The following response to the Iron Pulley Ecommerce Retargeting Companies review was originally posted by user dialtone, an employee of AdRoll, on the PPC reddit. I’ve reposted the thread here for visibility.
Adroll: Being that I work at AdRoll I’d like to at least notify of a couple of things that you got wrong.
AdRoll’s tracking doesn’t use Google’s DoubleClick tracking, Google Tag Manager is just one of the integrations we have, as well as Tealium, Segment and so on. We do not just use Google’s inventory, nor we rely on Google’s placement reporting (which by the way is available in the application under the reporting section). Less than 50% of our inventory comes from Google and AdRoll has its own tracking that can be used independently from any other vendor (which is what we use with all of our ecommerce integrations for example).
We have our own bidders and support bidding based on CPM, CPC and CPA as KPI goals.
Lastly, out of all the players you pointed out, we probably have the most mature attribution infrastructure which comes at 7 days view through window by default (which isn’t full credit) and 30 days clicks which is pretty standard and people can go change their settings and play around with whatever attribution models they want.
This is just to clarify a few of the points you made that weren’t correct.
Iron Pulley: I appreciate you wading in here to respond. It’s important that there is more discussion surrounding all things retargeting. It has been a black box for too long. Can you help clarify a few points?
AdRoll: Yeah of course, happy to answer everything I can.
Iron Pulley: It’s my understanding that AdRoll was originally built on DoubleClick’s infrastructure. That appeared to be why AdRoll was able to integrate into Google Tag Manager so early in the GTM lifecycle. My understanding is that custom AdRoll ads still need to be built using the DoubleClick framework. There is/was a very close relationship. Is that incorrect? Is Google the DSP/Ad server for the AdRoll environment?
AdRoll: Alright, so yeah originally (10 years ago) AdRoll was indeed built on DoubleClick infrastructure, much like a lot of companies are today built on top of AppNexus or Mailchimp uses the DoubleClick API today. However around 2012, when FBX was released, we built our own bidders and developed our own machine learning (we were in the original first group of 6 companies that integrated with FBX at the time). I wouldn’t say however that the Google relationship allowed us to integrate faster with GTM, at the time we were already integrated with a number of tag managers, if Google does something you usually pay attention. Our customer base ends up having the biggest difficulties when it comes to installing the JS tag on their website, so anything we can do to simplify that step helps us grow faster. And even for the mobile tracking side we are integrated with 12 or so MMPs that we work with on a daily basis.
It is not the case that custom ads need to built on doubleclick technology, we have our own adserver (developed by me actually 10 years ago), but we do support, for those that want or need, the ability to traffic third party ad tags, such as doubleclick ones, and support about 20+ of them, it’s a service for our customers that have centralized ad serving. We also support HTML5 ads (working on making this a self-serve offering, today you need to talk to customer support due to security constraints), dynamic ads, we can make them custom for you as well.
We have a good relationship with Google but it’s not different than with any of the other 15 or so inventory sources that we work with. We don’t use any technology from Google, everything running at AdRoll was built in-house and developed over the last 13 years.
Iron Pulley: When you say “…less than 50% of our inventory comes from Google…” can you break that down? Is that considering the amount of Facebook and app inventory or are there other inventory considerations you’re talking about here?
AdRoll: Eh, I’d love to break it down but it’s a pretty private number. I don’t include Facebook in that calculation but Google and Facebook combined are still well below 50% of what we buy. We have over 15 exchanges integrations including Index, OpenX, Pubmatic, Yahoo!, OneVideo, Bidswitch, Taboola, TripleLift, Outbrain, Microads, AppNexus, Rubicon, AOL and obviously Google. And then in each network we have our own Private Deals. We support mobile, native, video and banner ads of a variety of kinds as well. We listen to hundreds of billions of bid requests a day, filter out due to fraud a vast amount of them, bid on tens of billions of bid requests each day and so on.
Iron Pulley: Attribution is a hairy topic, can you elaborate about why your attribution infrastructure is the most mature?
AdRoll: For starters is the scale at which it operates, aside from Google and Facebook, it’s the attribution product with most customers out there. When it comes to features instead we are second to none: https://help.adroll.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000357972-Your-Attribution-Dashboard . In our product you have the ability to play around, in realtime, with whatever attribution model you want, including custom time decay ones, and find out what would happen to your campaign numbers if you were to change some set of parameters. We display customer journey data both for our channel independently but also including cross-channel data based on what we gather from UTM tags used on the website and report on assisted and attributed data. For managed accounts that request it, we can also provide easy to use impression trackers for use in non-adroll DSPs for a more complete attribution tracking and soon enough we’ll release Statistical MTA. Also, unlike most other solutions including Google Analytics, our attribution pipeline takes into account our owned Cross-Device graph when it comes to the calculation and you can include it and exclude it to see the effects, again interactively. You can easily play around with our attribution dashboard by signing up for AdRoll and just having a look around. Some screenshots of the UI without signup are on the marketing page https://www.adroll.com/platform/attribute
Iron Pulley: I’m happy to post your clarifications on the blog, or if you’re open to it you can post them there as comments.
AdRoll: Thank you! That would be great and happy to answer other questions as well if you have them.
To see more of the discussion check out the original post on Reddit.