The Three Ts marketers need to operate in today's programmatic environment

By now most marketers know they need to give programmatic ad buying careful consideration. Research from eMarketer predicts 50 per cent growth in programmatic ad spending in 2015, reaching nearly $15bn. The field is growing rapidly, but the process can still be overwhelming.

To operate successfully in the programmatic space, a marketer must understand the three Ts: technology, trading, and transparency. A full understanding of these three factors of programmatic ad buying will provide them with a competitive advantage over their competitors.

Technology

Technology is the heart of programmatic ad buying, and for technology to match with a brand’s goals it requires a sophisticated set of tools and customization. The right programmatic software brings together raw data with the tools to analyze and translate that data into predictions and recommendations for maximum efficiency and performance.

Some of the tools marketers and agencies should look for include:

- A simple interface that enables unlimited access to all marketplaces from one place. This helps avoid redundant and error-prone data entry.

- A Data Management Platform that ingests and houses impression-level data, first- and third-party data and additional data from pixels across dozens of bidding technologies and marketplaces to serve optimization recommendations.

- A platform that enables custom integrations with Demand-Side Platforms to work around any of their limitations for enhancements at a client level, such as universal frequency capping and real-time data feeds.

- A bidder to listen for fluctuations in pricing trends, site traffic and availability across supply sources while also verifying other bidder activity.

- Access to data models created by historical data from previously traded campaigns and other types of markets such as financial and commodities.

- A recommendation engine that uses algorithms to analyze the highest and lowest performing segments, powered by aforementioned data models to advise creative and trading executions for maximum performance.

Trading

With the right technology, a marketer can buy a seat on a bidder, plug in budgets and CPMs, and run campaigns to find target audiences. However, to optimize campaigns, marketers must have an extensive knowledge of the programmatic landscape.

Maintaining best practices around pricing, bidding strategy, and trading depends on constant evaluation and testing of solutions across the programmatic ecosystem. Marketers must have an understanding of the different programmatic partners, what they do, and how they work together. With this knowledge they can then decide which solutions make the most sense for their campaigns.

By limiting themselves to one partner, such as a DSP, some marketers limit their potential. It’s wiser to work across multiple bidders, channels, and inventory sources to gain greater access to data from all of these parties. This wealth of data provides the insights needed to understand what is working, what could work better, and how to change the trading strategy to improve results.

Transparency

After gaining access to the right technology and perfecting a trading strategy, marketers must understand where, when, and how their advertising money is being spent. Transparency is a growing concern, as costs associated with partner fees and technology solutions aren’t always explained upfront.

The high prevalence of fragmentation and duplication in the ad space results in additional costs for marketers. Transparency can help minimize these costs by exposing the fees and pricing across all ad-tech vendors on a per-impression basis. Marketers should have access into every single option and piece of data associated with a campaign, alongside reports and dashboards for at-a-glance views into trends and performance.

With a holistic view of the different touch points of a programmatic transaction -- including who is adding value at each point -- marketers will be able to understand their return on investment for every type of campaign.

To take full advantage of the benefits of programmatic ad buying, markers must have a clear understanding of the overall programmatic process and ecosystem. Knowing the ins and outs of the 3Ts is essential for programmatic success.

Jim Caruso is the vice president of product strategy at Varick Media Management

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