Wining & Dining in Atlanta: A Conversation With Brands About Their Programmatic Stacks and Strategies

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2018, Digilant hosted an executive dinner panel at City Winery at Ponce City Market in Midtown Atlanta where local digital media agencies and brands gathered to listen in on and engage with a panel of digital marketing executives as they discussed all things digital media and programmatic.
After a lively session of networking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Digilant’s US Chief Executive Officer, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a panel with Senior Media Marketing Manager at Equifax, Joella Duncan, VP of Marketing and Digital Services at Marriott International, Sean Brevick, and Director of Product, Performance, and Data Strategy at Turner Broadcasting, Jonathon McKenzie.

Raquel started the evening off by emphasizing to the audience the amount of tools, technologies, platforms, and walled gardens that exist in today’s digital ecosystem, making it difficult for many digital marketers to keep up and deliver a quality customer experience. Digital media planning and buying teams can no longer afford to limit their inventory sources by running on just one DSP and programmatic campaign tactics need to be as diverse and dynamic as a brand’s customer journey. In order to remain competitive, digital marketers need to keep up to speed, making the development of an integrated digital strategy one of the most crucial tasks for any marketer in 2018.

Raquel kicked off the event by asking, which programmatic trends and developments impact their business today?

Jonathon from Turner was the first to dive into the discussion, saying that in the current state of the entertainment industry there’s so much quality content from premium publishers capable of showcasing brands to audiences and  now advertisers are really beginning to tap into it. He added that not only inventory quality is improving, but the channels on which programmatic inventory is now available are expanding to new frontiers and that helps publishers like Turner get their content distributed at the right time and place, specifically through DOOH. Sean echoed Jonathon’s response, saying that Marriott has benefitted from having less remnant inventory and that the company that manages a portfolio of nearly 30 brands is always looking for ways to thoughtfully manage their data and segment audiences.  Lastly, Joella from Equifax was excited about developments in multi-touch attribution, a longstanding practice at the credit reporting agency, but something that has recently taken center stage for many brands running omnichannel campaigns. Also, something that she thought they were going to hear more about was header bidding.  She feels like header bidding is something that we should all keep an eye on, but for now it’s something that publishers are more concerned about, wanting to monetize their sites.

What expectations do you and your brand have of their programmatic partners?

Joella was the first to respond by saying that she has extremely high expectations because of Equifax’s dedication to their fractional attribution modeling through their partner at VisualIQ, which is their source of truth. Many of their partners have built out new products and adapted to their needs.  For them, their programmatic partners need to be a tech company, invest in data science and employ forward looking employees.  They need to stay the shiny object by investing in those people, we don’t want to be the razor, we are and want to stay on the bleeding edge.  It’s then exciting that those partners can then go out and get more business with what they have built for us.  For Sean, a programmatic partner must be innovative but also have an understanding of their complex landscape.  They also have to bring brand recognition and buying power, stretch their dollars further, coming up with solutions that support their hotels and hotel owners needs.

What aspects of your digital media mix and or execution is your brand taking ownership of and why?

Our marketing teams have the dollars, started Jonathon, we develop the media strategy but the IO’s come out of the agencies. We benefit by receiving data from our agencies that come into our cloud as outbound data.  Everything’s piped back in house which is helpful, because the people at the agency and those of us at Turner aren’t within the same 4 walls every day to examine how to best leverage all data we receive.  The ownership is all held within Turner and then we execute it within the brand.  For Sean they have been using a hybrid model for a number of years.  We buy some media but our agency does it at scale.  They are focused on maintaining that model, they don’t plan to cross over into that space.  The goal is to simplify media buying for our hotels and take the burden off them so they can focus on operating and delivering exceptional guest experiences.  They know that they have experts that can manage it.  At Equifax, Joella said that they have a very close relationship with their agency.  They transact with complete transparency and because of security they own all of their contracts.  Because of the verticals that they deal with, they own the contracts, but work with their agency to develop the strategies and are at each others offices multiple times a week. She likes that the agency works with multiple clients and draws from that experience so they can help you pivot and you can rely on their network to get there.

Raquel concluded by saying it seems that the trend of a hybrid in-housing strategy is confirmed, that brands own their data and strategies, but rely on agencies for programmatic media buying execution.

How else is your company using data to influence your digital advertising spend or strategy? What kind of data are you using?

Jonathon said that at Turner Broadcasting they have all their data in-house so they can model it.  If we know you are going to watch our program we are not going to target you, but we don’t have enough of 1st party data, they use 2nd and 3rd party data to scale.  Joella, said that all their 1st party data comes from their website, people who come and convert, so they suppress those people so not to target them again, but do use the data for modeling, it’s also expensive to push data out.  They use 3rd party data to scale efficiently, and use Visual IQ to help model and spend money.  At Marriott, Sean uses data quite a bit with all the different brands, with 6000 hotels worldwide there is a lot of competing interests. Their challenge is how do we manage with that, we want to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, so they have to be thoughtful about how we talk to people.  They are dealing with a perishable experience and how do we measure and message to those people for their experience.  We need to measure at the transactional level and how do we measure that?

How are you managing digital advertising activities across search, social and programmatic? How do you make sure that you’re not bombarding users? And how siloed is your data?

There is more coordination than ever before, according to Sean, Marriott is a very complex company, but the best thing is the people.  We work together and do not compete with each other, and make sure there is knowledge shared across the groups. Joella manages to not silo her data by having all the media strategy and execution live under her, using Visual IQ to stitch it all together. At Turner, Jonathon said there is one team lead for each group, it gets Q&A’d before it goes to marketing.  We still have a siloed approach, so it’s flawed and there is no guarantee we are not targeting the same person on Facebook and outside Facebook with display.

How do you manage reporting for search, social and programmatic? Do you use the data to optimize spend?

Joella started by saying that they do set a budget at the beginning of the year, but then they look at the data everyday, so that they can move budget between channels and countries. The budgets get laid out but they are very fluid, they look at the data daily for high level results and then weekly for deep insights.  The way we move money around is not common and very smart. We’re able to take our data in such real time and make these really smart efficient decisions in that month that might not make the most sense in the next month based on where the credit market’s going. Having data at your fingertips and moving it to drive the best revenue is great.   Jonathon’s challenge is that he doesn’t know who’s going to watch, they have no idea.  They still care about buzz in the marketplace sot they still have to spray and pray to have the full brand experience.  For product it’s still very DR focused. Sean is managing 1700 individual interests and they manage those budgets like they are their own.  They are looking at their budgets on daily basis especially on a meta search basis, they don’t have large budgets, especially the cheaper hotels but have to treat them like they have large budgets.

How do you measure across digital (or offline channels)? Meaning, do you have an attribution strategy for optimization of media performance across media channels? How have you applied it?

Sean said that at Marriott they are not quite there yet, they are still focused on last click/view attribution but it is something we want to get to.  Jonathon said that it takes them 30 days to get the attribution in, it’s very tough.  Siloed attribution is garbage, attribution should come from the brand level and encompass everything.  Joella at Equifax uses Visual IQ as their partner to tag every impression that goes out, take all those touch points put it through their model and assign a attribution score, and assign true value to each of touch points.  They can see that they need to put money into display because it brings money into the funnel and can look down to the key word level, and even down to each partner’s targeting tactics – then they can forecast for the next month, to beat the goals that they have.  Use all the inputs to plan our data and budget, we found that as long as we are hitting our goals, we can use the remaining budget to test and invest in new channels, test new partners, new segments without actually having a dedicated testing budget.

Are you leveraging digital media to build personalization strategies for your consumers?

Marriott is just getting started, answered Sean, our focus has been integration.  We are just scratching the surface, big win for us has been to deliver dynamic creative.  We have to be able to deliver a specific message for a specific location, it’s evolving, through email and apps and through the channels we own and have a lot of data on.
Joella would love to use DCO, but due to legal constraints having a lot of creative is prohibitive, can’t do it on the fly, they have a more manual approach, specific banners for specific groups.  There is a conversion team that does testing on our site, find out what journeys convert best for people. They believe in it, they want to be able to have a dynamic landing page, with decisioning based on client value, know what experience they are more likely to convert on.  Jonathon would like to personalize the customer journey based on their fans, give them sneak peaks, real-time audio spots, and personalized messaging.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next events in New York May 8th, Seattle, May 22nd and Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending or speaking please reach out to us info@digilant.com.

Digilant Bolsters Digital Advertising Veteran Team With New US CEO Raquel Rosenthal

Expands executive team focused on bringing Omni-Channel Programmatic Solutions to brands and agencies

BOSTON, March 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Digilant, a global provider of programmatic ad buying solutions and services, announced it has hired Raquel Rosenthal as Chief Executive Officer of US Operations. Rosenthal will lead client and agency strategy, as well as expand the company’s capabilities and service offerings.

“The addition of Raquel to the Digilant executive team is an important step for our company, and a signal of our ongoing commitment to recruit the best and brightest professionals to the organization,” said David Rodes, CEO of ispDigital, the parent company of Digilant. “Her wealth of experience will help us to continue to deliver world-class digital media services and solutions to our clients, and she will also play vital roles in providing mentorship to staff, and growing product and data portfolio.”
An accomplished digital marketing industry executive, Rosenthal rejoins Digilant following a two-year stint at DataXu, a leading software provider for marketing professionals, where she served as Enterprise Sales Director. Between 2011 and 2016, Rosenthal held a variety of business development roles at Digilant, culminating in the Chief Revenue Office position.

Previously, she held senior jobs at AudienceScience, Belo Interactive Media, VNU Business Media, and DoubleClick. Rosenthal is a graduate of Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, where she earned a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Communications and Media Studies.

“I’m thrilled to be back at Digilant, and couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the opportunities that the company is poised to capitalize upon,” says Rosenthal. “The company’s current client roster and programmatic solutions are among the best in the business, and it’s a rock-solid foundation from which to build the next phase of development of the company.”

About Digilant

Digilant offers programmatic buying solutions and services designed for independent agencies and brands that are increasing their programmatic spending. Using data science to unlock ‘new’ automated buying strategies, Digilant enables brands to uncover proprietary and complex audience data that gives them the actionable intelligence they need to compete across every important media channel.

Digilant is an ispDigital Group Company.  For more information, visit us at www.digilant.com, read our blog or follow us on Twitter @Digilant_US.
SOURCE Digilant

Related Links

https://www.digilant.com
https://www.digilant.com/about-us/#aboutus_leadershipteam
https://www.linkedin.com/in/raquelmrosenthal/

Emotional Competence Workshop


On Tuesday March 14th, despite the heavy rain, three Digilant volunteers went to The Down Madrid Centre to assist with the Emotional Competence Workshop organized by three children from the Foundation. The kids were between 6 and 10 years old. The objective of this workshop was to learn how to identify emotions and how to deal with them. Some of the emotions they worked with were anger, sadness, fear, joy, surprise. To make it easier they went thought the workshop with the help of games and songs. The workshop ended with a relaxation exercise in which the children had to imagine themselves in a calm and tranquil place. They had to lay down with their eyes closed and control their breathing, while a companion gently passed a ball through their arms which acted as a massage.

The Digilant team was delighted and amazed at how such small children identified different situations and how they reacted responsibly and acted appropriately. Another surprise was to see how they were able to move from one feeling to another so quickly. As always, we are looking forward to the next workshop!

DC Dinner Panel Discussion: How To Fast Track to an Integrated Digital Media Strategy in 2018?

On Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, Digilant hosted a discussion and dinner at SEI D.C. in Penn Quarter.  I joined local digital media agencies and brands to hear their colleagues discuss their approach to delivering new and innovative programmatic strategies.

As programmatic technology becomes a commodity that everyone is using and has access to, it’s even more important to have integrated teams and strategies to get ahead of the competition. Today’s CMO will be delivering a single media strategy that includes search, social and programmatic. They will be partnering with agencies and businesses that can help them strategize, implement and optimize their digital media across audiences, formats, screens and inventory to most effectively deliver on business goals and objectives.

During this intimate dinner conversation, Digilant Executive Chairman, Alan Osetek, moderated a panel with Professor of Digital Strategy at Georgetown University and former SVP at Edelman, David Almacy, SVP of Media Strategy and Analytics at Discovery Communications, Seth Goren, VP of Marketing for Tegna, Meredith Conte, and Senior Digital Marketing Solutions Manager for ResonateLisa Villano.


Alan kicked off the evening by reminding everyone that Digital Media has evolved enormously over the last 5-10 years, in the sense that when agencies used to present their media plans there used to be one slide at the end of a presentation about trying some digital.  Now for many agencies, not only do they lead with digital, but it could be the whole pitch.

So his first question to the panel was, what words would they use to describe what programmatic means to them?

Seth from Discovery kicked off by saying that programmatic to him is real-time buying, addressable and algorithmic, that their strategy is audience based. For David at Georgetown University, programmatic is an opportunity to use and collect data, because if your data is not good you might miss finding the right people as well as finding new audiences that you might want to communicated with. For Lisa at Resonate, programmatic is about being able to access all types of inventory through one platform and then being able to get audience insights that they can use to make decisions from.

What are the expectations that your brand/today’s brands have of their programmatic partners?

Companies are experiencing growing pains when it comes to digital, according to Lisa, which means that you need to have specialists for all the new topics like programmatic TV, OTT and all the new ad formats, along with a subject matter expert to keep them informed.  Meredith responded that for her, in-house education can’t be underestimated, that they have in-house teams that suit all of their clients needs and they constantly need to be kept up to speed on what’s going on in the market. For Seth, programmatic expertise has become an important part of the strategy and it’s making less and less sense to ship it outside of their company.

How much of your buying strategy or media is based on walled garden platforms? What are your general thoughts on walled gardens? 

Seth jumped in to say that it’s not that walled gardens are frustrating, but that you can’t live without them. Meredith said that for her it depends on your goal; sometimes it may be 100% in Facebook, but mostly it’s about who you are going after. David said that there are tried and true approaches out there, so with video and images Facebook might work better. Platforms like Snapchat are evolving, for example teenagers are using Snapchat to mobilize together to organize a protest against guns, the fact that protests were generated on this channel and it’s becoming a language and a tool for a certain age group, the originators of Snapchat never thought their platform would be used this way.  The lesson is to be open. The platforms will evolve and you have to be open to which are the most effective tools for your brand or campaign depending on what you want to achieve. Lisa finished by saying that Resonate can now use their data on Facebook, successfully pulling data out of the walled garden to try and reach the right people, though they can’t be sure that they will convert but have to manage to a KPI to make it work. It’s an education for all their clients.

What are you using to bring your digital strategy to the next level? 

Meredith started by saying that following the customer journey is really important to them, how people are engaging and when during the day, so that they can engage people when it’s relevant to them, it’s on their roadmap to solve. Seth’s goal is to build modular creative, hundreds of creative! For him the next level is on the execution side, “my first matzo ball out there, traditional metrics are terrible predictors, likes, comments, etc. has nothing to do whether they like the show,” it comes down to tracking attribution, and weighing each touch for attribution. For Lisa geolocation tracking is really important, knowing what people are doing and where, so that we know when to reach them. Lastly for David, he wants to measure what tools are most effective and when the optimal time to use them is.

What company organization changes are moving the company forward?

Meredith answered first by saying, audience based elements. Everyone can buy programmatic media now and old economies of scale go out the window.  You also have to hire the right people who are willing to take risks. It’s a time of massive disruption, people have to want to embrace the change.  Seth said, start somewhere, solve one problem at a time, then scale slowly. For David if there isn’t someone internally to educate people about these trends, get that buy-in, so that they can educated their bosses then it’s going to fail.  Maybe there are new tools available that might work better. Test, learn, iterate, repeat… Identify best practices locally and then scale if they work.

Has anything changed on the way you hire?

EVERYTHING! said Meredith. Communication skills, you have to have them… if you are great at data and can’t explain it, that’s not going to work for us.  Data and knowledge of digital is critical. Creativity and resilience are also important, if you can’t adapt and grow you won’t make it.  According to Seth the whole game has changed, it’s all about data scientists not just digital marketers. Lisa commented that they are constantly changing process and procedure, and you have to be able to keep up with it. For David, you need to be naturally curious or naturally creative, can’t teach that.

For the last question Alan asked the panelists to talk about a problem they are trying to solve for their company.

For Lisa it’s inventory scarcity for the newer formats. If customers want to spend a million dollars on OTT and they can’t deliver that programmatically it’s a challenge.  They are packaging it into a bigger offering, the idea of having access to different omni-channel inventory through one buying platform is great, but not completely achievable yet.  David’s personal challenge is to empower women in Mexico to use technology so that they can use the same channels that men are using to get elected into government offices. For Seth 2018 is the year of automation, his goal is to eliminate email and powerpoint communication in his company in exchange for dashboards. And Meredith wants to revisit audience segmentation for local broadcasts.

It was a wonderful evening of food, drinks and programmatic conversation.  We are looking forward to the next event in Atlanta, stay tuned for details.

Facts and Figures For Programmatic Media In-Housing

In 2018, more and more media buying and marketing teams are being asked to draw up proposals and plans for taking the programmatic portion of their budgets in-house.  While the claim behind this strategy is to innovate and take control of a brand’s programmatic future, the economics might point to something besides a complete in-house strategy as the way to go.
There are also different ways of in-housing. For some brands it means setting up their own agency trading desk and using that to deal directly with demand side platforms (DSPs). For others it involves bringing on board an ad tech partner or an agency of record that will be part of setting the strategy, but also responsible for pushing all the buttons when it comes to ad buying execution.

But let’s start at the beginning, why is in-housing taking off in the first place? The short answer is that marketers came to realize that a large share of their budgets were not being used to buy ads, but to fund the 5000 companies that have become part of the ad-tech LUMAscape. While in-housing doesn’t solve for all of that undisclosed share of the budget, it does force marketers to demand a more open or transparent business model from their agency or ad-tech partners.


Recent surveys suggest that more brands are having a serious look at bringing programmatic in house. A report from Infectious Media indicates that many marketers (more than 4 out of 5) want increased control over their programmatic efforts, but fewer than 2% of respondents have actually taken the steps to make it happen. It’s no wonder why brands have been scrambling to figure out the best way to manage their programmatic budgets.

The Challenges to Bringing Programmatic In-House

So what has been the challenge for advertisers to bring programmatic in house?  We’ve narrowed it down to what we think are the four most obvious issues.

  1. PROGRAMMATIC TECHNOLOGY IS COMPLEX:
    Requires a unique skill-set, technology in-house requires an expert or multiple experts at the helm.
  2. A FRAGMENTED ECOSYSTEM:
    Unlike other forms of digital advertising such as search, the market is not dominated by a single player but instead there are endless sources of inventory, numerous DSPs, multiple programmatic models to navigate. Marketers have to string together six to eight specialized solutions to accomplish their programmatic buying goals.
  3. TALENT POOL IS RELATIVELY SMALL for programmatic experts, with most professionals based at agencies in tech hubs such as San Francisco or New York.
  4. In addition to programmatic execution, brands also need to consider factors such as PLANNING, ANALYTICS AND BRAND SAFETYMost of which are enabled by 3rd party platforms and require expertise.

With most companies only being able to afford one or two internal programmatic experts, it seems that the budget has to match the resources necessary.

Brands must be spending at least $20 million programmatically before they even consider taking programmatic in-house, in order to generate a high enough level of savings to make the transition worthwhile.

– Wayne Blodwell, CEO of The Programmatic Advisory

The Solution is a Hybrid Model

At the end of the day most marketing and media buyers want the ease and safety of a single solution for their marketing services.  As much as having more control and transparency over programmatic media buying seems more cost efficient, the required investment in talent and expertise to navigate the ecosystem should not be overlooked.

The advantages of going direct make sense; control over their own first party data, disclosed contracts and platform logins, but until larger players absorb point solutions in the ad-tech LUMAscape your budget needs to start at something like $20 million to make the investment worthwhile.  Frankly not everyone is ready to jump in at $20 Million, so for those of you who are not there yet you should consider a hybrid model where you own the contracts and data and your agency partner, like us, owns the rest, at least for the foreseeable future.

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