Conventional Wisdom Vs. Big Data

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matt-greitzerData-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is by Matt Greitzer, co-founder and chief operating officer at Accordant Media.

It’s always surprising to me when marketers don’t fully leverage their data. It is only logical that a brand would analyze and leverage relevant data at its fingertips, which is now being amassed at an unprecedented level.

Yet with all of this information at marketers’ disposal, many don’t exploit the opportunity to dig into the information and glean new insights, which could in some cases radically alter media approach and channel allocations. Instead, many advertisers and agencies continue to rely on default assumptions or conventional wisdom.

By not applying a diligent, rigorous analysis of available data, as it relates to their advertising efforts, brands are making bad decisions, losing out on revenue and missing opportunities they could be exploiting.

Brands should make it standard procedure to make sense of their data before making marketing decisions. Don’t buy into all of the conventional wisdom in digital advertising because some of it may be wrong if taken as orthodoxy.

Above-the-Fold Ad Inventory

Buyers tend to fixate on the desirability of exclusively above-the-fold ad inventory. In an environment where ad viewability is increasingly scrutinized, the desire makes sense but it’s often misguided. In my experience, below-the-fold placements can drive as much as a 31% higher conversion rate than above-the-fold placements, and often at a fraction of the price.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that in the programmatic space, there are plenty of inventory providers that don’t declare whether their ads are above or below the fold. Therefore, many buyers can miss out on high-value inventory simply because certain publishers aren’t willing to disclose they are offloading above-the-fold inventory into the open RTB market.

Ad Collisions

Another topic generating unwarranted concern is ad collisions, or when multiple ads from the same advertiser appear on the same page. In the programmatic world, multiple ads from the same brand campaign stacked up are universally considered detrimental to the advertiser. Certainly, the practice of stacking eight to 10 ads in a row is detrimental. But having two ads on a page is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen data for a sample advertiser where two ads on the same page boosted conversion rates by 45%. The same boost in conversion rate doesn’t hold true for all advertisers, but conventional wisdom is no guide here. Let the data tell the story.

Low CPMs

Traditionally buyers have been taught to hunt for the lowest possible cost per mille (CPM). While this approach makes sense when negotiating for fixed placements, in programmatic, lowest CPM at all costs can actually stymie growth and depress results. For example, when you layer in viewability or user engagement metrics, the more expensive inventory often outperforms the cheaper inventory. Also in programmatic media, inventory benefits from being more powerfully targeted against the optimal audience sets for any given brand, and in these cases, the pricier inventory often performs better. It can actually be advantageous to buy fewer high-priced ads vs. purchasing lots of cheap inventory.

Marketers should take advantage by leveraging event-level, auction-level data, as data is now the prime currency for decision-making. It is time to rethink our old assumptions. Marketers should consider the unique circumstances surrounding their brands and put aside conventional wisdom to employ the potential of big data to generate insights and opportunities unique to their brand in the market.

Follow Matt Greitzer (@mattgreitzer), Accordant Media(@Accordant) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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