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How Important is First Look?

Man, John Ebbert didn’t call me on this, but I have an opinion and here I go:

AdExchanger recently asked a bunch of people about the value of “First Look” at inventory.

I felt like the answers reflected a range of sophistication on the topic, but I am here to tell you that first look is the whole ball of wax.

In fact, first look is so important that it drives home the value of RTB as a disruptive force in advertising: the chance to see every impression is incredibly valuable.

I have blogged a fair amount about the incentives and value of front-running inventory, but let me recap in brief:

  • Getting “Frequency 1” users allows a network to have more reach than competitors – a powerful lure for brand sales: This was one of the keys that helped (and continues to help) people like Yahoo! and dominate the market.
  • More visibility improves the reach of behavioral campaigns – if you see more of a user with a given behavioral characteristic (e.g. retargeting behaviors), you can show more impressions and make more money.
  • The more ads a person has already seen, the worse an ad performs: The chance to use earlier impressions has a powerful impact on conversion
  • More reach – particularly low frequency reach – is a key driver of monetizing CPA campaigns.

The result is that both DR advertisers and brand-focused ad networks reap substantial benefits from peaking at inventory.

RTB has been a great equalizer here – suddenly boutique companies that have very low fill rates or occupy a tiny niche in the market have the chance to peak at huge volumes of impressions without committing to purchasing them. This capability has helped drive the success of many of the ecommerce companies that have sprung up in the wake of the evolution of online advertising.

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