Why a Full-Service Agency Shouldn’t Manage Your Real-Time Bidding Campaigns

  |  April 10, 2014   |  Comments

Full-service agencies aren't set up to effectively manage real-time bidding (RTB) technology. To get the most out of RTB, you need a specialist agency.

For years the traditional display and media buying model served as the only option for online advertisers wanting to reach a wider display audience. This model included a portfolio of large-scale, bulk buys with major publishers (i.e. $20,000 worth of impressions for a banner on the homepage of The New York Times).

The problem with this model was that it was inefficient - it didn't allow the advertiser to focus their investment on the impressions or users that were valuable to them and therefore made it difficult to reach the return on investment (ROI) or cost per acquisition that they wanted from their campaigns.

Real-time bidding (RTB) then hurtled into the mainstream for both branding and direct-response advertisers. In the last few years the emphasis has changed to tangible, transparent results and a guarantee that a client's most relevant audience would be targeted.

This demand and technology required a specialist and mathematically optimized approach to be successful. This results in a new type of account management. Unfortunately for full-service agencies, this was not indicatively aligned with their approach to managing an advertisement portfolio. A background in only direct-buy advertising and traditional display models doesn't suit a performance-focused, optimized model, where each targeted user is considered in relation to their value to a client.

In a digital market that is fighting for return on investment, clarity, and greater insight to multi-channel attribution, each channel requires a specialist to be managing performance. Therefore the "one size fits all" approach of traditional media buying will not fulfill this demand.

This consideration covers all areas of real-time bidding or display account management. It starts from day one, where a full singular setup for RTB is required to ensure that your campaigns:

  • Engage with your company and its goals
  • Have a strategy for at least the first three months work including targets and optimizations

It is also vital that a specialist agency:

  • Speak with key members of your organization to gain additional insight
  • Complete a thorough setup 

You are investing your media budget in real-time bidding, so for this investment to be successful your agency must invest its time in your company. It's no good telling you your ads will be live in a few days because a few straightforward direct buys of website inventory can be made. Performance-driven display advertising just isn't that simple anymore - and for good reason!

There should be a team of people working on real-time bidding and display individually within your agency. They should, of course, be communicating with other teams to understand the effect of display on other channels, but the final decisions regarding targeting, statistical optimization, and audience refinement should come from a specialist. It isn't advisable for your account manager to also be handling all of your other media buying - i.e. PPC, SEO, and TV - on their own. You won't receive the attention or specialist skill-set that your accounts deserves.

RTB is the best option available to if you if you are looking to increase the return from your media spend. However, you will only achieve optimum results with a mathematical approach that includes testing, re-testing, evaluating, and basing decisions on the statistics and data that is available.

Real-time bidding provides a fantastic opportunity for advertisers to achieve the sort of CPAs, ROIs, and branding results never before possible with the traditional display advertising buying model. This opportunity should not be missed due to archaic advertising strategies and a lack of specialist knowledge.

Sponsored content in collaboration with Search Laboratory.

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