Chris Packman
Apr 18, 2016

Why you should stop worrying and learn to love programmatic

The Exchange Lab's Chris Packman explains how automation can help marketers address some of their biggest challenges and drive sustainable growth online.

Chris Packman
Chris Packman

Advertising has changed more in the last five years than it has in the last 50, with largely society, technology, data and automation driving this change. Having attended the WFA’s annual Global Marketer Week held in Kuala Lumpur last month, it is evident that consumer behaviour is changing rapidly too, and the way in which we advertise must reflect this change. Consumers are faced with more brand choices and methods of shopping than ever before, while advertisers vie for share of voice across multiple devices. As a result, consumers can be left feeling overwhelmed by a barrage of irrelevant messages through multiple ad formats.

The WFA and MAA invited key stakeholders from across the global advertising industry to meet in Asia, the fastest growing digital market, where FTSE 500 brands and media executives debated the future of advertising. A common theme was how the industry can work together to encourage people to fall back in love with brands and their advertising. There is a disconnect between advertisers and consumers, according to Will Sansom, director of content and strategy at Contagious Insider: “80 percent of brands think they give consumers a positive experience and 8 percent of consumers think they get a positive experience back”.

Marketers are faced with the challenge of reconnecting with their consumers in a meaningful way. Can programmatic (data-driven) marketing play a role in bridging the gap? Let’s take a look at what marketers think about programmatic and how digital advertising can enable sustainable growth for brands in the online world.  

The most common questions we are asked by marketers involve whether ads are being served in a safe environment, if a human is seeing the ad and how well a campaign is going to perform. Negative press surrounding programmatic often frightens marketers, but rarely offers a solution or highlights the positive aspects, such as how it provides more relevant consumer engagement, at scale. Another benefit is the ease of reaching in-market consumers across devices, which the rise of mobile-specific DSPs (demand-side platforms) is now improving by helping brands to provide relevant and useful content to their customers at the right moment.

Marketers deserve better education on the technology and safeguards available to protect their brand and advertising online. Creating a brand-safe and effective digital campaign can be a straightforward process when working with the right programmatic partner, combined with skilled digital marketers driving the technology.

Getting off the ground

There is confusion about how to effectively monitor a campaign, especially a regional one. Marketers face obstacles in APAC due to the vast differences between countries, cultures and politics, making performance tracking across the region challenging. First of all, advertisers need to pick the right metric to measure their campaign, whether it is CPA, viewability or cost per completed view (CPCV), among others. Attempting to measure multiple KPIs across a single campaign is risky as they rarely correlate with each other in the optimisation process, having a negative effect on the overall campaign performance. When looking at campaign management, programmatic provides the perfect opportunity to centralise a trading strategy regionally, or globally, providing consistency to a media plan. Local markets can maintain control of their budgets and the ultimate decisions about what media to buy, but a centralised programmatic buying unit reaps the full benefits of time, learning and price efficiencies through a single regional view, providing a holistic outlook of cost savings across fewer suppliers.

Brand safety and data control

There is an ongoing dialogue around ad fraud, viewability and data control. Understandably, these issues can make marketers nervous when approaching automated advertising. Marketers should choose a partner who has a robust brand-safety policy and who is integrated into the relevant platforms to prevent such issues. This will save both time and money, and significantly reduce risk when running programmatic campaigns. When it comes to activating data, Virgin Holidays is well ahead of the curve. The company has a firm grasp of its customer’s data and applies this to all programmatic campaigns with great effect. It has used its CRM system and data-management platform to strategically segment several target audiences, while using multiple creatives and formats. This results in more accurate engagement and relevant creative messaging for an enjoyable customer experience.

A sentiment remains among some marketers that programmatic consists of cheap, largely remnant inventory worthy only of direct-response campaigns. Meanwhile, many global, premium publishers now sell 100 percent of their inventory programmatically—proof that quality inventory is readily available. Given most publishers are invested in the programmatic model and spend is growing up to 31 percent more than traditional media YOY in APAC, it is a popular sentiment that the majority of media will be traded programmatically in future. When it comes to audience targeting, the level of granularity that can be applied is extensive. By running targeting filters and ad formats through the same platform, provides easier reporting and faster application of audience analysis. With the right partner, optimising across audiences and creative formats has never been easier.

The future of programmatic 

Programmatic adoption across APAC is gaining momentum; companies are increasing digital headcounts by up to 20 per year, emphasizing the strong human element behind this powerful technology. Considering programmatic is still comparatively new to the region, this is extremely encouraging for the future of advertisers, who are increasingly adopting ad-tech tools. The speed of change in society and digital marketing naturally brings new challenges, such as consumer attitudes, data usage, and brand safety—marketers should evaluate and take considered advice. This region has learned quickly from other markets’ successes and failures with programmatic, vastly improving marketing efficiency. It is an exciting time for programmatic advertising in APAC, and the next two years will show more evidence of the benefits it can bring to marketers, brands and consumers. 

Chris Packman is APAC director at The Exchange Lab


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