Taking Programmatic In-House? What to Consider First

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 22, 2016
Advertisers trying to bring programmatic advertising in-house are a lot like college freshmen easing into their first semester. Parents aren’t around to do dinner prep, laundry service, and wake-up calls, and ad-tech vendors aren’t there to run campaigns. Like college kids learning essential life skills, agencies must adopt a way of advertising that will preserve their survival.

“Essential” isn’t a stretch when you consider programmatic as a marketing competency. Promised to improve targeting and efficiency at a fraction of the cost, it’s now a key part of the marketing mix — and set to exceed $27 billion in global ad spend by 2017, according to eMarketer. Early adopter advertisers jumped in via managed services executed by tech providers. Now, they’re ready for more control.

Look Before You Leap

Implementing a programmatic media function in-house seems like a no-brainer, but challenges abound.



Agencies must collect and manage data, recruit and train staff, abolish media silos, and learn different ways to set up campaigns. Wide-ranging expertise is critical, as many platforms are nuanced. Minor mistakes could damage campaigns, and forgetting to set a budget cap could drain funds.

Additionally, if your organization doesn’t have a proprietary programmatic platform already, it must license programmatic products. Solutions include renting standalone technology or utilizing one that’s part of an existing marketing tech stack. White-label options are also available.

Investing in new tech-based ad competencies takes time and money, and you need to effectively execute campaigns based on the right insights. However, you’ll be able to gain control of data, know where your ads are going and what’s working, and optimize campaigns in real time.

Bringing programmatic in-house protects your data — you won’t have to worry about vendors sharing proprietary information with other agencies — and provides you with better transparency about the costs of maintaining a team, tech subscriptions, and data fees. As you continue, you’ll build insights and best practices.

Enhancing Programmatic ROI

Spending on programmatic is currently around $21 billion. If you decide to make this a core function of your business, these steps will help increase ROI:

1. Change the way you work.  Think beyond driving down CPMs. Programmatic allows you to optimize display advertising with specific targeting, data, and creative based on what’s working and use it to adjust other marketing functions across social media and search engines. It’s an ongoing test of tactics and theories. Be prepared to fail. This isn’t a set-and-forget planned buy.

2. Tear down silos. With programmatic, it’s important to share strategies among everyone involved in the campaign. Media and creative teams can work hand in hand to better reach and speak to audiences.

3. Test early performance.  Collecting data on early performance is the best way to adjust your campaign. Perform tests with moderate budgets before piling the rest of your ad spend on the campaign to figure out what works ahead of time.

4. Refresh and recalibrate. Repeat your message, and find audiences when they’re on the most engaging sites and content — but don’t overdo it. Monitor performance to keep creative fresh. Once you design and deploy creative for specific audiences, check on it occasionally. Replace low-performing creative or audience segments, and view mistakes as opportunities for future success.

By 2019, almost three-quarters of digital advertising will be programmatic, according to eMarketer. If you bring it in-house, you may experience stumbling blocks, but it can be one of the most effective ways to engage constantly connected consumers across digital channels. By considering the factors of success for programmatic advertising, you can determine whether your organization is equipped to make it a core capability.

1 comment about "Taking Programmatic In-House? What to Consider First".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Robert Brill from, October 31, 2016 at 5:35 p.m.

    A differently laid out perspective on why marketers are pulling their programmatic ad buying in house - transparency, pricing knowledge, and a more holistic view of strategy as it is being executed.

Next story loading loading..