5 Questions Advertisers Should Ask Their Media Agency to Safeguard Budget

August 22, 2014

Savvy advertisers want to be certain their media agencies are delivering the best ‘bang for buck’. The sheer volume of data available about our digital ad buys, consumer behavior and the results achieved makes it possible to do that. Unfortunately, all that data can come with a downside – it can also get confusing and be used to report in so many and varied formats that it becomes important for advertisers to know the right questions to ask of their media agency to really be able to check that their budget is working optimally. In light of continuing and disturbing levels of ad fraud – a recent study by Comscore reported that 54% of display ads shown in thousands of campaigns between May 2012 and February 2013 never appeared in front of a human being – the ability to assess exactly what your budget is getting you, becomes even more important.
Based on my experience in the industry and discussions with so many publishers I’ve lost count, here are the five questions you should ask your media agency to find out if you’re getting the very best from your budget:

1) How accurate is your attribution tracking?
As an advertiser, you likely have several key performance indicators to help you measure your campaign’s success. If your media agency cannot identify where each of the desirable actions originated, i.e. which site, which creative, etc generated which activity, you’ll be spending far more than you need to meet your campaign’s KPIs. If your agency can accurately attribute results, they can cut any underperforming options and direct the budget only toward the ads and the publishers that work, eliminating wastage of your hard won budget.

2) How are you protecting my brand from click and impression fraud?
Unfortunately, fraud is rampant and relatively unchecked in the digital ad industry – many publishers, buyers and advertisers remain unaware of the level of fraud at play in their campaigns. There is an ongoing industry debate about where responsibility to remedy this growing fraud lies, but while the industry hashes that one out, your agency can help protect you from the threat of fraudulent clicks and the resulting lost dollars. Agencies should be working with trusted, tier 1 publishers and insisting on viewability metrics from publishers, which prevent them from knowingly, or unknowingly, passing off fraudulent traffic as the real deal. Ask for details of how your agency is dealing with ad fraud and if they can’t provide them to you – be afraid for your ad-spend.

3) Is my brand’s creative maximizing its return?
It’s important for both the advertiser and the media agency to really know how to focus on the intention of the campaign. Time and again, I hear of agencies and clients getting lost in the creation of beautiful creative that does not deliver the required results. I’m not saying creative that drives results can’t also be beautiful, just try not to get so blinded by the ad’s attractiveness that you can’t see its worth in terms of results. Ask for metrics, no matter how pretty the package.

4) How frequently is my campaign being measured and optimized?
A good agency should be constantly measuring the key metrics of your campaign and making changes to optimize the campaign based on the data it receives, in real time. If your agency only measures results at the end of your campaign run, it’s time to re-evaluate.

5) Are you generating my target Return on Ad Spend?
Remember when you first met with your media agency – you had expectations, did they made promises? Check in regularly on your results and hold your agency to the ROAS you agreed upon. Agencies should be proud of their work and their results, if they are not regularly communicating to you about the results they’re delivering, pin them down and get that all important information frequently.

Jonathan David is Founder & CEO of California-based Tapstone, a proven digital media buying and optimization platform that leverages the perfect blend of proprietary data analysis, automated technology and human expertise to deliver results-driven campaigns at scale. For more information visit: http://tapstone.com