Every paid digital analytics tool and platform in the market has a structured revenue model and Adobe Audience Manager is no different. Audience Manager's revenue model is essentially based on the number of records ingested and the cost clients pay is tied to usage. Similar to AAM, Adobe Analytics is another platform whose revenue model is based on usage. Here's a link to some documentation that shows how Adobe Analytics reports its server calls which has now been updated to a visual format embedded within in the Analytics UI.
Audience Manager currently doesn't display client server call data in the AAM UI and is often a common complaint that clients have so this is my attempt to fill some of that gap through this post. Let's dive into the details!
Types of AAM Server Calls
AAM server calls are divided into four types of activities as outlined below:
- Onsite Server Calls: As the name suggests, these are Audience manager server calls captured either on mobile apps and websites. Essentially all page views and clicks are captured as server calls so any hit that's considered a server call by Analytics is considered an AAM server call if data is forwarded is enabled. These server calls are captured whether a site/app has a client side Data Integration Library (DIL) or Server Side Forwarding (SSF) AAM implementation.
- Pixel Calls: This is data collected from ad or email impression/click calls made to Audience Manager. An example of how this is captured is outlined here.
- Ingested Log File Records: This type of server call is incurred when you ingest ad server log files in AAM that populate the Audience Optimization Reports (AOR). The way clients typically get these enabled is by leveraging Actionable Log Files (ALF).
- On-boarded Records: These server calls are incurred based on records ingested from CRM or an offline data file (e.g. call center, customer demographic data etc).
How to Avoid Extra AAM Server Calls
- Monitor Server Calls Regularly: "Prevention is better than cure" is one quote that comes to my mind to explain this point. I cannot stress how important it is to proactively monitor your server call usage to avoid a scenario similar to what our client faced. Your AAM consultant should be able to pull server call data for you so it might make sense to ask your consultant to schedule a monthly pull of your server calls to avoid any surprises.
- Collect Onsite Server Calls Only Via One Method: There are two main methods of AAM onsite data collection which are client side DIL and Server Side Forwarding. It's recommended to forward Analytics data to AAM using either client side DIL OR SSF to avoid being charged twice for onsite activities. My preference is the SSF method as it forwards Analytics data to AAM using one call.
Last year, a change was added to SSF Adobe Analytics data to AAM using Analytics report suites. This method allows clients to selectively forward data ONLY to those report suites whose data you want to forward to AAM. Previously, data for all report suites used to be forwarded over to AAM. Below are screenshots of how Analytics data is forwarded now and how it used to be forwarded before.
Latest method of selectively forwarding Analytics data to AAM.
This method used to forward data for all report suites to AAM. It's advisable to turn it off even though the new method takes precedence and it can only be done by your AAM or AA consultant.
- Collect Media Data Either Via Pixels or Logs: Campaign media data collection is another area which can contribute to server call inflation if not done correctly. Last year, the AAM product team introduced Actionable log files (link above) which is a programmatic way to ingest DCM logs and create audience traits without deploying pixels. This method is widely used across AAM to ingest DCM log data for Non-EU markets. The other method is to manually deploy media pixels to capture impression or click level data.
It's highly advisable to capture media data using ONLY one of these methods to avoid being charged twice.
Finally, What Do I Want to See Added?
Given that one of my client has called AAM billing a black box, I'd like to see the following items added to the AAM UI and billing reports:
- Display Server Calls in the AAM UI: Like Adobe Analytics, I'd like to see Audience Manager server calls being displayed in the AAM UI so that clients can regularly monitor AAM server calls themselves and make necessary adjustments.
- Add Report Suite Breakdown in AAM Billing: I don't believe there's a way to see a drill down by report suite ID so I'd like to see that level of granularity added to AAM onsite server calls even though clients now have the ability to control that.