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There May Be More Media Waste in Your Campaign Than You Think

  |  July 16, 2013   |  Comments

To avoid media waste, be sure to balance your network partners, limit your retargeting partners, look for transparency, and include ad verification for each network partner.

Do you know that you could be wasting as much as $200,000 on your $1 million media buy when you run on multiple ad networks? Integral Ad Science (formally AdSafe) does.

In its Q3-Q4 2012 review of the ad marketplace, it found that up to 20 percent of impressions purchased through multiple ad networks tend to be duplicated. To break it down further:

  • 13.9 percent of ads served were found to simultaneously show up with one other ad from the campaign.
  • Meanwhile, 5.2 percent of ads served were found to show up with three or more ads.

So how do you avoid this in your media buy? Here are four key considerations to help you:

Balance Your Network Partners

The first step in avoiding duplication and wasted media spend is to limit the number of ad networks and demand-side platform partners on your media buy. While testing different vendors will forever remain important, try to limit testing to one or two network partners at a time. Limiting the number of partners will help you build in more control over the media buy.

For example, if you are running a test between two demand-side platforms, consider turning on and off exchanges within each partner to avoid bidding against yourself. This will not only cut down on duplication, but it will also give you insight into which exchanges may perform better for your client.

Limit Your Retargeting Partners

In addition to limiting your network partners, it's also important to limit your retargeting partners. The more vendors that you have reaching into your retargeting pool, the more likely you are to compete against yourself. A cookie pool is only so large, which means that ad control, especially in terms of frequency, becomes even greater. Use a single retargeting partner to set and manage frequency in order to maximize efficiency and performance.

Look for Transparency

The easiest way to understand duplication in your campaign is to understand where your ads are running. Consider open networks versus closed networks and demand-side platforms that have self-service logins. Transparency in your media buy will also provide valuable insights to inform your direct media buys as well.

Include Ad Verification for Each Network Partner

Third-party ad verification will not only help to ensure that media vendors are following the rules set forth in the insertion order, but it will also help provide further transparency into your media buy. Whether you choose to use Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify, or one of the other vendors out there, each one has the capability to provide greater insight into where your ads are actually showing up to help manage duplication. When planning your media buy, consider setting aside budget for one of these vendors, or negotiating it in as added value.

While duplication is a large concern for most advertisers, careful attention to the details of each network during planning, followed by frequent optimization changes throughout the campaign, will help mitigate the issue and cut down on the overall waste in media spend.

Electronic Waste image on home page via Shutterstock.

This column was originally published on February 26, 2013.


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Leah Block

As Media Supervisor for Overdrive Interactive in Boston, Leah is responsible for strategy development and campaign execution for a multitude of clients, spanning across various industry verticals. Her expertise is founded on numerous integrated roles, where she has been responsible for both traditional planning of print and out-of-home media as well as digital tactics including display, mobile, social, and paid search. Over the course of her career, she has serviced clients who were strictly focused on building brand equity as well as those focused on meeting aggressive direct response goals.

Leah is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a M.A. in advertising. She launched her career at MediaCom Interaction, New York.

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