Stuart Moncada, vice president of product management at Ad-Juster, considers the key factors to consider when evaluating competing programmatic analytics solutions.
Programmatic is a big deal. Over the past decade, programmatic technology and operations have evolved at a lightning-fast pace, and revenue is expected to continue its 19.3 per cent growth rate through 2023.
Publishers selling ads programmatically work with and test out a variety of demand partners and deal structures in order to optimize programmatic revenue. In fact, a recent industry survey found that over 66 per cent of publishers are using more than three programmatic partners, and over 86 per cent are attempting to manage their data and reporting manually, or with custom in-house solutions.
To manage all this activity, ad ops teams need to pull data from each different platform they work with and then attempt to stitch all these data sets together. This can be a Herculean effort if publishers attempt to do this manually or with multiple BI tools. There’s chasing logins; double-checking query parameters; borrowing internal IT resources to build temporary solutions; running super-advanced yet marginally-reliable Excel calculations; and finally porting data between multiple programs to run visualizations and analysis.
In this workflow, there’s a large disconnect between data source and final analysis, which makes it a tough process to audit – if further questions or issues come up and more granularity is needed, the entire process must be repeated. Consequently, publishers spend valuable time, effort, and resources on manual data gathering and cleansing, instead of focusing on identifying new revenue sources and optimizing programmatic yield.
As the programmatic market expands, so too do the offerings for programmatic reporting and analytics. Streamlined reporting solutions can drastically improve the quality of data-driven insights, while saving time and resources. But what should publishers look for in a programmatic solution? Here are a few key elements…
Designed to handle advertising data
The surest way to guarantee that you are using the best product for your business is to seek out and utilize tools that are designed to suit your needs out of the box. For publishers, this means finding a SaaS solution from a vendor that understands advertising data and has done the research upfront to determine how data connects across various programmatic vendors. Specialized media-data centred products will offer features that more generalized BI tools may not be able to accommodate, and will be able to keep up with industry-specific changes that may impact your programmatic connections.
So, what does this look like in practice? An ideal solution will provide automated data collection from multiple systems. Many BI tools offer this functionality, but one of the biggest benefits of a media-specific solution is field normalization without the need for manual mapping, and the ability to work around vendor data limits on things like rows, columns, and metrics so you can pull data from your partners with as much granularity as you need.
When you eliminate the time and resources it takes to manually gather, normalize, and map data, and replace it with an automated and auditable process, you can dramatically increase the quality and reliability of your data, thus improving your insights and yield performance. You can expect to see an increase in fill rates; an uplift in total revenue associated with using media-specific tools to automate and individuate your business’s programmatic data analytics; and significant savings in labor. For example, a client that does just under $4m/year in programmatic revenue saw productivity increase by about 35 per cent, which saved $204,000 annually, by switching to an automated intelligent analytics platform, ProgrammaticIQ.
Media-specific, combined with powerful data analysis
Ad industry insiders know the power of effective images (especially when viewed next to a spreadsheet), which is why data visualization tools like Looker and Tableau have been so broadly adopted across the industry for analysis. Visual analysis is accessible, understandable, and can help you spot issues faster – but manually collecting, cleaning, and porting your data into those tools can really slow you down. So when you are choosing your data solution, it’s important to consider not only how well it pulls and gathers, but also how powerful the analytics tools are.
Consider a solution that allows you to easily adapt your data into presentable, attention-grabbing visualizations and dashboards. This will jumpstart your analysis, but remember this is only one part of the picture. You also want the ability to intuitively interact with your visualizations and share them across your company for deeper analysis.
Furthermore, when using a reporting tool that handles both data collection and analysis, the visuals are built on fresh data, direct from your demand partners. When you need to know more, you can drill down from the visualization into granular, row-level data. With this type of end-to-end reporting solution, you can answer questions as quickly as you can think of them.
Using powerful visual tools to analyze your data can take your reporting to a higher level, and you shouldn’t have to slog through spreadsheets and master manual data manipulation to get it. Find a programmatic data solution that does the hard work for you, so your company can focus on what it does best.
A customizable solution that scales with your business
Refining a successful strategy in digital advertising requires diligence. There’s constant testing, tracking, and measurement of various strategies across different channels. The ability to quickly and easily transect your data and investigate unique queries is crucial to validating successes or failures. But no two companies have exactly the same needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Generic BI tools have limitations on how you use and view your data, while homegrown solutions can be unwieldy and take time to onboard, integrate, and maintain.
You want your programmatic data solution to provide flexibility in how you view and use your own data. In general, the more you’re able to customize data, reporting, and dashboards to your business, the deeper you are able to dive into your programmatic operations. An ideal solution would be one that allows you to take control of your data by easily incorporating custom formulas and calculations. Choosing a single platform that allows for self-configuration of data can help you fine tune your analytics and answer questions specific to your business on the fly.
By utilizing a tool with a full range of custom options and flexible reporting capabilities, you stand to gain deeper insight into how your business functions, allowing you to identify the right optimizations and channel strategies to achieve your highest ROI.
Evaluating your business needs and deciding to implement new processes or technology can seem overwhelming. We hope by keeping this guide in mind, you can make decisions about your programmatic analytics with confidence.
Have additional questions about your reporting and analytics needs? Contact Us!