When a national advertiser launches a programmatic ad campaign, they typically start by placing ads across hundreds of sites. Campaign optimization begins almost immediately culling, refining the list of sites, based on real-time response rates. This looks like a lot like a seismograph during an earthquake: a frenzy of peaks and valleys that then quickly diminish. Campaign optimization is surprisingly formulaic and, as a result, can be tracked and deconstructed.
Marketers use programmatic buying to make purchase decisions, based on a set of criteria. For example, if a user doesn’t spend enough time engaging with the site or the ad itself, or click-rates are very low, a site will be cut for the ad schedule. This process is called campaign optimization. Being optimized out is a technical way of say a site has been cut out. Optimized in, conversely, is when a buyer includes your site.
A year ago, we began working on this to see if it was possible to visualize the process of campaign optimization. The results are fascinating and we have some insights to share. The punchline: Closely follow campaign optimization and use it to your advantage to increase your ad sales.
- If you’re being optimized in, raise price. Programmatic buyers dispassionately make buying and selling decisions based on performance. Sellers should do the same, automatically raising price when they’re performing better than their competition. Fearing programmatic buying underpricing their rates, many publishers we know create a minimum floor on price only.
- Convert programmatic buys to direct. If you’re consistently being optimized in, and the advertiser also buys higher CPM units direct, upsell them. You have an authentic, data-based story to explain why an advertiser should be working more closely with you. Use it to your advantage.
- If you’re competition are being optimized out, use this to your advantage. Create a story demonstrating that your brand is being optimized in. This reinforces your audience is an excellent fit, even if direct competitors didn’t make the cut. This is particularly convincing to advertisers because you’re able to establish your leadership over the competition based on the actual optimization results.
- Use campaign optimization to prospect for opportunities. Pull a list of all advertisers where you’re winning deals programmatically. This is a great list to market to. You have a concrete story.
- Identify advertisers optimizing out of your site, and find out what the problem is to put things back on track. Why are you losing these deals? Look for trends. Are all of your opt-outs coming from a particular vertical
- Which deals are migrating from direct to programmatic in your website specifically? Which clients are moving in programmatic, but also how, is the evolution unfolding? Review velocity. Are you being optimized out more than in the past? For you to stay competitive, you need to know what’s happening in the market around you!