How Bowie was right on programmatic

Lynn Chealander, VivaKi VP ANZ
By Lynn Chealander, VivaKi VP ANZ | 21 April 2016
VivaKi VP ANZ, Lynn Chealander

Ever the futurist, David Bowie got it right when he wrote ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’. Okay, a bit of an obscure Bowie track (from the 1977 album ‘Low’), but I’m sure you get the sentiment. We can apply it to the endless debate about taking programmatic in-house. It’s a conversation that reappears every few months – should clients take matters into their own hands? – and each time it ignores the complexity of the industry.

It’s easy to understand why some clients want to be in the driver’s seat. As the use of data increases it’s natural to want to draw campaign activation and analysis closer to home, particularly for clients like the Commonwealth Bank who possess highly regulated data that can’t be passed around. But, if a client does go down the in-house road, without fully considering the outcome, frankly, the result could be a car crash.

Let’s look at those clients who have partnered with companies like Google and TubeMogul. They’ve been provided a managed demand side platform (DSP) without the cost or complexity of setting one up themselves, but it comes with a risk. Will this DSP relationship cover all their potential programmatic buying needs?

For example, when Facebook launched its FBX exchange, Google’s DSP took a full year to integrate; if this was your only provider, you would have been shut out of this unique opportunity. Likewise, if you work only with a non-Google platform, you can’t buy YouTube programmatically. And, if you are tied to one single external DSP partner you are handcuffed to their technical knowledge and expertise – what if they fall behind the rest of the industry?

Lynn Chealander is speaking at the AdNews Media Summit. You can buy tickets here.

Clearly, choosing the right DSP approach is a critical decision. If you get it wrong – choosing one that isn’t responsive to an industry is constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities – the cost of switching to a new one can be prohibitively expensive.

So, why take the risk? A switched on agency should be doing the hard work of engaging multiple vendors – and keeping an eye on new suppliers, sorting the wheat from the chaff. Clients should expect their agency to have the expertise to select the right technology for the situation. Publicis Media uses a proprietary 1,200+ point inspection process to ensure platforms meet mission critical functionality. If one DSP is no longer suited to a client, we ensure it is easy to switch without the headache of losing data or valuable campaign insights.

Perhaps clients fear their agency doesn’t have this sort of capability. Maybe that’s what’s driving them to consider in-house DSPs. Or perhaps it gets down to trust – there’s not been enough frank discussion about the nut and bolts that create successful campaigns – from technology, through to personnel, responsibilities and, of course, fees.

Agencies, meanwhile, have to accept that their role is shifting. Clients want some autonomy and that challenges the centralised agency approach of old. In response, the trading desk model is changing. Publicis Groupe was the first to move the planning and activation teams from a centralised desk in media agencies, to one that sits closer to clients. The VivaKi Operating System (VOS) acts as a specialist hub and spoke model, conveying IP, tools, technology, and education across the Groupe.

The agency will never become obsolete, but it’s a cocky agency (and ultimately an extinct one) who thinks they can stay relevant without evolving. Clients can only truly unlock the full potential of programmatic when all parties collaborate in an open manner.

So, let’s settle the debate: should clients take programmatic in-house? Should I be looking for a new career in a new town? The answer is clear: it’s the wrong question. Clients and agencies must work together to realise programmatic’s promise of a better future. Reinvention is not optional; Bowie knew that.

By Lynn Chealander

Vivaki VP ANZ

Lynn Chealander is speaking at the AdNews Media Summit. You can buy tickets here.

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