Ming Wu, Accuen’s general manager, explained that programmatic has become a powerful tool for brand advertisers as well. Most brands that Accuen works with have defined target personas and contextual pillars as part of their media strategy and are using programmatic to extend conversations from TV into their online experience. For them, the difference between buying sites as a proxy for audience and programmatic is that they can reach their segments precisely and with less waste.
Combined with programmatic contextual capabilities that became mainstream in 2012, he says Accuen is “delivering a marketer’s target personas and contextual pillars at a much more efficient rate than traditionally available. Add to that mobile, video, social – all linked back to TV and print – and you’re delivering tremendous value to marketers. And just to be clear, we are an extension to, not a replacement for, endemic site buys and takeovers. We make the overall strategy more effective.”
At the center of Accuen’s approach to programmatic is data. “Our idea of programmatic is using data and analytics to make marketing decisions,” says Wu. “Some of the most valuable work we have done for our clients has nothing to do with media.”
Wu says that data can change a brand’s decisions even mid-campaign. For example, when a client was redefining its brand around a new product launch, the initial strategy was geared toward single men and women with active lifestyles making $60-$80k a year. The client reached this demographic by targeting outdoor and sporting lifestyle content across all channels. After 30 days, the company learned from Accuen that families making more than $100k a year with two children were just as engaged by the ads and product as the active singles.
“Think of how powerful that is, for marketers and agencies to be able to adjust to an insight like that in real time. That’s what programmatic means at Omnicom and to our clients,” explains Wu.
Accuen is also using data and analytics to dig deeper into reach and frequency – bedrock metrics for brands – for their clients. Most digital campaigns achieve broad reach, but a closer look at reach and frequency metrics might tell a different story. “If you look at frequency reports carefully, you’ll most likely find that publishers reach a lot of people once, and then show hundreds of impressions to a small group that makes up a large chunk of the campaign impressions. That is simply not efficient,” says Wu.
Wu suggests the industry adopt more sophisticated caps so that advertisers’ dollars aren’t wasted on a subset of consumers, who see an ad over and over, while reaching other desired users only once. “The problem is most major publishers don’t allow sophisticated frequency control such as three per day, no more than 15 per week, with a 30 per month maximum. On top of that, frequency capping across multiple publisher buys doesn’t exist in a scalable form today. But it’s coming. It has to be done.”
He points out some users will see the same ad a hundred times. Accuen is proposing that advertisers reallocate their funds and reallocate money from consumers that have seen an ad too many times and instead “top up” the frequency count on users who’ve only seen the ad once to help balance things out.
“Everyone I talk to says absolutely, we want to do that, how can we do that,” says Wu. “In order to do that, we have to be able to tie together the overall branding buy and the performance buy. It’s a big vision but we believe it’s possible and it’s what we’re working on for our clients.”