Katelyn Watson, senior manager of online marketing at photo sharing and storage site Shutterfly, knows her way around display. She spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher to share insights into how Shutterfly leverages channels to meet campaign goals.
eMarketer: In using display to generate awareness and drive direct response, what are your main display advertising objectives and how do you measure them?
Katelyn Watson: From an awareness perspective, we look at lift in purchase intent, number of engagements within an ad unit or a video—more top-of-funnel metrics.
Lower in the funnel, with direct response, we look for clickthrough rate and engagement rate, but the ultimate goal is always driving to a cost per new customer, which is our way of saying a cost per action.
eMarketer: Based on these two main objectives, are some ad techniques more efficient than others in driving direct response or brand awareness?
Watson: We focus on almost every channel within online display media, so we are using everything from direct, high-cost, CPM-based publishers all the way down to retargeting with the ad exchanges. In the middle, we’re purchasing a lot of inventory from ad networks. Each channel has a different objective and offers a different type of inventory.
eMarketer: How do you allocate your spending across these objectives?
Watson: The majority of our budget goes to those more direct-response channels, which include ad exchanges, ad networks and Facebook.
Within that, about half goes to real-time bidding inventory on the exchanges. We use one DSP [demand-side platform] to buy across all the exchanges, and we consider most of that as the retargeting inventory.
The rest of the budget is used to build that retargeting pool by driving people to our website through brand awareness with more high-impact placements, like video and rich media.
eMarketer: Let’s talk about Facebook. What can you tell me about how you’re using it?
Watson: Everyone’s on Facebook. The way it performs and the pricing model they have with their marketplace ads make it like another direct-response channel. This has been interesting from a planning perspective, because it’s a newer channel to us and we’ve had to figure out how to fund it. We’ve been finding incremental dollars and taking a little bit from our CPA-measured channels, like the ad networks.
eMarketer: At any given time, how many ad networks are you working with?
Watson: Five to 10.
eMarketer: And how do you choose which ad networks to work with?
Watson: Ad networks can be a dime a dozen, but if an ad network can bring to the table a great idea, if their technology is compatible with ours, and if we’re able to use their data or ‘secret sauce’ to accomplish a different goal or do something different, we’re willing to give it a try.
eMarketer: What do you like best and least about ad networks?
Watson: Ad networks are doing the work now that, in the past, agencies would have taken on. They’re much more strategic, and we’ve seen that a lot of networks have pretty strong capabilities around driving brand awareness. So, we’ve started using some of the networks for more brand awareness-focused media. You can really get high-quality, premium inventory across thousands of sites without having to do a lot of work.
What I like the least is there are just too many of them and there is so much employee turnover. You always seem to be working with someone new who is just getting up to speed.
eMarketer: What has your experience been like using a DSP?
Watson: We’re a pretty lean team, and we wanted the capability to real-time bid across all the exchanges. DSPs allow us to do that and also provide 100% full-service management. p>
DSPs have saved us a ton of time in not only getting up to speed on exchanges and how they work, but also the day-to-day execution and selection of data sets and reporting.
eMarketer: What advice do you have for marketers looking to implement a winning display strategy?
Watson: Make sure that each channel you use serves a distinct purpose. Also, make sure that you’re able to de-dupe your audiences across all channels by using a single ad server. p>
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other article, “Social Media Marketing Brings New Revenues, Customers.”
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