“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 Julia Amorim, CEO at MediaNet.
The opportunity to create more compelling customer experiences has led many organizations to pursue some form of digital transformation or another.
Most of what the so-called digital transformation experts talk about, however, is focused on creating better web sites, making use of mobile apps or experimenting with video.
That’s just scratching the surface. There’s a whole other layer of digital transformation that may prove far more transformational: the movement of bringing programmatic advertising in-house.
In a May IAB study [PDF], 18% of advertisers surveyed plan to move all programmatic activities in-house, while 47% considered a hybrid option, where some activities remained with third parties. Either way, the IAB report’s authors made it clear that this will be one of the most critical digital transformation trends to watch:
During the past few years, some marketers have established in-house programmatic ad placement capabilities that leverage customer data maintained in their data management platforms (DMPs) as well as second- and third-party sources. This undertaking may be portentous of a shake-up in predominant current programmatic practices, whereby media agencies serve as an advertiser’s purveyor of digital strategy and instructor to demand-side platforms regarding the details of executing programmatic tactics.
To properly prepare for such a shake-up, brands must consider a number of variables. This not only includes identifying what needs to happen to make programmatic in-house possible, but the business case and any potential barriers.
Making data a priority – and centralizing it
At a time when conversations about fraud, viewability and alignment with regulations such as GDPR are at an all-time high, moving programmatic in-house could be seen as a way to restore a degree of integrity to marketing data. By being able to maintain direct oversight and control, brands will have greater confidence in their ability to execute and deliver on their strategy.
However, brands must realize that data ownership will also require significant efforts to combine all the information coming their way into a singular voice. While programmatic simplifies the ability to reach audiences across ad formats, devices and channels, each ad tech option has its own set of data, and the amount of information can quickly become overwhelming. Centralizing data allows marketers to manage the flow of data and make apples-to-apples comparisons.
Seeing the big picture – and mastering omnichannel
Brands have struggled to consistently and effectively act across all available digital touch points. By having a better handle on data via in-house programmatic, they may be able to connect the dots and target in ways that lead to greater results.
A financial services firm profiled in the IAB study, for instance, was able to upgrade credit card customers to higher credit limits by reaching those who were close to their monthly spend. There was similar success with those whose credit cards were about to expire. Both scenarios showcase how leveraging customer data can inform marketing strategies.
In-house programmatic may finally allow brands to bring relevant offers to consumers at the right time and in the right place. Now is the time to start thinking about what those times and places should be.
Transparency into media and platform costs – and better investment decisions
Marketers have long complained about wasted dollars when the results of their spend with agency partners fails to deliver the value they wanted. In-house programmatic could move brands far beyond working in a nontransparent black box.
Beyond transparency, brands need to think more granularly about what they really want to achieve from in-house programmatic. Whether it involves combining in-store with ecommerce data, gaining efficiencies in media buying or maximizing audience reach, brands must consider which partners and platforms can help them achieve their goals – and how.
An upfront assessment will ensure marketers move toward in-house programmatic with their eyes wide open.
It won’t happen overnight for most brands. They need to think about the impact on their existing staffs' skills, new talent they may need to hire, the platform licenses they’ll require and how they’ll transition from day zero and beyond. Finding partners that can train and prepare staff for an in-house transition and help bridge the gap in data strategies and platforms will ensure in-house success in the long run.
Like the broader movement of digital transformation itself, in-house programmatic initiatives will play out differently depending on the brand in question. The end results, however, should be the same: greater control over data, increased transparency, more effective marketing efforts and stronger ROI.