In my new role leading our expanded Performance team, I’ve recently been working to optimize our network against performance metrics by shifting our publisher allocation in a way that’s quite different than how we’ve previously optimized supply. As we’ve been diving deeper into performance tracking, we’ve seen an interesting correlation between publisher brand and direct response metrics. Not surprising, some of the best publisher brands online have placements that perform extremely well against our client’s metrics of success, which many times is click-based. A number of these publishers also have placements that score quite differently against these same metrics. So what’s the difference between placements? Well, lots; site layout, frequency, priority in the publisher’s queue, and content adjacencies are just a few factors that can cause significant variance in performance. What is interesting is that some of the placements which typically do not perform well from a click perspective still demand high pricing from publishers. This could mean that marketers are buying these placements at scale because they understand the value of delivering an impression against great content on a branded publisher, to an engaged user, regardless of how infrequently users actually click. Or, maybe publishers are simply using lots of the lower performing inventory as value-add for their directly sold deals – restricting supply and driving price based on scarcity.
We don’t have all the details to claim we know what the answer is, yet. However, throughout 2011 we’ll dive deeper into network optimization from this and several other aspects, and will report against the correlation between campaign brand-lift and publisher brand. We’re aiming to analyze the effects publisher brand has on campaign performance, showing to what extent media matters in an industry that can sometimes place too much priority on who, and not where, a marketing message is delivered.