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How to Choose a Performance Advertising Platform

Written by: Mike Earls, RVP of Sales

The excitement around performance advertising has spawned a proliferation of performance focused advertising technology platforms. But what should marketers really take into account when choosing the best one for their business?

Integrating a new platform is an investment of both time and money so as you review the various options it’s important to explore what’s involved as it relates to long term campaign management, onboarding and analytics before making a decision. Keeping this in mind, here are five questions aimed to help you gain the insight needed to find the best performance advertising platform for your company.

1. Do you offer self and managed service?

For many marketers, it makes sense to launch a new media buying platform as a managed service. But you also want to think long-term and work with a partner that has the flexibility to offer both self and managed service. As a marketer, you know your business better than anyone else. You have invested in CRM and know the true value of each of your audience segments. You control the budget allocation and KPI’s. Why outsource to another party when you can bring them in-house and ultimately increase your margins using the tools yourself? Be sure to work with a partner that offers both self and managed service.

2. Do you provide a robust training program?

Regardless of being a self or managed service client you will want to know how and why your campaigns are launched, scaled and managed, as well as, receive full training on the tools in the platform. It should start with a defined methodology around campaign launch. During the set up phase you will want your partner to answer:

  • How much budget do I need to gain statistical significance for a given test segment?
  • Who are my best customers and how do I find audience segments that look just like them?
  • What ad units and targeting tactics do I leverage?

Having clear answers for these questions will not only help to make your launch successful but ongoing performance and scale will require a strong partner team. It’s essential that they have performance marketing experience and a strong understanding of your vertical. Training is also a big piece of the process. We recommend pushing ads live at the end of your first day training so you can put what you learned to use. This will provide you with actual campaign data to review on day two so you can have an intelligent conversation around the strategies and tactics employed. It’s important that you are actively using the platform’s tools during training as much as possible to get the most out of it.

3. Do you offer full transparency?

The explosion of programmatic buying has resulted in more transparency than ever when buying digital media and a platform partner MUST be fully transparent. Advertisers should pay the true cost of the media and not an arbitrage. It’s important to choose a platform that is aligned with your performance goals because it will help you find and scale your most profitable audiences and not the cheapest to acquire.

4. How can you help drive efficiency and improve workflow?

Automation of the buying and selling of media is more than just the retirement of the IO and fax machine. Budgets can be allocated across inventory sources depending on what’s driving the most value without a change order or new IO. For example, if you are running your Facebook and mobile campaigns on the same platform and Facebook is driving more value on a given afternoon let an algorithm adjust the budget allocation in real-time. Ad creative also benefits from automation. You’ll want to choose a platform that allows you to build, test and scale hundreds of creative images and messages in one place for faster optimization and scale. Finally, no performance marketer has the time to adjust bids on a minute-by-minute basis. Use algorithm’s to predict the lifetime value of each impression, click and downstream action.

5. What analytics do you provide?

Everyone claims to have “robust reporting” but be sure to dig into what that actually means. A high level dashboard with spend metrics and trends along with the ability to get very granular data quickly is a must. Speed is important when accessing and interpreting the data to make decisions across all of your marketing efforts. Also, ask about reports like cohort analysis which lets you track how your customers mature over time so you can predict what tactics drive the strongest lifetime value.

These aren’t the only questions to consider when choosing an adtech partner but they should help you think about what matters. Self service, training, transparency, work flow efficiency and analytics all lead to better performance which is the ultimate goal of everything we do as marketers.

Interested in sharing your thoughts and opinions on choosing a platform partner? Email me today!

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