Get With the Program(matic Buying)!

I have had the good fortune to spend the majority of my career working with brands that have aggressive performance goals. Most agency folks might cringe, but I think it is one of the most necessary learning experiences for anyone in media planning. Being held to direct response objectives makes you more accountable to a business outcome.

In the last few years, changes to the digital-buying paradigm are making it easier to manage to performance. Loosely referenced acronyms like DSPs (demand-side platforms), DMPs (data management platforms), and RTB (real-time bidding) have emerged. These acquisition-buying platforms promise real-time decisioning and learning capabilities, allowing us to manage mass impression inventory purchased entirely on an expected outcome.

Naturally, these changes to our industry ecosystem are introducing massive amounts of data. For this column, I sat down with Michael Kaushansky, SVP, Insights and Analytics for Havas Digital, to discuss a few topics within the ever-adapting media landscape. Specifically, how media buying and planning are significantly changing with speed and improvement to data collection and analysis.

So, What Is “Real Time”?

Jessica Richards: The term “real time” exists as an adjective in many different scenarios these days. With the emergence of new ad serving technologies, DSPs, and DMPs, it seems to be a hot topic, but is it for real?

Michael Kaushansky: The ability to download massive amounts of data as it’s collected in near real time does exist. Using technology platforms to take this data and determine the true value of a consumer and/or the media placement an advertiser has purchased and make optimizations. This data is providing a fast read on performance and the ability to decision on the fly based on the determined value of a user and/or a media placement.

Humans Needed

JR: With the convergence of mass data collection and media-buying platforms (like DSPs, DMPs) touting real-time decisioning, you would think that our jobs as media professionals may be at risk?

MK: Judgment day is not upon us. The human element is very important to mine true insights from the data being collected on the consumer and media placement. It is also very important that as professionals we recommend testing and new programs or our campaigns will “implode.” Becoming too efficient or overly optimized will narrow your audience pool, eliminating waste but also eliminating new opportunity. You can use real-time intelligence to make pricing decisions or bid, but not to test or make formal recommendations; there needs to be a human analysis.

Playing Catch Up

JR: Do you think the media planning community “gets it”? This approach takes a step back from the rigorous evaluation and negotiation process that exists in the relationship between buyers and traditional media companies.

MK: The industry has not caught up yet but they are getting there, with more buzz behind programmatic buying, more education exists…as with everything in digital media, by the time we actually catch up, we will likely be on to the next game-changing innovation.

Will We Be Thwarted?

JR: Privacy continues to bubble to the forefront when talking about data collection in digital media. I am concerned that for all the progress we have made, it may be offset by a super focus on consumer privacy and control.

MK: Privacy could set us back, but I am not sure how far. The ability to track devices may be limited, especially household devices. Set-top box tracking may not be able to do what it claims. The changes could be as drastic as a formalized opt-in for data collection or a more formally regulated opt-out process.

Change Is Coming

JR: With a hyper focus on data and utilization of programmatic buying, will larger percentages of media budget funnel into DSPs or the ad exchange environments?

MK: This is where the art of media planning comes into play. As much as the scientific aspect to data exists, there is still a brand element that requires a media relationship. While every brand is different, there is a balance that needs to take place to ensure brand impact and testing is managed. A lot of work is being done to track “viewable impressions” and “time with your ad.” In the near future, this information will likely level out the reliance on programmatic buying versus direct publisher relationships. Premium publishers are smart enough to know this and this will likely not change.

This is just the beginning. There is a lot more to be covered on this topic so be on the lookout for more!

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