Self-serve DSPs: Common Misconceptions and Pitfalls

Self-serve DSPs allow advertisers to not only access publisher inventory, but also target and track their campaign using a desktop interface. The convenience, ease-of-use and power of a self-serve DSP mean almost anyone with an internet connection can launch a digital ad campaign.

According to engage:BDR’s Alex Epshteyn, the Account Manager for the company’s First-Impression DSP, interest in real-time bidding fueled by these platforms has grown markedly in the past nine months. Marketing dollars are being shifted to programmatic by major brands and agencies are opening up their own trading desk specifically for real-time, Epshteyn said.

Getting the Creatives Right

Speaking with RTB Forums, Epshteyn – who has experience working with different platforms – recently discussed some of the more underutilized features of self-serve DSPs. He said the development of optimal sizes for creatives is one of the most overlooked aspects of running a campaign.

artist-214242_640“For some reason a lot of new users do not use all creative sizes,” he said. “You might not get a lot of traction, a lot of traffic just by using a 300-by-250, so what I always recommend people do when they start out with us is make sure that they have all three of the most popular desktop sizes and all three of the most popular mobile sizes.”

According to Epshteyn, the developing the three most popular sizes for desktop – 300×250, 728×90 and 160×600 – and mobile – 320×50, 300×250 and 300×50 – are vital to a campaigns success.

Epshteyn also said users should take full advantage of a self-serve DSP’s targeting capabilities, which typically includes the ability to target based on behavior, demographic and geographic region. He noted that targeting with respect to time of day is particularly overlooked.

“A lot of advertisers will notice that certain parts of the day is when we really get the click-thru rate (CTR), the conversion, the traction,” he said. “So it’s best to focus on those times and I see multiple times, over and over again – CTRs go through the roof and when dayparting is included. So that’s another aspect that gets overlooked and I think should be utilized a lot more.”

The Importance of Testing

After sorting out the creative and targeting aspects of a campaign, users need to run a proper testing stage to determine what part of a campaign needs tweaking, Epshteyn said.experiment-217201_640

“Within the first 30, 60 days you really want to test out multiple creatives and creative elements,” Epshteyn said, “Whether its button sizes or button colors or background images and so on.”

“So testing those out within the first, like I said, 30 to 60 days and getting that knowledge and understanding what gets the most traction I think it’s another overlooked aspect of running these types of campaigns,” he added.

The engage:BDR rep suggested that self-serve DSP users log in several times a day to see what is and isn’t working, particularly during a testing phase. Once the trial campaign has been analyzed and optimized – it is then ready for scaling to the appropriate size.

Scaling Up an Optimized Campaign

Scaling up a campaign may sound simplistic enough, but there can be a few misconceptions when it comes to bringing a campaign to a larger stage.

“For what I’ve seen so far, a lot of people think that you can just jump in on a real-time bidding platform DSP and have like a 13-cent bid and just scale very quickly,” Epshteyn said. “In certain cases you can do that if you’re doing run-of-network targeting and your entire prerogative is just to get as many impressions as possible and not really pay attention to conversion rate. So you can do that, but I think as far as running a successful campaign with a good conversion rate and a good click-thru rate, that’s a misconception.”

He added that placing the correct bid is another important, if overlooked, aspect of running a digital ad campaign via a self-serve DSP.

“A $0.13 bid, for example, is not going to do much for you,” Epshteyn said “I think it’s a good idea to start off anywhere from $0.75 to $1.50 and really without those premium placements. That’s a common misconception is low bidding and the ability to scale with those bids.”

Epshteyn noted that the First-Impression DSP is still “very young” and the company is constantly working on additions and new features – particularly with respect to mobile. Much like the campaigns they enable, the First-Impression team is emphasizing the optimization of the platform as it grows.

This post is now up for discussion in our forum: http://forums.rtbforums.com/index.php?topic=960.0

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