“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Dax Hamman, chief product officer of Chango.
When we think of programmatic and whom it’s supposed to serve, we tend to focus on the brands. What are their goals? And how can we help clients achieve them?
And as service-oriented businesses, media agencies and RTB platform providers, including DSPs and trading desks, have a knee-jerk reaction to do whatever is asked, even if what the brand manager asks for isn’t quite what he or she really needs in order to find new customers.
For a programmatic advertising campaign to really succeed, which is to say for a campaign to deliver meaningful insights that marketers can use to make strategic decisions, we need a bigger lens.
So to the long list of ways that programmatic requires us to change, I add another: Identify all of the constituents of a campaign, along with their unique needs, so we can ensure all goals are aligned with the marketers.
There isn’t just one constituent, there are three: the marketer, the media agency hired to spend its budget and the resident optimization team of the DSP or trading desk.
The Hunt For New Clients
What do brands really need from their programmatic campaigns? First – though marketers may not agree – they need to validate their current customer base. Brands tend to have fixed ideas as to who their customers are, which is why many of them need to be coaxed into validating their assumptions. This is a tough issue for agencies because they don’t like to challenge their clients. But a little discomfort is needed here if we’re really to reap the benefits of programmatic. If you accept that the brand’s customers rarely change, and you gear your marketing initiatives to customer look-alikes, then you’re absolutely hobbling your ability to find new customers.
Second, marketers need to find new customers, which means listening to data signals that indicate emerging pockets of interest. Programmatic has many familiar tools for doing this, including prospecting algorithms. Part of the budget should be dedicated to throwing spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks, as they say. Unfortunately, when media tasks are doled out, too little is allotted for discovery and insights.
Ideally, brands should rope almost all of their marketing initiatives into the programmatic world. For instance, marketers can easily leverage behavioral data to programmatically tease out intent, audience insights and discover how consumers discover a brand.
But, as I said earlier, you can’t help the marketer do any of this if the agency isn’t willing to challenge its client. And given that agencies build their reputations on being responsive to the client, this goes against their grain. This is why the agency is a really important constituent to programmatic campaigns.
Agencies are hired to spend their client’s media budget as efficiently as possible. Their analytics teams are under constant pressure to validate they’ve done that. The easiest path, and the one taken most frequently, is to assign a click-through rate goal to the programmatic providers and have them find the cheapest inventory sources to deliver it.
But that’s not the same as finding new customers, is it? Programmatic forces us to redefine what we mean by media efficiency.
How should we define media efficiency in a programmatic campaign so that it meets the goals of both the agency and the client? The answer lies in parsing out the client’s goals and structuring the campaign to optimize to them. If your goal is to find brand new customers, optimizing to banner clicks is a waste of money. In such cases, you’re far better off identifying how, where and when conversions occur via campaign tactics.
Let’s say a consumer comes to your site and then leaves without buying. In this case, you can gain insight into the consumer by analyzing the sites on which your media partner retargets them. In other words, a campaign tactic becomes a tool for extracting insights.
I worked on an auto campaign where it was discovered that a significant portion of auto intenders who visited the page of a particular car model were later retargeted on sites for outdoor enthusiasts. Believe me, this insight changed the creatives, as well as the sites and the consumers targeted.
All of this requires an expert to interpret what the programmatic platform has learned and lay out exactly what it means to the business. This is as much an educational process as it is a technical one because the agency needs to tell a different media efficiency story to the brand’s CFO.
The third constituent is internal to the DSP or trading desk. As much as we like to say that programmatic is self-learning, budgets and time frames are often constrained so it isn’t feasible to just open the spigot and let it run. All campaigns need an expert to optimize how the technology selects impressions. The only way to make those decisions is to extract meaningful insights from the data generated by the campaign.
Thus, in order to deliver on the marketer’s goal of finding new customers, as well as the agency’s goal of driving media efficiency, the DSP or trading desk must structure campaigns so they deliver maximum insights.