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Infrastructure anchors effective programmatic media buying

Infrastructure anchors effective programmatic media buying
Nigel Gilbert, Vice President Sales, EMEA, AppNexus, gives his take on the need for clarity and transparency when making use of programmatic

The case for programmatic has been made repeatedly and convincingly – media companies are now increasingly aware that a revolution in media buying has arrived.

Given that the huge value programmatic can offer is widely accepted, it is perhaps surprising that many in the industry are still vague on how exactly programmatic works.

After all, if something is able to deliver huge value, it should be worth learning about, right?

In part, the lack of clarity around programmatic can be explained by the complex chain of parties involved in executing certain types of activity.

A ‘black box’ approach, in which companies simply entrust buying decisions to be taken by third parties, isn’t sufficiently accountable and is actually preventing media agencies and brands understanding the processes involved.

For programmatic to fulfill its enormous potential, it’s time to reconsider what is expected from programmatic technology providers.

Businesses can act as infrastructure providers, or deliver features or services. The problem with many programmatic technology providers is that they blur the line between all of these.

The seductive appeal of a technology provider offering to do it all is understandable.

There’s at least a superficial appeal in tech providers offering not only the infrastructure to execute media buys, but also taking the pesky decision-making process off your hands as well.

It’s one less job, as you sit back safe in the knowledge that your media buying is being taken care of and executed to your optimum benefit.

The problem with this line of thinking is it ignores the fact that many technology providers are often themselves media companies, reliant on media for a huge proportion of their income.

Media agencies should be wary of space bought more for the profit it offers the company executing the buying than the return for the brand being advertised.

Just as British Airways wouldn’t use a Virgin booking system – allowing Virgin to collect its data – media buyers should be hesitant to engage in a partnership in which there is a clear risk of conflict of interest.

The solution lies in empowering media buyers to do their own decision-making. Technology providers should focus chiefly on infrastructure, on equipping media agencies with the tools, to ensure they have a reliable, efficient connection and can make informed buying decisions based on the insights and targets they have generated themselves.

Technology companies should be chiefly concerned with uptime, connectivity and ensuring they have provided a clear, intuitive dashboard – the actual buying decisions should be outside of their remit.

This will not only ensure agencies are provided with a full picture of how their media buying is working for them, but will allow for insights to be incorporated more readily into future strategy.

Programmatic’s full potential can be realised by technology providers driving clarity and transparency.

Nigel Gilbert is Vice President Sales, EMEA, AppNexus. Follow him on Twitter

Check out Nigel's slideshow that accompanied his Agile Media talk

Learn more about IPA President Ian Priest's ADAPT agenda here

Last updated 15/05/2014

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