In Planning 'Cross-Screen Programmatic,' Flexibility Counts

AppNexus' Ryan Christensen and Millennial Media's Julienne ThompsonThere are plenty of reasons, mostly technological, why integrated desktop/smartphone/tablet campaigns are tough to pull off for brand advertisers. Throw in an exchange-based ad strategy and the complexity goes through the roof.

Ryan Christensen, AppNexus' VP of product, teamed up with Julienne Thompson, VP for programmatic business at mobile ad network (and AppNexus partner) Millennial Media, at the IAB Ad Ops summit to walk publishers and marketers through the basics of navigating a campaign that has both programmatic and cross-platform elements. Christensen's advice boils down to this: Ensure expectations are clear before the campaign kicks off – and once it does, anticipate the need to be flexible.

Among the headaches is the number of vendors that publishers and agencies have to deal with. Some recent efforts have sought to streamline the process (this is where the two touted their partnership). And then you have device variance in ad performance.

"When you're setting expectations for your clients, different devices have dramatically different interaction and conversion rates," Christensen said. For example, tablets tend to have click-through and interaction rates that are two to three times higher than phones, while phones perform three to five times better than desktop. So talk to your partners and platform vendors to get an idea of what sort of benchmarks for each of those areas might be most appropriate."

Most programmatic systems provide forecasting. "However, they don't generally guarantee delivery," Christensen said. "For a programmatic campaign, the best practice is to overbook, just a little bit, and make sure that [you] get off on a good foot."

And then plan for flexibility in the middle of the campaign to make sure budget allocations can be adjusted on the fly.

"Adding cross-device campaigns to a programmatic strategy should deliver new, high-value audiences, particularly the niche targets that are hard to get through a standalone, first-party platform," Christensen concluded. "I don't sell media for a living, but if you do these things, you stand a pretty good shot."

What publishing environments work best for branding campaigns?

"We do a lot of gamification in mobile," said Millennial's Thompson. "One of the largest activities in mobile are people who are playing games. If the user's already engaged in a game, adding a mobile unit that also allows them to play a game can heighten the interaction."

 

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