Are You Ready to Activate Programmatic Media?

Is in-house programmatic ad buying the next big thing for brands? In IHAF’s 2019 study, published in partnership with Forrester Research, 18% of in-house agencies reported having a programmatic media function. In contrast, Accenture Interactive and the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s report notes that 69% of brands have partially or fully moved programmatic buying of display, video and/or CTV in house. Although the data may not align, there is continued interest in exploring this media buying shift and doing so effectively. The following factors may help brands evaluate if they are ready to insource programmatic media.

Business Readiness. What are your brand’s business motivations and implications? This starts with KPIs and measures of success. What is the goal of having an in-house programmatic team? Is it rooted in improved media performance, the ability to have more hands-on control and campaign visibility or the opportunity to more closely link media performance and business results? Perhaps programmatic improves marketing efficiency or reduces media costs. Common KPIs include more dollars toward working media, reducing CPMs and administrative costs, or better brand safety. In-house programmatic should contribute to the marketing team’s business mission.

People Readiness. An organization should consider its current volume of media buying and its team’s ability to manage it with programmatic components. Skills, digital acumen and expertise of the team matter. It is helpful for team members to have a background in digital media, buying and ad operations. People who enjoy the analytical components (e.g., optimizing tactics, pulling reports and managing budgets) would also be primed for this work. It may be necessary to recruit talent with these competencies, possibly in other markets. Companies would need to revise employees’ overarching career paths and provide ongoing training and coaching.

Technology Readiness. Companies will need to determine the best DSP (demand side platform) for executing programmatic campaigns. Evaluating features, ease of use and other criteria is important to establish in-house programmatic capabilities. Additionally, teams will need to manage brand safety, ad fraud and other campaign success factors. The value and costs of partnerships for campaign activation areas also matter. Consider other partnerships (e.g., measurement, viewability, ad servers, etc.) and how well all of the components can work together, evaluating the additional functions needed and how technology supports marketing overall is a valuable step.

Process Readiness. Programmatic requires processes and workflows. The initial organizational set-up may look different later as the practice evolves. Ongoing training will be necessary as new technology, tactics and vendors emerge. Organizations can groom “internal champions” to leverage new technology and lead others. Implementing a cadence for plans, timelines and deadlines keeps everyone aligned. Feedback mechanisms and communication loops allow organizations to identify what is working, pinpoint problems and highlight areas for improvement. And virtual collaboration will be necessary.

Programmatic advertising now holds a major role for marketers. And, they can choose how deeply they want to step into the pool. These factors help organizations determine if they're ready to take the plunge.

Centro is an IHAF supplier member, providing unified software and services to simplify and automate digital media operations, while driving performance. Centro’s digital platform, Basis, is a comprehensive media automation and intelligence platform that supports planning, reporting and financial reconciliation of direct, programmatic, search and social media—all in a single interface.

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