4 Reasons Buyers Should Feel Confident Turning To Programmatic Platforms In 2021 And Beyond

Sarah Warner Harms

This article is sponsored by Xandr.

In today’s resource-constrained world, marketers and agencies are paying more attention to how far their digital investment goes. While each buy-side customer will have a slightly different mix of goals for their digital campaigns, three overarching areas of focus are emerging:

Supply path advantage: First, marketers and agencies need affirmation that they are investing in premium supply in a cost-efficient way. This is crucial to ensure that media dollars go as far as possible. On top of that, they want assurance that they’re purchasing media in brand-safe and performant environments.

Identity across screens: Buy-side customers want to guarantee that their advertising campaigns will reach target audiences in an effective, relevant and streamlined way. Customers are also increasingly “screen agnostic,” seeking flexibility in how they activate audiences, regardless of device or channel. Identity solutions are key to providing a holistic, sophisticated advertising experience that takes into account the disparate channels and screens on which consumers engage with media.

Effective measurement: Return on investment is increasingly becoming the only KPI that matters – across both online and offline channels. In reaction to an unpredictable landscape, more marketers seek to drive toward real-world outcomes. To do so, they require the ability to quickly iterate on their campaign targets and budgets.

To deliver on all of these demands, agencies face a choice. They can continue to prioritize working with managed-service media partners, and assume that working directly in this manner gives them full transparency, while placing the accountability for performance on the partner. Or they can leverage a technology platform to scale and optimize campaigns, providing them with greater flexibility and control over allocation and targeting. This option, however, places greater responsibility on the agency to deliver outcomes.

Despite the apparent benefits of these self-service platforms, some buyers continue to have lingering concerns about their transparency. They also worry that these platforms operate in service of the platform owner, not the client. 

To be sure, walled gardens don’t provide adequate transparency into pricing, placement or measurement – and there are valid concerns around transparency in the programmatic ecosystem too. But these concerns don’t invalidate the challenges posed by IO-only models, particularly as marketers’ investment priorities continue to shift in 2021 and beyond. In light of this, let’s explore a few programmatic myths and realities that demonstrate why buy-side customers should feel confident turning to these platforms to address their core needs.

Myth #1: IOs and managed service partnerships are the only way to retain investment scale and strategic control in media transactions.

  • Reality: Platforms offer agencies direct access to – and control over – campaign performance, budget allocation, pricing and audience reach. Together, these capabilities help to unify digital activity across premium publishers, channels and geographic regions.

Myth #2: Technology can’t replicate my direct buys and be leveraged across Advanced TV.

  • Reality: To better accommodate the shift toward “video neutral” buying, convergent platforms are emerging. These platforms empower agencies to activate their unique relationships and campaigns with the scale, audience-based buying and efficiency of digital.

Myth #3: Direct relationships ensure my media investment goes toward premium inventory.

  • Reality: There is an outdated notion that programmatic inventory is remnant, unwanted, lower quality or cheap supply. Leading platforms can already provide clients with the necessary tools to control for brand safety, viewability and/or fraud. Additionally, publishers are liquidating some of the highest value inventory through programmatic means, such as private deals or programmatic guaranteed. For many partners, IOs are now being executed within the same programmatic platforms accessible to buyers.

Myth #4: Platforms operate in service of the platform owner – not a publisher, client or total ecosystem.

  • Reality: Programmatic platforms provide customers on all sides with sophisticated and specific levers to objectively manage investment and performance across the media ecosystem. Such levers allow agencies to have more control over the decisions that will maximize performance of the campaign. In managed service executions, media owners are more likely to make subjective decisions that focus not just on performance – but yield, margin and sell-through as well.

As advertisers and publishers continue to look for more simplified ways of buying to unlock greater ROI and flexibility across screens and channels, bringing together media, data and technology will continue to be increasingly important. As more formats across screens become programmatically available in 2021 – in both digital and TV-like environments – there is an even greater opportunity for programmatic platforms to represent the majority of ad spending.

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