We’ll save you from citing the infamous advertising attribution quote that all of these blog posts start out with. If you're reading this, you probably already know how challenging attribution is–especially for mobile marketers.
This year advertisers really tackled this challenge, but the fact of the matter is….
As direct response marketers, we’re committed to helping our clients allocate resources as efficiently as possible. In working with companies big and small across industries, we've run across several common attribution model mistakes. In this post, we're addressing three of those challenges we ran into a lot this past year and how we are helping our clients overcome them.
Mistake #1: One-Size-Fits-All Attribution
Solution: Your channels and users are complex. Your attribution model should be too.
The major flaws in antiquated attribution models are that they don’t account for touchpoints across multiple channels or devices. Facebook themselves are championing this movement, encouraging advertisers to ditch the ‘last click’ mentality with their recent campaign. For apps, mobile marketing partners (MMPs) have risen to the occasion, piping in and de-duplicating conversions across channels and devices, so you have one source of truth.
The default last-click attribution model just doesn’t have a place in 2017, and yet today only 50% of marketers have implemented multi-touch attribution models. Of the other 50% who have, many are approaching them as one-size-fits-all. They choose one of the popular options…
In reality, each company should develop their own model based on their users’ behavior, campaigns, advertising spend, top performing channels, and nature of their product. Here is a simple framework we apply in helping clients develop a suitable attribution model:
1. Start by mapping your channels to the buyer’s journey.
What channels are often the first- vs. last-click? What channels have more view-throughs than click-throughs?
2. Weigh the nature of each of those channels to the place it plays in your marketing mix.
Is X channel better for conveying high-quality value props or quick takeaways? Does Y channel attract high or low LTV users?
3. If you have distinctly different user types (you probably do), note the differences in paths.
Does behavior differ regionally? Do users behave differently across your different offerings?
4. Weigh the average number of touchpoints to the period of time over which you’re spending.
Is your message time specific? Do users with long-term brand exposure tend to have a higher LTV? What is your ad frequency on each channel?
Regardless of what attribution model you implement, these learnings can be powerful in their own right. They can help you determine what kinds of creative you develop, or how much you’re bidding on each channel.
Mistake #2: Misattribution & Missed Opportunities
Solution: Challenge the standard attribution windows to reflect your buyers’ journeys.
Most media partners and acquisition channels have their own default attribution windows, the periods of time given between conversions and ad views or clicks.
These defaults can (and should) be adjusted. It falls on each organization to decide what’s important to their business, and what windows give the most realistic view. You should also think through the appropriate windows for app installs vs. in-app events vs. purchases.
What goes into deciding how to determine the appropriate attribution window?
When setting a benchmark for your attribution window, go beyond your intuition and look into historical data, user research and even what your peers and competitors are doing. Weigh this information along with the nature of your offering, price points, and general brand awareness.
The next way to determine the appropriate window is to analyze the impact of historical ads on conversion behavior, isolating the contribution of ads in different lookback windows.
Why is it so important to get your attribution windows right?
Having a too-long attribution window will capture more conversions for longer sales cycles, but will lead to attributing too much, praising media that didn’t indeed contribute to conversions. If your window is too short, you may be undercutting your purchase journey and not giving credit enough to upper-funnel activities that drive awareness.
Making either of those mistakes will result in losing money on misattribution, or the allocation of spend in the wrong places, missing opportunities for your business, and undercutting high-impact but low-attributed activities.
Mistake #3: Mistaking Attribution for Causality
Solution: Consider running an incrementality test to truly prove impact.
Once you’ve used your own data and hypotheses to inform your ‘Goldilocks’ attribution window, it’s important to remember that attribution does not equal causality.
Just because you can attribute a digital correlation between an ad view or click does not mean that the serving of that ad directly resulted in the conversion. The only way to determine what is actually impacting conversions is to run an incrementality test (aka lift tests).
Incrementality is the ultimate source of truth for measuring ad spend effectiveness. In short, it’s an A/B test wherein you show ads to a group of random people and ‘hold-out’ another group of random people. You then compare conversions and user behavior between the two groups of people to determine whether or not the group served ads did indeed convert more (or less).
This is a separate conversation entirely (that we hope to address in the future) but is a consideration to keep in mind when building your attribution model. Facebook has a lot of documentation on the subject here.
Although developing a comprehensive marketing attribution model may help you spend smarter and sleep easier, it also requires A LOT of additional work and money. Determining how complex your attribution model should be is a process each company should make early and revisit often. In determining the best approach for your organization, we recommend that you constantly weigh those pros and cons, taking this basic approach...
1. Do the hard work first upfront
Ask these questions upfront and make sure your your boss and your boss’s boss care about the impact of your efforts.
2. Integrate with an MMP
This is a must for modern performance marketers to de-duplicate conversions and ensure you can trust your data.
3. Ditch your last-click model
Look to your users’ behavior across your channels to determine the best suited multi-touch attribution model.
4. Challenge your default attribution models
Use historical data, industry knowledge, and user behavior to set attribution window benchmarks across your channels.
5. Put your channels to the test
For the most advanced advertisers spending a lot on many different channels, run incrementality tests to determine the actual impact of your channels.
As tools and technology catch up, we're glad that more advertisers are tackling these challenges and this approach is becoming more of the industry norm.
Interested in learning more about Bamboo? Read about our mobile advertising expertise and services >
Although Pinterest reached 200 million monthly active users this year, and the average time Pinners spend per visit is 14.2 minutes, a major challenge remains for the content-rich platform. How do advertisers reach those users? To make it easier to reach that audience, Pinterest has continually developed their ad platform since launching in 2010.
In a September announcement, Pinterest launched their “Taste Graph,” which models how the world’s tastes and interests evolve over time. This announcement is yet another enhancement to their audience targeting offering, which includes keywords, custom audiences, and keywords.
“Taste Graph” includes more than 5,000 interests (6,711 at the moment to be exact) a HUGE jump from the 400 before. This is compared to Twitter’s 350 interest subcategories and Facebook’s 282,000+ interests.
Any performance marketer knows how tricky interest targeting can be, and we certainly see Pinterest’s model of developing this “Taste Graph” as an interesting move. They’ve already reported some initial results from these super-targeted ads– increased click-through rates by up to 50% and decreased CPC by up to 20%.
As this tool is still new, there is relatively little transparency about how to best leverage interest targeting, what the interests are, and how to combine them with other targeting methods. From our early testing and research, here are four considerations to help you make the most of your Pinterest ad campaigns.
1. Use Interest Categories to Determine Viability of Pinterest for User Acquisition
Pinterest’s 6,711 interests are grouped into 377 subcategories and 21 top-level categories–depicted below. We pulled together a graph showing those top-level categories by number of interests fall into each, plotted by browsing volume and bidding competition.
This graph can be a handy tool to determine if Pinterest is a good channel for your business based on the interest and competition of target user groups. For example, you might be targeting users interested in “home and garden,” which is one of the most browsed categories, but is also very high in competition. On the other end of the spectrum, “education” has low competition and low interest.
2. Capitalize on Related Interests
This representation may also be a good tool to uncover categories perpendicular to your immediate target market. As Pinterest doesn’t use relevancy scores, advertisers have a bit more leeway. While we don’t ever recommend using misleading language, or surreptitiously targeting audiences (it’s not moral, and it just won’t work), think outside the box.
For example, let’s say you’re a fashion e-commerce company. While targeting users with ‘fashion’’ interests is an obvious path forward, you might try creative that appeals to ‘design’ or ‘entertainment’ interests.
Beyond just these top-level categories, remember that there is overlap between subcategories and interests. We typically don't recommend targeting the top-level categories, but drilling down into the sub-categories and interests...
3. Dig Into the Niche
The beauty of Pinterest’s “Taste Graph” is how niche some of the interests are. Some of our favorites are “beans on toast” “Gloucestershire old spots” “gymnasium architecture” “airy hair” “Hanoverian kings” “toy hauler travel trailer” and “firefighter wedding.”
The only way to discover these interests is to start typing into the ‘Interest Targeting’ box. For those curious as to what the interests are, however, we’ve made circular dendrograms for each parent category, showing all the interests in each subcategory.
Click the images below to view the subcategories and interests in each group. Beware, many of these are quite unruly.
Use these guides to discover subcategories, specific keywords, or groups of keywords to test in your campaigns. As you drill down from subcategories to specific interests, be sure to eliminate ones that don’t perform within your tests.
4. Combine Interest Targeting with Keywords
Pinterest’s efforts to give advertisers more targeted audiences is certainly a step in the right direction. While they’re not as granular as Facebook’s interest targeting options, it may be difficult for many advertisers to target audiences solely based on interests.
Depending on the nature of your business, you should test interests and keywords separately, as well as test combined groups. Use interests to qualify in target user groups, and keywords to get more granular. In building these lists, we have found success in garnering learning from Search and Facebook campaigns.
From expanded targeting options to app-install campaigns, Pinterest's advertising platform has made leaps and bounds in the past year.
Read about our early findings with Pinterest app install ads here. As we test more client campaigns on the underdog platform, we look forward to sharing our results.
In 2017, 84% of app marketers measure performance based on revenue instead of install volume.
In line with that shift to direct-response advertising, Facebook launched App Event Optimization (AEO) last summer. Since then, we’ve implemented AEO campaigns for several of our clients across industries and are ready to share some of our findings.
But first, a bit about AEO…
Facebook App Event Optimization 101
App event optimization allows advertisers to target people who are most likely to take a specific action within an app based on behaviors exhibited across other apps.
AEO goes further than mobile app install campaigns, driving real business value, whether through in-app purchases, viewing content such as in-app ads, or revenue-producing activities within games. Specifically, advertisers have 14 standard app events for which they can optimize...
We’ve worked closely with our clients to implement AEO strategies, deciding which events to target, testing them against MAI, and more. In addition to weighing in on some of Facebook’s best practices, here are our learnings so far…
1. Volume Matters
At the highest level, the ideal app event to optimize for should be one that is important to your business. Sometimes, however, your revenue-generating event might not work for AEO. To give the AEO algorithm enough data to show meaningful results and cost improvements, you should choose events that meet the following criteria…
Note: It’s important that the event occurs less than 50% of the time or you might not see significant differences from your other campaigns. Also, keep in mind that it’s important to give your ad sets ample time to gather data; usually two weeks should do it.
If your high business value event (i.e., purchase) doesn’t meet those criteria, what should you do?
2. Take a Step Back
Often times (especially for small or new apps), high business value events are too far downstream in a buyer’s journey, meaning they don’t occur often enough.
In that event, how do you choose what alternative event to optimize for? For linear app funnels, simply choose the conversion step before your revenue-generating conversion event.
For example, if your business cares about purchases, but there aren’t enough weekly purchases, you will likely see more conversion volume if you take a step back and optimize for 'initiated checkout,' or even 'added to cart.' For some apps, however, this might not be so straightforward...
3. Get Creative, and Always be Testing
For many businesses like gaming apps or publishers, there might not be an event that is simply a step back in the funnel. In that instance, you’ll want to get creative and look inward at your historical user behavior data. For nonlinear user journeys, such as those within gaming apps, we suggest doing behavioral analytics research to identify strongly correlated behaviors.
For example, if your business profits from users clicking in-app ads, look at historical data to see what other behaviors those high LTV users do, whether that's searching for content or completing tutorials.
When in doubt, start testing. Facebook’s Ad Study feature, enabled through their developer API, is a great way to A/B test identical ad campaigns with different bid types or optimized events. Here are a few Ad Study best practices...
With those results, analyze downstream data to inform the allocation of budget across each event. You can also apply Ad Studies to compare MAI campaigns to AEO campaigns.
4. Try AEO with 'Super-combined' Audiences
It goes without saying that reaching users with higher lifetime value (LTV) is harder to do. Remember, only 6% of users come back to the app after the first week.
So, for AEO campaigns to scale while maintaining (or ideally driving down) cost per acquisition (CPA), casting a wide net is crucial. Facebook recommends that in order for app event optimization to really work, audience sizes should be at least 1 million people. We've found that bigger is better; shoot for audiences of at least 5 million, especially when running Ad Studies.
We also find that AEO is a great way to target audiences that have already shown promise in app install campaigns. To increase learnings as fast as possible, try combining high-performing audiences, whether they’re lookalikes or built off of keywords, into single, "super-combined" audiences. You should consider running 'super-combined' audiences especially when there's 20% or more audience overlap.
Once you have a large, high-quality audience and an idea of what events to optimize for, you’re ready to go!
5. Scale up incrementally
If you’ve never run app ads, however, you probably shouldn’t jump straight into AEO, as Facebook won’t have enough data to start spending.
One way we try to avoid ‘cold start’ issues, is by launching our super-combined audiences with install ads first. Once we've collected significant data through goal completions (installs), we then transition the ad sets to AEO. We aim for achieving at least 150 goals before graduating from MAI to AEO. We’ve also found success applying the same strategy to testing events further downstream in the conversion funnel.
Through this tactic, we helped one of our clients, a media streaming app, drive CPA down 33% while maintaining acquisition volume goals.
AEO is fundamentally changing how growth professionals think about user acquisition, prioritizing lifetime value and recalibrating the KPIs that they track. Since AEO launched, however, many advertisers held misconceptions that it only works in specific verticals such as gaming.
While we’re still in early days of testing App Event Optimization, we’ve seen promising results across many other verticals; for a leading fitness app, a media streaming app, a news app, and an e-commerce app to name a few.
The bottom line is... if you’re marketing an app, there's no reason you shouldn’t try AEO. By approaching it strategically and constantly analyzing downstream costs and performance, you should have a solid idea of how it’s working for your business.
Need help? Check out our mobile advertising services to see if we can help grow your business.
When we're not developing creative for our clients, you can probably find us scouring the Internet and our own social feeds to understand what tactics other brands are employing for their ads. Throughout the year we've seen big Facebook ad design trends emerge, and we decided to share some of our favorites.
Here are our 16 favorite Facebook ad design trends of 2017. These examples range from purely aesthetic to conceptual and specific to company types. Regardless of what you're advertising, we hope you'll find some inspiration for your own campaigns.
Gradients made a big comeback in design this year and made A LOT of Facebook ad appearances. We’ve seen just about every brand try out gradients in various ways; in backgrounds, image overlays, video thumbnails, logos, and more.
With a simple aesthetic treatment, gradients add complexity to any creative element and are flat out eye-catching.
3. Lists Within Ad Copy
Organizing copy through lists is a tried-and-true method for marketers to organize thoughts clearly. This year we saw more and more advertisers adapting lists within Facebook ad copy.
This tactic is pretty straightforward but can be used in many different ways. Try listing product value propositions, company stats, industry facts, or simply listing components of your offer. As a bonus, add emojis instead of bullets for stronger visual cues.
4. Long-form Ad Copy
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 2017 saw the rise of long-form social posting. This trend gives advertisers an opportunity to mimic high-value organic social sharing tactics and packs in a ton of information.
Long-form ad text has been a favorite amongst vloggers and consultants, but we expect to see more brands mimicking this tactic.
5. Quotes & Reviews
In an age where consumers have more options than ever, external validation is vital. From user reviews and testimonials to praise in the press, advertisers are leaning on outside sources to help sell their solutions.
Whether you’re using quotes and reviews within ad copy or overlaid on images and video, this tactic can provide high value to almost any type of company. Just remember to go beyond self-promotion and keep your target audience in mind.
6. High-Quality, Branded Photography & Video
While this advertising tactic isn’t new to 2017, it is an important one. Gone are the days of using stock images in high-performance ads. It's now a must-do for brands to produce high-quality branded photography and video for use within user acquisition campaigns.
Here are a few of our favorite brands killing it with branded photography...
This trend doesn’t require a crazy budget, either. It’s becoming easier for anyone to produce high-quality creative assets, so if you haven’t jumped on this trend already, you should.
7. Custom Illustration
In that same vein, custom illustration has taken branded imagery to new heights. This year we saw countless of rebrands and campaigns with custom illustrations and graphics at the forefront.
While this trend may be a bit more resource-intensive to apply to your own creative production, it’s worth considering. It's also easy as ever to hire freelancers, and if this trend is any indication, the cost and effort are probably worth it.
8. Product Packaging & 'Unboxing'
Product packaging has also made a recent comeback. Companies are rethinking the role packaging plays in their branding and putting it front and center. Advertisers have also latched onto the ‘product unboxing’ concept, incorporating big reveals and packaging experiences in carousels, video, and images.
Brands use this tactic not only to show delight and ease of use but to build trust and excitement.
9. Selling Content
Content marketing is set to become a $13 billion market by 2019. In recent years, more and more companies are investing in quality content production and regarding it as intellectual property along with their actual offerings. So, it’s no surprise that marketers are advertising their content on Facebook.
The content sell is a great way to collect leads while providing value to your target audience and (hopefully) conveying the worth of your brand.
10. Simplified App Screenshots
In recent years, lifestyle imagery has become less and less powerful, and advertisers are putting the products back front-and-center. We've seen A LOT of product snapshots as of late.
As attention spans shrink and ad consumption increases on mobile, advertisers are taking the product visualization trend and simplifying things. This year we saw more simplified app graphics that shy away from highlighting all the bells and whistles.
Instead, advertisers utilize these graphics simply as visual cues or to represent solutions to problems.
11. Product Images in Carousel
Carousels gave advertisers a great way to dive deep into products. Some of our favorite examples of these ads included step by step guides of how physical product or apps work, onboarding processes, product capabilities and features, and more.
Having visually similar items in the carousel can mentally help people digest information quickly. Text and visual cues can help as well, making this concept great for explaining different features or use cases.
12. Continuous Carousels
Advertisers really started experimenting with carousel ads this year, from both visual and conceptual standpoints. The continuous carousel is undoubtedly a 2017 favorite.
Continuous images do a great job of encouraging viewers to swipe through the full carousel and can be applied to virtually any brand.
Although Facebook has some specific guidelines around ‘before and after’ concepts, we’ve seen a lot of comparison ads pop up over the past year.
They give advertisers a visual way to simply and quickly articulate value-adds. Whether comparing the old way of doing something versus "the new way," a cumbersome way versus an efficient way, virtually any kind of company can adopt this concept.
14. Data Visualizations & Visual Cues
We love a good ad that incorporates stats and data. This year we’ve seen more advertisers combine data visualizations with cues to make it easier to understand the value.
This is a great trick to try, combining text and simple graphics to capture viewer attention and articulate messages quickly.
15. Flat Lays
Flat lays have been popular amongst designers and advertisers for a while. This year we’ve seen more brands adopt the trend.
Playing off the human mind's love of order, they quickly grab attention. Whether showing physical products on their own, items catered to a specific audience, or a combination of the two, this is a tried-and-true tactic.
Every advertiser knows how challenging it can be to keep ad creative fresh while keeping up with trends and staying relevant. Check our other design resources for more inspiration...
We hope you’re able to apply some of these trends to your own campaigns before the year is through!
92% of the world’s online population uses emojis.
So unless you’re part of the 8% who doesn’t, it should be no surprise to you that emojis are changing the way we communicate. You've also likely seen many brands jump on the emoji bandwagon in recent years, incorporating them into their social media strategies, brand identities, and even in their acquisition programs.
Through our experience testing emojis on various paid social channels, across placements and audiences, here are the top three things we recommend you to keep in mind when using emojis in your own acquisition strategy.
1. Context is Key
We’ve seen a lot of bad emoji use in ads and have taken it upon ourselves to learn from those mistakes.
Here is a checklist of essential questions to ask yourself when evaluating your emoji usage…
Each brand is different, and the above checklist should help provide basic guidance. Outside of answering those questions, we also urge companies to think outside the box when using emojis...
2. Think Outside the Box (or text)
Most of the ads we see with emojis use emojis in the text, as they can be helpful in conveying emotion with limited characters. We’ve started expanding from that idea, applying the same methodology to images and even video!
Using emojis in image assets is a great way to beat Facebook’s 20% text rule, saying a lot with very few characters. Compare the following creative and the emotions each conveys...
Note: this is a representation of a concept, not a real ad.
We’ve applied the same concept to video, in the same vein as user emoji stickers on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. This trend is certainly not going away.
3. Emojis Can Positively Impact ROAS
If you couldn’t tell already, we love emojis. 🐼 💚 As a direct response agency, however, loving something isn’t enough. We care about results and are constantly testing creatives to see what actually performs, including the use of emojis.
One client is seeing 66% higher conversion rates and up to 30% lower CPAs from people who clicked emoji ads.
In many instances, we've found that emojis, when used thoughtfully and in the right context can have a measurable impact on conversions and costs.
But why? 🤔
One study found that emojis can impact our moods and help us foster empathy, thus making prospects that much more invested or trusting in the advertised offering. They also convey meaning much more quickly than words, which can be ultra impactful in mobile, where users scroll faster and have shorter attention spans.
Regardless of the reasons or the results, emojis are here to stay. As advertisers, we have an opportunity to leverage them to drive performance, and also the responsibility to do so tastefully. We’ve helped many of our clients to do just that, and we urge companies to decide for themselves if emojis are right for them. Happy emoji-ing! 👍
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