ReTargeter Blog

Moving Beyond Paid Search

“All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.”
Henry David Thoreau

So you’ve mastered paid search. No one else quite dominates keywords quite like you can. Your business is doing well – heck, probably even growing at a tremendous rate. At this point, you’re thinking about how to further this success. A business partner suggests trying a different advertising medium.

“Banner ads? Really? You mean those annoying pop-up windows or pushy gecko that followed me across the screen? Do people really even pay attention?”

The display advertising world has dramatically changed since HotWired put up the first banner ad in 1994. We’ve lived through the early aughts, being deluged with pop-up and pop-under ads. The browser companies began to build ad-blocking features into their products. A promising advertising method was being overrun.

But let’s fast-forward to this decade. If display isn’t part of your advertising strategy, you’re leaving ROI on the table.

This past August, Forrester Research published a report that forecast industry display advertising spend to increase 153% from 2011 to 2016. From Ad Age: “Investment in display advertising will rise from $10.9 billion in 2011 to $27.6 billion in 2016, driven by greater than 20% compound annual growth rates in rich media, text listings and online video. The rise of biddable display media and improved online ad management tools are cited as key factors.” Let’s focus on that last sentence. Real-Time Bidding (RTB) on display exchanges and the rise of Demand Side Platforms (DSP) with their complex management solutions are bringing display to a wider segment of advertisers. No longer do you have to pay for an expensive portal sponsorship in order to achieve massive reach or gain placement on premium inventory.  But it’s important to understand some of the fundamentals (and it’s not just about the clicks).

“But I don’t see a lot of clicks from this one campaign. And isn’t view-through activity really just ‘brand’ advertising?”

Depending on your campaign goals, view-through (VT) activity may seem like an inordinate percentage of sales or actions. Or you just might be used to click-through rates (CTR) because of the experience in paid search. But if you use soft-metric ratios like VT/CT Action (action being a sign-up or sale), lessening the VT credit by whatever factor makes send for your business, you can adjust results and optimize accordingly.

Want an example? Time for an exercise.

For instance, let’s say at the end of a campaign there were 2,000 VT sales and 150 CT sales, with an unadjusted Cost Per Sale (CPS) of $70. That’s a VT/CT ratio of 13.333/1, and the CPS is well under your target of $150. But maybe you have calculated that a realistic VT/CT for your company is 7. Meaning, instead of 2,000 VT sales, you think that only 1,050 (150 CT X 7 = 1,050) VT sales were realized from this campaign. The revised VT credit brings an adjusted CPA of $125. Now you’re still under target, but at least you feel more confident about not having taken too much VT credit. Use of this metric is especially important if your company spends a lot of money on television or anything that is hard to reconcile with online results. Even if search and display are the only advertising mediums of choice, you can still value VT at a lower weight or take 100%. It all depends on your data.

Point being that if you have a properly tuned attribution model and view-through credit window, display can certainly work. And it works for direct response (DR), not just “brand” campaigns. (For the record, any time I hear “brand” campaigns, I know that the sales person is thinking $$$$$. But I think it’s still DR. Delayed Response. Good campaigns bring non-clickers back. Just know how to measure those results.)

So, in the end, you decide to include display advertising in the mix. With the right tools and knowledge, it can bring increased ROI for your business. And you don’t have to be a Coca-Cola in order to take advantage of the medium. Remember to sometimes heed the unamiable heresy.


About the Author:

Sean Nowlin, the Senior Display Media Manager at PPC Associates, has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, including three years running display campaigns for Progressive Insurance. Sean, an Ohio native, has a wife, two children, and an unhealthy love of Cleveland sports teams.



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