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Need Help Navigating the Cannabis Landscape? We have a Guide for you!

With the legalization of cannabis in most of North America, advertising restrictions between states and amongst provinces can be difficult to traverse. Not only is geography a factor, but what you can advertise, to whom and how adds another level of complexity. Marketers are increasingly looking to market a new set of products, and this market opportunity is definitely significant. As such, there is a need to clear the air around an uncertain landscape that challenges even the most savvy and experienced business leaders.

Where do you start? What kind of content do you need? How can you meet your campaign goals amidst a sea of regulations?

It has been deemed the “Cannabis Revolution” and it is only beginning. Estimates on the size of the cannabis opportunity vary widely. According to a report available on ResearchAndMarkets.com, despite being illegal for so long, more than 37 million people in the U.S. and millions more in Canada use cannabis, both legally and illicitly. As a result, the market for cannabis in North America is already large and growing quickly. In 2018, more than $41 billion will be sold, and by 2026 that figure will rise to $95 billion.

The opportunity is significant, so it’s imperative that advertisers and marketers determine how to navigate this complexity of the cannabis landscape.

Did you know that cannabis advertising can only promote a brand, not cannabis in general? Or that cannabis advertising cannot attempt to influence adult non-consumers to try cannabis?

As a helpful one-stop resource, StackAdapt has created a guide that contains some best practices, as well as helpful strategies and tips for running successful cannabis campaigns.

If you are in the Cannabis industry – whether a licensed producer, retailer or offering investment opportunities, you want to have this guide at hand.

4 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

GrowthGenius Shares B2B Marketing Wisdom

In this installment of Canadian Growth Hackers, Vitaly interviews Ryan Nahas, a founding member and Head of Sales at GrowthGenius, an AI-assisted outbound sales prospecting service for B2B companies. They discuss B2B content marketing and lead generation, what it takes to build outbound sales muscle, and how to build a “growth-minded” team. The interview originally appeared on Betakit.

Continue reading “GrowthGenius Shares B2B Marketing Wisdom”

4 min read

Stuck with Dying Display Ads? Try Native

Native has become one of the fastest growing advertising strategies in programmatic and does not appear to be slowing any time soon. Native advertising opens up new channels of content distribution for digital and content marketers, particularly due to their non-intrusive nature and alignment with the content the user is viewing.

Ads found on social channels are one of the most familiar (and successful) examples of native advertising. The success of social ads can be attributed to:

  1. The ecosystem in which they are served: users are familiar with the environment and are already browsing content they are interested it, making it easy to include relevant ads that are less intrusive. This works particularly well for millennials and modern day users who are heavily consuming content on social channels, specifically on mobile.

  2. The targeting social channels offer: social networks offer highly targeted environments, due to the personal information the platforms have collected from their users.

Seems like a perfect formula for advertising. But what about all the other parts of the web? Not all users are avid social media users, and some users have different usage habits.

Some Facebook users may check their newsfeed via desktop or the app once in a while, but they’re primarily using it as a messaging tool. How do marketers reach these individuals through other channels, where they are browsing more frequently? These users are also familiar with display ads, and might even be familiar with ignoring them. It would be a shame to lose these eyeballs to banner blindness, when there is advertising potential. Enter Programmatic Native.

Programmatic Native has the same delivery as social — so if money is spent on social, maybe it’s time to allocate some of those dollars to native. Native ads still have a headline, body text and content, and the creative calls out the user the same way it does on social. The ads can be served on familiar sites including news sites and blogs, meaning the viewers have some level of trust.

Let’s break down how Programmatic Native can compete with social:

1. Cost

These Walled Gardens (Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram) limit access beyond the networks in which the users are browsing. This limits supply to the three or four domains available. Although there are hundreds of thousands of users, with millions of impressions, the publishers available to host the ads are limited. This ultimately drives up the cost and requires much higher advertising budgets. With Programmatic Native, you can find less expensive impressions than you would with paid social.

2. Saturation

As social became more prevalent (and advertising along with it), it naturally has become more saturated. Users on social channels are now very familiar with ads, both right rail and in-feed, and the less intrusive aspect loses its charm. At this time, as native on programmatic is ramping up, there is still lots of opportunity to capture users who are not blindsided by the other display ads, and saturated social ads.

3. Intent

User intent varies depending on where they are browsing online, and intent is very important when it comes to capturing engaged visitors. People visit social networks to connect with others. Yes, we acknowledge that advertising is working well because it is highly targeted. However, the intent of a social user is not necessarily to consume content (like that Facebook user who logs in just to use the messaging function), so they may not be as willing to respond to the ads they see. On the other hand, when users visit blogs or other content sites, they are interested in content related to a specific topic. When sponsored content appears on these pages, they are very relevant to what the user is consuming and the ad’s performance significantly increases.

4. Performance

Users have real intent when visiting pages with relevant content and are visiting sites they are familiar with and normally frequent, so they are more likely to trust the native ads and find them less intrusive. In fact, 26% of people are more likely to look at a native ad on content rather than the content itself. As a result, you will find there is much higher engagement with Programmatic Native, with lower CPCs, especially when compared to regular display ads.Source: Sharethrough

It’s no surprise that Programmatic Native is taking over. As it is growing in popularity, it is not taking over social budgets. In fact, the budget is being reallocated from another familiar tactic: Programmatic Display. An increasing portion of Programmatic Display budgets are being reallocated to Programmatic Native line items and tactics, mainly due to the large performance increases advertisers are seeing.It produces optimal results, with the closest familiarity to social ads, only with a much larger range of publishers. Sounds like the perfect combination. You will definitely want to include native into your media mix, to take advantage of the benefits it offers.

If you’re already running display ads and are not sure how to transition into running native, StackAdapt makes it easier than ever to make the switch. Contact your StackAdapt representative to learn more.

Not a StackAdapt customer? You’ll definitely want to be now – see Programmatic Native in action.

4 min read

David Jowett of NFA on Why the Agency Business Model Needs to Evolve

In this installment of Canadian Growth Hackers, Vitaly interviews David Jowett, partner and head of Media at No Fixed Address. They discuss the evolving role of the marketing agency vis-à-vis brands, technology, and the opportunities agencies have in coming years. The interview originally appeared on Betakit.

Continue reading “David Jowett of NFA on Why the Agency Business Model Needs to Evolve”

6 min read

Importance of Customer Success for Self-Serve Platforms

In the world of self-serve, getting to know a platform and mastering its nuances can become a daunting task. Even for the most well-versed ad-tech professionals, using a complex buying platform can take some getting used to and usually requires some form of training. Learning how to use the platform can be straightforward, but for comprehensive training and strategizing, personalized help from the experts in required. This is why Customer Success Managers (CSMs) for self-serve demand-side platforms (DSPs) are as important as the functionalities in the DSP itself.

Customer Success has emerged as a key service offering of any technology organization, as it allows for a bridge between the internal product, tech teams, and the user. CSMs form relationships to provide client-focused insight, while offering a new point of view through strategic guidance and recommendations. A CSM is an internal advocate for their customers, and also acts as an extension of their team.

We’ve identified 5 reasons why having a CSM is so important for self-serve platforms. Let’s explore:

1. Allow you to gain a competitive advantage

Customer Success Managers have industry insight to help navigate the complexities of digital media. Based on where your organization is today, and where you need to be tomorrow, CSMs consider the entire ecosystem to ensure you move quickly and keep up with trends while reducing risk along the way. They can educate your team on industry buzzwords and topics that could be causing roadblocks in campaign strategy planning. If your team is stuck in the CPL debate – and whether it’s an important metric – CSMs will help you answer that question and settle the bet. Their main goal? To ensure your use of the platform is aligned with your goals and objectives.

2. Help maximize the use of your platform

Beyond giving you insight into what is going on in the industry as a whole, the key role of a CSM is to help you think outside the box with the self-serve platform your team is using. Whether it’s providing a second set of eyes on your campaigns to ensure everything is set up correctly or highlighting valuable features you may be overlooking, the CSM’s goal is to ensure you are using the tool as efficiently as possible. Ensuring maximum use includes in-depth, one-on-one training — beyond help centre articles.

3. Provide insight into unique campaign strategies

Specifically in the programmatic space, using the features in a DSP is an art. In many cases, some features are designed to be used in combination with others. CSMs will suggest specific campaign tips to aid the success of your marketing initiatives, but will also offer insight into how features or tactics can be leveraged in tandem – for example video retargeting or sequential messaging. CSMs also suggest new ways to explore tactics you are leveraging, such as using custom segments with your audience targeting. They are also a great resource for providing A/B testing strategies against campaigns you may be running elsewhere, to ensure you’re not wasting any dollars while you test.

4. Make integrating with vendors a breeze

CSMs are devoted to better understanding your unique environment and technology journey, working collaboratively with your team to provide the best strategic support. This includes working with the platform’s features, as well as its integrations. In the world of programmatic buying, this may include integrations with analytics platforms, 3rd party segments, and direct deals with publishers, or private marketplace deals (PMPs).

5. Take the hassle out of transitioning platforms

Signing up for a self-serve platform is the easiest part of the process. In many cases, marketers are transitioning between products, which can sometimes be more difficult than simply starting from scratch. CSMs know this, and do whatever they can to ensure the transition is seamless. They offer the right resources to support the effective adoption of the new platform in your organization, helping you ramp up faster and with greater ease. Based on how you were using other platforms, CSMs will highlight the similarities and differences to ensure you understand how to switch your strategies and daily tasks to align with a new system.

Can you tell we love CSMs?

Customer Success teams are immensely valuable in the technology space, especially with self-serve platforms. The team’s main goal is to provide personalized, proactive support designed to address business-critical environments, minimize risk, and accelerate adoption. If your technology partner has a Customer Success team, it’s a great idea to reach out and catch up with them to ensure you are not missing out on potential campaign optimizations or integrations.

If your organization is using a platform that does not offer customer success to back your team, it might be time to consider one that does.

StackAdapt has a dedicated Customer Success team for all of its clients. Not a StackAdapt customer? You’ll definitely want to be now – get started today.

5 min read

Customer Acquisition: Why a Low CPL Isn’t The Only Metric That Matters

Having worked in ad tech for several years, I regularly encounter advertisers who use “the big three” digital ad platforms (Google, Facebook and Amazon) as a strict benchmark for how much they’re willing to spend on advertising to generate a new lead, otherwise known as cost-per-lead (CPL).

That said, CPL isn’t everything. As Kelly Goldston, VP of Marketing at Eloquii, eloquently put it “just looking at acquisition costs by channel can be misleading.” The reason is simple: each channel may generate leads at a different cost, but these leads are also pulled in at different stages of the marketing funnel.



Let’s consider an example: it may cost you $10 to acquire a lead from paid search and $15 to acquire a lead from programmatic display. However, the lead generated from display may be further along in your buyer journey, and thus, of higher value.

Know Your Numbers

So how does one determine which channel is the most effective at driving higher value leads, you ask? It’s all in your customer acquisition costs (CAC). In its simplest form, CAC is a calculation that looks at your acquisition costs (e.g., marketing expenses) divided by the number of customers (not leads) acquired during a specific period of time. To break this down further, if your company spent $100,000 on marketing in a year and acquired 100 customers, your CAC would be $1,000. However, the math isn’t quite this simple.

In his blog post on Customer Acquisition Cost, advertising industry veteran, Neil Patel dives into detail on how to calculate your CAC by marketing channel (i.e., search, social, programmatic). He also explains how to more wisely earmark your media spend so you’re not allocating budget under the wrong pretences by focusing on CPL alone. Patel considers variables such as customer lifetime value (CLV), attribution models, word-of-mouth referrals, as well as meals and entertainment expenses that go into selling, all of which collectively impact your calculation.

The Takeaway

Remember: all leads are not created equal. Is a qualified lead someone looking for more information or someone ready to buy? Some leads require more education and nurturing, whereas others are ready to flip the switch right away. Therefore, even if you acquired a lead at a “cheap” price, you may end up spending more in the long term, driving up your true acquisition costs. This is why it’s important to consider the time, resources and expenses required to move the lead through the buyer’s journey into official customer status. If you start with CAC, you’re already on a better path to effective marketing planning and will have a clearer picture of a lead’s value when it enters your marketing funnel.

4 min read

The Race for Digital Advertising is On

The Midterm Elections are just around the corner – November 6, 2018 to be exact. This handy 2018 Midterm Election Guide provides everything you need to know. And this post will tell you why, as candidate and strategist you need to think outside the (set-top) box to reach key voter groups!

According to eMarketer, as the midterm elections are heating up, ad spending is rising. Political advertising dollars are flowing to publishers at higher rates than had been expected earlier this year, based on statistics from E.W. Scripps – political ad spend will top $112 million in 2018, surpassing not only the previous midterm year but the 2016 presidential election as well, when its political ad spend reached $101 million.

Although the budget forecast is leaning heavily towards traditional channels – broadcast TV being the largest – the battle is also on for digital ad inventory. It will be getting the second-highest share of dollars, based on Borrell Associates media trend tracking, at the tune of $1.8 billion.



Digital advertising is primed to be a sizeable driver in the Midterm elections. With 435 U.S. House seats and 33 U.S. Senate seats at stake, programmatic advertising can easily dominate the race for the digital ad spend. With the power and targeting offered with programmatic advertising technology, campaigns can reach voters with quality, hyper-targeted ads, that unlike other advertising formats, can be adjusted on-the-fly.

MediaPost, in identifying the trends to watch in the 2018 midterm states that, “as we approach one of the most hotly contested midterm elections in memory, we already know one winner: digital advertising has clearly emerged as the preferred medium for both candidates and voters.”

Political advertisers need the right strategy to reach voters who are increasingly mobile and always immersed in content.

Consider Native

Native ads are advertising formats that are consistent with the form, style and voice of the platform they appear on and are considered less intrusive to the reader.

Native ads are consumed the same way people view editorial content which could attribute to consumers looking at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads and why they tend to register higher lift in purchase intent (18%) and brand affinity (9%) than banner ads. They can also register higher lift in voter intent too.

More importantly, native and mobile are dominant partners. Native advertising is even more likely to be mobile than social; more than 90% of native display ad dollars go to mobile placements, thanks to sites and apps designed specifically to include native ads.

Go Digital and Local

Particularly in midterm elections, localization is key. If your congressional campaign just needs to reach one side of a city or county, geotargeting enables you to zone right in.

Focus the Message

StackAdapt Custom Audience Segments are first-party data sets that target individuals based on the relevant content they’ve recently consumed online, their intent (to purchase or to vote) and their competitor interactions.

To identify users that belong to a segment, StackAdapt uses two main approaches:

  1. Collect users who share similar unique internet browsing patterns – that is users who have recently visited relevant pages that demonstrate a specific interest, such as Republican or Democratic Candidates
  2. Collect users that have recently connected to a specific corporate network such as the University of Georgia, thereby allowing political advertisers to target current college students of a specific campus

These diverse and unique audience pools make targeting your ideal audience fast, easy, and accurate – and gets your message in front of the right set of voters at the right time.

There is a lot of opportunities to reach voters through the various tactics offered only in programmatic advertising, including voter targeting and geotargeting. And it also brings pricing efficiencies and scale that help maximize campaign dollars. And some key elements, such as custom audience segments and programmatic native are only available in StackAdapt.

If you want to learn more about boosting the performance of your political campaigns, reach out to your StackAdapt representative or contact us to get your campaign up and running today!

4 min read

4 Essential Articles To Read This Month: August 2018

What is the team at StackAdapt reading this month? Here are a few essential articles that caught our attention. Enjoy!

1. Required reading for marketplace startups: The 20 best essays

Marketplace businesses are very lucrative but are extremely difficult to get off the ground, mostly because of the “chicken and egg problem” — not be able able to attract demand without supply and vice versa. Read the full article here.

2. When You Need a CMO. And The #1 Reason CMOs Fail

If you don’t read Jason Lemkin’s SaaStr Academy and you are a startup, you need to start immediately. In this article he talks about why so many CMOs fail. A must read for anyone looking to scale their marketing department. Read it here.

3. Why California’s new consumer privacy law won’t be GDPR 2.0

Privacy is arguably the biggest topic in tech in 2018. With GDPR in full effect, more governments look at how to implement their own version of privacy control. Read the article here.

4. Why brands favor a ‘hybrid’ in-house marketing approach

Whether to bring marketing or outsource it to an agency was even covered during one of our previous events. Perhaps, the it’s never going to be black and white, and there is something to be said about finding a happy medium where you can optimize for efficiency and costs, without losing sight of your core business. Read more here.

3 min read