expensive, flat CPM rates respectively). That is why DataXu was built on the belief that every impression is worth something different to each advertiser. By leveraging information about your best consumer, DataXu can identify ‘look-alikes’ beyond the finite pools of retargeted users, assign a dollar value to each impression based on the temperature of your prospective buyer, and bid on your behalf – in real time – to win only the impressions that matter to you. In turn, this eliminates media waste, but more importantly, realizes unlimited scale for your campaign. Retailers may have been burned in the past, but RTB technology will certainly award them the last laugh.

New audience discovery is now possible – and it’s a good thing since the online consumer market is growing at breakneck speed. So retailers, try some new things this year. Explore the space. And yes, more cowbell.