Making sure 20 percent of your budget doesn’t take 80 percent of your time

This post was written by Mike Caprio, GM of Sizmek Vantage

Over the past five years, programmatic has been a change agent for the digital ad industry. As a result, it’s estimated that one of every five digital dollars is now spent programmatically. In 2017, one of every three dollars will be spent in this way, according to eMarketer. This trend not only makes digital audiences more accessible, but also provides an efficient way to grow the digital share of marketing dollars.

Like most things in this business, change equals pain. Agencies and trading desks have done a great job managing this transition on the fly, but as more dollars are spent in an automated fashion, it’s important that key participants work to ensure all campaigns can be executed and measured similarly.

Addressing obstacles before they disrupt this delicate balance will pave the way for holistic campaign management regardless of the means of acquisition.  The goal should be to streamline execution and increase visibility of the complete campaign picture, which will allow more time for agencies to focus on strategy rather than spending 80% of their time validating 20% of their spend.

Duplicate Trafficking

Today, most programmatic campaigns must be trafficked twice – once with the agency ad server where the creative is aligned to campaign strategy and then again with the DSP where strategy meets execution. This creates unnecessary work for the media agency and trading desk and raises the risk of human error. Integration between the third-party ad server and DSP reduces the effort required to get campaigns up and running smoothly.

Centralized Reporting

In most cases, the media agency uses a trading desk to execute campaigns across exchanges. Even if the trading desk is in-house, the needs of the media account team and the traders are very different, with one responsible for total campaign performance across all channels and the other focused only on the programmatic goals. Using multiple DSPs only compounds the problem. Does this sound familiar? You export the social report, video report, mobile report and DSP’s display reports. Then you have to export a report from your ad server and build a pivot table. This is easily solved if your ad server could display your programmatic impressions, including unduplicated audience data, and media costs alongside the rest of your campaign in one dashboard.

Discrepancies Between DSP and Ad Server

Okay, so you have your pivot table built, but the impressions don’t match. Your ad server didn’t count some traffic because it was classified as a bot or wasn’t in the viewable window. Your numbers are wildly different because one trader or trafficker along the way missed attaching a placement. What number do you use? If you use your ad server as the “source of truth,” then you will have to address the discrepancy, which can take a significant amount of time. Let’s hope it’s not the end of the campaign or the end of the quarter. By having an integration between your “source of truth” (ad server, verification provider, DMP) and the DSPs, you can view an adjusted impression level, which can be the basis for the final billable volume.

Disjointed Attribution

Omni-channel attribution may well make John Wanamaker’s quote about half of advertising money being wasted a relic of the 20th century – but only if attribution is consistent across direct and programmatic campaigns. Because the ad server is providing that logic for the majority of digital spend, the same tracking and methodology must be leveraged and applied across all channels, direct and programmatic. If you are using multiple DSPs and don’t have a direct connection to your ad server, how can you ensure your attribution is being used? Using uniform logic across all campaigns is the first step.  Whether that’s through a third-party attribution company or through your campaign management system/ad server, it should be applied for all audiences regardless of media acquisition path.

Audience Retargeting

Applying user data across audience sources is critical to maximizing ROI across direct and programmatic spend. Today, the connectivity between the direct agency ad server and DSP is rudimentary at best. With greater connectivity, you can cap the number of ad exposures per user, or sequence your creative to push them through your sales funnel. Being able to customize creative messaging based on your user’s interests and previous engagements digital creates better results and a better ad experience for your audience.

As the power of programmatic continues to disrupt the inertia of today’s legacy media model, the agencies that promote open connectivity between platforms and embrace the enlightening insights of actionable (and complete) data will be more efficient and more effective consultants to their clients – and the winners in an ever-changing (programmatic) world.

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