This is the final post in a series on transparency. In today’s article, we look at data transparency, why it’s important, and the elements of a transparent data model.
We’ve reached the last article in our series on transparency in programmatic display advertising. For those of you just tuning in, let’s quickly recap:
To wrap things up, this article looks at the importance of having access to all of your data—not just the numbers a publisher wants you to see. Let freedom—and transparency—ring.
When it comes to data visibility needs and desires, advertisers and agencies run the gamut—some are happy to pay on a CPC basis without knowing what CPM the vendor paid. Others are okay tracking to just a few KPIs. Still others want it all. What’s the best way to go?
The key to transparency is precision—whether you’re running a direct response or a brand campaign, having the right data measures the impact of either type of campaign, and allows you access to what you need to measure ROI.
So what do advertisers most often expect from their ad tech vendors and publishers? Our take is that list is long, but we’ll focus on the essential data you need to transform “unaware” to “X-ray vision.”
To gain greater intelligence about the effectiveness of your display campaigns and to better understand the customer journey and attribution, at minimum, you need access to:
This level of transparency allows you to understand true ROI. It also lets you keep an eye on how your bids are managed, unlike black box vendors who don’t reveal a history of bid calculations or otherwise provide any idea of what—and how—you’re actually doing. With the black box model, it’s much harder/impossible for you to look into the data and understand what’s driving conversions or an algorithm. Conversely, being able to do this provides you with a high level of visibility into the effectiveness of your campaign.
Despite industry calls for greater data transparency on many levels, mum’s still the word from most vendors and publishers. Some players have their reasons—the main one being to maintain a competitive edge. Understandable. However, as more and more brands pound at the locked doors of black box vendors, it’ll become less to those vendors’ advantage to keep the secret sauce secret.
If a vendor is transparent about not being transparent, is that “transparent”? We say “no.” As vendors realize this, perhaps there’ll be some level of agreement that to survive in an increasingly tug-of-war environment, neutrality and openness are key.
That is, companies must heed the call to “show me the data.”
In sum—the best way you can improve campaign performance is to know exactly how bidding, reporting, and attribution are all working independently and in concert. Once you have this level of data and insight, you’ll know exactly how your budgets are working for you (or not), and you can take active steps to enhance effectiveness. At that point, you’ll have a crystal-clear view of your marketing efforts—and your ROI—to give you the confidence, control, and independence you need to execute measurable marketing initiatives.
This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.
The holiday season is here! To launch successful holiday display ad campaigns, marketers need to be thoughtful about the creative, the offer, and the timing. Here at five tips to catalyze your holiday display ads through the New Year.
Spruce up your ad creative, landing page, and site navigation for the holidays to demonstrate to consumers that you’re excited about the gift-giving season. Incorporate reasonably agnostic holiday symbols such as wreaths, snowflakes, evergreen trees and candles into creative.
40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping by Halloween, according to an NRD study. You likely already know this, but campaigns should launch as early as mid-October. So, if you haven’t launched yet, better late than never—now’s the time! Promoting your holiday campaigns early allows you to take advantage of the Thanksgiving rush, and spread awareness of your brand for Cyber Monday through Christmas and New Year.
To keep your ads looking distinct and fresh, update your creative once or twice a month. Changes can be low effort, like tweaking old concepts with new colors, buttons, borders, or images.
According to a McKinsey study, campaigns that rely on data improve marketing ROI 15-20%. Look at last year’s holiday campaign and sales figures to determine what products were the most popular. What channels were display campaigns most successful on? The results will help you focus your efforts on the highest-performing channels and highest-converting customer bases.
Create urgency with shoppers by stressing the importance of short-term sales during the holidays. Be clear about the expiration date for discount deals, coupons, and promotions.
Follow these tips and get ready for your most successful year yet. Have a joyous holiday season.
Sarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.
Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.
Holiday shopping’s in full swing. If you’re running retargeting campaigns, make sure they’re as prepared for the season as you are. Online sales are forecast to increase between seven and 10 percent over last year to as much as $117 billion.
We made your list, so check it twice, and take these steps to boost campaign performance during the holiday season.
You’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic (especially if you sell anything that can be given as a gift), which means you’ll see a boost in impressions served and in advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.
We recommend a 25 to 50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever percentage of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same percentage.
Almost all advertisers will increase their spend for the holidays, so you’re going to have serious competition.
With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To prepare for this surge, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Bidding higher will make your campaigns more competitive and will give you a better chance of serving more ads by winning more impressions. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.
Holiday-themed advertising only gets people’s attention during one time of the year, and you should join the conversation your customers are having. Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any of the major holidays can grab a visitor’s attention.
Send a happy holiday message, mention that there are only X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click your ads. Use the holidays as a chance to create urgency and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.
We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.
From our team to yours—happy holidays!
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.