When I’m at a party or gathering and I meet someone new, I always end up talking about one thing: my job. It’s almost become a party trick.
“So what do you do?”
I work at El Toro
“The Mexican restaurant?”
Nope, the advertising technology company
Sometimes, the person gets overwhelmed and after a little more small talk about the weather, how I teach high school marching bands for fun, race bicycles, and speak a few different languages (which is why I head up our multicultural accounts at El Toro), we part ways, failing to make an impression on each other. Then we inevitably end up exchanging awkward smiles throughout the night when we walk past one other.
Sometimes, the person gets interested because they like marketing or are just techy.
“So you make ads?”
We don’t make them... we serve those banner ads you see at the top of websites or along the middle and sides of content
“So you’re the reason behind those annoying pop ups!?”
At this point I dig in. I clear my throat. I square my stance, set down my drink, and knowing full well that I'll look like the guy in the Aliens meme, I hop aboard my soap box. Most of these people aren’t ever going to buy an ad campaign from me even if I begged them to, but clearly they have a thing or two to learn about the Internet, so here I go trying to my best to blow their mind. Every. Single. Time.
Do you know about Internet cookies?
“Those things that track your history?”
I explain how cookies work for building segments. I explain how a demand side platform works. I blow their mind by telling them an ad gets called, bid on, won, and served within 50-70 milliseconds.
I know right??
Then, like any great storyteller, I introduce the villain.
Did you know, that depending who you ask, 50-90% of all internet traffic may be fraudulent in nature.
Yeah. Meaning that out of 100 million ads served, 50 to 90 million of them are being shown to bots, malware, crawlers and on infected toolbars. At best, they’re shown people who will never even consider buying those products.
And then I introduce the knight in shining armour.
What we do at El Toro, is that we tie IP addresses to the location of where the traffic originates from. This means that if I want to serve ads to John Doe at his home, 123 Main Street, I can find the IP address of 123 Main Street even if it’s hosted in Germany, and only serve ads when Joe goes home, uses his wifi, and calls ads via his IP address. We do this at millions of homes and businesses in the US every day.
Yeah, and where cookie-based ads get served in 50-70 milliseconds, we can do it in 7-10 milliseconds. All that extra time we have until cookie-based bidders catch up, we use to pull a log on the IP and see if traffic is abnormal, potentially indicating the presence of a bot computer network, or malware infecting the devices tethered to the network.
After their bewilderment subsides they ask me if it’s even legal. It is, because we anonymize the IP’s and do not provide any of that data to anyone. All we get are home addresses, and we serve ads to them. That’s it. No more, no less.
I told you this story because besides being a pitch, it’s education. I regularly get to spread knowledge about current advertising technology, talk about the Internet, and talk about the novel approach El Toro takes. I do this over and over because I know people walk away from our interaction with a deeper understanding of something they previously didn’t know about-- and it warms my heart.
I love my job because it’s a re-imagining of a staple technology and I get to teach individuals how it works. Ignorance is bliss, but it’s also expensive. In a nutshell, I think education is teaching individuals that there’s a better way of doing something and empowering them to do it.
When I was in college, I always had a yearning to switch my major and become a teacher. Though I’m not a full-fledged educator by trade, education is a large part of what I do. Every day I get to learn about new business problems, think critically about them, synthesize solutions, and share strategies, information and uses of El Toro's tools that will hopefully solve that business problem.
That process fulfills the two tenets of education I just described: break the habit (or lack of knowledge)-- cookie-based targeting isn’t as wonderful as it is; and empower a solution-- here’s how we can work towards solving problems with these new tools and knowledge.
As a private-sector educator, that’s as fulfilling as it gets.