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.

A Media Buyers Lunch Conversation About Breaking Media Silos in Kansas City

On Tuesday, November 14, Digilant hosted a discussion and lunch at Stock Hill KC on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.  I joined local digital media agencies and brands to hear their colleagues discuss their approach to integrated planning and media silos.

During this intimate lunch conversation Raquel Rosenthal, CRO at Digilant U.S. moderated the conversation with Claire Bishop, VP of Marketing and Engagement at Children International, Lucas Cobb, VP of Integrated Planning at MMGY Global, and Pam Williams, Director of Media and Client Services at Rhycom.

Raquel kicked off the lunch discussion by addressing the following question to Claire: How are you managing – or planning to manage – digital advertising activities across search, social and programmatic? Are you merging the tactics or do they remain siloed activities? 
In 2010 there were 150 ad technologies out there and now there are 5,000+, so what does that mean for our industry?  It has created silos of data and silos in organizations with all the different channels like email, CRM, and search so what does that mean for the customer experience and journey?


Claire said that at Children’s International the reality is that search, social and display are all managed by external partners and that her and her team have to work at making sure that all of the channels are integrated with everything else and one another. They are definitely working hard to make sure that they leverage everything that they know to drive more effective marketing campaigns with the agencies and each other. Still there are many things that we have to solve for in order to effectively discern the impact that each of these channels have. Children’s International does a lot of direct mail and promos during the holidays and are looking for these tactics to work in combination with email and CRM points of integration along the spectrum of their marketing. All in all Claire finds this exciting grounds to cover for her brand.

Raquel also asked if Claire is looking at personalization along the customer journey?

There general answer is yes, for them with 350 thousand continuity givers talking to them through all the various channels, being able to speak to them personally is very important. And they need to understand where does personalization pay and what’s its the impact.

Pam, a question for you, How is Rhycom is managing the customer journey with all the different channels that are now available for marketers?

Pam’s response was that the customer journey is so fragmented and you need to be nimble and relevant.  So how do you do that we when attention spans are so short and dispersed? You need to know your client, what they are looking, likes, dislikes and demographics so that you can segment effectively and then map back to the customer journey. Measurement is really important to us, we now know what is working, our job is to educate the clients on perceived failures and transition that into the next campaign.

Claire chimed in by saying that you have the ability to be responsive by having automation in place, thus creating your own journey and adventure. Marketers also have to have a system to smartly asses those signals in order to take advantage of the information coming back in – the landscape has widened for us.

The customer is demanding the experience that they want and we have to be careful about what we give them, Raquel concluded.

Lucas, what are the expectations that your brands have of programmatic marketing? 

People expect that the programmatic marketing will be smarter than the people who do it, responded Lucas.  Not every partner is going to have the same ability to reach every individual. Agencies needs to understand how the partner will fit into the customer’s marketing ecosystem. Paid search has been our closer for years, but there are new opportunities with other technologies to close that loop.

So Lucas, what new channels have you explored in digital in 2017 beyond display, native and video? And what new channels or formats do you plan to try in 2018, for example: OTT, TV, Radio or new platforms like Amazon?

I have tried them all, he said – channels like TV, radio and outdoor.  Using the data to drive the decisions in every channel and making sure they use the right partner that can get there.  There is now an average of eight devices per household, knowing that TV is still very important also knowing at the same time that what you put on their devices is equally as important. And it takes data to drive that connection.

Pam also added that it will be exciting to see what will happen with programmatic Out of Home and the impact on media planning.

So how have you been distributing your budget between search, social and programmatic?

For Lucas there is no ratio for every client that works but on average, 70% is probably programmatic.
For Claire the average split is 10% for search 10% for social and at least 30 for programmatic because of all the channels in programmatic is more expensive because there are so many more opportunities like native and video as well as reach even with target audiences.

Where does programmatic fit in your consumer lifecycle? are you planning to use programmatic within your overall campaign strategies?

For MMGY global, programmatic is everywhere in their campaign strategies, it helps them find new people but also exclude people that they don’t want to reach. It has also become a top of the funnel tactic, where in the past programmatic was only used for bottom funnel.

For Children’s International programmatic helps them reduce waste.  By that Claire means that digital advertising introduces reams of data, so they need help to reduce the waste of just putting spend out there in the impressions we are serving, doesn’t just have to be at the bottom the funnel, it just needs to be the opportune time to capture that moment. Programmatic can be central in guiding the decision when, where and to serve the message to throughout the customer journey.

We hear a lot about “always-on” digital marketing strategies, across social, search, etc. What are your thoughts about having an always on programmatic campaign and why?

We should absolutely have an always on programmatic strategy – engagement and exposure to digital media is constant, answered Claire.  In the past advertising was restricted to a certain time when you were at home watching TV or at work on the computer. Now exposure is across the board, people don’t even realize they are being exposed.  For us the problem is there is a lot of waste of exposing people when it’s not relevant to them.  At this time of year, the mindset of donating and giving is popping up all over the place, Children’s International has to be there, when people are ready to give a donation or gift or we are missing the opportunity. The world made up of individuals with different experiences, we have to be present when people are ready to raise their hands.

Lucas, can you give us an example of how you have put programmatic data into action? 

 Programmatic data for us has been more about who we are trying to reach and what do we know about them? We know a lot about the brands that we work with and who their audiences are and with programmatic we can find the people we know we want to reach.  Our programmatic partner needs to make that data work harder, that piece of that programmatic model is what we really need.

So another question then, if data is so important; how do you police your partners to make sure they are using the data the right way?

You can’t, but throwing your data into a black hole won’t do you any good.  We put walls around our data, we don’t share PII with clients, partners – so the protections are in place. You also make sure that we choose the right partners.

Claire also answered this question by saying that she needs smarter people than herself to apply that data, our data is out there everyone has it. Data security is a huge concern and we have folks that are committed to handling data, passing it through without PII and other ways that are really important. I agree with Lucas that it’s important to cement reputable partners, use your judgment and experience and relationships with people you can hold accountable.

Claire, one last question, given this years’​ YouTube controversy and the constant battle against ad fraud, ​ what has been your brand or agency’s POV and or approach?

Working with non-profit we stand for credibility, transparency and trust, in today’s climate, pairing those three things with programmatic is tricky. We want to show our ads in opportune and also safe places, not all those scary places that you can go on the web.  Something you have to think about, like what we said earlier about data partners, who are my partners and can I hold them accountable.
The landscape has really changed, to get sales up we have to be on the right pages. Ask your partners what are they doing to handle viewablity and fraud, ask the hard questions.
Lucas chimed in to say that he hates that they have to use fraud monitoring 3rd parties, why are we paying for that and why is there no repercussion for those committing the fraud? Buy side is delivering it and paying for it.  Publishers and SSPs are making money off fraud.  Claire wrapped up the discussion by saying that advertisers have to stand up for themselves when it comes to fraud and address it in a meaningful way.
A lot of content for an hour of conversation, but the panelists did a good job keeping up with Raquel’s questions and Digilant appreciated their time and thoughtful answers in what turned out to be an inspiring afternoon.

Cocktails & Conversation with Marketing Executives: What is the Future of Programmatic Media Buying?

With programmatic spending expected to reach new highs in 2017, advertisers now more than ever before need to leverage their data and their digital media dollars for optimal results. This leads to an important discussion marketers are having around the growing demand for programmatic solutions and how they need to be more proprietary to their market or brands.

On Tuesday, Digilant held their 6th event covering the topic of ‘Why 2017 Is Going to be The Year of Custom Programmatic Marketing.Digilant’s Global CEO, Alan Osetek, alongside panelists Cynthia Austin Smith, Head of Global Digital Marketing at Bose, Beth Ringer, Director of Media at CVS Health, and Tom Hubbard, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Kaspersky Lab, sat together for 50 minutes to discuss the reasons.
Boston Programmatic Panel

The evening was kicked off by Alan asking everyone to define the word Programmatic.  Tom from Kaspersky Lab was the first to respond by saying that to him “Programmatic is the automation of marketing activities from humans to machines.”  Cynthia, from Bose defined it as the ability to leverage data insights and ultimately be a smarter marketer.  She buys many types of programmatic media, including email, direct mail audio, and said “it’s a way to buy media.

Then Alan kicked off the questions by asking Beth, “how does CVS Health use programmatic buying to reach their consumer?” The response was that CVS Health approaches DSP buying in a couple of different ways.  First, having always on campaigns.  The majority of their digital media buying is focused on campaigns with one campaign goal that combines all the channels, including search, social as well as programmatic.  Cynthia at Bose follows a similar strategy with two or three always on campaigns running in market, as well as leveraging their programmatic data to feed other digital media channels like search.

At Kaspersky Lab, all the digital media buying is centralized though one in-house team.  One pool of money with one target, same ROI and a team that works together.  With the idea that by using one tool they could more easily make budgeting decisions and move money between channels and their results have proved that centralizing their DSP buying was the right decision for them.

Next they moved onto the subject of marketing personalization.  Alan asked them how they see programmatic and the idea of personalization or customization coming together?  Cynthia from Bose was the first to respond by saying that “they try to make everything they do at Bose more personalized.”  The digital marketing industry is getting to a place where we can leverage data to understand where customers are, through all their touch points, so that we can personalize their customer journey.

Beth said that CVS Health has been trying really hard to achieve the goal of making it about one customer at a time.  But since they are a large corporation, the data lives in different places and it’s hard to put all the pieces together.  So far, where they have seen success is with the extra care reward card because all the ads and offers are based on that person’s data.

Tom at Kaspersky Lab said that form him “programmatic is a means to personalization.”  One of his challenges is that they have a low engagement product since their consumers essentially buy a contract.  Their challenge is to find the right cadence of offers so that they are not showing you an ad at a time you are not ready to buy.  This is how they are using programmatic data, to find the right moment to get you to buy.  The purchase process is measured in hours so it’s important not to annoy your prospect but to get in front of them at the right moment when they’ve decided to purchase.

Next the panelists were asked “what programmatic trends and developments they feel have had an impact on their business today, versus those that are on the horizon?”

Cynthia from Bose said that you have to be really smart about how you use your programmatic data so that you can leverage it for things like: understanding the consumer’s intent, finding people that look like your consumers, real-time messaging and figuring out if that’s even the right consumer to go after? As for the future, she sees bringing programmatic up the funnel and trying new channels like audio.
For CVS Health, Beth said that programmatic has become one of the major marketing channels with the same expectation to drive in-store sales.  “It’s great for lookalikes, rather than finding the same people again and again we can also find new ones.”

Tom from Kaspersky Lab is looking forward to programmatic moving towards commoditization, where everyone can buy the same inventory.  “In the future the advantage will be the data layer, using first party data will give you that leg up over your competitor.”  He also said that everyone is on the same path but on a different point of it in different countries.  Being international they have the ability to run advanced tactics in certain countries and get ahead where their competitors lag.

“So beyond lookalike how are you using first party data to make your media smarter,” Alan continued.
networking“Well, for us,” Tom said, “there are three ways to become a customer: direct buy, trial, or freemium product.  The problem for us is trying to predict to which of these you will respond to.  Media efficiency will be better for us when we know which message you will likely respond to and buy from.  Our goal is to make strides on different types of messages so that we can crack the purchase type using our data.”

At CVS Health they are lucky to have a 20-year-old loyalty program with 80 million extra care members that they can tap into.  Beth said that they just started going outside that audience to not just drive incremental sales and actually look at non-customers.  They are using data to unlock new customers.

Lastly, Alan asked the panelists their thoughts on Brand Safety and what they were doing in their respective companies, on top of using third party verification partners like Integral Ad Science ?
Beth said that at CVS Health they have what they call a Disney filter and that they are super strict about it.  They are vigilant about their blacklists and YouTube is working really hard to get their money back!  Both Tom and Cynthia talked about private marketplace deals and knowing more about the inventory you are buying as being very important to them.

Overall it was a very good discussion that could have gone for longer, but we promised our panelists that they could have a sit-down dinner.  As a marketer I gained a lot of insights into different areas of programmatic and am excited for what the future will bring.

Like what you see? Join the 500+ clients that have partnered with Digilant.