As Hill Holliday Hits The Gas On Self-Serve, It Turns To TubeMogul For Video

AllDSPsSo you want to be a programmatic company? As it turns out, it’s not as simple as licensing a single vendor platform and hitting the on switch.

For integrated Interpublic Group agency Hill Holliday, the process of building a self-serve programmatic model started last fall and spanned several technology selections.

While Hill Holliday uses Turn as its strategic demand-side platform for display, the agency has named TubeMogul as its preferred video DSP – an interesting turn of events given the public spat that played out last summer between the two DSPs.

Although Hill Holliday isn’t necessarily relegating all video buys to TubeMogul, its VP Director Platform Media Katie Thompson said that as the agency pushed away from managed services, it made sense to centralize its video buys on a specialized platform like TubeMogul that also augments TV inventory-planning tools.

“There was a need to have a strategic video partner in this space who … had been at this for a while and who [could enable buying and measurement based on] on GRP [equivalents],” she said.

IPG sister agency MAGNA Global remains in charge of national TV buys while Hill Holliday’s platform team is largely responsible for programmatic buys.

While this 15-person team has not executed programmatic TV buys itself, it has partnered with MAGNA on early tests for one client, Thompson said.

Hill Holliday’s associate director of platform media, Crystal Snee, said its team is tasked with pulling levers across all partners including DSPs Turn and TubeMogul, Marin for search and one Facebook preferred marketing developer it uses to place social ad buys. 

Although a number of holding companies are gunning to own more tech in-house or at least plant a minority stake in such capabilities – from Publicis/RUN to WPP/Open AdStream and IPG/Samba TV – Thompson said that at the agency level it prefers to stay flexible and partner with multiple platforms rather than owning the tech itself.

She said TubeMogul’s Client Certification Program prepped the platform team for the final migration off of managed services, following a relationship that dated back nearly two years. KatieThompson

With many ad tech platforms facing mounting pressures from investors and markets to grow profitability and pivot from network models, a shift toward greater transparency has manifested on the agency side as well. Just days ago, IPG’s CEO decried investor questions about kickbacks and rebates (at least in the US).

There’s no long-term benefit to “buying up all of the inventory in the world and reselling it,” claimed Keith Eadie, TubeMogul’s CMO. He said agencies like Hill Holliday are demanding “software-based access to inventory in a completely transparent and non-arbitrage way.”

Particularly as “newer” sellers from the linear TV camp begin to entertain the idea of converged linear/digital buys with enhanced targeting and data application, transparency is sort of the baseline mantra.

“What we found digging in to this space is that there’s so much inconsistency in measurement and also in how it’s modeled that it can have a negative impact on your buy,” Thompson said.

“We really want to see a focus on … a consistent metric that is able to take into account the likelihood to be in view, cost per human [to factor in fraud] and … an OCR guarantee [now known as Nielsen DAR] if we only want to buy women 25-54, for example,” she added. “Right now you really have to choose one of those [metrics] and it can be a challenge.”


Clarification: Katie Thompson’s title has been updated to VP Director Platform Media to accurately reflect her role. A prior version of the story stated Hill Holliday’s programmatic team launch spanned several years. It was launched last fall.

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