6 Unexpected Ways Programmatic Advertising Strengthened my Love of Statistics

Alice BezettData ScientistMore about Alice

Alice Bezett is one of our resident data scientists here at Bannerconnect. She digs deep into our vast quantities of first, second and third party data for the insights that give our clients’ programmatic advertising the edge to stand out from the crowd. She comes to us from a background in finance and academia, but has found her passion for statistics renewed in programmatic. Read more from Alice on how a career in programmatic has strengthened her love of statistics.

Statistics is one of the most powerful tools we have to make meaning out of data. In programmatic advertising, pulling information we need out of it helps us create valuable insights for advertisers. Big data is having something of a moment right now. There seems to be a big push to collect as much as you can and try to back every decision with data. This has triggered a lot of companies to start collecting a lot of data, but without a vision on how to leverage it. Many fail to realise that without statistics, careful analysis, and most of all, a game plan, all the data in the world is utterly useless Twitter icon That’s why I love statistics; it’s this beautiful thing that underpins everything, creating meaning and insight. While each industry uses statistics in different ways to make sense of things that are important to that industry, it’s essentially the same everywhere.

I’d never worked in or studied advertising before, but I really felt that having a strong base in statistics helped me to get a good start – statistics is universal so it didn’t matter. I’ve learned more over the past six months working in programmatic here at Bannerconnect than I have over several years in other roles, both commercial and academic. Programmatic is all about creating value for the advertiser and delivering a great user experience for the consumer Twitter icon, while analysing data to find new ways to innovate and make advertising better. This makes my job quite demanding, but with all the variation and opportunity it’s always interesting and also a lot of fun. I’ve always loved statistics, but working in programmatic has turned it into something more. The following is how programmatic has strengthened my love of statistics:

#1. I use stats more extensively than ever
Possibly the most unexpected thing is that I’ve learned a lot more about statistics working in programmatic. I’ve never used statistics as in-depth as I do now, using different types of data and figuring out which methods are the most applicable to get the most out of it. I’m also a lot more aware of other research out there and am always looking for overlap to find out if it can improve how I do my work. For example, reading widely can help you draw parallels between methods in advertising and even fields as distant as medicine. Lots of people are solving similar problems, and it’s always great to widen your perspective and see what else is out there, rather than getting boxed in. Before starting at Bannerconnect, I had no idea of the intricacies behind online media trading. It forced me to go back to where I started with stats and figure it all out from scratch. I like being in a position where I get to experiment so I don’t get stuck in a rut, and it’s really helped me sharpen my skills.

#2. There’s always a different angle
Working in programmatic advertising is a collaboration between so many different people, personality types and disciplines Twitter icon From campaign managers, to marketers, to software developers, to media strategists – each has different goals and angles that they’re coming from. It really forces you to change your perspective, be more critical about the way you’re thinking and look at problems from other peoples’ point of view. When someone asks me a question, I try to think about what they really want from my answer, how they’re going to use that information and what they ultimately want to achieve with it; do they want to wow a client or optimise a campaign in a new way? This isn’t really something that I ever considered in an academic environment, and has definitely enriched my work!

#3. There’s sooooo much data
It’s not just a lot of data in the programmatic advertising industry, it’s really high quality data. Like, tonnes of it. Many industries also have a lot of data, but not on the same scale as digital advertising and with as much opportunity to use it Twitter icon – It feels almost limitless, and I love the possibility to constantly test out new theories. Getting to the really good stuff requires some work, through filtering, analysis, and machine learning to cut to the essence. The way Bannerconnect stores their data allows us to drill down to the individual user, and explore their personal journey through an advertiser’s campaign. By aggregating similar users, and studying their behaviours, we’re able to gain real insight into what is effective in programmatic, and what isn’t. That’s where the magic happens.

#4. Having access to proprietary tech to manage data makes my job a lot easier
For any project, the most important thing to get started is collecting your data and cleaning it up Twitter icon As you can imagine, vast amounts of data can easily become messy and incoherent. I was so relieved when I joined Bannerconnect to find the exact opposite. Thanks to Core, the data is so well organised and maintained – we can accurately match a single user across several data sources to gain a very wide view, with less restriction. It really empowered me to hit the ground running when I started. As we’re working in such a data-heavy industry and environment, having such a good structure in place is not a benefit, it’s essential. Not just because it makes my job easier, but also for our clients who get the most up to date data analysed in the most accurate way, with a quick turnaround time.

#5. I feel more connected to people
Working with programmatic data gets me thinking about how a person might act on a webpage, what kind of experience they’ll have, and how that relates to the data I see and the signals that come out of it. Ultimately, we want to try to influence how a person behaves by getting their attention and enticing them towards an action Twitter icon At the same time, I try to think about what the experience is going to be like for the end user and how we can make that advertising experience less annoying. I really think we have a great opportunity to learn about the behaviour of people, and what motivates them to act in the way they do. I find that aspect of this really fascinating.

#6. I’m really challenged to keep learning and improving
Like any other skill, to be the best you’ve really got to stay on top of it. I’m lucky that in my job at Bannerconnect I get the opportunity to stay on top of new research and have the freedom to investigate properly so I can find the best solution, rather than just a quick fix. I’m almost always stuck into a different course on statistics, machine learning, or just something math-y. I also like to always have a textbook on the go and try to have a really wide range of research resources available. Right now I’m focused a lot on ad tech and attribution and how that’s been done in the past. There has been some really great thinking done in this field, and it’s a pleasure to take the time to read it. On top of reading a lot, I’ll also often do sample problems and exercises. Maintaining your knowledge is really important. No matter how much you know, you can always know more.

No matter what your role is in a company, I think everyone can benefit from using maths and statistics in your work, and even your day-to-day life. Any time you’re using numbers you should ask yourself: does this seem sensible? How can I verify the data collection/sample/analysis? If nothing else, it will reassure you that the data and information you’re using is as good as you can get it, and it will help you sniff out errors faster. There are also many free online courses, it’s a great jumping off point to at least learn the names of the things you want to be able to do. You might even find you end up loving statistics as I do. No matter what you do, there’s a good chance maths and stats can help you do it better. Statistically speaking, of course.

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