Placeable Webinar With AAA: How Targeted Local Marketing Drives Success

10Placeable CEO and AAA Carolinas Head of Digital Marketing Discuss How National Brands Can Boost Marketing Success

Placeable and AAA Carolinas are joining together for a webinar about the impact of local marketing on the success of national brands. It will provide a firsthand look at how AAA Carolinas implemented a local digital marketing strategy that drove an 816% year-over-year increase in organic web visits—and a 2,344% increase in mobile traffic.

The webinar will feature Placeable CEO, Ari Kaufman, and Head of Digital Marketing at AAA Carolinas, Heather McBrien, who will look at how Placeable’s proven local digital strategies benefited the AAA club. The successfully executed program not only increased web traffic, but also improved the quality of those visits—translating into greater revenue for AAA’s insurance, travel and automotive business lines.

What: “Act Like a Local: How AAA Carolinas and Placeable Teamed Up For Local Success” Webinar

Who: Placeable and AAA Carolinas

When: Tuesday, August 26 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

Where: Register here

“Local marketing has a tremendous impact, but many brands are still struggling to create and implement an effective strategy,” said Ari Kaufman, CEO, Placeable. “We are excited to demonstrate how national brands can become locally competitive with the right partners, tools and strategy.”

For more information or to register, click here.

Act Like a Local – Enterprise Advertiser Wins

Your investments in branding and national advertising will only be impactful if customers can consistently find you online and at your doorstep.  Too often brand campaigns result in missed opportunities, frustrated customers and lost trust in the brand because of bad location data and missing information.  To compete successfully in local markets—and to avoid wasting marketing resources—national advertisers must adapt their digital marketing strategies to better align with consumer search behaviors, emerging geo-location technologies and competitive imperatives.

While consumers do seek opinions on brands from friends, family or reviews, when they want a specific product, page or brand web site they use natural search.  In fact, according to Forester Research, more than half of all consumers use natural search when they are looking for a product, service or brand.

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Accepting the BIAKelsey GOLOCAL Award

go-local-logo-agendaThis past week, at The BIAKelsey Leading in Local conference in Atlanta, Kelsey distributed its new GOLOCAL awards in three categories – Sales/ Revenue, Innovation and Strategic use of digital marketing.  Nearly forty entrants were considered for these three categories and three finalists in each category were brought to Atlanta for the announcement of the winners.

Placeable was a finalist in the Strategic use of digital marketing for the successful partnership with AAA CarolinasHeather Mcbrien of AAA Carolinas and I represented the team and I presented an overview of what we had accomplished together to the audience, which included empowering AAA Carolinas to emerge as a fierce competitor in their local markets across all three of their primary business units (car care, travel and insurance).  These results included:

  • Indexing some 1200 authoritative local landing pages for 230 locations
  • Generating 800% increase in organic traffic
  • Producing 35K new visitors per month
  • 25% conversion rate on all unique visits to phone calls, registrations and appointments

Included in Heather’s description of some of the softer benefits that have been generated by our campaigns together was that of the decrease in the number of tire kickers that have been generated.  Specifically, Heather described that the quality of leads generated are now far more qualified and in active transaction mode as opposed to window-shopping. Continue reading

Local Retailers Win When They Optimize for Local Search

modifiedA related article entitled “Local Search Marketing, Accuracy Trumps Distribution” may be viewed on

Retail success has long been largely dependent on physical location. Selecting commercial space requires consideration of many factors including demographics, socio-economics, competitive proximity, traffic patterns and more.  Multi-location retailers apply a great deal of strategy when opening a store.  Mall retailers will swap locations when premium space becomes available so that they are more visible to consumers passing by.

Today, however, location means more than capturing the passer-by.  Location also means being found by the digital searcher.  70% of consumers research local products and services on a desktop and then use their mobile device to get where they want to go.  A consumer that has decided to visit your store is in buy-mode.  Will they find you?  Did you take steps to ensure that a consumer would know that you changed locations in the mall?  Will your store be located where the “X” marked the spot?  Is the premium location really premium if a consumer shows up at the doorstep of another business instead of yours?  How much revenue will you miss out on?

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Advertiser Control Over Ad Spend and The Swinging Pendulum

There is big pendulum swinging over who controls spend in Online Media.  The economy has taken a swinging nose-dive and everyone is looking for signs of fall-out.  One thing that is for certain, Advertisers are aggressively taking back control over their spend.  There will be budget cuts of 15% of more across the board in Q4.  The place where those cuts are starting is anyplace where an ROI can’t directly be derived.  If a publisher can’t prove a return they will lose the spend.  Response-based advertising is probably the most insulated area of the industry.  This means a push from CPM towards CPC and CPA, even for display.  Advertisers will be driving the pricing models and publishers will have to buckle in order to sell inventory.  With less money to spend, more pressure to perform, hundreds of publishers and networks competing for the reduced dollars at hand…advantage advertisers.

Here is the story…

My good friend, Jonathan Ewert says that every four years there is a great big pendulum that swings in our industry.  On the end of that ball is the influence factor over who controls the dollars in Online Media.

In the late 90s it was clearly the advertisers who had the control.  As they began to test the new medium and brought dollars to the internet in increasing amounts, advertisers tested all kinds of mechanisms that the publisher could come up with.  But it was the advertiser that dictated what measured performance, what the price they would pay and what services they expected in terms of campaign management and reporting.

Then the pendulum swung in the other direct – towards the publisher – as online media shifted from “new media” to internet advertising.  “Standards and policies” were written.  Publishers started driving pricing; and ad server utilization, campaign management provisions and acceptable reporting became organized and structured according to what Publishers were willing to provide.  Advertisers had to start working with what was available, throwing more resources and time at managing the diversity that clients were demanding which made the process of managing internet advertising increasingly more expensive.

Competition for inventory rose steadily once again following the recoil of the bust and price inflation followed.  The explosion of ad networks broadened advertisers’ options and the result was a drastic overload on resource requirements to manage just a single campaign.

While all of this was going on, Search outpaced display as advertisers began to recognize the value of response-based advertising and Google’s climb to the top of Everest was off to the races.

Fast-forward to the beginning of 2008 and you had topped-off CPMs, somewhere between 200 and 400 ad networks (depending on who is counting) and Google controlling 60+ % of the addressable Query stream on the Internet – 90% collectively controlled by Google, Yahoo and MSN. 

Throughout the first-half of 2008, prices hit all time highs in search as traffic growth online slowed and competition for popular keywords rose.  CPMs for targeted quality display inventory trumped the last four years and publishers began to push to reclaim inventory from the networks that had been previously aggregating and watering down their value.

Then the big ball started to swing.  With the advertiser no longer able to increase spend in search without compromising ROI and publishers reclaiming display inventory in order to elevate CPMs, something had to change.  Additional factors at play, aggravating the situation, was the continued consolidation of search (think Google’s increasing share of the Market – the Yahoo deal, Google running on ASK, etc.), the intense-resource demand on advertisers associated with managing disparate data sources, and publishers trying to push CPMs while a massive number of networks commoditize eyeballs. All of this equates to the advertisers almost hitting a breaking point.

Then the economy took a swinging nose-dive and everyone started to run around asking themselves what is the fall-out result for online advertising.  Is this the next bust?  Here come the layoffs.  How many VC-backed companies are going to go under which have promised huge returns with no revenues to prove it?  One thing that is for certain, Advertisers are aggressively taking back control over their spend.

You can figure there will be 15% cuts in budgets across the board in Q4.  At least that is what some of the larger advertisers are talking about and that is what some of the networks are already hearing.  The place where those cuts are starting is anyplace where an ROI can’t directly be derived.  Lookout publishers – if you can’t prove a return you’re going to lose spend. 

Response-based advertising is probably the most insulated area of the industry over the next 2 to 4 quarters given our economic environment.  Advertisers have to advertise to keep generating business, but branding online is going to suffer.  This means a push from CPM towards CPC and CPA, even for display.  Advertisers will be driving the pricing models and publishers will have to buckle in order to sell inventory. 

Furthermore, diversification of spend across less expensive, higher-returning publishers and networks will also draw attention.  This means that advertisers who have hit the asymptote of their returns on Google or the major display ad networks – when spending a dollar no longer returns $1.50 but now returns $1.25 – will start to look elsewhere to maintain their margins.  With smaller budgets to spend, ROI pressure will become intense.  We may even begin to see performance-based commissions between advertisers and agencies as competition for control over the spend increases between agencies.  Certainly this will be a likely case in the SEM arena.

So the pendulum, which started to swing in the beginning of Q2, went full tilt when the market dove.  Advertisers now hold the cards and publishers and networks that recognize the truth will step up and work with them to maximize the value of their relationships given the pressures present in the economy. 

With less money to spend, more pressure to perform, hundreds of publishers and networks competing for the reduced dollars at hand…advantage advertisers.

Post-Search Data and Banner Advertising

Phil Leggiere interviewed Right Media’s director of Product Management, Alex Hooshmand and published the interview in the January 31st 2007 edition of MediaPost’s Behavioral Insider. 


At the end of the interview, Phil asked about the new frontier of Behavioral Targeting, what is coming next.  Hooshmand’s response, “we now have several clients who are using post-search behavior to target banner or display ads.”  Let’s get into that.


So what are the options?


Obviously RightMedia has some offering within their exchange network although I have not been able to find anything more than that.  Plus as a hermetically sealed network you are limited to being a buyer or seller within that auction environment.  Works great for direct response, low-dollar advertisers and publishers with remnant inventory but not for the rest of the market.


One options is Post-search advertising.  AlmondNet delivers post-search paid-listings to users based on previous search behavior across its distributed ad network.  If a user searches on an item through conventional search, their search behavior is cookied and tracked.  When they are encountered in the future they are targeted with relevant paid listings.  This is a lot like behavioral targeting only with paid listings and with search instead of pixel-associated events.


MSN’s new AdCenter offers an advertiser the opportunity to target their search advertising by demographics, geography, day-part and several other parameters.  So they are using browser-based cookies to single-out users for targeting.  Crossing the chasm to then offer an advertiser the opportunity to subsequently advertise a banner ad to someone based on search response behavior would not be a hard leap to make.  But that is my supposition and is not something that has been publicly been brought to market.  But it will I am guessing.


Then of course there is my favorite, the creative approach that the early adopters are deploying.  Search advertising with First Party cookie ad serving. 


Advertisers that manage healthy search campaigns will usually employ the services of an ad server to track their campaigns – leveraging unique click-thru URLs and landing pages to track each keyword.  This approach enables the advertiser to measure the effectiveness of every keyword.  While the search engines may provide impression data on the keywords through their reports, and clicks, the ad servers can provide successful clicks and then post-click events (what happens after someone clicks on the keyword and enters the advertiser’s site) when the advertiser’s site is properly tagged with tracking pixels.


One of the benefits of using an ad server is to have the comparative reporting between a search engine’s reported clicks and actual clicks.  Up until recently, Google reportedly had a click-fraud rate of approx 12%.  Now it is 2% with the invention of something they refer to as “invalid clicks” making up the other 10%.  Invalid clicks are screened out clicks that you no longer have to pay for.  So they are making good on the evident occurrence of people clicking on multiple links before pages load, “stopped” browsers, spiders and bots, failed page loads and other behaviors that result in “fraud” click counts but unsuccessful events.  Whereas, the ad server counts the click as resulting in someone landing on the advertiser’s web page.


But back to the integration of search and banner advertising.  When using an ad server to manage search campaigns, a user receives a cookie when they click-thru to the advertiser’s web site.  I know I have gone though this before so my readers should have this down.  But the basics are as follows:


The cookie is placed on the browser so that they can be tracked through to the advertiser’s web page and the activity can be credited back to the keyword and search engine.  As this user continues to surf the web they can be recognized and targeted based on that cookie with banner ads. 


If it is a third-party cookie, it is event-based targeting.  TACODA, are network examples and Boomerang are ad server examples that can apply this technology and can target a user based on their search behavior.


If it is a first party ad serving implementation – DirectServe – then the cookie that is applied is the advertiser’s cookie.  The behavioral targeting features still apply insomuch that if all they do is visit the site, they can be targeted with future ads just like with the example described above for third party providers. 


But with first party implementations, the user can also be targeted based on advertiser knowledge generated from the site visit.  For example, if the user clicked on the search term and registered for information, purchased a product or applied for a loan then they are in the CRM system and are a known individual that can be included in a customer segment.  Customer segments can be targeted with DirectServe, first party ad serving. 


A user who clicks on a search term and visits the advertiser’s site; and who then completes some level of activity that results in their identification will get a first party cookie.  This individual can then be re-targeted with ads anywhere across the internet at anytime as a customer or registrant.  They can be up-sold, cross-sold or otherwise targeted as an anonymous member of a customer segment (brand preference, purchase frequency, buying habits, etc.).


Post-search behavior can be used to create the customer segments when the users arrive for the first time.  For example, the segment examples can further be dissected to include keyword groups so that when targeted, the advertisements appeal to keyword groups that initially generated the user’s response.  Once the user returns to the web page – just like when they first arrived at the site – a content management system can leverage the actual keyword to customize content delivery and properly display product information to maximize revenue or other desired response.


I’d love to hear from you on this.  This can be done a number of ways.  But the easiest that I have come across so far is to integrate the three – search, behavioral targeting and DirectServe/first party ad serving. 


As I have described in the past DirectServe has three phases of implementation: (1) re-targeting, (2) cookie-writing and data delivery for analytics and (3) integration – CRM, Content Management and Site-Side Analytics.  But for the purpose of this post and this example, I am really only focusing on re-targeting.  That is as far as you need to go and you will already be way ahead of the curve.


What else can you do?


If you integrate your search with your ad serving, leveraging post-search capabilities to drive your behavioral targeting (prospecting) and customer re-targeting (DirectServe), you will generate data that you can analyze about customers that will enable you to better understand not just what search terms generate leads but what search terms generate customers, customer segment groups, customer values, repeat custom actions and long-term metrics.  Grouping keywords together will help you determine long-term effectiveness of search campaigns.  Furthermore, by integrating post-search with banner advertising, you will be able to recognize how search and banner messages combine to effective solidify messages and have the same impact that can be measured with the same metrics described above.  You can go hog wild!  But most importantly you can measure and determine how to better allocate media spend.  If search works for you, you will know why and how.  You will come to recognize how to compliment it with banner advertising. 


Last thing.  When you use first party ad serving, the cookie that you tag a browser with helps you to measure advertising audience.  This means that when you advertise on Yahoo and you buy 1 M impressions, you will know exactly what % of that audience is comprised of existing customers and what % of that audience is comprised of people who have not been to your site before (or who have recently cleared out their cookie file). 


What about search?  The same holds true.  Any of your customers who carry your first party cookie will also be measurable.  If someone searches on a term and clicks through to your web site, and they are an existing customer already, they will be measured as an existing customer (their customer segment type will be measured) and you will know what % of the search audience you capture is already comprised of existing customers.  Interesting tidbit.  How much money do you spend with search recapturing recurring revenue?


Reactionary with Insight.

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Becoming an Ad-Server Power User

Great stuff Tom Hespos.  Become an Ad-Serving Power User does a great job in iMediaConnection today of painting an accurate picture of how few agencies take full advantage of their ad serving technologies.

Tom focused on the training aspects of using your ad server.  “All it takes is a minimal investment of time and perhaps some cash. Even if your ad management contract calls for some nominal fee for planners to attend advanced training sessions, the expense in time and money is well worth it.”

Check out How to Pick an Ad Server – Part V: Training.  In this post I talked about finding out training within a ‘sandbox’ verses training on your actual campaigns a data.  There is something inherently more interesting about something that is relevant.  When going through training, such as a Webex.  It is hard to sit through imaginary data and think about how you will have to go back and do everything you are watching all over again on your own.  Elementary training is one thing.  But advanced training is something else.  If you are going to sit through training – especially is you are going to get charged for training – you should be getting more out of it than just knowledge.  You should be getting accomplishment.

“When you get trained, ask to get trained with a campaign that you need to get setup so that you kill two birds with one stone.”  This was a big point that I was making in the post I referenced above.  The “How to Pick and Ad Server…” series of posts that this comes from looks at ad server selection from a number of angles: (1) Evaluating the Interface, (2) Rich Media, Targeting and Optimization, (3) Price, (4) Training, and (5) Customer Service and Support. 

Your training experience should offer you the opportunity to include the setting up of actual campaigns.  The relevant experience will stick with you while simultaneously accomplish something for you.  You can go farther in terms of applying more aspects of the technology when you are doing so with real-world clients.  Even if there are features that you would not be using with a client, you can set them up in training and then turn them off afterward.  The experience of training with a real client will stick with you.

Furthermore, if you are training on an actual campaign, it has to be done differently then in a presentation format.  Webex is a great tool as it can go both ways.  For example, a presenter can show you how to do something with a sandbox environment and then give you control and have you do it with one of your campaigns while they watch.  We do that with our clients, pass control of Webex back and forth.  That way we can see what clients are doing and guide them through the process.  Learning by doing rather than learning by watching.  Teach a man or woman to fish right?

Reactionary with Insight

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Maximize Return with a Marketing Model

Blow me away Charles Haggerty!  Your post on iMedia Connection, Maximize Return with a Marketing Model written in the style of John Stuart Mills, utopian and inspiring.  As I read the article I kept wondering what agency you hailed from and was only disappointed to track back and see that you were with iProspect, a premium SEM company.  As I read your article I thought to myself, if this guy can do what he is talking about, this is the agency for my clients!


Charles described the ultimate multi-channel marketing analysis process, all hail-the consolidated, holistic view into all aspects of a marketing campaign.  Some of what Charles describes does exist.  He describes 800-number analysis, direct-mail tracking and of course online tracking.  Interactive as the best capabilities as most of us already know.  Search, banner campaigns and email all have great insight into what is effective and what is not.  Integration of site analytics like Omniture, Webside Story and WenTrends with Ad Serving is the next step (see my post on Let’s Talk About Technical Extensibility – Making Things Better).  This is what is coming next and I will write more on it soon.  DirectServe technology, first party ad serving from any partner, can bleed log file data to a site analytics provider and stream data about acquisition marketing to customer analytics.  This will close the loop in the online space.


Multi-channel marketing tool sets are on the market.  Blackfoot Analytix built on an Oracle platform comes close to doing it on many levels and Theorem is another one that incorporates human and systematic analysis to create a holistic view into multichannel marketing.  There are others out there but like Charles said, there is not a complete toolset, yet.


Of course to cost of analysis is an issue.  Being able to have a clear view of how someone became a customer where they saw an ad in a magazine, heard about a product on the radio, saw an ad online and then clicked on a search term is difficult to measure CPA.  We may never get there.  My recent post, Search and Networks: Better Together – I Think So! suggests a mechanism of leveraging first party ad serving to combine search and banner advertising with behavioral targeting to get an accurate CPA measurement.  So at least there is a stronger view in the online space.  Couple that with what I describe above, a web site analytics tool, and the holistic interactive view is there. 

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What’s the Big Cookie Deal? The Conspiracy and First Party Ad Serving.

What’s all the hype about the cookie?  Nobody wants one.  People are willing to pay money to avoid getting one and even more money to get rid of one.  But why is a cookie so evil?  Bottom line, nobody cares to know why anymore.  It is too late for explanations.  I love how ‘advocates for the cookie’ believe that there is still hope and that we just need to explain the benefits and people will calm down.  It is too late to educate the public.  You can’t stop the mob from running for the door after someone yells “fire!” in a movie theatre.  And you can’t convince people that the cookie is harmless or that it has benefits after ad-ware companies like Webroot have spent millions telling them otherwise.


We know there will always be a time and place for cookies.  We know that cookies have their use and value.  Granted third-party cookies – a cookie written by a third party ad server – are getting deleted at an increasing rate.  40% of the time according to Jupiter Research.  But first-party cookies are not.  Retailers don’t have that much to worry about.  CRM systems are relatively safe.  Ad-ware software does not delete the Yahoo! cookie on my computer that takes me directly to my stock portfolio or my bank cookie.


But what about those third party cookies?  Those are the cookies that tell us how our online advertising is doing.  We invest in online advertising now and we spend money advertising through third party ad servers.  Remember the advocates who said that we need to educate the public about cookies?  Let’s educate ourselves instead.  Let’s examine the actual cookie-benefits that we are losing as marketers in contrast to the benefits lost by the third party ad servers – the dominant ones anyway.  Get those wheels turning, someone else’s agenda might be at work here…you have options that have not been illuminated before now.


Ad-ware programs remove known cookies.  Software publishers know the dominant third party ad server cookies and they are continuously looking for and deleting other ad-related cookies.  If you serve ads through a third party ad server, and that provider’s cookies are known by ad-ware publishers, that cookie will likely get deleted.  The result is that you will lose the benefits associated with third party ad serving cookies.  You lose the ability to accurately count the click-thru and apply closed-loop tracking.  You can’t measure the view-through.  You can’t target your ads, serve unique banners or story-board a banner sequence.  You lose all the benefits of third party ad serving with the exception of centralized campaign management and impression counting!


But what about the third party ad servers?  What do they lose?  The dominant third party ad servers (like DoubleClick and Atlas) lose the ability to offer you everything described above.  But they lose something else, perhaps something of greater value to them.  They lose the ability to place a persistent cookie on a browser and send it out onto the internet like a satellite into space that is always reporting back.  The persistent cookie survives beyond your ad campaign.  It is this cookie that enables an IP address to be profiled and tracked over the life of that cookie – perhaps over weeks, months or even years.  The persistent cookie is the data-gathering vehicle that enables these ad servers to create great knowledge about web users.  The dominant third party ad server owns its customers’ performance data.  It provides customers with aggregate reports but keeps the raw log files for itself.  It keeps the cookie data.  It keeps the data that extends far beyond your advertising campaign.  Ad-ware takes all of that away from third party ad servers. 


So let’s get back to your agenda and forget about third party ad servers who are obviously not focused on serving you.  You can reclaim and preserve the cookie-benefits of advertising online by changing cookies, perhaps frequently.  Remember, Ad-ware programs remove known cookies.  So you need to use unknown cookies and then change them before they become know.  How do you change cookies?  You have to change the domain from which you serve ads and write cookies.  How do you do that?  You have to use an ad server that is capable of and willing to use their ad serving engine to serve ads through any domain as opposed to their own; an ad server that is willing to sacrifice the data that they once valued so dearly.  You have to use an ad server that supports your agenda and s will to be a first party ad server!


The dominant third party ad servers have been telling you what you can do and how you can do it since the beginning of online advertising.  Has it ever occurred to you that you could set the terms of your ad serving relationship?  Internet users want to take back their desktop, maybe it is time for online marketers to take back the value of ad serving.

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5 Signs its Time to Fire Your Ad Network – But First Push Them To Work for You

When Melissa Gluck Published her November 20th article 5 Signs its Time to Fire Your Ad Network in iMediaConnection, I was sure we would hear about some of the recent big block debacles like when a major advertiser’s ads, which were run across TACODA’s network, showed up on YouTube in association with racey content.  This scenario resulted in the major advertiser having their high quality ads displayed in conjunction with tasteless consumer generated media.  Not to say that everything on YouTube is tasteless, because it isn’t.  But these instances were associated with racy content and TACODA apparently did not exercise any controls when running their clients’ ads across the YouTube network when they first introduced YouTube into the TACODA network.  The point is that when running on a network, an advertiser does not always have control over where their messages will appear.  In this instance the advertiser found out after the fact and, of course, the ad was later pulled.


Revenue doesn’t correlate


Melissa begins to introduce the idea of revenue based on performance factors like CPA, CPA, lead-gen and post-click results.  In an earlier post, Make Your Media Buy More Effective – But How? I discussed Brad Bender’s iMediaConnection article on Make Your Media Buy More Effective in which he presents the idea of sharing your media goals with a site or network.  Perhaps what Melissa is missing is the concept of shoring up your goals.  If you can define a set of goals and then communicate to the network what your defined metrics of success are, then the network knows where they need to be to perform.  At least then if they don’t hit the mark, you have a baseline for discussion in terms of ‘firing them.’


International Traffic


When you conduct media buying on a network, treat it for what it is … secondary and tertiary inventory.  You are not buying on a site directly and therefore you need to exercise some strategy to acquire the better, of less-quality inventory.  The lower-dollar CPMs can be balanced with some targeting – GEO for one is a simple means to keep in domestic.  Insist on it.  Then use something simple like Google Analytics to track and confirm it.


Uneven Delivery


I think Melissa is making a good and obvious point.  Networks need to be closely monitored.  You are dealing with the redistributors here and therefore need to look over their shoulders.  When you require counter measures like GEO, frequency caps, Behavioral targeting, storyboarding, etc, check your CPMs.  You may be better off buying on sites directly where you get the better inventory.  Not all networks pay off.  Granted the top-tiers like Bluestreak, TribalFusion and 24/7 will perform for you, but there are plenty of lower-tier networks that are really meant for the CPC, CPA buys.


Lack of Transparency and Accountability


There is a very simply solution to this problem.  And it is one that seems to only be practiced by smaller more aggressive firms.  Negotiate your buys based off of your ad server’s numbers.  Make it your agency’s policy and stick with it.  You will get flack for it but plenty of agencies get away with it all of the time.  Networks will require testing of the ad server but it happens all of the time.  For example, Burst network insisted on testing TruEffect because an agency insisted on paying off our numbers.  They said that DoubleClick was within 6% of their numbers and that the average was less than 10%.  At the end of the test, TruEffect deviated by 1.79%.  Now that agency pays Burst all of its bills off of TruEffect’s numbers.  Give that a shot.


Improper Click Attribution


This is tougher, but also possible to overcome.  An ad server can assign a unique tag to each network and site that displays an ad or has a click-tag.  This will allow for a unique identifier for the subsequent cookie which will track back to the lead.


If the advertiser user DirectServe, first party ad serving from TruEffect, then each time a banner is served the site and banner serve can be written into the cookie in sequential order and then, when the unique user arrives on the home page by direct means as a view-through (i.e. they come through the home page on their own) they can be attributed back to the last banner they saw on the last site they visited)  The last site responsible for touching the user is the one that will get credit for the lead using DirectServe.


You see Melissa’s article did a great job for setting up five evaluative criteria for determining when a network should be fired.  But what needs to be taken into consideration is why people are using networks.  Networks should be aggressively managed not held to a test and left out to dry or fired.  They need to be told how to perform and most of them will – especially if you budget warrants response. 


Agencies and advertiser generally use networks for two reasons.  (1) to get direct response results (CPC, CPA leads) under which case they are less concerned with inventory quality and more concerned with lead volume, or (2) low dollar high volume impressions advertising.  The former is not what Melissa was addressing.  The latter is what she was focusing.  When you look at those people you have to ask yourself why they are buying on a network. 


Bottom line it is a matter of efficiency and speed.  Network buys for impressions is budget-filler and not primary to the buy initiative.  It is not intended to be primary strategy of a media campaign.  At least it shouldn’t be.  Direct buys are where the thoughtful buyer will focus and networks are where the secondary effort will go to fill in the gaps. 


Melissa’s comments and the additional information provided to you in this post should be taken as a good way to plan, utilize and evaluate your network relationship in context.

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The Ideal Online Advertising Campaign, Direct Response with Behavioral Customer Re-Targeting. How to Get a Greater Share of Your Advertiser’s Budget

Okay, so it’s a mouthful.  But all of my previous posts which have distinguished customer re-targeting from behavioral targeting, redefined BT as event-based targeting and attempted to diffuse the FTC complaint have led to this.  I am going to describe the workflow that puts first party ad serving, customer re-targeting and direct response online advertising into practice.  Re-targeting generates recurring revenue, decreases the CPA of online advertising campaigns and demonstrates significant reasons for increasing the online advertising spend by allocating direct marketing budgets to re-targeting initiatives.


The first step happens outside the realm of the online advertising campaign.  It takes place before the planning or strategy sessions or even before the budget is set.  The first step is first-party cookie writing.  As I described in my last post, How Does Re-Targeting Work? an advertiser has to segment its existing audience and set cookies to distinguish users for the re-targeting process.  


This sounds complicated but most often it is already done.  A retailer like an LL Bean will have already done this.  It knows who its customers are and has modeled them out by various types. has you pegged by preferences.  Yahoo has you cookied if you maintain your stock portfolio on their web site so that they can recognize you when you return.  Forget about Microsoft!  Your bank does it too.  Pretty much anyone that you interact with online, with whom you have identified yourself, sets a cookie to further classify you.  Classification helps a site recognize you when you return so you don’t have to login, they pre-populate the user field, they dynamically serve content to you that is more suitable to your preferences, they optimize your experience so that your time is not wasted.  Are being tracked?  Yes but it is not invasive.


But there are other reasons to set first party cookies as well.  If you are going through a multi-step registration or application process, a first-party cookie can be set at each stage to indicate how far you have gone in the process.  That way if you leave, and later return, you can be ear-marked and taken back to where you left off.


So the first-party cookie writing process has to be in effect and, depending on the universe to be targeted, the cookie must be propagated out on to the Internet so that it may be effectively recognized through the re-targeting campaign.  This is usually about a 30-day lead time on the ad campaign. 


The traditional media planning process has to be conducted.  Sites have to be selected, negotiated and buys need to be made.  That’s all good.


Then there is the strategic media planning portion.  Unlike with traditional online advertising – and/or Direct Response online advertising – it is no longer just about prospecting, branding, messaging and generating leads and opportunities.  Re-targeting introduces an order of magnitude of complexity to the planning process because you have to think about messaging to existing customers in addition to the traditional planning you do involving prospecting.


Think for a minute about a three-month campaign that involves 10 core sites.  You renew on each site each month because those sites consistently perform well.  Popular sites get repeat visits.  Therefore if a site consistently generates strong leads for you, your previously acquired leads are also returning to those sites.  But while you are continuing to advertise there you are paying to re-prospect your previously acquired leads at the same time.  A portion of your message is falling on deaf ears.  Existing customers, previously acquired leads that bailed on you and people that have seen all of your ads and have never responded continue to see your ads over time.  You pay to continue to re-prospect them.  What is the composition of that audience?  The longer you advertise there, the higher it gets.  Maybe its starts off at 5% but it grows and could become 25% or higher over a few short months.


So with re-targeting you now have the opportunity to say something to your previously acquired leads, your customers and any audience that you can identify. 


For the sake of an example, and as we usually do with most of our DirectServe clients at TruEffect when they first start working with re-targeting, let’s just say that you create three segment types of a known audience for re-targeting.


  1. Frequent shopper (weekly)
  2. Moderate shopper (monthly)
  3. One-time shopper


So in addition to the campaign planning that will take place for acquiring new leads, which may have a number of messaging strategies and associated creative, we now must also do the same for each of these three audiences.  Multiple messages and creative must be planned and tested for optimization throughout the campaign to maximize response.


When the campaign is finally setup there will be four simultaneous campaigns going on across the same set of inventory.  The three segment types listed above, plus the prospecting type for unknown users who are not already carrying the advertiser’s first party cookie.  If you decide to use behavioral targeting to pinpoint events to drive more specific prospects you may have additional campaigns as well.


What will you see when you execute on a campaign with re-targeting?


(1) Audience composition


First of all, and for the first time, you will be able to measure the percent of your advertising audience composition.  You will now know who of the people that you are showing banners to are existing customers and who are prospects.  Not only that, but you will know what kinds of customers they are.  Ads will be displayed according to the cookies that exist.  So cookie type #1 (Frequency Shopper) will see creative group #1 (Targeting Frequent Shoppers) and so on.  And your impression reports will tell you not only how many times each banner was played but based on banner plays, what percent of your advertising audience is comprised of each type of person.  Overall, what percent of your advertising audience is comprised of existing customers vs. non-customers across every web site and network that you advertise on will become clear. 


This is very compelling information as the longer you advertise, audience composition may become a factor that impacts your media buying decisions.


(2) Re-target vs. Non-Re-Target Click-thru Rate


You will be able to distinguish the click-thru rate results of each customer segment type as well as prospect types.  What you will find is that like with your traditional online advertising campaign, you will be able to optimize click-thrus over time.  You will also be able to do the same with your re-targeting.  At TruEffect, we have consistently found re-targeting tends to have an incrementally higher click-thru rate than prospecting response rates.  If you think about this, it is pretty logical.  You are messaging offers to existing customers to drive repeat business.  It is a lot easier to get an existing customer to come back and do something than it is to get a new customer.  So the click-thru rate comparison will be a strong indication of re-targeting success.


(3) Post-Click Results of Re-targeting vs. Non-Re-Target


Here is where things really matter.  If the direct response campaign has a post-click success metric that is about generating a sale or action, then revenue is the success metric and the CPA is calculated based on that amount.  Generating recurring revenue or generating new revenue hits the cash flow statement the same way.  But when you can take your online advertising campaign and convert a portion of it into a customer penetration campaign you will please a lot of people in the marketing department at the advertiser. 


Dollars spent re-prospecting a deaf audience will now go towards driving recurring opportunities, cross-promoting and up-selling products and bringing customers back to the transaction cycle.  The CPA for the online advertising campaign will drop significantly because the revenue attainment of the campaign will go up incrementally. 


Is it a lot of work?  It takes brain power to figure out what you are going to say to three different customer segment types.  It takes strategic thinking to come up with multiple messaging strategies to motivate customers to re-transact.  But marketers do this everyday.  Direct Marketing is a huge initiative.  And the internet is already a massive DM medium.  Re-targeting introduces DM to online advertising and offers the opportunity to expand campaign budgets exponentially.  Think about that as an agency.  If you can prove to an advertiser that you can drive recurring revenue, you can demonstrate that you should have a greater share of the direct marketing budget!



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