Transparency Makes the Difference

Transparency isn’t just a part of our company culture—it’s baked into our product. Here’s why that makes all the difference for our customers.

Our source transparency helps advertisers make smarter bidding decisions and maximize their performance.

If we have one core value at MediaAlpha, it’s transparency. From the way we hold our company meetings to the way we treat our customers, we pride ourselves on being open and honest in everything we do.

But to understand what has really made our company stand out all these years, you have to look at the way that transparency is baked into our product itself. Simply put, no one in our industry gives advertisers more information about their traffic sources and corresponding performance than we do. While some platforms don’t even tell advertisers which publishers they’re buying inventory from, we go one step further by providing a clear line of sight into the specific channels that each publisher derives its traffic from (e.g. paid search, organic search, display advertising, email), and how each of those channels perform.

This transparency empowers marketers to be far more precise in how they measure their performance, and to target and bid granularly for maximum results. And because our advertising partners are able to precisely measure and value publishers’ inventory on our platform, it’s in our publishers best interests to deliver performance that aligns with our advertisers’ business goals. The end result? Our partners are able to make smarter marketing decisions and achieve stronger performance than they do anywhere else.

We revolutionized transparency in insurance customer acquisition—and we’re still leading the way

When we first got involved in insurance customer acquisition, the marketplace was dominated by ad networks that would aggregate advertising inventory from a wide range of publishers, and then sell it all to advertisers at a flat fee. This happened inside a black box system, where advertisers could see their aggregate performance but not which publishers their ads ran on or how any one publisher performed.

What we brought to the table was three-fold:

1) The transparency advertisers needed to deaverage their pricing;
2) The ability to evaluate performance by publisher and channel; and
3) The ability to bid granularly and value every consumer based on their specific business goals.

When advertisers only have average performance to go by, they can see whether their performance is improving or declining, but they have no insight into which traffic sources or consumer demographics are moving their metrics up or down. When they have greater transparency into their data, they can break out their performance by any number of variables, allowing them to see clearly how very precise audience segments are impacting the bottom line. With this insight, advertisers can bid granularly on precise consumer groups and offer the right price for every kind of shopper.

Over the years, we’ve developed the industry’s most robust, most transparent marketplace for insurance customer acquisition. Today, our advertisers are able to target based on a range of variables, including the shopper’s age, household type, and driving history, and understand performance based on publisher, channel, device, and operating system.

Our source transparency gives advertisers crucial information about where consumers came from before arriving on a publisher’s website

More than anything else, we’ve distinguished ourselves through our commitment to providing transparency into each publisher’s traffic sources. This is critical because visitors to the same publisher often convert at very different rates based on how the publisher acquires its traffic —even when those visitors share similar demographics.

For instance, the traffic that a publisher acquires via its email channel might generate far more conversions than the traffic it acquires via a targeted display campaign, or vice versa. Meanwhile, the same referring channel that performs well for one insurance carrier could perform poorly for one of the publisher’s other advertising partners. If you’re not able to spot these peaks and valleys as an advertiser, you won’t be able to properly evaluate each consumer and optimize your bidding accordingly.

Our transparency creates a fair, thriving marketplace

Beyond allowing our advertisers to bid granularly and maximize their performance, our commitment to transparency creates a fair marketplace that delivers greater value for everyone who participates in it. Because our advertisers are able to deaverage their performance and bid on precise audience segments, they’re able to pay a price that corresponds to what each consumer is actually worth to their business.

Successful publishers, therefore, are those who understand the needs of their advertisers and align their traffic acquisition strategies accordingly. Indeed, if advertisers see that certain segments of a publisher’s audience convert at a very high rate, they’ll start paying a premium to reach those shoppers. And when publishers see the higher bids come in, it affirms that they’re making the right moves to bring in the high-value shoppers their advertisers want.

This transparent marketplace is a win-win for advertisers and publishers on our platform, but not all providers play by these rules. Even today, there are still some customer acquisition platforms that don’t allow advertisers to see the names of the publishers they’re bidding on—only ID numbers that correspond with various websites. This allows vendors to manipulate advertisers by splitting out a single publisher’s traffic into different source ID numbers, or by bundling multiple publishers into the same source ID. The upshot is that it becomes more difficult for advertisers to see what they’re actually buying, which in turn makes it harder for them to assess and optimize their performance.

By contrast, we at MediaAlpha believe in math and in open markets. When our partners have clarity into what they’re buying and how it’s performing, the marketplace creates the right incentives and generates more value for everyone involved.

We’re always working to deliver more transparency and greater value for our partners

Even now, nearly a decade into our company’s journey, transparency remains the north star that guides us. We are always looking for more ways to help our partners better understand and optimize their performance, whether we’re helping them implement an integration that allows them to track conversions or passing on new variables that allow them to more accurately evaluate each consumer.

Above all else, we know that maximum transparency is what allows our partners to optimize their performance—not in momentary spikes, but in sustainable long-term growth. And when our partners grow, we grow, too.

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