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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.)
The various cost models you might encounter will alter your numbers, so here are some additional aspects to consider as you complete your appraisal.
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.
Retailers know that the second half of the year is always more important than the first. The shopping season and back to school are crucial periods for brick-and-mortar and online stores—these are times when retailers need to capture consumers with sales and promotions, so that they’ll stay longer and buy more.
With advertisers over doubling their ad spend during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year, competition remains fierce. The 2015 holidays raked in over $100 billion for ecommerce alone. How can advertisers compete within this complex online marketplace?
During the holiday season, we expect that shopping ad clicks will spike almost 400% when compared to the beginning of the year, and will account for one of every three clicks on a search ad.
By now, all retailers should be exploring shopping campaigns for their products. Not only do shopping ads perform better for search advertisers, they’re also competitive in price and particularly effective for mobile advertising. This is especially important since smartphones are now the device of choice for most shoppers.
While Google is the biggest player in the shopping ad market, be sure to consider Bing, which offers its own shopping ad format.
90% of social retail clicks come from mobile.
Although search is important, it’s not the only channel where retailers should advertise. Display and social are both vital channels to consider for how they interact with potential shoppers and audiences, and they’re both much more heavily mobile than search. Combining search, social, and display allows advertisers to create a very powerful campaign that can target shoppers across channels more effectively and efficiently.
About 40% of all retail advertising dollars will be spent on a smartphone this holiday season.
Understanding the strengths of each device is key to effectively spending advertising dollars. While desktop remains on top for converting an ad click into a purchase, the role of mobile devices in the conversion pathway is becoming better understood.
Many consumers treat mobile devices as a research tool, and while they may not convert directly to a purchase through a mobile click, there are ad types such as click-for-directions and click-to-call that contribute directly to an offline or later purchase.
Back to school clicks and conversions increased year-over-year by about 15% and 10%, respectively.
Timing campaigns appropriately allows you to reach the maximum number of people. For retailers, this is particularly important during the second half of the year. If you’re looking to reach the right audiences at the right time, be sure to take into account the day on which your campaigns go live.
The back to school click boost begins a month ahead of school, usually peaking about a week before school starts. For the holidays, it begins slightly earlier every year. We usually see consumer interest rise as soon as October ends or even slightly before, with steadily increasing impressions and clicks for retailers when compared to prior months until a peak in late November.
Read our full forecasts for this upcoming holiday season in our report, The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.
What’s the saying? There is no rest for the weary? Just when it feels like summer’s just begun, it’s already time to switch up your marketing campaigns for back-to-school shoppers.
According to Google Trends, interest in “Back to school” is on the rise since early June. But summer isn’t over yet, which makes this the perfect time to take advantage of this level of interest before we hit peak season.
Here are the top 6 things to make sure you check off your list to ensure you’re prepared for this year’s back-to-school season:
Don’t be so quick to start changing bids. A little research on your competitors goes a long way. Identify the gaps and move quickly on those opportunities. Look for top and direct competitor ads, and don’t forget online tools that can assist in finding out what competitors are doing with keyword bids. We recommend arming yourself with competitive information now so that your account is prepared for the next big retail shopping season.
Most back-to-school shoppers include parents and college students—as they prepare for back to school, they’re also searching online for deals. Marketers can benefit from this by creating campaigns that are focused specifically on back-to-school keywords and deal searches. Some examples of this are:
Be sure to give these campaigns a healthy budget, plus either an end date or a scheduled pause to ensure they don’t continue to run post-season.
Parents and college students are often price conscious, but also want the products they purchase to last. Also, shoppers are often looking for sales to save money. Marketers should focus their ad copy around these consumer needs to incentivize shoppers to click their ads.
If a consumer doesn’t see a phrase that indicates there may be a good deal on the landing page that comes after their click, they may select a competitor instead. Helpful phrases include the obvious “back to school,” but also things like:
And more. We suggest using discount-focused terms for smaller ticket items like colored pencils, and durability-focused terms for larger ticket items like backpacks and athletic shoes.
Make sure your strategy is informed by previous years’ data and this year’s goals. This also goes in line with understanding your competition, as we mentioned earlier. Take note of when the cost-per-click in your campaigns rose last year, and by how much, and adjust bids accordingly to ensure you’re pacing well with market demands throughout the season.
Don’t forget to include your shopping campaigns in your bidding strategy planning as well, especially for larger ticket items. Many consumers do a lot of research on items such as backpacks prior to making a decision, and may choose to purchase these items online in order to get exactly what they want.
Retargeting is another area where you may be able to better keep the attention of consumers who do a lot of price comparison shopping before making a purchase. Create a separate retargeting campaign specific to, again, higher-dollar items such as backpacks and athletic shoes, targeting users for several days after viewing your product.
When creating these retargeting ads, we recommend showing the products viewed previously in the ad, and potentially offering a coupon code to incentivize the consumer to purchase this product from your business specifically.
Parent and student purchase decisions are heavily influenced by mobile. According to Google, in 2014 over 40% of back-to-school searches were done via mobile devices. These searches are typically performed on the go by busy parents and students trying to get back-to-school shopping done in between all the other things they need to do.
What are these roving shoppers doing? They’re performing price comparisons, checking product availability, and searching for the closest store to their current location to sneak in a quick trip and check items off their list. You can capitalize on this by using location extensions and prominently displaying inventory availability for products at nearby stores on their easy-to-navigate mobile site.
If you’re strapped for time and can’t roll out a new back-to-school strategy, keep this checklist on hand, since these best practices are also applicable during the holiday shopping season. Want to learn more? Join the Center of Excellence for our back-to-school webinar on Thursday, July 21st!
In today’s blog post, we’re focused on three topics: sharing results from early Expanded Text Ad users, discussing support for Expanded Text Ads in the Adwords API and a brief discussion of automated transition options to get you on Expanded Text Ads quickly and profitably. If you’re unclear what Expanded Text Ads are, read our full coverage here and then come back to read our in-depth coverage in this post.
As the largest partner in the Adwords ecosystem, Marin was fortunate to be in a position to help many of the advertisers invited into the early beta program for Expanded Text Ads. In today’s blog post, we’d like to share with you a few of the insights we’ve learned from our early exposure.
Google’s introduction of dual headlines, both with longer character limits than its predecessor, creates a problem that some marketers will find easier to solve than others. We all know how important well written copy is to connect with your target audience, and ultimately run a profitable campaign. From our early exposure to Expanded Text Ads, choosing the right strategy for the new dual headline format will separate the winners from the losers.
In one instance, we observed a customer who fully embraced the dual headline capabilities by not only rewriting their ad copy, but fully changing their message to better suit the additional characters now at their disposal. This customer realized a tremendous engagement lift that exceeded our expectations (+50%). An increase in engagement can be unprofitable if conversions do not also increase at a similar cadence. We were impressed (and relieved) when we observed that conversions increased in lockstep (+70%).
There’s no doubt that the increased engagement was due in part to the enlarged footprint of the Expanded Text Ads format. But, based on other observations, it’s clear to us that the larger footprint does not account for all of this improvement. We believe that this customer’s decision to not only rewrite, but fully rework their creative was the key to their above average results. We applaud their savvy embrace of Expanded Text Ads and would be happy to speak with anyone who is struggling with how to get started, or looking for an experienced team to help guide their transition planning. Please contact us here for more information.
As expected, this landmark change in Adwords has created a beehive of stories, speculation, and misinformation. One point of contention in the Adwords Partner Ecosystem is timing to support Expanded Text Ads. We’d like to touch on this topic for a moment.
Marin Software recently celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary, and I’ve personally been a member of the team for 8 of them. During our time in business, we’ve prided ourselves on being a true partner to our customers. And as a partner, we’ve always been transparent on our timeline to support new API features. We’d like to remind our readers that, unfortunately, the same can not be said for all software partners that operate in the Adwords ecosystem.
For example, anyone who claimed to offer immediate Expanded Text Ad support on the day of Google’s announcement (5/24/16) was not telling you the full truth. We know this because Google just released support in the Adwords API for Expanded Text Ads today (5/27/16). Three days after the original feature announcement. We’ve been discussing this change with Google for over a month, and Google did not give preferential treatment to any partners.
Now that the API has been upgraded to support Expanded Text Ads, we’ll continue executing our plan to incorporate them into Marin Software’s platform. We’ve been advised that our timeline ranks amongst the fastest to support Expanded Text Ads in the partner ecosystem.
Given the promising results from early testing of Expanded Text Ads, Marin is encouraging our customers to actively plan their transition to reap the rewards. As a partner in our customer’s success we’ve designed two ways to help you get up and running on Expanded Text Ads quickly and profitably.
For advertisers who would like help rewriting their ads, Marin Software has an exclusive partnership with Boost Media. By tapping into Boost Media’s network, you’ll get access to hundreds of professional writers who will create new, optimized creative for the Expanded Text Ads format. We believe the ROI of working with Boost will yield tremendous results for all of our advertisers. If you would like to learn more, please contact us here.
For advertisers who would like strategic help, Marin’s Center of Excellence is staffed with experts ready to run a marginal analysis on your accounts and create a roadmap of the most profitable path for your program as you begin the transition to Expanded Text Ads. The demand for this service has been overwhelming, we encourage you to contact us to get started today.
Exciting times! Stay tuned for continuing coverage on Expanded Text Ads and the other announcements from the Google Performance Summit.
According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.
We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for
a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.
One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.
In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.
You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.
Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.
When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.
Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.
Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.
Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.
Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.
This is a guest post from Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, a Google Partner and MozLocal Recommended Agency serving small to enterprise level firms.
Thumbs and tiny screens can be tricky. Users have unique needs when they’re on a mobile device, and as advertisers, it’s critical that we create a conversion-friendly mobile experience. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to take your mobile campaign conversions to the next level.
You can never assume that you know why your users are on a mobile page. And, throughout the mobile user’s conversion journey, there are countless screen sizes and roadblocks. Finding a tool that allows you to record visitors, analyze form drop-offs, create heat maps, and measure funnels is crucial for improving your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
It’s possible to drastically improve ROI with elements like average fold analysis on mobile and other tools included in a conversion tracking software suite. In general, you don’t want your call to action below the fold on a mobile page. Remember, thumbs are powerful extremities and they shouldn’t be forced to scroll.
It would be a total shame if you lost all of your calls to action when someone scrolls! A great way to prevent your call to actions from going unnoticed is to install a sticky menu on your landing pages.
With a sticky menu, you can improve conversions and keep your CTA within a thumb’s distance at all times.
Users on mobile know that underlined items are hyperlinked. Not only do we want to make our number clickable, we want the user to inherently know that it’s clickable. Ideally, this number is a part of a sticky menu as mentioned in change #2.
Furthermore, if you really want the number to pop, take advantage of a secondary color from your brand playbook and go bold. The goal here is to make sure that the user knows they can call you.
In a great presentation, @BryantGarvin touches on a very valuable aspect of mobile CRO – keyboards. After using your conversion tracking software, dive into your mobile sessions. When users enter their number on mobile forms, are you using the right keyboard? Make sure you’re leveraging <input type=”tel”>.
Furthermore, if you’re using a checkout, make sure you set your credit card fields to <input type=”tel”> as well. Full details from the presentation here!
When your user comes to your mobile landing page, they’re often in a very unique situation. Occasionally, it could be an emergency. It’s critical that your copy speaks to this urgency and highlights your unique selling point while answering their #1 question.
Take the example above. Notice that “Available 24/7” is the first information a user sees. If you’re available to answer the phone 24/7, make sure your user knows! Also, notice “Tap # To Call: 949-362-5388” – here, the action we want the user to take is clear. Lastly, the user’s top questions are answered: Where do you service? How much will it cost?
When designing copy for mobile landing pages, leave nothing assumed, and guide the user as much as possible.
For certain industries, call-only ads present a terrific opportunity for your mobile campaigns. Frankly, if you’re in an industry where the end goal is phone calls, why not just have the user call you?
If you can take out a step in the funnel, you’ll be able to drastically increase conversions and compete at a higher level by allowing a user to complete their desired actions. Here are some key steps to keep in mind:
Regardless of where you are today, make these changes and monitor for growth. As always, test and improve, but this should give you a running start.
This is the first in a series of posts on transparency. In today’s post, we lay out the many ways transparency is elusive in digital marketing today. We also include some best practices for stamping out the fuzziness prevalent in the programmatic landscape.
Most marketers will admit transparency in media buys sounds like a good idea. So why don’t we have it all the time? Inertia, circumstances, or legacy business practices are the usual culprits. Knowing about the types of programmatic transparency is a good place to start.
You may have read about the recent survey on programmatic buying by Forrester and the ANA. Although we know intermediaries carve up a media dollar along the ad delivery path, a surprising 33 percent of survey respondents in this study have turned a blind eye while knowingly opting into an undisclosed programmatic model.
Not knowing the true value of your media obscures your true ROI. This buyer/seller blindness stands in the way of programmatic growth and success.
Let’s dive in and take a look at the three types of transparency: intermediaries, environmental, and data.
According to the ANA/Forrester study, 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain, up from 21 percent two years ago. No advertiser is immune to the supply chain realities, but seeing how the budget is allocated should be as natural as homebuyers scrutinizing loan origination fees from their mortgage broker.
There is a host of intermediaries in today’s programmatic supply chain including:
Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:
The advertiser pays most of the fees, while in some cases the publisher, or both the advertiser and publisher, pay them.
It’s common to have an agent buy media on the advertiser’s behalf, only revealing the final price of a campaign, total margin, and fees. Just as common is the masking of the closing or winning bid prices. Yet this transparency in bidding is precisely what’s needed for optimization. This practice is especially prevalent among black box vendors, as is straight-ahead arbitrage. Without transparent insights into what improves targeting and conversion, marketers are flying blind.
So, what’s the average take rate of each partner? It varies of course, depending mostly on targeting strategies and pricing/profit models. But asking your supply chain partners exactly what they’re charging you is the first step in achieving total transparency.
Certainly one of the hottest issues in ad tech today, environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. There are more mysteries than answers focused on who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they see it, and where the ad showed up, but help is on the way.
In the early days of RTB, fraudulent or unviewable inventory was a common problem. Although challenges remain, there is an increasing number of new tools available for advertisers, publishers, and ad servers to detect bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, or unviewable ads.
Still, there’s no consensus on how viewability is defined. Standard bodies like the IAB and MRC are driving clarity on this issue. Many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability. Large holding companies have their own standards as well.
Advertisers are increasingly demanding that publishers bear the burden of proof by complying with imposed measurement of viewability-centric campaigns. Viewability-tracking fees, brand safety-tracking fees, and brand lift study fees are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Although far from being solved, the use of ad verification and brand safety tools goes a long way in solving environmental transparency.
It seems logical that any data used in an ad campaign that you paid for would be accessible to you. But that isn’t always the case. Publishers could block the intent data or other data sets you would normally have access to with more transparent partners.
You may prefer to pay a black box provider because your only KPI is sales – this can work for some who don’t insist on understanding their true ROI. However, for data-driven marketing to work, seeing all your data for future learnings or to calculate your true ROI is essential.
Irresistible pricing models are as tempting as a timeshare in Tahiti. We get that. But regardless of whether you use a DSP or publisher tools for your programmatic buys, the more you know, the more you can improve outcomes – that is, if you want to know exactly how to improve outcomes rather than relying on your black box vendor to give you numbers devoid of margins or analysis.
Data are collected at every turn, every segment of the customer journey. CPC, CTR, and impressions are table stakes. For more intelligence, you need the eCPM and in-view impressions. Getting site-level reporting helps you blacklist/whitelist and improve targeting.
If you’re striving to get to your true ROI, knowing how the data points were calculated is certainly also part of the equation. Since we’re talking numbers, understanding the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process is another must-have.
You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand. This means choosing your own KPIs, publishers, and the data you want to bring, buy, optimize, or analyze. Here are some best practices for how to bring more transparency to your programmatic initiatives.
Next time, we’ll dive deeper into the programmatic supply chain and how it affects cost.