Mar 7 2019
Anthony Loredo

What is Audience Extension? - Ask the Expert


‘Ask the Expert’ is a blog series that breaks down the complicated tools, tech, and trends you’ve been hearing about in the trade pubs and around the office. We reach out to our in-house experts to ask the tough questions and turn them into bite-sized Q&As for your reading pleasure.

This month’s topic? Audience Extension. We brought in Centro’s VP of publisher solutions, John Hyland, to give us the breakdown.

What is audience extension?

Audience extension has long been associated with local media companies who sell off-site inventory based on demand from their local advertisers. The rep at a local media company is uniquely positioned to help their best customers with all of their digital needs – SEM, Social, and all forms of display (mobile, video, desktop, and native). Audience extension is rapidly being adopted by national websites too. National publications are adding incremental dollars to their media plans by helping advertisers buy impressions across the rest of the web to reach their audiences on any site and digital device.

Why would a media company do this?

Local publishers want to capture a larger share of the advertiser’s digital advertising budget. Today, nearly all local media companies have scalable operations to service the digital needs of local clients, therefore, no one else is more equipped to understand the needs of local advertisers. On the national side, it is about maximizing yield from their core, proprietary audience. Advertisers buy ads on national websites because of reach, association with media brands, and audience loyalty. If the advertiser has a larger budget than a single site can accommodate with its own inventory, the site needs to extend its audience off-site during the rest of its users’ online journey.

Couldn’t a publisher get more revenue just by adding more ads on their pages?

Media companies already place many ads on the page—user-experience is still very important. Many companies use audience extension to stay in front of audiences with frequency, or cross-platform. If a reader goes to a website twice a day for 30-minutes, there is a large amount of digital screen time that the advertiser’s message isn’t in front of the customer.

How does programmatic play a role in this strategy?

On the local side, it is the most efficient way to blanket a specific marketplace. Programmatic gives the ability to reach customers within a 30-minute drive of your storefront in real-time. The programmatic landscape empowers local publishers to bid on inventory cross-platform, regardless of device. From a national perspective, it is all about first-party data. National media companies need programmatic advertising to find them across thousands of sites, in order to scale audiences efficiently.

How much of audience extension is being adopted?

Local media companies have grown incremental revenue for the last 10+ years. You would be hard pressed to find a local newspaper, radio, or TV station that isn’t doing some form of audience extension from SMB rep management, to full-blown agency-style trading desks offering SEM, Social and Programmatic Display. National media companies started adopting this practice in the last three-to-four years. The ones who have adopted it have advertisers that demand more of their audience, and more ways to reach their audience.

How could a publisher differentiate its extension strategy?

The biggest differentiators are service, transparency, strategy, and education. Everyone has access to the same data and the same inventory (impressions). Advertisers want partners that can optimize quickly, in real-time, and who are transparent about what they are buying. For the national side, advertisers are buying the site because they love its brand safe atmosphere and audience. It’s better to work with the site, who will just add a line-item to advertisers’ current plans, and the whole strategy is executed through one point of contact, bill, and holistic strategy.

Ok, I’m sold. What does Centro offer for audience extension?

Centro offers a self-service and a managed service solution. In the self-service option, we train your buyers and sellers to sell and execute campaigns using our platform, Basis. Self-service is a differentiator—it allows for speed, control, and increased margins. For others, it isn’t efficient to build out an internal team. Therefore, they leverage Centro for the strategy and execution of the digital media buys. We power programmatic buying in the open marketplace, private marketplaces and more. Basis also ingests SEM, social and direct buying data to provide a robust agency-style trading desk and a holistic view of their campaigns via one platform.