Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Legolas lets you to buy audiences like you buy context – pub direct

Audience buying has made a huge difference to so many brands. The idea of zero-waste planning and execution holds tremendous appeal, especially in an era in which we all need to drive more results from the same dollars.
Exchanged based buying has its limitations, however:
  • Planning challenges of buying impressions real time versus in predictable quantities
  • Limited range of creative options
  • Concerns about environment and brand safety
  • Preponderance of “bottom of the barrel” leftover inventory
To be sure, some exchanges and DSPs have been making headway on these issues. But there are still plenty of hurdles, ESPECIALLY for brand marketers who are focused primarily on brand metrics.
Enter Legolas. Legolas bills itself as the first audience futures marketplace, using a unique media sales platform to help brands and agencies buy audiences in advance from publishers they like and trust.
Instead of focusing on leftovers and RTB, Legolas offers a sort of automated RFP process – only its focus is on audience-based media transactions. Here’s how it works:
  1. The buyer identifies the audience they want to purchase. To do this, they can use first and third party data, including site visitation data.
  2. Legolas forecasts the amount of inventory they can buy from specific pubs during a given period.
  3. The brand identifies a ceiling price for the campaign, and the platform “rfps” the approved list of pubs, inviting them to bid on a campaign. If a pub chooses to participate, they set a price they are willing to sell at (below the brand-set campaign max.) Other approved pubs also make their bids.
  4. The timed reverse auction expires, and the Legolas platform develops five possible spend combinations from the bids.
  5. Brand chooses one of the approaches, or makes certain changes to the recommended allocation, and makes the buy.
For pubs, the process is self service. Brands/agencies can choose a self serve option or work with the Legolas account team to formulate their plans.
Let’s talk for a moment about the advantages that this system offers for brands and pubs.
Brands: The opportunity to buy high quality inventory of all types – in set quantities by pubs – restores a sense of control to the planning and buying process that has been lost in some exchange-based buying. Further, because the brands identify the sites that interest them, they have much greater control over site and page quality, as well as true transparency about where the ads will run. And they can do all this for AUDIENCE, meaning that zero waste buying can be a reality for brands with even the very highest quality standards.
Pubs: Legolas lets pubs capture the true value of their inventory because they can earn rates that reflect the quality and composition of their audiences. While the exchanges offer a value advantage over the rates that pubs were getting from networks, they only did so for very standardized units, and only for last minute buys. Further, they can pre-sell inventory as they would with context. Finally, because the pubs are RFPed by named brands, each site can set its proposal prices without the fear of undermining their direct sales efforts. If a brand RFPs them that is already buying contextually from them, they can set prices in Legolas auctions accordingly.
I am a big fan of anything that helps pubs get the true value for their audiences. I am also a big believer in the power of environment to enhance or attract from the BRAND BUILDING VALUE of advertising. With Legolas, brands and pubs have a win-win. Both buyers and sellers benefit from a transactions system that gives each group what they need most. Hard not to like that.

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