Archive for the ‘Prospecting’ Category

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I had the pleasure of catching up with Paul Silver who is Chief Strategy Officer at Media IQ the other month. From planning and buying across multiple accounts to diving into data to really help solve client problems and needs was part of the discussion.

Having an extremely granular optimisation and well executed programmatic strategy helps identify those high performing segments, but it also highlights a challenge when it comes to predicting / forecasting the ROI for the individual segments / campaigns. Each segment is likely to have significantly different ARPUs and churn rates and you want to avoid pausing a campaign which is performing better than the channel average, but also stop campaigns which perform worse than the channel average (LTV is normally worked out on a channel basis).

Media IQ have built predictive and forecasting models to help advertisers solve this problem plugging these models into campaigns run by Media IQ or just purchasing them off the shelf to use in-house. The models which update as campaigns mature would give optimisers insight into which segments are most likely going to yield a positive ROI for segments without having to do manual calculations each time across a huge set of ad campaigns / segments.

With £billions being spent on advertising there’s also £billions wasted, so it’s good to get some scientific help to avoid this as much as possible but also ramp up ad spend in the most attractive areas.

This is a good example of how the new age ad agencies / consultancies are helping advertisers solve their problems without just taking media spend and adding a high margin on top.

You can of course build your own models but if you want to avoid the hassle then I’d recommend speaking to Media IQ.

It’s powerful, flexible, customisable, saves thousands of man hours, provides valuable customer insights / behaviour and most importantly ensures that you get a healthy ROI if used in the right way.

Meet The Brain: The Brain is MediaMath’s proprietary algorithm and ingests data (60 billion opportunities everyday to be exact) and decisions against that data.

Their algorithm’s left-brain and right-brain work together to analyse large pools of impressions, looking at dozens of user and media variables, to determine which impressions will best meet an advertiser’s goal.The Brain values each impression based on its likelihood of driving an action, and bids accordingly.

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It continues to disappoint me when I hear about large blue chip clients working on the default 30 day PV (post view) cookie window for display campaigns and then accepting 100% of the PV conversions. Not only this, but in most cases no viewability tech is being used.

When looking at your PV cookie window, typically it should be set to mirror what you have deemed to be the average consideration time to purchase as well as taking into account the ad format.

On the other hand, you want to avoid coming up with an arbitrary PV window which so many brands do.

Fortunately there is a robust way of finding out what percentage of PV conversions are genuine which you can use for future campaigns. This is called a ‘Placebo Test’. You would run an A/B test with one of your creatives adserved alongside a charity creative. Post campaign you minus the in view PV conversions which the charity creative delivered (which are obviously incorrect) from the in view PV conversions your brand creative delivered. This will leave you with the remainder of in view PV conversions which you can class as genuine. Work out what the percentage of genuine in view PV conversions were and then you can use this percentage within the buying platform which will mean only the percentage which has been proved genuine in the past will be accepted and attributed for the current and future campaigns.

Ideally you should expect the ‘Placebo Test’ to look something like the below. If both lines are similar then the banners are not working on a brand basis and they therefore don’t offer any value outside the click. The mention of ‘Placebo’ below would be a charity creative.

PV

Things to consider:

  1. You need £10k media investment
  2. Banners incl. charity banners
  3. Partner eg. MediaMath, DBM or Media IQ
  4. Viewability tech eg. Spider.io
  5. You only have to run it once per product

By overvaluing a channel like display has two main consequences 1. Wasting marketing budget as you could re-allocate some of the display budget to other better performing channels and 2. An algorithm optimising on bad data will only mean that it will aim to optimise towards that bad data more.

On the subject of display wastage, I recently worked with Exchange Wire on an article about my frustrations of DSP’s not integrating with third party viewability tech and the impact.

If agencies and brands stop wasting marketing budget and run display campaigns as they should be done in a more genuine way, the channel will then get the respect it deserves.

Listen

You have a eureka moment and you start building out the infrastructure for product, website and staff.

The product flies off the shelves and life is good. Customers are happy, customers are spending on your site and you’re living the dream.

As the business expands it produces more risk to ‘issues’ across key business areas which effect customers such as product stability, CRM / customer service and product development especially when linked to different platforms. As time goes on, competitors pop up trying to attack your weak points offering a viable alternative and the ideal solution would be to have had long term business strategies in place to cover all areas which could be at risk of those ‘issues’ appearing, resulting in customers not having a good reason to go anywhere else.

Many businesses only have short term strategies which apply temporary fixes and patches resulting in those ‘issues’ appearing in full view to customers.

The 21st century has brought customer opinions and voices which are not only expressed across the globe but also across all channels especially social media and forums instantly within seconds to millions, so no longer does a customer have to write a letter to complain or stay on the phone for hours, customers are now in the driving seat not the brand.

Those businesses who closely monitor, analyse and engage with their customer feedback especially their high value customers will avoid getting annihilated, emmbaresed and shown up in front of millions as well as having to pay high acquisition costs to convince new customers that they have changed.

Brands need to stop thinking that they know better and start believing the classic saying that ‘the customer is always right’. Yes, not every single customer is right and you don’t need to add every piece of feedback to the business agenda, but apply logic to constructive feedback and where a clear trend appears apply it to the relevant business area.

Not only are your high value customers willing to give you an abundance of ideas on how to improve, but you only have to give a tiny gift away to get vital feedback to improve business, which in turn once implemented will give you an abundance of organic new customers compared to the expense of having to use ad budget to acquire those new customers.

On a similar note, it’s also not acceptable to put a product on the shelf when based on customer feedback post launch is clealy unfinished. A brand should never be in this situation, especially with so many tools available which would give you the feedback you need in order to build the ultimate product which meets demand prior to launch.

So when you’re lying on the beach seeing the cash flow, you need to remember that if you don’t listen and look after your customers, you can lose them significantly quicker and in greater volume than you can aquire new ones and that is certainly not what investors like to see.

In house

Ad agencies have offered huge value for advertisers for decades and continue to do so. This will never change.

The key benefits of outsourcing the media planning and buying function to ad agencies include the likes of: global negotiating power, specialist contacts for sponsorship deals, cross client learnings, cross channel integration, deal with the hassle and admin and it’s someone for the CMO or CEO to blame if the business isn’t hitting key targets.

With programmatic buying (Paid Search, Social Media, Display RTB, Online Video, Mobile and Affiliates) becoming the bulk of digital Marketing, the majority of these benefits no longer applies therefore it doesn’t make sense and can be classed as lazy if a brand wasn’t to even consider taking all programmatic buying in-house.

Although rightfully CEO’s obsess about growth, also ‘wastage’ and efficiency across the business needs to be reviewed often.

Let’s look at the pros and cons for taking all programmatic buying in-house:
Pros

  • New digital media team would be sitting next to all other marketing areas eg. CRM, creative, content, web design, product managers.
  • Close to business KPI’s and budgets so they can be extremely reactive.
  • No hidden margins in bid platforms.
  • Can often get cheaper adserving and bid platform rates.
  • Team become specialists in the business sector / vertical.
  • 100% of time and focus will be given to the one client.
  • Learnings and data won’t be shared with other clients with no chance of leakage to competitors.
  • Can turn around new campaigns significantly quicker.
  • 24 hour contact.
  • Will always have the time to stay ahead of the game.
  • Work closely with the data team / in-house DMP optimising on real KPI’s such as revenue / LTV / ARPU.
  • Can openly recommend business requirements to CEO in order to get things done quickly and grow the business.
  • No hidden agendas – everyone aiming for the same goal.
  • Other internal departments can be educated about what role the media buy has on business goals.

Cons

  • Can take six months to recruit team, train grads and setup systems and data integrations.
  • Ad agency would have to make more effort to integrate offlline and online brand with internal programmatic team.
  • The CEO might ignore team recommendations of key requirements needed to improve marketing.
  • CMO would need to find someone who has +5 years experience in programmatic buying across all channels to head up the team and train the grads.

There are certainly plenty of pros and if you’re wondering how to kick things off, speak to some of the recruitment agencies below who will be able to provide an abundance off free advice:

Neil’ Recruitment

Digital Bubble

Puddle

Offline brand activity has been measured in the same way for decades through econometrics – mainly looking at the correlation which offline activity has with brand search volume and bottom line acquisitions / revenue.

Many digital specialists claim that this way of measuring offline brand activity was built for offline and it would be unfair to use this method for measuring online brand. Yet, those digital specialists are more than happy to attribute post view data to all online advertising without analysing actual cause and causality.

The reason why many feel that it’s unfair, is because online branding is expensive and when looking at the correlation of online brand spend vs. offline spend through an econometrics model, offline shows a greater ROI for many advertisers. Also when it comes to banners, in many instances there is zero correlation between banner impression volume and brand search uplift / bottom line acquisitions.

Just because you can track post view, it doesn’t mean that you should attribute post view conversions to campaigns. Most digital planners who have been around for a while know how this can be easily abused, you only have to look back at the classic Yahoo Marketplace placement on the Yahoo HP where an impression counter could be attached to the ad to remember this.

The key objective for all brand activity is to deliver a positive ROI no matter how the consumer got to your site / store or whether the ad was delivered online or offline. I can’t imagine any marketer spending money on advertising and not ever wanting a return from that spend, so it’s pretty safe to say that the key objective above is fact.

So what is the most robust way of measuring the ROI of online brand activity.

Analysing the correlation that both uplift in brand search volume and bottom line acquisitions / revenue has on any medium to large weight brand campaign (online or offline), is the most effective way of viewing impact / ROI in a robust and truthful way. This would mean that econometrics would be perfect to measure the effectiveness of online brand campaigns also.

In order to determine cause / causality, the brand activity would have to be signficant eg. Portal / social network takeovers, online video or high volume display burst campaigns so then the noise will show up in an econometrics model.

For very low volume online branding, there is an option to use in view post view data as a proxy of success, but it’s essential to remember that you won’t know whether the conversions would have happened anyway, unless you have run a placebo controlled test.

The ultimate goal is to know what brand opportunities are the most cost efficient way of increasing conversions / revenue. Basic econometrics is still the most effective way of reaching this goal across all marketing channels.

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Acquiring customers through brand paid search is in most cases not only the most cost efficient way of acquiring customers, but it’s also where most brands find where their most valuable customers originate from.

As Facebook and Twitter release more ad opportunities by the week which are meeting advertiser demands and paid search CPCs increase especially across mobile, SEM specialists are finding it increasingly difficult to add value or are just simply missing the limelight and therefore to combat this in some cases when presenting paid search performance, they are mixing in brand search data with generics without splitting them out to make ‘search’ look better.

This is just plain wrong. No matter how much the CEO or CMO likes the look of positive data especially through internal campaign tracked activity, as a media specialist they should be advising key stakeholders of the difference between both, letting them know that there’s no need to obsess around brand search performance because knowing what drives brand search is outside the SEM specialist remit and is a wider and bigger question / concern.

A CEO or CMO asking an SEM specialist to increase brand search volume and constantly saying that “paid search drives the most conversions” than any other channel and that paid search should be given more budget (when brand and generics isn’t split out) is bad for business.

I know that a lot of consultants and CMO’s are under pressure but there needs to be more effort from the SEM specialist and senior management team to understand what is driving search performance, splitting out generic and brand keywords clearly and focusing on driving incremental generic conversions leaving brand search volumes for another day.

I’ve heard a lot of moaning and read a lot of articles (example here) about display specialists adding remarketing data into prospecting results and the fact that it needs to crack down, but not splitting out brand and generic search results is far worse and equally shambolic.

There is an argument to have brand search data held in a completely different system to be used purely for online and offline brand attribution / to view halo effect, but what is clear is that brand and generic search data should never be mixed up on the same line and should always be kept separate.

SEM specialists and consultants should be obsessing about how to improve generic paid search performance whether it’s ad copy performance or building long term strategies on building up their QS to achieve lower CPCs in the future and higher rankings which will in turn increase volume incrementally.

There’s a time and a place to discuss brand search performance and it shouldn’t be when comparing overall digital channel by channel performance.

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RTB brings a wealth of benefits to display advertising and one of the biggest features which is coming soon is the ability to auto optimise across different placements within a page based on historical in view rates. Yes, there is above the fold targeting but the volume isn’t there and there is still value from advertising below the fold.

Many advertisers are throwing over 60% of their RTB spend and adserving down the drain because over half of the ads delivered simply did not get viewed. For those who accept PV, the wastage would be significantly higher as the channel gets attributed PV conversions where the ads didn’t even get viewed.

This is where viewability technology comes in. Let’s look at the viewability technology marketplace and the test results off the back of a study to find the best partner:

Firstly you need to identify what you class as ‘in view’ – some tools believe it or not have a default setting which cannot be changed of 1 pixel has to be in view to class the banner as ‘in view’. It’s recommended to set the values at 100% of ad surface viewed for a minimum of 4 seconds or 50% of ad surface for a minimum of 8 seconds.

Project Sunblock

The test didn’t even get off the ground as they only supported a solution where the creative would re-direct through their servers. This brings high risk of their technology affecting the ad delivery so this provider was ruled out

Comscore

This test also didn’t get off the ground as they struggled to send the necessary tagging over and their technology does not work with Chrome or IE browsers so for that reason alone this provider was ruled out

Alenty

  • They have a pretty good offering and do offer very good customer support. Their tech didn’t affect impression volume and is compatible with all browsers
  • Test results show: Germany (35.8% in view), Portugal (40.7% in view), Poland (42.9% in view) and UK (29.2% in view)
  • They can use a DSP macro to pass back campaign name, strategy name, exchange name and domain name
  • They have a good reporting UI and can setup bespoke reports
  • You can customise your in view calculation in the UI and the data adjusts in real-time.
  • Compatible with DSPs
  • Infectious Media have been using the tech for a while now with optimisation success
  • Referring to their demo on http://www.alenty.com/en/demo/display-ads (which has since been removed), if you move the banner half off screen or have another window in front of the banner, the ad surface remains as 100% and visibility duration continues to go up which is a huge downfall of the technology because if you’re going to track viewability then you need to do it right.

If it wasn’t for Spider.IO, this would have been a good alternative.

Spider IO

  • Very good technology which is compatible with all browsers and didn’t affect impression volume
  • In view rate of 17%
  • They can use a DSP macro to pass back campaign name, strategy name, exchange name and domain name
  • They don’t have a reporting UI yet, but can supply bespoke daily reports with customised in view calcs
  • Technology is patent
  • Compatible with DSPs
  • As per their demo, their technology is truly ground breaking http://spider.io/vStp83jg6/
  • They offer log level data which can go into a DMP

Spider.IO was the clear winner due to their patent tech, the demo which works and log level reporting. Alenty although the tech is not 100% is still a fantastic alternative.