New platforms can give the team access to a breadth of tools and capabilities. That said, onboarding a new adserver, search or social management platform shouldn’t be taken lightly. Getting new code implemented, training and transition management takes time and effort. At PMG, we work with a number of different platform partners and vet through every relationship as it best fits the client’s needs. Below are some quick tips to help the process go more smoothly.
1) Vet through the various platforms –This is not a month to month test. You will likely have this platform for the foreseeable future. Make sure that you don’t impulsively go one direction or another.
- Build out a matrix of capabilities and score the platforms against the needs of the team.
- Talk with the sales team about innovation and the product roadmap. All the bells and whistles are amazing right now. Without innovation, the platform could be outdated in a year.
- How quickly does the platform work to incorporate enhancements from Google, Facebook, Yahoo! Japan, etc. Laggard integrations could cause increased effort incorporating workarounds.
- How does the platform support work? If you need help along the way, is there a dedicated resource or ticketing support team?
- What does the training curriculum look like? Is it all online based or is the platform willing to host a training session in office to help the team get integrated?
- Talk to other users currently working with the platform. What do they like or pain points?
2) Once decided on a solution, spend time to think through the tracking implementation. Each of the platforms have shelf variables to track but there are also a slew of custom variables that you can pull in. Try to get everything incorporated in one pass rather than editing later. Common thought starters:
- When tracking revenue, do you want shipping and tax included or only the purchase subtotal?
- Are you interested to see purchase details (items in cart / travel destination) in addition to the topline purchase metrics?
- Should you collect order ID, lead ID or customer ID along with the purchase?
- One point to remember with variable collection, make sure that you are mindful of any PII data.
3) When delivering the code to the development team for implementation, try to be as detailed as possible with the instructions and provide examples where possible. It would be great to jump on a call with the team implementing the code, but this isn’t always possible. Your instructions may pass several hands, so be as directive as possible. This will help eliminate any ambiguities. Be sure to include details like:
- What is the purpose of the code?
- Where should the code be implemented?
- What are the variables that need to be passed? Make sure to clearly define what should be passed and how the data should be formatted. Examples can be really helpful.
4) Once implemented – test, test, test.Though tedious, testing is the only way to uncover potential issues
- Did you test on desktop and mobile?
- With the custom variable requests, is each field passing correctly? Remember the smallest variations can case the code to break.
- Work with the platform team to set-up test placements to ensure that the platform collects all the testing data correctly. This will help gauge success of the implementation before flipping the switch.
- Make notes of your findings, mark-up the tests with what is currently passing, and what requires updates. Work to consolidate feedback into a single round of edits back to the development team. This will help streamline the process and hopefully condense the onboarding timeline rather than one off tweaks.
5) Once the pixel implementation has been completed, make sure that you have an action plan for the more forward facing items.
- Work with the platform team to understand all the items needed to wrap the platform and potential analytics tracking to the placements. Analytics tracking can be a key point. Some platforms have a build URLs or URL templates to support appending these variables.
- What are the actions steps needed to “Flip the Switch”?
- If transitioning from a legacy platform, when will the new platform be the source of truth? Will it be a clean transition? Make sure to work with the legacy and new platform teams to work through best practices.
- Communicate the plan to all parties both internally and externally with the platform/media partners. Understanding the moving pieces, they can be on the lookout for any hiccups that may happen with syncing the new placements or approval processes.
- Training for the team to ensure that they are empowered with the new platform.
- Once flipping the switch, make sure to closely watch performance of the campaigns. Use the legacy platform or analytics as a baseline comparison to ensure that things are looking on point.
Volia! At this point, things should be near smooth sailing. There can be some heavy lifting through the platform change but the access to the additional features and toolset can be all worth it.