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5 Strong DR-Focused Facebook Features for Q4

By October 27th, 2016

SEM has long been considered bottom-funnel advertising, but Facebook’s new and improved direct-response features mean you can turn the platform into a revenue machine over the coming weeks. Here are five essential direct response (DR) features available on Facebook—and how to use them to your advantage.

Carousel Ads

With Q4 bringing a high saturation of ad demand—especially ecommerce and retail for the holiday season—carousel ads are a great way to stand out. With these ads, you have the ability to tell a story about your brand or product. You can also showcase the different benefits of a signature product, or a range of products or product lines. More real estate means more opportunity to grab attention and gain potential new customers.


Lead Gen Ads

If your focus is on lead gen, you should be using lead gen ads. The benefit here is that the user doesn’t need to leave Facebook to fill out your form. There are tons of fields to choose from—Facebook will try to fill them in automatically based on information from the user’s Facebook profile (which makes it a lot easier for someone to complete the form). You also have the option of putting up to three custom questions on the form that are specific to your company.

Wondering what creative works well? You can use carousel ads with this campaign objective to help tell your company’s story, list different benefits or services, etc. (Yes, we’re fond of carousel ads.)


If you’re worried about spending a ton during a highly competitive season (remember, with Facebook ads, you’re competing for space, not keywords), we recommend establishing a test budget to figure out which messaging works, then open the budget spigot in Q1.

App Install Ads

If your focus is on app installs, Facebook now has a great new type of bidding to use for app install ads. You can now bid on in-app events such as a registration or purchase. Your cost per install may rise with this, but you’ll be targeting people who are more likely to complete the in-app event that’s most important to you.


Lookalike Audiences

Trying to figure out who to target this season? Lookalike audiences should definitely be in the plan. With lookalike audiences, you can target from a 1% lookalike all the way to a 10% lookalike. A 1% lookalike will be the percentage most closely like your original seed audience, but once you find a seed audience that works, you can expand the percentage in order to scale more. Fee seed lists we see work well on Facebook are:

  • Top LTV users
  • Converters from Facebook
  • Most recent converters


To go even deeper into lookalike audiences, make sure you caught Marin’s detailed article.

Pixel Implementation

Last but not least, make sure you’re confident in your pixel implementation! Once the pixel is placed, make sure you go through the user flow on your site a few times and test the pixel. You can use the Facebook Pixel Helper Tool extension on Google Chrome. With this tool, you’re able to see if the right event is firing on the page you want it to. Since you’re likely bidding oCPM for conversions (in order to maximize the number of conversions you can get), you want to ensure you’re optimizing on a conversion that’s firing correctly.


Make sure you use all of the above features throughout the year, not just in Q4. But, to compete on Facebook and show some return for your dollar from now through mid-December, it’s imperative to use what’s available to you. These five features are a great start.

How to Use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences to Scale Your Campaigns

By October 26th, 2016

Lookalike audiences are thee Facebook feature when it comes to audience targeting. If you’re looking to scale your campaigns and more, it’s a must-consider option.

The Basics: What Is It and How Does It Work?

You can use lookalike targeting to find similar users to your core audience based on interests, click behavior, and conversion habits. The smaller the percentage of your core audience, the more similar your lookalike audience will be.

You have several options from which to generate lookalike audiences:

  • Your custom audience (email lists, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Conversion pixel data
  • Website Custom Audience
  • Page fans
  • Campaign data (API-only feature)

As you can see, you have a lot of choices to test different audience types and associated performance. The key challenge is to segment and structure the audiences to avoid overlaps and achieve the best delivery.

Something to note: Since frequency caps limit the daily number of times you can deliver an ad to a user, lookalike audiences won’t increase your overall reach. And, you’ll have less predictability when it comes to which ad wins each auction.

There’s a way to overcome these challenges, however. Make sure your strategy includes nested lookalikes and smart exclusions. Let’s go into more detail.

Using Nested Lookalikes and Smart Exclusions

Let’s start with an example, where we exclude the next-highest percentage audience from our targeted lookalike audience. So, if you’re targeting lookalike 3% and lookalike 5%, then exclude the 3% audience from the campaign that’s targeting the 5% one.

Nested lookalikes:

Smart exclusions:

With smart exclusions, we exclude the targeted audiences that we’re already using in other live campaigns. For example, if you’re running campaigns with 1% lookalike and 3% lookalike and want to launch a broader targeting campaign, then exclude the 3% lookalike.

Avoiding Campaign Redundancies and Fine-Tuning

When you’re planning your targeting strategy, make sure you’re segmenting your lookalike thresholds according to the value of the user, and excluding the targeted audiences from campaigns to avoid overlap. This’ll allow you to use lookalike audiences from different sources, increasing the overall reach and scalability of your campaigns.

For example, if you’re running a retargeting campaign based on a Website Custom Audience of all your site visitors, exclude this campaign from all of your acquisition initiatives, along with the associated lookalike audiences.

Here’s another scenario. Suppose you’re a travel website and the user funnel includes two conversions—registration and booking. You would segment the audiences based on your goals—perhaps based on the custom audience of the previous month’s bookers, conversion pixel data, and Website Custom Audience of people who registered but didn’t book. Your segmentation would look like this:

Custom audience segmentation:

You can use all of these audiences for your acquisition campaigns, along with interest-based and other targeting options.

Here’s the final campaign planning structure for this example. This takes into account that retargeting campaigns are running based on your Website Custom Audiences.

Fine-tuned campaign planning structure:

Putting It All Together

Creating effective lookalike audiences takes a bit of cunning and patience, but it’s not rocket science. With continued practice, refinement, and measurement, you can scale your campaigns to ensure you’re targeting audiences with the most relevant ads at the most relevant time, in a way that works the best for your business. If you haven’t yet implemented this feature, we strongly recommend you get started today!

Far Away, So Close: Current Insights into Travel Search Advertising

By October 18th, 2016

With school out and warm weather in, we traditionally think of the summer months as the best time to take a vacation. However, is it actually prime time for search advertisers to ramp up their ad campaigns?

To answer this question and others, we took a look at travel advertisers on Google and Bing. We examined 2014 and 2015 to locate any trends in advertiser spend and performance for the travel vertical across quarters, and to assess the state of consumer behavior. Google and Bing dominate the global search market, which made them ideal for our study—other search publishers have regional presence at best, so they were excluded.

We found a few interesting things:

  • Summer searches, but fall clicks. Although, on average, consumers searched for travel terms (flights, lodging, auto rentals, etc.) almost 20% more during summer than winter, clicks on travel-related searches didn’t peak in summer as expected. Instead, their highest point was in autumn, right after the summer months.
  • The great smartphone migration. Over the past two years, travel advertisers have steadily shifted spend away from desktop and tablet towards smartphone. While smartphone made up under 10% of search spend in early 2014, by end of 2015, that number grew to almost 30% of all search budgets.
  • Native is restless. The travel ad format that’s seen significant growth is native advertising via channels such as Yahoo! Gemini. Starting in late 2014, investment growth in native ads by travel companies grew almost 5x by mid to late 2015. While this format is one of the newer ones, it’s been growing consistently in both advertiser and consumer adoption over the past year.

For more great information on search advertising in the travel industry—including cross-device performance data and campaign recommendations—download The State of Travel Search Advertising: Trends, Formats, and Paths to Success.

Dynamic Ads for Travel: a New Solution for Hotel, Flight, and Airline Companies

By October 17th, 2016

Dynamic Ads For Travel 

About a year ago, Facebook launched Dynamic Product Ads to attract mostly e-commerce advertisers looking for a more efficient way to launch remarketing campaigns, without having to manually create hundreds of link ads and custom audiences per SKU. For a travel business, however, the definition of a “product” is very different than it is for a retail/e-commerce advertiser. Fast-forward to today. Facebook now just refers to this solution as Dynamic Ads, with a unique offering available to travel advertisers called Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT). With DAT, you can automatically deliver ads at a product level from your hotel and destination catalogs with unique creative based on a person’s click events on your website.

For example, you could dynamically deliver ads across all hotel destinations with imagery specific to the location that people are searching for. People who searched for hotels in Maui on your website and didn’t convert would be delivered a very unique offer, compared to those who searched for, say, hotels in Minneapolis.

Dynamic Ads For Travel

Thousands of Relevant Ads in Seconds

As you can imagine, it’d be near-impossible to create all of the possible permutations of audience segments paired with unique creatives for each destination or hotel that people are searching for manually. DAT improves campaign performance in several ways:

  • Relevancy: More intelligent ads that capture details such as price, check-in date, and destination relevant to what people are searching for and where they want to go. You can personalize landing pages with redirect URLs specific to these details.  
  • Automated delivery: Ad creative is deployed automatically from your catalog feed, meaning you don’t have to manually create each individual ad.
  • Improved targeting for optimal ROI: Target people who are searching for a hotel in a certain place or flight on a specific date. Cross-sell people who’ve booked a flight with a complementary offer on a hotel.
  • Scale: Remarket to people across all placements including mobile news feed, the Audience Network, and Instagram.

So How Does it Work?


There are two key components that enable DAT to work:

  • The Facebook Pixel to enable “Website Custom Audiences” and track click events on your website
  • A feed that includes details on all items you sell, as well as creative (description, price, availability, etc.)

The click events that the Facebook Pixel captures allow travel advertisers to deliver more personalized ads to audiences based on a variety of user signals such as search activity, browsing history, and purchase behavior on your website. You can further enhance these audiences with a few parameters in both your exclusion and inclusion targeting:

Pixel Parameters For Travel Companies

Hotels Flights Destinations
Content Type Content Type Content Type
Destination Origin and Destination Airport Suggested Destinations
Check In and Out Date Departure and Return Date Travel Start and End Date
Currency Currency Region, City, and Country


To determine which ad creative to trigger when a pixel event is fired, you need a travel feed with information from a catalog. You can either upload the catalog manually with a .CSV file or have the data retrieved programmatically from a feed in .XML format.

The good news is that many travel advertisers already have a feed that they use to deploy campaigns on Google, where the practice of retrieving this information for Facebook is very similar. Facebook currently supports the following catalogs with plans to roll out a flight specific-solution in the near future.

  • Hotel: A list of details specific to each hotel such as room availability, pricing, star rating, guest rating, and image URL with support for up to 20 images
  • Destination: A list of details specific to each destination such as longitude location, neighborhood, price, price change, and image URL with support for up to 20 images

If it seems a little hairy, not to worry—DAT is one of the most advanced Facebook advertising features available on the platform today, so mastering it takes a bit of practice. The opportunities are truly endless, however, with all of the possible configurations that are available with this ad type.

Just note that some of these variables such as price and availability need to be updated in real-time, meaning to get your campaigns ahead of the curve, you should use a Facebook Marketing Partner platform—such as Marin Social—that’s developed this capability into its offering.

5 Tips to Fine-Tune Your Holiday Advertising Strategy

By October 11th, 2016

We recently published our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report, which looked at the current state of shopping ads, and examined advertiser and consumer behavior over the past year. Now, with the shopping season even closer, advertisers are quickly making sure their budgets and ad campaigns are ready and flawless.

Based on the data, what are our top tips for retailers looking to get the most value out of their digital advertising campaigns this holiday season? Read on.

1. Plan and time large increases in budget to account for      holiday spikes.

We predict that 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a mobile device. Similarly, around 37% of search clicks will be on a shopping ad on either Bing or Google. Be sure to budget ad campaigns accordingly to match up with consumer attention during critical holiday spikes.

Research shows that spend peaks in November, with overall ad spend reaching almost 90% above what it was in January. Smartphone behavior was the most pronounced—smartphone ad spend spiked to almost 400% above baseline in November when compared to the year’s beginning.

2. Account for mobile-desktop differences for shoppers.

Smartphones now make up the majority of clicks and spend for all shopping ads. With 55% of all shopping ad clicks originating on a smartphone, the importance of properly optimizing ad spend can’t be overstated.

Research shows that shoppers are utilizing mobile devices in-store more than ever, to conduct product research and price-shop. Being able to capture this audience while they’re in the middle of a purchase decision may be crucial this holiday season to ensure an offline conversion.

3. Spread shopping ad budget across publishers.

While Google remains the largest search publisher for shopping campaigns, Bing is no slouch, either. Adoption of Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) has been accelerating and Marin has seen over 20% of clients on Google Shopping already using BSC. While Google Shopping has more viewership and use, BSCs are competitive in price and performance, and may be a good option for some retailers.

4. Go beyond shopping ads.

Shopping ad spend has been taking up a larger portion of retailer ad spend every year, reaching almost 30% of all search ad dollars this year. However, this doesn’t mean this is the only ad format retailers should consider.

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are a relatively new ad format that have seen strong early returns for many advertisers. Early data has shown an almost 300% ROAS for ETAs, meaning they’re highly competitive with both conventional search ads and shopping ads.

5. Social shopping is great for mobile retailers.

While social networks have always been a highly mobile device oriented channel, this is especially true for retail. Almost 95% of clicks on retail ads on social are on a mobile device, and mobile also accounts for 90% of all social spend for retail advertisers. Research shows that consumers interact differently with social ads than they do with search. Rather than research, social ads are better used for awareness and to start conversations with target audiences.

Each holiday season has been bigger than the last, and the trend is positioned to continue this year. Retailers have more choices than ever when it comes to ad campaigns. However, with this increased choice comes increased difficulty, as effectively managing spend across multiple devices and channels isn’t easy. A little planning, knowledge, and foresight will go a long way.

Ready or Not, Here Come the Holiday Shoppers

By October 4th, 2016

If you’re a retail advertiser, you have one, overarching goal each holiday season—drive sales. Every ad campaign launched, tracked, and optimized works holistically toward this goal.

Now that fall’s here, it’s time to gear your social campaigns to the rigors of Q4 and this quarter’s particular idiosyncrasies. The October to December timeframe is your most important business period of the year. You have your work cut out for you leveraging insights and audiences from your pre-holiday preparation to maximize sales. For optimal efficiency, retargeting users who’ve demonstrated interest is a key tactic.

Here are some tips to drive sales during the soon-to-be busiest, most competitive time of the year. To sum it all up in a single directive—focus on people familiar with your brand.

  • Audience: Build your campaigns around high-intent customer segments such as recent purchasers, loyalty members, and past holiday purchasers—and try to plan for a specific conversion path for each of them.
  • Targeting: Use Custom and Website Custom Audiences of people who’ve visited your website recently or purchased from you before.
  • Ad formats: Focus on ad formats that’ll allow you to showcase your products and services, such as Video Link Ads, Carousel Ads, and Canvas Ads.
  • Creative: Showcase your best-selling products to your audience segments and highlight USPs. Create urgency with limited-time offers, shipping deadlines, or discounts, and timely promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday %-off.
  • Optimization: Optimize for conversions to maximize the delivery of your ads to people likely to purchase. Once again, make sure your conversion volume is enough for Facebook’s algorithm to be effective (especially if you’re selling high-value products with costs above $200).

For more tips to stay ahead this holiday season—plus extra guidance designed specifically for Marin Software customers—download our Social Advertiser’s Holiday Guide.

4 Underutilized Functions and Features of Google Shopping

By August 22nd, 2016

Shopping has been a hot-button topic for some time now. While many customers have launched successful Shopping campaigns, there are some lesser-known features that may provide a quick additional boost or improvement to your current efforts.

Four such features are:

  • SKU-level reporting (Marin)
  • Campaign priority settings (Marin)
  • Automatic item updates (Google Merchant Center)
  • Promotions (Google Merchant Center)

SKU-level Reporting

Marin fully supports performance reporting at the SKU level. With this extremely valuable data, advertisers can review products on a regular basis to see where individual SKUs prove to be candidates for segmentation or exclusion. If the SKU data warrants it, you can indicate a more aggressive or conservative bid.

01. SKU-level reporting

To see SKU-level reporting enabled in Marin, work with your platform representative to append the appropriate parameter to the product groups, and to have the new feature enabled and backfilled. 

Campaign Priority Settings

Priority settings are extremely useful for advertisers who invest the time in building out multiple Shopping campaigns and want to maximize their effectiveness.

As Google describes the setting, “When you have the same product in multiple Shopping campaigns, you can determine which campaign should participate in the auction for that product with campaign priority. Your campaigns already have a priority: Low. But you can change this priority to Medium or High. These priorities determine the bid for any product that the campaigns share.”

  • The highest priority campaign will bid
  • If the highest priority campaign runs out of budget, the lower priority campaign bids
  • When multiple campaigns have the same priority, the highest bid is used

02. Campaign priority

The right mix of priority assignments and bid strategies by campaign solve the tricky issue of being able to control products that exist across multiple campaigns.

Automatic Item Updates

If you have metadata enabled on your site, it may be prudent to enable Google’s Automatic Item Updates feature. This allows Google to crawl your site and update Shopping based on the site’s inherent microdata information. This is mostly valuable in reconciling price discrepancies and/or availability.

Advertisers can choose from Google’s attributes for automatic updates:

  • Price only
  • Availability only
  • Price and availability

03. Automatic item updates

Merchant Promotions

Enabled in Google Merchant Center, a Promotion is an excellent way to differentiate your product from the competition and advertise your sale. You can assign Promotions to a subset of products or across all products in the feed, as applicable.

04. Merchant promotions

05. New promotion

Google manually reviews all promotions for accuracy, so be sure to schedule these well in advance of the actual promotion launch so that the approval process won’t cause any delay. Also be sure you know Google’s Merchant Promotions Program Policies.

Get ahead of the competition by testing out some of this readily available advanced functionality! If you’re interested in speaking with a Shopping Consultant from Marin, get in touch with your platform representative.

How to Use Search to Enhance Your Facebook Dynamic Ads

By August 17th, 2016

When Google released product listing ads, it dramatically changed the way retailers advertise online. Because of their huge success, retailers are constantly on the lookout for the next game-changing ad format.

If the results our retail clients have been seeing are any indication, the next frontier for product ads is harmonizing Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads (DA). Even though there’s been steady growth in the number of advertisers using Facebook DAs since their launch in 2015, many retailers are still managing their search and social channels in silo.

In this post, you’ll learn how to supercharge your shopping ads by combining the best of search and social. Using these techniques, our customers have seen a 68% higher revenue per conversion from their campaigns, when managed together with social advertising campaigns.

Seed Facebook with your best Google Shopping campaigns.

Savvy advertisers take advantage of their existing Google Shopping campaigns to optimize—or simply test—DAs for the first time. By identifying your best-performing products from Google Shopping campaigns, you can export high-ROI products to advertise using DAs.

Through Facebook’s new Google Shopping to DA product (available to Marin Software customers), advertisers using Google Shopping can take their best-performing campaigns and easily create Facebook DAs in a few easy steps, without the need for lengthy setup and extensive IT resources.

01. Workflow

Build out the right types of campaigns.

To easily increase your average order value and/or customer lifetime value, be sure to offer products related to what a customer’s ordered. As you’re building out DA campaigns, you can create upsell, cross-sell, and prospecting campaigns using the same process.

  • Upsell and cross-sell: With these types of campaigns, you can increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers via upsell (higher profitability items) or cross-sell (similar product sets).
  • Prospecting: Take shopping on Facebook beyond retargeting through Facebook’s DA prospecting campaigns. Advertisers can now reach new customers within the Facebook universe who haven’t visited your website. Facebook allows you to automatically create the best ads and find the best users for prospecting, giving you an efficient, effective way to find new audiences for your products.

Use search intent data to power DA creative.

Search intent retargeting is the smartest way to maximize the ROAS of your search budget. As cross-channel marketing strategies become commonplace, digital advertisers have started using search intent data to power their social campaigns. This strategy can be extended to Facebook DAs.

One example: using search intent to optimize DA creative templates. If the right users see them, these dynamic changes to creative can lead to significant lifts in CTR, conversion rates, and ROI.

Let’s say you have three users who’ve reached your website using different levels of search intent.

Example keywords:

  • Discount-driven (keyword: discount shoes)
  • Product brand (keyword: Buffalo Shoes)
  • Store name (keyword: PowPow Shoe Shop)

Through DA creative templates and search intent data, you can dynamically tailor your Facebook creatives based not only on the products users have seen on your website, but also on the keyword they used to get there in the first place. This allows you to show hyper-targeted ads, resulting in higher click-through and conversion rates.

02. Creative

In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:

  • Sales-driven user (keyword: discount shoes) sees an ad with a sales message.
  • The user who’s shown product brand infinity (keyword: Buffalo Shoes) sees a creative with a large product brand logo.
  • The user who’s shown brand affinity for the shop/advertiser (keyword: Marin Shoe Shop) sees a large advertiser logo.

Use cross-channel product reporting and optimization.

Once you start running Google Shopping and Facebook DAs, you should look at product performance and optimization in a more holistic way. The challenge with cross-channel tracking is normalizing conversions across multiple devices, ad buys, and other variables. However, with a third-party platform like Marin Software, the problem’s solved, so you can focus on the most important task—making sense of all that rich data and finding synergies.

With consistent third-party conversion tracking, you can also deduplicate conversions across search and social. And, through attribution modeling, you can gain deeper insights into how your Google Shopping and Facebook DAs are affecting the overall path to conversion.

Your future shoppers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time on Facebook and Google. In fact, 78% of all new ads were on either Facebook or Google last quarter. Now’s the time to think smarter about how you can cost-effectively engage and convert these users.

By combining search and social shopping strategies, not only do you break down channel silos—you gain a holistic view of product performance, and the ability to optimize across channels and improve overall product performance.

Introducing Marin’s Cross-Channel Shopping Solution: An Interview with Anil Channappa

By August 9th, 2016

Shopping season is here. To help retailers navigate the current terrain of shopping ads and digital marketing, Marin has developed new features to help retailers maximize revenues and efficiencies this back to school and holiday season.

In this post, we’ve asked Anil Channappa, Senior Director Product Management for Marin Social, to talk about these features and how they’ll benefit retail and ecommerce advertisers.

Anil Channappa

Anil Channappa

From the lens of your role, what is Marin’s cross-channel shopping solution?

It’s the ability for marketers to maximize the sales and revenue of their products through advertising regardless of the publisher. Without such a solution, advertisers have to coordinate advertising campaigns across Google and Facebook (in the same or different tool), without a way to measure the effectiveness across publishers.

With a solution like Smart Sync for Shopping, advertisers can mirror a Google shopping campaign so that the same campaign is running on both Google and Facebook, without needing to know much about leveraging their product feed on Facebook. The cross-publisher reporting helps our advertisers make smarter bid and budget decisions to maximize ROI. And this is a unique and innovative solution in the market today.

Why is it important?

Customers and prospects are browsing freely across Google and Facebook. So, advertisers shouldn’t be bogged down by publisher-specific differences, and should be able to reach customers where they are. Being able to reach shoppers where they shop with one product feed and campaign flow, will improve campaign management efficiency and the effectiveness of their campaigns.

How does this solution enhance how retailers approach their ad campaigns, and impact their business needs?

Campaigns should be geared towards business objectives and needs. Does a customer want to run a promotion that aligns with events like 4th of July, Black Friday, or a major sale of specific products? In most cases today, customers have to replicate these campaigns manually across all publishers.

With Marin’s cross-channel solution, advertisers can rely on technology to create, measure, and scale campaigns across publishers, while spending their time on critical decisions and optimizations.

Why now? What motivated Marin Software to invest in this feature rollout?

Publishers are racing to offer innovative products to keep pace with emerging customer behaviors. Mobile technologies (tablets, smartphones) have been a huge disrupter. Publishers are forced to innovate rapidly to offer advertising products that fit this new paradigm.

Shopping Campaigns and Dynamic Ads are all visual ads that are easier for users to preview and click on mobile devices. Depending on your source, anywhere from 75-95% of mobile users click social ads. Marin’s research shows that during Q1 of this year, closer to 95% of all social ad clicks were on a mobile device.

In the past, we’ve invested heavily to streamline advertising within channels (search, social, and display), but we can only go so far in our value-add, because the channels themselves are very different. Given shifting user behaviors and publishers offering similar products, there is a huge convergence of ad products across publishers. This is a perfect opportunity to help marketers who are used to streamlining their channel-specific advertising and extend it across channels.

If you could describe how a company would use this cross-channel solution and come out with strong results, what would that scenario look like?

Google is the dominant player for most retailers to drive demand and new customers. This is the place where advertisers have gone back, time and time again, to drive their sales.

With Facebook stepping up their ad products, we’re hoping it’ll be a great source of new customers, and provide advertisers with increased scale and higher revenue across the board. As a secondary benefit, the streamlined solution could help advertisers save time, reduce cost, and balance their budgets more effectively.

What tips would you like to share with Marin customers who are gearing up for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons?

Think about people-based marketing rather than channel-specific marketing. From the outset, we suggest that customers set up cross-channel campaigns and measure the impact to net revenue and ROI. The channel-specific team should still focus on channel-specific optimizations (creative, audience and bid optimizations in Facebook and product group, bid optimization in Google), but share cross-publisher learnings from platforms like Marin.

For more information on Smart Sync for Shopping, watch the video.

Key Takeaways:

  • Depending on your business, consider people-based marketing rather than channel-specific marketing – or utilize a hybrid of both.
  • Suggest that customers set up cross-channel campaigns, and measure the impact to net revenue and ROI.
  • A streamlined, cross-channel solution could help advertisers save time, reduce cost, and balance their budgets more effectively.

Tips to Determine the True Cost of Your Programmatic Supply Chain

By August 3rd, 2016

You’re in a relay race and this is what you have to do—run with a bucket of water to your next team member, without spilling any of the water. The next player does the same, and so on, until the last player finishes the race.

The object of the contest is to not only preserve as much water as possible, but also to know exactly how much water you lost throughout the course of the game. Oh, and another thing—the buckets are different sizes, you’re playing at night, and you’re blindfolded, and so are your team members. And, you’re playing against a lot of other teams.

We call this race “the programmatic supply chain.”

The Role of Programmatic Intermediaries

As we mentioned in our first post in this series on programmatic transparency, the programmatic supply chain is made up of intermediaries that may or may not disclose their pricing model. We also mentioned that a recent ANA/Forrester study revealed that 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain. This is up from 21 percent just two years ago.

Like our shot-in-the-dark relay race, advertisers often have to settle for hidden bid prices, secret media value, and even kickbacks. What if the increased concern was translated into clear, actual dollars? How do you get bottom-line clarity? If you haven’t asked your programmatic partners what they’re charging you, now’s the time.

Let’s look at the intermediaries, then assess the average take rates of each one.

Anatomy of the Supply Chain

Here’s roughly how the typical supply chain flows. Note that there’s lots of bi-directionality, and the model changes dramatically depending on the services included.

  • Data/Targeting
  • DMP technology
  • DSP technology
  • Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
  • Exchanges and ad networks
  • Publisher
  • Verification
  • Ad blocking
  • Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner (or lower fees if you’re accessing a SaaS platform)

In case you need a quick primer on each supply chain partner, read our blog post on the eight main players in the programmatic ecosystem.

Determining Cost

We’ve estimated it would take you one to two hours to determine what you pay each of your supply chain intermediaries using IAB’s programmatic calculator. And, that’s if you already know what you’re spending with each partner.

Although it’s challenging to pin down exact cost amounts for each intermediary in the supply chain, it’s not impossible. Knowing the average take rates and ranges allows you to establish benchmarks you can use as a guide. We strongly recommend taking the time to measure what you really spend so you can improve your bottom line. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Programmatic Infographic_R5

Fine-Tuning the Fees

The various cost models you might encounter will alter your numbers, so here are some additional aspects to consider as you complete your appraisal.

  • CPM-based fees: Before you buy any media, make sure you understand the nature of any fixed fees charged for a thousand ad impressions. How are the fees determined?
  • Percent of media fees: If you’re working with an ad agency, ask them for access to their spending model. Find out how your money’s being allocated.
  • Flat fees: Figure in any fixed costs exchanges collect from you.
  • Arbitrage: After purchasing media, some agencies mark up the cost before they sell it back to you. If you’re working with an agency, make sure it discloses this amount.
  • Viewability: If any of your impressions aren’t viewable, you should get a credit toward those wasted impressions.

Gaining Clarity in Your Cost Model—ROAS to ROI

Digital marketers, and agencies that support them, are on chronic overwhelm with the choices of platforms, programs, vendors, and the consistent pressure to improve return on ad spend (ROAS). But with deeper understanding of the supply chain and an increasing availability of advanced attribution and offline measurement, closing the loop on profitability is a worthy and attainable goal.

True ROI is within reach, so long as media agencies and ad tech vendors evolve to become more transparent and focused on driving business performance, not just advertising performance.

We hope these tips make it easier to achieve greater transparency in your specific programmatic supply chain, and that the path becomes more of an easy route planner than a blind relay race.

Remember, if you already know your partner spend and have the time, you can add it all up with IAB’s Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.