More Like a Wine Maker, Less Like a Beer Maker

I remember testing 104 different banners on a Yahoo home page media buy. The data was robust, and we had CTR answers on all 104 iterations within 24 hours.

Lightning fast decisions can be intoxicating.

But that was then, and perhaps we’ve all had too much to drink in the past ten plus years online—especially since most advertisers still attribute 100% credit to the last clicked ad, versus attributing credit to a team of ads with a statistical algorithm.

But once you’ve woken up, and the intoxication wears off…we discovered that some lightning speed decision-making got us in trouble.

Why?

“Time to convert.”

After co-founding C3 Metrics, and seeing data from a variety of clients over the first two years, one of the things we learned is that ‘time to convert’ is a lot longer than anyone ever imagined.

If you once believed your average ‘time to convert’ was X days, we’ve seen this misjudged belief turn out to be up to 5X that.

But so what?

Actually, it’s SO critical to your media optimization. Increasingly so.

For example, the SEM manager used to optimize every week. No big deal you think—we were working at a regular fast pace. But what we discovered using C3 Metrics, is that keywords that Originated a conversion took a median of seven days to convert! So when the SEM manager optimized each week, the data was only half-gestated at best.

Speed was the name of the game…and it was like making beer. Volume, as fast as you could go.

But once we discovered the actual gestation period from origination to conversion in non-brand search was longer, we started operating more like a wine maker and less like a beer maker.

We had to allow our work to gestate, to age, in order to optimize with full knowledge.

And along the way, we discovered that different channels had different median gestation periods.  In some channels, even different media partners showed different median days to convert.

So how did we use this data?

Time is money on Wall Street. For media partners with short days to convert, we devised a plan specifically when the Advertiser had more cash to spend at the end of the month or quarter. And for media partners with 2-3X longer gestation periods, we learned to become patient—not killing the campaign before it had fully gestated.

So with full funnel attribution and the new knowledge C3 Metrics provided, some of the intoxication from the Internet wore off…and we learned how to act more like a wine maker, and less like a beer maker.

Cheers.