C3 Says Programmatic Is Missing Links, Big Brands Need To Focus On Upper Funnel To Survive

When everything ad-related is happening in real-time, it’s easy to lose track of where a sale actually started. In a funnel, online ad attribution company C3 Metrics says that brand awareness happens at the top, whereas the “lower funnel” is home to the point of sale. While the sale will always be important, C3 Metrics COO and Co-Founder Jeff Greenfield says big brands need to focus on the “upper funnel” in order to survive.

Greenfield and CEO/Co-Founder Mark Hughes spoke with numerous experts in the industry to put together a white paper, “The Missing Link in Programmatic Buying for Brands.” These experts include Dave Zinman, CEO of Infolinks, Leslie Singer, founder of SingerSalt, Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, and more.

In the programmatic world, big brands fall victim to repeating actions that hold them back long-term. Greenfield says, “all of RTB is focused on these lower-funnel conversions versus upper funnel. There are no brand metrics that have been inserted into the RTB world.”

Greenfield went on to say: “Big brands are not going to be able to exist in the lower-funnel world that digital has built for themselves.” The white paper says real-time digital signals are only present at the bottom of the funnel. C3 Metrics calls it a “systematic limitation” that “creates short-term success” ideal for direct response, but is unable to “deliver sustained brand lift.”

In layman terms: In order for brands to continue existing in a real-time media world, they need to shift their focus from the rapid sales to the ads that actually build brand awareness.

Here are images of the funnel from the white paper to help paint the picture:

What C3 Metrics and their C3 Platform aim to do is trace impressions in real-time to where they originated. Through the C3 Platform, brands can set up their “Upper Funnel Conversion Window” -- the designated period of time they can track a user's path "down the funnel," so to speak. Below is an example from the white paper of an Upper Funnel Conversion Window at work. The first site visit happens at 13:15, but the whole process really started at 6:55.

“When [a] user makes their way to the landing page for the first time, we can look back in their history and determine which ad is responsible for bringing them there,” said Greenfield. From there, he says, “[We] fire a pixel to the ad partner responsible for sending [that user] there.” The ad partner gets credit for what they deserve in real-time.

By being able to “fire the pixel back to the RTB people,” as Greenfield puts it, those "RTB people" can determine what succeeded and can easily duplicate that success. Who knows how many successful campaigns have been terminated early because the place where it all began never got any credit.

“I see a lot of one-upmanship in the digital world,” said Greenfield. “I don’t see a lot of brand education from a measurement perspective. The companies that focus on educating brands are the ones that will be here for the long haul.”

To download the white paper, “The Missing Link in Programmatic Buying for Brands,” and to see exactly how C3 Platform works, click here.

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