Unacast's Connection With the Ad Tech World

December 3, 2015
Birte Steen
VP Strategic Partnerships & Business Development

In my daily conversations with Proximity Solution Providers (hereafter PSPs) I get the question of how Unacast is connected to the world of online advertising. In a recent post we explained that Unacast aggregates and translates beacon interactions into context and serves them to ad platforms for retargeting. To explain how proximity data is transformed into a display ad based on offline behaviour, I really should start with a crash course in the rapidly evolving world of digital advertising.

Automated advertising

Simply put, you have the demand side consisting of retailers/brands that want to advertise. The supply side consists of publishers that have websites with traffic that they want retailers/brands to buy ads on. Both the publishers and retailers/brands wants these ads to work as well as possible. Historically digital ads were bought and sold by human ad buyers and salespeople, which are costly and unreliable.

Referring back to our previous blogpost the world of online advertising is moving towards automation and programmatic. Programmatic simply means automated and incorporates any ad buy that gets processed through machines. The process is similar to the stock market with buyers and sellers, but with display ads instead of stocks. This trading system ensures advertisers the best price and the best placements. Through automation, the transactions become more efficient, by removing the possibility of human error from the process wherever possible.

As a consequence, a whole range of players specializing in optimizing how ad campaigns are bought and sold have evolved. Publishers are making more of their inventory (the ad space a publisher has available to sell to an advertiser) available through marketplaces called ad exchanges. An ad exchange is a software tool that connects advertisers and publishers that facilitate the purchase of inventory. Publishers may use Supply Side Platforms (SSP) to help them better manage and sell their inventory. Many advertisers prefer purchasing ads using Demand Side Platforms (hereafter DSPs), because it’s more cost efficient to do so.

What is a DSP?

Online advertising inventory is often calculated in terms of the number of page impressions, an impression being defined as one user looking at one ad. DSPs allow advertisers to buy impressions across a range of publisher sites, targeted to specific users based on the available data they have about that user. The better quality the data the more accurate the DSP can be.

There is no question that DSPs have the upper hand in terms of reach, and is thereby the easiest way to achieve scale. DSPs are, however, at the intersection of data and technology. The technology is there, but without the data needed to display the right ad to the right person, it simply won’t work. A DSP buys advertising based on information fed by Demand Side Platforms (hereafter DMP).

What is a DMP?


Unacast is a DMP and our partner DSPs buy advertising based on the proximity data we provide. The logic behind a DMP is to provide detailed information about customers to create hyper-targeted ads, which result in higher conversion rates. Unacast adds knowledge about who is clicking on an ad based on offline data, making sure the DSP displays the right ad to the right person.

Most retailers and brands have outsourced their advertising budget to a media agency. To follow the shift into automated buying the media agencies have access to and buy ads through DSPs. This means that retailers/brands that wants to add retargeting to their proximity campaign can go directly to their media agency and make sure they buy ads based on the ready-made proximity data delivered by Unacast to the DSP.

So how does it work?

Unacast does not collect the proximity data ourselves. That is the business of the PSPs, who specialize in maximizing the in-store experience. All PSPs collect data in different ways and the advertising platforms cannot make use of their data in a scalable way. There is a need for an enabler that harmonizes the data into one industry recognized tagging structure that can be used across all advertising platforms. Unacast adds this tagging structure to the data from the PSPs and makes it ready for retargeting through our partner DSPs. The media buyers will only need to learn this/one tagging structure in order to query data needed for proximity campaigns. That way, the PSPs can focus on their core business and at the same time offer their clients the opportunity to bring their customers back to the store.

  1. The PSPs collect the unique device advertising identifiers’ interactions with beacons
  2. The PSP does a server to server integration with the PROX platform
  3. Unacast harmonizes the data into customer segments by adding industry recognized tagging structure
  4. The retailer/brand’s media agency creates a mobile campaign in the DSPs by targeting the ready-made customer segments from Unacast
  5. The ad is displayed to the right person based on their previous interactions with beacons.
  6. The DSP reports the performance of the campaign to Unacast and back to the retailer/brand

In summary

Unacast serves as the enabler, facilitating offline data to flow from retailers and brands own apps, in the shape of user segments that can be targeted across publishers. By integrating and structuring your offline data in the PROX platform, you can basically find your audience anywhere on the web and retarget them back to the store. Unacast makes the impressions hyper-targeted to help retailers and brands reach their campaign goals quicker.