How Agencies Are Sifting Through The Sea Of Ad Tech

On the “creative vs. programmatic” panel at OMMA LA on Wednesday, the definition of one of those two words proved flexible. And this time, it wasn’t "programmatic."

“Creative” is (naturally) associated with the content of an ad, the panelists said, but their discussions proved that they had to get creative when it comes to sifting through the sea of ad tech as well.

“How do you not spend all of your time falling in love with the next best technology?” asked panel moderator Kevin Ryan, CEO and founder of Motivity Marketing.

Stephanie Spero, director of media strategy and business director of Tribal Worldwide, said it’s all about putting the latest and greatest in tech into perspective. She said the agency looks -- “literally weekly” -- at programmatic technologies and vets them against client goals.

“Clients come to us and say, ‘This is new and sexy,’” Spero said, before adding that it’s then on the agency to see whether or not that “new and sexy” tech actually helps that client meet their goals. 

At some point, Ryan argued, clients just get burned out from reading about the “new targeting technology!” of the week. He quipped that the claims keep getting more outlandish, sarcastically saying that according to the promises made by the tech companies, “you can target 12-year-old lesbian labrador retrievers … with four different levels of verification!”

Ian Wolfman, co-founder of Wolfman Group, jumped in to note that different clients will care about certain things with varying degrees of passion. Some brands may just want to see the final results, while others -- such as luxury brands -- are going to be much more protective.

Henri Duong, co-founder and CTO of luxury e-commerce company SugarsGone, agreed, noting that it takes “a couple of months” for the company to strategize a plan. It’s a far cry from “real-time” targeting, because companies like SugarsGone need to be absolutely sure their products are in the right place, otherwise they may end up like the Nielsen ads appearing next to porn on Twitter.

“If Twitter is having issues targeting…” said Wolfman, trailing off, letting conference attendees fill in the blanks. (“Then what the heck can you expect from some lesser media companies?”)

The lure of programmatic ad targeting technologies is strong enough -- and we’re well past the point of no return -- that for most media-buyers, it’s not a question of whether or not to use ad tech, but which vendors to roll with. In the end, the panel had circled back to Ryan’s initial question: “How do you not spend all of your time falling in love with the next best technology?”

“I can’t tell you how many programmatic companies call,” said Kirsten Atkinson, VP of media and branded integration at Walton Isaacson, “so there’s certainly not enough resources to do it all.” She noted that while some agencies do have test budgets -- which makes everything a little easier -- all agencies should put together a process of figuring out what’s worth the risk.

That process is not always perfect, however. As Spero pointed out, Tribal already has a process in the form of weekly “vetting” meetings, but that hasn’t left the agency unscathed. No, they haven’t run into a Nielsen-Twitter-Dick-Picks kerfuffle, but she did say that she's received “a call from a client saying their ad is next to Jake Gyllenhaal’s abs.”

“We have to work with the reputable vendors, but yes, some of that is taken with a grain of salt,” Spero said.

You can see the full panel below:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
2 comments about "How Agencies Are Sifting Through The Sea Of Ad Tech".
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  1. John Haake from Gotham Advisory, LLC, July 23, 2015 at 10:05 a.m.

    It's not peanut butter verses chocolate. Everybody knows that are made for each other! We've spent the last 6 years stumbling around learning how to leverage data and tech to buy media more effectively, and suddenly we realized that creative still matters. The aha moment that folks are now having is that we can actually leverage the very same data and tech to make the creative more effective. Intelligent, data-driven creative is the missing chocolate to our programmatic peanut butter.

  2. David Mountain from Marketing and Advertising Direction, July 23, 2015 at 11:35 a.m.

    Tailoring creative (in non-automated ways) for tiny sample sizes shouldn't be anyone's raison d'etre. But you can learn from the data, cut the lists into big actionable segments, and work around recency, frequency, calendar and lead quality. The biggest problem, in my experience, is that no agency wants to do it, because clients don't want to pay for it, and no one wins award for lifecycle work.

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