Programmatic media buying is on the verge of a new era built on collaboration.
This was the key thread in the panel session on the future of programmatic run in association with digital advertising technology provider PubMatic at The Drum’s Agencies 4 Growth Festival. Watch the fascinating panel here.
Although advertising as a whole has been battered by the pandemic, the use of programmatic media buying continues to increase. At the beginning of October, IAB Europe published its 2020 Attitudes to Programmatic survey, which showed that the number of advertisers spending more than 41% of their display budget through programmatic channels had increased from 55% in 2019 to 77% in 2020. Similarly, the number spending more than 41% of their video advertising budget programmatically grew from 50% in 2019 to 54% in 2020.
As programmatic grows, the way it’s being managed continues to change. The IAB survey found that the number of advertisers using hybrid models, where brands bring some elements of programmatic buying in-house, supplemented with agency expertise, had doubled since 2019 to almost a third. In-housing of programmatic, meanwhile, fell from 38% of advertisers in 2019 to 20% in 2020.
Speaking on The Drum panel, Richard Kanolik, programmatic lead at Vodafone, put this change down to the growing level of programmatic expertise. Programmatic used to be a “black box” tended by the agency, he said, but now advertisers want more visibility and control of their media buy, and they can hire in the people to deliver that.
But he argued that there’s still a need for agencies to fill in the gaps.
“Advertisers can underestimate what’s required to bring programmatic in house,” he said. “Hence the hybrid model.”
This view was backed up by Chris Camacho, chief performance officer at Mindshare. He pointed out that in-housing involves more than just a deal with a DSP provider.
“You also need to think about the set-up, data, tools and talent,” he said. “It’s not easy, but with the right infrastructure, the right support and the right agency, it can be done. There’s a lot of value to having a guide.”
Lisa Kalyuzhny, senior director, advertising solutions, EMEA at PubMatic agreed that working together is crucial, both across the business and between the business and its agencies.
“It’s about knowing what your strengths are as a brand, and being able to use the people you have on the ground internally as well the agency, and being able to really collaborate. That’s where we’ve seen the most success,” she said.
But brands and agencies working together isn’t the only form of collaboration that’s changing programmatic buying. Kalyuzhny pointed out that the introduction of header bidding revealed to advertisers that they could be using 20 or 30 different partners to buy the same inventory, and they started asking themselves what the benefit was.
“Supply Path Optimisation has become a catchphrase for many different adtech initiatives. At the core, it’s about buyers understanding and optimising supply. To deliver better media buying and selling strategies, the collaborative relationships and understanding of both buyers’ and sellers’ goals are a must have,” she said. “In digital advertising, brands and publishers are ultimately working towards the same goal: creating a transparent programmatic set-up that optimises consumers’ ad experiences and values inventory at a fair price for all.”
Kanolik argued that programmatic’s transparency problems were self-inflicted, the result of an infant industry prioritising technology and innovation at the expense of clarity. But he also said that buy and sell sides know that transparency is crucial to programmatic maturing as a medium, and that awareness is bringing the two sides together.
“For programmatic to evolve into a trusted medium, transparency is key,” he said. “We’re moving towards that, and it will kick off a new era of programmatic advertising.”