As someone who has spent an entire career working for advertising-supported digital media companies, I have spent more hours than I care to think about creating spreadsheets to answer questions. Why did our CPM go down this month? Did that campaign actually perform worse after we layered on an audience segment? What is our currently discrepancy rate on the Geico campaign? If we don’t increase traffic for the rest of the month, how much revenue is at risk of under-delivery? Typically, these questions would arise and I or someone on my team would go hunt down the answer. We would pull together the relevant data, get our answer, take action and move on. Eventually, we would get sick enough of answering the same question over and over that we would create a template or regularly updated report from which to view the data. More often than not these reports were created in Excel or more recently in Google Sheets.
This is a scenario that plays out across nearly every publisher, regardless of size. Many small to mid sized publishers will employ a full time individual who’s only job is to manually export and import data each day/week/month. Some large publishers invest in BI tools that purport to make all of their data available at their fingertips. I have seen organizations employ a full time individual just to manage the chosen BI tool, their responsibilities ranging from initial configuration to internal advocacy and troubleshooting. Unfortunately, these tools can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and were not built specifically for digital publishers. Inherent to this is a lack of understanding about how complex gathering and visualizing data for these companies truly is.
For direct-sell publishers, key KPIs include pacing, discrepancy comparisons, performance (CTR, viewability, interactions), fraud rates and more. This requires an association between their own adserver and any number of 3rd party adservers and systems. The fact that Google has a monopoly position for adservers for both publishers and advertisers doesn’t actually make this process any simpler. The most important thing for these companies is knowing that their campaigns are going to deliver in full by the contracted end date and that they are performing well throughout the flight.
For programmatic publishers, many of which also sell direct campaigns, the situation can be even more complex. There may be upwards of several dozen different systems from which data must be exported. Each of these data sources has a different label for the same parameter. Some will have APIs or allow for scheduling of automated reports. Others require that you log in and export the data directly from their system. There is typically at least one partner that doesn’t even have a UI from which to export data, their only solution being to manually send regular reports via email.
For years I have dreamed about building a publisher-specific dashboarding tool. Finally, that solution is here and we are calling it inSITE. This platform was built specifically for digital media companies based on decades of experience. Most critically, we understand that a one-size-fits-all solution, which is a requirement for most BI platforms in order to allow for scale, simply does not work. There are always going to be new data sources. The process of ingesting data is going to break when APIs change or automated reports expire. Different companies focus on different KPIs. This is why each dashboard is custom built from the ground up based on customer inputs and maintained directly by our team. Our legacy as an outsourcing and consulting business provides a logical foundation for delivering a world class product to each of our clients. We are able to address issues quickly. We can create new views easily. No more “feature requests” and long development cycles.
If this is a problem you or someone on your team faces, you are not alone. We would love to help. Click here to get in touch and schedule a demo.