Q&A: Panel: Programmatic on trial

| 13 Aug, 2015

Digital Journeys 2015 was host to a fantastic panel of industry experts discussing the benefits of Programmatic Display.

The panel was hosted by Jellyfish's Greg Roberts and made up of Programmatic Account Director from Mail Online; Alanna Tyminski, Head of Display & RTB at Jellyfish; James Bourner and Gawain Owen, Digital Lead for Nestle UK and Ireland.


"James: So I'm James Bourner. I'm Head of Display for Jellyfish. So I'm the local here, I suppose, in one sense. But I head up all of our display in the U.S, U.K, globally. But the thing that we do is we put programmatic first, so we're a programmatic-first display company. And that's me in a nutshell, really.

Alanna: Hi, I'm Alanna Tyminski. I work at the MailOnline, and I look after a number of programmatic account managers that rep all the main agency trading desks, all in the U.K.

Gawain: Good afternoon, my name's Gawain Owen. I'm the Head of Digital at Nestlé U.K. and Ireland. My role is to work with our brand managers on a day-to-day basis, putting the foundations in place for digital, and then on an elevator role, really looking at programmatic and how it fits into our business, drive market share, and eliminate waste.

What is Programmatic Display?

Greg: Great, thanks. So can I just have a quick show of hands? Who in the room is actually currently running or has done a programmatic display campaign? So hardly any of you. Okay, so I guess that kind of shows how new the technology is and what the uptake's been like, and obviously, hopefully, it will increase. But I think a really good question to start is to strip it right back, and if you could each just tell the audience, what is programmatic? And without using the dictionary definition, I guess. James, do you want to start?

James: Yeah, sure, happy to. It's difficult. Anybody who knows me knows that I struggle for it to be concise at the best of times, and trying to describe what is really a whole technology. It's the replacement for the advertising ecosystem. As like the nervous system, it's very difficult to put into a few words, but really, it's our ability to select what we want to buy on your behalf. So I'm the media buyer, effectively. So it's our ability to a decision and buy exactly what we want for advertisers' campaigns. It's our ability to merge data, whether that's for a lot of people, whether that's for publishers ourselves, whether that's for your own CRM systems or your own site data or context, and merge that together to deliver a superb campaign, which goes across screen and across formats as well. So that's it in a nutshell for me, I think. Then in five minutes time, I'll have a whole heap of other things that I'd like to define programmatic as.

Alanna: I think, from a publisher perspective, what programmatic's actually done, is allowed to utilise our data basically at least so that we can give that out to our advertisers, so that we can deliver them the right audience base at the right time and probably within the right context. And as Gawain has already mentioned, it does minimise wastage. When you're running a direct campaign, especially across displays, it's like, "Here's a chunk of money," and we're just going to run it across our site. And if you pick up the right audience then you're quite lucky. But what programmatic allows you to do is make sure that every impression you're delivering is going in front of the right person.

Gawain: I think they both sounded up exceptionally well. It's bringing very good technology with super smart individuals, apart from James, who's just average. No. No. Bringing super smart people within James's team and across. And it's using data and using media to really drive efficiency. And I always use the word "eliminating waste." But at the end of the day, we've got a lady here from SMA baby products. She doesn't want her advertisers, 65, a few old men. They're not in a market for a baby. So we just eliminate those people from our media buying, and it just generates a fantastic result.

James: Yeah, it does. And this is the one thing, because programmatic, I mean I agree with Darragh. We're in it now. We're well in it. And maybe you don't know that we are, that your agency may be running campaigns programmatically for you without your total knowledge. That's a good thing. But the one thing that we've overlooked is we've always talked about positive targeting, but Gawain's right. Eliminating waste is super important. One of my bugbears with the industry, particularly, I'm a digital boy, always have been. I'm first and foremost. But we don't always take learning's from the other parts of advertising and marketing. And if you look out our direct mail cousins, how brilliant they are with lists and suppression of making sure they don't advertise to people that they already know. Programmatic allows us to do that as well. So we can look at your customer base. We can recognise them, change a message if we need to tell them something, or keep those acquisition-focused advertisements away from them, which means that we've become more efficient. That's wonderful thing in itself. There's a reason to do it. Everything could be done there. That's it, yeah. That's good.

Dolce Gusto Case Study

Greg: Great, thanks, James. And I think it would be really good for the audience to understand if you take, for example, the Dolce Gusto campaign Gawain, how the three of you worked together on that campaign to get success.

Gawain: So I'll start. So I'm Nestlé. I've got this pot of money. I want to acquire customers for the Dolce Gusto coffee machine. We have a very particular audience segmentation. We know who we want to go after. We know that we sell 80% of the machines in the last quarter of the year. So we decided to really break the rule books, and I said, "Okay, let's actually buy this programmatically. Just like the Kellogg's example, let's optimise the viewability. At the end of the day, we can't drive market share if our adverts aren't seen, so let's actually use that smart technology, using the data to bring new customers into our website." And ultimately, I'll be honest with you. It's cheaper to buy machines on Amazon than our website. So please don't buy Dolce Gusto on our website. Go and buy it on Amazon. So this is all about awareness. We're not interested in actually selling the machines. We're interested them and then moving on to the actual product acquisition.

James: Yeah, precisely. And I was just thinking back to what Darragh was saying, and it's very true. And I've said this time and time again. Programmatic started with RTB, really, real-time bidding, which is just basically an auction fest. And the first people, when something new comes along in digital, invariably to get stuck in and just find out if this works are the pornographers and the gamblers, and then shortly behind them, it's the hardcore, hardcore direct-response advertisers. And RTB got its name, it got a bad reputation for just buying inventory at the lowest price that you possibly can, which obviously, really annoyed Alanna. And it didn't really do us any favors. But now, we're progressing beyond that. And as Darragh also quite rightly mentioned, we get premium-quality inventory that we can start to buy. So it's not a case of always floggings machines, in Gawain's case. It is an awareness tool. It's a brand marketer's tool, as much as a direct-response tool, because what comes planner on the planet, what advertiser does not want awareness level, to almost have a one-to-one dialogue with your users, to able to target in that way? And that's what programmatic, that's what it enables. And that's what it brings. It's not just cheap medium, is it?

Alanna: No. I think James is right. Actually, RTB is what started replacing all the other network buyers. So back in the day, it was a network model. It's like "How cheap can you get your advertising?" way. And RTB took haven from that and knocked the networks out the business. But as both of these guys have mentioned, it is a brand marketing tool. And the good thing for us is actually now where we've put our data-management platform in place. It means that we can track, at the MailOnline, of course, our properties, over 6,000 data points in real time. So we've got a real insight into who our audience are from a demographic point of view and also from a behavior point of view. And we can now apply those to a big brand format, so whether that be a takeover on the homepage or whether that be a bit of native editorial content. And we can actually feed all those behaviors and actions out into the programmatic space and allow those audiences to be bought programmatically, which offers based on your customers an end-to-end solution, whereas before, you've got your RTB rat race that could be running alongside what you're doing on a direct basis, which causes a massive amount of overlap. And again, it's probably targeting all the wrong people, and as Darragh has already mentioned again and again, after they've already bought the product.

The importance of targeting

Gawain: I think a really good example of this to bring it to life, and Nestlé's on record for me. I will pay more volume with you than anyone else on the market. Fact, I want to pay top price so I empower my agencies to buy the very best inventory, because when you take good quality inventory with data, the actual cost per view, the actual metric which we're driving to, actually drives significantly more efficiency. So if you take Purina Dog, 20% of U.K. households own a dog. Now, I have no interest to advertise to 80% of the U.K. audience. So if I go to a publisher like the Daily Mail, and I say, "Okay, I want to match data with big formats, but I only want to target people with dogs." Straight away, I can actually pay five times more for the individual bidding than I would before. Naturally we'll only pay maybe twice or two and a half times more. But straight away, while someone thinks I'm crazy for saying I want to pay more for the inventory, I'm actually driving efficiency. It's because I'm only having one-on-one conversations with people who actually own a dog.

James: Yeah, it's true. I'd borrow somebody's phrase. I can't remember who coined this, but "a blade needs soul in it." Programmatic is kind of if you embrace the idea of buying less but paying more, that's the way to do it. Don't think of it as, "Okay, this is one way that I can flog the whole marketplace with really cheap impressions." You can do that, and if you want, we can help you. But you'll get far more out of it by being razor-sharp with your targeting. And also, it's the way we deliver campaigns. It's the way that we think about it. And as Alanna was saying, even if you buy targeted inventory on a lot of publishers, if you buy the sports section, for example, you get, yeah, all of the ad spaces on the sports section if you want, but still a big chunk of those people are maybe your customers really, already know your brand, or just aren't relevant or interested. So it's just being able to drill down maybe that one step further in terms of targeting, and there's real value in doing that, which is why we're seeing the growth rate of this buying methodology accelerate like it does.

Alanna: Yeah, and I probably shouldn't say this because I am a sales person and it's all about bringing the money in, but if a campaign isn't working, from the buyer-side point of view, you can switch it off instantly. If it's working, you can ramp your spend up instantly. You don't have to allocate a specific budget to a specific site. You're allocating that budget to an audience, and that money will spend where that audience is, regardless of the site that it's at on.

James: There's a kind of subtext here, which is why there's the three of us sitting here, which is programmatic opens doors and it breeds transparency or it forces transparency, if you're smart enough of your buying and if you're a smart enough client, because it would be pretty rare in digital advertising to have the client and the advertiser, basically, the media agency and the publisher sitting up here talking to you as one. But we all now share that data. We all are quite open in what we do. In fact, at Jellyfish, we insist on it. We won't buy anything unless we know what it is in display, which actually serves a really nice purpose. It's where it cleans up the Internet. The network model of buying it as cheap as we can, as much as we can to fulfill our goals kind of also ruined the internet because publishers were forced to put more and more adverts on the page to keep their revenues at where they needed to be, to keep on creating content, to keep on giving you things like the mail or whatever publication you happen to be reading. And that means the effectiveness of all advertising starts to deteriorate and go downhill. Back to the whole maybe buy less, pay more, if you start to take those crap adverts, crap placements off of pages, the effectiveness of your campaigns as a whole would go up. Gawain gets a better performance, better messaging, and everything that we've talked about. Alanna's yields go up because we're happy to pay more for it because actually, we're good. We get an understanding client that gets that. But we can see the value, and it all backs out right. And what Darragh was saying, viewability, that's a powerful metric for us. It's really quite obvious when you think about it, isn't it? If more people see your adverts, they're going to be more effective. Or you'd hope so. And if that's not the case, oh, go home.

The benefits of Programmatic

Gawain: Does anyone here want to buy inventories they've not seen? Is there anyone here who just wants to buy non-viewable impressions? Probably not. So I think it's really fair to ask, can my adverts be seen? And a really good idea of collaboration and this really puts it true, and Nestlé will pay more for their inventory. About three weeks ago, Amanda Holden was featured MailOnline, just naturally was speaking about one of our products, Cetaphil hand cream. In Nestlé, I'm blessed with working flexible working hours, so I normally start at 6 in the morning and finish about 2:30 in the afternoon. So I was on the Daily Mail at 6:00, and I noticed Amanda Holden was talking about one of our products. In collaboration with my agency, I immediately emailed the Daily Mail. I said, "I want the inventory on the Amanda Holden story today. Can I buy it programmatically?" The guy at the Daily Mail was then, as soon as he got in the office at 8 o'clock, he was running around the office, telling everyone in the office, "You are not selling that inventory today. Nestlé wants this programmatically. From a yield management perspective, Nestlé are going to pay more for it."

The nutshell, what we got was nine times higher click-through rate. It was an e-commerce campaign. We couldn't actually fulfill all the orders. We have to then send the traffic off to Amazon. And our viewability was only 64%. And the agency called me, and they said, "Gawain, we're really sorry. Our viewability was only 64%." But the ad appeared below the fold, so actually 64% really showed a highly engaged audience because people don't go to websites to look at my adverts. But it's a really, really good way of working in collaboration with the agency where we spotted something, we can then directly contact the publisher, then the agency took over the optimisation. But literally, one of the first times, the Daily Mail were literally stripping adverts out from a yield optimisation perspective.

James: Yeah, we do, don't we? We operate. We have different conversations now with publishers particularly because we know when we want to buy impressions. We know exactly who we want. So it's more of a case of not getting to the end of a campaign and going, "Yeah, that works or that didn't. Right, next time we won't do any of that." It's looking at it in real time. And the conversations I'd likely to have with people like Alanna now is, "Actually, we're not quite getting as much traffic. We're not getting as much impressions that we'd like out of this. We can see we have to deny because a lot of these people are actually customers. Is there a data segment that you've got that will open up our targeting a little bit and allow us to find more new users?" And it's almost those conversations never existed in ad-buying before. We're being smarter, I think. It's definitely a good thing.

Gawain: I think interesting thing is the integration. We're talking about programmatic, but our programmatic links into our TV buying strategy. It links into our paid search. As James said, it links into our CRM. It really becomes an integrated linchpin. I was actually talking to one of the guys at Jellyfish early on today and guys Dolce Gusto campaign. And we very much our paid search and the programmatic, but then we use Google Analytics in the background to really start to drive those extra efficiencies. And I think programmatic is, yes, it's using technology, but it comes down to the talent. It comes down to the actual. Paid search is very much about the experts running paid search. Programmatic is exactly the same. You might think you have good programmatic campaigns today, but really start to dig in and really look at what your KPIs are because we can always eke additional efficiency. But I would urge each and every one of you out there, is to actually pay your agency a fair fee because talent in programmatic is not cheap. Data scientist, £80,000 plus, and that's an entry-level data scientist. This industry is new, and that's why it does come with the fees. But you do actually eke out the efficiencies.

Alanna: And I think as well people are scared of programmatic. It comes with millions and millions of acronyms and buzzwords and data and real time, and it does sound quite complicated. But actually, you've got an agency and a publisher that would do everything for you, that would do the hard work, then actually make it very, very easy if you guys would put money into the programmatic space and actually not worry too much about how you're actually going to do it because from our side of the fence, we will be doing it for you. And as a publisher, we're very transparent. So if we say to you we're talking 18 to 35 mails on a credit card, for example, we will show you exactly how we've built that audience and what it is made up of.

Greg: Alanna, leading . . . Sorry, James, but leading on from that, so this is . . .

Alanna: Are we going off-piste?

What's putting people off adopting Programmatic?

Greg: No, not at all. It actually leads on. So this is a room full of people at the forefront of digital, but when I asked the question at the beginning, probably under 5% of people put their hand up as to whether or not they're using programmatic. So leading on from that, guys, what do you think are the key reasons why? Well, what is impeding the take up, I guess, is the question. Like Gawain, for example, you said that within Nestlé, big brand, huge amounts are spent online, but you had a real challenge to trying to change the mindset internally to go programmatic. So just interested to know...

Gawain: Yeah, for any brand here, I'll make you an offer: I'll come spend an hour in my own time, and I'll come and talk to you about programmatic, how it can potentially be integrated into your wider media strategy. The skills, the understanding of programmatic on client's side is still exceptionally limited at this time. A lot of our senior marketers don't understand it, and they're actually scared to hire smart people into their organisation, because programmatic is going to be the future. We're all here today. We're all talking about it, so we need to grasp it. But I will repeat that. I will give anyone in this room an hour of my time to talk about programmatic and how it potentially work within your business. I've already spoken to insurance clients. I just speak to people across the entire sector because personally I believe that programmatic is the future, because it's not just display. It's not just video. Television is, it's already in America being traded programmatically. So the business is you need to start to put those skills, but the actual operational side has to sit with, in my opinion, it has to sit with the agencies.

James: Yeah, it's true because actually, one of the things that may be impeding growth about programmatic is the fact that there's still quite a lot of smoke and mirrors that go around with it. Stuff isn't hidden behind acronyms necessarily, but we're talking about advertising moving on from the ad network model. A lot of them are in serious trouble because they didn't do anything more than just broker inventory and put a margin on it. They don't want to lose that business model. So they're sometimes putting a lot of smoke and mirrors around programmatic to make it seem a little bit more inaccessible than it really is. But there's one key thing as well. When you can get your hands on all of the inventory in one place, in one platform, that integration, if you start running lots of bits of it, you're kind of fragmenting. You're going to create that overlap that existed within ad networks, unless you're very smart. So the key thing is have it centralised, have a key strategy that sits with either one agency, one person within your brand, or something like that so you can make sure you're managing it effectively. Just keep your eyes on it. It'll be fine.

Alanna: You'd be surprised actually. There are some agencies that do lack knowledge in programmatic, so one thing we're doing is we're going out with presentations around, actually making programmatic easy. And we've got a team of 20 at the Mail that run across programmatic. So we've got guys with all the technology platforms. We've got a data engineer. You've got a full sales team. And we've got quite a lot of different skill sets. That's something we're trying to do, is actually go out and educate people within the agencies as well because they're being pushed to plan programmatically now as well."

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