How to find programmatic efficiencies to stay ahead

jason-warnerGreen shoots may be showing in the wider UK economy, but for marketers, uncertainty still abounds. The recent IPA Bellwether saw main media spend dip, bucking the recent trend of the last few quarters for steadily increasing budgets. While this revision is not a drastic one – and many do see main media budgets growing once again soon –  it does signal that, despite growing economic positivity, marketers will still need to find efficiencies anywhere they can.

This is especially true of independent agencies. In unstable markets such as these, delivering programmatic campaigns that keep pace with larger rivals and deliver outstanding results for clients is a tough task. As brands have increasingly looked for omnichannel execution for their campaigns, the expectation is that agencies can deliver greater ROI across more channels, with fewer resources.

In the push to gain programmatic efficiencies, independent agencies need to re-examine every part of their business but one area that often gets overlooked is the programmatic tech stack.

Finding efficiencies
Advertising – and specifically programmatic advertising – has gained a reputation for inefficiency and opacity. Recent studies have found that only a third of spend reaches the consumer, with 29% heading towards transaction costs and a further 35% towards non-viewable or non-measurable impressions, as well as made for advertising sites. When looking to implement the cohesive and holistic approach that omnichannel marketing needs for success, independent agencies cannot afford this level of wastage – especially when competing against larger rivals.

Cutting down the bloat in programmatic ad tech stacks can help to solve these problems. For independent agencies, during times of economic instability such as these it can feel like all attention needs to be laser-focussed at just keeping up. But in truth there is no better time for them to re-evaluate their tech stack in order to deliver both short-term results and long-term success.

Prioritising success
Making cuts in the tech stack without proper evaluation of the effectiveness of all tools will leave agencies running the risk of actually harming their long-term success and that of their clients. To avoid this, they must take a data-driven approach when evaluating which aspects of their programmatic stack are truly delivering results. At the same time there are two other key factors that marketers need to consider: data-privacy and transparency.

Despite Google’s latest delay to the third party cookie, marketers cannot escape the fact that the landscape has shifted in recent years towards an increasing prioritisation of data privacy. Legislation such as the GDPR to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have highlighted how seriously lawmakers are taking consumer concerns over data privacy. While Google is still developing its vision of a post-cookie world, browsers such as Safari and Firefox have already got rid of third-party identifiers and Apple has given users the choice to turn off cross-app tracking in iOS.

If independent agencies are to stay one step ahead, they must prioritise solutions that have privacy built into their core. This will ensure the long-term effectiveness of a programmatic stack by future-proofing against incoming privacy legislation. Similarly, solutions need to provide transparency in spend allocation and outcomes if marketers are to gain the oversight needed to optimise every aspect of an omnichannel campaign.

Embracing future technologies
Keeping these two core factors in mind will be especially important as AI and machine learning driven programmatic tools become more widespread. By the end of 2024, it is expected that 95% of marketing professionals will be utilising AI programmatic ad platforms.

The benefits to these are similar to many other applications of AI within marketing. By automating the programmatic buying process even further, marketers will have more time to complete strategic and creative tasks. AI’s ability to process and analyse vast amounts of data at speed means areas for optimisation can be rapidly identified, maximising budgets even further.

However, none of these benefits will translate into long-term success if solutions don’t prioritise data privacy and transparency. In a market flooded with solutions, independent agencies need to ensure that their tech stack is well curated, with every element driving results for both them and their clients. Every agency needs to have a clear view and understanding of what solutions they need to maximise success.

In today’s economic environment, an effective and efficient programmatic tech stack can be the differentiator for an independent agency and their clients, a solid platform to drive long-term outcomes and ROI. Finding the most effective solution must be a priority for independent agencies if they are to not just keep up with larger competitors, but get ahead.

Jason Warner is director of UK & EMEA at SBS

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