Four Pillars Of Programmatic Readiness

Programmatic advertising is already a $40 billion business in the U.S. Today, a significant volume of programmatic media is managed by specialized firms buying on behalf of clients who could either be brands or agencies. However, as programmatic media becomes an industry mainstay, more marketers want to engage with programmatic through a self-service model utilizing their own staff to operate demand-side platforms (DSPs).

Organizations wanting to try programmatic advertising on their own can review these four pillars to assess overall readiness.

Business readiness. If self-service programmatic buying is the next step in a marketing organization’s evolution, its leaders should begin by examining the business motivation and its possible implications. This starts with identifying the most important KPIs and measures of success for the organization.

For example, in applying programmatic to business goals, is the intention to win new accounts or strengthen existing accounts by improving media performance? Perhaps the capability would improve employee retention and attract top talent?



Common KPIs to measure these kinds of goals include increased dollars put towards working media, reduction of CPMs and administrative costs, better results in brand safety, and/or securing larger budgets.

People readiness.  An organization should consider its current volume of business and its team’s ability to manage it when it has programmatic components.

Skills, digital acumen, and expertise of teams matter. For example, it's helpful for team members to have a background in buying and ad operations, or the willingness to learn a new skill set. People who enjoy the analytical components of working within platforms on a daily basis (i.e., optimizing tactics, pulling reports and managing budgets) would also be primed for this work. It may be necessary to recruit talent with these qualities from outside (possibly in other markets).

Companies would also need to revise employees’ overarching goals and career paths to reflect the new elements in their work, while also providing ongoing training, and/or coaching for the entire team.

Process readiness.  Adopting a self-service programmatic model requires processes and workflows to set teams up for success. Understand that initial organizational set-up may look different later on and the ongoing processes can be fluid in order to keep the programmatic practice current. Continual training is also necessary as new technology, tactics and vendors come to market.

Organizations can imbue positive energy by empowering “internal champions” to utilize new technology ahead of time. Cross-training teams can also minimize friction. Laying out plans, timelines, and deadlines drives urgency and keeps everyone aligned around common goals. Feedback loops and mechanisms keep employees engaged. They also allow organizations to identify what’s working well, pinpoint problems and highlight areas for improvement.

Technology readiness. The right tech infrastructure is necessary to onboard a self-service programmatic team.

Starting with data, companies need to determine the framework with which to store the granular data programmatic advertising generates. In addition, internal programmatic media teams need to manage brand safety, ad fraud and other campaign factors. It's important to consider the value (and costs) of having supplemental partnerships for this responsibility.

Consider and evaluate other marketing technology partnerships (e.g., measurement, viewability, third-party ad servers, site analytics) for how well they all work together. A helpful practice is creating a dependency chart detailing how each system interacts with the other to illustrate the flow of data.

Also related to this pillar is how tech tools support other core functions of full-service agencies and integrated marketing organizations. Programmatic tools, tactics and strategies should mesh seamlessly alongside direct buying, paid search, paid social media -- which would enable organizations to offer true cross-channel solutions.

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