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StackAdapt and Esper Inbound: Navigating the Cannabis Landscape

StackAdapt sat down with Jon Maher, CEO and Co-founder of Esper Inbound to share his insights on navigating the cannabis advertising landscape and how to execute effective advertising campaigns given the challenges of the industry.

StackAdapt (SA):  Can you describe your first cannabis campaign? (Please provide details – i.e. timing, campaign type, targeting, geo)

Jon Maher (JM): I’ve been managing digital advertising campaigns for over 5 years now, but my first PPC campaign in cannabis occurred in early 2018. It was actually for a company based out of California, not Canada believe it or not. The client was seeking qualified investors for the expansion of their new legally licensed facility.

We primarily used Facebook / Instagram Ads and tested the waters with native advertising to generate traffic from potential investors across the United States and Canada. These platforms tend to have more leniency in terms of ad policies, compared to Google – but I later found that Google Ads work as well. Search, Display and YouTube ads can all work in your favor with the right angle!

We created a beautiful landing page funnel with a vague focus surrounding hot new investment opportunities. We wanted to avoid breaking any ad policies, so the landing page and ads made no direct mention of cannabis or Medical Marijuana (MMJ), but they had an agricultural feel to it. The call to action on page was to get a free investment ebook. This ebook contained all of the juicy details, including multiple CTAs throughout to get folks on the phone to discuss the opportunity.


SA: What challenges did you face?

JM: Ultimately the biggest challenge you face advertising in this industry, is ensuring you’re not breaking the rules. There are many ad policies that can hold you up and make it difficult to get your message across to the public. There are also some that can get you outright banned if you’re too brazen. It’s a grey area right now.

Before I started, I scoured the ad policies for each major ad platform on the subject.

I learned to adapt what I call “Strategic Vagueness” around advertising for MMJ companies that seems to play nicely with all of the ad platforms.

SA: What suggestions do you have for Licensed Producers (LPs) who need to navigate the landscape of advertising?

JM: Practice some Strategic Vagueness with your advertising efforts! Breaking advertising policies will cause a major headache. And there’s a lot that can be done with subtle messaging and design queues that still point your visitors in the right direction without getting into hot water.

Be sure to read up on the policies out there before you launch anything. I have been able to get disapproved ads turned back on, because I had proof I was technically following the rules.

Lastly, If your product / offer (i.e. – Selling Cannabis to consumers directly) breaks ad policies, DON’T try to beat the system by finding a loophole. Major ad platforms like Google and Facebook will find out eventually, and they are unforgiving with their punishments!

SA: What should LP’s look for in agencies they want to partner with?

JM: I always recommend that you hire an agency that’s willing to meet in person. There’s so many agencies out there, so it’s crucial you find one that you can trust.

Secondly having a strong NDA is common and recommended!

Overall please ensure you have an in depth conversation about your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish, before paying an agency. Avoid wasting tens of thousands of dollars by validating that your product/offer can actually run ads before moving forward.

SA: What digital strategy works best (ad format, goals etc.)?

JM: Native, YouTube and Display ads work really well getting the word out in terms of brand awareness. We have seen a lot of success using media that almost looks like the real thing, but isn’t. Like I said earlier, it’s all about the subtle touch.

Facebook, Instagram and Google search ads work great for generating actual leads and bottom line interest. Since most of my efforts have stemmed from the investment side of MMJ, the most successful content I’ve seen carries a clean and professional tone.

SA: What can legally/safely be included in a cannabis ad and what should you avoid?

JM: Both your ads and your landing pages need to comply with ad policies. That means your images and website cannot contain the plant or drug itself. Any drugs shown on the ad networks will lead to disapproved ads. I would also avoid the use of obvious words like “marijuana” in your ad copy. MMJ seems to work fine though 😉

Additionally the direct sale of any cannabis products is generally prohibited. There’s a lot of controversy around CBD products at the moment due to this. I see a lot of advertisers selling CBD products through ads, but it’s definitely one of the biggest grey areas at the moment.

Many obscure keyword searches for CBD products, like “CBD tablets” willyield ads. But the primary keywords like “CBD oil” only show organic listings. I imagine we’ll see Google and Facebook taking a more lenient approach in to CBD in the near future, seeing as it’s absolutely medicinal, non intoxicating stuff.

As far as direct ecommerce style weed sales? Canada will have to lead the charge on ad platforms allowing that!


For more information on cannabis advertising, check out StackAdapt’s Marketing Master Guide.

6 min read

Viewability Explained: How to Approach the Concept of Viewable Ads

Viewability is a buzzword that surfaces continuously in the ad tech industry, and with so many different players in the space, it can be a convoluted topic to discuss. Even the IAB’s viewability definition leaves marketers in disagreement, with more than 4 in 10 respondents admitting the industry could do better in explaining what it is. There is definitely still room for improvement.

If you are not familiar with IAB’s definition of viewability, we have broken it down. An ad is viewable if:

  • At least 50% of the display ad is in view for 1 second, or
  • At least 50% of the video ad is in view for 2 consecutive seconds

For video, it’s important to differentiate between viewability and video viewing. Viewability by this definition means the video ad is shown, however does not necessarily mean the video was watched from beginning to end. A video might be viewable by the IAB’s standards, but the user does not actually watch the entire ad, if at all.

In conjunction with the IAB, The Media Ratings Council (MRC) has compiled a list of viewable impression ad measurement guidelines to help advertisers decipher viewability for themselves.

What do I do with all this information?

Taking the time to read the guidelines for viewability measurement and examine how it is translated into your digital campaigns can benefit you when pitching a campaign, or explaining results to your client.

Unfortunately, grasping the concept of viewable ads, figuring out how to capture viewable impressions and measure the results is becoming an increasingly daunting task for advertisers, as more players enter the space. Don’t worry, the onus is not only on you! DSPs, Exchanges and third-party data providers are also accountable to provide information where possible. The task you need to focus on is finding out how each partner defines viewable inventory, and how much of it is available to you.

For example, one partner might identify 60% of all inventory as viewable impressions. If this is the case, then 40% of inventory is either unmeasurable or unclassified. Understanding how your advertising partner defines viewability and measures it will ensure you are capturing the impressions that you are looking for.

What if I only want impressions that are deemed viewable?

Just because a partner says an impression is viewable, does not mean that all other impressions are never going to be seen by a viewer. As mentioned, some impressions are simply unmeasurable or unclassified. That said, if you only want to bid on the 60% that is explicitly deemed viewable, you can set up your campaign to bid only on these impressions. As always, this comes with some constraints, including higher costs, lessened reach and limited scale.

In many cases, you will need to employ a third-party segment or tracking tool to bid on impressions that are identified as viewable. This increases the probability that your ads are being viewed by the user, but also comes with an added fee. The additional cost to your campaigns is often comparable to the amount required to bid on Private Marketplace deals.

It’s a delicate balancing act between achieving a reasonable viewability percentage, maintaining your reach, and staying in budget.

How do I find a balance?

Now you’re equipped with the knowledge of what viewability is and how focusing on viewable impressions can affect your campaigns. Here’s the fun part! You can make strategic decisions to overcome the difficulty with viewability in programmatic. Here are some examples:

1. Consider Your Placements: If you can carefully select your ad placements, you can increase your chances of bidding on viewable impressions, without the extra cost.

  • Native Ads: Although Native ads face similar challenges to display ads when it comes to viewability on desktop and mobile web, in-app native ads are often viewable, as the impressions should only load when in-view. Although this is immensely appealing, this format has tracking limitations. Since the ad containers in which in-app ads are rendered are unique to each app, external measurement is difficult.
  • Display Ads: Include 300×600, 160×600 ad sizes in your campaigns. The length of the creative sizes with 600 position them as a strong contender to stay in-view, as a user scrolls through the content they are reading. Ads that are 728×90 also work well on desktop because they are often displayed at the top of the page, making it load as soon as the user arrives to the desktop site.
  • Video Ads: Try native outstream because the placement loads and plays only when in-view, and eliminates the need to use a third-party verifier, and usually results in a higher rate of video completion. That said, bidding only on inventory classified as in-view, does not always mean you will reach the video completion levels you seek, due to the limited amount of inventory.

2. Bid Performance-Based: Buying impressions on performance-based models such as CPC/CPCV will help to mitigate the fear of purchasing non-viewable impressions. Afterall, a user must see an ad in order to click it, so it’s the best of two worlds: you can have scale and guaranteed results.

3. Leverage Private Deals: This is a great way to increase your propensity to buy viewable inventory, as publishers will specifically package viewable ad placements. Keep in mind, these will come at much higher CPMs.

If viewability remains a concern, you can always check with your DSP to see what measures are in place to track viewability. Some platforms will have partnerships or will allow you to integrate trackers to evaluate the campaigns you set up. It’s important to keep in mind that measuring viewability is not possible for all inventory sources, and it’s a work in progress for the industry as a whole.

How can StackAdapt help?

StackAdapt helps advertisers leverage deals through StackAdapt Deals – our packaged, customizable deals, which include those focused on high viewability across native, display, and video. StackAdapt has also partnered with Integral Ad Science as a preferred partner to pass back viewability metrics. Contact your StackAdapt representative or request a demo to learn about how we can help you to achieve your viewability goals.

6 min read

Vertical Targeting Series: Building Your Retail Strategy

The retail vertical is one that is constantly and quickly changing. In 2013, online sales of CPG products only accounted for 1% of total web sales revenue. However, it’s estimated that by 2025 that number will grow to 20%. As consumers depend on technology more, and online shopping has increased, there has been a major shift in how purchases are made. This requires that brands in the retail vertical alter the way they approach marketing, by not only reaching consumers in-store and on shelves but leveraging the digital space as well.

Retail marketers are now faced with a unique challenge when creating a vertical strategy for online advertising. They need to prove sales lift from online tactics, which means they need a way to connect the digital world with offline behaviours.

The solution? Innovative vertical targeting and the right tools to measure your campaign’s performance.

Targeting

The retail vertical has an array of targeting options for campaigns. Similar to a sales funnel, it’s easiest to demonstrate the targeting options has customers move from search or research to purchase.

Top Funnel

  • 3rd Party Segment: Segment based on your key demographic (gender, age, marital status, profession, etc.)

Middle Funnel

  • Geo-Radius Targeting: Capture users in real-time across mobile apps based on their physical location (state, zip code or latitude and longitude)
  • Custom Segment: Segment based on purchase intent through a user’s online actions (product reviews, articles read, traffic visiting competitors, etc.)
  • Lookalike Targeting: Tag specific users so you can target lookalikes. For example, tag anyone who landed on the landing page of a prior campaign, or any visitor to a specific page on your website

Bottom Funnel

  • CRM Customer Data: Upload your customer data from your CRM to target customers who have purchased a similar product in the past
  • Dynamic Retargeting: Take retargeting a step further and show users ads for specific products they’ve viewed on your website with personalized image, headline and copy based on their activity

This funnel presents a lot of targeting tactics and opportunities! You probably wouldn’t use all of these when running a campaign, but depending on your goals, you will likely employ a combination of them. Let’s take a look at how you could use some of these options for both a Pharmacy and Grocery campaign.

Pharmacy Campaign Considerations

When running a campaign for a pharmacy, demographic targeting is key. You need to make sure you are targeting age, gender and income properly, along with a certain geography. Consider uploading customer data from your CRM to target anyone who has purchased from the pharmacy previously. You can also implement lookalike targeting for anyone who has visited a particular page on your website.

Grocery Campaign Considerations

On the other hand, if you’re a running a campaign for grocery products, geotargeting will play a huge role in attracting users into your brick and mortar stores. First, with 3rd party data, target individuals who live in a defined zip code, are 30 to 40 years old, with children. Then, create a custom segment showing individuals with buying intent by targeting anyone who has searched for recipes. At the same time, target anyone who has visited your competitor’s location with geo-radius targeting. Finally, serve personalized ads to anyone who has visited your website with dynamic retargeting. When you combine all of these targeting tactics, you’re sure to get the most relevant audience for your campaign.

Measurement

After developing the segmenting and targeting strategy for your campaign, the next step is to measure the results. A successful campaign in the retail vertical typically doesn’t measure results by CTR and CPE. Consumer action, such as foot-fall traffic, is the measure of success for this vertical strategy.

As consumer attention has shifted online, and more frequently to mobile, you’ll need means to connect the digital world with offline behaviours. There are multiple location intelligence vendors that can be leveraged through your DSP to measure foot traffic lift to your brick and mortar locations. If you’re a StackAdapt customer, you’ll be able to leverage one of our location intelligence partners, Cuebiq, to measure when a customer has visited your business after being served a digital ad.

Cuebiq digs deep to provide metrics for your foot-fall traffic, giving accurate attribution to your campaigns. By leveraging its proprietary SDK, which is integrated in over 220 apps, Cuebiq is able to collect high quality location data at scale, all within a privacy compliant framework. In fact, all Cuebiq data is anonymous and only collected if users opt-in to location data collection. Cuebiq is also GDPR compliant in the EU.

So why do we feel confident that Cuebiq works for your retail vertical strategy? Let’s take a look!

Is there a baseline or industry average of how well online campaigns drive offline visits?

Cuebiq has measured and identified daily average visit rates across several verticals. Visit rate identifies the number of users who were exposed to your ad and had an in-store visit vs the total number of users reached by your ad.

I have a lot of foot traffic daily, how can I be sure that my campaign is working?

Cuebiq measures Uplift, which is the result of in-store visits driven from ad-exposure. Only those visitors who were served your ad are counted in the Uplift metric provided by Cuebiq, which gives you a clear understanding of your ad’s effectiveness. Cuebiq provides benchmarks for many verticals, which further help to define your campaign’s success.

How do I know if someone just walked by my location, or actually stayed and shopped?

Dwell Time – the amount of time spent at a specific point of interest – determines if a user’s actions resulted in a visit. The Dwell Time measurement ensures that anyone just passing by your location isn’t counted as a visit. Cuebiq has consolidated average dwell times per vertical so you are able to compare time spent in your store with the industry average.

How can location intelligence help me optimize my campaigns?

Aside from understanding if your campaigns are working based on attribution measurements, there are other metrics such as Time of Visit that can help you optimize. Time of Visit provides insight to the time that your ads are receiving traffic, as well as the most popular times people visit a place of interest in your vertical. With this information you can purchase media to reach consumers during those peak hours, optimizing your campaigns for success.

By comparing the metrics a location intelligence platform like Cuebiq provides with your on-location goals, you will have a full picture your campaign’s performance. If you have a high uplift but low sales, you may need to rethink your in-store experience. Conversely, if you have low uplift, you may need to adjust your campaign strategy – maybe your targeting is off.

In order to stay ahead of the retail advertising game, you’re going to need have a strong vertical strategy with well thought-out tactics. The combination of intelligent targeting and measurement will result in valuable insight giving you success with your retail campaigns.

Contact your StackAdapt representative to learn more.

Not a StackAdapt customer? You’ll definitely want to be now – see how we can help with your vertical needs (and so much more).

In case you missed it, this is just one part of our vertical targeting series. Check out our Intro to Vertical Targeting post here.

6 min read

Vertical Targeting Series: Intro to Building Your Vertical Strategy

When it comes to online advertising, capturing and targeting the most relevant audience is a key component to any campaign. Finding the ideal target market for your product can be particularly difficult when consumers fall into various demographic or behavioural buckets. If everyone falls into multiple categories, how do you know where to find the right people, for the right product, at the right time?

Take a step back and look at your audience to determine if they fit into specific topical groups, based on interest or industry. This might include categories such as travel, retail, finance or healthcare. In the world of digital advertising, these are considered verticals. If you can segment your audience into verticals, you may benefit from implementing a vertical targeting strategy.

Vertical Targeting

Vertical targeting is one of the most effective ways to capture a focused, intent-driven audience. You can use specific messaging tailored for that segment and curate the content to cater to the unique needs and interests of your target market. To help get you started, we’ve put together a four-step guide to building your vertical strategy.

Step 1: Reconfirm your target market

You likely know your target markets based on past purchasing behaviour or the success of your previous campaigns. However, you might be overlooking a few, or targeting an audience that is very broad. Dig deeper into your customer data to confirm your top verticals and perhaps uncover a few sub-verticals as well. Think about what interests or characteristics your customers share or pick features from your offering that you believe are appealing, either from reviews or direct feedback, and consider who else might enjoy or benefit from them. It is best to rely on defined metrics or data points where you can. For example, identify the characteristics of your top spenders to draw conclusions about who your target market is.

Step 2: Build your buyer personas

Next, and this is the most important part, build generalized representations of your ideal customer in the vertical you want to target, and imagine what the buyers would look like. Building a buyer persona is essentially creating a profile of a person who represents the exact centre of your target market. This ideal (fictional) customer is given a name, age, even a profile picture, and made into a “real” person by leveraging data that you collect.

To build your personas, find individuals in your network that actually work in or are involved with the respective vertical. Take them out for coffee and get some insight! They can provide context and an insider look into what resonates best with buyers like them.

If you are looking to follow a specific structure during your conversations, we suggest setting it up like an interview. Not sure where to begin? We’ve compiled example questions to get you started.

The categories you want to focus on are:

  • Demographics (age, gender, income, marital status, job title, etc.)

  • Psychographics (major life events, life challenges, accomplishments, etc.)

  • Behaviour and Preferences (social networks they use, devices they own, hobbies, etc.)

  • Buyer’s Journey (what product needs they have, concern for price vs quality, etc.)

It can be easy enough to gather demographic information online from places such as LinkedIn. You can even find information from online lookalikes to fill in the demographic gaps, and to dig deeper, you can ask some more detailed questions such as:

  1. What websites do you frequently visit?

  2. What publications do you read on a regular basis?

  3. How do you learn new skills?

  4. Do you typically conduct research before making a purchase? If so, how many sources do you use?

  5. Who do you trust for product recommendations?

  6. Describe one day in your (professional) life.

  7. What type of content do you prefer (text, photos, videos, etc.)?

  8. Are you loyal to certain brands/technologies?

  9. What key events and/or conferences do you attend?

  10. Do you consider yourself tech-savvy?

Personas should be built using data, not hunches. If you try to answer these questions without actually asking your candidate, you might be overlooking some integral points of view that you hadn’t thought of previously.

Step 3: Map your customer’s buying journey

Now that you have buyer personas, you can map their individual paths to purchase to determine where your ads will be most effective. Consider the entire research process for a potential customer, along with the purchasing stages, and all of the ways they might be using their various devices throughout. For example, for a potential traveler, you would not want to assume they only use a desktop to book a trip and overlook their mobile activity, which may be integral to the buying process. Once you have mapped out the customer’s buying journey, you can identify the best time to capture their attention with an ad, ultimately increasing the probability of a conversion.

Step 4: Leverage your DSP

You will want to use advertising technology with the appropriate targeting parameters to support your vertical strategy. This includes partnering with a Demand-Side Platform (DSP) that offers features such as audience targeting, geotargeting and day parting. In addition to the standard targeting options you can find in most advertising products, some DSPs also offer custom, intent-based segments that capture people who are actively reading about topics relevant to your brand or your competition. You can also leverage either Deal packages designed specifically for your vertical, a tentpole event or custom deals to capture specific inventory you are interested in.

Easy as 1, 2, 3… 4

Each vertical offers unique opportunities to build out your campaigns, and there are different tools and tactics you can leverage for each. Be sure to check back on our blog as we will be taking a deep dive into several verticals, and how to tackle the campaign planning for each.

If you want to learn more about custom segments, custom deals, or vertical targeting, reach out to your StackAdapt representative or contact us to get your vertical strategy going.

5 min read

Mapping Out Your Geotargeting Strategy

Timing and location is key when you are running digital advertising campaigns. If you can reach your ideal audience at the exact time and location that will increase the likelihood of them taking an action then you’ll put your ad dollars to work. Location not only refers to where they are surfing the web, but their real-time physical location. This is where having a defined geotargeting strategy comes into play.

Geotargeting is the practice of delivering content to a consumer – via mobile or web – using the geographic location information of the recipient. You need to determine if, and how geotargeting will help you achieve your overall campaign goals.

Consider a scenario: you are advertising for a rideshare company, with a partnership with a sports team – where would your audience be? If you target the arena where their event is taking place, you are sure to capture potential riders as they browse their smartphones, looking for a way home. This would be considered geo-radius targeting – setting specific location parameters based on Lat/Long coordinates or addresses.

In addition to understanding your goals, ask yourself about your creative message – is the message relevant to your target?  For instance, if the creative messaging is general, it may not make sense to leverage geo-radius targeting, as it can limit your scale and become costlier.

Some Geotargeting Options in Action:

  1. Geographic Targeting: Target based on Country, Province/State, or City/Town level. Consider using the DMA function – originally a tool designed for traditional media, DMAs have easily translated over to the digital landscape. When targeting a city, it’s best to include the DMA to increase overall reach and potential to reach users on borders.
  2. Zip/Postal Code: Within the US and Canada, you can upload a list of zip codes/postal codes to reach users. Consider this option if your creative messaging is centric around specific storefronts – a prime example of this is a pizza chain, advertising a discount within their delivery area.
  3. Geo-Radius: Leverage a list of addresses or Lat/Long coordinates, customizing your radius down to the mile/kilometre to target users in mobile in-app environments.. Consider how large the area is that you are targeting. For example, if you are targeting a metropolitan area that is more spread out, such as Omaha, consider a larger radius than you would if you were targeting New York City. You might even explore this geotargeting option when running a competitive conquesting campaign – Dunkin can target Starbucks locations to acquire new customers.

    According to a report from eMarketer, marketers found that even geofencing in real time “for both retail and QSRs [quick-service restaurants], connecting with the consumer when they’re already in-store accounts for really low engagement rates—much lower effectiveness than connecting with somebody within 2 to 3 miles of that location.”

  4. Geo-Radius Retargeting: Collect users around a specific geo-radius and retarget them with a relevant message at a later time.

StackAdapt’s data is not only able to target the most niche of markets but it also has the capabilities to capture them in specific geos. And in addition to offering the above geotargeting, StackAdapt also offers store lift reporting through partnerships with Cuebiq and PlaceIQ, which can help you further understand traffic per store, daily traffic trends, distance driven and more! Interested?

Reach out to your Account Executive today to learn more. Not a StackAdapt customer? You’ll definitely want to be now – find out about our geotargeting capabilities (and so much more) today.

5 min read

State of Conversions: How to Measure Across DSPs

As digital media continues to dominate the advertising world, digital-savvy clients are questioning which channels work best, and which technology partners they should continue investing with. However, there remains an industry-wide problem of conversion attribution.

According to eMarketer, the digital buyer today is expected to use 4 different DSPs, down significantly from 2016’s estimate of 7, and yet despite the drop of almost half the tech, it is still hard to measure cross-channel conversions.

It’s not that there is a lack of tools – the primary problem is the industry itself; the rise of wall-gardened inventory sources such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have made it increasingly difficult to help gather results and understand where and which platform drove which conversions, let alone cross-device conversions.

This makes it extremely difficult to point out if, and when users will be able to have a holistic view of their digital buys. But as a savvy digital media buyer, there are a few strategies that may help you to further refine your data and to have a strong understanding of where your conversions are coming from.

1. Leverage an ad-server

By using an ad-server, you can generate both ad tags and 1×1 impression/click trackers and use their pixel as your conversion point’s source of truth. It is strongly recommended that you piggyback your DSP’s pixels into the ad-server’s, as it will enable your DSP(s) to collect the necessary data to feed its algorithm and enable you to optimize towards your CPA goals within the platform.

Most ad-servers do have a reporting tool that will distinguish which conversion belongs to which tag, and, depending on the tool’s level of reporting, can further dissect this information across devices as well.

Keep in mind that some DSPs only support impression trackers (this is common amongst social media partners).

2. Make sure your lookback windows are aligned

Digital media buyers also need to consider how their pixel is set up. Believe it or not, most DSP pixels have set lookback windows when it comes to both post-view and post-click conversions. This can result in a DSP taking credit for another DSP’s conversion, or worse, duplicate the numbers. This is an important consideration when comparing your results and determining the effectiveness of your digital strategy.

Whatever your lookback window may be, be sure that all pixels are set up to the exact same timeframe prior to launch so that you are comparing apples to apples.

3. Use Google Analytics

If you’re not ready to commit to an ad-server, consider using Google Analytics and building UTMs. Once done, set your goals in GA and begin tracking your campaign.

Remember, in addition to creating a UTM parameter for the campaign source, make sure to incorporate parameters for both campaign medium and campaign name to distinguish what strategy drove what result.

Use this great resource tool for building UTMs. Note that Google Analytics will only count post-click conversions if you are running media outside of GDN.

4. Consider a multi-channel DSP

StackAdapt may have started as a native-first DSP, but we incorporated video and display a few years ago. After being ranked the #1 native advertising and the #1 video platform, it makes sense to leverage our omnichannel offering.

And with our Conversion Journey tool, you can understand the touchpoints of your results. The StackAdapt Conversion Journey tool gives you visibility on information such as click to conversion and domain to conversion. Additionally, you are able to pass back other data points, such as order ID and product SKUs.

 

 

Contact your StackAdapt representative to learn more or request a demo to see our Conversion Journey tool and much more in action.

 

8 min read

How TouchBistro is Using Content Marketing to Grow its Business

In today’s crowded digital landscape, the question driving every marketing campaign is how to get noticed? With people’s shifting priorities now favouring the natural discovery of products, marketing has become an area where companies aim to have an increasingly strategic competitive advantage for growing their business.

In this series on BetaKit, you’ll join COO Vitaly Pecherskiy as he meets with top minds in the marketing and advertising industry to uncover how Canadian companies use forward-thinking strategies and cutting-edge software to break through the noise.

 

To kick things off, Vitaly Pecherskiy had the pleasure of sitting down with Tiffany Regaudie, content marketing manager at TouchBistro, where he learned more about how the company successfully uses content marketing to grow their business.

Can you talk about how your team is structured and what is the culture of the marketing team like at TouchBistro?

Our marketing team is made up of two main pillars: demand generation and brand. Content marketing sits within a communications team on the brand side. I report into a senior communications manager, and I have a content marketing specialist that reports into me.

Our marketing team culture is one of my favourite parts about working at TouchBistro! We live by autonomy and accountability, which means we are given the freedom to succeed and fail. It’s an exciting time to be at TouchBistro – we’re at a high growth stage, and luckily our leadership know that growth requires being bold and trying new things. I’ve never been so well-resourced to do my best work.

TouchBistro's POS system

TouchBistro’s POS system.

How does your team judge its success?

My KPIs as content marketing manager are based on increasing traffic to our blog, subscribers to our blog, and views on our brand videos. I live and die by these metrics every quarter! I also personally judge our success using other metrics I think are important, such as increasing time on site, decreasing bounce rate, and getting more video completions under our belt so we can retarget that audience with campaigns that tell a larger narrative about our brand.

But I do also have an “agency” function to my work, which is really to support generating leads on the demand generation side of the marketing team. I’m the creative lead on many of the projects that come from our demand gen team, so I am still tangentially accountable for generating leads that way.

How do you distinguish between must-have content and fluff? Or are you a believer that any content can have legs?

Our audience is made up of independent restaurateurs who are very much expected to be the jack-of-all-trades of their business. They’re people who just want to make great food and deliver an amazing guest experience, but they actually need to be accountants, marketers, and human resources experts on top of being great chefs.

So our must-have content is the “how-to meat” for restaurant owners: how to know enough about accounting to make sound business decisions, how to rock a social media campaign to get noticed, how to design a menu in such a way that’s going to increase sales – this is the content that does very well for us, because it’s geared toward making restaurateurs’ lives easier.

Producing content takes up so much time and so many resources that it can be easy to overlook a thoughtful distribution strategy.

I come from a book publishing background, so I’ve spent a lot of time editing whole manuscripts and content that goes very deep on a subject. I’m pretty grateful for this experience, as I like to think it’s kept me devoted to quality content over fluff. I do believe that any piece of content that speaks to your audience can have legs – it’s just a case of how long you’re willing to wait for those legs to start moving and gain speed. You have to be timely and solve a problem to get noticed quickly.

Have you seen patterns in the type of content you produce and its success?

Video as a medium is, of course, a type of content that does well for TouchBistro. We just released our first brand video, which garnered more than 3 million impressions and a higher-than-average completion rate across several channels (through StackAdapt and YouTube, among others). While it’s definitely easier said than done, we are shifting toward a video-first strategy, as video is obviously now the most consumable form of content across all audiences.

How do you determine ROI for content?

We measure ROI in several ways, from both a demand generation perspective and a brand perspective. On the demand gen side, we measure ROI by the amount of leads we can move down our funnel, from engaging with a piece of gated content to requesting a quote and being passed to our sales team as an opportunity. We have some strict economics at TouchBistro that govern how much we are willing to pay for a lead that books a demo vs. downloads a piece of gated content or subscribes to our blog.

But on the brand side, we’re much more focused on establishing our brand presence in new markets, given that we have just entered London, UK, Bogota, Colombia, and Mexico City. So as we are still establishing our brand in these markets, we measure ROI via impressions, website traffic, and how many people engage with our SEM ads.

Creating content can be expensive – how do you decide if it needs to be amplified through paid channels and how do you decide how much to pay for distribution?

I base our paid distribution decisions on past organic search traffic performance, so I know the content is in demand and has legs. From this foundation, I’ve developed a solid bank of data that tell me which types of content I should amplify and for how much.

Think about how much money you’re willing to put behind a piece of content … because organic traffic just isn’t what it used to be.

We already know we’ll be putting a larger paid push behind video campaigns, but for other types of content, I base my budget on topic relevance. For example, this year 18 states and 20 cities in the US raised minimum wage, which has been a hot topic among restaurant owners. I developed a significant repertoire of content on rising minimum wage, which I’ll continue to slow drip throughout the year with several paid campaign pushes behind them – the topic is timely and people want to read about it, so it deserves the amplification.

What advice would you give to an organization that’s new to content marketing?

Think as much about content distribution as you do about content production. Producing content takes up so much time and so many resources that it can be easy to overlook a thoughtful distribution strategy. So don’t just think about the content itself and what it will look like, but where it should live and how users should consume it. Think about how much money you’re willing to put behind a piece of content … because organic traffic just isn’t what it used to be.

Rapid-fire bonus questions!

Number one metric every marketer should care about is…Time on site. Visitors don’t mean much if they’re not consuming and therefore remembering your content.
One thing most marketers don’t spend enough time on is…Thinking big picture. Marketers are doers, which is great, but you need to think about how your campaigns relate and build on each other.
To become a better marketer one must… Read, read, and read some more. Marketing is a moving target. If you don’t keep up with best practices, you’ll become obsolete before you know what hit you!

10 min read

How to Choose the Right KPI for Your Next Digital Campaign

Your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is your yardstick of success. Yet, many marketers are unclear how to whittle down hundreds of data points into just one or two indicators of a successful programmatic campaign. While there is no set-it-and-forget-it formula, we’ve generated a chart that will help you understand how to choose the right KPI for your next digital campaign.

Possible KPIs Include

  • Impression delivery
  • Click delivery
  • Efficient Metrics (effective CPC, effective CPM,  effective CPE, effective CPA)
  • Time on site
  • Engagements
  • Video completions

Choosing the Right KPI

There may be many different objectives that you are trying to achieve as a business. The best way to figure out your main KPIs is to first decide who your audience is and how you want them to interact with your site.

The best way to figure out your main KPIs is to first decide who your audience is and how you want them to interact with your site.

Once you know your main objective, you can build your funnel. For example, if you are a new business your audience will probably be new users who have never been to your site before. This will dictate your funnel, which will be focused on upper to middle funnel KPIs. You want your customers to grow affinity towards the brand (primary KPI: video completions) and then spend time on your site getting to know you (secondary KPI: Time on Site). With this, you may want to run a native video campaign and build a retargeting campaign off of users who complete the video, serving them a native ad and ultimately, driving time on site.

Align Your KPI to Your Business Goal and Your Chosen Tactics to Your KPI

You should have a maximum of 2 KPIs per campaign, aligned to a singular business goal. Part of deciding on these KPIs and effectively reaching your chosen business goal is to ensure you are using the correct tactics in order to get there:

  • Pre-Roll Video: Completed Views (CPCv)
  • Outstream Video: Clicks to Site (CTR)
  • Native Prospecting: Clicks to Site / Time on Site (CTR, CPE, Time on Site)
  • Native Retargeting: Clicks to Site / Time on Site / Conversions (CTR, CPE, CPA)

how-to-choose-the-right-kpi

 

4 min read