This week, IAB Australia launched the updated Programmatic Playbook, whose last iteration was published way back in 2015. The Playbook received a content refresh and Bench was asked to contribute a piece, which we are republishing below.
If you’re an Interactive Advertising Bureau member then you can also download the full version of the Programmatic Playbook.
Ensuring Your Programmatic Stack Is Not a Game of Jenga
When it comes to running programmatic campaigns, the technical side of the process can often seem overwhelming. Especially, if you are still in the nascent stage of your journey.
There’s your DSP for buying ad inventory, your DMP for managing that all-important audience data, various analytics tools for monitoring the performance of your media channels. And the list of technologies just goes on… Not to mention that you have to ensure these systems all play nicely together.
And each year, the programmatic ‘stack’ just keeps growing. As a marketer new to programmatic, where do you even start?
Measure Twice, Implement Once, Scale Infinitely
As with most things in marketing, the key to ensuring a smooth implementation of your programmatic stack is to plan ahead. This goes beyond just figuring out how much of your media budget you can allocate to the undertaking.
This is about strategically planning the core technologies that will be included. It’s crucial to involve your IT team from the start to save yourself from the programmatic equivalent of a toppling Jenga tower.
Your Programmatic Operating System
Here is a list of technologies that will form the core of your ‘programmatic operating system’:
- Data Management Platform (DMP)
This is the beating heart of your setup that holds all of the audience data your other systems will use.
- Demand-Side Platform (DSP)
Depending on your media strategy, you may need one or several of these. A DSP actually helps you buy the ads.
- Cross-Channel Ad Management Platform
You need a tool that will allow you to manage and optimize all of your programmatic channels without having to log into multiple systems or platforms.
- Unified Analytics Dashboard
In addition to managing your campaigns using one tool, you want to track everything from a single place. Programmatic is complex enough and the last thing you want is having to rely on unruly spreadsheets for managing ads.
- Tag Management System
To help with analytics, you need a way to keep tabs on campaigns for reporting purposes. Tag management will greatly simplify your life.
We Have Blast Off… But How to Stay The Course?!
Implementation is only half the battle when it comes to getting your programmatic strategy on track. As mentioned, you want your IT team assisting during each phase of the roll-out.
But once you reach the stage where it’s ‘all systems go,’ you then have to ensure your marketing team is ready to start running campaigns. This goes beyond your new technology stack. It’s all about strategy and the operational framework you put into place.
Here are some things to be aware of:
- Clarify Media Strategy
Have a clearly defined media strategy and a solid understanding of who you want to reach. Without this, you’re bound to waste ad dollars. Potentially, lots of them.
- Define Responsibilities
Whether you rely on in-house or outsourced help, create a detailed breakdown of the tasks that will need to be managed by each person involved in the programmatic campaign management process.
- Love Your Data
Know your data intimately. Like the back of your hand in fact. Because the quality of your audience data directly affects the quality of your campaigns. In programmatic, garbage in equals garbage out – multiplied by a thousand!
- Know Your Limits
Understand your platforms and their limitations. Regardless of the actual configuration of your programmatic stack, each system in the chain will have its limiting factors. Build processes into your operational model to compensate for this.
- Embrace Failure
Test everything. Especially, at the beginning of your journey. The more mistakes you make at the start, the better off your campaigns will perform over time. Also, have a process in place to methodically iterate on your creative and messaging.
It’s a Big Programmatic Universe Out There – Don’t Go It Alone
When it comes to the selection of a programmatic vendor, there are two types of partners who can serve you: agencies and technology platforms. These days, both often provide a hybrid service model.
So a programmatic platform may offer a managed service or an agency may closely align its operations around a particular technology stack. Which option you decide to go with depends on the existing resources of your marketing team, both human and technical.
Be mindful of the following when selecting a programmatic partner:
- Service Level
How much hand-holding does your team need? This will determine whether to lean towards an agency or a platform.
The programmatic waters can often be murky. Make sure your vendor is unambiguous in their dealings with you.
- Technology Stack
This will highly depend on your own programmatic setup. If you choose to fully outsource this then ensure you have a very good grasp on the technology solutions your potential vendor uses. Depending on the scope of their offering, you will need to ensure their stack is compatible with and complements your own
- Data Privacy
This is also dependent on how much of your programmatic stack you choose to outsource. If your vendor manages your data, make sure you understand exactly how it will be stored and used.
- Accurate Metrics
Establish a measurement framework and ensure that clear KPIs are in place that will be monitored accurately over the life of each campaign. This should also include alignment around the chosen attribution method.
- Brand Safety
Understand what checks and balances will be put into place to ensure your brand is not adversely affected as a result of running programmatic campaigns.
It’s the People That Matter, Not the Machines
While configuring your programmatic team is beyond the scope of this piece, it is important to be aware that it’s people who power the technology. Your stack will lay the technical foundation but it’s usually just a handful of talented individuals who will be accountable for the success of your programmatic strategy. Choose wisely.