12 Essential Elements to Ensure You Get the Most Out of Programmatic in 2022

By: Athar Naser. Global Director, Solutions Consulting at CvE

With eMarketer reporting in July 2021 that 89% of all digital display ad spending was transacted programmatically and that the percentage will grow to 91% in 2023, there is no doubt now that Programmatic advertising is on the rise. The reality is that if you’re advertising, you’re already using some form of programmatic media. But are you considering everything it takes to getting Programmatic Media right?

As more traditional channels such as TV, OOH and Radio slowly migrate to programmatic methods of trading inventory, the industry is at an inflection point where ‘digital’ is becoming ‘programmatic’. This divergence brings not only structural and technical challenges, but also strategical. These will sit along current trends associated with the maturation of the medium. – not least the demise of cookies, growing importance of first party data, consumer privacy, and the urgent need for transparency that was starkly highlighted in the ISBA & PwC Programmatic Supply Chain study.

Due to the complexity of the programmatic landscape, our clients are increasingly asking us how best to structure their operations to embrace this migration, as there is a prompting need for re-organisation and transformation.

There are three models for running programmatic advertising:

Exclusively through an external partner such as a media agency
Exclusively internally
A hybrid model that blends the strengths of both

Whatever that structure is, one thing is for certain – programmatic is a resource-intensive channel that should not take a trading or operational cue from more traditional channels (as it often does). To get the most out of programmatic, you need to be sure you have considered everything it takes to manage the buying teams well, wherever they sit.

How to Scope a Programmatic Campaign

1. Objectives and KPIs-
First and foremost, be very clear on your objectives and your internal KPIs on media performance. How is the business assessing the success of this media activation? Have a stated list of priorities that you can share with your buying teams. Ensure that these are non-conflicting and that they are hierarchical – asking for a priority of ‘scale, audience, and engagement’ will hamper the buying team’s ability to manage media consistently.

2. Team – Define the type of talent required for your team to be successful. Who are the individuals working on your account and how much of their time are you expected to receive? What will they spend their time doing? Are you receiving that time allocation? As your operation scales and matures, you will certainly have the need for specific ‘hands on keyboards’ skills, either for problem solving, covering gaps, or supporting strategic work.

3. The brief – ensure the brief you provide encapsulates all the details that are necessary to run media effectively. These include the business/comms/media objectives, a clear list of priorities, hygiene factors like dates budgets, audience info including any insights you have on those audiences.

4. Brand safety – there are two categories for consideration, firstly brand safety which is a very clear area to define – whether your brand appears alongside violent, X-rated or prohibited content is a clear red flag for most brands. The second area is brand suitability and is more nuanced, requiring consideration and guidelines from the advertiser.

5. Setting KPIs, targets and measurement – do these respond to business or campaign objectives? Are they benchmarked? Are they realistic? Do they challenge the buyers enough? Do you have secondary KPIs to qualify the primary (for example if “clicks” is your primary, are you tracking lands on your site?)? Ensure you have a clear view on your primary source of truth and that this is agreed upon by the buying teams. Consider bringing in third party tech or independent vendors to track and adjudicate media results and performance

6. Check the media plan – It is better not to assume that the media plan is as good as it can be, so equip yourself to be able to ask the right questions and challenge the plan. For instance, does the plan make sense? Check hygiene factors – do the numbers add up? Are the spends correct? Are the KPIs, Targets, and costs correct? Are the optimisations and dates included? Are the data sets included? Is all the information available and clear in one place? Is there a site list? Check that the proposed frequency matches your expectations, and ensure the buyers have a clear process to manage that frequency, especially when there are differing channels/vendors that may target the same audiences. Ask about the bidding strategies and algorithms, buyers should be able to provide you with some details on these.

7. Pre-flight tests – It is important to ensure that you have an internal source of analytics to validate campaign performance. Addressing questions such as ‘Is the campaign set up ready?’, ‘Is the set up ready to measure the campaign correctly?’, and ‘Have all of proof points been activated and tested?’ will guarantee you have everything in place to measure the media campaign accurately.

8. Datasets – Taking time to define the right dataset is key to find the best pair of the ad and the best converting users. Which data sets are being used to target audiences? Where are the datasets coming from? Is there historic performance of this particular dataset? Are different datasets for the same audiences being tested and compared to each other? Are you comparing an audience buy versus a non-audience buy?

9. Buying – Where possible look to lead on the attribution conversation and build an attribution framework that allows you to understand the incremental value of all channels. How is the media being bought? Which tech is being used and why? What buying models are being used? Are these congruent with your KPIs and objectives? Are they designed to give the campaign the greatest performance?

10. Tech – Consider and ask about the tech being used across the supply chain. Who owns the tech? Do you as a client have visibility in to the DSPs and SSPs being used? Do you have read only visibility on these platforms to see how things are set up? Do you have access to the analytics suite being used? We strongly recommend securing a level of visibility, so that even if the tech used is not on your paperwork, you have transparency on your media.

11. Optimisation – what is the media being optimised towards and does this relate to the KPIs? What is the cadence of optimisation? Are there potential issues in optimisation such as targeting audiences who are more predisposed to specific actions? Are optimisations simply capturing buyers who were already on their journey? Consider running incremental lift studies

12. Reporting – Ensure that all of the parameters of your campaign are being reported on regularly, with rationale and insights that go beyond a simple description of the figures. is there a clear reporting structure? Which source of truth is being used in the reporting?

Your key takeaway:

Programmatic is fraught with complexity but, if managed carefully, can be a very powerful vehicle for growth. The current skills gap is an industry-wide challenge, and at present many marketers are either relying on encumbered partners or inexperienced internal teams to solve this challenge. Whichever operating model you opt for, chances are that you are undergoing some level of transformation as the channel shifts, changes, and matures. The key to success lies in having the right partners and people around you and becoming adept at change – which is now the only constant.

CvE’s Programmatic Media Consultants will help you define the right model for your brand and business. Let’s schedule a call, we would love to learn what your challenge is and become your co-pilot to help you succeed.

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