Stop Wasting Spend: Ad Networks

In 2017, digital ad spend topped $209 billion worldwide, finally beating TV ad spend. In 2018, digital is set to grow another 17%. Yet, every year we see studies pointing to the billions of dollars of wasted ad spend.

In fact, according to a study by Proxima, up to 60% of ad spend is wasted. This statistic should frighten any CMO and light a fire under every digital ad manager out there. But uncovering where that wasted spend is can be difficult. These insights are often deep within reporting layers and hidden from view.

It is been my experience, many times  this data can make all the difference for long term success. So I’m on a mission to uncover this hidden data. Knowing where & how to look for it is the first step. Through our hundreds of audits, we’ve uncovered some common areas for wasted spend. The first area is spending on Inefficient Networks which can cost advertisers over 50% of their budget.

Spending on Inefficient Networks

Google, Facebook, Bing & LinkedIn networks can include placements on their own property but also a broad network of sites & apps. These broad networks are included by default which often leads to a significant amount of wasted spend by unsuspecting advertisers.

Search Partners

On average the search partners network performs at a 280% HIGHER cost per lead than Google Search for our clients. And when we look at our clients back end CRM data, these leads also convert to MQL & closed opportunity at a far lower rate than Google Search.  And yet, most advertisers aren’t fully maximizing their impression share on Google Search.

Every advertiser should be aware of their CPA for Google Search vs Search Partners and same with Bing & Bing Partners. Brand keywords perform entirely differently so its important to view this data at a campaign level. To do this:

  1. Visit the campaigns tab
  2. Add “search impression share” and “cost/conv” as columns to the report
  3. Segment your campaign data by “network (with search partners)”

If you’re cost/conversion is lower on Google Search than on Search Partners, check to see if you are maximizing your impression share on Google Search for that campaign. If you’re not, you’re wasting budget that could be going towards more impressions on Google Search.

In the example below, the client’s campaign was spending $19K on Google Search and a $104 CPL. But were spending $2K on Search Partners for a $157 CPL. In this case, the advertiser should cut Search Partners and reinvest the $2K into better performing Google Search only.

In-App Advertising

On average, in-app advertising converts 46% lower than regular display ads for our clients. Many times we’ll audit campaigns where the advertiser believes they aren’t advertising at all in apps. But time and time again, we see in-app advertising take a significant portion of an advertisers display campaign.

To find out if you’re wasting budget on in-app advertising follow these steps:

  1. Run an automated placements report for Google’s Display Network
  2. Filtering for placements containing “mobileapp:” to view cost/conv for mobile app campaigns
  3. Now filter again for placements that do not contain “mobileapp:” to view cost/conv for non-mobile app campaigns

If your cost/conversion for non-mobile app campaigns is lower than simply remove your ads in the settings area of your display campaign.

Audience network

We have yet to see strong performance on Facebooks Audience Network for our direct response advertisers. Its inexpensive traffic so many advertisers choose to use it for awareness/traffic driving campaigns. But when it comes to direct response, conversion rates & cost per conversion are underwhelming at best.

Below is a pretty typical example. The bulk of the budget is being spent on audience network yet, the Audience Network has one of the highest costs per lead. Much of that spend could be reinvested into more newsfeed or right hand rail advertising and cut the CPL down by at least 50%.

To find out if you’re over spending on the Audience Network, simply breakdown your Facebook ad data by “platform.” Compare the audience network cost/conversion against Desktop Newsfeed and Right Hand Rail, Instagram Newsfeed and Messenger. If any show a high cost/conversion with a significant spend, you should reinvest that money towards a better performing platform.

There’s certainly a time and a place for these broader networks but they shouldn’t be left on by default. Instead, there should be a strategic & calculated reason for advertising on search partners, in-app and audience networks. Simply turning off these ‘default’ platforms & shifting budget to the better performing platforms has improved cost/lead by 40% or more. So dig deep into the data and avoid wasting valuable budget.