Lisa is an experienced and meticulous media buyer at Agency X. She knows media buying best practices and her clients’ guidelines by heart. She manages dozens, and sometimes hundreds during busy season, campaigns daily and she never makes any mistakes.
OK, this is not a real story, and Lisa does not exist (maybe she will a few years from now as a robot). In reality, no matter how experienced and how careful media buyers are, errors happen, even very often, on agency side and on brand side alike.
Maybe not all of us have been there, but at least we have all heard of it – that someone forgot to put a symbol or a letter in the campaign name and oops the performance was not properly tracked, or that someone mistook the creative for 4th of July in a Labor Day campaign and this ad ended up being delivered on the boss’ or the client’s Facebook News Feed. Or worse yet, the type of mistake that makes everyone gasp and cringe: an end date was forgotten on a campaign that ran on a 4 digit daily budget and the campaign went on and on for a few weeks more… Ouch.
Errors do happen, no matter how hard media buyers try. Today media buying budget is growing exponentially year over year with more and more campaigns on the fly. At the same time, there are countless ad buying platforms and tracking solutions emerging with increasingly complex features and UIs.
Internal media buyers on the brand’s side already need to master major native ad buying platforms (Facebook, Google, TikTok, etc) plus a few internal tracking and analytics tools. And the situation for their counterparts on the agency’s side is likely even worse. On top of native ad buying platforms, they are sometimes required to use whatever 3rd party ad buying / analytics technology decided by their clients. With multiple clients in each media buyer’s portfolio, it is the harsh reality that a media buyer in some agencies must deal with 6-7 different ad tech platforms on a daily basis.
And let’s not forget the high turnover rate among the media buyers. The frequent change of media buying staff results in loss of media buying knowledge and constant waiting for the new hires to ramp up, which is also the most vulnerable time frame for human errors to occur.
With such growing challenges, trying to minimize media buying errors is nothing new. Besides extensive use of excel sheets and project management solutions, certain jobs positions have been created over the years for almost the sole purpose of media buying quality control. In most media buying powerhouses, there are Analysts who handle campaign creation, Specialists who deal with campaign optimization, Supervisors who oversee if everything is properly set up and going well across all campaigns, and Trading Directors who are in charge of putting media buying processes and best practices in place, which usually involves countless online and offline trainings.
That said, many tips are available to minimize media buying errors. As a passionate ad tech advocate, we are going to skip through the everyday tips such as “always double check” or “an espresso always helps!”. Instead, we are going to provide some thoughts from the ad tech perspective.
1. Automatic rules
Most of the native and 3rd party ad buying platforms have evolved enough over the years to provide a decent selection of automatic rules to play/pause the status of the campaigns and to adjust bid value based on certain performance KPIs or external triggers such as weather. While it may take time to set up these automatic rules and most of these rules are for the purpose of performance improvement rather than minimizing operational errors, we believe it’s still relevant for media buyers to look into the automation and A.I. part of the ad buying platforms to stay current. Who knows, you may find just the automation rules that you need.
2. Alert platforms
Different from automatic rules, alert platforms are 3rd-party platforms that trigger alerts based on both performance and operation-related metrics from various media buying channels. They have become more and more popular these days, reflecting the increasing need for more control and fewer mistakes in media buying. According to our sources, both brands and agencies are constantly looking for and testing these alert-based technologies, from brand new tech start ups to internally developed solutions.
Even though alert systems may be able to address a good chunk of the problems, our sources do express some of their concerns. First and foremost, it is the fact that an alert platform is… well, another platform. For marketers that are already juggling with a bunch of platforms on a daily basis, one more platform on top of the big pile sometimes means undesired learning curve and nuances, even if the new platform does its job.
And then, let’s not forget the nature of alerts. An alert happens when something is wrong. That means whatever error that is causing that alert, the error is already there and it already happened, and a media buyer must react ASAP within a short time frame to correct it. For a critical sales campaign, that short time frame might be equivalent to a few thousand dollars already out of the window. In our opinion, alert platforms are more like safety nets – they catch the operational errors just fine, but you have got to be the one to relocate the errors and make remedies.
Familiar with the pros and cons of automatic rules and alert systems, Grasp wants to do things differently.
- Operation first: while most of the ad techs are around performance, Grasp tackles first the operational aspect of media trading. It’s about control, about governance, about transparence, and about minimizing media buying errors. If you are talking about fixating a naming convention, or enforcing an end date or a certain budget type across all of your campaigns, well, we are on the same page.
- Ninja-styled native integration: no more learning curve or another platform for the already-very-busy media buyers. Grasp integrates directly with the native and 3rd party ad buying platforms, and seamlessly guides media buyers through the campaign creation process with pre-defined best practices and hard guidelines. Unless a media buyer is doing something contradictory to the guidelines, they probably won’t even notice that Grasp is there. Yes, we are just like a ninja.
- Nip errors in the bud: remedies are helpful, but we prefer to nip any potential media buying errors directly in the bud. Thanks to our ninja-styled native integration, we detect in real time every selection a media buyer makes during the campaign creation process and anything that does not comply with the guidelines will be flagged. When we talk about minimizing media trading errors, you have no idea how much we mean it.
Interested? Contact the Grasp team today to learn more.