Five Questions that Help Reduce Programmatic Complexity

by Hugh Munro

Posted on 02-20-2018

When it comes to pro­gram­mat­ic tech­nol­o­gy, I am often remind­ed of the clas­sic sto­ry of the tor­toise and the hare. The hare – for the pur­pos­es of this con­ve­nient metaphor – is adver­tis­ing tech­nol­o­gy. Fast-mov­ing, some­times prone to lazi­ness, but ulti­mate­ly own­ing the abil­i­ty to race ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion. The tor­toise is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of adver­tis­ers. Slow to start but able to catch up through dili­gence and moti­va­tion. Even­tu­al­ly the two both reach the fin­ish­ing line – with the hare learn­ing that match­ing the traits of the tor­toise reaps bet­ter rewards.

Over the past decade, the adop­tion of pro­gram­mat­ic tech­nolo­gies fueled con­sid­er­able growth for ad tech ven­dors. Nev­er­the­less, mar­keters may still lack faith in pro­gram­mat­ic tech­nol­o­gy, because of height­ened focus on brand safe­ty and fraud, and increased aware­ness of mis­aligned incen­tives and busi­ness mod­els. With pro­gram­mat­ic adop­tion fore­cast to grow, it’s vital that mar­keters improve their knowl­edge, decreas­ing the chance of being exploit­ed, and increas­ing the chance of build­ing a com­pet­i­tive advantage.

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are per­ceived of as com­plex, which is why many busi­ness­es out­source a lot of the ad place­ment, data cap­ture, and ana­lyt­ics to media agen­cies. But while it’s true that pro­gram­mat­ic con­stant­ly evolves, it needn’t be so com­pli­cat­ed that busi­ness­es can’t take back con­trol of their dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing execution.

Mar­keters need to over­come their fears, embrac­ing the fact that they can per­form cus­tomer seg­men­ta­tion, data-dri­ven test­ing, auto­mat­ed con­tent targeting—and all the oth­er valu­able activ­i­ties defin­ing pro­gram­mat­ic mar­ket­ing. It requires con­fi­dence in your mar­ket­ing plat­form and a com­mit­ment to sim­pli­fy­ing your thought process around pro­gram­mat­ic, focus­ing on the larg­er goals that adver­tis­ing is meant to achieve with­out get­ting lost down end­less rab­bit holes of tech­ni­cal minutia.

There is a big knowl­edge gap when it comes to dig­i­tal and pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing, specif­i­cal­ly for mar­keters on the client side—and it’s cre­at­ing a prob­lem. Most clients have a good grasp on tra­di­tion­al media chan­nels, but rely on agen­cies for digital.

This is chang­ing, though. Accord­ing to an arti­cle in the Wall Street Jour­nal, a World Fed­er­a­tion of Adver­tis­ers (WFA) poll found that “41 per­cent of mar­keters sur­veyed said they plan to take greater con­trol of their spend­ing on pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing. ” Of these mar­keters “around one-fifth said they had start­ed doing this in the past 12 months, while 24 per­cent said they start­ing doing this more than a year ago.”

In a com­pet­i­tive field, how can mar­keters know what to believe and whom to trust when it comes to invest­ing in a strat­e­gy that tru­ly serves the best inter­ests of their brands? Whether it’s through a part­ner­ship with an agency, bou­tique con­sul­tan­cy, or tra­di­tion­al advi­so­ry firm, now is the time for clients to find some­one they can trust to show them the ropes and help them lever­age the capa­bil­i­ties avail­able with­in a con­nect­ed, diverse mar­ket­ing plat­form. Soft­ware changes quick­ly, and there should be less focus on the micro details, and a renewed appre­ci­a­tion for the over­ar­ch­ing strat­e­gy dri­ving the adver­tis­ing in the first place.

When eval­u­at­ing part­ners, the fol­low­ing ques­tions will help sim­pli­fy the think­ing about your pro­gram­mat­ic spend.

1. Who are the ven­dors work­ing across my dig­i­tal media sup­ply chain?

Iden­ti­fy who does this work, and how well they under­stand your over­all strat­e­gy. Eval­u­ate their com­mit­ment to your suc­cess. Under­stand how they make mon­ey. Iden­ti­fy ven­dors able to pro­vide some­thing gen­uine­ly unique

There are a mil­lion ways to struc­ture com­pen­sa­tion. It’ impor­tant to cre­ate a busi­ness mod­el that is fair, trans­par­ent, and mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial, to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment for col­lab­o­ra­tion and suc­cess. Ask your­self if a move to a pay-for-per­for­mance mod­el makes more sense. As the old say­ing goes, you can have cheap, you can have fast and you can have good – but if you want all three, you need to find the sweet spot in the mid­dle. A client/partner rela­tion­ship is no dif­fer­ent. If you try and tran­si­tion too rapid­ly or source the cheap­est sup­pli­er, you’ll end up com­pro­mis­ing too much on the ‘good’ part of the equation.

3. Can I mea­sure the sales impact of my dig­i­tal media invest­ment with a high degree of confidence?

You need a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem for gath­er­ing and eval­u­at­ing met­rics against per­for­mance goals, tying adver­tis­ing effec­tive­ness back to key per­for­mance indi­ca­tors such as sales fig­ures or engage­ment. Ques­tion the media mix—who’s advis­ing you? Do they have a vest­ed inter­est in dri­ving your spend toward one par­tic­u­lar channel

Fraud­u­lent, or even poor­ly per­form­ing part­ners, can waste time and mon­ey, result­ing in missed oppor­tu­ni­ties to cap­i­talise on trends in the mar­ket. Be sure you under­stand your expo­sure to fraud. Ask who’s ver­i­fy­ing it, and how it’s trend­ing year on year. Adobe Adver­tis­ing Cloud under­stand the con­cerns that adver­tis­ers have regard­ing fraud. That’s why we were the first to intro­duce auto­mat­ic refunds for non-human traf­fic (or bots) to all of our plat­form clients – and why we encour­age third-par­ty ver­i­fi­ca­tion of all ad buys using our inde­pen­dent third-par­ty secu­ri­ty partners.

5. How do I select vendors?

Your process for eval­u­at­ing and choos­ing ven­dors influ­ences the qual­i­ty of sub­se­quent deci­sions. Instead of ask­ing ven­dors to present answers to hun­dreds of tech­ni­cal ques­tions on an enor­mous spreadsheet—which only gives you a one-way infor­ma­tion flow about their capabilities—a bet­ter way to approach this is by say­ing, “these are my pri­ma­ry chal­lenges and use cas­es, how would you solve for this?” This cre­ates a cus­tomer-cen­tric solu­tion as opposed to a ven­dor-cen­tric solution.

As more busi­ness­es look to re-eval­u­ate their dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing buy­ing mod­els, it is impor­tant to adopt a more holis­tic approach to tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion and the process by which it is achieved. By focus­ing on trans­par­ent, mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial ven­dor rela­tion­ships, clients should be able to grow into dig­i­tal self-sufficiency.

In the end, adver­tis­ers need to under­stand that the best solu­tion is to be – or find a part­ner that is — both tor­toise AND hare, com­bin­ing the fast-mov­ing capa­bil­i­ties of one with the deter­mi­na­tion of the oth­er. Only a mar­riage of the two will allow you to reach the fin­ish line.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Automation, content targeting, Digital Advertising, media mix, programmatic marketing, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA