Segmentation in programmatic advertising: no need for a black box

Segmentation in programmatic to a group of people
a segment can be an unidentifiable group of people with the same online behaviour

Programmatic advertising is based on the targeting of appropriate segments. Often, their composition is still unclear. But that’s not the case with DaviD, that attaches great importance to transparency. Text and explanation by Raphael Stuyck, Data Integration & Technology Specialist at Pebble Media.

A black box. One can hear that word sometimes when it comes to programmatic advertising. Not irrational though, because on some platforms it is not possible yet to know exactly whom the message reaches and why. The instigators of DaviD actually considered this as one of the reasons to start their platform.

Before anything else, a clear definition of the segments is important as proof of transparency. “Within DaviD, we compose segments based on qualitative and quantitative criteria”, explains Raphael Stuyck, Data Integration & Technology Specialist at Pebble Media. “On one hand, we need enough people composing a segment before it gets useful. Exactly how much is needed depends on the type of segment. With general segments, such as car lovers, the minimum requirement is a bit higher than with real niche segments. On the other hand, we use qualitative elements to include or exclude people from a segment. In this regard, we use unbiased and subjective criteria.”

Records dating from a maximum of 30 days

Rather vague in regard to input… Raphael Stuyck enlightens us with a couple of examples. “People using a smartphone are put in the ‘Smartphone Users’ segment. This is based on an unbiased criterium: someone uses a smartphone or does not use one. Another example of such an unbiased criterium is ‘sports lover’. Someone who reads 15 articles about sport on a website must enjoy the sport. A subjective criterium is for example when the brand Volkswagen is used in a criterium. That does not say much, but when you combine it with the unbiased criterium being that someone mentioned in a survey that Volkswagen is his/her favourite car brand, that gets immediately more interesting.”

The combination of unbiased and subjective elements compose a segment. “This aims at defining a target group in the best possible way”, concludes Stuyck.

The building of some targets results in huge groups, mainly because DaviD works with records dating from 30 days – passed this deadline, the data is erased. “But you don’t need to go for the maximum”, adds Raphael Stuyck. “By reducing the number of days, you lower volume while increasing quality. For some segments, what you need is records dating from merely one day. ”


The combination of unbiased and subjective elements guarantees a definition of the target group that proves as accurate as possible but does not offer advertisers the full transparency they desire. Quite logical, as each segment is built separately.

At DaviD, they still insist to offer transparency. “Its importance is twofold”, says Raphael Stuyck. “On one hand, concerning how we collect data, and on the other hand concerning which media we spread the advertising messages on. Upon request, our clients can get a view on the sources and the websites on which their message can be viewed. We gladly offer insights on the recipe the DMP works with on an everyday basis.”

Furthermore, Stuyck emphasises the fact that ad messages going through DaviD are only broadcast on Belgian premium websites. And naturally, the surfers give their consent according to the GDPR regulation.

What is missing?

DaviD includes in total of more than 60 different segments. Surprisingly enough, the most wanted segments are mainly the classic ones (such as those based on sociodemographic data or on the news). “It is a shame”, according to Raphael Stuyck. “You can do so much more. You can use data in a way more creative manner. For example, you can create your own segments. Car lovers looking for a house… or whatever. And you can also match with the advertiser data, to exclude own clients for example or to only address actual prospects. Now, in order to do that you need of course to pair the systems and that is not always easy. ”

The coming months

Well, in the coming months the media buyers may be able to frolic and prove creative. We expect in fact many special moments. Looking forward spring and summer are coming up with a packed festival season, both offering lots of opportunities. “On our side, we have already created the segments. They are coming together as the events approach and as more and more related content is published. We are fully ready…”

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