DigitasLBi’s Head Of Programmatic Role Is About More Than Programmatic

emily macdWhen DigitasLBi appointed Emily Macdonald as its first head of programmatic on Thursday, it wanted to ensure all employees across planning, buying, data and analytics teams are trained on programmatic buying.

The newly created international role comes from Publicis Groupe’s recent reshuffle to integrate programmatic as a service across all of its agencies, beginning last year with the disaggregation of its trading desk, VivaKi.

“Programmatic is part of everyone’s job,” Macdonald told AdExchanger. “There’s an expectation that you know programmatic and you’ve had a conversation about programmatic with your clients.”

But Macdonald’s role will also be client-facing. In light of the ANA’s recent scrutiny of nontransparent agency buying practices, she’ll serve as a point of communication for clients about the agency’s programmatic buying and data management services. In its second report, the ANA put the onus on marketers to learn more about agency buying practices.

DigitasLBi seeks to become a partner in that effort. Macdonald will oversee classes, events and online modules to train clients on programmatic.

“We obviously need that transparency to build trust so that we can move forward together, especially when it comes to things like data,” Macdonald said.

The creation of Macdonald’s role is also a reaction to growing competition from management consultancies, which forces agencies to prove their value to clients by helping them navigate a complex media landscape.

At DigitasLBi, Macdonald will work much more closely with clients than she did as director of global partnerships at WPP’s Xaxis, which openly keeps its clients in the dark about media markups.

“Certainly we worked with clients [at Xaxis], but not in the planning process in a really integrated way, which adds more transparency and trust with the client,” she said.

DigitasLBi offers programmatic as a service to all of its clients, buying through partners like MediaMath, The Trade Desk and Google’s DoubleClick. In most cases, the agency runs all media buying for clients, Macdonald said.

Currently, DigitasLBi runs programmatic buying for Standard Life, Belmond Hotels, Starwood Hotels and Resorts in EMEA and more.

Macdonald and DigitasLBi will also lean on Publicis Media’s programmatic practice for support.

Update: DigitasLBi will get support from Publicis Media’s programmatic practice, not Publicis.Sapient. 

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