The Evolution of Programmatic Display

The programmatic team at Digimagnet Delhi recently sat down to talk through some interesting questions that were posed about display activity.

After our conversation we wanted to share these thoughts as part of a blog series to discuss topics of interest to our team in advertising. This is the first in a series of ‘Programmatic Chat’.

If you have questions about Programmatic activity please contact us to submit this for the team to address in future posts.

Programmatic buying is just cheap inventory?

Programmatic activity has changed over the years and is clearly reaching a maturity. Our traders actually were a bit perplexed when faced with the idea of buying activity across the open exchange at the only goal of cheap reach. Our teams continue to leverage the open exchange to find scale and niche environments for their audiences, however we always look at more specific campaign outcomes. This might be pure performance outcomes on ROAS or CPA or moving up the funnel with site visits or engagement. It may also involve Branding campaigns which have carefully considered targeting and viewability thresholds to reach the right audience.

The open exchange is an important way to reach many publishers – especially with the advent of Header Bidding and other shifts on the supply side of the industry – many premium publishers can be reached in open bidding. However at Digimagnet we also value our direct publisher relationships, ensuring we leverage valuable Second Party audience data layered into media buying, or ensuring preferential access to premium inventory.

Is it worth paying extra for Viewability, Ad Fraud Prevention and Brand Safety?

Ensuring Viewable, Fraud Free and Brand Safe activity is now a matter of hygiene across campaigns. Measuring the success of these initiatives with third party providers is a valuable process to ensure they are being adhered to.

There are tools traders can utilize which may not incur additional costs themselves, but removing the poor quality inventory will drive up the price, the ‘wild west’ of programmatic display is coming to an end as we realise that what seemed to be a limitless supply, was actually driving very poor quality.

It is important to also understand performance with a broader view, where last touch attribution might not realise the value of a high impact creative if a below the fold impression drops a pixel later on. These hygiene factors help weed out the bad players and find the activity which is more likely to be driving incremental value and not just cookie stuffing those who inevitably make a purchase.

What is the value of buying audience data?

The value of audience data is going to vary depending on the type of business and the source of this data.

Finding the right audience can come at a premium, this might be in paying top rates for data or it may be in higher inventory costs to reach a smaller audience pool.

While often we think of audience data in relation to purchasing cookies and audience segments, there are also avenues in contextual buying which would also indicate key audiences, these highly targeted contextual placements will also see increased costs but may see stronger performance.

As with all marketing activity it’s important to have a good view of your campaign goals, with programmatic it can be easier to run tests with it’s flexibility to understand performance. Testing different audiences for types of goals is part of assessing the value of buying different audiences.

Scale will also be a factor to consider in audience data, premium and tightly targeted audiences will have limited scale, while broader audiences may not bring much value for their additional cost in the trade-off for scale where other tactics may be more effective.

Is there still value in Direct Publisher Bookings and Partnerships?

Direct relationships will continue to be important in display advertising to ensure reaching the right environments where consideration will be at its highest. Many niche environments with strong performance will still need to be booked on direct relationships although it will be preferable to deliver these through Demand Side Platforms.

Guaranteed Deals and Private Marketplace relationships will become increasingly important with a shift from direct bookings into more automated systems, but it will still be important to have direct relationships with publishers to secure priority inventory, preferential rates and beta products.

Bringing as much activity as possible into a centralised source will see improvements overall, allowing centralized reporting and transparency on activity. It will also provide opportunities for more holistic frequency capping and centralised view of audiences.

Some activity may also continue to be difficult to deliver in a programmatic space, this might be specialised creative builds or specific types of activity publishers cannot execute in a programmatic delivery as yet. Although increasingly different types of activity will be moving to more the more streamlined process with programmatic, there will continue to be important activity needing direct relationships for some time yet.

What impacts will there be with cookie and privacy changes?

ITP, GDPR, CCPA – there are a number of new acronyms in the digital marketing space which are seeing a significant change in how activity can be delivered and measured. These are likely to be the biggest impacts in the evolution of how we work with Programmatic Display activity.

Retargeting has taken an impact with cookie restrictions, with reductions in ‘retargeting’ audiences in certain environments – this has been moving audiences into ‘prospecting’ audience pools without the information in a cookie to identify them. It won’t be the death of retargeting users but the opportunity to reach them will be changing, this will also see different impacts for different types of clients and campaigns.

This has provided new opportunities for bidding algorithms to target high performing audiences who are close to conversion and a new consideration on customer lifecycle targeting and messaging. New plans for targeting and optimization of audiences who are outside of cookie tracking will be an important part of digital strategies.

It’s expected there will be new opportunities to bring together data and audiences, likely though large ‘walled gardens’ such as Google and Facebook who can build audience profiles around logged in users.
The restrictions to cookie usage will also see a decrease in the application of direct 1:1 measurement, especially with post view and attributed conversions. It will see changes to how we have attributed activity in the digital ecosystem where there will be increased difficulty in bringing together different data points.

Traditional media has long had various methodologies to understand the impact of the media mix on direct performance and this will become part of new analysis to understand the impacts of marketing. At ForwardPMX we have worked on such studies with our Data Science team to look at true incremental value in attribution, and we expect to see brands look at broader and more sophisticated measurements in the absence of cookie tracking.

This deeper analysis may provide an improved viewpoint, instead of just relying on the information presented in an ad server or last touch attribution, but instead building tailored methodologies which drive deeper business understanding.
Digital application will also have additional benefits over traditional media planning, even without cookie data Machine Learning and AI will be able to scale many other performance signal to drive scalable insights on digital activity.

 What is the future of Digital Display?

Display Advertising is reaching your audience through digital – if you know audiences are on certain sites then it is worth reaching them there – even if the measurement if going to change it is still a valuable channel.
Programmatic will continue to be the evolution of how display is purchased, centralising reporting and information and automating a wide range of buying opportunities. The automation will also continue to be a key resource for niche publications who cannot support their own sales teams and infrastructure but who may hold valuable audiences.
Measurement and attribution will be changing as privacy, cookie and technology restrictions continue to be released, enforced and evolve.

Display is not doomed through these changes, but it is going through an evolution in how we plan, book, deliver and understand the success of our campaigns.