The importance of Ad server Benchmark reporting
The urge to look over a friends shoulder in an exam is not always to cheat but rather to check that your answers look right. Third party ad server benchmark reporting takes campaigns results from all Advertisers that are opted in, to aggregate those results. Results are broken by country to make them more relevant to analysts. This mass aggregation allows Advertisers to see which sites, placements and formats are the most effective before running such activity themselves. The aggregation is fully anonymous so that it is not possible to determine the source of the data by analysing the results. This would normally be possible if an Advertiser from a particular vertical was the only Advertiser in that vertical to either be utilising a particular Publisher or be saturating digital advertising in a particular market.
To make the data more relevant, ad serving providers compartmentalise the results by Advertiser marketing vertical so that Advertisers in the Financial vertical can see how well 300×250 expandable ads may perform as a CTR on specific section of a specific Publisher site based on the benchmarking results from the previous year. Conversion rate data is also available, but since conversion tags can be used on all manner of Advertiser pages, the ad server will group together all conversion tags labelled as “sales tags” to determine aggregate conversion rates.
Typically ad serving providers will offer benchmark data at a very high level to all Advertisers and Agencies using its interface while offering deeper insights to a different set of benchmark data aggregated by specialist opt-in Advertisers and Agencies, who only get deeper insights by offering up more of their own data to the pool. These deeper levels of collaboration are tricky to operate, they require a blanket level of consensus among all participants which in practice is complicated to maintain. Some participants to the data set may feel that they are giving away more than they are getting back and convincing contributors that there is universal fair access is challenging to prove, especially if Advertisers differ in size. To provide a fair balance, there is usually a minimum contribution requirement for reporting. This can mean that despite the huge amount of data available in ad server reporting, the benchmark report may display blank results where only one Advertiser in a country has any ad serving data for a 300×250 expandable ad on a specific Publisher site.
Advertiser Specific Benchmarks
Large Advertisers and Agencies also generate such benchmark reporting outside of the ad server, by feeding their ad serving data into a separate reporting system where they can layer in cost data and more specific performance data. The cost data would also be a record of what was paid previously to determine which sites, placements and formats that are the most cost effective for their expected performance. Such benchmarking information would likely feed directly into an Agency or Advertiser planning tool or Agency trading desk to better inform the planning and buying process.
This data is not just useful for future planning but also to compare with existing performance to check that the campaign is on track. Numbers reported to be an improvement on the benchmark are a positive story for the Agency analyst who can use the benchmark to set expectations with the Advertiser or marketer for the reported results.
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