"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Andrew Sandoval, director of biddable media, The Media Kitchen.
We’re navigating a confusing and fluctuating landscape, in light of the sudden upheaval caused by COVID-19, on top of the ongoing seismic changes in the advertising industry and M&A activity.
In this marketplace, many brands are consolidating their programmatic budgets, streamlining the supply chain, taking their data into their own hands and hunkering down in the safety the walled gardens Google, Facebook and Amazon offer.
That’s one option during a period of great change and uncertainty.
Another option is to stay ad tech and platform agnostic. Uncertain times call for extraordinary solutions, and those may come from any corner of the ad tech ecosystem. Remaining tech agnostic allows marketers to be open to all partner opportunities and ready for any new technology that emerges.
Being ad tech agnostic isn’t easy. It often results in more partnerships, negotiations and paperwork. But, by taking steps to remain objective, brands and agencies can focus on the right partners for their specific needs while remaining flexible and open to change and unexpected challenges as they arise.
Evaluate the landscape
Staying up to speed on the ad tech landscape is an ongoing process and involves knowing the macro trends that are influencing product road maps. If a feature becomes necessary based on business need or market conditions, marketers should make their ad tech partners aware and ask them to prioritize it, leading to deeper partnerships. If a competitor’s product offering impresses, marketers should also ensure that their current partners are working on something similar.
If it’s a priority for customers, a good partner will understand and make sure they’re supported. If not, this gap in service should be noted come negotiation time.
Understand the differentiators
What makes standout performers unique? They are able to bring something new and different to the fray. For instance, if a DSP offers exclusive inventory or audience data that is particularly relevant to a business, that could make them an important partner.
Beyond unique features, exemplary account service and tech support can be a unique value-add. Different business models – such as pure SaaS v. managed service – dictate customer service approaches. It’s important you are comfortable with the service level given your team expertise. During critical periods, such as our current crisis, or holidays, knowing you have a reliable partner that proactively checks in, shares ideas and provides resources to lean on is invaluable.
No matter what type of tech, there will be small differentiating features, and they may add up to a big impact for campaigns.
Look for like-minded, agnostic partners
There are many potential stumbling blocks in ad tech. Sometimes components don’t play well with others. Walled gardens, for instance, may present measurement and targeting problems outside their ecosystem and clean rooms. Conflicts can’t always be avoided, but looking for partners committed to working across the marketplace can prevent headaches and provide an objective viewpoint.
Swap one technology for another
When you can no longer justify the cost of one specific technology – and the level of service dips or another, better technology is introduced – then it’s time to make a change. As long as they’re not locked into a long-term agreement, marketers are free to be transparent with partners about pricing and negotiate the best terms.
Ready for change
Brands and marketers alike are entering uncharted waters. Advertising and media were already experiencing rapid changes, and COVID-19 has transformed businesses and media plans overnight. In this kind of environment, maintaining ad tech neutrality provides much-needed flexibility to respond to new and evolving needs.