Advertising Automation Illuminated

As one might imagine, with the pandemic forcing people to stay at home nearly everyone was looking for new and different ways to be more comfortable at home. That was a good thing for Purple Innovation, Inc. The company saw 170% increase in DTC, which was approximately $54 million of sales for just the month of April alone—and most of those sales were for premium mattresses.

Purple’s ability to grow sales 46% in the first quarter can partly be attributed to those changing consumer behaviors during the pandemic, but there’s also a good dose of engineering ingenuity behind their marketing.

They worked with AcuityAds all-new illumin platform, an advertising automation technology that offers planning, buying and omnichannel intelligence from a single platform, to achieve brand growth and advertising efficiency. The platform enables the creation of consumer journeys with custom messages tied to propensity-scored audiences while closing the gap between planning and execution. Purple was a beta tester of illumin before its official launch in October.

We spoke with Seraj Bharwani, Chief Strategy Officer, AcuityAds to learn more about how illumin differs from DSPs and the potential value that the platform could offer both advertisers and publishers alike.

Gavin Dunaway: So is illumin a DSP, or does that term no longer have any meaning?

Seraj Bharwani: illumin is an omnichannel, Advertising Automation platform that is combining marketing/advertising planning, media activation, optimization, and real-time measurement. There is no demand-side platform in market right now that fits the ad automation category.

GD: Seems a strange time to launch a buy-side platform—many DSPs have been acquired and the trades are filled with whispers about other buy-side platforms struggling. What drove you to launch the product and how will it differentiate to survive?

SB: From a business model and ad industry value chain perspective, DSPs were created to allow agencies to add value as an intermediary in the digital media buying process. A new role of a professional, programmatic media trader was created within a new department called the agency trading desk.

illumin, by contrast, is democratizing the digital advertising function by bringing unique tools to bridge the marketing planning with ad execution. These tools provide an intuitive, user-friendly interface making it easy for an analyst-level role within any marketing function to activate digital advertising programs.

GD: There’s a lot of contradictory reports about programmatic in-housing. illumin has been tested by a wide variety of advertisers, but is there a certain type of advertiser that most benefits from taking the reins of media-buying?

SB: The primary rationale that advertisers give for bringing agency functions (including media activation) is to take control of the consumer journey. That means they want greater control over audience targeting, sequential messaging across channels and screens, and real-time tracking, more transparency in media quality, rates and fees, and cost savings.

illumin takes care of all of it in one fell swoop. Additionally, illumin creates a streamlined process between planning and activation which helps break through the silos in typical marketing organizations.

GD: What’s the benefit for publishers in partnering with an independent buying platform like illumin? (Or can they even?)

SB: Publishers have a lot to gain by having their inventory become an integral part of the consumer journey as it is planned and activated by the advertisers. It makes their media highly relevant and more accountable to the ultimate outcomes and ROI desired by the advertisers.