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Real Time Bidding

Real-time bidding: Does the complexity of the space risk alienating advertisers?


By Katie McQuater, Magazine Editor

May 2, 2013 | 7 min read

The Drum's series on real-time advertising continues with a look at the perceived complexity of the programmatic buying space.

As technology advances to increase real-time advertising opportunities, The Drum catches up with a cross-section of the industry to discuss issues around transparency and complexity, which risk creating barriers to further investment.

Erich Wasserman, co-founder, GM EMEA & APAC, MediaMath By analogy, it took a great deal of complexity to create the meal that you ate for breakfast this morning, but do you need to understand the logistics of the lorry engine that delivered the wheat to the bread maker in order to satisfy your hunger? No, you just needed to put the bread in the toaster. A smart technology partner creates an intuitive environment in which marketers can operate.

Chris Scott, head of RTB, Criteo We are seeing more and more advertisers jumping in to this space and learning up-front as much as possible. They are definitely willing to work with a trusted partner that will educate them along the way. Savvy advertisers know they cannot sit on the sidelines while this growing channel is delivering better results.

Katie Camenzuli, head of display, iProspect UK The RTB space needs to be navigated intelligently in order to gain maximum effect. The potential of integrating first, second and third-party data, in addition to the complexities of transacting, should be conducted with knowledge against best practice. Many agency groups have advanced trading desks and a high knowledge of how to ensure best practice in this space. Advertisers should be guided while being empowered to embrace the opportunity. RTB is a natural evolution of performance display that is dynamic and ever changing.

Duncan Chamberlain, EMEA director, Advertiser Solutions, PubMatic The risk or complexity lies in staying educated within the programmatic environment. Advertisers are the driving mechanism behind our technology, and so play a vital part in the eco-system. If publishers and advertisers embrace programmatic trading and educate themselves on how to trade at value, the risks involved will be eliminated. One could argue that it gives an advertiser more peace of mind and enables them to reach their campaign objectives more effectively, through audience targeting.

Mathieu Roche, managing director, Weborama UK So far it’s been mostly about the technology and not enough about the business benefits of the technology. When bringing water to people, you don’t care about the pipes – likewise, we shouldn’t care so much about RTB, DSP, SSP etc and focus on the business benefits for advertisers – greater efficiencies, greater accountability, the possibility to leverage customer intelligence to customise user experience, etc. That’s what advertisers should hear about, and now that the foundations are ready we can start to talk about it.

Marco Bertozzi, executive managing director, EMEA, VivaKi Advertisers are keen on these new areas, so we just have to help them. The digital industry is always moaning about why we can't get more spend from the likes of FMCG yet at the same time many brands are putting up barriers that make that difficult to do. We have to as an industry make life easier for advertiser to spend money. This applies also to the over measurement we indulge in, in many desperate ways – something TV or press has not burdened itself with at all.

Measurement is another problem for the industry. We struggle to have enough single metrics to drive accountability, in fact we create more and more – viewability is the latest, one that auditors love as they can at last hang their hat on something connected to the RTB industry. The problem is there is no agreement, consistency and many companies are out to make a buck but whilst doing so are creating confusion.

The TV industry works well on the back of simple, albeit flawed metrics, and everyone knows where they stand. A small panel looks old fashioned in today's data-driven market but it works for that part of the industry, the digital world could learn a thing or two from offline.

Oli Whitton, VP and commercial director EMEA, Rubicon Project In our experience, the space is only ever as complex as your chosen partner wants to make it.

Your technology partner should be a consultative one, like an extra member of staff who helps you navigate this space. Their technology should sit beneath their relationships with advertisers or publishers, bringing the two sides closer together, not standing in between them with jargon and three-letter acronyms.

David Lane, commercial director, Switch Concepts

If we’re not careful the industry could start to become wrapped 
up in its own jargon. It’s already pretty impenetrable so we need to
 simplify things for the good of the industry.

Advertisers need to be able to buy their target prospects at the right
 level of frequency across channels and in the appropriate context.
 Simple. By making the process simpler it will also become more
 transparent, and then advertisers can analyse results more accurately 
to measure their ROI. This is most important and it should not
 require the layers of complexity we see today.

Marc Galens, VP International, TubeMogul It all comes down to transparency and education, not necessarily just for the advertiser.

In regard to transparency the more easy to use and open platforms are, showing exactly what they are doing in easily readable metrics, being open about the data used and where ads are placed, the better it will be for advertiser confidence and understanding.

However, we also need to talk like humans. Using acronyms and ad tech jargon is alienating. We should be trying to entice marketers, not intimidate them.

Katie Field, VP EU Media Operations, Specific Media Due to the technical nature of this type of buying, it can seem challenging for advertisers to ensure they are optimising their buy and getting the efficiencies available. This is why working with a provider who can provide a 360-degree view on not only programmatic buying but also the more traditional forms of purchasing digital is a good way to get a well rounded and effective understanding of the value proposition. If a provider can offer all elements of a digital buy, then they are incentivised to use those which work best for each individual advertiser, which is why Specific Media operates across both the programmatic space as well as continuing to evolve the more traditional digital offerings such as video and brand buys.

For further information on the issue of complexity in the digital advertising space, read about what the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is doing to simplify the ecosystem.

This online series is running in conjunction with the publication of The Drum's Ad Technology supplement, sponsored by:

Real Time Bidding

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