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Q&A: Google's David McMurtrie and DTA judge outlines programmatic opportunities and challenges

As The Drum gears up for its 2015 Digital Trading Awards (DTA), created to reward best practice in the programmatic trading ecosystem, Google's head of publishers for the UK, and DTA judge, David McMurtrie discusses the current and future opportunities in the space, and what he will be looking from awards entrants.

What are the main challenges in programmatic trading marketing currently and why?

Managing the pace of change. The industry moves so quickly that it can be difficult for all but the biggest buyers and sellers to keep pace. We are all guilty of moving on to the next big thing before the market has fully assimilated the last set of innovations. Finding and keeping the right resources to manage programmatic trading is another major challenge.

To what extent has transparency improved in the value chain over the past year?

The market has moved on considerably in the past 12 months and as programmatic budgets have increased there has been much more insistence on full transparency through the entire value chain. However, as fees in programmatic are still largely unaudited there is still some room for further improvement.

What could marketers be doing better to maximise on their programmatic investments?

Many marketers are still reluctant to make full use of their own valuable data in programmatic channels, instead relying on 3rd party data sets. They should be leveraging the value of their data to deliver a maximum ROI in programmatic.

What’s the next big thing in programmatic trading?

Reservation based buying which will move the full set of deal types into programmatic from Sponsorship, Reservations, Private Deals through to Open Auction.

With DR budgets becoming tapped out, to what extent can the progress in (linear) TV programmatic trading help shift brand budget into programmatic?

There is still plenty of potential for growth in programmatic through all channels so let's not assume that any budgets are 'tapped out'. Brand budgets are starting to move into programmatic and will continue to do, helped by digital video, but we should not expect linear TV trading to change significantly before we have a standard set of measurement metrics in place.

To what extend should publishers pool their programmatic platforms to achieve greater scale for premium private marketplaces? What opportunities could be created?

Publishers should focus on selling valuable audiences and if pooling inventory helps them do this then there is a place for this type of agreement, although the logistical challenge it creates should not be underestimated. Increasingly, Publishers are finding that they can achieve scale through having a Publisher Trading Desk and buying their own audiences.

How much progress has programmatic trading made in shedding its image of ‘remnant, cheap’ inventory? How much further must it go?

Huge progress has been made as testified by recent announcements on Programmatic spend by big brand advertisers such as P&G, Kelloggs and L'Oreal. On The DoubleClick AdExchange we've run campaigns for brands including Versace, Burberry, Samsung and Ford, all of whom are buying high quality inventory from Premium Publishers. Improved fraud detection and viewability measurement will only accelerate this trend.

What are the remaining barriers to marketers adopting programmatic trading?

Brand measurement metrics and a standard trading currency across online and offline media still remains a challenge that the industry has not found a solution to (although many players are working on this).

What are the next wave of opportunities programmatic trading can provide in the overall marketing landscape?

Programmatic Direct deals is top of the list and will be a big trend in 2015. We'll see continued growth in Video and continued investment by major digital companies in growing their video business. There is also still massive opportunity to grow advertising in Mobile Apps and it is surprising that more Publishers aren't taking advantage of this. Finally, we'll see Programmatic driving further organisational change at both Advertiser companies and Publishers.

What will you be looking for from entries during the judging stages?

I'd like to see clear evidence that programmatic channels have been used to deliver strategic campaign goals backed up by robust research against Performance or Brand measurement. I would hope that this would also encompass smart audience or content targeting and innovative use of creative formats.

How did you get into digital trading/advertising industry?

I started in TV sales thinking it sounded more exciting than working in a bank and have been consistently proven right.

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