What Is Pre-Bid Targeting, and How Does It Drive Performance?



David Simutis
What Is Pre-Bid Targeting, and How Does It Drive Performance?

Everything seems to be getting faster. The speed at which businesses do, well, business, continues to accelerate. Digital and CTV advertising are no exception; speed is crucial for all types of digital advertising, but it’s especially pertinent regarding pre-bid targeting. But before we get into why speed matters, let’s take a high-level view of how pre-bid targeting works to set the stage. 

How Pre-Bid Targeting Works

Pre-bid contextual targeting and brand safety providers deliver the data to buying platforms, or demand-side platforms (DSPs). The DSP then searches the inputted data via an (almost-always) internal cache populated with the pre-bid solution provider’s external cache which is then associated with the domain or URL. However, data providers can deliver data at both the domain and page levels, while some pre-index a set number of pages across a selected number of domains, storing the response at the domain level. 

The process can take a while. The time to live (TTL) evaluates how long a cache should keep a web page or domain and when it should let either expire. As about 90% of all pages are new every 24 hours, the DSP searching its cache for an ad opportunity likely won’t see any data during the first 24 hours; it simply hasn’t had the time to cache. 

So, the sooner data becomes available, the faster an ad can show up after a bid request. Your supply-side platform (SSP) can then classify the content to your target category or keyword list. However, if you want to avoid specific content categories or keywords, you can run ads on this content until your pre-bid provider caches it.

No matter your pre-bid filters, speed is essential, which is why successful pre-bid targeting can make a massive difference in getting the most out of your ad spend—and getting in front of new audiences. 

What Is Pre-Bid Targeting?

Pre-bid targeting is a sophisticated programmatic ad tech solution by which publishers rely on unique segments and line items to ensure more appropriate ad targeting efforts and higher media quality. Organizations, including Integral Ad Science (IAS), have extensive pre-bid targeting segments, including—but not limited to—the following:

  • Viewability: Targeted sites with X% viewability or greater
  • Anti-ad fraud: Sites and/or users not deemed suspicious, high-risk, or fraudulent 
  • Brand safety: Exclude high-risk sites or apps based on specific content
  • Content categories: Categories identified as beneficial (or harmful) to brands’ initiatives 

Pre-Bid Targeting and CTV

Pre-bid targeting is an especially powerful tool for contextual connected TV (CTV) advertising, offering brand suitability controls to optimize advertising efforts in reaching the right audiences as quickly as possible. Faster caching means faster ad placement, afterall, and that’s never been more important; CTV has outpaced linear TV in terms of fastest-growing digital advertising channel. By 2025, CTV households will exceed 115 million—up more than 9 million since 2021. 

With increasingly more eyes on CTV, organizations have the opportunity to find new audiences. However, not every audience will resonate with a brand’s ads. That’s where brand suitability and brand safety come into play.

How Does Pre-Bid Targeting Relate to Post-Bid?

Speed isn’t the only important factor to weigh when considering CTV. Brand safety is (or at least should be) a major concern for all organizations, as following brand safety best practices protects a brand’s reputation by avoiding showing ads near inappropriate content. What brands deem inappropriate or harmful varies between brands. But no matter which types of content—adult, violent, hate speech, etc.—brands block, pre-bid targeting should increase ad efficiency. That means ensuring your ads don’t attract invalid traffic, or users who don’t resonate with your brand.

Peer39 offers a brand safety solution and brand suitability controls for CTV, with pre-bid contextual categories explicitly designed to ensure CTV buyers avoid high-risk or unknown channels once their ads go live. 

Post-Bid targeting

Post-bid targeting, however, happens on the other side of an impression. Where pre-bid targeting works based on known and predetermined categories, post-bid targeting bases blocking decisions on more nuanced, real-time occurrences. Unlike pre-bid targeting, on-page JavaScript detects the URL. A good rule to remember is that pre-bid targeting is virtually always used in programmatic efforts, where post-bid blocking works in direct buys and elsewhere.

Pre-Bid Contextual Keyword Targeting Vs. Traditional Targeting

A lot has changed (and will continue to change) in the digital advertising ecosystem, including keyword targeting approaches. Traditional keyword targeting long relied on an “Exact Match” methodology—which is exactly what it sounds like: brands’ keyword targeting matched the specific word(s) or phrase(s) included on a page, in a doc, or search engine.

Eventually, though, broad match, stemming, and probabilistic methodologies popped up to scale efforts. For example, broad search includes misspellings so someone searching for “snoqboard bindings” would likely see results and ads for “snowboard bindings.” However, these approaches don’t necessarily help brands’ scale; they can still miss users' intent, placing an ad in front of people who are not interested in their product or service. 

Basically, if you spend more to scale, but the wider net casts over smaller fish that slip through the netting, you may have covered more fish, but you brought in just as few as before you cast that wider net—and you spent more money to do so.

Pre-Bid Contextual Targeting Is Different

Pre-bid contextual targeting relies on Exact Match to ensure better results for different video ad formats and contextual signals for display. However, Exact Match alone doesn’t solve the scaling issue. That’s where Peer39’s advanced contextual data solutions come in. Coupled with the tomes of content we can process and Exact Match’s proven performance, your brand receives boundless scaling when it comes to pre-bid contextual targeting and keyword/content avoidance. 

How Speed Increases Scale in Pre-Bid Targeting

We can’t forget that impression scale is shrinking while media costs are rising. Essentially, there’s more competition, which increases media and data access costs. That intensifies financial and performance pains for companies trying to get their ads in front of new audiences. 

The process becomes more frustrating when you’re bidding on the same keywords as a growing number of advertisers within a particularly small or niche category; companies with only a few competitors offering niche products or services will feel this differently than those in larger or broader industries. However, each may face CPMs exceeding $15—which may not be sustainable for some advertisers.

Partnering with a provider that practices real-time bidding and processing is your best option. Otherwise, you’re losing out on getting ahead of competitors and in front of new potential customers or clients—all because of sluggish processing. Succinctly, the quicker your pre-bid targeting provider classifies, the easier (and better) you can scale. 

Can Pre-Bid Targeting Save Your Budget?

Yes, unequivocally. Take header bidding, for example. Publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before reaching out to their ad servers to increase publisher yield and revenue. That means more money for publishers, but also access to higher-quality audiences, albeit at a cost to advertisers. That’s why pre-bid targeting at scale can save you money in the near and long terms. 

With scale beyond what any other pre-bid targeting solution offers, Peer39’s pre-bid targeting solution imparts less competition on each impression due to 30% to 50% larger impression pools, reducing your overall media cost. You’ll also save 20% on data costs, maximizing your media spend. 

The best part? No need to alter your digital advertising strategy, update your goals, or increase your ad budget. Sign up now to test Peer39’s GDPR-compliant solution and see the difference we make in your advertising efforts.    

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