Injecting Search Optimization Strategies into Display

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inoculate_smallADOTAS – One of the draws to search advertising is “on the fly” optimization and now there’s no reason why it should be any different for digital display. Up until recently the main hurdle to display optimization was the lack of tools available to marketers. What tools existed were largely built to measure click-thru rates and actions. Another major limitation was the way media was previously bought and sold, i.e., a content-based CPM model.

But today optimization constraints are loosening with the advent of real-time audience buying. This has transformed the way online display inventory is purchased and now allows brands and agencies to buy audiences rather than content, evaluate data in new ways, and to optimize against consumer behavior in real time.

This paradigm shift in media buying has opened up the door to optimization strategies that ultimately will have a large impact on performance for both brand and direct response campaigns.

For starters, by targeting audiences directly, marketers can more accurately track users and the various events taking place within the consumer funnel. Demand side platform technology even allows marketers to take this one step further and assign a value to each user action based on their online behavior and/or response to a brand. Already, you can see that advancements in technology (i.e. tools AND media buying) are beginning to unlock the shackles around optimization.

Additionally, new real-time tools also track shopping cart transactional data and effectively measure and optimize multi-event conversion strategies. With advanced data insights and better visibility into the level of engagement, brands have an opportunity to improve optimization, valuation and measurement.

Let’s put this into context. Without the ability to analyze transactional data, a customer who converts with a purchase of $10 would be equally valued as a customer who converted for $1,000. Similarly, for automotive brands a conversion for downloading a car brochure could be a less valuable event than scheduling a test drive at a local dealer. Different levels of brand engagement infer a different value to the advertiser, which can be used to optimize for both brand and direct response campaigns.

Traditionally, brand campaigns have not been able to leverage ROI-based measurement, but by mapping and measuring how a consumer is engaging with the brand, advertisers can make better targeting decisions and bid pricing on the fly.

A great example of this is when an advertiser assigns different weighted values to various engagement events. Did the user click on the ad and get to my website? After arriving at my website, are they downloading a brochure or actually scheduling a sales call? Is my ad driving more browsing behavior as opposed to more buying behavior? Did the consumer interact with a rich media ad, did they watch a video on the site, did they interact with a product configuration widget, and/or have they spent more than five minutes on the web site?

Each of these actions must to be measured and weighed to evaluate the exact value returned from that ad. Just like search allows marketers to measure the ROI of a single event and optimize in real-time, so does today’s digital display.

Here are specific optimization steps that marketers can take for brand and direct response campaigns:

  1. Tag all the valuable actions a user can take in a website that pushes them deeper into the conversion funnel
  2. Observe and assign different weighted values to each of these actions to optimize your media buying
  3. Use real data such as actual product price as a way to measure the true value of conversions
  4. Use this data to decide how much to spend for the ad campaign

By connecting the dots between measurement, optimization and valuation, advertisers will successfully move consumers through the conversion funnel. Marketers should seize the opportunity to define campaign goals in a multi-event, multi-touch point composite. For digital display, the act of buying audiences as opposed to content will unlock the door to tried and true search strategies and improve your ROI.

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