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Bids, bid types, bid strategies: campaign properties you didn’t know your marketing reports were missing

By John Koetsier November 6, 2019

There’s a set of campaign properties that are incredibly important for growth decisions that you don’t have easy access to. We’re not talking about clicks, impressions, or installs. It’s not CTR, ROAS, or ROI either, although all of these are important metrics.

Instead, we’re talking about bids and bid strategies.

Performance marketers have a few key levers to pull in campaign management. There’s creative, which Singular has a solution for. You have call to action, which you can test and optimize. There’s channel mix, where Singular makes experimentation and analysis painless. In addition, there’s targeting — who you want to deliver your messages to — and finally there’s bids and budgets.

Bids and budgets are critical. How much you’re willing to spend has huge implications for how often your ads get seen, how much scale you can drive, and how much ROI you can generate. But to date there have been almost no tools to help marketers optimize their bid strategies. Or, even see how bid parameters impact campaign performance.

Now that’s changing.

Campaign properties: metadata

Think of campaign properties as metadata: data about your campaigns. What made a campaign successful? What made it fail? More to the point, what specifically changed about your campaign at the moment in which it went from failing to succeeding, or vice versa?

You might have upped your bid. Decreased it.

Maybe you changed your bid type from CPM to CPI, or perhaps CPE.

Whatever you did had a material impact on your Google Ads campaign, or your Facebook ads, just like changing creative or switching offers. The problem is, a week or a month from now, how will you remember what you did? And how will you know what impact you made? Will you be able to check back, see changes you made, look at their impact, and be able to design informed future strategies from those learnings?

Probably not.

It’s probably just not a standard part of your workflow.

Mostly because you don’t have anywhere to save, record, or see that data. And yet, it’s some of the most vital data you have on what is making you successful (along with creative optimization and not wasting money on fraud). Unless, of course, you kept a record yourself, perhaps in Excel or some other document, every time you made a change.

Which is — let’s be honest — not the most reliable method.

You forget, you miss a change, you lose the document, you enter the wrong date or wrong bids. Or you get the junior member of the team to do it, and he takes off for Cancun. There’s dozens of challenges to manually storing the data.

Not least of them: now it’s not associated and queryable in relation to all of your other data.

Problem solved: Singular now surfaces this data

The good news is that Singular now records campaign property changes. And, like everything else in Singular, campaign properties are queryable, analyzable in reference to other marketing data and campaign data, and always available.

campaign properties in Singular

I spent some time with Singular product manager Evyatar Ram to learn more, and to see how mobile marketers can build bid data and bid strategies into their user acquisition workflow.

Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation:

Why bid data is critically important for marketers

John Koetsier: Let’s take it from the top. What exactly are campaign properties?

Ram: Campaign properties are a new set of dimensions that we have started pulling into Singular. They include bids, bid types, bid strategies, campaign statuses, and others.

John Koetsier: Is this just an addition of new dimensions?

Ram: Yes and no.

While this feature does include adding new dimensions to the Singular dataset, this is actually a new category of data. This data represents a snapshot of your campaign analytics in a given point in time as opposed to pulling data which is stored historically.

To illustrate the difference between this data and regular data, with campaign properties there is no concept of historical data out there that Singular can access. We have to check the current state on a regular basis and then store it. In order to implement this our development team had to build new tools to pull in campaign properties data, a new pipeline to process the new data, and a new process to enrich the regular campaign statistics with campaign properties data.

John Koetsier: Why do marketers and user acquisition managers need this?

Ram: Campaign properties data is essential for user acquisition teams to be able to evaluate campaigns, see key parameters of their bid strategies, and make smart decisions for future changes.

One of the main levers UA teams have is to set and optimize bids. We know that many customers don’t have a good method today to log all the bid changes they make. They mostly rely on Excel sheets to manually document changes. Now, having this data in Singular makes it easier for them to have visibility into their activities. It also helps them have a single source of truth for all their user acquisition data.

To give a more specific example, pulling campaign properties data into Singular’s analytics can help user acquisition managers determine what impact changing the bid in a campaign had on the number of impressions or installs they got. Or, what their ROI was.

John Koetsier: So what’s the impact of having this new campaign properties data?

Ram: At a really high level, user acquisition is an operation where you make a lot of decisions every day and every week. Essentially, they go into a black box, and then you measure the impact of those decisions. Today you measure the impact of those changes in aggregate: you made 300 decisions, and you see the overall result in number of installs, ROI, CTR, engagement, and so on.

But you’re not looking at it decision by decision. And you’re not even looking at groups of decisions, like all your bid changes.

Now, with campaign properties in Singular, you can compare all the bidding decisions you made over a year in a specific geo, and see the results.

You sometimes hear from mobile marketers that user acquisition is more art than science, but really it shouldn’t be. This is yet another step to help UA teams be more scientific.

This also helps people not over-optimize, which can be an occupational hazard for high-scale, high-speed marketers. You’re dealing with literally dozens of campaigns on multiple platforms, and you don’t remember that you just changed your bid two days ago — or yesterday — so you change it again. There’s a definite danger in making too frequent updates to campaigns.

And, if you’re doing anything around automation, building an auto-bidding solution … you need this data to enable it.

John Koetsier: So how did user acquisition managers do this in the past?

Ram: We talked to a lot of customers about this and there wasn’t any one particular workflow for this.

There was a real mix: some used Excel spreadsheets, as I mentioned. Others used calendar reminders every time they would create a campaign … just a note in their calendars. One company actually built a small web app to track bid changes. Eventually they stopped using it because it was too manual, and it ran into issues of granularity. For example, the data included bid and country, but skipped publisher. So that tapered off.

Some did not track it at all.

And, bear in mind … even if you do track it somewhere, it’s not connected to all the rest of your marketing analytics data. So if you wanted to look at the impact of your bid changes, you had to remember to go get that data, you had to pull the data, and then you had to actually combine it with your campaign analytics in some way.

So some customers were trying to track bid changes … but the bottom line is that no-one really had a good solution.

John Koetsier: What networks are supported?

Ram: At launch we will support Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Apple Search Ads, and AdColony.

Others are in the works.

John Koetsier: What granularity of bids are you supporting? And what about the parameters … what are the standardized campaign properties you’re using?

Ram: We generally try to pull the bid data at the required granularity. For example, in AdColony we are pulling publisher level bids while for UAC campaigns we pull campaign level bids.

In addition to Bid Type and Bid Strategy dimensions, there are also dimensions called Standardized Bid Type and Standardized Bid Strategy.

These can be thought of as preconfigured custom dimensions that standardize bid types into CPA, CPC, and so on, and bid strategies into Manual bid, Auto bid, etc.

John Koetsier: What about customers who use the Singular API … will campaign properties data be available in the API?

Ram: Yes, and it’s in the API documentation as well.

John Koetsier: What kind of lift or overall benefit do you see this data having for mobile marketers and marketing teams in general?

Ram: I think ultimately the benefit is that you make better decisions. You can be a better user acquisition operator. You can get more scale and better ROI, or you can maximize scale at your target ROI.

It’s hard to see what kind of lift we’ll see at this point. We’ll likely have better data on that in time.

But another way to think about it this: How efficient are user acquisition organizations now?

Are they 95% efficient, as in 95% of their decisions are the best that could be made? I think it’s pretty clear that most teams are pretty far away from that level. Well, our goal is to provide tools that get them as close to optimal as possible, such that 100% of their decisions are better. Every time they create a campaign and every hour they spend in campaign management: we want them to have the data to be smarter.

There’s a lot of room to grow here.

It’s important to note that this is something UA managers and their teams will have to learn how to use. Because there haven’t been good ways to do this in the past, it’s been inefficient. It’s new, and it’ll take some time to become standard practice.

John Koetsier: Thank you for your time.

Next steps: using campaign properties

Interested in learning how you can get access to bid data and start to incorporate that into your user acquisition strategies?

The best way to to request a Singular demo. We’ll have a product expert walk through what Singular does, how it works, and how you can grow faster than your competition with marketing intelligence.

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