With programmatic advertising projected to reach nearly a third of the $60 billion spent on digital advertising this year, there are a ton of vendors jockeying for the attention of brand and agency buyers. With every programmatic player trying to stand out – often creating more chaos than clarity – how can an inundated marketer make the right choices? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve put together this guide to help wade through the data-driven morass and help you select the right programmatic partner.
Before even getting started, you need to ask yourself, “What are the goals for my business – not my advertising, but my actual business? What do those look like for the next 6 months? 12 months? 2 years?” From there, you can think about what marketing and advertising will be necessary to support those business objectives.
- Ask the right questions to set yourself up for success. What are your short-term goals – moving goods off shelves? Creating brand sentiment with your amazing new :30 commercial spot? Do you have branding goals and want to measure video completion rates? Now it’s time to think longer term. Are you trying to de-silo your creative and activation teams to optimize marketing on the fly? Do you want to leverage all of your anonymous customer data to engage with them throughout the lifecycle? Brainstorm with your trusted team internally and come up with killer ideas! This will prepare you to find the right partner to help you execute these through media.
- As you start navigating the selection process, scour the industry trades and mine the insights of your contacts and colleagues for recommendations. Look for which vendors have been ranked in the top tier by credible research houses like AdExchanger, Forrester and Gartner. Cross-reference industry research with the feedback you get from your connections.
- Send out an RFI to the top five vendors for vetting. When you get responses, matrix out your short- and long-term needs and score all of the partners against those moving forward. Be sure to ask for case studies – and even references – that are relevant to your industry vertical. The partner you select needs to be an expert in your business – not just in advertising technology. Ask questions to those vendors that are important and necessary. Examples: Do you have brand safety features in place to prevent fraudulent traffic through MRC accredited companies? What data vendors are you integrated with? Can I combine 1st party client data along with 3rd party data to create truly customized segments?
- Now the meat of your evaluation can begin – test two partners to see which meets your KPIs and provides the best customer service and support. Run different campaigns with different targets and goals. You might look at splitting up DMAs and running various campaigns in each with a controlled A/B testing; the most important thing is not to go all-in on one provider right away. Measure against ROI and return on ad spend (ROAS). Keep an eye on transparency: see who delivers the most complete reporting with a clear accounting of what your spend got you in the end.
- Be sure you’ll be getting dedicated resources to run your account at the highest level. Will your partner provide a campaign optimizer, an account director, someone to run analytics? Will they help you train your team?
- Time to get hitched! Once you’ve made your choice it’s time to sign on the line. Negotiate a long-term tech fee or license. Be clear about the type and length of service you want for your team until the time they’re ready to go it alone.
- Plan to scale with this partner and make sure they can also help you create job descriptions, hire, train and staff up your team. You want them to be committed to your long-term best interests, and able to help you build a team who will be masters of the programmatic console themselves.
- Initiate an efficient working relationship with a regular cadence of communications and quarterly business reviews. Your partner should value your business needs, and ensure that your vision is in line with their product road map.
- Finally, once your team is ready to become fully self-service for programmatic management, make sure your partner will still provide the highest level of support – 24/7 technical support and hours dedicated to service. People make mistakes, crises occur and your partner should be there to help you make immediate changes.
Learn to walk before you can run; measure twice, cut one – there are plenty of clichés that speak to the wisdom of taking your time, testing things out and evaluating thoroughly before diving in to any new venture. And all that applies to programmatic as well – it’s a powerful technology that can drive incredible marketing results, but you can test and evaluate how it can perform for your organization by following the steps above. Programmatic success depends on building the right relationships with your partners, and that begins by asking the right questions. Armed with the most complete information, marketers absolutely can choose the right partner for them and can continue to increase efficiency as they mature over the long-term.
Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tremor International, a collection of brands built to unite creativity, data and technology across the open internet.
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