Jonathan Hsia will discuss advertiser perceptions of ad tech on April 13 at PROGRAMMATIC.IO in San Francisco.
JONATHAN HSIA: We use ad tech for research, planning, buying, optimization, delivery and research and measurement. Around 25% our tech is proprietary, used mostly in the planning phase. The digital stuff (around 75%) is almost exclusively run through partnerships. If a client comes to us with their own partnerships, we can put those into the account. We’re very bespoke about ad tech but we put some due diligence into making the best recommendation.
What do you need most from ad tech vendors today?
It requires a lot of time and people to get the digital dollar live, which is difficult for agencies and clients.
What’s the biggest problem ad tech needs to solve?
The biggest issue with how ad tech is perceived is that it makes decisions on its own. The reality is those machines do what you tell them to do. For the most part, ad tech can pretty much do anything. The fault right now partly lies on the buy side, in that we as an industry are not asking the technology to do things that are beneficial for us and our clients.
So how can agencies better leverage ad tech?
Closed systems need to start talking to each other better. If you look at a DSP versus a viewability and accountability vendor versus an ad server versus a measurement tech, while you might get results from each of them, its very difficult to understand what the nature of the buy is telling you. In some cases your attribution system might be crediting ads that are not viewable, and that’s a problem. Maybe this will be the result of consolidation, but I think there needs to be more end-to-end solutions that are speaking the same language.
What issues do advertisers have with ad tech?
Many of our clients struggle with evaluating tech. In many cases these are companies that sell cars or shampoo or cereal. They simply don’t have the resources.
Many ad tech vendors are also media sellers. They package it all up, and they’re not necessarily being transparent. They sell it to you as, ‘Hey, this is just a technology play,’ but on the side they’re making big margins. In many cases we advise our clients to use technology vendors that are independent from media sources to avoid this.
Which vendors are leading the way in each of the following categories: DSP, DMP, measurement and PMP?
We use The Trade Desk and AppNexus more often than others as DSPs, partly because they’re independent. We generally use the DMPs that come along with them. The important part for us is to feed into an overall analytics platform. At MindShare we use Draw, which is a proprietary data warehouse that translates and reports the info from the DMP to our total advertising activity.
From a measurement side, many people are trading on Moat currency. They’ve done a very good job of convincing all sides of the equation that their numbers are accurate.
The idea of a private marketplace is thrown around a lot. What none of them say is just how private a marketplace is. It could be [a publisher’s] entire customer base. We’re not really interested in bidding no matter or how big or small that pool is.
Do you feel that any vendors have a full-stack solution?
No. You could say Google, but I don’t think Google is best in class at every piece of that tech stack. And Google sells a lot of media. They are probably the closest, but I would not necessarily recommend that people make them their one phone call.
Do you feel like ad tech is well-positioned to take on new programmatic channels, like TV?
They are probably working on it right now and there are probably some that are positioned to do it. Programmatic TV means you have a relationship with the cable MSOs, the set-top box makers. … These are all new areas ad tech needs to get into to prepare themselves for that. That is probably their biggest challenge just because they don’t have that history.
Do ad tech vendors need to better educate agency talent and brand marketers on their tools?
The problem is that, and I don’t blame them for this, but whatever education they are going to provide is going to be self-serving. It’s fine for people to take those meetings and hear what they have to say, but it’s a mistake to think it’s going to be an objective, purely educational session. At the end of the day, it’s going to be sales-driven.
How do you see the ad tech space evolving over the next few years?
There has to be some level of consolidation. And I think there probably will be, at least by attrition. The marketplace can’t support all of the different players there now.
I think you’ll start to see a lot of breaking away from the package offering and people engaging with companies on a very specific level – just for tech, or media or measurement. Advertisers will start gravitating toward companies they see as independent rather than conflicted.