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The pros and cons of taking programmatic in-house: Programmatic Punch NY 2019


By Dani Gibson | Senior Writer

July 10, 2019 | 7 min read

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There are some brands which have begun to take more ownership of their data and understanding their consumers’ journeys. However, arguably media agencies still have a better view of the overall media landscape.

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The pros and cons of taking programmatic in-house: Programmatic Punch NY 2019

At The Drum’s Programmatic Punch NY, Jellyfish head of programmatic media, Mario Schiappacasse, and PayPal digital channel strategy, data and integration, Chris De Souza, debated the pros and cons of taking your programmatic data in-house.

The right time for in-house

Moving in-house is a difficult decision for any company to make and it takes bringing a couple of ingredients together to help inform that, says Schiappacasse. What is needed is a senior ‘transformational’ leader in the marketing organization that can see that vision. Someone who can impart that change, hire and build a team, have a good understanding of the ecosystem, be able to navigate this and move through what could be a pretty long and complicated project.

For PayPal, being a digital native platform with data at the heart of what it does, it was a natural next step question, adds De Souza. Internally, however, many questions had to be raised around cost efficiencies, would they have greater access or transparency, and would they be able to increase and improve strategic partnerships with their core partners?

When it comes to taking a brand in-house, it has been a real learning curve for PayPal. Four core processes were distilled; pre-planning and having the right people in the right place, working through with core agency partners to ensure that they had everything buttoned up, scaling and expanding based on strategies they worked with and lastly, agility and rapid repetition test and learn.

“We've really tried to prove and disprove hypotheses based on growth in the acquisition space,” explains De Souza.

Bringing the talent on-board

Talent is key, especially when you’re trying to build something new. The key is to look for the right individuals to complement the wider team, says De Souza.

“From our in-house team, there are lots of ex-agency people there. However, we're not necessarily looking just for ex-agency people.

“So, be it in house, ex-client people, agency people, ex-tech platform people, at PayPal, we really wanted to ensure that we had the people who are more than comfortable to take on the responsibility of hands-on platform running multi-millions worth of dollars of media.”

From an agency perspective, Schiappacasse adds that unfortunately when you do a great job, often one or two people are lost on that brand's project. “It just tends to happen. We develop a great relationship along the way and people change gears at some point.”

However, in the broader agency world, it’s an excellent pool of talent to take from with people who have a wide variety of different skill sets. “It’s also important to supplement that from other areas though,” Schiappacasse interjects.

“Ultimately, if you're in housing you're not only executing media, it's not as simple as that. You're going through change management; you're going to have a lot of problem solving and innovation to face. Looking for folks that have that kind of background. Strong problems solvers. Folks with a little bit more technical background potentially from an ad tech company. Things like that can really supplement and build a more cohesive group.”

Leading the front line

If in-housing is going to happen, you really need someone with a strong point of view who wants to make it work. Talking tactical standpoints, that leader needs to be the preacher for programmatic in house, says De Souza.

You need to select the partners that you're going to work with, if you're leading the organizational change at a brand, adds Schiappacasse.

“That's not just technology, it could be a number of different, technology platforms, measurement platforms, verification, all of these components that we talk about. In addition, you do need to think about service partners. It's not binary. It's not, one day you go from an agency, the next day you go to doing everything in-house. That’s a three-to-12-month period where you will need some form of support.”

What Jellyfish has done is build that in as an organic function of the process - supplementing the execution and operational aspects of what they do along with the functional features.

He adds: “The classroom-style training, as well as on location training. We'll embed our teams in with a brand to help them make this transition.”

Legal barriers

Can moving in-house be done seamlessly? When it comes down to the legal issues, not really. For PayPal, it’s been a nightmare, says De Souza.

“Just because of how tightly governed we are about our first-party data, there's a lot of hoops we had to jump through just to ensure that third-party vendors, even if they join us as an alternative workforce, as a contractor etc, won't have access to our first-party data.

This was one of the core catalysts which helped them realize where they wanted to be with their programmatic activity. “We had to start doing it in-house because we can't unlock those keys to anyone. It was a moment that allowed us to move forward, really get the right tools and people in place internally.”

Jellyfish has offices all over the world from London to Dubai and Boston to Hong Kong. There are plenty of legal hoops to jump through like GDPR and The California Consumer Privacy Act.

Schiappacasse explains that Jellyfish has to be capable of operating any market where they or their client's desire to have a presence. “A lot of that does come down to having a strong understanding of the measurement capabilities and different markets policy and legal ramifications, things like that.

“Ultimately it's our responsibility to help coach and guide on some of that, but we're not the decision maker for a brand in how they're going to control, collect and manipulate data.

Programmatic Punch New York took place on June 6. If you missed out on this event, our UK variant will take place this December, find out more information here. Or, join us in New York for Programmatic Punch US 2020.

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