What Is the Middle Man Costing You?


By Mark Astone, Strategic Raving Partner, Branding, Advertising and Media Services and CEO, Catalyst Marketing Company

It is safe to say you are running some sort of digital advertising as part of your overall advertising plan (if not, maybe we should talk). What I love about digital is it can be highly targeted to your gamers and a gaming audience. The challenge is having someone implement your targeting. Despite the growing prevalence of digital targeted advertising, there are few digital marketers or agencies that do the actual digital media buy.

Across all the different digital advertising facets (SEM, Display, Pre-roll, etc.) many companies source the targeting and ad placement to a third party, including the added-value from your traditional media buys your media agency/team has secured for you. There is always a cost associated with this. I have seen casinos pay $1-3 per click on SEM when utilizing a third-party buyer. Often these casinos aren’t even aware their buy is being routed through a third party. Buying direct can bring the price per click down as low as $0.65. That is a big difference!

This “convenience fee” of having someone else buy your digital media is most certainly going to be taken out of your media (or added-value) budget. As stewards of our clients’ budgets, we are always looking for effective ways to gain market share for our clients while effectively stretching their budgets. Rather than pass and expense through to our clients’ budgets, we want to pass on savings. This is why Catalyst made the conscious decision to work with Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) to buy digital media directly from online advertising exchanges rather than outsource to other vendors.

Besides the obvious issue of the added expense of your digital media buy being outsourced, is the access and reliability of the data. Recently, we were asked to do a data analysis for a casino’s media buy. When we asked them how their website was performing they were quick to boast about how incredible the numbers were; their site visits were significantly higher than they had ever seen. The challenge was, they didn’t know where the site visits were coming from. Once we were able to pull the data from the third-party vendor their agency was using we learned the largest percentage of their new site visits were coming from a state that represented only 1% of their revenue/player database.

By buying direct, Catalyst now has more control over selecting target audiences and websites/categories for their clients. Having these advanced targeting capabilities in-house from a centralized system allows for more behavioral targeting and access to direct reporting. The immediacy of reporting to show campaign performance allows for faster decision-making and ability to react quickly to adjust the message and reach as needed.

We all (probably) agree digital advertising is an important element of our media mix. We (assumingely) also agree that our budget is best spent on media and best spent targeting our actual customers. What we can’t assume is that our agencies or vendors are buying direct. Make sure you know where all of your digital dollars are going.

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About the author

Mark Astone

Mark has spent many years studying and working within the casino industry and understands what it takes to drive gamers to increase a casino’s bottom line. Raving has partnered with Mark and his team at Catalyst to help our clients with solutions on branding, advertising and media services. Contact Mark

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