<strong>Joshua SMITH</strong>
Joshua SMITH

Executive Trainer & Edtech Co-founder @ Coursely.eu. Head of Higher Education Partnerships & Adjunct Teacher Recruiting in France.

68. Rares Vidican on Ad Blocking Software, Creating A Digital Media Strategy & The Intricacy Of Digital Ads

Rares Vidican, Data Manager for Group MTeam Leader and Tracking and Data Manager for Group M, Rares Vidican has +5 years experience creating, tracking and managing the analytics for media plans and digital campaigns.

How does your job fit into the advertising process? My job is to manage the analytics of digital campaigns – websites, mobile, television commercials, etc. I set up, track and analyze digital, tablet and mobile campaigns.

The commercial team works with the clients to create a media plan that outlines the digital campaign budget and objective as well as the a list of all the publishers (websites, television channels, etc.) the client wants their advertising to be diffused on.

Once the media plan has been validated, we work with various agencies to create the necessary advertising formats. To do this we begin by providing the agency with the technical specifications for each digital ad format involved in the campaign.

Once all of the different ad formats have been created and sent to us, we tie all those ads into global analytics software such as Sizmek or Double Click by Google so that we can closely monitor each and every ad – impressions, clicks, resulting conversions and sales, etc.

Once everything has been integrated we send the ads to publishers, thus launching the digital campaign. A few days after the campaign has been launched we begin providing our client with the results of the campaign and improving and optimizing the campaign to ensure the ads are reaching the right people at the right place at the right time.

Ultimately, the depth of the campaign’s analytics depends on the client’s budget. There are the fixed back office costs of creating the different ad formats (video, static, traditional, commercial, etc.), tying the different ads into one analytics software, getting all those different ads up and running and then the continual process of monitoring and optimizing the campaign. Above that there are the variable costs of how much exposure the ads will receive – the number of impressions and exposure across the internet.

With redirect ads, the analytics software company actually hosts your advertising for you and generates its own tags so the brand simply has to provide the link to the tags on the advertising provider who then copy/pastes the individual tag codes and integrates the parameters automatically and directly into their platform. This option is more expensive but gives you access to a ton of useful statistics and analytics during the life of your campaign.

The other, less expensive option is to personally email the specific tag parameters as well as the advertisements to each individual advertiser’s website you want to advertise on. While this option is less expensive, you will receive less information and statistics about your campaign.

For example, if your media plan includes a skyscraper, and after a few days we notice that no impressions have been made on your skyscraper, or if the total number of impressions our analytics is showing is different than the number of impressions the publisher’s analytics are showing, this means that there must be some coding discrepancies – either on our side or on the publisher’s side that needs to be resolved.

What trends have you noticed in digital advertising? Technology is becoming more and more advanced. More and more websites and providers are being created each year. More and more people are integrating phones and tablets into their daily lives. As a result, brands are spending more and more each year in digital advertising. I don’t expect to see this slowing down any time soon.

How do brands cope with software such as Ad Block Plus? Advertising is a major component of the online business model, and even with ad blocking software I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Secondly, media plans are based on PPI (pay per impression) and PPC (pay per click) and their success are evaluated on conversion rates and percentages. If an internet user chooses to use such software, then he or she has simply eliminated themselves from the media plan’s analytics which wouldn’t have any direct monetary consequence on the media plan budget because the brand isn’t charged for ads that don’t appear. As long as the media plan is meeting its conversion rate objectives, that is what matters.

Also, it’s important to remember that many of the free services available today are free thanks to advertising. Therefore the issue with using such ad-blocking software is that it directly cuts into the revenue of the website’s business model. If that website or service provider begins losing too much money, then they’ll understandably have to adapt their business model or go out of business, which could mean having to pay for what use to be free services.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In my interview, Vivien Urtiaga, Digital Art Director speaks more about how ad blocking software affect banner advertising.]

What are a few clients you’ve worked with? Netflix, Michelin, Paramount Pictures

What are some misconceptions clients commonly have about the industry? If a brand’s media plan calls for 7 different formats, and only 4 of the 7 formats are ready, some clients don’t understand what the hold up is. We launch ads as they are ready, so in a situation where 4 out of the 7 ads have been launched and the 3 remaining ads haven’t yet been finalized, sometimes clients don’t understand why all 7 ads aren’t already live. Brands often don’t understand that each individual ad must be reworked, individually coded and corrected and the creative elements corrected. This is especially a problem when the advertising agency who created the ads sends us the 7 ads and puts the client in copy.

The back-office process. Brands tend to believe that creating the different ad formats and then integrating them into the correct analytics software is quick and easy to do. This can lead to the brand waiting and signing off on the media plan five days before their digital campaign is expected to launch rather than three weeks before the campaign is planned to launch that we requested.

Why does it take so long to prepare a digital campaign? For a few reasons:

  • Because changes to your media plan will affect all parts of the media plan.
  • Because of the back-and-forth emailing between the different publishers and organizing the ad space availabile takes time.
  • Because ad publisher don’t all use the same software. Static images in advertising are easy to implement, but moving ads and mouse-over ads aren’t so easy and universally implemented as static images. Therefore each ad format has to be specifically made to integrate with each individual publisher’s website. For example, if you’re ad will be placed on 7 different publisher’s websites, and all 7 publishers happen to be using different and incompatible software, then we are not creating one ad, we are in fact creating 7 different versions of one ad.
  • And finally, because agencies are simultaneously managing this process for several other clients.

What are the different conversion rates typically tracked? In terms of designing or purchasing pre-made landing page templates, that depends on the designers and coders you choose to work with. This also depends on your industry, your budget and your objective. With a car website, for example, there may be one conversion rate of the amount of people who click on the advertisement and arrive on the landing page (PPC). Then there may be a second conversion rate of the amount of people who fill out your form, sign up for your newsletter or purchase your product (Conversion).

Calculating your ad’s click rate versus your ad’s impression rate actually allows us to calculate the cost of converting each person. This is negotiated between the digital agency and the client in advance before we know what the actual conversion rate will be, and then re-negotiated again after the digital campaign has been launched live when we can benchmark and have a better understanding on the market. The higher the negotiated total number of conversions, such as having a consumer purchase your product, then the agency will most likely require that it is them who build your landing page.

What are a few of your favorite advertising campaigns?

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? Like I said before, there are the fixed back office costs of creating the different ad formats, however there are ways of lowering these fixed costs by decreasing the amount of different ad formats you use, limiting the depth of analytics you collect and creating simpler ads; but all fixed costs ultimately cut into your variable costs – the money you spend in buying impressions.

Built into your contract is a minimum-number of clicks you will receive during your campaign. This means that if, for example, you negotiated 1000 conversions (the amount of people who click on your advertisement and then fill out an online form or make a purchase) and after your total budget has been spent you only obtained 800 conversions, then the agency will continue to run your ad at their expense until your contractual 1000 conversions has been fulfilled, or we will work with you on a future campaign. So on a budget, perhaps you might be able to negotiate this minimum performance in your contract.

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