Digital marketing is rapidly evolving, with constant changes in behavior and emergence of new players. To help marketers keep up with the latest trends, we publish the Media Intelligence Report on a quarterly basis.

Here are four key trends we identified in our Q1 report, based on analysis of 152 billion ad events, 28 billion impressions, and 300 million conversions – all tracked through PlatformOne’s AK Media Insights platform.

For the complete picture, download our Q1 Media Intelligence Report here.

  1. Exchanges showed a dramatic improvement in reach from Q4 to Q1

Exchanges are a great way for marketers to reach users at a cheap rate due to the real-time bidding (RTB) purchasing method. In the Q4 holiday season, we its reach was stunted. This is because marketers locked down mass inventory directly from publishers months in advance, leaving little surplus inventory to be put into the exchanges.

Additionally, because marketers want to ensure a strong digital presence in Q4, they invested directly in publishers, rather than the unpredictable exchanges. With Q1 being a quieter marketing season, a significant number of impressions were dumped into the exchanges, which is why we see such a strong growth from Q4.

  1. Social and networks continued to deliver strong upper funnel influence

Networks and social media channels continuously sit at the top of the consumer purchase funnel. They provide a lot of assistance to lower-funnel tactics like exchanges.

This makes sense when we consider the type of targeting done on these channels: run of network (no targeting) and contextual targeting (targeting based on content of the page).

  1. Social became a highly efficient channel, due to the increased popularity of exchange-based buying

With marketers becoming more comfortable using demand-side platforms (DSPs) for real-time bidding/exchange buying, we now see this practice expanding to the social arena.

 No longer are marketers required to buy social inventory directly from social networks. Rather, social exchanges are now accessible through PMDs (preferred marketing developers), which are essentially DSPs for social. Marketers can now reach consumers in the social environment with the added benefit of the cheap rates associated with exchanges.

  1. Audience data is extremely powerful and marketers are leveraging CRM data more

 Sometimes the people you are looking for are right under your nose. We have consistently observed marketers’ CRM users outperforming the marketers’ average (up to 64x!).

 Successful marketers utilize their own consumer data in addition to just prospecting new customers. There is more variability with third party data, but we see up to 56x performance lift, depending on the data provider and the marketer’s vertical. Third party may be a good option for marketers that do not have CRM data.

For more insight on the best ways to reach your customers online, download the full Media Intelligence Report here.