CafeMom is now actively sourcing more programmatic deals in the categories where it has the most success, like CPG, food and toy companies. “We’ve been trying to figure out who has programmatic budgets and who is shifting budgets to programmatic,” Bannister said.
Right now, advertiser and agency adoption of programmatic is very inconsistent. “Some have shifted massively, if not entirely; some have done nothing at all,” Bannister observed.
CafeMom hopes to make its offering more attractive by using its DMP Athena, built by a former eXelate data scientist, to bring unique data sets to the table. “We’ve been focusing on age of kids, which is rare,” Bannister said. This data point relies on inferring behavior about those around the user.
In this way, CafeMom intends for Athena to further augment an advertiser’s data. A massive food company with its own recipe website might have reams of first-party data. But it will also have blind spots since not everyone visits those sites.
“It’s finding the right place in the middle of their data and our data,” Bannister said. “Rather than relying on their data and their view of the world, the more advanced ones know we both have things to bring to the table. “
Although buyer and seller may have strategic discussions about data in creating a private marketplace, Bannister voiced a common complaint about running a private marketplace – a lack of visibility and transparency.
“Some days we’ll see three of them that are doing great, and the next day it’s shut down,” Bannister said. Usually, it’s because a campaign ended, and the planners are too busy to communicate flight dates – a given in direct buys.
But CafeMom has done well with private marketplaces in part because of a “massive effort” over the past 18 months to ensure high viewability of ad placements, Bannister said. Private marketplace buyers tend to be savvy programmatic trading desks. “Even if they’re not buying on viewability, it’s a key metric to them,” he said.
“We monitor every placement on the site and have people on the time who watch nothing but that,” Bannister said. “Because we’re so good at viewability, it’s allowed us to tap into budgets and CPMs that are equivalent to direct deals.”
CafeMom has about 20 private marketplace deals running at any given time, with a quarter of those deals spending in substantial volumes. Those deals require just as much management and KPI monitoring as direct deals. The company employs two people who manage programmatic deals and performance.
Two others on the team accompany salespeople on calls to answer programmatic questions.
“The more we talk, the team understands the runway to talk about things,” Bannister said, setting up CafeMom’s infrastructure to support buyers as they shift more of their spends to programmatic.