Josh Quek
Sep 11, 2018

'Failing to plan is planning to fail': Josh Quek on programmatic stepping stones

Xaxis Singapore's GM opens up about the realities of programmatic, and the facets of successful campaigns.

'Failing to plan is planning to fail': Josh Quek on programmatic stepping stones

In our rush to sell an automated, intelligent future for media planning and buying, are we simply overcomplicating things when it comes to programmatic?

As an industry, the responsibility falls onto agency partners to simplify and translate complexities into realities and the possibilities for future growth.

However, sometimes the perception of programmatic as a ‘silver bullet’—combining the speed of execution, cost efficiency and campaign effectiveness—can set unrealistic expectations.

A well-thought-out campaign often drives the best performance over time through data-driven insights. Adopting a smart planning process can not only help to manage expectations but also drive the best insights and increase performance.

Here are five key pillars for any best-in-class programmatic campaign.

1) Smart set-up
Smart pre-planning and campaign set-up against clearly defined KPIs is fundamental to delivering a successful programmatic campaign.

Goal setting: This is the starting point. Effective goal setting is important to ensure the activation team is clear on what they need to optimise towards (matching KPIs to objectives). Brands should look to include quality metrics to achieve outcomes, such as minimum viewability threshold or time spent on site, in addition to their performance KPIs. Often programmatic strategies need time to reach optimal performance and so this needs to be communicated clearly to manage expectations.

Tagging & Tracking: Taking the time and effort to properly think through your tagging strategy will later reap rewards with rich data insights. Lacking the right tags is akin to asking someone to build a house with only a hammer. The utilisation of a single ad-server across all digital channels will ensure de-duplicated results.

Attribution: Selecting a suitable attribution model and setting an appropriate lookback window is key to understanding the influence of different partners, channels, audiences and data sources and how they contribute to overall campaign outcomes, without having to rely on the faulty ‘last click’ method.

2) Brand Safety
Brand safety is essential. Brands have the responsibility to outline their brand safety standards and tolerances, then be very clear with their advertising partners on such expectations. Be sure to work with a third-party verification technology to track viewability, detect possible ad fraud and validate in-target reach.

3) Targeting & Optimisation
Using audience insights to customise and create a multi-segment audience targeting strategy across the user journey requires rigorous planning. Be sure to get strategic inputs from all stakeholders including from the brand, agency and programmatic experts.

Accurate and effective optimisation requires up-to-date input of campaign data. Every optimisation action is effectively a test, so do not be afraid to try out carefully considered optimisation ideas.

Some additional considerations to take into account:

  • Think about the key trigger moments throughout the year and the temporal fluctuations throughout the day.
  • Consider the changes in supply and demand of programmatic inventory.
  • If dynamic messaging is to be applied, this will need additional assessment and investment to build out the right decision tree and logic.

4) Reporting and insights
Reporting can require massive effort when there are multiple partners on the plan. A third-party ad server provides the fundamental tools for managing, tracking and reporting campaign performance. A centralised source for data eliminates wasted time and energy to track and consolidate figures. It allows focus on the quality of the report and insights, and expedites the process significantly.

5) Eat, sleep, repeat
Test and learn—some clients may be running over 100 strategies concurrently and whilst this is not optimal for all brands, programmatic allows unparalleled opportunity to test strategies and review results in real-time.

If there is one key take-away, it is this—ensure you make time for the hygiene factors.

Also, a little patience is essential in embarking on any programmatic journey. The first three months is about gathering data, garnering insights, scaling reach and lots of ‘test and learn’ in terms of strategies and optimisation.

Often the expectation is that we flick the switch and suddenly conversions start popping up on the dashboard like Instagram likes, but certainly with the right planning and preparation you will have every opportunity to see those anticipated results.

As Alan Lakein said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now”.

 Josh Quek is the general manager of Xaxis Singapore



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