Adtech Start-up OnePortal Delivers Breakthrough Advertising Results

Growth marketing platform brings big-budget inventory to much smaller companies needing to reach tomorrow's audiences
ad tech companies

People are rediscovering that there is life beyond Facebook and social media. User trends are shifting, especially among the young. As a result, the behemoth social media networks, the “walled gardens,” are losing their relevance and value, despite ever-increasing ad spend. However, advertising on the open web, outside those walled gardens, continues to work for those who can afford it and optimize it effectively. Palo Alto, CA-based OnePortal is now helping small/medium-sized businesses to capitalize on open web advertising opportunities that might have been previously inaccessible.

Consider: In the U.S., Facebook use peaked at 67% in 2017; in 2020, it was down to 63%. Tweeting frequency decreased by 10% in 2020. Also in 2020, Harvard Business Review noted, “social media usage overall among Americans 12 to 34 years old across several platforms has either leveled off or is waning.” Despite these trends, more ad dollars are being thrown at social media driving costs skyward and subsequently reducing the ability for businesses to achieve meaningful returns on their marketing spend.

Meanwhile, the open web continues to surge in widespread popularity and public trust. In 2020, OpenX and Harris Poll released a report showing that:

  • Two-thirds of respondents’ time is spent on the open web, but 60% of ad dollars go to walled gardens.
  • 31% of Facebook users decreased their usage over the prior 12 months. Where did that traffic go? Perhaps the 37% of users increased their time on the open web.
  • 74% of respondents said that they trust articles on open web news sites more than those in walled gardens. This bodes well for advertorial-type marketing on the open web.

Seizing the Open Web Advantage for Less

OnePortal’s founding team has over 50 years of digital media and advertising experience. They realized they had access to a massive breadth of open web advertising inventory — over 150 networks — that was generally only being leveraged by large firms with multi-million-dollar ad budgets. Examples include Google, OpenX, AOL, PubMatic, and Magnite/Rubicon Project. Many of these resources are only accessible through large agencies or costly licensing deals. The founders realized that they could leverage their licensing partnerships, provide access to the inventory resources behind them and achieve economies of scale in reach without having to pass on the expensive overhead of running a large ad agency.

“We help people reduce their dependence on Facebook and social platforms,” says OnePortal CEO Paxton Song. “Frankly, those platforms have become very expensive and impacted with competition. And as you continue to grow and scale your brand, you need to find new inventory sources.”

To make the point, Song notes to products such as The Trade Desk, which typically requires a minimum monthly spend of $50,000 and up. Reporting tools (e.g. Google Analytics 360) may cost another $150,000 per year. OnePortal does have large agency competitors that offer similar services, but most carry minimum spend requirements on the order of $60,000 to $100,000 monthly. With OnePortal, those services are provided at no additional cost to all OnePortal clients.

OnePortal Results

OnePortal officially launched in April of 2020, barely a month after the U.S. had gone into pandemic lockdown and businesses everywhere were cutting staff in historic numbers. Almost a year later, OnePortal continues to see its business accelerate, in part because the need for digital marketing is greater than ever, but many businesses have not restaffed to pre-pandemic levels. According to OnePortal Vice President and co-founder Steve Wharton, a large portion of the company’s clientele arrives wanting to test new inventory options but lacks the means or internal team to do so. “We come in as an outsourced service and become an extension of the client’s team,” he says.

The co-founders point to their many years of observing skepticism and mistrust within the ad industry. This led directly to OnePortal’s policy of complete transparency. Through the OnePortal reporting UI, customers can see where every dollar spent goes and what results from it by using Google’s deterministic attribution models. This is doubly important in the opening weeks after account setup, when OnePortal will cast a broad net beyond the obvious demographic targets and market niches. Inevitably, claims Wharton, early data gathering will uncover high-conversion pockets that would have been otherwise missed by a narrower ad focus. Account analysts then work to optimize the variables yielding best results and cut away low-performing spend.

According to Paxton Song, typical OnePortal results range from 4x to 12x ROAS. He points to one client, a jewelry retailer that requests its ad campaigns prioritize cost per acquisition (CPA). Over a course of weeks, OnePortal optimized spend across bid levels, viewability, geo-location filtering, day-parting, user segments, and other variables. In the end, the retailer realized a 30% overall CPA reduction and a campaign CPM drop of 51%.

OnePortal states the company’s services are well-suited to “mid-market disruptive brands looking to grow within their field.” As a loose point of reference, company execs say their services begin to yield outsized results for clients that do a half million dollars or more in top-line revenue.

A Better Fit for a Changing Future

No one believes that social media is going away. Walled garden advertising will remain a potent force throughout the industry. However, trends show that there is rising need and opportunity for smarter advertising on the open web, where campaigns can be just as targeted, analyzed, and successful, only now those benefits can reach a broader audience for far lower costs through OnePortal.

“We know that people are going to find a way off of Facebook,” says Paxton Song. “If you don’t leverage the open web for your advertising and branding, you’re not going to reach your full potential and find your audience outside those walled gardens.”

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