Basis Foundations was a training run by Centro on the best ways to use Basis DSP. The media team at Zion & Zion attended these virtual trainings which are usually done in-person over a three-day period. Originally, we would have travelled to the Centro offices in Denver, Chicago, and New York for the trainings, which included hands-on learning and events to allow for Centro customers to meet and discuss their roles, clients, and use of Basis from agencies across the country. Due to the current world circumstances, we were able to attend virtually.

The training was broken out into two sessions, Foundations 1.0 and Foundations 2.0. Each session was two hours for two days a week for three weeks, providing a total of 12 hours of virtual training in each session. The sessions covered one or two topics each with Centro speakers and trainers, or Centro partners. We would also have breakout room sessions which allowed us to work with other Basis users across the country and discuss various tips and tricks for Basis. The virtual sessions were kept fun and interesting with the use of games and breakout rooms. Foundations 1.0 covered more of the basic levels of information to learn about Basis, while Foundations 2.0 was a more advanced training giving a deeper dive into more specific and sophisticated use cases. Once the media team completed these extensive trainings, we each took the individual session exams to become fully Basis Certified.

Basis: What Is It and How Do We Use It?

Let us back up. What is Basis and why did we attend these trainings? Basis is a comprehensive media planning and buying software that is used to plan, buy, and analyze digital media including platforms of direct, programmatic, search, and social through a single interface. The use of this software allows us to pace and optimize our media campaigns across all platforms within one location. We are also able to build-out reporting, fulfill billing, and use API connections to many platforms to make all digital media planning, buying, and execution seamless.

The most important feature of Basis that we use is the DSP. DSP stands for Demand-Side Platform, which is a system that allows buyers of digital media advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchanges and data exchange accounts through one interface. This programmatic tool allows for us to purchase and run ads across a multitude of digital landscapes.

Programmatic advertising uses targeting tactics to segment audiences using data so that advertisers only pay for ads delivered to the right people at the right time. At Zion & Zion, we have partnered with Centro to use Basis as our owned and operated DSP to run our programmatic advertising. With our media team running the hands-on-keyboard utilization of our own DSP at Zion & Zion, we’re the ones planning out the tactics, ad types, and making real-time optimizations to give our clients the best performance of campaigns for the best amount of money. Knowing the ins-and-outs of using Basis is crucial for the media team to plan, execute, and optimize our digital media campaigns for the success.

Features & Takeaways of Basis and the Basis Foundations Trainings

Anyone familiar with a DSP knows that there is a ton of data and information within the platform to dig into. There were several features and takeaways from the training that were useful to learn more about including:

  • Learning about Private Market Place deals (or PMPs) and knowing that it gives exclusivity separate from open exchanges, improves performance, and allows more control over inventory and audiences is a key to success.
  • Understanding data and the variety of partners integrated within the DSP for us to utilize gave insight into better ways to target audiences.
  • The various types of conversion tracking available and use-cases for the Universal Pixel can help campaigns pivot what actions can be tracked and monetized for best performance.
  • Taking deep-dives into the specific Ad Types like mobile, video, and audio opened our eyes to the ability to look outside of the traditional buys for these areas like TV and radio and see how we can better use programmatic digitally to expand our audiences.
  • Advance Retargeting can be used in campaigns in a variety of ways, such as building audiences of people who have clicked on your ad or completed your video ad and direct messaging to this specific audience to complete a conversion action.
  • The peek inside of all of the new features that are coming to the Basis platform and the DSP from Centro’s tech engineering team was a great way to look at how we can keep growing our capabilities with Basis and see that we can request changes and the Basis team will try to help make them happen.

However, one of the most intriguing features we covered was Custom Segments, which I’ll explain further below.

Custom Segments

Custom segments are specific tactics and audiences that can be targeted within the DSP that are provided by different partners and can be built in a customizable way for us to use. Some considerations that must be taken for Custom Segments is the relevancy, time to launch, scalability, and pricing.

Custom segments may not be applicable in cases like a brand awareness campaign, a campaign with quick turnaround, an audience that is very small so we cannot spend, and when cost becomes too much. Basis has many different partners to build custom segments with to target Audiences, Contextual, PMPs, even self-serve audience tools.

How Will We Use Them?

Here are the highlights of some of these custom segments we can use within Basis.

  • Dun & Bradstreet is a great partner to use for B2B clients as they have data collected from over 30k sources and can be leveraged to directly target employees of specific companies.
  • Look-A-Like Targeting is available with Lotame or Ninth Decimal to build audience insights based on a pixel or CRM list to target people who are similar to known audience members.
  • LiveRamp is an option to reach your audience with offline data such as emails or addresses by uploading the CRM list.
  • Search Retargeting can be enabled with Datonics or Grapeshot for you to create custom segments using a combination of keywords that you are using in a Search campaign.
  • Factual allows you to craft your perfect audience directly within Basis to target people in real time based on geo location by using the map tool and targeting users who have been to a specific business within a specific time window.


I would highly recommend Basis Foundations for anyone using the Basis platform for their programmatic media. The hands-on learning experience and ability to share information and get ideas from dozens of other media buyers across the country truly expanded my horizons and skill set with using the DSP platform. Being fully Basis Certified, I’m excited to plan, buy, optimize and analyze programmatic campaigns every day.