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.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Why Marketers Are Talking About Attribution?

Digital media buyers started using attribution measurement as a way to understand which aspects of their programmatic, social and search campaigns are contributing the most to campaign performance and/ or lead generation. In digital advertising, attribution measurement can now be done at a user-specific level, what this means is the that most ad-tech platforms apply technology in order to assign a consistent user identifier across all advertising related events. This is opposed to traditional digital media performance analysis, where ROI is generally calculated per user event or group of users because there is no consistent user identifier available.

Attribution Defined

Attribution is defined by a couple of different things.  First, it’s the cause or the origin of an event like a conversion or a download.  Second, how much of a customer’s decision can be attributed from exposure to an ad on a certain channel? For example, Jessica bought a pair of shoes because she downloaded a coupon from a specific publisher’s page.

Multi-touch attribution quantifies the influence each advertising impression has on a consumer’s decision to convert by assigning a credit value to each touchpoint.  For example Jessica bought her shoes after visiting the retailer’s website several times and then downloading the coupon. Each marketing touchpoint gets x% credit or attribution towards the sale of the shoes.

So Why do Marketers Find Attribution Critical to Their Marketing Efforts?

Today’s Internet users are no longer browsing on a single device but switch from laptops to tablets to desktops to phones and, depending on the device, also interact with different browsers. Another attribution complexity is that users are no longer stuck in a single marketing channel— but are regularly exposed to TV ads, emails, Facebook ads, radio and more. In order for marketers to address a multi-device and multi-channel world they need attribution measurement.  Through attribution they can look at users through the lens of the least common denominator—the person, the individual engaging with a brand across all channels, devices and browsers.

Other reasons cited by marketers according to AdRoll’s Annual State of MarTech Industry Report included a “full-funnel approach” that can help brands better assess where a user is in the customer journey and what event led to their conversion. The survey revealed that marketers in 2016 allocated 72% of their budgets to prospecting for new customers, with the most successful channel being paid-for social media according to half of the participants.  32% of the 1,000 US-based marketers surveyed said programmatic display ads were the most effective channel for them.

If you’re not measuring the impact of your marketing efforts—especially in today’s world of fragmented devices and touch points—you are likely missing out on ROI opportunities and wasting spend on channels, strategies and audiences that aren’t performing well. Plus, getting attribution right helps you maximize your learnings to make better business decisions over time. This guide will provide an overview of the what, why and how of attribution in today’s marketing landscape.

Using Attribution Models is Next Step in the Programmatic Media Buying Evolution

An important next step in the evolution of programmatic media buying for marketers, is to improve algorithms based on attribution models. Attribution models can and should be used to improve programmatic media advertising algorithms.

Using an attribution model, the behavior of individual customers can be tracked both cross-platform and cross-device.   Individual purchase paths across the customer journey can be observed and used to continuously improve the programmatic media buying algorithm.  Using an attribution model marketers can collect more customer data and then they can show relevant ads in ever better places at ever better times.
When attribution models are used to inform programmatic algorithms, marketers gain a more realistic view of ad effectiveness. Plus, with full transparency they can decide how much more relevant it was.

Tips for Moving to Multi-Touch Attribution

Make no mistake—multi-touch attribution requires an investment in cost, time and expertise. However, you can take steps toward shifting your marketing organization’s mindset about attribution.

  1. Run a data assessment. The results of any attribution exercise are only as useful as the data is accurate, completed and connected across silos.
  2. The attribution model and product you use should allow you to make ad buying decisions by using the variables that are influential in your conversion goals.
  3. Have internal meetings to help qualify budget, anticipated goals and expected ROI, infrastructural and technological elements to consider and how multiple systems might need to hook together.
  4. Choose the right data matching partners, which often comes down to the best match for the type of CRM data (email vs phone numbers, for example) and best practices around data hygiene, including ongoing data cleansing. The more conversion data you have to look at, the fuller the picture of attribution across channels and online-to-in-store sales.
  5. Prepare to activate and optimize in media. The attribution model and product you use should allow you to decision on the variables that are influential in your conversion goals. Some technology companies offer real-time integration with multi-touch attribution vendors that makes this process simpler and faster to execute on in media.
  6. Rely on your technology partners, like Digilant, for support in implementing the right solution.

 

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