The programmatic playbook

Blog | 13 Aug, 2015

Darragh Daunt, Head of Platform Sales, Independent Agencies at Google DoubleClick talks at Digital Journeys about the five steps to success in a world of programmatic.

"What I want to talk about today is programmatic advertising. Looking back at the evolution of marketing, where we are now, really, is the age of programmatic. It's not the dawn of the age of programmatic, which is a term that gets banded about a lot. We're here right now. We're living it. The way we transact media is fundamentally changing. I think a lot of the last two years, centred around this topic of programmatic advertising, has been very much focused on the what. I want to speak a little bit more about the how. I think we're past the what, at this point, and really what I want to focus on today is, I suppose, a playbook. What I want to cover is Google's programmatic playbook to ensure success in the area of programmatic advertising.

Inspiration to action

So, every customer journey begins with inspiration, and ends with an action, but we are in a time where this journey from inspiration to action can happen in real-time, at global scale, and be personalised to the user, which is pretty revolutionary. Brands want to be in the moments that matter. Matt Bush talked about that this morning, but they want to show you a personalised message. They want to show you creativity, and programmatic allows you to do that. The challenge, really, is execution. How do you do that?

Programmatic definition

So, obligatory definition klaxon, programmatic, what's it all about? I think most of you are probably aware, or have seen these definitions in the past, but I think the key words here are technology, audience insights, and real-time, and I suppose programmatic has been synonymous with real-time bidding in the past, but it is more than that. Really, we're talking about any way in which media is transacted in an automated fashion. Moving into the real-time area, I suppose, is one way where that becomes more sophisticated. 

What does the future look like?

I love how e-marketers forecasts are so exact, so 83% of media buyers will be programmatic by 2017. I don't know if that will pan out, but I think the message here is that it will be a lot. I think the more interesting stuff, actually, is down here, right, so P&G. You know, probably the biggest marketer in the world, or the biggest marketing budgets in the world, aim to be 70%, aim to buy 70% via programmatic. Amex is moving towards 100%. You look at Google, I think we're around 60%. You've got the rights of Netflix bringing everything in-house. You know, TV is going programmatic. You've got Sky's AdSmart, a system that allows you to buy programmatically. So, as you can see, we have this huge shift, and it's not just the performance advertisers. I think performance advertisers were very quick to the game with methodologies, techniques like re-targeting, but now you're seeing brands leverage the possibilities, leverage the data, moving into the programmatic space, and that is where you're getting mass adoption.

What can Programmatic offer you?

So what can you do in the area of programmatic? What is the potential? What are the possibilities around this? We've seen a lot of really good examples, earlier on. I think the magic of flying BAs, you know, big outdoor billboard slot was a pretty good and famous example of that. Thankfully, no one has actually covered this one. We've covered a lot today, but I think this is an interesting one. I'll show you a video in a second, but Nike were not sponsors of the last World Cup. I think that was Adidas's honor, but they really wanted to tap into the zeitgeist, get there name out there, obviously, big sporting event, so what they did was they, in real-time, basically, captured pivotal moments in games. You know, like a pivotal shot, or a tackle, or what have you, turned them into 3D experiences, sent them out, and users could engage with them, make them their own, put stamps on them, and then share them on social, and you can see that it drove a lot of engagement, but let's have a look at the video.

Nike phenomenal shot

So this shows the potential, but how does a brand get to this point? I want to cover these five points. I think Matt had ten earlier, so I am twice as efficient as he is, but I'm going to cover each of these points, and, really, this is a framework that we think brands, marketers, can take to really make the most out of programmatic, and the first one here is organise audience insights.

What we mean by audience insights is just basically getting a very detailed view on the user. We think, as a company, that the ability to use, I suppose, to market towards these audience insights, is the most kind of disruptive influence in advertising since the TV. It is revolutionising how advertising is bought and sold and, increasingly, brands are bringing customer data into their messaging. 

Organise audience insights

So, I think it starts with the audience. It starts with relevance. This seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but how many times is this not the case, where you're delivering, there are many instances, in fact, where you're delivering an irrelevant ad to a user, but I think that all those times you get followed around by a product that you've already bought.

To achieve relevance, really, the foundation here is a strong data strategy. What do we mean by a strong data strategy? Well the first point here is insights that have flown in real-time. If you think about it, a user can go from in-market to having purchased your product in an instant, right? This is what happens when you get followed around the internet by those ads. That data is not flowing in real-time. That marketer hasn't realised that you have actually done the desired action they want you to and, on the flip side, you can have someone who is a cold prospect turn into in-market, in just an instant. How do you capture them when they're at that moment?

Then the second point here is single view of the user. I think this has oft been called the holy grail. Data is powerful, indeed, but it exists in silos, and it is only powerful, really, when you bring that data together across silos, and start seeing a de-duped view across your various marketing channels. That's no easy thing, right? So this is just a quick snapshot of all the various channels and data points that a marketer has to contend with, that a marketer has to bring together, often hosted on different technologies, formatted in different ways that is no mean feat to start consolidating and seeing a de-duped view across channels. But if you can do that, then that leads to a significant increased marketing effectiveness.

And this is a study that we ran with Boston Consulting Group. It was a two-part study. I'll speak more to the first part. The first part was looking at efficiency of using a unified stack. The second was, if you have a unified stack, what can it deliver in terms of insights and, ergo, performance? And as you can see here, this is really the key stash, right? So 32% reduction in cost per action, which is significant, but it's not only the effectiveness here. You get more engaged users by having that single view, but knowing how you're interacting with them across channels, and not wasting impressions or sending irrelevant messages.

Organise audience insights

So, I think it starts with the audience. It starts with relevance. This seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but how many times is this not the case, where you're delivering, there are many instances, in fact, where you're delivering an irrelevant ad to a user, but I think that all those times you get followed around by a product that you've already bought.

To achieve relevance, really, the foundation here is a strong data strategy. What do we mean by a strong data strategy? Well the first point here is insights that have flown in real-time. If you think about it, a user can go from in-market to having purchased your product in an instant, right? This is what happens when you get followed around the internet by those ads. That data is not flowing in real-time. That marketer hasn't realised that you have actually done the desired action they want you to and, on the flip side, you can have someone who is a cold prospect turn into in-market, in just an instant. How do you capture them when they're at that moment?

Then the second point here is single view of the user. I think this has oft been called the holy grail. Data is powerful, indeed, but it exists in silos, and it is only powerful, really, when you bring that data together across silos, and start seeing a de-duped view across your various marketing channels. That's no easy thing, right? So this is just a quick snapshot of all the various channels and data points that a marketer has to contend with, that a marketer has to bring together, often hosted on different technologies, formatted in different ways that is no mean feat to start consolidating and seeing a de-duped view across channels. But if you can do that, then that leads to a significant increased marketing effectiveness.

And this is a study that we ran with Boston Consulting Group. It was a two-part study. I'll speak more to the first part. The first part was looking at efficiency of using a unified stack. The second was, if you have a unified stack, what can it deliver in terms of insights and, ergo, performance? And as you can see here, this is really the key stash, right? So 32% reduction in cost per action, which is significant, but it's not only the effectiveness here. You get more engaged users by having that single view, but knowing how you're interacting with them across channels, and not wasting impressions or sending irrelevant messages.

Create compelling creative

The second point is design, compel, and creative. This is an interesting one, I suppose, because, as an industry, as an ad tech industry, we've been pushing so much focus on right place, right time, that the message almost seems to have become an afterthought. You know, how many times have marketers been in that position where, you know, they've got the user in the right context, and the right frame, but they show them an ad that just doesn't resonate, just doesn't give them the right information? An example here might be a call to action when you're browsing social early in the morning, you probably want an inspiration ad there.

Later in the day, when you're looking for products, that's where you might want to come out with an ad that contains a discount that is more action-oriented. So creator plays a large role in getting customers to engage with your ads. That is pretty obvious. I think this is a pretty startling stat here that 60% of consumers don't remember the last ad that they saw. Not every brand is going to be recognisable, that's just the market that we live in, but these elements here are aesthetically pleasing, ability to interact, video content, you know, these are all levers that marketers can use to ensure that you are getting engaged when you're getting the right response when you get your brand in front of the user.

So why has creative become a bit of an afterthought? I think there has been a lot of financial investment in the media buying side, probably not as much on the creative side of things. It was interesting, actually- somebody mentioned earlier on, in the panel section, that trying to find- or maybe it was before the panel section, trying to find a good creative was actually quite challenging. There hasn't been a huge amount of investment here. You do have the flagship, Nike's Phenomenal Shot examples, or the BA Magic of Flying, but it hasn't permeated down as much to the kind of day-to-day digital, you know, marketing sphere.

One reason siloed creative teams often not working in tandem, or there's a disconnect in the media buying team and the creative teams. You know, it becomes probably a budget issue as well. A major issue is that, you know, the consumer world has moved into HTML5. Those are the environments in which the consumer now finds themselves. However, as an industry, we're still pushing Flash, and that poses problems, particularly on mobile, where you can get in front of the user, but you're not showing an effective message because you don't have the right format. And creative matters, so it accounts for more than half the total sales impact of a campaign. That's huge. You know, dynamic messaging has been shown to be empirically more effective than static, yet it's still not the norm. I was at an event very recently where somebody talked about the idea of creative, or the idea of an ad unit actually being like a micro-site, being populated in real-time, and I thought that was a really good analogy, or a vision of where we want to go with creative.

And this is a good example of someone who is thinking about creative and delivering better performance as a result, so TalkTalk started building HTML5 creatives, dynamic creatives. Yes, they spend less time- it was more efficient for them to create them, but I think that the point that is really interesting here, is that, by switching from flash to HTML5, they were showing their backup images in a much reduced capacity, and, if you think about it, if you're the star of a football team, you don't want to be relying on the guy on the bench, who can't take a ball, to win you the game, right, and that's what was happening here.

Execution with integrated technology

Third point is executing with integrated technology. The average marketer, actually, works with five different technologies across their marketing activity. That is five separate relationships that need to be managed. You know, that leads to a huge amount of data leakage. I think when data moves from one technology to another, there's an average of about a 20% loss of data if you're moving those data sets across more than one technology, obviously that's amplified. You know, you've got latency, there's a whole host of issues here, and siloisation, so working with a unified technology, a unified stack across all your channels has a huge benefit in terms of providing that efficiency, reducing data leakage, and just reducing the human element of the relationships that you're managing.

And this matters, so, if you think about the efficiency side that we mentioned, you know, we did a study, I talked about the Boston Consulting Group study that we ran. The efficiency part of the study showed that there were up to a 33% decrease in process time, and that was the best case scenario. The average was still 12%, so that's over half a day of additional time freed up to do more productive things, not bogged down in process. The stat of 32% is what I referenced earlier, where, across a unified technology, those seamless insights across your various channels can lead to improved performance in the world of reduced CPA.

Reaching across audience screens

So the fourth point here is reaching across audience screens.

Speaking of creepy families . . . I think this is another good example. It looks like they're all Whatsapp-ing each other, but in terms of where we are today, the average user, I think, checks their phone about 150 times a day. You know, there are multiple devices, obviously, on the go, but programmatic has the breath of inventory, of penetration now, across screens, that you can serve the right ad at the right time, on the right screen. To the point I referenced earlier, you may not want to be showing your, call to action ad to someone who is on a social site, on their phone, in the morning. That is unlikely to deliver the performance that you'd like. Maybe it's time for an inspirational video. Perhaps the video is the best format for that screen. This is the power of programmatic, being able to dynamically serve ad space in real-time, based on device and channel for the best impact.

I think another point to mention here is that we're not just talking about your run-of-the-mill, below-the-boat inventory, which is what programmatic was synonymous for, I think, over the last two years. What we've seen in the last 18 months to a year is a huge pivot on the publisher's side of the business to open up their best inventory to programmatic, so now it is possible to buy that masthead on, you know, a top news site, or even skins programmatically, and these were the reserved of traditional, direct buyers in the past. No longer. They are open to programmatic channels through various avenues like private marketplaces.

And this matters, so 90% of people switch between screens to complete tasks. We all know that. We heard today the idea of mobile actually being used more on the research phase of that customer, you know, inspiration to action journey, and I'm sure that resonates with everyone's day-to-day lives. This stat here in terms of 38% of all customer journeys involving more than one channel that is quite an old stat. In fact, that would probably be quite higher today.

Measure the impact

So that leaves measuring the impact. What works, and how can you double down on that? I really like this stat, actually. I think it kind of calls out the absurdity of the obsession of last click. So, using last click as a sole measurement tool is about as shortsighted as crediting a sign outside a store is the sole reason someone came in and made a purchase. Perhaps that sign was the reason why they came in and made the purchase, but wouldn't it be nice to understand all the other touch points that brand had with that consumer, and see how much influence they had at getting that consumer to purchase?

I think that's where we are, within the world of programmatic, that you have this sort of insight across your channels to be able to attribute value across the various channels to see how much impact they had in terms of driving the user to that desired action, to that purchase.

And importantly and often what we see when we do this exercise with clients, they undervalue a lot of elements in that path to conversion. They often budget into those channels that are proving most effective.

So, as we can see, programmatic buying is heading towards integrated, actionable measurement. It's user first, so, you know, you're looking at which audience segments are converting best for them, and you can get very granular with that. It's actionable.So, in real-time, you can see what's working, and double down on that, conversely, pull back down on things that aren't working so well. I think a challenge that we have in the industry is that, among these areas, are new. It's about getting, as well as, agreements, defined universal metrics that people can agree upon, and are relevant to their business. A good example here is durability, so it took like 18 months of intense debate and hard work to come to agreement on that.

A lot of the various parties involved in those conversations, but now we have a metric, and it's, you know, for display. It's 50% of view for about one second, but it is becoming part of the common part of what our brand advertisers, who were picky, who were in the programmatic space. I'm going to show you one example in that vein of Kellogg's, who are not a marketer you would typically think of as being innovators as something that is still quite cutting edge as programmatic, but they've done a huge amount of work in this area, and I think it's interesting to hear them talk about what they view as important, and how they optimise it towards them.

So there you have it. As a recap, the five steps in this framework are: one, organise audience insights; two, design compelling creative; three, execute with integrated technology; four, reach across screens; and five, measure the impact. Hopefully, those give you the tools to succeed within the world of programmatic. Go forth and conquer. Thank you."

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