Focusing on incremental conversion makes for an accurate media buy
Analysing the incremental gains of programmatic is a more robust and accurate attribution model than cost per acquisition, according to Nic Travis, head of digital marketing at MBNA.
“Incremental is the most accurate way to drive the attribution model,” he said. “We now focus on media buys that drive the highest incremental conversion rates and use incremental analysis to look at the optimal frequency with which to serve our ads.”
Since switching this optimisation strategy MBNA has seen a 74% uplift in the incremental conversion rate. Travis said he is consequently no longer forced to buy media based on viewability, and is happy to buy media that has 20% viewability as long as the viewed impressions are driven incrementally.
“As a result we are not forced to buy really expensive, premium inventory, and have a better buying and attribution model to make sure media buying is more accurate,” Travis added.
Transparency is brands’ responsibility too
With programmatic comes a lot of “murkiness” and questions over transparency. But agencies are not solely to blame, according to Raluca Efford, head of digital and social media marketing at Direct Line.
“Advertisers are equally responsible for demanding transparency and not just expecting it,” she said.
“In advertising you get the agency you deserve. You need to know what to ask for. Agencies may not tell you things if you’re not asking them specifically.
“Advertisers are equally responsible for demanding transparency and not just expecting it.”
Raluca Efford, head of digital and social media marketing, Direct Line
“Viewability has been an issue for many years – for as long as I can remember – and there are many similar topics that agencies have more awareness of. A lot of the time advertisers just don’t know or are not curious enough to ask.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Simon Murray, head of digital experience at Morgan Stanley who believes it stems from advertisers being “uneducated and naïve”.
“It’s a two-way street. In my case it was about being uneducated rather than being naïve. We were taking what we were being told at face value,” he said referring to a now terminated agency relationship.
While he agrees brands should take some responsibility, he also believes “the agency should be encouraging you to ask those questions as well”.
In-house versus outsourcing programmatic
Over the past year Morgan Stanley has brought programmatic buying in-house having experienced several issues – transparency being one – with the agencies it used to work with.
“It’s not that hard to do. What’s hard is understanding what you want to get out of it,” said Murray. “Owning your audience and owning your own data speaks volumes about you as an advertiser and what you can do with it. We’ve moved away from a linear approach to a cyclical, iterative approach and frankly that’s what programmatic is all about. In order to have those iterations and be able to understand and learn, and be more customer aware rather than customer led, we needed to have that insight.”
You’ve got to fuel that with data and people though he added, suggesting that when it comes to finding the right talent the best approach is to “poach [people] from the ad agencies”.
“We’re not fully there yet but we are definitely on the way in terms of being able [to justify programmatic spend] to the people that control the budgets and say we know what everybody is doing now and this is where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.”
However, Efford at Direct Line argues that the debate between outsourcing and in-house “is not as black and white”.
“It’s not impossible but there is still a role for media agencies to play and we still have media agencies involved in all our digital investment, including programmatic.
“For many it’s probably not [worth taking programmatic in-house]. Even if you make a decent cost saving there is still a large operational risk in trying to mirror what agencies do in-house.”
She says it is “not easy at all to attract and retain talent” and “to know to how to interrogate technology vendors”.
“It’s a particular skill that a lot of marketers don’t have,” she admitted.
Native advertising is not going anywhere
The importance of native advertising is only going to increase so brands need to be prepared, according to Sophie Dufouleur, global content & social media group manager at Nespresso.
“We have to make sure that people engage and consume our content. Brands are doing a better job at not pushing out cold messages to consumers that don’t add any value. For me, programmatic is [thinking about] how we distribute content. [Going forward, brands need to think] about the creative and the distribution model, which will be programmatically led to reach the right people,” she said.
“Brands are doing a better job at not pushing out cold messages to consumers that don’t add any value.”
Sophie Dufouleur, global content & social media group manager, Nespresso
Nespresso was keen to reach a younger audience and reinforce its position as a breakfast brand so as part of this strategy it partnered with Vice.
“We knew we wanted to try something a bit different [so we looked] for a partner to deliver this content. We partnered with Vice which for us was a very different way of creating content. We could capitalise as well on its whole ecosystem and tap into the millennial audience it has.”
The brand created a mini series, native ads, pre-roll content and banners featuring entrepreneurs from different places in the world talking about their breakfast experiences. Its aim was to highlight the Nespresso brand in editorially-led content in a “natural and effective way”.
Data helps serve device agnostic customers
Just Eat used data to target its programmatic marketing by consumer rather than device in a bid to stop wasting impressions, over-serving a single device and overlapping inventory.
The brand was running campaigns across its mobile app, desktop and creating videos but “had different budget lines for everything,” explained Just Eat global digital media manager, Grace Smedley.
To get a clearer view of customer, the food delivery app merged all its budgets into one and let the data decide how it should be spent.
“We found, for example, that mums may never watch a video, but you can serve them with one impression on desktop, two on mobile and then they’ll go on to convert on tablet,” said Smedley.
“Using data has helped us understand where to put our budget and how much money to put into which platform to drive conversion.”