A little while ago, the craze was in real-time bidding [RTB] where companies bid on specific impressions (spots where ads are shown). RTB is a form of programmatic advertising which essentially means that marketers pre-set a list of criteria they want. When these are matched, their ad will automatically be shown. For example, an ad will only show if the viewer is male, 20-30, and likes sports.
This allows brands to set highly specific targeting. Which as it stands, is coming out as the forefront strength on online advertising. As companies continue to find better algorithms and ways to manipulate the wealth of information online, there will increasingly be better ways to ‘find’ the people you want.
Considering that in every other form of advertising, you can only generalize who sees your ad (such as placing sports adverts in sports magazines), programmatic ads have the potential to put an end to the old saying by John Wanamaker that “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”