business woman shaking hands and choosing a digital ad partner

For independent agencies working with small and mid-sized clients, choosing a digital ad partner can be a tough nut to crack. In-house buyers and digital marketers have to keep up with constantly changing technology in order to know how to optimize their ad presence for the greatest impact — and then, they have to spend valuable time comparing stand-alone reports and analytics to share those results with the client!

At some point, you realized you needed more . . . more time . . . more expertise . . . more value-add from a partner who gets it. An RFP probably got plenty of vendors knocking on your door with slick brochures and colorful slide decks, but how do you know which one is the right partner for your company? After the umpteenth proposal, are they are all starting to sound the same?

Before you let the next potential partner leave your conference room, consider asking a few questions that get at the heart of how they are different. Cut through the noise and get to what really matters in choosing a digital ad partner, with these five questions you may not have thought to ask before:

1. Are they staffed appropriately to support your business?

Integrating all of your systems and data to work together efficiently is not simple — let alone the day-to-day research, reporting, optimization and account management that’s necessary to keep your clients happy. You’ve already found out you need more than a one-person show running your campaigns behind the curtain. So when choosing a digital ad partner, don’t forget to ask what their support-to-client ratio is to get an idea of the breadth of expertise that will actually be available to your agency. Ask how many years’ experience their average trader has for a quick over/under comparison between vendors. Inquire about who specifically will be dedicated to your business. Then, follow up to find out how many other agencies that team is supporting. You’ll quickly discover if they’re staffed to meet your needs or if it’s all smoke and mirrors.

2. What is their value-add beyond running media?

Every client campaign is unique, right? So you need more than a one-size-fits-all solution. What can they give you that everyone else can’t? Perhaps, they are analytics superstars, giving you real-time insights and custom dashboards that integrate all of your data sources into a single digestible report. Maybe, they are your research hub to access leading tools, like eMarketer, comScore and Pathmatics, that you couldn’t otherwise afford. Or it’s possible they have a proprietary technology that enhances targeting optimization or provides additional fraud protection. Whatever is in their secret sauce, find out what makes them exceptional.

3. How do they source their inventory?

Start by uncovering if they buy from the open marketplace auction, are connected with a particular ad network, utilize a specific DSP or multiple DSPs and/or leverage private marketplace packages. It’s important to understand where their inventory is coming from to gauge if it is high-quality or discount bin rejects. Basically, are they thinking in terms of quantity and quality when it comes to your ad buys? Accessing premium publishers that give you more placements with proven viewability performance is step one. Working with a partner who also has the buying power to get more out of every dollar you spend is step two.

4. How do they know which campaign elements had the greatest impact on conversion?

In a constantly changing advertising landscape, every campaign element plays a role in today’s path to conversion. Yet, most ad tech platforms focus only on the last interaction a user had with an ad before converting, which gives disproportionate credit to sites like email clients, where users visit throughout the day, and ignores all other sites that a user visited before converting. One of the most important aspects of choosing a digital ad partner is their ability to test, learn and apply the lessons on a continuous basis. A full path attribution model analyzes all impressions that lead to the conversion so traders can make more informed optimization decisions throughout the entire life cycle of your campaign.

5. Are they a good cultural fit?

Of course, you need to make sure their business model is sustainable. Because who wants to partner with a company that won’t be around next year? If they are independent, find out how they are able to adapt to the ever-evolving ad tech scene. What technologies are they investing in today to respond to your clients’ needs tomorrow? If they are venture-capital funded or a public company, check out if they are performing well, with plenty of funding to run the business in the months to come. Are their shareholders/stakeholders satisfied? If the answer is no, beware as their immediate focus will be on driving revenue at the expense of servicing the business.

Beyond the numbers, do they demonstrate similar passion, values and principles as your own? Are they willing to do the right thing for your clients no matter what, without pressure from shareholders, stock analysts or ivory tower egos? Be sure to learn more about how their culture will help you and your clients succeed before choosing a digital ad partner.

Programmatic can be easy with the right partner. Good luck in your search and contact us today if you want learn what makes Goodway different.