Big Data

For a smart advertising

28 January 2020 | Written by Alberto Laratro

AI and technology are now indispensable tools for delivering increasingly targeted and less invasive advertising messages. We talked about it with Ilaria Zampori, General Manager of Quantcast Italia.

Let’s pretend we just bought a scooter in a store. Certainly from the next day our online behavior will also change: since it is winter we will perhaps look for gloves or a leg cover, we will calculate the home-office time on the map and we will probably also start visiting sites with weather forecasts. Hence the reception of advertisements that are absolutely relevant and in line with our new needs, as if the network has noticed this change. Allowing these dynamics are the Artificial Intelligence systems that are used to understand our needs and tastes by setting in motion a complex data analysis machine that, like breadcrumbs, conduct advertising on our devices. Sometimes in a way, perhaps, too insistent.

Thanks to technological progress, however, the algorithms that operate behind advertising campaigns are becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable of grasping our real interests (as consumers), showing us today an advertisement less similar to a bombing and closer to intelligent purchase suggestions.

To understand how these algorithms operate and what challenges the world of marketing is facing to provide a better service, we interviewed Ilaria Zampori, General Manager of Quantcast Italia, an international company founded on Machine Learning applied to online advertising in real-time.


How has the world of advertising changed with the arrival of AI?

Artificial Intelligence, and in particular Machine Learning, is undoubtedly revolutionizing the online advertising sector. Thanks to ML, the most relevant AI subcategory for brands and marketing, we see not only an incredible optimization of data management and analysis but also and above all the transformation of simple data into real actionable insights, that is valuable information, fundamental for marketers in the realization of winning and performing strategies.


What does it mean?

It means that today we can understand in a timely and complete way the online behavior of consumers and deliver advertising messages perfectly in line with their expectations and needs. The ML therefore allowed to develop a new approach in digital advertising based no longer on the purchase of spaces but on a more direct and real connection with the true consumer of the brand. An innovative paradigm for the sector aimed at creating an increasingly personalized and unique advertising experience.


Regarding Machine Learning and the use you make of AI, how do these models and the platform itself operate?

Quantcast’s business starts with Quantcast Measure, the solution we own that allows you to manage and analyze exclusively first-party data from over 100 million web and mobile destinations. Once the data has been collected, the brand audience is identified through patterns in which users with similar demographic and / or behavioral attributes are grouped. Based on these patterns, AI then generates predictive models

capable of identifying and reaching new consumers with characteristics that are as similar as possible to the brand audience and therefore potentially interested in the advertising we want to show them. The big plus of these models is that operating in real-time, they manage to capture the attention of the user in the target at the most correct moment.


So do you have access to a large amount of data, how are they used and what are they specifically?

The data we use to show the right message to the right person at the right time are mainly socio-demographic and behavioral: our customers need to know their consumer. In the advertising world, however, there are two most relevant variables in terms of data: volume and quality. On the one hand, the greater the amount of data available, the more information is needed to outline the profile of the ideal consumer, on the other, the more recent and complete the data, the more the machine is able to learn the correct information in real-time and concretely support marketers in achieving the set goals.


Cambridge Analytica has been a jolt in the environment, has it changed anything in your sector, both from an ethical and legislative point of view?

Surely the case has not gone unnoticed not only among us operators in the sector but also among end consumers. What we noticed after Cambridge Analytica was in fact a growing interest by users on issues related to the privacy of online data. In Quantcast we have always adopted a privacy-by-design approach, giving top priority to data security. We do not seek or use the most sensitive personal data, the so-called PII (Personal Identifiable Information) including names and contact information, but only absolutely anonymous information on online behavior derived from cookies.

The issue of privacy is however increasingly relevant, not only for the greater request for transparency and consumer information but also for the entry into force of the GDPR, the general European regulation on data protection introduced in May 2018. Important legislation for Quantcast created and launched Quantcast Choice, a proprietary Consent Management Platform (CMP) that allows publishers, advertisers and other website owners to ask for and obtain consumers’ consent to use their data to measure their online activities and continue to provide advertising and digital content to all citizens of the European Union, according to the new GDPR directives. Completely free platform followed by the release of a paid premium version last year.


For the future, what are the real challenges that your sector will face both from a technological and ethical point of view?

The main challenges certainly remain ad fraud, in all its forms, and privacy, a matter in constant evolution. However, we must also not forget transparency and ethics, essential themes if we want to avoid the phenomenon of the so-called “advertising bombardment” which consists in overexposing the consumer to an excessive number of advertisements that are not always of interest.

The queen of the challenges, however, will be able to capture their attention in an increasingly connected and competitive world where only brands that will emerge and stand out with advertising designed and created for that precise and unique consumer will be successful.

Alberto Laratro
Alberto Laratro

Graduated in Communication Studies and with a Master in Communication of Science taken at the SISSA of Trieste, he understood that in his life science and communication are two fixed points.

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