It's The Demand Chain, Stupid

The most important word in digital media, especially programmatic, is “demand,” not “supply” (as in the “digital media supply chain”).

The way to improve programmatic media buys for marketers and their agencies is to change the industry’s focus from the supply chain and refocus it on what marketers actually demand: an optimum return on both digital ad spending and consumer demand for publishers’ content, or cookies or other identity data representing a proxy for that.

Such a shift in the ad industry’s focus would result in marketers realizing improved returns on their programmatic media-buying investment -- not only on their ad, but importantly, also on the supply of ad-tech vendors glutting the digital supply chain (and whose fees account for more than half of the money marketers currently spend on programmatic media buys).



What the ad industry calls the digital media supply chain is complex and opaque == two things that are antithetical for agencies that buy digital media, especially via programmatic platforms. 

If marketers were to require their agency or in-house media buyers to focus more on user demand for media than on the media supply chain itself, agencies would actually be able to answer “yes” to this question when they are asked by their clients: “Are we getting our money’s worth when you are planning and buying digital media for our brands, especially programmatic?" 

If and when the ad industry’s focus -- via every link in the digital media supply chain -- moves from the suppliers to the advertisers and consumers who use it, the shift will improve the ROI for: 

  • Agencies that plan and buy digital media, especially programmatic.

  • Their clients whose ad budgets fund all the links currently in the digital media supply chain.

Hopefully, the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) recently announced digital media clean-up initiative will change the programmatic focus -- by all parties -- from supply to demand. The result would improve the implementation of programmatic media-buying practices, as well as their results.

The ANA recommended marketers, agencies, and ad tech vendors execute based on the results of the association’s 2015 transparency study.

To make this happen, marketers, agencies, publishers and ad-tech vendors can no longer be guilty of FOFO (fear of finding out), an acronym I created in a 2017 MediaPost op-ed.

FOFO embodies all of the industry’s  inefficient and ineffective digital media practices, especially programmatic.

Here are several potential positive outcomes of the new ANA initiative to improve programmatic:

  • Higher demand via improved experiences for the brand users and brand prospects that marketers are trying to reach with their programmatic ads.

  • Ads that are targeted contextually to users demanding experiences they seek versus targeting based on multiple user site visits, currently enabled by cookie synching.

  • Reduced tracking scripts to improve user experiences.

  • Reduced ad file sizes which improve user experiences.

I strongly believe implementing what I outlined above will improve user demand for marketers' brands by improving the return on advertising bought via programmatic technology.

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