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February 17, 2016

Why not to combine banners in PPC, RTB and direct buying

Too many systems?

It is very common to purchase display ad (banners) via different methods and different systems (DSP). Many clients are buying banners through Google AdWords and also through some DSP (AdForm, DoubleClick, AppNexus, Dataxu,…). E-shops use very often black box retargeter systems (RTB House, SocioMantic, Criteo, AdRoll…) too. Some clients buy direct placements through their chosen publisher as well.

In these cases it is inevitable to get in trouble with evaluating results. Some of these issues we will describe below and show how to fix them.

Self-increased auction price

If we use banner ad systems that are based on auction model (PPC or RTB), there is a problem with self-increase of auction price.

For example: we have 1000 cookies, which visited our website during the last 14 days. If we start bidding for these cookies in two or more auction systems (f.e. AdWords and DoubleClick), as a result we will buy impressions at a higher price. This is a simple example, in reality it is more complicated due to the different bidding models and different system ranges.

It is almost the same as if you want to buy some art and give this task to two different art-agents, who do not know about each other. During auctions they would make the price go higher and at the end they would be bidding only against one another. So they would eventually get the item for you, but at a price higher than necessary.

Higher frequency than required

Let us imagine that you want to show ads maximum three times per day. If you use more DSPs, it is very hard to coordinate them so that they do not exceed this frequency.

If we retarget one cookie in three DSPs and in each we the frequency set up to max. 3x per day, is possible that we receive a frequency 9x per day in the end because each DSP would fill up his own frequency.

Two impressions on one page

Another relatively common phenomenon (if you use retargeting in more DSPs) are two or more impressions of the same client on one page at the same time. This is a result of the fact that the page is using more systems for selling impressions (SSP). If you use more buying systems (DSP), there are many combinations which can happen. For example, one DSP can win an impression on a page and fill its own frequency, bud second DSP can win a placement on the same page as well.

Because more SSP can be used on one domain it is very difficult to fix this problem if you use only one DSP. If you use more DSP it is almost impossible.

On the other hand, there are DSPs which can buy all impressions on one page. These systems are called RoadBlock format and can be used for banding effect.

Is prospecting real prospecting?

If we buy banners in direct sales from publishers, we usually buy certain number of impression in specific time at a fixed price. But usually it is not possible to choose which impressions we will buy. In reality we are buying all impressions that the selling site is offering us.

But we usually want to show different ads to cookies we are retargeting and different to which we are prospecting. Or we want to buy only retargeted or only prospected cookies, or only prospected cookies with some characteristics (women at age 25-40). It is very helpful for evaluation to separate these two models to have comparison with other buying strategies in our DSP.

From the programmatic poit of view it is better not to buy ads in direct sales, but to set up a private deal with the publisher and use only those cookies we really want.

The Advantage of using only one system for buying ads (DSP)

For reduction of these problems we recommend to use the below described procedure.

At first it is necessary to set up the plan or strategy for targeting the users. This is generally important for the whole marketing, but we will be writing only about banner ads.

We need to convert the strategy into the buying system/systems (DSP). We will choose DSP in accordance with the strategy, not setting up strategy in accordance with the used DSP. This is very often the case in PPC – we automatically buy banner ads in PPC and do not coordinate it with RTB because there are different persons controlling these systems. In reality, many clients use more people to buy display ads:

  • PPC specialist for buyig ads in AdWords
  • Social specialist for buying ads on facebook
  • RTB specialist for DSP systems (Doubleclick, AdForm, DataXu…) to buy positions on various inventory including facebook, Google AdExchange,…
  • Media planner for direct buying from chosen publisher

But today we have the technology to be more effective and to use only one system or one person to coordinate this according to our strategy and need. So if you do not have special reason why to keep the “old” system of dividing the activities across more systems or people, we recommend not to use PPC system but DSP which has the functions we need (there are important differences between DSPs and it is necessary to know how to choose the right one).

Why not to use PPC systems:

  • DSP (AdForm, DoubleClikc, AppNexus, Dataxu,..) have stronger function for working with display ads. PPC systems were designed originally to buy search engine ads. They evolved to buying platforms for banner ads too but DSPs are designed for buying only banner ads and have wider possibilities.
  • PPC usually reach banner ads only in their native adexchange. DSP can reach more inventories and work with them. We can use 3rd party data from Google and buy ads on facebook as well. In PPC this is not possible.
  • PPC systems are designed to buy “clicks”. DSP systems are designed to buy “impressions”. This difference allows experienced specialists to really manage when, to whom and on what occasion to show ads.
  • PPC specialists have usually strong knowledge and skills to buy ads in search engines. But not all PPC specialists have the same strong skills in buying display ads. Usually when we are choosing PPC person we are testing his search ads skills, and display ads are not so well tested.
  • Stronger DSPs have in many cases integrated fraud detection, its description is available and could be sometimes configured and changed to some different technology. PPC have also their own anti-fraud solution, but there is not much information about that.
  • It is possible to implement DMP platform for better work with data into more powerful DSPs, or it is possible to have DMP integrated in the DSP, like for example in DataXu.

On the other hand, if we need to buy only cheap clicks and other parameters are not so important – PPC systems are a good choice.

Very frequent argument for using PPC systems to buy display ads is cheap price of a click. That is true – generally a click in PPC is cheaper then in DSP. But is really the price of a click the only thing what you want?

In reality there are other parameters like conversions, time spent on the site, number of visited pages,… which describe the quality of a click. As a result it can happen than a click with higher price has a better quality than the cheap one and means a lower price of conversion.

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