Vigorous debates concerning the necessity of transparency when it comes to online advertising suppliers’ pricing practices, undoubtedly contributed to clarify each stakeholder’s role and to reduce the footprint of “black boxes” on the market. However, it would be a pity to stop here. The search of a greater transparency within the ecosystem shouldn’t be limited to financial considerations but also include a better capacity to analyse – and hence higher requirements of the offer and services proposed, of the adopted technology and the way each stakeholder deploys it to serve their campaigns.
Programmatic media buying and the digital space more generally are relatively recent environments, whose specificity is to be strongly influenced by a constantly evolving technology. Advertisers usually struggle understanding the details and logic of new methods, jargons, solutions and best practices generated by this technological shift. So how do you evaluate the offered service when you don’t master the main keys allowing to analyze it?
It will only be when advertisers will be able to grasp the full range of opportunities offered by programmatic media buying that they will identify the strengths and values of an offer that perfectly fit their needs versus another another that won’t or only partially.
Except specific operations, almost anything is possible in programmatic. Even formats that were confined to direct campaigns are now available on ad exchanges, such as audio podcasts, webradios, DOOH and even television is progressively opening its inventory. Also, any goal can be assigned to programmatic, such as gaining new visitors and customers, branding, increasing visibility, customer loyalty, drive-to-store etc. Furthermore, there are more and more publishers starting to integrate programmatic in order to value their best inventories and highlight the input of data segments for instance.
Contrary to public opinion, never before has an environment offered as many choices in terms of performance measurement and outcomes analysis. By choosing efficient quality-checking tools, the advertiser is able to analyse precisely the quality of his inventories and the diffusion context, to guard against eventual frauds and control each contribution levers. By benchmarking the trading desks market, advertisers will notice that some of them offer detailed campaign performance analysis and thus generate business insights much more useful to develop their marketing strategy.
To be able to evaluate a supplier’s offer, advertisers must distinguish three key elements: the consulting (the mentoring before and during a campaign), the trading expertise (buying stage and the effective broadcasting of the campaign), and the results reporting through insights and learnings. For each of these three elements, there is an enormous range of quality levels. Programmatic answers to the logic of value for money, just like any other product or service: a cheap performance probably involves a limited expertise, time and quality in general.
Let’s use the trading as an example: the purchase of campaigns on advertising market places implies, if exerted properly, a lot of testing and risk taking to get the best results, by constantly optimizing. Thus, real trading requires a customed activation for each advertiser and for each campaign, taking into account the specificities and goals. There is only a tiny minority of actors on the market doing real trading. Most of them settle for basic rules, without truly worrying about optimizing each scenario. In fact, the way they operate should be considered as trafficking more than campaign trading.
We could draw a parallel with financial products: the venture capital funds advised by your local agency – the same for every customers – couldn’t be compared with the customed offer provided by an investment bank…
To operate a first qualitative sorting, advertisers should start by getting more informations on the specific technologies used by their future provider: do they have a proprietary solution, or do they work with the most important DSPs on the market? The second option remains the most advantageous since it’s a lot more powerful! And among DSP, which ones do they pick? One thing to know is that some DSP are much better equipped than others for expert trading and optimal operations. The level of experience of the trading team and their knowledge is also a key aspect. By having full knowledge and visibility, advertisers will be able to make the best out of their decision and choose the right partner.
Advertisers have to be careful when defining their campaign goals, and especially when choosing the most adapted performance indicators (KPIs). They should focus on one main KPI per campaign: if there are several KPIs, it is better to prioritize them. During this stage, it is essential that the advertisers ask themselves the right questions and chooses the proper solutions to answer all their needs. Thus, if their campaign goals is to get a higher visibility, the most adapted KPIs to measure the campaign’s results would be the reach or commitment of the targeted audience. If they want to focus on acquisition by exposing their brand message to new audiences (necessarily non intentionalist), it has to be made up clear that the advertisers cannot expect the same results as the one they will get if they are also doing retargeting or search – ROIst methods using an audience who already expressed interest. Same for visibility: instead of valuing a global visibility rate which is extremely expensive, advertisers must find the right balance between price and visibility to maximize their performances. In programmatic just like anything else in life, you can do anything, but you cannot get everything out of it!
In a nutshell, it is obvious that advertisers should get the appropriate level of training and expend their knowledge when it comes to programmatic advertising. Master the basics, will be the key to informed and wise decision when choosing the right partner and implementing the best strategies, in full transparency!