Not all pre-bid targeting data is created equal and it is important to understand why and how. Most advertisers focus on understanding the data itself, the quality of categorization, or features, such as whether the data asset can support custom keyword targeting or avoidance. This, of course, is important to understand, and there are differences between vendors, but you should also fully understand the differences in how companies like us do what we do.
What is the process for a bid request or an impression being classified? Is it classified using the URL or the domain? What happens if a page is new and there is no data? How long does a new classification take to be available for targeting? All of these questions are really important and should be understood by anyone choosing a pre-bid targeting, contextual or brand safety solution.
Through this document and others within this resource, we aim to give you some baseline knowledge of all pre-bid solution providers, and we can answer those questions as it relates to us.
Pre-bid targeting, contextual, and brand safety: how it works
As a starting point, pre-bid contextual and brand safety providers are providing data to the buying platform. For every bid request that a DSP gets from an SSP or exchange, the DSP is looking up the data available via a cache mechanism.
In most situations, it’s an internal cache at the DSP that is populated with data from an external cache from the pre-bid solution provider. The data in the cache will be associated with the URL or the domain.
The process looks something like this:
Pages vs Domains
When an ad opportunity is available for auction at a buying platform, like your DSP, it is associated with a page. That page (or URL) is part of a website (or a Domain). Consider an ad opportunity on www.pre-bid-targeting.com/all_context_is_not_the_same/. "all_context_is_not_the_same" is the page within the “pre-bid-targeting.com” site.
It’s important to understand if your data provider is providing data at the page level, or at the domain level. Some providers will pre-index X number of pages across Y number of domains to populate their cache and they store the response at the domain level.
Peer39 understands the context of each individual page and does not roll up to the domain level.
TTL, or time to live
The time to live is a measure of how long a page or domain should be kept in a cache and when it should expire. Through internal research, Peer39 has determined that 90% of all pages are new every 24 hours. This makes sense as there is so much new content created on a regular basis online.
Peer39 has a maximum time to live of 24 hours.
Populating the cache
When an ad opportunity is available for auction in the DSP, the DSP will look up the page in a cache for the contextual targeting signals from the pre-bid targeting provider. If the URL is a new page, one that was recently published and never seen before then there is likely no data available for that page.
Advertisers should understand what happens if there is no data for that page as different pre-bid solutions will have different ways that they treat these situations.
The pre-bid provider can recognize that they don’t have any classification for this page and start a process to evaluate the page to extract the contextual data from the page and populate the cache. We call this a round trip.
The importance of time in pre-bid targeting
It’s important to understand what the process is for a pre-bid provider to update their cache. Time is literally money when it comes to this process. Faster classification means more scale and more scale means better performance.
In the example shown below, 41% of bid requests happened in the first hour.
If you are trying to avoid a category or keyword list, your ads will run on content like this until your pre-bid provider can classify it and update their cache that it is negative content.
If you are trying to target a category or keyword list, your ads will not appear until your pre-bid targeting provider can classify the content and update their cache with the resulting targets.
In both situations, speed is your friend, as it enables the pre-bid provider to produce the results quickly.
Choosing a pre-bid solution
Unfortunately, not all pre-bid advertising technology is the same. If your pre-bid provider is not processing pages in real-time, you are working with the wrong provider.
Some companies have post-buy brand safety/verification businesses and will use the ad delivery data to feed their cache
The problem with this method is that it is slow. Often it can take up to 24 hours for a page to be added or updated to the cache.
Another problem is that this method will not see all of the URLs associated with standard ad delivery mechanics, like the fact that most ads are delivered into iFrames and Safe Frames once on the publisher site. This makes understanding the URL more challenging. And if you don’t see the URL, how do you know what’s on it?
Both of these problems will result in less scale of inventory available to advertisers.
Another method that companies employ is to pre-scan or pre-crawl popular websites and build an index of webpages in advance.
The problem with this method is that there can often be a mismatch between the time a page was crawled and the time the advertiser is trying to bid on an impression. The contextual data might be out of date, or inaccurate.
Additionally, there can also be a mismatch between the sites and pages that were crawled, and those that are available to be bought through programmatic channels. If you only crawl the top X number of sites, then the buyer of that data is also restricted to the same number of sites.
Both of these problems will result in lower scale of inventory in pre bid.
Peer39 is the only company that has First Look technology that can process URLs in real-time, This provides the maximum scale for advertisers looking to target or avoid using keywords, context or brand safety solutions.
Other articles to read in this series:
- Why speed is important in a pre-bid targeting, contextual, or brand safety solution
- Why scale is important in a pre-bid targeting, contextual, or brand safety solution
- Why speed and scale can reduce media cost in a pre-bid targeting, contextual, or brand safety solution
- How you can achieve 50% more efficiency with pre-bid targeting, contextual, or brand safety
- Why you should continue to use a post-buy verification solution, just not for pre-bid targeting