5 Tips for Performance Advertisers

“Working directly with mobile publishers can lift your bottom line.” —Brian Mikalis, SVP of Monetization and Mid-Market Sales, Pandora

It’s no secret to performance advertisers—particularly mobile app and game producers—that the advertising ecosystem has grown incredibly complex. That complexity has driven advertisers to turn to agencies, DSPs, ad networks and exchanges to help them simplify their ad buys.

The problem? Your marketing dollars can get diluted across these partners, making your ad dollars less effective. This dilution has been called the “technology tax.” One recent study from AOL showed that for every ad dollar spent through these partners, approximately $.55 – $.75 is taken by the intermediaries, and only $.25 – $.45 gets spent on the media. As an advertiser, you want every dollar to carry as much weight as possible with the publisher, so you can access the best audience, targeting capabilities and inventory. Publishers are set up to run the advertisers that generate the highest rate, so working directly with the publisher provides the advertiser more buying power.

Working closely with publishers can help get you get more bang for your ad buck. But, I’m often asked, how do you go about it? What are the some effective strategies for ensuring the best return on your investment?

Well, here are five tips for doing just that.

#1: Optimize, optimize, optimize—Should you trust a network, an exchange or a technology partner’s “black box” to optimize your campaigns on your behalf? I would say that you as an advertiser should know what’s being done to make sure your campaign is being optimized correctly. You need to understand what your publishers and network partners are doing and how they’re optimizing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They’re your ad dollars, after all. When you understand what they’re doing you can then be a more active participant—and you can help optimize more effectively. At Pandora, we optimize using various frequency caps, by audience segment, by geography, by time of day and day of the week as well as by creative. Getting involved in optimization may seem like a little extra work, but it will be worth it.

#2: Get creative—I’ve been working with performance-focused advertisers for over 14 years. By optimizing creative down to the audience segment level, you can significantly improve the performance of your campaigns. Good creative is cheap to produce relative to its benefits, and can make a huge difference. The important take-away here is that all aspects of your creative matter—right down to the copy you use. Whether you say “tap here” or “install now” can mean the difference between “pretty good” and “great!” Color, contrast, the size of your buttons—these will all affect your ad’s performance. Play around with different combinations based on what you know about your audience and then test, test, test like there’s no tomorrow. At Pandora, we work closely with performance advertisers like you to get the best results by offering to build creative, or making suggestions on how to get the most out of your creative based on data-driven historical learning.

#3: Target and segment—In an ideal world, we’d all know everything about our customers and be able to find as many as possible, right at the starting line. With mobile, that’s not always possible. Data on mobile is not as consistent as it is in the PC world. Most mobile publishers and networks do not have data on their audience to use for targeting; many do their best job to infer that a user falls into a certain targeting category. At Pandora, we have registration data on all of our users, and we can use it to target against age, gender, zip code and even a listener’s action such as they “thumb up” a song, or by their interest in, say, a particular music genre. Of course, you should use all the data you can that makes sense. When you find a winning segment, run with it. But, as with creative, you need to continually test, as the data will change, and it will change fast.

#4: Acquire users with high lifetime value—Back in another lifetime, performance advertisers, especially those in the app and gaming space, were interested in buying impressions. Then it was clicks. Then installs. Today it’s installs by users who drive high value over the course of the user’s life cycle. At Pandora, we’re doing everything we can to support that kind of tracking because, hey, it’s in our interest as well as yours. The key is understanding the delta between the cost of the install and the quality of the user, which varies a lot from network to network and publisher to publisher.

#5: Track and attribute—Last and certainly not least, this should be the #1 priority for advertisers focused on ROI. You need to make sure that you have a solution that tracks and attributes installs to the right partner. Tracking and attribution is complicated, but a deep understanding of how to get it right is crucial for your success. At Pandora, we’ve been hard at work integrating with all of the partners that track installs for app developer performance advertisers, and can help you understand this complex ecosystem, and benefit from it.

To learn more about how you can benefit from performance advertising on Pandora, contact your Pandora Sales rep or visit us at advertising.pandora.com.