For Emmy Spahr, associate media director at Publicis agency Mediavest, “programmatic media” is a phrase that increasingly is part of the agency-client dialogue.
As a member of Mediavest Group’s Geo-Commerce Center of Excellence, Spahr focuses exclusively on helping a major American cable company with its acquisition-driven plans. “We’re getting a lot of ‘asks’ for a deeper dive into technology and data-driven enhancements in our media," she said. "I think the interest stems from industrywide buzz as well as certain key stakeholders, like Google, influencing the clients’ thought process around [programmatic].”
Spahr sees many a technology vendor pass through Mediavest’s doors and, consequently, has her own regimen for reviewing potential partnerships. Beyond ROI, she said one critical element for any vendor tie-up today is clear differentiation in the marketplace. And flexibility helps, too.
Toronto-based display ad-buying platform AcuityAds impressed her with its offering as well as the company’s willingness to work with small budgets in the "test-and-learn" phase and provide responsive service – all of which eventually led to larger buys.
Fifty-person AcuityAds is led by former CX Digital (was Cyberplex) exec Tal Hayek, who mixes years of experience in affiliate marketing with today’s real-time bidding systems. “Our passion was to create a product such that there is no need for a human to be involved," he said. "But that turned out to be a little bit of a dream and we found out, eventually, that we need some humans involved, too.”
In fact, Mediavest overlays a segmentation strategy on top of a number of buy-side platforms it employs for individual clients. Spahr reasoned, “I use different partners across different parts of my [purchase] funnel because I’m so acquisition-focused. Acuity comes in at the middle-to-lower funnel. Then, I have my retargeting partners that are at the bottom of the funnel. Finally, my branding partners are at the top.” She said it’s possible that a single vendor could reach into other parts of the funnel strategy once they’ve proven their capabilities.
Hayek sees his company’s ability to efficiently target specific geographical locations through vendor Digital Element’s IP address matching as another critical way in which Acuity serves Mediavest client interests. Hayek said, “We're able to provide targeting based on the fact that the client has service on certain streets and not on others. We're able to hit those streets or addresses in a fairly accurate way.”
Nevertheless, with multiple partners providing buying capabilities today, challenges can crop up for Mediavest across display-ad exchanges. For example, Spahr and her team have to make sure there isn’t overlap among inventory sources such that Mediavest is bidding against itself. At the same time, the media team is navigating between buying on a CPM basis while its client’s goals are CPO – or Cost-Per-Order.
Surprisingly, though, Spahr isn’t complaining about the complexity of programmatic media: “Everything I do is incredibly targeted at the start.”