Programmatic Video #WoTW: What Are Audience Segments?

Programmatic video is the fastest-growing category of programmatic buying, but a lot of marketers are still struggling to get to grips with the basics.

A recent study by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester found that only 23% of marketers said they understood programmatic and were using it to execute their campaigns. This is despite the fact that more than half of US publishers reported selling their premium video ad inventory programmatically in August 2014 (, while mega-brands like American Express and P&G vowed to shift the majority of their ad spend to programmatic by the end of 2014.

There’s clearly a knowledge gap between the programmatic front lines and everyday marketers, making 2015 a key year for programmatic education. As with any burgeoning new trend, one of the main causes of confusion is vocabulary.

Any discussion of the topic produces a web of jargon and acronyms that’s enough to send anyone running to Google. But fear not, this is easily solved.

Each week we’ll be serving up handy guides to the most important programmatic video terms, courtesy of Unruly co-founder and CTO, Matthew Cooke. Last week looked at what a private marketplace is. This week, Matt explains what audience segments are. Stick around and see how quickly you can master the art of programmatic.

What are audience segments?

Audiences segmentation is the process of dividing people up into subgroups based on particular criteria. Those might be demographic groups (e.g. age, gender, education, income), behavioral or some other type of grouping. Unruly Custom Audiences goes one further by identifying which groups are most likely to be emotionally engaged by a specific video ad.

In the world of online advertising, data providers and data management platforms (DMPs) do their own audience segmentation. In practice, they tend to create audience segments based on the types of data they have brought or data they can easily collect. You can often get slightly different segments from the different data providers as there is no universally agreed set of segments. For instance, with age ranges, providers often pick similar but slightly different age ranges to group by.

DMPs store data against unique identifiers that they created for each user. Having created audience segments like “Gender Female” and “Age 18-25”, they then create mappings to all the unique identifiers they believe belong in that segment. When someone wants to serve you an ad, they look at your user identifier and they find out which audience segments you are mapped to.

Are you interested in what audience segments you have been placed in? If so you can have a look here – this data is from a large DMP and shows you what data they hold about you based on the unique ID stored on your browser/computer.

A privacy advantage of tracking people using unique identifiers is that’s it’s easy for people to opt out by simply deleting the unique identifier stored on your computer. One way to opt out is via these consumer websites that list many of the data and advertising platforms: