Marketers need to pay more attention to create the right route to digital buying for their business. Ben Jankowski, Group head of Global Media at MasterCard and member of the WFA’s Programmatic Taskforce, explains.
A common question people ask at interviews and panels is “what keeps you awake at night?”. There are many answers but today, I think how our industry handles the opportunities that exist in the programmatic buying space and can’t help but worry about where we’re going. Whilst complicated, I steadfastly believe that advertisers and their partners need to solve the complicated morass that exists today.
I think that programmatic is exciting and a new way to help us better target, learn and ultimately make our media investments more efficient. To date, this opportunity has been controlled by few specialists who have not been rewarded by simplifying the process.
I saw a quote once that said “where there is mystery, there is margin”…nowhere is that more apparent than in the current space. In order to drive scale in the industry, we need to find ways to make the process simple, understandable and measurable for all important constituents (marketers, agencies and publishers alike). We need to make this opportunity universally understood and apply some common principles to help us make the best choices.
The WFA Media Forum has spent a lot of time discussing the issues as well listening to a wide range of experts. In order to help member companies and the community better understand the industry and options, we conducted surveys and ultimately built a guidebook to help us understand the business.
The WFA’s 2014 survey of programmatic activity within member companies found that half of the respondents were unhappy with the way data is captured, stored and utilised but ownership of data generated programmatically had been secured by nearly 60 per cent of respondents, a major improvement on the 33 per cent figure from 2013.
We’re making progress on the journey but it is a journey, and the benefits of programmatic are starting to become as significant as the time and effort required to really get to grips with what is a new way of buying and trading media.
This allows marketers to take a step back, understand the landscape and develop their own solutions to programmatic buying. They should be realistic and actionable about how much time and resource they can afford to devote to what is still only a small area of their business. The guidebook authored by the WFA is one tool markets can use to help make decisions.
There is no one answer and every marketer’s solutions are unique for each companies’ conditions. There are three basic ranges of solutions, each with their own pros and cons. Getting the right platform in place early will allow brands to focus on the efficiency and effectiveness benefits of programmatic rather than the detail of how it works.
First, brands can employ an Agency Trading Desk (ATD). In this scenario, the ATD makes all investment decisions and controls most of the data and all of contracts. The benefit is that it’s easy to get started and you can find immediate benefits. However, a drawback is in general less transparency and an additional component of the ecosystem.
The second option is to create a hybrid trading desk with direct contracts agreed with the ATD, allowing advertisers improved control and visibility. Media will still be bought from within the ATD but the advertiser will have more control over vendors and improved transparency. Brands will have direct contracts with some of those in the chain but the data will be owned and mostly controlled by the advertiser.
This approach should give increased control, and improved transparency.
The final option for brands is the Brand Trading Desk, with all vendors for the programmatic stack appointed by the advertiser. There is still the option to work with the ATD but also the flexibility to move around. Data and contracts are controlled by the advertiser and they have both total visibility and control, easily able to switch between suppliers.
One drawback of this approach is that it requires some investment in leadership, time and space. Not all brands and marketing teams have the resources to focus in such detail on what is after all just one small part of their mission.
Brands evolve between these three models but the first step to creating the right framework for their company is to start exploring:
These could include:
How do we behave today (around cookies, ownership of data, privacy standards, transparency of costs, etc…)
Spend some time talking to partners (your agency, media owners, other parts of the ecosystem, peer marketers, etc…
Once you have the information then you are ready to act and develop the best solution that fits your needs. For many brands the Hybrid model will provide a good step towards a serious and future-proof approach to media investment.
Whichever solution is chosen, we need to adopt a different approach to media and become much more like financial investors, exploring the “asset” and the psychology of the other investors. The greater and richer the insight, the more robust the investment strategy will be.
Done properly, the results will yield material gains; we will understand more about consumers and their behavior, understand how they interact with the media and ultimately, we will optimize our investments.
Ben Jankowski is Global Head of Global Media, of MasterCard and chairs the WFA’s MediaForum.