A Dinner Conversation in NYC About Digital & Programmatic Advertising Trends

On Tuesday, May 8th we hosted dinner and conversation at 230 Fifth Rooftop in Manhattan.  Digilant‘s Executive Chairman, Alan Osetek moderated an intimate dinner discussion on the next evolution in integrated digital marketing solutions with digital experts:

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.

Alan kicked off the event conversation by asking: What industry buzzwords or shifts do you think will impact digital marketing this year?

Chris from Underscore was the first to respond by saying that he went to SXSW in Austin this year and that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the number one thing they were talking about.  Other topics were automation of data and predicting what that’s going to look like.  From a data perspective that’s what people are interested in, using data to predict how campaigns will perform is going to be key. Lauren at eMarketer agreed that AI is definitely big as well as the focus on machine learning and analytics for understanding customers and what that will look like. Other topics that will be important are transparency, GDPR, Customer Data Platforms, voice search and what that means for advertisers.  Rob from Venbrook responded that from an insurance standpoint the industry is slow to move. The cutting edge people are having a field day with concepts like AI and other big buzzy words.  Not a lot is happening in terms of the insurance space yet but in his opinion, if you are a B2C broker then you start looking for a job because you will be replaced by a robot.  Alan summed up by saying that just like mobile, we were constantly hearing that this was the year of mobile, AI will probably take some time to really develop and there still a lot of value in people pulling the levers, but it will be interesting to see how long it will take to effect our day to day.

What consequences do think these shifts have had on the marketing organizations and the way they are structured or the type of people they need to hire?

When it comes to GDPR, companies are preparing as best they can, Lauren said, people are looking to external parties to help understand what the regulations actually mean for them, most people are starting off with looking into the privacy policy and consent piece, before trying to understand the data part, how do both those things work and connect together.

Are companies taking steps for connections to happen internally or is it the agency or the brand doing it for themselves?

Lauren continued by saying that brands are working in tandem with their agency or tech partners, they have to be responsible to the consumer.  In order to do that they have to convey the message as best they can. Publishers are also being thoughtful about their technology partnerships, because they have an even bigger responsibility to be very clear to the consumer.According to Rob, the horse has left the barn, big data has gotten away from us.  As a result I think we will see a shift back to the largest publishers controlling their data… like they did 20 years or so ago. Back then advertising was controlled by publishers. When advertising was more publisher driven, publishers had the advertiser relationships and would do the data analysis work themselves and then not share this audience data with anyone. An example is with big brands like the New York Times. I believe they will focus less on “mass marketing” and more on customer engagement. The Internet at its best is a one on one medium, not a mass medium. I think there will be greater attention paid to inbound strategies akin to Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 true fans” concept. Do big brands like the NY Times want to make an extra dollar on a CPM or do they want to sell something for a $100 to 1 million people? They don’t need to go to a third party to have the relationship that they want to with their consumers.

Do you think more companies are going to be investing in marketing attribution platforms and strategies and why yes or not?

So how do we collect the data? Chris responded.  Instead of attribution, we should be asking, how is your marketing working for you.  We can’t just look at a specific channel, otherwise attribution is something people are always going to chase. I have not run into someone that has a model I believe in.  Lauren agreed with that response.  Attribution is an understanding of the health of your org, whether it’s loyalty or sales, it has to a top level business moving KPI.  I am more and more convinced that the biggest challenge for attribution is not technology but the organization, how people are compensated and ultimately how they work together that’s holding up the process.
So, how do you do it? Alan asked.  Lauren continued, it’s a culture shift, you need people at the company who are advocates of attribution and collaboration, it starts at the top level of the organization and moves down.

Someone in the audience asked, what do you think the impact of the announcement that Google just made, about no longer being able to export DoubleClick IDs, will have on attribution?

Alan responded by saying that you should think about the other big networks like Facebook and Amazon who are closed, Google in comparison was more open. This move makes Google more like the other players while it also helps them be covered for privacy laws. If you are using a true third party attribution solution like Visual IQ it’s not going to affect you, but if you are only on the Google stack it’s going to be harder.
Chris also chimed in by saying that if you are not talking to the top level of the organization, then there is no point in trying to talk about attribution, as in the lower parts of the org they are not going to be able or want to share the data you need to make the attribution possible. Companies that have Chief digital Officers, a new role that teaches organizations about digital, have more chances to make attribution successful.  Also, today we have moved further along, where more CMOs are digitally savvy, makes it easier to implement attribution.

Shifting topics, Do you think CMOs should be thinking about bringing programmatic in-house and why?

I have been at an ad agency my whole career, started Chris, you can make it work but the talent will get stagnant.  My experience is that you need to work on different things to make your career and company grow.  The challenge is to find the same quality of talent in-house, that you would get at an agency that has a variety of projects and talent.  I’ve thought about it for myself, if I moved to the brand side I would be doing the same thing in 5 years, not able to improve or grow.  Lauren added that she is hearing a lot about in-housing but what’s really behind the momentum might be the impression of cost savings but in reality it’s the data question.  As more people use first party data there are implications of where you put that data. Thinking of a lot about the guaranteed buys, premium video, you don’t want to put your data on open market.  The strategic piece is an edge a lot agencies have because they are in the marketplace and have access to all the best inventory even, if the buying does move in-house.
Chris added that it also comes down to the kind of talent you have, you are never going to be as cheap as the big guys, but we are going to be better, because it’s not a 22 year old running the business.  Clients are investing in data and insights but not doing it alone, with the agency providing all our media data, they can apply it to the data on their side, letting them see a complete picture.  In the past client and agency data were two separate data silos so they couldn’t put the picture together.  The biggest shifts for agencies was to actually share their data to keep their clients from wanting to leave them.

Alan also added the at Digilant we noticed that people who are ramping up on our self-service platform nine out of ten times they don’t manage their actual campaigns and still need help to read and look at the data.  On the other extreme companies are starting to hire data scientists who are experts at reading data.  There is nothing really in the middle, you have to share the data.  It’s a partnership, the technology and the agency are an extension of the brand. Brands are more willing to pay for data analyst than media buyers, according to Chris, even though the young people have no idea what they are doing, companies don’t see the immediate value of media buying experience. In the immediate future, brands want us to do the work and be pro-active on supporting them and telling them next steps, concluded Alan.

How are you defining transparency within your organization?

Transparency has been a huge battle for me internally for the last three years, said Chris.  We are opening up the books now, data doesn’t lie and actually the opposite, it helps create a trust. It also puts other agencies on the spot if they don’t share their data with their clients. For Lauren there are several definitions for transparency, like tech tax, who is getting what cut, it’s a cool concept but for most companies if they actually had that data they wouldn’t know what to do with it. Most companies don’t have the right people who know what reporting should even look like.  There are a lot of layers to it, but overall the vast majority, if they were given the info wouldn’t know what to do with it.  For Rob there are two types of companies, ones who say they care about transparency but do nothing about it and others who are actually doing something.

As a last question Alan asked, what can marketers be doing with their display creative to enhance their media buys?

Chris said that cost is the number one challenge, our company doesn’t do creative, so how do you produce eight sets of banners, it’s too expensive. Creative makes the most sense to bring in-house, so that you get the ability to tell them what to do and don’t have to invest more money, that’s going to be the biggest challenge – taking a chance on a campaign though one creative.  Lauren added that the sheer production of all the assets, and then the strategy is cumbersome, on top of what data am I using to power the campaign.   For some it’s a legal thing, how do you get it all approved? For others, without understanding of the customer journey it becomes a gamble.  Rob finished by saying that he agrees with Lauren and Chris,  the customer segmentation process can be the holy grail or a nightmare, having an in-house creative team is a great idea and there are tons of creative people out there who want jobs.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next events in Seattle, June 5th, and Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending or speaking please reach out to us info@digilant.com.

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.

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