As Advertising Week Approaches, What Should Brands be Thinking About?

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By Cadi Jones, Commercial Director, EMEA, Beeswax

There is so much going on at the moment in digital marketing – with the death of the cookie and IDFA dominating the headlines, it can be hard to know what to really focus on.  In our industry, there will always be buzz (excuse the bee pun!) around the latest technologies and their corresponding challenges, so smart brands have learned to focus on things that can move the needle for their business.

What “performance” means is the single biggest issue that comes up with digital advertising.  Most large brands have moved away from thinking about performance as Click-Through-Rate or Completed-Video-Rate and want instead want to know about what is driving real performance against their business goals.  Even more than this, there’s a realisation most machine learning is designed to suit “the average customer” of the Demand-Side Platform, and not their specific business objectives.  As such, custom algorithm functionality, to tailor the DSP’s performance to the requirement of that brand,  has seen rapid growth. These can allow an advertiser to take into account multiple success metrics, and add feedback in real-time to continuously adjust course – in order to adjust to any changes to their overall business objectives.  In such a turbulent time, this level of flexibility and control over your spending and optimisation strategies is a clear focus for sophisticated digital marketers.

Following the ISBA – PWC programmatic supply chain transparency report, Supply Path Optimisation has come to the fore.  With SSP fees varying between 6% and 25%, it has become clear that the partners your DSP chooses to buy through can impact the level of your investment that makes it through to working media.  For an impression (e.g. 1,000 impressions) where you pay £5, it could be anything from £3.75 to $4.70 that reaches the publisher, based on your DSP’s choice.

Brands are beginning to look into just how much they are spending with each SSP.  In some instances, they can be spending more than two-thirds of their budget on an SSP that just happens to be owned by the same parent company as the DSP.  At Beeswax, where each of our customers has no option but to do their own Supply Path Optimisation, we see a much more even split of spend between all of the supply partners that we work with.

Finally, when we talk to brands about programmatic advertising, it’s clear that while programmatic is simply the way that media is traded, it can still be very hard to hire people with the right experience.  This is especially true in relation to custom algorithms linked to business objectives.  Data scientists are in high demand across many functions, and marketing teams can struggle to pull these resources into their organisation.  It can also be challenging to hire externally as these capabilities are relatively new.

Just as with any digital transformation journey, the “hard” part is not so much the technology, but also ensuring the people and the vision are aligned with that journey.  As programmatic advertisers adopt more sophisticated and customised buying strategies, more focused on their real goals, there are additional skills needed to ensure that this is executed in the most efficient way possible, and that may require our teams to develop additional skill sets, or even expand the capabilities of marketing teams.

I look forward to discussing these issues with the brand advertisers on the panel: Vodafone, LV=, Nestle and Sainsbury’s.

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