How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Partner


How To Select A Programmatic Advertising Partner

One of the follow-up questions we got from our recent post on programmatic advertising was how do I pick a programmatic partner? 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 partner for your business or agency, 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 Provider

  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 partner 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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How To Pick A PR (Public Relations) Agency

PR Agency

How To Pick A PR (Public Relations) Agency

This is a really difficult time for businesses from a publicity standpoint. A global pandemic, mass layoffs and a presidential election are taking up most of the media space, both online and offline.

What should a business owner, who is looking to get publicity for their business do? Should they keep their PR in-house, or should they go and hire a PR agency?

To answer that question, and talk more about how do you pick a public relations agency, I spoke to PR expert Karyn Martin from Golden Thread Agency.

Do you stay in-house with a PR team or a person or do you bring in a PR agency? There’s a number of factors to consider here in making that decision. Certainly budget, bandwidth… 

Whether you’ve got somebody in-house or an agency team or person, there’s a financial commitment there that you’re making to public relations.

Certainly I’ve been an agency person for decades and now I’ve stepped out on my own, and I’d like to think that the position that I’m in now I’m best suited to be helping clients make decisions like this, to suss it out based on those factors that we can look at.

And while I do think that financially it’s going to be probably less expensive to go with an in-house person, you have to look at the trade-offs for that.

One of the trade-offs is losing the technology resources that a PR agency has access too. If you manage your PR in-house, can you afford to invest in the tools needed to accurately measure the success of your PR efforts? That’s why you have agencies who spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands when you get to the bigger agencies on technology.

Hybrid Model

One popular option is to hire a consultant or small PR agency to work with internal teams. The Consultant or agency can develop the strategic approach and PR blueprint, that the inside team can then go and execute against.

Six Questions To Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency

1. Is there a fit?

Your PR agency is your voice to the outside world so who will be working on your account is critical. In a big agency, the top manager pitching the agency’s service may not be working directly with you. The agency may assign the job to less experienced professionals. Ask to meet all team members who will work on the account to examine their backgrounds and track records. Meeting all the personnel will give you an idea of the chemistry that will evolve between the agency and your business.

2: Big agency versus small agency?

There are advantages to both small and large agencies. Small pr agencies offer direct, personal service. Small firms are usually more flexible on pricing. The individuals who actually do the work are usually the same individuals who pitched you. Larger firms usually operate in teams that offer more viewpoints, varied talents and experience, flexibility and manpower. They usually take on clients with larger budgets.

3: Agency and Industry Experience.

Does the PR agency have proven experience and results working with similar companies to yours? A PR agency that has experience in your vertical will be able to get results quicker, than someone who has not worked in your market before. Beware of conflicts of interest if other clients are direct competitors, and agencies that cannot differentiate your company from competitors in the sector.

4: Media Connections

Has the agency achieved the type of media placements that you expect to get across print, broadcast and online media? Is the agency well-versed in managing remote media interviews?

5: How do you incorporate social and digital media in your PR campaigns?

PR is now closely integrated with social media. Look for a PR agency or consultant who is familiar with these trends and, more importantly, knows how to harness them for PR. Ask for specific examples of how they’ve used digital or social to help a client reach their goals.

6: How do you measure success?

How will you and the agency measure success? Learning what metrics they prefer will help gauge their PR measurement abilities. High-quality PR agencies now use PR metrics such as share of voice, message resonance and changes in brand sentiment over time.

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What is Programmatic Advertising?


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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How Many Social Media Platforms Should You Focus On?

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How Many Social Media Platforms Should You Focus On?

One of the challenges that a lot of B2B companies struggle with is what how should they handle social media? Should they be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat? Do they need to be on TikTok?

Do they need to be on all of these platforms, or should they just focus on one and just do a really good job on there?

To answer these questions I turned to social media expert Amanda Fountain and this is what she had to say.

What Are Your Social Media Resources?

What you are asking is actually two questions rolled into one because what you are really asking is what are your resources and where is your audience?

Social media can open a lot of doors for businesses, but if you don’t have the right resources, it just becomes harder. Harder to manage, harder to see results, harder to feel good about what you’re doing on it. Harder to see results if it’s not overwhelmingly good.

And that’s usually what happens, when you have limited resources, you do the best you can, but it’s not great.

It’s just the best that you can possibly do. And that can hurt. Which is a weird thing to think about, but it can hurt if it’s not great for social. Because there’s so much that’s happening, that your stuff has to stand out.

When I say great, I don’t mean like the highest quality videos are the highest quality graphics, it’s just great content that is really
well tailored for your audience.

That’s the ‘great’ that you’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be highly produced content, it just has to be really well tailored for your audience.

Social Media Logos

Where Is Your Audience On Social Media?

The second part of your question is where is your audience? If you know that you have limited resources and you know that your audience is most active on Twitter, for example, spend your time there.

This is a much better strategic approach, to find where your audience is, and put your time and effort there, rather than trying to separate your time across every single platform.

Maybe claim profiles and have a regular cadence for occasionally posting on other places, but put your time and efforts to where your audience is.

And then the next phase of that is if you can get a good cadence of producing content that your audience likes and engages with, then you can look to expand your social media presence to the platforms where your audience will be.

One of the things I always think about is who is my next audience, right? Because people grow up in their careers.

The people who are decision makers now, are maybe not, maybe not big Instagram users, but the people who are in their twenties and thirties who have them, will eventually be a decision maker

It’s a platform they’re used to using and seeing. So you can’t ignore it forever, but think about when you need to start kind of getting in front of them.

That’s why it’s more important to have a regular cadence, even if it’s only occasional, in order to be in front of those other audiences.

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Are Your Outdated SEO Tactics Costing You Traffic?

Are Your Outdated SEO Tactics Costing You Traffic?

“Eighty-nine percent of sites that ranked seven years ago are not ranking now.”
Marcus Tober
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
“that used to have at least one ranking in the past on keywords with at least a search volume of 10,” he checked to see how many of the domains still had at least one ranking. The conclusion? In the top 30 results, Tober found that “Only 11% [of these domains] are left!”

Via this historical data, we can see that 89% of websites that ranked in the top 30 positions on Google seven years ago no longer rank in the top 30 today. The big question is why?

While doing some technical website audits recently, it struck me that a lot of the websites that I am reviewing are seeing declining search engine traffic because of previous Search Engine Optimization tactics.

What is unusual about these sets of websites is that the SEO recommendations that were implemented were not black hat or spammy. They were part of the SEO Playbook at that time.

But a series of Google algorithm updates have not only negated these recommendations but are hurting the websites now.

Panda: Assigned lower ranking to “low-quality” websites. In other words, sites that provide bad user experiences because of low quality, poorly written content, or bad navigation move to the bottom of search results.

Penguin and SEOPenguin: Removed “over-optimized” websites that didn’t deserve high rankings. In an effort to boost SEO, companies would buy multiple website domains and then create websites with a blog or two that linked back to the main website. Google released the Penguin update to stop this practice and ensure good user experiences.

Hummingbird and SEOHummingbird: Adapted Google’s algorithm to manage smartphone searches and voice recognition applications. These major updates now comprise the new playbook for optimizing websites. If you want to rank well on Google queries, make sure you follow the new rules and drop outdated practices.

What are the outdated tactics that could be getting you in trouble today? Here are the three most common SEO tactics that I see hurting websites now:

1. Thin Content

An often-used SEO tactic was to focus on one keyword per page. So, if you sold widgets for example you might have the following pages:

● Widgets Main Page
● Blue Widgets
● Red Widgets
● Yellow Widgets
● Black Widgets

Often the only difference between the pages for Blue Widgets and Red Widgets were that one page contained the phrase “Blue Widgets” and the other contained the phrase “Red Widgets.”

Starting with the panda update, Google now emphasizes themes instead of keywords. Instead of having all those sub-widget pages, what Google is looking for is one main widgets page. Google’s algorithms are smart enough to understand that if you have a widgets page talking about the availability of various colors, then “blue widgets” and “red widgets” are key phrases that are related to that page.

I see pages today that rank and drive traffic for hundreds of keywords with many of the hundreds not actually on the page but related to the content of that page.


For example, according to SEMRush, this page on the L’Oreal website ranks for 4,400 different keywords. 

As the L’Oreal page shows, it’s not necessary to flush a page with a multitude of keywords or have a multitude pages for variations of the same product. One page thematically appropriate can rev the right traffic from Google.

Thin or duplicate pages are one of the biggest reasons I see for declining search engine traffic. If you are retaining any of these types of pages on your site, now is the time to update and show Google that your site is worth a high ranking.

2. Page Speed

For years, website owners never paid much attention to website speed. Flash, slideshows, video, and parallax scrolling were all added to websites to make them more closely resemble magazines and TV shows.

But in 2014/15 Google made it clear that bloated and slow loading websites created a bad user experience, and page speed became a larger component in Google’s ranking algorithm, especially when it comes to mobile.

A slow loading page increases your bounce rate and lowers your organic rankings, resulting in less search traffic. How fast does your page load?

Pingdom Report

Check the speed of your website here . Does your website load in under 2 seconds?

3. Broken Links and Error Pages

A 404 or not found error is when a user (or search engine) clicks a link and lands on a page that no longer exists.

From a search engine perspective, 404 errors are wasted resources. But more importantly I have seen websites, like the one below, experience a significant decrease in search engine traffic after a jump in 404 errors.

404 Errors

And that makes sense. If you are Google and you keep crawling a website and finding pages that no longer exist, why would you put that site high up on the search results page?

The longer a website has been up the more likely they are to have broken links. And that is because over time employees come and go and product changes and website redesigns alter the URL structure. Have you experienced any of these over the last couple of years? If the answer is yes, what happened to those webpages?

Even on the best optimized website, users end up on pages that no longer exist. The key to a good user experience then is a useful 404 page.

Four ways to create a useful 404 page are:


● Tell visitors clearly that the page they’re looking for can’t be found
● Use language that is friendly and inviting
● Make sure your 404 page uses the same look and feel (including navigation) as the rest of your site
● Consider adding links to your most popular articles or posts, as well as a link to your site’s homepage as Moz has below:

Moz 404 Page Example

Whether or not your site has been impacted in a noticeable way by these Google updates, every site has things to clean up and to optimize in a modern way.

The sooner you understand why Google is sending you less traffic than it did last year, the sooner you can clean it up and focus on proactive SEO that starts to impact your rankings in a positive way.

Don’t let your site get bogged down by old school SEO tactics. Contact us today as see if your site meets Google’s Best Practices!

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The Art Of Storytelling Through Data

Five Questions With Header

The Art Of Storytelling Through Data

In this episode of Five Questions with… I am talking with JLA Analytics founder Julie Alig about the art of storytelling with data in business and how to present complex stories with data. This is part two of the interview. You can find the first episode on Visual Storytelling With Data here

How do you come up with the question that you're going to tell the story around?

Definitely in a conversation, it’s a back-and-forth with the customer. That’s the way I do it. That’s the way I’ve found the strongest results come out.

I might be the person in the room who has the most experience with research methodology, with statistical tools, this, that, the other. I’m not the subject matter experts of what my clients are. In my mind, any good research project – kind of like this – needs to be a collaboration between the subject matter expert and the people with the tools and expertise. 

Working with my clients, I really like to have that kind of conversation or communication continue, and if anything I like to over-communicate, because I want to make sure that I’m going in the right direction. I think I responded to one of your posts on LinkedIn and said something like,”Let your client, or their questions, be your North Star.”

That needs to be what I’m focused on. That’s where I find the best results with my clients.

Four Tips To Successful Storytelling

I sit in all these meetings, I get Powerpointed to death, with slides with a gazillion data points on them. We spoke about taking this data, understanding the North Star, answering the questions, pulling it together so you can tell a story with it, but now you have to deliver it.

What’s your tips and tricks for boiling that down, putting it onto paper so that people in the room can understand it and so when it gets passed around outside the room they can still follow the story.

That’s the question isn’t it? That’s the 64 million dollar question!

I think that’s where a lot of your skill and expertise come into play. You really have to distill down all the findings into something very short and small. I forget who but there was a British author who said,

"I would've written a shorter letter if I had the time."

1. You have to be concise and get right to the point.

 I would say the tip is: A – keep going back to those original questions and make sure that you’re still focused on those. B – I really get a lot out of visuals.

2. Communicate so much with visuals

I was just on a call with a colleague last week, and she was talking about a process, and I whipped out my journal and drew a little picture, and held it up for her, and she was like,”that’s exactly it!” She got it.

So I think we’ve all been in those situations. The danger though is that you’re going to load up too many ideas and too many concepts into one poor little graphic or image. I really like using maybe a couple of visuals to tell a story, and in a storyboard kind of manner.

3. Stick to the basics, and throw everything else in the appendix.

 That’s kind of what I used when I was writing my dissertation in grad school. All those great supporting analyses, stick ’em in the appendix.

I love that storyboard analogy. It’s like these are the ones you can always pop out and say, “Okay are we gonna use these images in this order? Is it telling the story that we want?” Instead of “well there’s a slide, and now there’s another slide…”

4. That you and your client or customer are on the same page.

 So, especially from that first slide, statement of the problem, statement of the question, and what you’re going to do with it.

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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 a specific location target.

Marketing professionals use geofencing to pinpoint specific advertisements based on the target audiences exact location.

The targeted users participate in location targeting when they use applications or programs where they are prompted to enter their location or allow a web service to access their location.

Geofencing ad campaigns are ideal to find consumers based on exact locations and serve “hyper-local” advertisements and messages. Geofencing campaigns can be set up across multiple types of online advertising campaigns, such as search engine advertising, display advertising, remarketing, and video advertising.

Here are some examples of how businesses can use geofencing to enhance their digital marketing efforts and unleash the full power of geofencing marketing:

What is geofencing?

Geofencing advertising is supported by Google Adwords, Facebook and Instagram. Once you select Locations you can expand the geofencing options in the Google Adwords campaign.

For most local geofencing marketing campaigns, you will select the option of entering a location.  Most of the tools have preset locations already loaded, especially large or highly populated areas.

The best part is Geofencing is incredibly affordable. Neither Facebook nor Google Adwords charges any additional fees to set up geofencing campaigns.

Not only is geofencing cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s effective. You add more specific targeting layers to local online marketing campaigns, which boosts performance.

For local businesses, the more locally targeted your message is, the better it’s going to perform when your customers are local.

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How Do You Select A Social Media Agency?

Social Media Agency

When To Select A Social Media Agency

One of the questions that we get asked a lot is when is the should I use a social media agency for social versus when should I do it in-house with the people that I have?

It’s a great question and I turned to social media expert Amanda Fountain to answer that question. This is what she had to say:

Hiring A Social Media Agency

One of the reasons why a company would consider using a social media agency is to develop a social media strategy.

A social media strategy is one of the key building blocks to being successful on social media. A strategy identifies who your target audience is. What social networks they are on? What messaging they respond too? What types of messaging they do not respond too?

A second reason to engage with a social media agency is to produce more content.

A third reason is to listen and engage with your audiences on social media. Listening is an overlooked aspect of a successful social media strategy. The bigger you are as a company, the more risk you have of missing conversations about your brand if you don’t have someone monitoring and listening all the time.

“By providing great customer service through social comments, you not only retain existing customers but also win new ones.”

Handling Your Social Media In-house

When does handling your social media accounts in-house work best? If you know that your audience is not really active on social, that it is not where you want to talk to your audience then having internal resources handling your social media accounts make sense.

In this scenario, your in-house person just focused on posting content and responding to whatever comments are left.

Agency + In-House Model

The obvious best model is when you have a social media agency partner and someone -in house that’s your social media expert.

You have your in-house person who can lead what needs to happen, can share all that in-marketing insight from the other pieces that are going on, and help with the execution pieces of it.

Your agency partner then becomes your strategist, your person that’s there to tell you what’s happening, tell you what’s going on, counsel you to make changes or consider new things. To push you in new ways that if you’re in the trenches day to day, it’s not always easy to see those things.

So that’s a good model, having a social media agency partner who can be your strategist, and then the in-house person that can oversee implementation and execution of your social medium campaigns.

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