Geoff Smith is Head of Activation at VivaKi and Paul Silver is the Head of Product, VivaKi. Here both discuss the benefits of centralising retargeting and why internalising this buying function at the agency level benefits the advertiser.
Retargeting is the core foundation of any performance display campaign. It’s something we all know now, but it’s not something we all knew when we outsourced our display buying to ad networks all those years ago. That’s ultimately because ad networks never disclosed the importance of retargeting whilst they were able to ride the gravy train. However those days are over, and there are several compelling reasons as to why we should all bring retargeting in house today.
Arguably, the greatest output of RTB is that it has created a new marketplace that allows it to be centred on transparency (not 100% complete transparency on every bid request but considerably better than it was previously).
Being in control and accountable of every penny a client spends means we know exactly how much contribution there is from every element of their retargeting programme, and what’s more, so now do our clients. There is no more allowing ad networks to hide behind blended CPA metrics, offsetting the poorer performance of their run of network activity with quick win retargeting conversions. Clients now understand the exact worth of retargeting and precisely how/what needs to be done to a) increase that retargeting volume but also b) drive incremental growth from other prospecting strategies.
Lets not forget, in most cases, we also now have insight and transparency into where our ads are being served. Not only is this paramount from a brand safety perspective but also incredibly valuable when we can provide insight to clients that demonstrates which environments convert their target audience more efficiently, how that informs their other cross media planning strategies, and how it disrupts their traditional media planning with fresh ideas.
The impact of price inflation from multiple retargeters running on a single media plan is real, it is not just a theory. We know the effect of having to bid for a single user against other bidders. We’ve seen the data, it becomes less efficient. The message we convey to clients is that the situation is akin to brand bidding in the affiliate space a few years ago. Why would you let affiliates obtain standard levels of commission for piggybacking on your marketing investment, by bidding on your brand, whilst also inflating your own CPC costs to access that brand term inventory? It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.
Strategy versus tactic
By centralising retargeting in house, you immediately remove any element of having to play ‘the ad network game’ which is designed to obtain last click or view attribution. You are actually able to start developing more bespoke, controlled strategies around first party data, integrating it into the wider marketing/comms mix and introducing separate eCRM or cross channel strategies. It becomes an extension to an integrated marketing plan, rather than simply a cheap display acquisition tactic.
If there’s one thing that gives retargeting a bad name, it’s when advertisers do it poorly. Retargeting should be used as a reminder of the brand/product/service that a potential customer is considering, rather than giving advertisers the ability to stalk users across the Internet with the same message, no cap on frequency, and potentially showing them the same product that they bought 3 weeks ago. It sounds basic, but we’ve all seen it in action. By taking the retargeting program in house, agencies can help clients ensure that their customer’s user experience remains engaging, consistent and above all else, controlled, increasing brand advocacy rather than damaging it.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, being in control of client’s first party data is not a simple game of efficiency improvements. There is also the much more serious consideration of client data protection. With publishers being able to place tracking pixels within tracking pixels within tracking pixels, can you honestly say that you know every 3rd party server call being made from your client’s site?
It is not unfair to say that practices from *some* ad networks in the past have included leveraging one client’s dataset to improve performance for another client competing in the same vertical. Why should client A help fuel the performance of client B? It reduces their competitive advantage for the benefit of their competitor’s. It’s clearly efficient for ad networks to do this, and certain agency groups are also now taking this data sharing approach, but who really gains when everyone has the same cookie pool available to them?
At VivaKi we take this very seriously and ensure that no client data is EVER co-mingled. We also work with clients to give them transparency over which pixels are placed on each of their sites and what they are used for. When you outsource retargeting, you loose your ability to have a holistic view on how your client’s data is being used and ultimately, you outsource control. In today’s ever-stringent e-privacy environment, that is a dangerous place to be.