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Utilizing data, marketers can optimize their ad performance throughout multiple levels including creative, placement, and campaign. 

What is Optimization?

Optimization is the process of increasing the impact of an ad. Simply put, it's using past performance and future forecasting to determine how much to spend for future goals, and to amend campaigns in-flight. Optimizing campaigns involves cutting losses for underperforming segments, and scaling up high-performing segments.

Levels to Optimize Your Ads

This optimization process begins with creative, moves on to placements and individual publishers, and finally to a campaign-wide level.

Optimization can be done pre-flight, during a campaign, or after a campaign’s completion.

Optimization begins at the most granular level so that easy corrections are taken into account before making sweeping campaign management changes. Start by re-evaluating your creatives.

There are some cases for making more drastic changes to your campaigns, however: 
•    Poor overall CTR (click-through rate) on all creatives and placements (with significant sample size)
•    Poor overall CVR (conversion rate) on the clicks coming from a site (e.g., lots of clicks, but no conversions).
•    Prohibitive costs (high eCPMs) resulting in higher costs per click and action. Poor ROI.


Creative Level: The most important element in your media buying campaigns is your creative. Optimizing your creative units can help you determine if the problem is your inventory or creative unit. 
Placement Level: Finding the right placement that is driving performance for your campaign  homepage, leaderboard, run of site, you name it. 
Supplier level: You can optimize at the publisher level, which evaluates the publisher’s overall performance including all of their placements within a campaign.
Campaign Level: Finally, after a campaign has been optimized from a creative, placement, and site level, there are a few considerations you may want to make at the campaign level, such as day-parting, geo-targeting, browser, demographics, etc. Campaign level optimization is completed last, as you need to gather enough data to make informed decisions. For example, you could view an hourly breakdown of your campaign statistics to determine if campaign level day-parting should be included in your optimization efforts.

Optimization Engines

There are plenty of third-party platforms that help brands and agencies optimize their media buying, often referred to as Optimization Engines. 

An Optimization Engine ensures an ad is delivered where it should be according to consumers, advertisers, and available websites.

An optimization engine considers several factors before placing your ad:

Marketing goals: This could be increased site traffic, ad impressions, or a certain type of website for your ads.
Consumer response: This will try to replicate situations when users clicked your ad.
History: Previous patterns of how campaigns have performed, and use it to your advantage.
Bid amount: A higher bid will give you access to more inventory, and a lower bid may limit your options for available placements.
Target: The audience you are trying to reach.


Just like agencies and advertisers, publishers have optimization goals as well  to sell out their inventory, at the best possible prices. 

What is yield optimization?

At its core, a publisher's goal is to find the brand willing to pay the highest amount for one impression. Like most of digital advertising, the original players, like the publisher, managed their yield optimization in-house. Today, most large and mid-sized publishers source third parties to facilitate their yield optimization, namely SSPs (Supply Side Platforms). 

Publishers selling directly to agencies and advertisers have the yield and performance of ad trafficking measured by the ad server. When inventory is sold to an exchange or network, there are a number of other factors involved in the price and impressions served, as the final buyer (the agency or advertisers) may be found through various intermediary platforms. 

How do SSPs help publishers optimize? 

SSPs act as the intermediary between publishers and their audience for maximizing the selling of inventory, and also act as the gatekeeper for publishers. SSPs can act as the enforcer for a publisher's brand safety, so that unfavorable brands are not allowed to purchase their inventory.

Though SSPs originally gained ground as a way for publishers to sell off their remnant inventory, today many SSPs offer additional services, such as acting as the actual interface between a publisher and their exchange. 

Related Links


Digital advertising terms don't have to be overwhelming. Check out our digital glossary to quickly look-up important definitions.

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