Why Gumtree has built a programmatic advertising approach

Head of media shares how investment into a DMP, programmatic advertising capabilities and first-party data has created a marketing engine for the online marketplace

Gumtree's Laura Hill
Gumtree's Laura Hill

Want to reach someone who wants to buy a car, rather than just kick the tyres? Or pick up some home and garden equipment, rather than just seek inspiration? Maybe you should be looking up a tree.

Although it has been overshadowed by larger competitors such as Amazon and eBay, online classifieds and community website, Gumtree, has been laying claim to the title of being Australia’s number one local marketplace for some years now (and it is actually owned by eBay).

Locally, Gumtree boasts a unique audience of 7 million. The site has made a name for itself in reaching intenders rather than browsers, with 45 per cent of its automotive traffic having either purchased a car in the last year or intending to purchase in the next one. More than 1 million people visit its home and garden section each month, and the site is also big with small businesses, with more than 36,000 on the site.

According to head of Gumtree Media, Laura Hill, the fact that users on the site are ready to buy is what gives Gumtree a solid position.

“When you think about the advertising base that we can tap into because of those categories, it really opens up the conversation to most brands that are looking to connect with people,” Hill tells CMO. “A lot of people using Gumtree are tradies or small business owners, and that is a huge audience for the finance sector. Identifying small business users from the general population is a very hard thing to do online, but with our jobs category and our services category, and the fact that they list their ABN, that allows us to identify those people as small business owners.”

What has also proven appealing to advertisers is Gumtree’s investments in data and automation. The site has taken a programmatic-first approach, and last year implemented a DMP to enable first-party data across programmatic and its remaining direct IO business. It also runs an annual survey of 10,000 respondents which provides another rich source of data.

“We really saw the opportunity to make that first-mover approach to programmatic first,” Hill says. “We knew other publishers would do it in the future, but we wanted to get in there first and really own and evolve that offering with the agencies and the clients. So when the rest of the market went that way we weren’t just one of many, we were the leaders and out there in front.”

Hill says Gumtree has grown its programmatic team and the sophistication of its offering, adding header bidding in 2017.

“We launched that to allow for a fairer environment and allow the buyers to compete in real time against each other, as opposed to the older waterfall model,” Hill says. “We have also launched ads.txt, which allows buyers to know we are the authorised seller of our Gumtree inventory and provide that transparency to buyers. We are also in the process of investigating that on app.

“And then from a solutions perspective, we are constantly evolving what we offer in the audience piece. We launched the DMP and the site survey for the second time, which allows us to map respondents to that survey to our DMP, allowing agencies to target respondents.”

Read more: Creating the business case for a Data Management Platform

More recent investments in its programmatic capability include running rich media programmatically, including skins, and the company is also testing video solutions.

But while Hill believes the market will continue heading down the path of automation and efficiency, she is not convinced that will lead to the elimination of the insertion order any time soon.

“There will be things that can’t be transacted, there will be custom-related executions or content,” she says. “But from an efficiency, scale and productivity perspective, the programmatic world will continue to grow, as those dollars that don’t really need to be executed on an IO won’t need to be in the future.”

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