How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Agency

programmatic advertising agency

How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Agency

One of the follow-up questions we got from our recent post on programmatic advertising was how do I pick a programmatic advertising agency? There are a lot of lot of companies out there in the programmatic space. How can I make sure that I am picking the right one?

To answer that question I turned back to programmatic expert Tom Burke from Centro. This is what he had to say.

When picking the right programmatic advertising agency for your business, here are two things to consider.

The first consideration are tactical, day-to-day media-based questions. These are a bunch of boxes you should check around inventory sources and supply-side, what exchanges are they integrated in, how many PNP deals they have, what type of data they have, etc.

11 Questions To Ask A Programmatic Advertising Agency

  1. What do you classify yourself as? A trading desk? A DSP? Something else?
  2. What DSP do you use? is it different based on inventory type (desktop, mobile, video)? Is it your own or a 3rd party?
  3. If you are a DSP, do you have a self-serve interface and if not, do you have any plans to put one in place?
  4. Do you have your own direct PMP deals or do you trade on the open exchanges?
  5. What split of retargeting vs prospecting are you proposing and can this be monitored ongoing?
  6. What are your fees and how are they calculated?
  7. What buy models do you support? CPM, CPC, CPA?
  8. What post view and post-click conversion window will you apply to my activity?
  9. Is there anything automated in your bid optimization process or is it managed by people?
  10. What third party data providers do you typically use?
  11. What level of transparency do you provide on reporting? Can I get a domain list including impressions served?

While you need to check these boxes, realistically the majority of the day-to-day work has become so commoditized at this point, that it would be a red flag if someone could not answer clearly any of these questions.

The second consideration is how does programmatic advertising fit into your business? This is the question that  I’d recommend, almost every agency – especially in the mid-tier – focus on answering.

The two questions I ask agency partners about choosing a programmatic advertising agency are:

The IAB released a study in May 2018 indicating that 18% of programmatic advertisers have completely brought programmatic media buying in house, while an additional 47% have at least partially done so.

If you are thinking about bringing your programmatic services in-house, here are four things to consider:

What’s does “in house” mean to you?

A closer look at the IAB data indicates that few advertisers are aligned on what “fully in house” means.

For instance, some brands viewed taking their entire programmatic process in house as working directly with a DSP instead of using a creative agency to help execute buying. To others, it meant having their agency of record provide them with a programmatic strategy while their in-house team performed the media buys. 

You Will Need an In-House Team

The number of people you’ll need to develop and execute your programmatic media depends on how much of the process you’re bringing in house. Some brands have brought in programmatic department heads, but continue to have an agency of record with whom their experts work to develop the programmatic strategy to execute buys. Others have essentially modelled the structure of a trading desk to manage strategy and execution. Any one of these structures can work, but all require that you staff up a team of programmatic experts.

In-House Programmatic Advertising Is About Data Management

Programmatic media buying requires tons of data—collecting, aggregating, layering, and swiftly drawing actionable insights from it. Depending on your strategy for taking programmatic in house, you may need to take some or full responsibility for managing your data, which would require an experienced (and expensive) data science team.

A Long-Term Programmatic Strategy Is a Must

As with everything in digital media, programmatic advertising buying will not remain stagnant. Technology, key players, channels, and formats will continue to change and evolve. Many companies have built their entire business model on this evolution. Therefore, your strategy needs to account for, and proactively address, the constant changes in the industry.

That means hiring exceptional talent that fully understands the landscape, and can act autonomously to address innovation. It also means providing employees with ongoing opportunities to continue their industry education.


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SEO v PPC: Which Is The Best Driver Of Website Traffic?

SEO vs PPC - What is the best tactic for you?

SEO v PPC: Which Is The Best Driver Of Website Traffic?

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, there are really only two options: pay-per-click (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO).

While there are other online marketing channels (social, email, and display), SEO and PPC are likelier to drive large numbers of highly qualified visitors to your website. Of SEO and PPC, which is better?

The answer is dependent on your goals.

Short Term Goals: PPC

PPC is perfect for short-term testing or particular events as you can create an ad campaign in minutes and literally begin driving traffic to your website immediately. SEO, on the other hand, often takes at least 90 days to improve website traffic.

Long Term Goals: SEO

No digital marketing channel generates long-term traffic, leads, and sales better than SEO.

Search engine optimization is the best source of sustainable traffic to your website because it delivers (1) high-quality traffic with intent to buy and (2) increases ROI over time.

SEO vs PPC - What is the best tactic for you?

The latter benefit is key as to why SEO is a better long-term investment than PPC. According to a Covario study, last year advertisers paid 23% more per click than they did the previous year. The data shows that the cost to acquire each new visitor or customer via PPC is increasing and will continue to do so.

Higher PPC costs result in a lower ROI. We hear this from companies every day. PPC is not a sustainable traffic source in the long term because of the escalating cost per click. With SEO, ROI improves over time. Time and monetary investment does not increase from month-to-month but traffic, leads, and customers do.

SEO’s ability to drive traffic at a decreasing cost per visitor long-term makes it a much more valuable marketing channel than PPC. Studies demonstrate that, on average, SEO is 12% of a typical marketing budget and generates 14% of leads. PPC, on the other hand, is 8% of the marketing budget but only generates 6% of leads.

Marketing Spend closely tracks led generation rates

Long-term ROI is not the only thing that makes SEO so attractive to marketers. The fact that users trust organic listings more than they trust PPC also makes SEO more enticing. High search rankings imply industry authority and leadership, making searchers likelier to trust and click the website. In this way, SEO drives more high quality traffic.

When asked for the average percentage of leads converted to sales by marketing channel, marketers sighted SEO as the most effective marketing channel, with PPC coming in 5th place.

If your marketing goal is short-term, then PPC is a great source of immediate traffic, but if you want a traffic source that consistently drives high quality traffic long-term then SEO is the answer for you.


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Want More Live Conversions From Your Google Ads?

Google Ads Call Tracking

Want More Live Conversions From Your Google Ads?

Years ago I was talking with a client about a new campaign we were launching. I asked him how he would measure success. He pointed to the telephone and said “that will ring more often!”

Fast forward to today, business owners still want their marketing efforts to make the phone ring. Nearly half of all marketers say that driving phone calls from paid search ads is their top priority. Today Google Ads allows us to build “connect to call” features right into your ads. These ads are perfect to make it easier for potential customers to reach you. Would you like to get started? Let’s Start Strong together! Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts.

What is Google Connect To Call?

Google’s Connect To Call feature (also called Google Ads Call Tracking) allows you to track the number of prospective customers called your business after seeing or clicking one of your paid ads. Paid ads include Google search ads, Google call only ads and Google My Business listings.

 Why implement Google Ads Call Tracking in your ads?

Did you know that 43% of all search-related conversions happen over the phone? And that 65% of businesses find their most valuable customers are calling them because they are ready to do business?

People actively searching for your products and services are doing their research. When they are ready to buy, they are ready to talk. You can make it easier to start the conversation using Google Ads Call Tracking features.

What are the benefits of Google Ads Call Tracking?

In addition to providing you with a reliable, accurate and quantifiable way to track the effectiveness of offline conversions and phone conversations, Call Tracking also gives you actionable insights and comprehensive reporting on the true return of PPC investment – leads.

Google Ads Call Tracking allows us to:

Types of phone call conversions you can track

There are three types of phone call conversions you can track via Google Ads:

What’s possible for your business if the phones ring more often now? Would you like to get started? Let’s Start Strong together! Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts. Let’s have a conversation!

Not sure if you are ready to advertise yet? Then check out our post on 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Advertising Right Now.

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What is Programmatic Advertising?

programmatic advertising agency

What is Programmatic Advertising?

This is a question that we get when we are reviewing paid media plans with clients. What is programmatic advertising? It’s a great question and I turned to paid media expert Tom Burke  to answer that question. This is what he had to say.

Programmatic advertising is the use of automated technology for media buying (the process of buying advertising space), as opposed to traditional (often manual) methods of digital advertising. Programmatic media buying utilizes data insights and algorithms to serve ads to the right user at the right time, and at the right price.

In other words, as Tom points out, programmatic advertising is simply another way to buy advertising or media.

How is buying programmatic advertising different from traditional ad buying?

With traditional or direct ad buying you purchase advertising space on a website or in a traditional publication directly from the publisher.

You negotiate the price, pick the placing and the date the ad will run, and for how long the ad will be shown to the publisher’s readers. It involves people talking with people, and the process can take time, as ad copy is sent back and forth for approval. Results are calculated manually and provided to the buyer when they become available. Ads are optimized manually based on the data.

The most common example of traditional ad buying is buying ad space on a site like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Everyone who visits these websites will see your ad, regardless of whether they could be interested in your product/service or not.

Purchasing programmatic advertising, on the other hand, is very similar to Facebook or Google where the ads are bought and sold through an automated process through a dashboard. Real-time optimization occurs and KPI data are available as it comes in. There is no need to interact with any salespeople at the publishers.

Unlike in the first example, your ad is only shown to the website visitor who matches the behavioral or demographic characteristics of your ideal customer, increasing the likelihood that they will click on your ad.

Programmatic advertising misconceptions

One of the common misconceptions about programmatic advertising is that the quality of the ad inventory is not top tier quality.

That is completely incorrect because today you can buy almost any type of ad programmatically. In the last twelve months, companies we have worked with, have bought TV advertising on Hulu programmatically. They have bought streaming audio on both Pandora and Spotify programmatically. And they have bought ads on major websites like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and all programmatically.

When you can target your ad buy so that your ad is only shown to someone who matches your ideal customer profile, why would you not be using programmatic advertising?


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What is geofencing?

What Is Geofencing?

What is Geofencing? Geofencing marketing is location-based ads where a user’s location is recorded via the internet, and advertisements are only shown to people in

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The Sustainability of SEO over PPC

SEO vs PPC - What is the best tactic for you?

Sustainability of SEO Over PPC

In a previous post, we discussed the main differences between search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC), the two main web traffic drivers.

For short-term marketing goals, PPC is a great source of immediate traffic, but for a traffic source that consistently drives high quality long-term traffic then SEO is the best option.

One factor that makes PPC a difficult sustainable marketing channel is the steady increase in CPC as can be seen below. Some highly competitive keywords have seen their CPC more than doubled in the last four years.

We call this trend CPC inflation which is the gradual increase of average cost-per-click over time when other variables appear to be the same. It means having to spend more per-click just to maintain your average position or impression share.

That is why the sustainability of SEO makes it the most cost-effective driver of website traffic in the long run because it delivers (1) high-quality traffic with intent to buy and (2) an increase in ROI over time. No digital marketing channel generates long-term traffic, leads, and sales with a better ROI than SEO.

On average, SEO is 12% of a typical marketing budget but generates 14% of leads.

Despite having 8% of the marketing budget, PPC generates only 6% of leads. If you are spending more of your marketing budget on PPC than SEO, then your lead generation program is costing you traffic and revenue.

It’s not just the number of leads generated from SEO that makes it such an important inbound tactic it is the quality of those leads.

When asked for the average percentage of leads converted to sales by marketing channels, marketers sighted SEO as the most effective marketing channel.

That’s why Search Engine Optimization is a more sustainable and cost-effective driver of website traffic than PPC is in the long run. The longer you engage in good SEO practices, the lower the cost of driving each visitor to your website. No other traffic source does that.

Ready to integrate SEO into your business strategy? Contact us today!



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The Three Traffic Sources For Startups

Paid Earned and Owned Traffic

The Three Traffic Sources For Startups

I was recently re-reading Randall Stross’s book, The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups. Inside is a quote from Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham about growth rates for start-up

A good growth rate during YC is 5-7% a week. If you can hit 10% a week you’re doing exceptionally well. If you can only manage 1%, it’s a sign you haven’t yet figured out what you’re doing. A 5%-7% weekly growth rate is extremely aggressive but if you want your start-up to get traction in the market, it’s a good growth number to aim for..
Y Combinator Logo
Paul Graham
Y Combinator

The big question then is “how do you do that”?

There are three sources of website traffic for a startup. In order to be successful and meet Paul Graham’s growth target you need to master at least one of these, if not two of these traffic sources.

Rented or Paid Traffic

The first traffic source that most start-ups use is paid traffic. Paid traffic gives you time to allow your other traffic channels to grow and evolve. It allows you to get product market fit, find those those first customers and find out if you have product market fit.

The most common paid traffic sources are Google Adwords (PPC), Facebook ads, display ads, retargeting, paid influencers and paid content promotion.

With paid traffic you are able to contribute content and engage with the audience. You might be able to control the conversation, but you do not own anything else (data, relationship, creativity, etc. etc.). Hence the name rented traffic.

Without the initial steady stream of visitors from paid traffic, you might never get enough data to growth hack your way to success. That is why paid traffic is the most important traffic source for many startups. Over time, that might change, but it is rare to see a startup succeed who does not buy their initial visitors.

Owned Traffic

The second most common traffic source is owned traffic. Owned traffic is traffic from properties that you own. You own the customer relationships. You make the decisions around content, creativity and evolution. The more owned properties you have, the more chances you have to drive traffic to your website.

Examples of owned properties are websites, blogs and customer forums. Social media properties like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter can also be considered as “owned sites”.

One of the most overlooked owned traffic sources is your email list. You have total control over the timing of the messages you send to your subscribers. And when you click “send,” your messages get delivered straight to them.

The challenge for start-ups is that owned traffic takes time. It takes time to organically grow a following via social media or build an email list. That is why owned traffic is usually the second traffic source that startups tackle.

Earned Traffic

The third traffic source is Earned or influenced traffic. This traffic is online word of mouth, usually seen in the form of mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations, or content picked up by 3rd party sites.

It is traffic source that you cannot directly control. For example you cannot directly control whether people will “Like” you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, and then visit your website and become your customer. Nor can you control whether a a piece of content you have produced goes viral.

Earned traffic also includes organic traffic from search engines. Traffic from organic search is considered earned traffic as you cannot control how much traffic the search engines can send you. But like other influenced traffic you can impact this by following SEO best practices.

The challenge for startups with earned traffic is that it is too difficult to predicate, especially in the early stages. You cannot build a growth strategy hoping that you make it to the front page of Hacker News or Business Insider. That is why this is usually the third traffic channel that startups focus on.


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The BEST Way To Generate Leads In 90% Of Industries

Lead Generation

The BEST Way To Generate Leads In 90% Of Industries

A new report from Bizible analyzed more than 480,000 leads through its Salesforce marketing analytics platform and the data showed that Search does a better job of generating leads than any other marketing channel.

A Hubspot report last season showed that SEO provides the best ROI of any inbound marketing channel, and the Bizible study reinforced that data. There is a subtle difference between the two reports as the Hubspot report was able to track both SEO and PPC separately. In the Bizible study they combined both organic and PPC under the single search umbrella.

The Bizible data showed that when looking at first touch, Search drove 56% of leads generated. When looking just at last touch, Search accounted for 41% of the leads generated.

Not a surprise then that the combination of Search first touch and Search last touch was the most productive channel for lead generation, accounting for 37% of all leads from first/last touch combinations.

Lead Generation by First/Last Touch Combinations.
Lead Generation by First/Last Touch Combinations. Source: Bizible

For those marketers who believe that search will not work in their market, Bizible refuted that. The data showed that Search was the leading channel for 9 out of 10 of the industries measured for generating leads by first touch. The software/SaaS sector was the only sector in which search did not drive the majority of first touch leads.

First Touch By Industry

Don’t Overlook Social In Lead Generation Process

Social is a market that has really matured into a valuable inbound marketing channel in the last year of so. When Bizible looked at the percentage of closed deals that were won by first touch in each channel, social impressively came in third with a 30% win rate, despite driving just 5% of leads. Social impact on lead generation is a not widespread yet because the social leads were concentrated among two industries; Education and Finance.

Note that Direct and Search had the two highest closed rates at 56% and 40% respectively with Display having the worst at only 12%.

First Touch Lead Generation By Industry
First Touch Lead Generation By Industry. Source: Bizible

Social shortens the length of the marketing cycle. When Social was the first touch, the marketing cycle was 30% shorter than average.

Marketing Cycle


Search is the most popular first touch channel for lead generation accounting for 56% of all leads acquired. Search, especially organic SEO, has to be a part of your company’s inbound marketing strategy. Whether your market is B2B or B2C, Search generates more leads, more cost-effectively.

The Bizible report shows that the last touch severely undervalues the top of the marketing funnel and does not account for the buyer’s decision journey. Companies need an inbound marketing analytics program that allows for Multi­touch attribution.

You can’t ignore Social in B2B marketing; it has a 30% shorter marketing cycle than the average inbound channel. Social is not just for posting statuses anymore. It is also a valuable lead generation channel.

The full paper “Multi-touch Attribution for Companies with Sales Teams” is available for download here.

We’re offering a free inbound marketing assessment. We will evaluate your current website, and show you the most direct ways you can get more traffic and leads from your website.

Click here to receive our FREE Inbound Marketing Assessment.


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Why SEO Still Provides The Best ROI Of Any Inbound Marketing Channel

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO Provides The Best ROI Of Any Inbound Marketing Channel

I built my first web site in 1996. In those days I just needed to update a meta keyword tag in order to have a site rank highly in the search engines.

Today’s search engine algorithms are very sophisticated and you’ve got to have deep knowledge and well-honed skills to win at SEO. SEO is still the most productive and economical way to generate qualified leads and customers. It’s also the one that Marketers say is the hardest to execute. As a result, more and more companies are letting their marketing budgets get eaten up by PPC and switching their attention away from SEO to the latest shiny toys like Instagram. SnapChat or TikTok.

Despite the appeal of all these new social channels, one thing remains consistent: SEO ROI provides the best return of any inbound marketing channel.

Marketing Spend closely tracks led generation rates

SEO on average is 12% of a typical marketing budget, but generates 14% of leads. PPC, on the other hand, is generating only 6% of leads, despite having 8% of the marketing budget. If you are spending more of your marketing budget on PPC than SEO then your lead generation program is likely upside down.

It’s not just the number of leads generated from SEO that makes it such an important inbound tactic it is the QUALITY of those leads.

In the same study, Hubspot asked marketers for the average percentage of leads converted to sales by marketing channel. SEO leads inbound marketing conversion rates, netting 15% above the average conversion rates.

SEO delivers best ROI of any marketing channel

SEO continues to deliver the best ROI of any inbound marketing channel. It’s worth more attention from marketers. Don’t let the idea that SEO is hard keep you from winning the online game. The right resources will make it easy for you.

Has your organic search traffic has fallen over the last couple of years? If it has then a technical site audit will uncover why the search engines are not ranking you as highly as they used to.

Contact us today and learn how you can increase the ROI of your SEO campaigns.


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