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Ad-Juster Takes Bite Out of Programmatic Big Apple

Exploring the Mysteries of Programmatic Marketing and Reporting. Is It for You?

Programmatic marketing and reporting continues to gain momentum. We’re dedicated to educating organizations on programmatic, helping them streamline and discover more revenue opportunities. That’s why we sponsored an expert panel at AdMonsters’ Meetup, Reigning in the Data Flood, in NYC on May 3rd. Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer Dan Lawton, Chief Revenue Officer Jesse Poppick, Product Manager Calson Lee, and Account Manager Joe Lewis represented Ad-Juster at the event. Here’s what they gleaned from the meetup.

Does programmatic marketing and reporting really deserve the hype it’s been getting?

Dan: Programmatic reporting is key to gaining the insights required to make ongoing decisions that drive business goals. Reporting is definitely necessary for programmatic delivery to continue adding value.

Calson: Publishers are trying to maximize their inventory across the many, many marketplaces offered by the SSPs. It’s getting messy trying to figure out how to best maximize programmatic strategies without a constant stream of data to make solid data-driven decisions.

Joe: For ad delivery, absolutely. It’s not going away, only getting bigger.

Jesse: There is a lot of hype. And there is a lot of money being made. There are some serious issues that have been created by programmatic ad delivery, and accurate reporting helps identify some of these issues.

What were the key takeaways from this Ad-Juster sponsored event?

Dan: Publishers need to be comfortable sharing their goals and having two-way communication with vendors regarding their reporting needs. Sharing this type of information doesn’t create any vulnerabilities—it’s necessary. It’s like ordering at a restaurant with the largest menu you’ve ever seen. You can’t get what you want unless you clearly communicate with the waiter. Sometimes people change their mind as to what they want after ordering. That’s fine. You’re the one paying. The waiter knows they get a bigger tip when they happily service changes. It’s the same with vendors, they know repeat business comes from happy publishers.

Calson: It’s very interesting seeing how publishers are trying to solve the problem of platforms not using the same values. It doesn’t seem like a problem the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is going to be able to solve. Also, the move to server-side header bidding has interesting implications. Publishers are wary of stepping into a walled garden, losing control of the content and services they desire.

Joe: Too many platforms, too much data.

Jesse:There are many data sources, no normalization (standardization), and no clear-cut “best practices” for pubs to follow.

How do programmatic advances translate to more demand sources for publishers?

Dan: The thought process around demand partners used to be “more is better.” But, with better reporting insights, a publisher can now drill down to unique demand sources from their SSPs. Going forward, being selective and thoughtful about partner selection will provide less workload and better yield. I predict industry consolidation for SSPs and DSPs is inevitable.

Calson: I think publishers are starting to notice there’s a lot of overlap in the SSPs. Many of them have the same buyers on their platforms. I believe that consolidation will occur in this space.

Joe: This depends on the programmatic ad partners. A good SSP will integrate with many DSPs to increase unique demand. But pubs won’t always be able to control or even know who’s running ads on their site.

Jesse: Consolidation of SSPs and DSPs is inevitable. The end result might be higher quality and lower quantity.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the “insights” that programmatic provides. Can you share some details or examples?

Calson: It’s the ability to look closely at data across many platforms despite there being a multitude of data points. The insight is seeing which partners offer the most transparency, which is what allows you to see through the chaos and pinpoint the best revenue opportunities.

Joe: Programmatic-created insights help you make better decisions regarding who you partner up with, where to buy your inventory, how to use your inventory, and more. Having said that, it’s important to note the depth of insights is related to the availability of reporting from the programmatic ad partners. In other words, everyone would be better off through a wholesale adoption of programmatic data management and reporting.

Jesse: Does increased bot traffic, fraudulent “users,” and risky brand safety equal “insights”?

Can businesses employ programmatic marketing without programmatic reporting? Is there a difference?

Dan: If you’re selling your inventory via programmatic and don’t have the resources to manage the yield and test partners, I would suggest going with an SSP exclusively and just cash their check every month.

Calson: Reporting is absolutely necessary, there’s so much that can go wrong and a lot of money left on the table if not optimized properly.

Jesse: You can’t have one without the other. Reporting is key to understanding what you bought (for example, if it hit the audience you paid for, when it ran, and so on). Without these and other key metrics, buying programmatically would be a waste of time and money.

The expert panel discussed the road forward in data normalization for direct sales, programmatic, and finance. In your words, what is data normalization? What does it mean for the industry and should individual companies care?

Dan: Data normalization is the task of aggregating all the various data-column naming conventions from each platform partner to be reported under a single name. We view normalization to be the essential headwaters to insightful data reporting. Building normalized naming conventions must be done at scale and requires constant updating as new platforms and advertisers enter data sets. It’s a waste of time and resources to try to do this without a reporting partner. If your data is not automatically normalized, you’ll have a constant battle to cleanse your data prior to getting your reports…very messy.

Calson: Data normalization is when we equate different values from multiple platforms into one set of data. It’s a very important process that needs to be done in order to see what’s really happening in programmatic ad delivery.

Jesse: Data normalization and standardization should be a requirement in the industry. Otherwise, we’re all speaking different languages. We have the opportunity to reconstruct the Tower of Babel.

Is programmatic marketing and reporting for everyone? What should companies do if they’re unsure whether programmatic is a good fit for their operations?

Dan: Programmatic is all about testing partners against a set of predefined goals. Start with a small section of inventory and make sure the selected partner has the data you need for your reporting requirements before your start testing them.

Calson: I don’t believe it is for everyone, as some publishers may not have unsold non-direct inventory to test with these technologies. However, I think that most publishers should definitely use both.

Joe: A bigger pub will usually keep some, if not most, of their direct deals for the better CPMs and control, which is better for the brand. Smaller pubs who leverage programmatic ad delivery are able to pick up impressions and revenue they wouldn’t normally have access to.

Jesse: There will always be a place for premium and ultra-premium brands and publishers to transact directly. Programmatic is not for everyone. When in doubt, have an in-depth needs analysis with an expert to determine if direct, programmatic, both, or even neither are best for your particular organization.

Contact our Account Management Team if you’d like to learn more about programmatic reporting.