You never get a second chance to make a first impression

Simon Williams, Dentsu's head media partnerships
By Simon Williams, Dentsu's head media partnerships | 24 February 2016
Simon Williams is head of global & local media partnerships at Dentsu Aegis Network

Programmatic is the leading buzzword of our industry, but I would argue it is too often out of sight, and therefore out of mind. Programmatic continues to diversify the total media investment of marketing budgets, yet, too often; it remains contained like an e-commerce team within the IT department.

Television, radio and press were never planned and purchased in isolation. Today, we have fractured digital so much that programmatic has been pushed to the background. In too many cases, it is not effectively planned for or integrated and is fast becoming the e-Commerce team of the early noughties.

In order to fully embrace programmatic across all advertising touchpoints there needs to be a common goal. We need to move from complex data to information, information to insights and ultimately insights to wisdom.

I have the pleasure of being a part of the Programmatic Summit today. In preparation I have been tasked with responding to the below questions, which this piece seeks to answer.

1. How are brands organising internally to maximise efficiency?

2. What are the drivers of success?

3. How can advertisers adapt to maximise the opportunity?

4. How can programmatic deliver a more relevant, customised experience?

Challenge Vs Opportunity

Business intelligence is the key to survival during a period of ‘Digital Darwinism’ - the phenomenon where technology and society are now evolving faster than organisations can adapt. Every day there is a new technology, DSP or artificial intelligence platform for us to plan alongside.

Not only do we have to continue our day jobs, but we have to tackle the new complexities of data to make every touch point and message even more targeted. This is typically the point where comfort zones are breached and the idea of programmatic advertising is pushed out of sight, and well out of mind.

Part of my job is demystifying programmatic for our clients and agency brands. We are using world-first, proprietary buying and measurement techniques to plan for the proliferation of screens and deliver truly integrated, cross-media solutions. Our continued roll out of Screen Stack and Content Quality Score has enabled us to capitalise on the incredible uptake of online video and content consumption. Overlaying diverse metrics such as reach and frequency with a host of other signals, we are able to serve video content that complements television buys, reduces wastage and gains incremental reach using real-time bidding and data.

Data Alone Isn’t Enough

As marketers, we need to be ready to respond. We are at risk of being out-manoeuvred by the competition. From a content consumption perspective, YouTube alone offers us the possibility to reach one billion global unique users. We live in a multi-screen, multi-channel world, and we need to plan for it.

The common goal we have with all of our partners is to improve the sophistication and accuracy of planning and activation. This is a quantum shift in our business – as the relationships we forge are now centred wholeheartedly on data.

In practice, much of the technology associated with “big data” is designed for accumulating, storing and dispensing unstructured data. To gain insights from this data, it is often necessary to extract a structured form of data and then analyse it.

Unfortunately, pulling these insights is no longer enough - we are moving towards the real-time transformation of data in to actionable knowledge. Our tools and systems are focused with the end goal of becoming wise, as we use this transformed data to make smarter and faster decisions. Programmatic is the key to our success.

We are Redefining Analysis

It is no longer enough to solely focus on short term advertising metrics. We are looking beyond standard client goals such as cost-per-acquisition or cost-per-lead, and considering more meaningful markers of success. The greatest value to brands is offered by creating long term brand sentiment shifts and understanding customer lifetime value. The Content Quality Score is one proprietary methodology we developed in response to the wealth of complex content and its analysis, alongside our unique programmatic television relationship with the MCN.

Where the Magic Happens

Programmatic then really kicks in by its own definition. It is the use of technology and audience insights to automatically buy and run a campaign in real time, reaching the right user with the right message.

It is possible to streamline these efforts and opportunity with integrated technology solutions, making processes quicker and easier for marketing teams to manage. A unified eco-system results in increased efficiency and up to a 33% decrease in process time.

We have discovered more relevant and customised experiences through a multitude of variables. You can catch a consumer early by remarketing from a video, or mid-funnel by remarketing from a paid search ad. You can also push them over the finish line by remarketing using behavioural analytics, for example.

Advanced techniques are able to drive better performance, not just by targeting consumers that are close to purchase, but by targeting and engaging users at every point along their journey. This is the holy grail of advertising.

Advertisers have found a solution that empowers them to both inspire and drive action in a uniquely effective way: programmatic buying. Marketers for the first time can truly “program” their marketing to the specific and individual needs of their consumers.

Programmatic v2

In 2016 the focus needs to move away from the buzzword of programmatic, to the practice of using a technology platform approach to marketing. This will bring the science of data-driven decisions to the art of creative messaging. The clash of brand and performance is upon us all.

Programmatic buying may have achieved its early success with direct response campaigns, but enormous progress has been made in advancing programmatic technology to drive brand campaigns. Advancements in areas such as brand measurement, inventory quality, and creative flexibility have paved the way for a truly incredible use of programmatic. Today, the challenges in these areas are mere speed bumps on the path to a widespread adoption of programmatic buying by brands.

Programmatic used to be synonymous with remnant inventory. I’d suggest that programmatic shouldn’t be synonymous with a specific type of inventory at all. Instead, it should be synonymous with a specific type of buying - one that uses technology, automation and data to make better decisions for buyers and sellers to effectively reach the right audience, at the right time with the right message.

What do I recommend?

Don’t waste any time. Determine what programmatic means to your business, and the problems you are trying to solve. Integrate your marketing efforts and allow for the smooth transaction of data between technology and teams. Your poker hand is the relationship your brand has with its consumers; make a good first impression because you won’t get a second chance.

Simon Williams is head of global and local media partnerships at Dentsu Aegis Network

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