Any discussion around programmatic advertising will eventually turn to the topic of transparency.
And so it was during a panel session at Econsultancy’s Get With The Programmatic conference in London this morning.
The four panel members were:
- Sital Banerjee, global head of media at Philips.
- Mikko Kotila, media investment consultant.
- Pierre Naggar, EU managing director at Turn.
- Caspar Schlickum, CEO of Xaxis EMEA.
Here’s a selection of interesting quotes and discussion points from the panel session.
Transparency is becoming more important
Programmatic is growing bigger; it’s not going away. And it’s not just digital media, it’s going to print and TV as well.
If that’s so, then transparency is becoming even more important and it’s not something advertisers have confidence in.
We know there is an increased cost to get to better targeting, but we need to be transparent about it.
Importance of education
Many of the problems around programmatic can be addressed through client education.
This is a very nuanced space and it takes a lot to be well versed in it.
We spend a lot of time talking through data strategy, inventory strategy, tech strategy, etc. and when you have these conversations you get to interesting conclusions.
But you need technical people within client companies who can have those conversations.
What are your objectives?
Marketers need to have a clarity of purpose. Before you start with programmatic, what are the objectives? And the KPIs?
Take some time, plan carefully, then choose the technology or the vendor based on what you’re trying to achieve.
Programmatic is simple
What is programmatic? It just means media trading is becoming a computer-aided activity. There’s nothing special or confusing about that.
It’s becoming like the financial markets, it’s the exact same mechanism as how equities are traded.
It’s not a complex industry if you take the time to look at it.
Programmatic is complex
I think programmatic is a complex industry. The aspiration may be to simplify it, but the inventory here is more like electricity than financial products.
You can’t store media or electricity like you can financial products. They’re both perishable.
Definition of transparency
I look at transparency in three ways.
Firstly, the costs. What mark ups have been made? Who in the value chain is making what in return for what?
Secondly I look at data. How is it being gathered? Are consumer choices and privacy being considered in that?
How is data being used? Is my first-party data being mashed up with other people’s data? Are other agencies benefiting from my data? How is data being stored?
And thirdly we need to look at delivering and reporting results.
What are the investments delivering in terms of results? How are they being reported back to us?
How should money be allocated?
If you look at the value chain, I get frustrated when people get annoyed about how money is allocated [i.e. less money going to publishers].
It’s less about the inventory – you’re applying a new paradigm where data and tech are more important.
So though the cost of the inventory is important, it is perhaps the least important part of executing a campaign.
Programmatic image problem
No agency partner would say they’re not being transparent, but clearly clients still feel it’s a problem.
There’s definitely a gap somewhere in perception of the industry.
A hybrid model for programmatic
In my opinion we’ll eventually see the media piece being managed by the agency, but marketers and brands will want to be much more in control of the data piece.
Data is the most important asset the client has. They spend a lot of time developing these relationships with their customers.
This hybrid model feels like the most likely outcome.
Agencies need a USP
To succeed in this space agencies must have some unique method of working with tech or data.
You have to put your own thinking there and do something valuable, otherwise you have no competitive advantage.
More importantly you need to have a great understanding of the market.
By that I mean understanding all the market participants, what kind of tools they use and how they use them.
I don’t know any agency that is doing this second part well.
Can brand trading desk’s work?
Brands will continue to work with the application that works best for them. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach.
But I still think it makes sense to work with fewer partners as they only add complexity.
Consumers need a seamless experience, and that comes when there are fewer parties involved.
Programmatic is a tool
We can’t lose sight of the fact that programmatic is a tool. It’s a means to an end.
This is about achieving marketing objectives and selling your brand.
That’s why I worry about people bringing trading desks in-house, as it should just be one more tool.
How to achieve transparency
One thing we should and can do is to convince the ad exchanges ASAP to make all of the bid trends data public and available.
In financial markets it’s all based on the availability of this data.
It shows how much inventory is being sold for – how much are the asks and how much are winning bids?
That gives us transparency.