Part I: Impression Pacing
Media planners and buyers spend hours and days crafting and planning the perfect buy to maximize impressions within a client’s given budget. Often the media buy is placed with a vendor and left to run its course, leaving the media company and client surprised a month or two later to find out that the buy did not run exactly as planned. At A3 Media, we believe a well-thought-out buy deserves effective post-buy monitoring to ensure the buy runs as designed. Monitoring daily impression pacing is one way to confirm that the buy plan matches reality.
So, what is pacing? In short, pacing is matching daily impressions delivered to the average daily goal (total impressions purchased for the flight divided by the number of days in the flight). Just like a runner does not start a marathon with a leisurely stroll or an all-out sprint, we do not want our impression delivery to start too slow or too fast. And like the marathon runner, we need to know when to speed up or slowdown in order to finish the race within our goal. Why? What is the harm of too slow, too fast, or uneven pacing?
If a campaign starts too slow you risk not using your entire impression budget thus reducing reach and frequency. In other words, our marathon runner will not finish the race in time. On the other hand, if a campaign starts too fast, you risk using up all your impressions and ‘going dark’ before the end of the campaign. In such as case, our marathon runner will burn out before reaching the finish line.
In addition, uneven pacing can result in impression peaks and valleys that reduce the effectiveness of your planned strategy. At our agency this typically means syncing up against other media elements at the appropriate time to be effective as possible.
It is important that we monitor pacing because sometimes vendor’s promised inventory availability projections do not match the actual inventory available. If we do not have a firm handle on our daily pacing, under-delivery and inventory issues may not be uncovered until invoice reconciliation at which time it may be too late to make any impactful changes to the buy to fix the low delivery. We monitor our pacing weekly and sometimes daily, depending on the unique particulars of the buy. This ensures that we are always aware of any issues that may be present before we are invoiced and while we still have time to make those impactful changes.
There are many tools available to track and monitor your pacing including vendor dashboards, specialty software, and Excel spreadsheets. Do not be afraid to ask your vendor for more data and ad-hoc reports so you receive the information necessary for you to track impression’s daily delivery. Whatever you choose to use, the important thing is to do it with regularity.
Now that you have a plan in place to track and monitor your daily impressions what do you do with this information? Well, then you make adjustments! If your data shows under-delivery, then reach out to your client and AE – perhaps you can open your demo? If that is not an option, then perhaps, you may choose to utilize a different vendor source. If data shows you are running too fast and overdelivering, then a conversation with the AE is necessary to ensure that the flood gates are closed a little bit, frequency caps are initiated, and remaining impressions are spread out evenly throughout the rest of the campaign.
Effectively monitoring daily impressions pacing is one way to ensure that the planned buy is executed as designed. Without regular observation adjusting the buy is impossible and the monetary investment as well as the time planning and strategizing for a successful campaign is wasted.