The Media Buyer Newsletter

The Media Buyer Index #14

Bryan Bumgardner
April 17, 2023

Welcome to The Media Buyer Newsletter, where we deep dive into the latest ecomm data (powered by Northbeam) to see what trends, anomalies, or interesting findings we can uncover. We keep it simple with three sections: The raw numbers, a quick summary, and our key takeaways.

In our 14th installment of The Media Buyer Newsletter, we are complaining about performance drops, recommending against ChatGPT and taking a peek at media mix modeling. Let’s dig in.

The Summary

We've updated our data visuals. Let us know what you think.

No industry data this week: we've overhauling our reporting on this data.

This week starts the first of our week-over-week data comparisons, by popular request. And the results are volatile:  Meta performance continues to slide, less than previous weeks but Northbeam users are almost all experiencing the ROAS (-4.77%) drop. TikTok conversion metrics went down this week as well, with ROAS (-10.69%) and CPC (+10.41%) both getting worse by double digits. YouTube is the only channel with across-the-board improvements this week, with ROAS (+1.98%) CPC (-7.18%) and CPMs (-6.66%) all improving. Overall, a bad week for the two largest platforms: Google and Meta.  

Surprising reductions of CAC and CPCs on YouTube, which continues to be one of the top-performing channels this month.

Mostly stable splits across Google ad placements this week, but Shopping saw a 10% drop in budget share.

The Takeaway

The across-the-board drops in Meta performance may have been related to under-performing ASC campaigns, which our sources are telling us are now working again. If you were experiencing bad performance on Facebook, you're not alone. Our sources are telling us that ASCs were dragging down account performance for several days last week, but that performance has since returned to normal levels. We’ll keep an eye on this in next week’s newsletter.

Our recommendation if you turned off your ASC campaigns: you can turn them back on now, but make them anew. As far as we can tell, there’s no difference between duplicating those campaigns or rebuilding them from scratch.

Google performance is down too, but the source of the problem is less clear. Our sources are complaining about DSAs acting up, but some on our team are blaming the fantastic weather some parts of the country have seen over the last few days. Maybe people aren’t googling the same things they usually do, and budgets haven’t caught up yet?

Or perhaps brands are finally leveraging brand exclusions in PMAX. Here’s how one of our friends decides if and when to use brand exclusions. Side note: we found this ChatGPT plugin that you can use to pull your competitor’s PPC ads… which leads into our next point:
Is ChatGPT a useful tool for making ads? “Marketing Twitter” would tell you it is. But experienced (if not objective) minds in the business are declaring that human creativity is the best tool for making ads.

“You know how when you drive through the suburbs how every house looks exactly the same? That’s how DTC ads on Meta have become,” said David Herrmann, one of the best media buyers we know.  
“Zig when others zag. Be different. Ditch hooks, think of new concepts. I urge you, don’t just copy everyone… Concept new ideas, it can turn your entire account around and help you truly stand out.”

We suspect that ChatGPT-empowered marketing strategies are cranking out mountains of generic, bland, underperforming DTC ads. Here’s two recommendations to avoid this:

Use ChatGPT to drive inspiration, not as your final output. The best performing hooks, ad scripts, and thumb-stoppers are those that stand out from the pack. Use ChatGPT to break your writer’s block and provide a base to innovate from. Here’s some prompts to get you started.

Use it to speed up your work volume, but beware the relevance of the output. This person uses ChatGPT to write all their ad scripts, but since ChatGPT uses historical data, are these ad scripts already obsolete? You may be able to speed up your creative output, but beware spitting out generic, outdated ads. Would ChatGPT have come up with the Squatty Potty unicorn?

In case you didn’t hear, iOS16.4 has a secret update that sets first party cookies' lifetime at a max of 7 days. This could impact the functionality of certain first-party advertising tools. Luckily, Northbeam customers are barely affected. Here’s a note from Tony Figola, our VP of Product:

“Apple iOS 16.4 includes updates to their security features that impact the ability to maintain the tracking capabilities of the Northbeam pixel. The update limits the ability for Northbeam to identify a customer over a window longer than 7 days.
This impact is felt for brand customers that are accessing the brand website using their Apple iPhone or when using Safari as their browser on a desktop/laptop.
Northbeam conducted an analysis that shows less than 1.5% of orders for our average customer will be impacted in the short term. While some brands may see more of an impact to the percentage of orders that can no longer be attributed, ~90% of brands on Northbeam will see less than 3% of orders impacted.
Even though we expect the impact to be small, Northbeam is investing in capabilities that will allow us to continue to have the same level of order attribution that our brands are seeing today. We believe we have identified a solution and are working to deliver it as fast as possible.”

As always, this issue of The Media Buyer was entirely written by a human.

Happy media buying!

Looking forward:

Join us at the virtual DTCx Media Buyer Summit in June! You’ll learn the newest tactics for media buying, meet with the smartest minds in the biz, and prepare yourself for the future of performance marketing. Plus we’ll be speaking, so come say hi.

Early access is now open for MMM Plus, Northbeam’s Media Mix Modeling solution. “Media mix modeling” is a statistical analysis that shows you the optimal blend of budget across your advertising channels. Northbeam is bringing MMM into the future, powering it with machine learning and designing it bespoke for ecommerce. If you've wanted to try MMM at your brand, now’s your chance: sign up to learn more here.

Join us next Monday at 10:30 AM PST / 1:30 PM EST for the weekly Media Buyer Webinar, where we’ll discuss these trends in greater detail. Come with your questions and takeaways! We’ll see you there.

Happy media buying!

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