What's The Biggest Challenge With Platform Buying In Digital Today?

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Platform BuyingIt's easy.

It's hard.

It's complex.

It's too complex.

Opinions vary widely on the platform buying capabilities available to the demand-side as it looks to exploit opportunity in the data-driven ad ecosystem. AdExchanger.com asked a selection of demand-side executives to share how they think platform buying is performing today. Specifically, the question is:

  • "What's the biggest challenge with platform buying in digital today?"

Click below or scroll down to read the answers:

Jeremy Cornfeldt, SVP, Integrated Business Director, Aegis Media

"As we all see with any new opportunity in the digital space, the promise of what is possible always seems to be bigger than the reality of what is currently achievable.  And one of the biggest challenges we in this industry always seem to face is identifying the talent that can turn the possibilities into reality.  This is particularly true of platform buying.

Sure, the platforms aren't perfect yet and you may question how well certain data sources work for different industry verticals, but those issues will be addressed.  The bigger challenge is finding the people that know how to make the best use of the platforms and the data sets.  The technology can only take you so far - it's the person that is using the technology that will really deliver the results.

Think about search engine marketing.  You can have the same search campaign in the hands of one team and see mediocre results.  And then you can hand that same set of keywords to a new team and see much better performance. The reason is that the new team will have people look at a variety of things differently - new copy, different bid strategies, landing page optimizations and the list goes on.  It's the people that are executing and maximizing what the technology can do that will drive the campaigns to perform at the highest levels.

Since platform buying is still continuing to evolve we as an industry are building the talent pool.  There is no question that there are some very talented people in this space, but that challenge is to expand the talent pool as fast or faster than the pace of the technology advancements. Without the talent the technology won't be able to deliver on it's promise."

Art Muldoon, CEO, and Matt Greitzer, COO, Accordant Media

"In its current form, platform buying is a powerful, but incredibly unwieldy data-centric tool. While a few agencies are attempting to build their own trading desks, most are testing and utilizing managed services providers’ systems and expertise. Either way, the challenge for agencies is the extent to which they can access and utilize disparate marketing data to power insights that deliver order of magnitude advertising value.

Agencies attempting to build in-house trading desks often end up licensing one or several self-service technology platforms. They then end up activating the platform's automatic settings that are dumbed-down and wonder why their campaign results are notbetter. So while they may think they should own the buying platform, they are having a tough time delivering value. Data-light, "set it and forget it" biddable media campaigns are wasted on platform buying.

Other agencies are plagued by platform overload - deciphering the merits, uses and interoperability of the dozens (hundreds?) of platform-based buying tools on the market. Over the past two to three years the pace of technical innovation has far exceed the ability of digital media buying organizations to orient and adapt to these new capabilities. While some are enthusiastic about the opportunity of platform-based buying, most are confused, or even suspicious of myriad providers who claim similar, overlapping capabilities. The net result is a large number of agencies who are not taking full advantage of platform based buying, or worse yet hurting their overall marketing efforts by usingoverlapping platforms in conflicting manners.

Key questions marketers and agencies need to ask are: does the platform service have the capability to deliver against my marketers’ branding or performance campaign objectives? Is the platform service utilizing first-party, second-party and third-party data to create custom audience and content segments and new media insights? Is platform buying overall making the agency and client a hero by addressing more marketers' questions around where, why and how incremental media budgets are making an impact? Over the next few years these answers will manifest as industry consolidation, ongoing education, and organizational evolution will bring more clarity to this landscape. Until then, it will be important for marketers and media buyers to work with trusted providers who can help them navigate and assemble the right platform toolset."

Andy Chapman, Leader, Digital Trading, Mindshare

"With all the noise in the marketplace around the alphabet soup of RTB, DSP’s and DMP’s clients realize they need to understand and consider audience buying for their businesses. Generally they want to understand the concepts and what the benefits can be for their campaigns versus getting into the mechanics behind it all – though a base level explanation of the technology is usually required. For clients often the initial attraction with bid-based display is centered on the promise of media price efficiencies and targetability.

They are obviously interested in how this technique can be added to the portfolio approach of media campaigns, including sponsorships and other Tier 1 placements to improve audience delivery or cost-per goals.

Basic education aside, brand safety is invariably a fast follower in terms of questions and concerns. Let’s face it: the exchange landscape has gotten a bad rap from a demonstrable supply of questionable and undesirable inventory sources that no major advertiser would want to touch. Thus, the importance being placed on proper brand protection via ad verification; it’s disconcerting to see the number of violations regularly monitored, especially when you consider the impression volume going through the platforms at even modest spends and the fact that the typical success rate of the AV players in the market is around 95%.

Getting beyond some of these basics, data is the encompassing topic that clients and agencies want to tackle – how do we properly evaluate the multitude of 3rd party data sources available to us (alignment with target segments, value assignation for optimal pricing, etc.) and avoid getting caught up in the “data deluge?” A smart, measured approach (which truly takes measurement to heart) and which increases sophistication over time, is a good template from which to get the most out of platform buying."

Paul Longo, SVP, Group Digital Director, Starcom MediaVest Group

"The Display landscape is transforming quickly right before our eyes, leading to increased scale, efficiency and performance. Within that Display landscape opportunities exist, including:

1) Buying Fragmentation and Inventory Overlap: With many players in the space, a number of networks and exchanges are presenting similar offerings, so those that provide unique technology, targeting and premium content rise to the top. It is also difficult to compare inventory sources from network to network to avoid overlap.

2) Measurement: For performance media, it's getting beyond the "last click / last view" model and linking attribution back to media partner performance. For branding efforts, it's about reaching the right audiences in order to complement off line efforts, and showing grp equivalent. Agencies are driving an evolved measurement agenda and are seeking the right partners to deliver for clients."

By John Ebbert

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One Response to “What's The Biggest Challenge With Platform Buying In Digital Today?”


  1. Josh Dreller says:

    What each of the comments seems to be getting at is a lack of infrastructure--the demand is currently exceeding the supply of best practices, talent, and technology integration. The same thing happened in SEM...the first few years everyone was figuring things out while the medium matured. The same will happen to this space as well. As always, the bleeding edge folks will get frustrated while waiting for everyone else (who are completely busy with their roles and focus).

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