“Why do we need to know the quadratic formula, Dad, do you use it in your job?”, ask my children as I urge them to do their homework.
The answer is (obviously) a big NO, but let’s keep that between us. To be fair, their query is not unreasonable: data is core to ad tech, involving a litany of numbers and calculations. However, the ‘D-word’ is often misunderstood in advertising conversations. When mentioned, the word immediately elicits thoughts of PII or cookies related to a user’s browser activity or search history. However, data is much more; it could mean a segment audience and even campaign performance. Specifically, in programmatic advertising, data can simply be information about an auction won, domain name, and the seller. This data is invaluable, and yet, some don’t understand how important it is where it is and its potential utilization.
With the right vendor relationship, you can maximize your data’s value. Mathmen not madmen is all of the rage! The relevant math though, is not a textbook equation like the quadratic formula, but rather, the effective order of operations and approach. Recall those annoying Facebook order of operation math equations cluttering your news feed (i.e., “8÷ 2(2+2) = ?”). Respondents predictably forget that the correct way of solving this problem requires the use of the order of operations, also known as PEMDAS (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction). Similarly, in ad tech, the fundamental programmatic order of operations is: PRVSSE (Paying Real Viewable, Suitable, Safe, Effective). We will review each in turn below.
Billing Transparency – What am I paying for?
Here is a simple question: When paying for ads, are you paying to win auctions or when your ad downloads onto a page? Are you paying to win digital auctions, or when your ad actually renders and is served to a user? This may seem simple, but most of the time this isn’t clear cut and advertisers may be paying to only win auctions rather than to serve ads to users. Thus, the first order of operation is: understanding your billable event. This can result in instant savings.
Is it real?
Unfortunately, digital ad fraud has grown steadily over the last decade. Without the proper protections, you risk spending a large percentage of your budget on showing ads to bots instead of real human users. Ugh. Advertisers, it is imperative to monitor for invalid traffic (IVT) and to pay for real human users only. Doing otherwise, will not only result in wasted expenditures, but worse, result in a snowball effect: invalid traffic will continue to compound and pollute your data, compromising any subsequent optimization.
Was the ad viewed?
Ensuring that your ads are being shown to real human users is only the first step: you must make sure they are being seen. Buying inventory below the fold or in poorly performing placements that are unlikely to be seen by anyone, means your dollars are likely going towards waste. In a bygone era, buyers would worry about the viewers going to the bathroom during commercial breaks and missing their ads. The problem is a bit different in the digital age but it can be measured. So do so!
Suitability and Brand Safety – Does this make our brand look bad?
You’ve made sure that your ads are being seen, but are your ads having a positive impact on your brand? If your ads are being shown on sites that aren’t relevant, antithetical to your company’s principles or causes potential customers to form a negative impression of your brand, you may be doing more harm than good. Hate is and should be unacceptable to all advertisers However, your ad running on pregnancy site is that good or bad? For an Auto company and a CPG it probably is good. For an alcohol brand or a pharma company where the product might have an adverse effect. No. Safety and Suitability, It takes time and effort but it will be necessary for the long-term growth of your brand.
ROI, Was it worth it?
Now that everything has come together and you have made sure to know what you’re paying for (valid, visible, and aligned with your brand), the salient question is: Was it all worth it? Closely measuring your KPIs, the goal should be to spend your media dollars on working media and to remove the non-working media. This is where you might need math but most importantly, the right tools. Most of the of data’s hidden value can be unlocked with the right approach and utilizing the order of operations. Simple, right?!