For years online advertising worked with silos. Channels like Display, Search, Video and Social received independent budgets. Every month, or every campaign, the performance was analysed using the same KPI for all channels. However, in recent years, we’ve seen that the channels are edging closer together and that links between the channels are being investigated. Clients and agencies realize channels support each other and that KPIs are not identical for all channels. Although this shows the progress our business has made, there is still a lot of confusion and a lack of best practices.
Stay away from the cookie
Cross-channel attribution is often inaccurate. From the moment I started at Bannerconnect in 2010, I heard that cookie-based attribution is flawed and has little to no future. Now we’re approaching 2019 and cookie-based attribution is still the most common form of attribution. Cookie decay causes a lot of data to be lost, while last-cookie-counts attribution causes a hunt for the last touchpoint, instead of focussing on convincing users to take action or make a purchase. Different channels should support each other, instead of trying to outsmart each other to get the last touchpoint.
In many cases, an overarching KPI can be found that doesn’t depend on a cookie. By using an overarching KPI for multiple channels, the impact of the overall results can be analysed per channel. More often than not, the end goal for a client is a cost per order. However, optimizing all channels on this cost per order might not drive the best results. By looking at a cost per order across channels, we can start answering questions like the below examples:
Is it better to optimize Display campaigns on Viewability or on Cost per Visit?
Is a completed video view more effective than seeing 5 Display banners?
Does an affiliate generate extra orders, or does it mainly claim orders from other channels?
Display and Video KPIs
Display and Video are channels that have a relatively high post-view value compared to other channels. However, especially with Display, it is difficult to properly assess what that post-view value is. This will often lead to a post-click KPI instead.
Recently we have seen a rise in KPI’s focusing on viewability, to look further than post-click activity. However, it is difficult to judge whether a (post-click) action or a high viewability leads to better results.
A video campaign is generally assessed on completed view, but the actual difference in quality between a completed view on YouTube versus a completed view on a broadcaster is, again, difficult to assess.
Display and Video as a Supporting Channel
Display and Video are generally channels that add their value higher in the funnel. Compared to Search, Social or Affiliate, Display and Video have more difficulty with realizing a final conversion. However, these channels are strong in supporting other channels. By optimizing Display and Video on the support of other channels, the boost that they provide to the other channels can be maximized.
Focus on maximizing Branded Search
Search has a clear separation between Branded and Non-Branded Search. The cost of a Non-Branded Search click is often many times greater than the cost of a Branded Search click.
Example: A fictitious telecom provider called “Opticall” advertises on branded and non-branded keywords around sim only contracts. The cost per click is as follows:
Non-branded keyword: “sim only” à € 8,- CPC
Branded keyword: “sim only opticall”à € 2,- CPC
The above illustrates a branded keyword click is € 6,- cheaper than a non-branded keyword click
Opticall wants to maximize the amount of branded searches and minimize the amount of non-branded searches. A video campaign on a National broadcaster should increase the brand awareness, resulting in an increase of branded keyword searches.
Video campaign on national broadcaster: € 18,- CPM
Campaign budget: € 18.000,-
Total views: 1.000.000
For every 1.000 views, three people shift their search behaviour from Non-Branded to Branded keywords after seeing the video: The video campaign saves 3 x € 6,- = € 18,- per 1.000 views.
Total cost of the video campaign: € 18.000,-
Total savings on search: € 18.000,-
The example shows that even without an uplift in performance (in the form of conversions or quality leads), the savings on Non-Branded search terms can justify campaign budgets on Display or Video. Additional conversions and quality leads are a bonus at that point.
Test different strategies
The Branded Search vs Non-Branded search distribution makes it possible to test different strategies, where the goal is to maximize the share of Branded Search.
For Video one can think of the following strategies:
YouTube Video vs. Broadcaster Video
Broadcaster A vs. Broadcaster B
Sequential videos vs. 1 video showing repeatedly
For Display you can think of the following strategies:
Viewability vs. Cost per landing
Dynamic creatives vs. Static creatives
High Impact vs. Standard IAB formats
Of course, many more tests are possible. As long as you can split your users into separate groups and are able to analyse both groups, any strategy can be tested against the current strategy. Ultimately, the data will show which strategy will achieve a better overall result. This makes it possible to reshape your KPIs per channel to support the overall result, instead of maximizing the result of the individual channel.
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