Digital advertisers are worried about ad viewability. How worried are they? According to a survey that Mixpo conducted this year, 69% of them are “extremely concerned” or “very concerned.” That’s the bad.
As we mentioned in our post on programmatic buying transparency, the environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. By “environmental,” we mean viewability, ad fraud, and brand safety.
We also stated that there’s no consensus on how viewability is even defined or how to determine the tradeoffs between measurement, accuracy, and associated costs.
Still, the debate continues. As viewability becomes a greater concern for digital advertisers and vital to the success of their campaigns, solutions and standards continue to be defined and refined. In this article, we look at guidelines, outline what to consider, and recommend a few tips for ensuring your ads are viewable.
The Media Rating Council (MRC) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) basically define viewability as who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they saw it, and where the ad showed up. Further, the IAB states that viewability “is not about ad effectiveness nor ad engagement. It is simply the delivery of ads that render on the screen. In other words, the opportunity to be seen.”
What does that mean?
Specifically (according to MRC and IAB guidelines), a display ad is viewable if 50% or more of its pixels appear on-screen for at least one continuous second. On the other hand, GroupM believes 100% of pixels need to be in view for at least one second. Like GroupM, other large holding companies also have their own standards.
The reasons for these discrepancies often lie in creative technologies. For instance, moving from Flash to HTML5 can slow down page loads, making verification pixels time out, which can then prevent accurate measurement. And, according to the MRC, bandwidth and network speeds make load times even worse for mobile ads.
The various viewability definitions are a way to get around these speed bumps, allowing for a departure point to effectively measure viewable versus unviewable ads. Meaning, there are standards, but they depend on the governing body or other constituents determining the guidelines.
Brand safety is easier to define, but it’s just as important in ensuring your brand is creating a positive user experience and maintaining your brand image. Simply put, your brand is safe not only if your ads are showing up in the right context, but also when the right ads appear on your website. For instance, if not-quite-safe-for-work ads suddenly appear on your site, your brand image will likely suffer, causing buyer-seller trust to erode.
Once again, the IAB and its standards can help. Its Content Taxonomy identifies when companies are brand-safe based on a two-tier system:
Third-party certification providers offer a list of DSPs that filter bought inventory according to IAB’s taxonomy. In this way, programmatic guidelines and technologies can be established, automated to safeguard against risky ads and hazardous placements.
Remember there’s a difference between viewability and fraud. Integral Ad Science (IAS) defines ad fraud as “the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user.” However, a positive trend that IAS reported reveals that overall programmatic ad fraud dipped by 20.9% between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016. Still, the U.S. has the worst rate of ad fraud when compared to Australia, France, Germany, and the U.K., the countries the IAS profiled.
This is part of why digital marketers in the U.S. are so worried.
Something to note, however, is that the same study showed that viewability is actually up, presumably because publishers and other players in the industry increasingly have stopped getting paid for inventory that’s fraudulent—so they’re more motivated to increase viewability and reduce fraud. An article in the Journal of Advertising Research, however, states that global advertisers are expected to waste roughly seven billion dollars in 2016 on unviewable ads. Whether the forecast is sunny or gloomy, all sides are working harder to reduce fraud and increase viewability.
Why is there as much fraud as there is? In a word—bots. Specifically, bots that mask as a user and click fraudulent ads, making it seem like your website’s getting more clicks and click-throughs than it actually is.
Marketers are right to be concerned. They must continue to be vigilant about and aware of both unviewable ads and bots’ calculated attempts to muddy the ad pool. To make matters (and your measurement efforts) worse, bots don’t use ad blocking software like humans do. So, if you’re trying to measure campaign effectiveness through the average ad blocking rate and optimize accordingly, you have your work cut out for you.
It’s obvious that you’d like people to actually see your ads. And, you’re no doubt interested in measuring the effectiveness of these ads and adjusting as needed.
A third angle to take into account—many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability, assigning costs to only those impressions that are viewable. Here, however, there’s a tradeoff between the page actually loading, the time it takes, and how these measurements will or should affect cost.
For brand awareness and to know your true cost of doing business, viewability is essential. As we mentioned in our post on the programmatic supply chain, if your impressions aren’t viewable, you should get a credit toward them. We’ll add here—if your impressions aren’t viewable, not only did a tree fall in the forest and no one heard it, no one has any idea what the tree looks like. So much for lifting your brand awareness.
First off, as far as measurement goes, who should bear the burden of proof? Publishers, vendors, and agencies are working together to measure and combat viewability issues. Each of these entities, however, has a unique motivation for ensuring viewability is maintained and measured:
As mentioned earlier, there are issues gleaning accurate viewability metrics—such as latency and the creative technologies that cause it. Third-party measurement vendors can also be problematic, since they use tracking pixels that can, ironically, result in longer page loads and add to the murkiness of precise measurement.
The answer lies in adopting standards to level the playing field. In its Primer for Publishers on Improving Ad Viewability, IAB recommends that publishers establish performance benchmarks, and have a remediation plan in place to determine what happens should an ad placement miss the benchmark by more than 10%.
The landscape’s not perfect, but the outlook’s positive. That’s the good.
What factors go into determining the cost of viewability? Viewability tracking, brand safety tracking, and brand lift studies are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Ad verification and brand safety tools also come with a cost, and have their own issues, but they go a long way in creating environmental transparency. These all play a role in ensuring ads get seen, but marketers must determine how these weigh against their budget and how much are overkill.
What about the costs of the future? Will all ad formats be bought on a viewable impression basis, i.e., vCPM? Time will tell.
Now that we’ve gone over definitions, standards, and budgeting considerations, here are best practices you can use to combat viewability issues and maximize the likelihood of your ads getting seen:
If the virtual nail-biting is any indication, viewability will continue to occupy its high-anxiety, top-of-mind position until the major issues get smoothed over. Take heed, though, that help is not only on the way—the conversation has expanded to video and audio. In the long run, continued standardization will result in better guidelines and (more) common practices.
In the meantime, remember the tradeoffs between viewability, practicality, and the costs of measurement. Do what’s appropriate for your business and budget, with the understanding that better days await you.
Between the distant frenzy of the Q4 shopping season and the rising calm of midyear, Q2 tends to be the quietest quarter. However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. Among other things we found in our research, mobile display played a larger role this Q2—but overall, the ubiquitous move to mobile is actually slowing down. And, tablet usage continues to drop.
To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q2 2016, key findings include:
For detailed information on Q2 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance and strategy recommendations, download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q3 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.
Last year, we forecast that 30% of all retail paid-search spend would be on a shopping ad, and 45% of all product ad clicks would be on a smartphone—and smartphone click growth ended up being even stronger than we predicted. Looking forward, where do we see shopping ads this holiday season?
We took a look at month-over-month variations and factored in seasonal shifts in performance to forecast where we’ll be by December 2016:
For more results sampled from the Marin Global Online Advertising Index—composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform—read The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. With data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, be sure to download your copy today so that you’re prepared for the Q4 rush.
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.
Shoppers are already prepping their lists for the holidays, and retail advertisers are close behind, on the mobile-focused, ad spend case. If smartphones were big-box retail destinations, they’d be the new “mad rush” of holiday sales.
Thankfully, when shoppers are looking for deals and information, they can now easily turn to their mobile devices.
Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research uncovered some surprising things about what to expect for social advertising this 2016 shopping season.
Happy shopping—and spending—in 2016.
For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.
Facebook offers several great options for retargeting, allowing you to segment and remarket to people who’ve engaged with your product. These tools include:
These features let you granularly segment your audiences, ensuring you’re targeting users with the right messaging and products.
What happens when search teams up with social? Combining search intent with Facebook retargeting allows you to segment and target users on Facebook, based on the search ads that drove them to your website.
How can you fit this tactic into your overall retargeting strategy, and how is it beneficial to your campaigns?
Let’s tackle that last question first.
Since search is an intent-oriented channel, you can retarget users based on what they’re looking for. With this knowledge, you can drive them to a conversion by offering them exactly what they want.
Once you know your audience’s intent, you can align this information with your goals to create high-value user segments, then target accordingly. This affords you the opportunity to target larger audiences using lookalikes, then scale even further from there. No matter the size of the audience, using precise, tailored segments ensures the highest audience quality.
And, if your goals change and you no longer want to target a specific audience, you can always exclude it from your campaigns.
Search intent allows you to adapt creative elements on Facebook—by knowing what the user wants, you can show more appealing images and messaging to increase CTR. You can also apply tiered bidding and budget, concentrating on higher-value audiences.
There are an infinite numbers of ways you can segment audiences based on your overall strategy and goals, or even for a particular event. Here are a few use cases.
A large brand is planning to launch a massive TV campaign, and wants to engage with people, via search and social, who possibly saw its TV ad. Since users are most likely to search for the brand after seeing the ad, the brand splits its search campaigns into brand and generic segments. This way, the brand can understand its audience and target them with specific messaging, across channels.
An ecommerce site is trying to attract users based on search criteria for its fashion styles. It tags the keywords romantic and classic to reach those users on Facebook, showing them relevant content. The site complements this tactic with its Facebook DPA campaigns.
A direct advertiser is looking to improve its social optimization strategy based on search activity. It segments search campaigns according to users who search for high ROI and low ROI keywords, allowing it to target those users on Facebook, and adjusting bids and budgets accordingly.
A travel website wants to lower CPAs for search and social channels. It creates a 100% bid RLSA group for very expensive but high volume keywords, tags the users who’ve clicked these keywords, and excludes them from repeated searches. To achieve lower costs, the website targets those users in social.
Want to see a real-life example of how it works? Read about how a loan comparison website cut its cost per acquisition by 3.5x with Marin’s search intent retargeting on Facebook.
How do you get your product feed in front of as many eyes as possible? Are you using Facebook Dynamic Product Ads? Just Google Shopping? Do you have an effective social prospecting strategy? Do you know how to get your product ads in front of people who’ve never seen them before?
If your answer to any of these questions is “meh,” then this blog post is for you.
There are two ways to get your products in front of potential customers on the web today:
If you’re a retailer, it’s in your best interest to blast your product feed far and wide to make sure your product is available whether a potential customer is searching for it on Google or Amazon, or browsing the Yahoo News feed. Heck, maybe they just need a reminder that they didn’t complete their purchase of those cute red pumps.
The obvious next question is—how do I ensure my product is reaching all my potential customers across the many channels and publishers on the web? Full-blown shopping capabilities allow you to get your products in front of millions of customers through all the major paid avenues—and all the leading marketplaces like Amazon and eBay—from a single product feed. This is the easiest way to execute a true “omni-channel shopping campaign.” (Request a demo to find out how we can help you do this.)
Facebook Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) help you promote relevant products to shoppers browsing your product catalog. Once they’ve visited your website or mobile application, you can retarget them on Facebook with the specific products they showed interest in, dynamically displayed with information from your product feed (price, name, in stock or not, etc.).
There are several great things you can do with DPA:
Here’s how this works.
Suppose a shopper buys a pair of designer shoes online, and then they see an ad for handbags from the same designer. By showing products related to what a customer orders, you increase your average order value and customer lifetime value. Upsell and cross-sell campaigns automatically extend the reach of your campaigns, and increase the chances of selling relevant incremental products.
With a prospecting campaign, you can offer products from your catalog to new audiences most likely to use your products (by way of a Facebook algorithm or dynamic ads across the web). This feature is meant to give you an optimal workflow—one that allows you to bulk-edit ads and duplicate DPA campaigns for retargeting, upsell, or cross-sell, all in one function.
So, for example, instead of having four separate campaigns and workflows, you can create just one workflow that handles everything you would’ve included in those disparate campaigns.
A small number of Facebook partners (including Marin) can edit product sets, add URL tags, choose creative templates, and see full previews as you make selections. These features have excellent workflow capabilities, so they deliver both fantastic targeting and ease of use. Contact us to learn more.
Having shopping campaigns on both Google and Facebook catapults the power and performance of your product feed. Do you have the time and resources, though, to manage your shopping campaigns on two different platforms?
If you do, you should definitely include your product feed on both channels to extend your reach. If you don’t, Marin’s Smart Sync for Shopping feature automatically clones and syncs your shopping campaigns from Google to Facebook, eliminating the need for lengthy IT support. With Marin Display, you can use your same product feed to run prospecting campaigns to those outside Google and Facebook.
Even more powerful than Google Shopping or Facebook DPA alone, omni-channel distribution allows you to advertise across a wide array of channels and publishers—native, search, social, eBay, Amazon shopping…the list of both paid and non-paid platforms goes on.
To wring every last drop of value from your product feed, you should showcase it through as many online venues as you can. You should also make sure you’re constantly optimizing your feed for the greatest possible returns.
Retailers who combine all of the above functionality with display retargeting can boast of having a full cross-channel solution, one that automatically puts in overtime to expand your reach and boost revenue. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all channels, and heighten your brand effectiveness in time for back-to-school and the Q4 holiday season.
Digital advertising is a fast-evolving organism. For retailers, this means constantly looking for new ways to meet and exceed business goals. Promoting your product catalog across channels is a powerful way to upsell existing customers and for finding new ones. To learn more about how Marin can help, request a demo.
Global mobile trends all point to the same conclusion – operating in channel-specific silos no longer works, and now’s the time for marketers to implement a strong cross-channel marketing strategy.
If you subscribe to this blog (and if you don’t, see that second little box on the right), you already know we’ve been evangelizing the message of “cross-device, cross-channel.” There’s a good reason for that.
As we approach the halfway point of 2016, it’s more important than ever that marketers not only use data to understand customer behavior, but also to act on that behavior to deliver engaging, personalized experiences.
On May 25, Nitin Rabadia – our Director of Audience Marketing EMEA, APAC – will explain how to use data to win the online battle for attention and revenue. Gleaning insights from our 2016 Global Mobile Report (available with webinar registration), Nitin will field your questions and discuss:
Register for the webinar today.
When we looked at performance marketing data from the first quarter of 2016, one thing became clear: cross-channel, cross-device targeting remains the most powerful differentiator for profitable marketing strategies.
To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q1 2016, key findings include:
For detailed information on Q1 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance – including detailed data charts with YoY performance and up-to-date recommendations – download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q2 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.
Mother’s Day is almost here! With flowers, cards, and family visits close at hand, many brick and mortar retailers are gearing up for the shopping spike. The season of maternal appreciation extends to online retailers, who are also gussying up their search, social, and display campaigns to attract consumers around the world.
How did online retailers do in 2015, and what to expect this year?
In the week leading up to Mother’s Day 2015 (May 10th), clicks increased an average of 15% across retailers as click-through rates rose 6%. In addition, spend increased 9% during the same time period, peaking a few days before Mother’s Day.
Most notably, conversions saw a bump of 12%, peaking on the 5th at 18% above the monthly average. This noticeable bump for all retailers was more pronounced among those specialty retailers that Mother’s Day particularly impacts.
CPCs actually dropped slightly during this period, except for two days where they spiked, the 4th and 5th. The 5th proved to be a particularly important day for consumers and advertisers, showing abnormal surges along all metrics.
Perhaps consumers took account delivery times and the looming holiday date into account, giving themselves a few buffer days in case of delays in delivery and arrival.
These numbers dropped dramatically on Mother’s Day itself, and returned slowly to roughly average afterwards. Click-through rates remained elevated for Mother’s Day and a few days afterwards before returning to seasonal norms.
For retailers looking to maximize their Mother’s Day sales, here are a few key takeaways: