The opportunities of retail media

Retail media is red hot these days, enjoying 27% YoY growth. According to eMarketer, advertisers spent an eye-popping $23.92 billion in 2021 in the U.S. alone. This year, retail media advertising will go as high as $41.37 billion in 2022.

Source: eMarketer

It’s no surprise that advertisers are investing more in retail media; it makes sense on a lot of levels. Let’s take a look.

First, what is retail media exactly? Web properties like,, and Amazon are more than mere ecommerce sites; they’re robust marketplaces that attract hundreds of millions of consumers each year.

Consumers visit these sites when they want to:

  • Research products
  • Make an actual purchase

For brands, retail media presents ideal opportunities to introduce new prospects to their products, and to influence their buying decisions. In other words, retail media is terrific for both awareness and performance campaigns.

The impact of privacy regulations + browser restrictions

By now you’re probably tired of reading about privacy regulations and the death of the cookie, but the truth is, marketers will need a new way to reach and engage consumers. Retail media is a great alternative. Why?

Traditionally, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have relied on third-party retailers to sell their products directly to consumers. Retail partners were the ones to collect the consumer’s first-party data, not the product manufacturer itself. As third-party cookie tracking goes away, brands without vast pools of first-party data are at a disadvantage.

Enter retail media. These big retailers know a great deal about their customers, and can help brands target shoppers who are likely to be interested in a specific brand or product. What’s more, they have developed sophisticated tools and audience segments to help brands home in on their ideal consumers.

All brands offer multiple ad options, including display ads and sponsored products.

What’s more, when brands advertise on a retail media site, they can use first-party data to measure the success of their campaigns. The retailer can provide reports that tell marketers the number of customers they’ve reached, and whether or not those customers went on to convert.

Retail media advertising platforms

Retailers offer more than inventory, however. Many now offer the technology brands need to reach target users. For instance, Target’s digital ad platform, Roundel, partnered with an ad exchange to offer programmatic advertising, and has rolled out an attribution tool that’s available to marketers who spend $75,000 over a six-week period.

Walmart Connect and Lowe’s One Roof Media Network offer similar functionality.

Don’t miss out

Many say that retail media will become the dominant advertising channel for advertisers, thanks to the abundant availability of first-party data for targeting purposes, along with the ability to reach consumers who are actively researching products and forming opinions about brands and measure campaign effectiveness.

Should your brand include retail media as part of your media budget? A large number of consumers rely on retail media to learn about products. If you’re not there, those consumers may never have a chance to learn about your brand. Get in touch – we’ll be happy to discuss with you further.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:14th February 2022


Get ready for Black Friday/Cyber Monday: 6 tips for success

2021 promises to be another “interesting” holiday season. Last year consumers stayed home, and many used the no-traveling policy to cross people off their shopping list they weren’t going to see in person. Are those permanent or temporary removals?  Will people abandon the idea of holiday gatherings in favor of a wonderful trip as a reward for sheltering in place?

One thing we know for certain is that competition for consumers will be fierce. On top of that, the economy is groaning under a global labor shortage which means you might not have the resources to provide the high-touch level of support you once did. So how do you ensure your all-important holiday season is a stellar success?

Here are six tips for you to consider.

Tip #1: Expand your store footprint with social selling

According to a DigitalCommerce360 survey of over 4,500 consumers, 82% of people say that social media is where they hear about brands and products most frequently. Almost a third (29%) say that most of their new purchases come from social media discoveries. Even before the pandemic forced people to stay at home, however, more than half (54%) of people said they purchase directly from social media. Social selling is hot!

Headless commerce lets you move your ecommerce frontend to your social media pages, and capture consumers where they’re increasingly apt to shop.

Tip #2: Expand your payment options

More than 150 million Americans have a digital wallet; worldwide the number will top 1.5 billion by the end of the year. And, people don’t have just one digital wallet; they have many. It’s not unusual for consumers to regularly use PayPal, Venmo, Android Pay/Apple Pay, Amazon Pay as they shop online and in real life.

Why the popularity? For 66% of consumers it all comes down to convenience. It’s just so easy to buy something with a digital wallet. In fact, finding a wallet, entering credit card and shipping information, especially from a mobile device, is an utter drag. It’s just easier to find a retailer who will let consumers purchase they way they want.

What’s more, let’s say that a consumer lent her friend $100, who later paid her back in Venmo. That money is more or less sitting in her Venmo account waiting to be spent. Let your ecommerce store be the place where she spends it. Including your list of payment options in your ad campaigns is a smart move to attract such people.

Tip #3: Offer live chat or personal assistants

A recent study by LivePerson found that, “75% of consumers will spend more money with retailers that support digital and in-store experiences with messaging experts. More than half of shoppers, 63%, will purchase more from a website that boasts a virtual assistant.”

It’s not difficult to understand why. Selecting gifts is stressful. Will the recipient like it? Will it arrive on time? How can I be sure that the Black Friday/Cyber Monday promo code will go through?

Live chat and personal assistants can deliver answers at the most critical time, resulting in better conversion rates.

Tip #4: Create answers to routine customer questions

It’s not likely that we’ll resolve the global labor shortage in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, which means your customer care team will need to respond to a lot more questions with fewer people to help. You can ease their workload by creating answers to routine questions like, “when will my order arrive?” or “do these hoodies run large?”

There are many tools that can streamline your customer care operations, including responding to incoming questions at lightning speed. Quick response builds shopper confidence, and your sales.

Tip #5: Offer “shop online pickup in store”

In the unlikely event that you haven’t built this functionality into your site, give consumers the option to avoid crowds (and COVID variants) by shopping online and picking up their packages at one of your retail outlets.

Consumer behavior has changed quite a bit since the pandemic. Habits acquired out of necessity, like shopping online and picking up in stores, are here to stay. Why battle crowds if you don’t have to?

Tip #6: Offer gift guides

Some people love gift shopping, for many others it is a job full of terror. What do you get a 13-year-old kid who seems to spend all of his time looking at his mobile? Or the coworker whose name you drew in the office Secret Santa?

Offer a series of gift guides – Gifts for Him, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Teens, Gifts Under $25, Gifts Under $100, and so on for shoppers who have no idea what to get the people on their lists.

Gift Guides are also a great way to attract visitors to your site as people often search on terms like, “gifts for teens.”

Get in touch

Right now you probably have your hands full getting ready for the holiday season, but there’s one burden you can offload to us: your ad campaigns. We can run all of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns, including Paid Search. We’ll execute them flawlessly, analyze results daily, and optimize every aspect of your campaign in order to drive performance – get in touch.

Author:Rekha Patil

Date:29th September 2021


Best practices for onboarding outsourcing partners

Are you considering outsourcing ad ops to Paragon Digital Services? Smart move. Your teams can use their time to focus on more high value, strategic activities, such as finding new business and growing your revenue.

What’s more, you can rest assured that your ad ops are in good hands. Paragon’s teams are extremely detail oriented and process driven. We’ll focus on the technical nuts and bolts of your campaigns – tracking down creatives, site tagging and set-up, testing and optimization, real-time reporting and analytics – so you won’t need to.

When working with an outsourcing partner, it’s important to remember that you’re asking someone else to step into your shoes, and to succeed, Paragon needs to know every detail of that experience. When we onboard a client, we immerse ourselves in the minutiae of your business process, systems, and systems documentation.

Whether you’re a media agency, publisher, tech platform or brand that’s seeking to in-house media execution, we follow a three-phased approach to onboarding new clients in a highly process-driven way.

Phase 1: Understand your systems and business processes

The first phase focuses on understanding the systems and the business processes that are in place. We need to learn your ad-tech stack inside and out, so that we can expertly execute and troubleshoot your campaigns.

Phase 2: Understand business documentation and fill in gaps

Once we have a strong handle on your systems and processes, we work on achieving a comprehensive understanding of the business documentation that supports all the work done within those systems. To do that, we’ll review all of your system documentation so that we can create tools based on it. We’ll also identify and fill any gaps that pertain to business processes associated with your campaign KPIs.

Phase 3: Practice runs

Once we have our ducks in order, we’ll conduct multiple campaigns in your systems and against your business processes and campaign KPIs. We then ask you to evaluate our work with a highly critical eye. We won’t take over a client’s work until we’re 100% accurate.

(Don’t worry about this phase taking forever. We’re far from novices, and we typically get this accurate in short order.)

What we ask from our clients

What do we need from you to succeed? We ask that you provide us access to your business systems, and to train us on the processes you want us to follow once we assume responsibility for your ad ops. We also need to see all documentation, and to provide guidance on filling in any gaps we may identify.

Get in touch to learn how we can help you transform your ad ops.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:22nd September 2021


Harness the brand power of the evolving digital shopping experience

In the previous post, we talked about headless commerce, an approach to ecommerce development that decouples the backend of an ecommerce site from the front end. In other words, all the backend tasks – order processing, customer records, EPR integration – are separated from the elements that customers engage with, including content, images, product configurators and, critically, the shopping cart. What you’re left with is an ecommerce platform without a “head.”

What’s interesting about headless commerce is that it sets the stage for brands to sell anywhere in the digital universe. It’s a topic well worth exploring for brands, as whole generations of shoppers show signs that they favor non-traditional commerce channels, and your ability to reach and engage these consumers may hinge on how well you can meet them in the places where they make purchasing decisions.

Commerce is everywhere

When ecommerce first emerged in the early 1990’s, site developers sought to mimic the offline experience online, under the belief that such a replication would guide shoppers through the process. Online shopping was new, and many consumers were wary of entering their credit card into a strange new thing called a website. Mimicking the in-store experience felt fundamentally familiar, and gave consumers the confidence to try something new.

But the younger, digitally native Millennial and Gen Z generations don’t need that kind of analogy to the offline world. Moreover, they’ve adopted e-wallets and other tools that streamline shopping, allowing them to purchase a product with a click of a button. Navigating to an online retailer, going through the checkout process, and entering a credit card number and shipping address all feels so yesterday.

This combination of emerging attitudes and seamless technology has allowed innovative brands to sell anywhere, win new customers, and in some cases, leap ahead of their competition. Let’s look at some examples.

Social commerce & shoppable livestreaming

While social commerce isn’t exactly a new trend, 2020 saw an explosion of social commerce sales. And it’s not likely to slow down in 2021. In the US alone, social commerce sales this year will top $39 billion. Globally the numbers are even more eye popping, reaching $589 billion. According to Grand View Research, social commerce will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 28.4% over the next 6 years

Social media platforms are keen to promote this trend. Over the past year many platforms formed partnerships with ecommerce vendors to enable tighter integration of the two disciplines (e.g. Shopify and Snapchat announced an initiative to make it easier for retailers to create ads and set-up campaigns via the Shopify platform).

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are enthralled with a newer form of social selling, known as shoppable livestreaming. Platforms such as ShopShops and Pendoo have entered the market to support social livestreaming, and have provided social media influencers with an economic shot in the arm. It’s only a matter of time before shoppable livestreaming becomes a global phenomenon.

How does it work? ShopShops calls its influencers “hosts,” who present items from “iconic and trendy stores, sample sales and flea markets.” Holding up pieces from a sample sales or flea market automatically creates a sense of urgency within the customer: buy this now because it will never be available again.

News sites

Headless commerce is also paving the way for news organizations to get serious about ecommerce. Every news site has an ecommerce store, of course, but those sites are hardly a major source of revenue for them. That’s about to change, because headless commerce allows new sites to integrate shopping and content consumption and take advantage of impulse sales.

Take NBCUniversal which released its NBCUniversal checkout early last year. This new feature will incorporate commerce into the reading and viewing experience across its sites. Specifically, it allows the readers of articles and viewers of videos on NBCUniversal properties to click on a featured product, bring up the listing from a partner merchant and make the purchase. Users never need to leave the article they’re reading.

NBCUniversal isn’t alone in the field, as many major news organizations are fusing content consumption with commerce. But one of the things that is significant about NBC is the sheer number of properties the publisher owns, and the size of the audience who will be exposed to this new mode of shopping.

Within a few years I wouldn’t be surprised to see shoppable content become so common that consumers consider it a normal way to shop – and feel put upon if an ad or an article won’t let them purchase an item that’s right there in front of them.

Gaming commerce

Online games have always engaged in commerce, selling users tools and in-game currency to move up a level or acquire more power. In other words, online games already have the user’s payment information stored, and the consumer is already comfortable with spending money there.

Last spring, rapper Travis Scott performed a concert in the video game Fortnite (those who missed it can join the other 13 million viewers who watched it on YouTube). Given the scale and reach of audiences like Travis’, I can’t imagine that gaming companies will sit on the sidelines much longer. The technology exists to support in-game purchases, and with headless commerce, brands could offer up, say, the trendy sneakers or clothing worn by characters within the games to players with a purchase cycle that can be completed in a single click.

The future: Disappearing lines

These trends are obliterating the line between digital shopping and digital experiences. Soon watching TV, playing a game, keeping up with friends on social media may all become seamless commerce opportunities.

What’s interesting about these developments from a marketer’s point of view is that they collapse advertising and purchasing into a single interaction. A customer sees a product in her Instagram feed, video game or livestreamed fashion sale and makes an impulse purchase.

Headless commerce will usher in a world of new opportunities.

Author:David Tyler

Date:29th March 2021


What is headless commerce? And what does it mean for customer acquisition campaigns?

One can hardly pick up an industry journal without seeing an article on headless commerce. But what is it, and how will it affect the brand manager’s top goal of acquiring new customers?

First, let’s be clear about one thing: headless commerce deserves all the hype it’s getting because it is fuelling – and will continue to fuel – a lot of innovation in commerce, marketing and advertising.

For instance, let’s say I’ve had my eye on a winter coat but yet to take the plunge of buying it.  The brand can target me with a promotional offer on my Instagram feed, enabling me to buy it directly from the ad, bypassing a visit to its site and the whole shopping cart/checkout process. That’s a lot of obstacles eliminated!

The ability to extend your ecommerce storefront to any digital channel is just one of the many benefits of headless commerce.

So what does headless commerce mean exactly? Headless commerce decouples the backend of an ecommerce site from the front end, meaning the order processing, customer records, EPR integration are separated from the customer-facing elements, including content, images, product configurators and so on. What you’re left with is an ecommerce platform without a “head.”

APIs connect the frontend to the backend, sending requests from the presentation layer (i.e. the frontend) to the application. So in my example, when I click the “Buy Now” button on the ad in my Instagram feed, the presentation layer of the apparel company’s headless ecommerce system sends an API call to the application layer to process the order. The application layer then sends another API call to the application layer to show me the status of my order.

Benefits of Headless Commerce

  • Painless omnichannel marketing. Unlike a traditional ecommerce store, headless commerce allows you to sell in any channel, even those that have yet to emerge. You can include the ability to buy seamlessly any place where a consumer will see your content: social media, ads, blogs, SMS messages, and so on. And it’s not just selling; you can invite anyone to sign up for your email or SMS newsletter and offers.
  • Speed to market. It’s much easier to implement customer-facing site enhancements when the frontend is decoupled from the backend because you don’t need to roll out the update across your entire system, just one part of the system.
  • Flexibility. As new channels emerge, your developers can add new channels to your existing platform. You won’t need to replatform your entire store just to service customers in a new channel.
  • Save in development costs. If your store runs on a complex ecommerce platform, like Magento Commerce, headless commerce can offer lower development costs, as it’s much faster for a developer to write, implement, test and deploy site enhancements.
  • Marketing focus commerce. In traditional ecommerce, the technology typically drives how you engage your customers, but with headless commerce your marketing team can make those decisions based on how and where customers discover your brand.
  • Personalization deployed anywhere. Headless commerce allows you to personalize content in any channel, as my winter coat example shows. Going further, the brand can show me a hat and scarf set that goes with the coat when I’m on Facebook, or show me a spring rain coat a few months down the road, which I can buy with a single click.

Obviously this is a simplified explanation of headless commerce, but it shows why, as a digital marketing agency, we are super excited about the world of opportunities it offers our clients. Headless commerce is powering a new range of engagement possibilities – such as social commerce, that resonates with the younger generations. It’s the best way to ensure your ecommerce store and brand can keep up with consumers as they adopt new channels and shopping habits.

We’ll help you move into the future, get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:23rd March 2021


Why a DTC channel is a must-have

If you’re a manufacturer, these past 12 months have been quite unnerving. Some 25,000 retail outlets closed in the US in 2020 due to COVID, and many other iconic brands are predicted to shutter in the coming months as the challenges of the pandemic and faltering economy linger on. If you relied on these retailers to get your products into the hands of your customers you’re likely thinking: what are my options?

It might be time to consider launching a channel in which you sell your products directly to your customers, better known as a DTC channel. In fact, it’s a strategy that many manufacturers, CPG brands and food companies now consider business imperatives.

These companies aren’t simply jumping on the latest fad; they’re meeting customers where they are. Seeking safe, contactless shopping, consumers have flocked to ecommerce, so much so demand for grocery delivery enabled Instacart to turn a profit for the first time ever. According to a McKinsey Report, COVID-19 has condensed ten years worth of anticipated growth in ecommerce into just 90 days.

There are plenty of opportunities and challenges to launching a DTC channel. Let’s start with the opportunities:

  • Customers favor eCommerce. Last July Digital Commerce 360 reported that online sales leapt by an impressive 76%. If you want to continue selling to consumers, you’ll need to offer your products in their preferred shopping channels, and increasingly that’s digital. More importantly, consumers have spent the pandemic forming new shopping habits out of necessity. But necessity almost always gives way to habit. If your brand isn’t on the consumer’s radar, getting their attention sometime in the future could be difficult, if not impossible.
  • Direct customer relationships. When you sell directly to customers you have the opportunity to develop one-to-one relationships with them, and to avail yourself of the many benefits such relationships offer: product feedback, surveys, loyalty and referral programs, to name a few. You’ll also begin to build a pool of first-party data that will no doubt morph into one of your most important strategic assets.
  • First-party data. Picking up on the previous bullet, GDPR and CCPA have left marketers scrambling for cookie-free ways to target new audiences and build their upper funnel. First-party data offers a bright spot for privacy-compliant marketing. You can use your customer data to send out product announcements, personalize your web experiences to the shopper, request permission to engage in marketing initiatives with your partners, and even model new prospects to target.
  • Customer journey insight. When you sell your products via third-party retailers, they — not you — own the customer relationship. They’re also the ones who get insight into customer journeys, and can understand how and why consumers favor one brand over another. A direct-to-consumer channel will allow you to capture that insight, use it to engage better with prospects, and be more responsive to their needs. It will also provide a roadmap for building your upper funnel by knowing where and how to apply marketing resources.
  • Better margins. Third-party retailers and wholesalers may have provided you with a lot of benefits, but they came at a price. When you sell directly to consumers, the 40% markup stays on your balance sheet.
  • Less noise. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart are excellent vehicles for getting your products in front of huge audiences, but it also means competition is stiff. These marketplaces are optimized to close sales, and so they present the consumer with multiple choices, even when the consumer arrives on your product page via a costly paid search campaign. A DTC channel lets you eliminate that competition.

There are many compelling reasons to launch a DTC channel, but it is, by no means, an uncomplicated endeavor.

Challenges to launching DTC channel

If your company has typically sold to retailers and wholesalers in bulk, you’ll probably need to restructure quite a bit of your internal operations in order to service end customers. You’ll also need new pricing, pick, pack-and-ship models to get your products out the door.

And there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll need to do substantial work to your website to support one-to-one sales. Unlike B2B sites which are meant to make placing bulk orders a quick and easy task for established business customers, a consumer-facing site will need to promote product discovery, provide an abundance of fresh content, and be optimized towards a new set of metrics such time on site, page views and repeat visits.

Creating a consumer website will require you to identify the customer journey and optimize towards it — a task that may have been left to your wholesalers and retail partners. If you’re like many manufacturers, you may have a fragmented view of the customer journey, and will need to engage some analysis to help you understand how consumers engage with your brand.

Finally, you’ll need to build new integrations from your DTC ecommerce site to your order management, Enterprise Resource Planning and other backend systems so that you can provide site visitors with updated and accurate inventory availability, shipping information, process orders, and ensure that key account data, such as their shipping address, payment information and other preferences, inform their shopping experience.

How Paragon can help

If a DTC channel makes good business sense to your brands/products but the prospect of building and maintaining an entire ad operations team from the ground up feels daunting, don’t fret. Paragon Services has a history of delivering world class omnichannel digital campaigns, audience management, reporting and analytics all designed to maximize DTC channel ROI.

We’ll guide you through all aspects you need to develop DTC campaigns, audience management, reporting and analytics.

We’ll help you move into the future, get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:9th March 2021


What is ROAS and how should you measure it?

What is ROAS, and how should you measure it?

As a marketer you’ve likely been given a set of business goals that you’re charged with achieving, whether that’s acquiring new customers, prompting existing customers to buy more frequently or encourage them to try new products in an adjacent category.

Regardless of your objectives for the coming year one thing is certain: your success will be measured based on real business outcomes … units moved, revenue generated, loyalty program sign ups. One thing the c-suite won’t be impressed with is a slide that boasts high CTR or a low CPA if your other, truly business-oriented targets have been missed.

The solution? Return on ad spend (ROAS) will help you focus your efforts in media and tactics that drive business results.

CTR: Just one hand clapping

I’d hate to sound like a cynic, but CTR alone isn’t a very useful metric. In fact, it’s rather self serving. It confirms that a specific piece of technology — an ad server or DSP — did what it was supposed to do, namely present an ad to a consumer. But did it ultimately lead to an actual sale or sign-up.

But what does CTR really tell you? To hear pundits tell it, it is an indication of interest. If a consumer clicked on an ad it’s an irrefutable indication that he or she is interested in your brand, right?

Except that as consumers we all know that’s not the case. I accidentally clicked on an ad for a company that sells cutesy tee-shirts and mugs with specific breeds of dogs on them. The idea is that I can opt to have representations of all my pets printed on an item. I don’t do cutesy, even though I do have pets. The ads continue to follow me around the Internet, sadly wasting the marketer’s budget on a consumer who will never convert.

There isn’t a consumer anywhere in the world who hasn’t accidentally clicked on an ad, especially on a mobile device with a small screen. Some estimate that up to half or more clicks are accidental, which begs the question: how meaningful is an ROAS that’s calculated using a suspect number?

This is where return on ad spend (ROAS) is useful. ROAS typically ties back to some combination of cost you incurred for showing an ad to a customer (CPM), along with the click-through rate (CTR) or cost-per-action (CPA). By calculating your ROAS, you can identify which channels and publications deliver the best results for your business, thereby allowing you to home in on the most responsive audiences and eliminate waste in your media plan.

Another option is to calculate ROAS based on specific actions taken, or CPA. But the key here is to ensure that it’s a meaningful action, such as signing up for a newsletter or following a brand on Instagram. These actions set the stage for building a relationship with the customer, and can ultimately lead to conversions and potentially a strong lifetime value. (These actions are also fully GDPR and CCPA-compliant as the consumer has chosen to raise his or her hand to say, “I’m interested”).

By calculating and understanding your ROAS, you will be in a position to understand which channels and tactics actually move the needle for your company or product, whether that’s new app installs that deliver active users, or incremental sales or subscriptions. Ultimately, it can help you design campaigns that are outcome driven, enabling prospects who are new to your brand discover what you have to offer, and build loyalty. In other words, success is in the campaign details.

To find out more about how bespoke ad ops outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:3rd March 2021


What is ISO 9001:2015 / ISO 27001 and why should you care?

We’re ISO certified. But what is it? And why should you care? ISO has multiple families of certifications; we’re certified in information security management (ISO/IEC 27001) and quality management (ISO 9000).

You may have also noticed that Paragon is unique in this certification. If other agencies aren’t certified, why should we go to the bother of taking four weeks out of the year to undertake an exhaustive certification process? The answer is twofold.

First, we are strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of any and all data we touch and store on behalf of our clients, as GDPR, CCPA and other emerging regulations demand.

Second, ISO 9001:2015 lays out principles for ensuring the quality of services offered by vendors like Paragon Digital, and quality has always been a paramount goal of ours.

What is ISO 9001:2015 exactly?

It’s a set of principles and requirements, laid out by the International Organizations for Standardization, that organizations must follow when developing a quality management system. The principles are designed for an organization that: (to quote the ISO in full):

  • “needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.”

ISO / IEC 27001 data security compliance

Let’s start with the first bullet: the need to demonstrate that products and services meet all compliance regulations worldwide.

When most people think of GDPR and CCPA, they think about the need to request and store consent from consumers in order to use cookies. But both regulations also address data security in fundamental ways. If any entity collects consumer data of any kind, that entity must ensure that the consumer won’t be harmed as a result of a data breach or some other issue.

Moreover, both GDPR and CCPA put the onus of ensuring compliance on the actual brand (aka the “controller”). Specifically,  GDPR Article 24 states that “the controller shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure and to be able to demonstrate that processing is performed in accordance with this Regulation.” Recital 74 further explains that the controller is responsible and liable for processing done on its behalf by a third party.

CCPA is built on California’s “agency law,” which says that any action taken by an agent acting on your behalf is your responsibility.

The bottom line: if you engage a third party to execute a campaign or some other marketing or customer care initiative, you are responsible for the actions of that third party. As Richy Glassberg, one of the co-founders of the IAB warned recently, vendor compliance is a gaping hole privacy compliance as most brand managers are unaware of their responsibility under both GDPR and CCPA.

This is why our certification is so important. Our ISO 9001:2015 certification provides our clients with the assurance they need that Paragon’s processes for handling consumer data complies with state-of-the-art practices and current regulations, and that they’ve been certified by an outside auditor.

Quality management

The quality management certification ensures we have the processes in place to “enhance customer satisfaction” and to “demonstrate conformity to specified quality management system requirements.”

In other words, when Paragon takes on work on behalf of clients, quality is front and center. Our high level of quality stems from the vast experience and expertise of our teams, of course. But it’s also enhanced by our strict adherence to the best practices laid out in the ISO principles.

The difficult task of meeting ISO certification requirements

It isn’t easy to achieve ISO certification as the requirements are quite stringent, encompassing people, processes, technology and even how physical workspaces are organized (for instance, our teams are physically separated per ISO requirements, and sensitive areas require biometric access).

Central to certification are annual audits by a third-party auditor. It typically takes the auditor four weeks to verify that every box is checked, and omitting even a single, seemingly minor requirement jeopardizes a successful certification.

After four years of audits and certification, Paragon has built a robust discipline, infrastructure and internal compliance and training team around the ISO principles, and it has become a way of life for our organization. All of our workflows – from the simplest task for a client to fulfilling a role they’ve handed off to us – are executed with these quality principles in mind.

When combined with our deep industry expertise, our clients are assured that the services they receive from Paragon are of the highest possible quality.

Peace of mind for clients in competitive industries

One final reason why ISO / IEC 27001 certification is important to us: clients in highly competitive industries want assurance that their data will never end up in the hands of their competitor, or will benefit a competitor in any way. Certification guarantees cross-company data sharing won’t ever occur – a process that is backed up by audited and accountable infrastructure.

At some point, your compliance team will ask if all of the third parties you work with are compliant with GDPR and CCPA. Answering for Paragon Digital Services will be easy for you, thanks to our ISO 9001: 2015 certification.

To find out more about how bespoke ad ops outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:26th January 2021


The challenges of maintaining an internal ad ops team

The TV series, Mad Men, certainly raised the profile of advertising and marketing, and attracted legions of students to major in communications. These students expected to enter a world of three-martini lunches after presenting their stunning campaigns in high profile meetings.

In reality, most people today get their foot in the door by joining an ad ops team – work that is vital and strategic, to be sure. But it’s not quite what these starry-eyed grads dreamed of when they got out of college or university. Ad ops is widely viewed as a stepping stone to higher level positions. Chasing creatives, reconciling ad server reporting discrepancies, tag management, running mid campaigns reports at 11pm, is difficult work.

The high turnover rate is a challenge. New campaign traffickers need to be recruited, vetted and trained, all of which costs money and takes time. Moreover, a high rate of turnover can affect a team’s workload and morale. Worse, it deprives the brand of a critical asset: continuity in ad operations.

Continuity in this business equates to reliability, and reliable campaign execution demands a team of players who have the skills and experience required to deliver client campaigns on time and error free.

The make or break impact of ad ops

The best – most brilliant – creative campaigns won’t succeed without an essential ingredient: obsessive attention to detail. Consider all the skills required to get the right ad in front of the right audience:

  • Identify the right channels to find an audience and acquire enough quality inventory to meet scale and pacing requirements. Ensure ad creatives meet the publication’s requirements to display ad correctly
  • Measure the audience: are we actually reaching our target audience?
  • Obtain results in real time and read the tea leaves: who is responding? Are they users who have an actual need, or are they accidentally clicking? Are there surprising audiences we didn’t realize have an interest in this product or service? Can we validate these findings and assess how relevant they actually are?
  • Optimize targeting strategy based on real-time results, measure and repeat
  • Generate reports in order to assess the impact on business outcomes, optimize messaging strategy, and make smarter decisions next time around.
  • And finally, request make-goods for bot traffic, ICT or unfulfilled impressions.

Gaining continuity in ad ops

Clearly there’s a lot of value in continuity, both in the team you invest in, and the learnings that occur from trafficking campaigns. How do you get there?

Option #1: Build an internal team

One way to ensure continuity is to build a team internally, but as mentioned above, it’s an endeavor that demands investments in recruiting, training, and lots of costly turnover. It also requires a fair amount of investment in staying current on the many platforms and technologies required to delivery campaigns that meet or exceed your KPIs.

That’s not to say this isn’t a viable option for many brands. According to a survey by the IAB and Accenture, 69% of brands have opted to bring at least some portion of their programmatic activities in-house. But it’s a long-term strategy, with a lot of technical requirements, including ensuring full compliance with the privacy and data security requirements of GDPR and CCPA. Household-name brands have the technical and financial resources to build and maintain an internal team, but many others may find this option a bit out of reach.

Option #2: Partner with an ad ops expert

A second option is to turn over some or all ad operations to a third-party company whose business is to traffic campaigns and to focus on the myriad tasks involved in ad ops – an agency like Paragon. We have deep expertise in ad serving, targeting, measurement, cross-channel trafficking, optimization and reporting for direct and programmatic campaigns.

A partnership with Paragon brings 14 years of technical platform expertise, and an industry leading commitment to accuracy plus on-time delivery. Your systems, your business processes, Paragon’s people and expertise means continuity in your ad operations.

You can turn over your entire ad operations to a partner like Paragon or just some portion of it. For instance, you can opt to outsource the technical or busy work, enabling your existing ad ops team to focus on the client-facing tasks they find more rewarding from a career enhancing perspective, thereby preserving the investments you’ve made in your most important asset: Your people).

To find out more about how bespoke ad ops outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:19th January 2021


Business benefits of a bespoke outsourcing strategy

Years ago, I worked for a leading print publisher specializing in technology publications. One day, my boss announced that he had planned to sell the printing press used to print B2B technology publications. We questioned why – to which he replied that the printing press was no longer strategic to our core business. He mentioned that it required too much management to maintain but by outsourcing the printing, we would be able to focus on more important tasks such as face to face client support, new business meetings, relationship building and premium quality editorial and content creation. A couple years later, the business was sold for higher than average EBITA…$940 million.

Fast forward 20 years and sure enough, digital publishers (also media agencies, brands, and ad tech platforms) are asking themselves the same question – “should we start outsourcing some of our arduous business processes or do we continue to pour time, resource and budget into tasks that are no longer critical for us to own?”. Tasks such as creative asset management, ad trafficking, campaign set-up, trafficking and reporting, revenue reconciliation, some account management activities etc.

Business benefits

Following the initial transition process, many new clients from media agencies, publishers, brands and platforms have expressed the value they have gained from outsourcing such tasks – and how this has wholly exceeded their initial expectations.

Across the board, every client that I work with expects cost savings to be the #1 outcome of outsourcing ad operations. While there is no denying that cost savings are meaningful, there are other benefits which exceed the cost component in terms of value.

Below are the top 5 added benefits reported by Paragon clients:

  1. By reviewing our workflows and roles, our team is now aligned / focused on the most important tasks to our business
  2. By outsourcing less strategic work, our employees are learning higher value skills which aligns nicely with both their career paths and our growth requirements
  3. By allowing our employees to engage in more creative, strategic and challenging work, the operations department morale has never been higher
  4. By utilising high-quality, dedicated support, the quality and efficiency gains were instant – leading to a dramatic increases in campaign KPIs and client satisfaction surveys
  5. By outsourcing specific tasks, management time is freed up from recruiting and training new employees and this churn rate is reduced

To find out more about how bespoke outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:9th October 2020