Programmatic Advertising 101 for Indies

Programmatic Advertising 101 for Indies

As Marc Andreessen famously observed, “Software is eating the world.” Prescient words as nearly every industry from finance to travel have been rapidly disrupted, and generally improved, by the integration of software-powered technologies and platforms.

Since its inception and ascent as a scalable advertising medium, digital media has been in a continuous state of change and rapid evolution. Programmatic advertising, which is simply the automation of digital media, is the most recent transformational force in digital media.

Consider the digital transformation of the financial industry for perspective. Thirty years ago, brokers controlled access to stock exchanges, and individual investors were required to pay commissions for even the most basic stock purchases. However, the advent of E-Trade and other self-trading platforms quickly enabled investors to research and purchase stocks completely on their own. Similarly, self-service programmatic advertising platforms are empowering marketers, and their agencies, to easily execute digital media campaigns at scale while eliminating the many unnecessary intermediaries and vendors.

What should independent agencies look for in a programmatic advertising platform?

The actual execution of programmatic advertising (RTB or real-time bidding) is quickly becoming commoditized. As an individual investor doesn’t really know or care (nor should they) how their stock is actually purchased, media buyers needn’t mind how their media bid is technically executed. It’s a given that the underlying technology must be solid. However, the execution required to secure the impression is secondary to the impression itself and how it performs against an agency’s goals. Thus when evaluating platforms, buyers can and should focus on the key pieces they see and touch: the user interface of the actual platform as well as the support team and resources behind it. Day to day, these are what are truly impact the operators of a programmatic platform.

How should agencies approach their programmatic offering?

Whether display, social or search, pulling the levers on a platform in-house gives agencies a clear strategic advantage over competitors. Transparency and technology are rapidly reducing the superfluous links in the media execution chain. And the entity that invests in and develops platform operational expertise will always be a link that adds value, thus much less likely to be disintermediated. Naturally, there is a learning curve with any variety of technology adoption. But in time, platform operation enables marketers to spend less time managing vendors, and more time on strategy and client management/growth. With their inherent scalability, self-service programmatic advertising operation enables any agency to compete with anyone in the world.

What are the best practices for independent agencies?

Implementation of self-sustaining business practices and processes will enable long term success. Establishing realistic campaign products that align with the team’s skill set and resources will set proper client expectations while ensuring profitability. Having in-house resources and expertise will restore the power and control to agencies while reducing the risk of being disintermediated. In addition, gaining in-house platform operational expertise will cultivate a culture of growth and learning.

What are the steps to adopting a self-service programmatic advertising platform?

Leadership has to set a unified vision across teams at all levels of the organization. It takes discipline and commitment from all sides, as with any business-wide initiative, to adopt a self-service platform. There are several resources to help agencies transition from an outsourced management service to running an in-house operation. The beginning steps are universal. First, identify operations to drive the platform. Then find a software partner who will provide guidance and learning assets while team members develop a proficient programmatic advertising operation.

Andrew Fischer, Co-Founder and CEO, Choozle

A seasoned digital media entrepreneur, Andrew Fischer is the CEO and Co-Founder of Choozle, the leading self-service programmatic digital marketing platform which now powers media execution for over 800+ global advertisers. Prior to Choozle, Andrew co-founded and built the RGM Alliance, a premium focused online advertising network that reaches over 120 MM consumers in the US. Andrew holds a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.