We have certainly come a long way in the world of programmatic ad tech - the automated buying and selling of online advertising. Consolidation has been the key theme sweeping across the ecosystem for a while now.
Done right, a full-stack platform enables better efficiency, single view of the consumer, and consistent approach to data both creative, and reporting. However, this can be made harder to achieve when the countervailing advice is made to divest media into disparate, fragmented buying tools, rendering it less effective due to data fidelity compromises and reconciling report discrepancies.
Fulfilling the ultimate potential of what programmatic has to offer, personalization-at-scale, is an ambitious undertaking that takes time. It’s a journey that should revolve around clear tech alignment with business goals as its core framework.
We partnered with the Boston Consulting Group to develop such a framework in our first global in-depth study. Over 180 brands in APAC were surveyed across key themes of data, automation, measurement, attribution, and organization collaboration.
Two things stood out. First the most mature brands in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and India reported significant benefits from data-driven marketing, with average incremental increase of 11% in revenue impact and 17% in cost efficiencies.
"The impetus for advance in programmatic maturity is perhaps as exciting as it is necessary because of an increasingly privacy-first and cookie less world"
Secondly, none of the brands surveyed are reaching their full marketing potential yet, with most sitting in the emerging and connected phase. Let’s look at the three key challenges faced by most brands.
Automation: Imagine a scenario where you’re executing a brief on a programmatic platform. Input of target audience details pulls out a list of relevant publisher sites. In a few clicks, requests have been sent to various publishers who, in turn, revert with proposals and prices. A subsequent click accepts the deal and coordination across other displays, video, and connected TVs are a breeze and done at scale with thoughtful, bulk upload features. You opt to deploy auto-bidding, allowing algorithms to gradually fine-tune and optimize your campaigns.
As the campaign hums along, machine learning is hard at work in the background, deploying safeguards to ensure that your ads are served in a brand-safe, fraud-free environment. Done right, automation reduces time wasted on manual tasks, which can then be deployed across higher, value-added strategic activities such as surfacing media insights and refining creatives with data.
Data: Infrastructure in the form of analytics helps understand how customers are engaging with your owned media. Combining this with an ad server closes the loop and “completes” the full digital view with paid media measurement.
This sets the stage for us to connect the dots across various data signals to surface insights, build an understanding of the audience, and inform your creatives. Upon activation the buying platform enables a continuous learning cycle for better analysis and audience engagement.
Equally important is the ability to reach these audiences at scale, across channels and devices. Coupled with robust frequency management capabilities it enables effective story-telling and meaningful data-driven engagements with customers.
Attribution: Flexing beyond last-click attribution is the next crucial step to understanding how different online media channels can work together, collectively improving the marketing mix.
Moving up the chain involves testing ready-made, out-of-the-box solutions and embracing data-driven attribution. Continuous testing and learning, with the right team and methodology in place, can surface insights on a brand’s most influential channels. The number of touchpoints, order of exposure, and creative assets are all considerations that should be factored in when comparing different conversion paths.
Maximizing the potential of your existing digital measurement tools set the foundation for further customization and the ability to ingest more conversion signals. Advances in cloud computing, and solutions such as Ads Data Hub, enables the joining of various data sets and deploy machine learning to solve more advanced use cases. The impetus for advance in programmatic maturity is perhaps as exciting as it is necessary because of an increasingly privacy-first and cookie less world. Exciting as the promise of scaling said capabilities beyond digital, to huge addressable media opportunities such as digital out-of-home and connected TV may bring us closer to completing the single view of the customer.
Sitting at the confluence of automation, data, attribution, and powering the drive towards multi-moment maturity would be the brand’s capacity for collaboration and change. Securing C-level buy-in for a project, embedding expert skills, and knowing when to in-source and outsource, sets up a brand for a fruitful programmatic journey.