Clawing Our Way to the VERRRYYYY Top of the Funnel

I have been fascinated with the ever-evolving funnel report for a very long time.  Funnels used to be basic.  The earliest funnel reports contained only steps that occurred on your site, for example, a checkout funnel may have looked like:

Step 1 – Add to Cart

Step 2 – Begin Checkout

Step 3 – Enter Billing Information

Step 4 – Enter Shipping Information

Step 5 – Submit/Process Order

Step 6 – Order Confirmation

But little by little things have gotten more complex. The funnel has morphed into an unrecognizable shape, with each step having its own set of details to think about. 

1. Initial Opportunity – Someone is considering something you offer

2. Awareness – Someone learns that you exist

3. Attention – Someone finds you and visits your site OR goes to your store    

4. Opportunity – Someone returns to your site OR goes to your store

5. Purchase funnel – Getting close….

6. Purchase journey – Will they make it?

7. Checkout page – The last hurdle, or is it?

8. Payments – What??? Time to start considering this as a step in the funnel

9. Post purchase experience – What? There’s more??? 

Things like attribution and impression attribution really opened up the top rungs of the funnel.  Considerations like alternative payment options and approval rates opened up scrutiny of the very bottom rungs.

But now, the top of the funnel may be getting even wider.  Not only can we consider display impressions at the very top of the funnel, but now marketers are finding even a higher rung.  The bid!  

More companies are requesting, maybe even demanding, the log files from Supply-Side Platforms (SSP).  For a while now advertisers and agencies have gotten good information from the demand side (DSP), like DoubleClick/Google, about placement, impression, click, cost and revenue of their ads.  But it does go a rung higher.

DSPs work with SSPs to get ads placed (e.g. the demand [advertisers] need supply [audience]).  So DSPs know which ads were served, what price was paid, all of that information.  But they don’t know (or maybe with the detail that is necessary to do a proper analysis) what ads did not, which auctions were ‘lost’ and to some degree why.  SSPs have this data, at least some of it.

Now companies realize this information is super valuable.  You need to know not only what is working (ads get served), but also opportunities (what auctions were lost, and why).  So they are demanding the log files from the SSPs who they are working with.

The problem (and more detail at a later day, I know this post is already way too long) is that the log files either were not in a format that was ‘consumable’ by the advertisers, even if they had a data science team. The logs were incomplete or somewhat cryptic.  Some SSPs have ”productized’ these files and smart agencies/advertisers are using them to stitch together the very, very, very top of the funnel…those who never ever got the opportunity to fall in to the funnel.

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