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“We realize that all ABM display ad platforms are not the same — so which platform is best for us?” To get to the answer to this important question, your team will first need to answer these six questions.

1. “Are we running a global program or one that just focuses on North America?” Many ABM display ad platforms can only provide coverage for North America. But what if you plan to run a program for the Asia Pacific region next quarter or two? You may need to consider that now as a lot of ABM display platforms commit you to a one-year agreement. Make sure you know the coverage capabilities of the platforms you are evaluating. Some only provide reach for North America. Others expand to western Europe. A few can also handle your global needs for APAC, EMEA, and LATAM.

2. “What are my targeting options?” Whether you are running a global or North American program, you will want to know how specific you can go with your targeting. Most ABM display advertising platforms will only allow you to target “job functions” such as marketing, IT, or finance. We believe that better targeting leads to better engagement and recommend that you look for platforms that enable you to target your ads more specifically such as by job title, job level or seniority, and more. Some platforms will even allow you to target your competitors’ or partners’ customers. The more specific you can get with your targeting, the less wasted ads you will have.

3. “Does the platform serve up cookie-based targeting, IP-based targeting, or both?” Many marketers do not know the difference between cookie-based and IP-based targeting and have never given this question much consideration. Getting an answer to this question will help you understand the platform’s coverage and targeting capabilities. Cookie-based targeting enables you to have greater precision when it comes to data. Deeper targeting on job titles, job levels, and so forth, if available, will come through cookie-based targeting. If you want to reach outside of North America then you will need to know about IP-based targeting.

IP-based targeting focuses on an Internet Protocol (IP) address. This is the numerical label assigned to every device participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol to communicate. While not as precise as cookie-based targeting, IP-targeting can serve ads directly to contacts at target accounts without serving ads to accounts you don’t care about. Get to know the differences. Even for a North American campaign, you may want to use both cookie- and IP-based targeting if the number of available cookies is not sufficiently large.

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4. “How big is the reachable universe I can access with this display advertising platform?” The range may differ dramatically from platform to platform. It may surprise you. Many platforms offer somewhere between 200 million and 300 million reachable contacts. There is at least one platform that offers over one billion reachable B2B contacts (through cookies and mobile device IDs). That is a noticeable difference that can significantly affect your level of targeting and coverage. Take the time to learn the number of reachable contacts per platform and if you will understand what level of reach that you want and need is at all possible.

5. “How much real-time flexibility do I have with this platform?” Two ways you should look real-time flexibility is for ad creative and for reporting. Some platforms will only let you set your ad creative for the beginning of the program. There are a few platforms that will allow you to change your ad creative at any time...in real time. With this approach, you can change your ad creative to test different messaging or to optimize your campaign. As far as reporting goes, some platforms provide real-time reporting but others will only provide batch reporting. How quickly do you want your data to make decisions?

6. “What is the true cost of running a pilot on this platform?” Keep in mind that the overall cost may run beyond the price associated with the pilot. Some platforms require you to sign up for an annual contract--even though you just want to run a three- or four-month pilot. You also pay a cost for the amount of reach you will or won’t have, the amount of targeting options you can or cannot have, the type of targeting you will or won’t use, and the amount of real-time flexibility you can or cannot have. One platform charges extra for their integrations. You may end up paying a price for not having those considerations--a price you really can’t afford.

Once you answer these six questions you will be in much better shape to answer the question, “Which platform is best for us?”