Advertising Week: "The Foundation Is the Analytics"

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Advertising Week: "The Foundation Is the Analytics"
Advertising Week: "The Foundation Is the Analytics"

Adobe's Director of Product Marketing Advertising Solutions Timothy Waddell gives his overview of the advertising space at Advertising Week 2013 in New York.

What's the role of analytics in advertising?

The foundation is the analytics data. Marketers' first party data is the gold source. It's the place where you want to start first. Are [visitors to a site] a loyal customer and whatnot? Retargeting is where a lot of companies do quite well. It's something that I personally think should always be on.

Give me an example of this in action.

If a visitor to your site bought an item, then great. But what's the next step? Maybe after buying a TV they need a Blu-ray DVD player. If they go to Google and type in “Blu-ray”, I should be able to offer something. Or I should be able to reach them through a social ad or a display ad as well.

Is there an application for analytics that's often overlooked?

In search, we're pulling in really granular data, like pages or products viewed. In many cases, the tail term, which doesn't get as much traffic, is ignored. Like “GAP” gets a lot of traffic on its own, “khakis” gets a lot of traffic, but “green cashmere sweater” might not.

Why is that important?

Those tail terms can generate 10 to 20% lift. Brands might have been pulling in those tail terms [when they were bidding], but they wouldn't have the information to make smart bids.

So it's like they don't know the value of those less-popular terms.

Here's my budget and goal: How do I bid across this group of keywords?

Why is attribution modeling important?

If I have a mix, search might show the best results because that's where someone clicked last. But were there two or three ads before that or a social program that got the person to do the search? You need to find the right attribution across channels, to understand the set of customer touchpoints [that led to a conversion or action].

How do you determine the value of all these different touchpoints?

There's traditional last-click attribution, which is outdated. Then you can have first-click, which is where you care only about the first impression. More effective is using a linear model where you put the same weight across each touchpoint, but as you do more analysis you might realize, that actually, the first two impressions drive more conversions. There is no cookie cutter version. You have to build out that attribution model over time.

What if the customer is hopping from device to device—say viewing a search ad on mobile, hopping to a social campaign at work, and then doing a search on a personal tablet?

If you don't have the same user ID across that journey, it's a challenge. Under that three-channel scenario we'd have our tracking and tagging in place in ads across all three channels so we understand where that user might have gone. We then align those cookies. Then we can retarget with display ads.

If you saw the display ad on a publisher's site, saw the social ad on Facebook, saw another social ad on Google, then came in through a keyword search, we can align those with tracking codes on the ad.

Each banner should have a unit tracking code applied to it, and as you push that out, we apply that unique tracking code and can follow it.

Is a tracking code a cookie?

It's a cookie.

Speaking of cookies, how do you feel about the rumors that Google might replace third-party cookies with its own technology?

Let's just say the industry has to do a better job making sure they're not abusing cooking tracking, which they aren't doing by any means. We need to make sure customers are comfortable with it though. Anonymous information is key to having a better experience. If I go to a site, I'd rather it know who I am so I can have content that matches my interests. There have been many parties working with the IAB around the ad tracking mechanism.

Won't lack of standards be a problem if everyone's developing their own ad tracking mechanisms?

The point is dead on. Google's a great partner of ours on the search side and on the display side. But they're a publisher, they make all their money on publishing, and their interest is in selling Google inventory. I want to buy the best media sources no matter where they're from. AOL is doing a lot, Yahoo is doing a lot. I want to buy any inventory source that gets the best results. I don't want to be tied down. But Adobe isn't in the media business. We're developing technology that helps our clients do this.

If Google goes through with its attempt to replace cookies, do you think it will work?

Microsoft a long time ago created Passport, which was so far ahead of its time it was unbelievable, but it was basically trying to have one ID, one Passport that knows who you are wherever you go. I'd be interested to see where Google's will go. But if I'm an ad inventory company, I don't want to just use a Google ID.

Whose job is it to educate consumers?

As far as education goes, I'm not sure whose responsibility that is. Every publisher has a privacy statement but nobody reads them. The consumer isn't interested in reading it. You see the Wall Street Journal bringing a lot of attention to cookie-based tracking, and then the Government gets involved and starts blowing things out of proportion about privacy, but most of us in the industry are good at not using PII.

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