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Insourcing versus Outsourcing Ad operations cost comparison and analysis

AdOps is to marketing what plumbing is to homeownership: a task that’s essential to get right, and thus best left to the people who have experience delivering error-free work.

In terms of ad ops, outsourcing to a firm whose sole purpose is managing any or all aspects of campaign management can deliver error-free work save publishers, ad tech platforms, agencies, and brands between 50% – 70% in ad operating department costs.

Let’s break this down.

The Real Cost of In-Housed Ad Trafficker

According to Salary.com, the average AdOps associate salary in the U.S. is $63,775. That sum is likely to rise given the very real Great Resignation. All over the country brands struggle to fill open positions, and many are resorting to sizable signing bonuses to lure staff to their ranks. And, marketing salaries are on the rise, some have grown by as much as 50%.

Besides, an annual salary is just the starting point, there are a lot of other costs involved with keeping full-time employees on staff. According to the Small Business Administration, “There’s a rule of thumb that the cost is typically 1.25 to 1.4 times the salary, depending on certain variables.”

 

Where do those extra costs come from? They start with payroll taxes, which are mandatory. A brand’s share of FICA, aka Social Security. That rate is 7.65% of the AdOp team member’s compensation up to the annual wage base, which is $132,900 in 2019.

Next, you’ll need to pay an unemployment tax to the State in which that employee works.

Now let’s talk about bennies, one of the most valuable recruitment tools available to companies when seeking talent. Unless you manage your 401(k) internally, the annual administrative costs per employee range from $750 to $3,000. And, of course, there are your matching fees, meaning your company contributes an amount that matches what the employee puts in until a cap is reached.

Then there’s healthcare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average 2019 cost of insurance per employee for family coverage was $20,576 with workers on average paying $6,013 towards the cost of their coverage. They may be higher, depending on what you cover (dental and eye care cost more).

Now let’s talk about life insurance, which typically costs $.16 per $1,000 covered.  If like most companies, you offer a coverage amount that equals the employee’s annual salary, you will pay a $3,188 life insurance premium for your internal campaign trafficker.

Once they’re on staff you’ll need to supply them with the tools of the trade: a space to work, a computer, software licenses, communications fees, and other perks you may offer, like Pizza Friday, coffee, and snacks.

Those costs can vary, but for argument’s sake, let’s say you’ll pay for basic office software, which averages about $500 per year. Additionally, you’ll need to spend a week or two training that employee on your internal systems, and it could be a month or two before that employee is operating at full capacity.

There’s another hidden cost that is quite substantial: turnover. Over 30 million people left their jobs from January to August 2021; that’s one out of every four workers. As it is, AdOps is viewed by many employees as an entry-level position, a stepping stone to bigger and better things. And in this day and age, poaching is incessant, so you can expect your newly hired AdOps trafficker to receive competitive offers from headhunters once his or her training is complete and has gained some experience.

So what will it cost to replace a new hire? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, in 2017 the replacement costs for digital media advertising can reach as high as 50% – 60% of the employee’s annual salary. But again, if the Great Resignation continues unabated, you may need to factor in a signing bonus.

Efficiency Gains from Outsourcing

There are also efficiency gains to be had with an outsourcing partner. Take Paragon as an example. Our teams currently support 50 brands, publishers, agencies, and platforms with some or all of their ad operations.  And we have expertise with over 150 technology platforms, tools, and solutions.

Thanks to this deep technical platform expertise and broad client list, we can generate a 20% – 30% efficiency gain when we take over AdOps work from a client.

Intangible Benefits of Outsourcing

Finally, there are numerous intangible benefits to outsourcing, beginning with less distraction that stems from high turnover rates. When an ad trafficker quits, other employees need to step in to do that work until a replacement can be found. That’s a heavy burden.

Equally important, when you free up your employees from the mundane, but highly demanding, campaign trafficking work, you can reassign them to more strategic, and personally satisfying roles that promote client satisfaction, grow revenue and strengthen your partner ecosystem.

Refocusing your employees to the more satisfying work is a virtuous cycle of benefits. Turnover is lower, you can keep that earned knowledge in-house instead of losing it to a competitor, and all the costs of recruiting can be put towards acquiring new customers. Get in touch if you like to know more.

Author:David Tyler

Date:3rd May 2022

Blog

The growing importance of CTV

Much has been said about the way COVID-19 drove 10 years of ecommerce growth into just 10 months. But COVID-19 had a significant impact on many aspects of the economy, marketing and advertising included.

Take television advertising. Digital TV viewing shot up, and advertisers strove to meet them there. But rather than make big bets on the annual Upfronts, where marketers purchase huge and costly inventory buys, advertisers turn to programmatic buys of connected TV. The TV landscape will never be the same again.

The pandemic & TV viewing and advertising

Like all trends in digital advertising, the great shift in TV viewing is 100% driven by consumers. They decide when to watch their favorite shows, and on which device to watch them. Gone are the days when people gathered in the family room to watch appointment TV.

That trend went into hyperdrive during the pandemic. With out-of-home options constrained, the 2020 lockdowns prompted consumers to watch a lot more TV. Binge-watching entire seasons of shows became the new national pastime: digital TV viewing minutes shot up by 25% from Q1 to Q2 2020, just as lockdown orders hit..

And, in a very short period of time, the consumers were introduced to a slate of new streaming services: discovery+, Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and Disney+. Restless consumers added those services to their Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions.

Within the ad-tech industry, we differentiate between linear TV, CTV, streaming and advanced TV. To the consumer, however, it’s all just TV.

Consumers weren’t the only ones who embraced CTV during the pandemic. Advertisers, unsure of where to find their viewers, migrated from linear TV to digital. CTV allowed them to test publishers, often smaller and experimental ones, measure the results, and optimize their media plan on a weekly, or even daily basis. That’s game changing.

Digital = performance campaigns

For a long time, TV was seen exclusively as a brand-awareness channel, one that can reach tens of millions of consumers in a very quick time. The challenge is that one was never quite sure if those ads were seen by the right consumers, or if those consumers took actions as a result of seeing an ad. Put another way, two cornerstones of digital advertising — measurement and attribution — were largely unavailable to TV advertisers.

But CTV obliterates those constraints. In addition to removing the pressure of placing big bets at the Upfronts, all the benefits of digital advertising — testing channels, measuring results and optimizing as spend in real time — now apply to the TV channel. And that, says TVSquared CEO Jo Kinsella, makes CTV a performance channel. There’s data to backup Kinsella’s claim: According to research Hulu and Telaria, 82% of DTC shoppers will take action after seeing an ad streamed across CTV

What’s interesting is the way in which CTV democratizes TV advertising. Smaller companies, like growing DTC brands can now get into the game. Rather than invest millions in a campaign as was once required with Broadcast TV, marketers can test the waters with a much smaller budget.

And they can use their tried and true strategies for that testing. For example, eMarketer reports that about 60% of CTV impressions are purchased via programmatic channels. That’s about $2.37 billion.

Challenges of CTV

Connected TV still faces some challenges, however. To begin, it’s a highly fragmented market. Let’s say I’m a shoe brand and I want to target women aged 25 to 45. In the pre-digital world, I’d turn to Nielsen’s who would tell me which shows or properties will allow me to reach my target audience. Today, my target audience may watch those same shows on a computer via a streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, via cable and a Smart TV, or from any one of the affiliates that distribute that show. How do I reach them at scale?

Another challenge is measurement. Sure, digital impressions are countable, but every media buyer uses a third-party measurement company to ensure the number of ads they paid for were actually delivered as promised.

Measurement is more difficult, as TV studios rely on service-side ad insertion (SSAI) for ad delivery. SSAI knits ad spots into the content of the show itself in order to thwart ad-blocking software, which works by blocking ad calls to an ad server. If the ad is integrated into the content, there is no ad call. But it also makes it difficult for advertisers to know if their ads were actually displayed, leading to a new kind of walled gardens.

That challenge is being addressed, however. In fact, over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of multiple TV consortiums that bring together all the major players in the ecosystem to tackle the challenges of CTV. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, which is why they’re working together to develop a set of standards for buying inventory, measuring campaigns and calculating attribution.

Paragon’s CTV services

We provide a full range of CTV services to clients to ensure ads are displayed correctly and meet your expectations:

  • Precise QA testing of ad creatives to ensure all campaigns meet technical specs, and perform as they should on devices
  • Campaign setup, including troubleshooting campaign delivery issues and providing recommended edits/changes for peak performance
  • Pacing and performance reporting
  • Quality check AVOD channels to ensure the content quality and ad delivery aligns with your legal guidelines and brand standards
  • Partner integration support
  • Exceptional account management

Get in touch

Connected TV is an exciting new channel for advertisers of all sizes. It combines all the benefits of medium – site, sound and motion – with all of the advances of digital. If you haven’t considered adding TV into your media mix before, now is a good time to start. CTV has lowered the barriers of TV advertising, allowing more brands to reach their audience in this highly engaging channel. Paragon can help you launch successful CTV campaigns. Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:21st February 2022

Blog

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 Walmart.com, Target.com, Lowes.com 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

Blog

Should you in-house or outsource campaign management?

Planning for 2022

Right about now, many organizations are tweaking their 2022 business plans, looking for opportunities to lower costs without sacrificing revenue. In executive suites the world over, leaders are looking for ways to lower costs and reallocate resources in a way that supports revenue facing account management, sales and partnership resourcing requirements.

It’s natural to assume that in-housing your digital ad campaigns is the best way to lower costs, and build expertise among your ranks. The IAB reported last year that 69% of brands have brought some or all of their programmatic campaigns in-house, although not all have in-housed their complete operations.

If your company is a publisher, agency, brand or tech platform, you may be wondering whether outsourcing generates enough cost savings to meaningfully reallocate to account management sales and partnership efforts. The answer depends on your unique circumstances. Here are three factors to consider.

Labor cost

First, organizations need to consider their “recruitment costs”, which in 2021, according to HR associations, costs around $4,000 and takes about 42 days. Once the new hire arrives you’ll need to spend time and money training the employee on your systems. In some instances, training will require certification from a third-party, which means it may take several months before an employee is fully up to speed and contributing.

Ongoing salaries are another factor to consider. Employee salaries, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, represent 61.7% of an employer’s cost. In addition to salaries, US companies must  pay specific employer taxes for their employees (e.g. Social Security, workers compensations), which, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, cost an average of $20.50 per hour per employee. On top of that, there are employee benefits, (which, on a $70,000 salary can run more than $17,000. (Source: BeeBole), hardware and software costs, communications costs, office costs, etc.  An employee supporting ad operations work who is paid $70,000 salary actually cost their employer in the $125,000 – $145,000.

There are other soft costs that are harder to calculate. Lost Opportunity Cost comes to mind, that’s the cost to the organization when people who are customer acquisition or existing customer growth facing spend a portion of their time doing routine, repeatable tasks like testing creatives, chasing creatives, setting up a campaign, reviewing campaign results on a daily basis.

Talent shortage in the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation is real, not a figment of your imagination. Beginning in April 2021, 11.5 million American workers quit their jobs. Of those still working, 48% told Gallop that they’re actively looking for other work.

The marketing and advertising sector has not been spared. A survey of 423 marketers and agency employees found that 63% plan to change jobs or careers this year, 40% demand flexible hours, and 100% – every single respondent! – said they would not consider a job that didn’t offer the option to work from home.

Tempting talent to your ranks is getting more expensive. It’s an employee market, and brands across the world find they need to pay more to entice people to work for them.

Retaining talent, especially those with the highest skillsets, is just as challenging There is nothing more upsetting then watching your top talent walk out the door, after all the efforts in recruitment, training, etc.

You can pay steep recruitment costs, and pay to train new hires, provide the latest and greatest employee benefits but there is more than a slim risk that they’ll be open to new opportunities that may arise. Employee poaching is here and on the rise.

Continuity

Continuity is the final consideration and it’s an urgent one, due to the above mentioned Great Resignation. You can have a stellar employee executing and optimizing your campaigns, but what happens if he or she resigns or retires? Not only will your campaigns be interrupted while you recruit, hire and train a replacement, but you’ll lose the “institutional” knowledge of that employee. As the employee manages campaigns, he or she garners detailed knowledge of which channel works best with which type of product, as well as strategies for getting the best price for media. It can take years to recover that kind of insight.

Outsourcing partners, on the hand, are all about continuity; it’s our raison d’etre, so to speak. We put processes in place to document all knowledge gained with every campaign, so that there are never any interruptions of continuity.

Which option is right for your company? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss with your further.

Author:David Tyler

Date:31st January 2022

Blog

A look back on 2021, and a peek into 2022

If we thought 2021 would settle down after a tumultuous 2020, we were wrong. The business world is still reeling, this time from a labor crunch that’s affecting everything from supply chains to restaurant service.

It’s a time of great uncertainty for many companies: each month more than four million US workers resign. Those resigning are mostly mid-career workers, and they take with them the skills that keep a company going on a day-to-day basis. Complicating matters further, 48% of employees surveyed by Gallop say they’re actively looking for another job, putting business continuity at risk.

How are companies pivoting to adapt to these post-pandemic challenges? Paragon Digital Services has a unique perspective on some aspects of labor shortage, as our teams are asked to step in and fill gaps as they arise.

Here our observations gathered over the past year, and what we see in store for 2022.

Outsourcing fills in skill gaps 

Outsourcing various aspects of business operations has been on an upward trajectory for more than a decade, but the pandemic has accelerated the trend.

As workers reevaluate their priorities and assess how to achieve a work-life balance that’s right for them, hiring managers are panicking. It’s not uncommon to see $5,000 sign-on bonuses offered for entry-level positions and warehouse workers. And the fear that once they invest in recruiting, those workers will be lured away by a competitor.

In 2021, companies engaged outsourcing partners as a stop-gap measure, but that fix is increasingly seen as more of a permanent solution, or at least until such time when recruiting costs come down a bit. Those who hope to eventually bring functions back in-house are keen to work with outsourcers who can transfer skills to newly hired employees.

In-housing plans slowing down or put on hold

Prior to the pandemic companies have been bringing various marketing activities in-house, but those efforts have slowed down. In-housing is proving expensive and its rewards are harder and taking longer to realize, prompting many brands to hit the pause button. “Many advertisers are being more selective about how they want to work with agencies and are prioritizing flexibility and capability over scale and stability,” write Kimeko McCoy and Seb Joseph in Digiday.

Many companies are continuing their push towards in-housing, but they want to focus those efforts on the strategic work, and leave the more technical aspects to outside experts like Paragon’s trafficking teams. Some see this approach as a strategy to retain employees who want more interesting work. For others, candidates with the needed technical skills just aren’t available in their areas, so they have no choice but to outsource.

Enabling full-time employees to focus on strategic work is a good way to combat the Great Resignation, as many people have quit in order to pursue jobs that give them a greater sense of fulfillment.

Operations still seen as prime outsourcing candidate

Business process outsourcing (BPO) has been on an upward trajectory for the past 20 years and is showing no signs of clowning down. In 2022, the global BPO market is valued at $232 billion, and will grow by 8.5% each year until 2028.

Advances in SaaS, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service give companies a lot more flexibility to outsource some or all of operations to a partner.

Looking ahead to 2022

So what’s ahead for outsourcing, particularly as it applies to the media industry?

We’re likely to see hybrid models, with companies looking for outsourcing partners willing to take on a portion, but not all, of their workloads. Companies want partners who can augment, not necessarily replace, their internal teams.

Outsourcing engagements will start out small, but will increase as clients see tangible benefits. This is a trend we see currently, and expect it to continue, especially as managers strive to provide more meaningful work for their employees in order to retain them.

If the Great Resignation continues at its current rate, outsourcing will become an important strategy to maintain business continuity. In some cases, outsourcing partners will be asked to perform more niche work.

Rising recruitment costs, higher salaries – along with the scourge of luring trained away from current positions with competitive offers – may lead more companies to seek outsourcing partners as a more permanent solution.

Get in touch today to learn how we can help you transform your ad ops as we head into 2022.

Author:David Tyler

Date:7th December 2021

Blog

Why agencies should embrace remote workers

Advertising and media agencies, like companies everywhere, are experiencing a labor crunch. With hundreds of open recs and few candidates to choose from, agencies are facing the prospect of turning down work because they don’t have the staff to do it.

One way to solve the labor crunch is to embrace the concept of remote workers. Not only will it solve the short-term recruitment challenges agencies face right now, but it’s entirely likely that remote work is the future of employment, and those agencies that don’t allow it will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

The Great Resignation of 2021

We are living through an extraordinary time, by any measure. The pandemic forced people to work from home and to cancel all social activity. As a result, they had plenty of time to think about big issues, such as what they wanted to get out of life, and how much of their time they wanted to dedicate to work. Many knowledge workers moved out of the city to escape the pandemic, only to discover they liked having more space and appreciated the lower cost of living. Why return to the rat race just to afford expensive housing?

Beginning in April 2021, just as companies were beginning to make plans for their employees to return to the office, the Great Resignation began. Over a three month period, 11.5 million American workers quit their jobs. Of those still working, 48% told Gallop that they’re actively looking for other work.

What are they seeking when they quit? Many say they’re in search of more free time and happiness. The cultural shifts of the past year, combined with economic upheaval caused by lockdowns, have fundamentally changed the way employees want to work.

Remote work is a top priority, and 70% of American workers said they’d happily forgo benefits —  including health insurance paid time off and retirement accounts —  in order to continue working from home.

Today we see a global labor shortage in every sector, from retailing, restaurants and service industries, to ecommerce developers, marketers and agency personnel.

Ad agencies struggle with The Great Resignation

Advertising and media agencies are far from immune to the Great Resignation. Many have hundreds of open positions they can’t fill, and ad professionals continue to leave the industry.

A survey of 423 marketers and agency employees found that 63% plan to change jobs or careers this year, 40% demand flexible hours, and 100% — every single respondent! — said they would not consider a job that didn’t offer the option to work from home.

Their reasons for quitting mirror those of other knowledge workers. Digiday interviewed seven people who left their agency jobs without having another one lined up. A desire for a better life/work balance, and too much work without a sense of satisfaction were some of the reasons given.

Business response

Across the industry, business leaders are responding to employee demands by offering more flexibility. Many are opting to give up big offices that accommodate the entire workforces in favor of multiple satellite offices in areas that are closer to where employees live. The goal is to allow employees to mostly work from home, but to provide a space for weekly or biweekly team meetings.

And full-time work from home is still on the table for many big corporations. In September, The Conference Board released a survey of more than 330 HR executives at large companies, and found that they are 3x more likely to hire remote employees; 36% are willing to hire people who are fully remote and located anywhere in the world.

Will agency executives join their peers in other industries and meet their employees’ demands for flexible work schedules? It certainly would be wise to do so, especially since we urgently need to stem the employee exodus from the space.

Remote work works

Paragon Digital Services can offer insight into the questions on how to run an agency efficiently when workers are remote. As our critical teams are widely dispersed, the single most important factor is having a deep understanding and high priority on processes. When we take on clients, during the onboarding phase, every single process is written down and mapped to KPI, in precise detail, so that each employee knows what is expected of him or her.

Our investments in mapping each business processes have paid off in numerous ways. Ad operations work done remotely by Paragon has lead to efficiency gains ranging from 20% – 30% and accuracy rates (error free work) above 99.9%.

The final reason to support remote work: employees say it’s critical to their quality of life. Companies can stem attrition by enabling their employees to achieve the right work/life balance, and by assigning employees to work that provides them a sense of satisfaction which leads to  opportunities for meaningful growth “within” your organization.

Interested in discussing our offerings further? Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:12th October 2021

Blog

5 things to look for when selecting an outsourcing agency

Is your brand thinking about outsourcing your digital campaigns? Good plan. By selecting the right outsourcing partner you can get access to experts in every aspect of digital campaigns, and give your internal teams more time to focus on other work that is client or revenue focused.

Of course, this begs the question: how do you select the “right” partner? Here are five things to look for when selecting an outsourcing partner.

#1: Industry expertise

Launching, optimizing and reporting on campaigns successfully is no easy feat. There are a million details to take care of, all of which require considerable expertise to do properly. Perfection is required every step of the way, from ensuring that all creatives are formatted correctly to the channel in which they’ll be seen and assessing brand safety of ad placements, to execution across multiple direct and programmatic channels.

You need a partner with significant industry expertise, someone you can learn from, and who can step in to fill in unexpected gaps in your internal teams as they arise.

As a premier digital media services agency, Paragon Digital Services teams offer considerable end-to-end campaign expertise. Our teams are well trained and well versed in every aspect of digital campaigns, including media operations, data analytics, creative and campaign optimization, as well as ancillary business finance services to advertisers, publishers and platforms across the globe.

#2: Methodology for learning and documenting your internal processes

Every brand has a unique combination of internal processes, supported by internal infrastructure, that its employees follow in order to work towards common goals. Processes include campaign requirements, sign-off authority, escalation procedures and so on.

You need a partner that has a methodology for supporting your internal way of doing things, and not the other way around, otherwise, you will spend too much time managing your outsourcing partner, rather than reaping the benefits of time saved.

This is why Paragon Digital Services has designed an onboarding system that begins with the creation of a client-specific Standard Operating Procedures document. This document is a comprehensive roadmap of how our two companies will work together. It covers:

  • How, when and why we communicate
  • Which systems and tools you want us to use
  • Services we’ll provide
  • Your priorities
  • Escalation management plan

#3: Certifications

It’s one thing to be trained in a software or process, it’s a whole other matter to complete rigorous certification. Take ensuring quality management and data security. Your outsourcing partner will touch a lot of your sensitive customer data, don’t you think they should be certified to do so properly?

This is why Paragon is fully ISO 9001:2015 certified. Not only that, after four years of audits and certification, Paragon has built a robust infrastructure around the ISO 9001:2015 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. If you’d like to learn more about our ISO certifications, and what they mean for you, we’d recommend you check out one of our previous blog posts – ‘What is ISO 90001:2015 / ISO 27001 and why should you care?’.

#4: 24/7 campaign support

Campaigns can’t wait for someone to return from vacation or a conference. You need a well-oiled machine that can design, execute and optimize campaigns based on your schedule.

A good outsourcing partner is one who can meet your campaign deadlines, and manage your ongoing ones 24/7 by seamlessly plugging resources when a team member calls in sick or attends a conference. This is why Paragon prioritizes our Standard Operating Procedures document.

There is always somebody looking after your campaigns.

#5: Full advertising support

If you only plan to do one form of advertising, let’s say paid search, outsourcing to an agency with limited skill sets may work for you. But consumers are multi-channel, and that means your advertising strategy will need to meet them wherever they are in the digital universe.

Paragon can support every component of your campaign, from paid search and paid social, to global display and video programmatic campaigns. The benefit of a one-stop shop is that we can analyze your campaign holistically, and inform you when you’ll get better results by concentrating on one channel over another. Plus, it means you have just one point of contact to work with.

Interested in discussing our offerings further? Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:5th October 2021

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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

Blog

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

Blog

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