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Google encourages brand marketers and creative agencies to embrace programmatic trading with five-step guide

Google has released a five-step guide to advise brand marketers how best to tackle programmatic trading.

The playbook, which incorporates programmatic case studies from brands including Nike, Nestle, Kia, and Talk Talk, provides advice such as what kind of creative should be used to work effectively in programmatically-run campaigns.

Speaking to The Drum, Google’s client development lead Patrice Harvey said the guide is the company’s first to specifically cater to brand marketers, which are now keen to make programmatic trading a part of their media plans – an area already heavily embraced by performance-driven companies.

“Naturally brand marketers heard about programmatic and wanted to understand the hype, but weren’t necessarily structured organisationally in a way to be able to work it well. They felt their agencies were in a similar situation and could all use some help.”

She referenced Google’s chief marketing officer Lorraine Twohill's pledge last year that the search giant will spend 60 per cent of its digital marketing budget on programmatically traded campaigns

“Our CMO really put a stake in the ground when she said that – it’s a pretty bold statement. So even brands like Google need a bit of help understanding how they can use programmatic to really reap the benefits of where they may previously have been working in TV or offline. That’s why we put together this playbook – written in non-technical language, in marketer-friendly terms. It is written from the lens of what is specifically important to brands – so looking at how to achieve reach and frequency and get audience insights from it. Playbook is meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to achieve success in programmatic advertising,” she said.

As more spend has tipped into programmatic trading brands have begun to more fiercely question where their budget is being used. As such issues such as lack of transparency and arbitrage have bred a level of distrust among some brand marketers particularly in relation to the agency trading desk models ,which have typically been involved in both the buying and reselling of the media.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) last year published programmatic guidelines for marketers that detailed options for brands that wish to either take their programmatic trading in-house, or use an agency, or use a mix of both – what it called a hybrid approach.

Google has taken a similar approach, providing options for all alternatives, according to Harvey.

She stressed that creative agencies are becoming increasingly interested in how to create dyanmic creative formats that can be used programmatically, and that the guide includes tips for creatives in how they should approach programmatic campaigns (see above and below images).

Google will look to extend the report to potentially release a creative agency-specific guide further down the line, according to Harvey.

"The most relevant piece for creative agencies is ensuring your creative is built in HTML5 and that will mean it can run across any device. We have seen so far that media agencies have taken the lead when it comes to building out their programmatic strategy. But we think there is a huge opportunity for creative agencies to get involved further up the funnel too and a wealth of different targeting capabilities that come up.

"So the Playbook offers tips on how to ensure your creative is programmatic ready, the next iteration in programmatic will be leadership coming in the creative agencies – when it comes to ideas generation and creative that adapts depending on user its being served to," she added.

Last year, Google kicked off programmatic planning workshops for creative agencies and will continue to hold these on a quarterly basis, according to Harvey. These have sometimes been split into specific verticals such as auto adn retail, with brand managers also invited along to participate.

Meanwhile viewability of online ads has also been woven into the guide, with marketers given options for how to incororate viewabilility-based bidding on their campaigns (see above images).

"A lot of digital measurement is something that is still relatively new for brands. Every large brand we work with appears to be at the stage where they are really prioritising what metrics they are tracking, and how to organise their data and making it actionable. The plybook is really a call to arms to do that."

Google is not only working with brands to help them make sense of their big data but also advising on how they can organise it into an "audience centres". Harvey added that there could be more plans afoot to help brands with their data consolidation.

Meanwhile, the report also encourages brands to view programmatic as a unified audience targeting channel - rather than separateing display, video and mobeil inventory into separate channels.

"I used to work at a media agency so I know that when they are planning they can become engrossed in channels specifically for example display and may have a deep understanding of display and video – but the way we need to be thinking about it is 'what does my brand look like through eyes of my consumers'.

"So if you want to be where the consumer is, based on consumer signals they are giving off, whether it be via search or what videos they are wacthing – that will trigger a different format for each but all comes down to that individual's consumption. It should pivot towards audience buying and that is a huge priority for us and we think it should be for brand markters too, if they want to take digital to the next level," she added.

Video has long been touted as a medium which could help programmatic trading shed its reputation as being an effective channel for cheap, remnant inventory. Google has upped the ante on its own video programamtic offering, and has currently launched its Trueview ad suite into the DoubleClick bid manager stack in beta in the UK ahead of full rollout in Q3.

This will mean DoubleClick becomes a central place to buy programmatic video. Also it makes it easier for advertisers to buy all in one place, and they can later layer on data to the buy. It will also help with the trend towards unlocking more brand budget. Video is a creative opportunity and the way most brand advertisers are thinking of making the biggest impact in digital," she added.