Last week we hosted Get With The Programmatic 2016 (GWTP), a conference designed to demystify programmatic and examine some of the technology steering its use cases.

A key theme that came up several times throughout the day was what marketers require to get started.

If you are a Marketing Director and you’ve heard how your competitors are benefitting from programmatic and aren’t sure where to get started, you might find these suggestions from the GWTP panellists helpful.

The key insight here is that all speakers emphasised the importance of people, skills and procedures above technology.

1. Knowledge

Marketers need to understand the programmatic ecosystem and the different use cases involved.

Shamless plug: Econsultancy’s CMO’s Guide to Programmatic has a whole chapter on understanding the programmatic ecosystem.

Also, at the most basic level, marketers need to understand their customer.

Panellists were at pains to point out that even if marketers spend lots of money on the tools required to deliver programmatic campaigns, if they don’t make the most of these tools to capture insights and optimise campaigns, then they may in fact end up delivering hyper targeted but irrelevant or annoying advertisements.

For example, one speaker spoke of being retargeted with an ad to purchase a bicycle for three weeks after completing his purchase.

2. Procedures

While the tech may be ready, the last example demonstrates that skills and procedures may not be.

Any company that makes use of programmatic technologies will need to examine current procedures and map out how these should change in order to integrate programmatic into other activities.

This includes understanding what data you have and the role that your marketing agencies play in terms of bringing it all together. It's not just one person that can do all of this.

3. Skills

Companies require a team of people, right through from legal through to brand and digital expertise and data management. 

In addition, some of the key skills mentioned were of course data science and analytical thinking coupled with strong commercial awareness and an understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.

There is huge demand for data science and analytical skills from all sectors.

Research from Econsultancy’s 2016 Digital Trends report suggests that only 37% of companies have the analysts that they need to make sense of their data.

4. Technology and data

Technology and data are key to running programmatic effectively.

If you are having trouble getting your head around the tools involved and the plethora of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms!), check out Econsultancy’s report: Programmatic Marketing: Beyond RTB.

One speaker highlighted the importance of making sure that whatever technology is used, it must be integrated into other procedures and tools and not simply act as a third-party bolt on.

Only when this happens will there be an opportunity to be able to surface customisable and actionable data.

Finally, without actionable data, marketers run the risk of over or under targeting consumers.

Without data, marketers will not be able to develop a single customer view and so while they may apply frequency capping to different channels, there is still a chance of over targeting.

A single customer view will allow marketers to frequency cap users rather than devices and, in addition, sequentially message users depending on where they are in their customer journey.

5. Budget and strategy

Making effective use of programmatic requires a data-driven marketing strategy at the highest level.

This means aligning programmatic with other media and integrating the approach into other marketing activities.

Companies should also assign a portion of the budget to test and learn.

This is important because how can marketers expect to make any progress if they don't test new ideas? This of course goes beyond programmatic and includes other tactics.

Achieving a data-driven strategy might also require an internal sponsor or delegating to somebody who can focus on delivery and setting up the correct internal structure and procedures.

The programmatic sponsor can translate programmatic to a level that people understand - these might be senior people who are responsible for assigning budgets, executive leadership and the wider marketing team.

This doesn’t mean not making use of agency partnerships. Agencies can still offer guidance around different media approaches and layering different datasets on top of each other.

Getting on top of programmatic

Econsultancy runs regular programmatic workshops to help marketers cement their understanding of the programmatic landscape.

If you already have an understanding of programmatic and want to look at some of the wider strategic use cases and challenges to be aware of, Econsultancy has published a number of reports on the subject:

Econsultancy also regularly publishes blogs on the subject of programmatic.

Seán Donnelly

Published 26 September, 2016 by Seán Donnelly @ Econsultancy

Seán Donnelly is a Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy. Connect via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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