For advertisers, transparency isn’t simply about avoiding fraud and making sure partners are compliant. The current push for programmatic transparency in the industry is about a lot more than weeding out the bad apples. Transparency is also becoming the rallying cry among marketers and advertisers who want to know the performance of their ads while there is still time to make adjustments and course correct.
Many in the industry have been predicting programmatic will solve a lot of the industry’s transparency issues. But Sergio Palau from FlixBus, Tom Brooks from Delivery Hero, and Pau Quevedo from Innogames – currently at Goodgame Studio – have been experiencing programmatic first-hand and have no need to speculate. We got the chance to ask them a few questions about their experience with programmatic campaigns. Their insightful answers are below.
How does transparency currently affect your programmatic activities?
Tom: I think transparency is one of the main benefits of programmatic. It puts the power to control sources in the hands of the marketer. And this massively impacts the ability to optimize campaign performance. With programmatic, I don’t just see random source IDs. I can see app by app, where my installs are coming from. If I see an app is generating a lot of clicks but very few installs or purchases I can blacklist the source. This means I avoid paying for traffic that doesn’t align with my business objectives or that is potentially fraud.
Additionally, knowing which apps are converting well allows me to spot trends and opportunities. Being a food delivery app, we have found that our ads perform much better in certain app categories. Knowing for instance that our app has an affinity with lifestyle apps means we can strategically focus on the apps that work best with our brand. And the learnings can be applied across all channels.
Sergio: Transparency is also very important for us. Being able to see each app source means we can not only spot fraud and app category affinities but also gain insight into what type of ads the app is running. This makes it possible to easily spot incent traffic and low-quality sources.
Pau: We buy a lot of traffic from Ad-networks and therefore we need to deal with the ‘black-box’ phenomenon. The lack of transparency is a big obstacle. The industry is clearly moving towards a more transparent environment but us traders also have to learn how to make good use of the additional data we collect from DSPs. This is probably going to be our biggest challenge in the next coming years.
It’s important to note that some DSPs are more transparent than others. For those of us in gaming, the log-level data is really important. You need bid request-level data to make sure you understand your traffic, and we see that some DSPs are not willing to share such data. Log-level data is the key element that allows you to bid properly for the right user, that is what feeds the algorithms.
Can you gain more transparency by using multiple DSPs?
Tom: For user acquisition, I think it’s always a good idea to work with two partners. When the audience is broad and unknown, like in the case of user acquisition campaigns, using two DSPs allows you to reach a wider audience. You can also compare results between platforms to ensure you’re getting the best performance possible. And because of the transparency, you can easily see which exchanges your DSPs are bidding in. This ensures you get wide coverage while avoiding crossover.
For retargeting activities, there’s no need to use multiple DSPs. The reason being, your target audience is small and you will essentially compete against yourself from different DSPs.
Sergio: We’ve been running two DSPs but we are hoping to eventually increase to three. After getting the results we wanted with one DSP, we wanted to see if we could increase our spending and results by adding a second. The additional DSP did allow us to scale while staying on target so we’re looking to get additional incremental value by adding one more. We understand that at a certain point additional partners will be overkill. But for now, we are looking to increase partners until we reach that point.
Pau: We run several partners and DSPs at the same time to diversify our traffic. Some DSPs tend to perform better in specific regions and we work with as many as possible to get the worldwide coverage we seek. It is important that the DSP has clients from the same vertical – meaning that they request QPS aligned with gaming for instance.