“This is no longer the age of Mad Men or the 30-second ad,” declared Rick Jones, head of business development at DoubleClick, in his opening address to delegates last week (21 May). “It’s definitely the age of programmatic.”
Jones was speaking at an exclusive breakfast briefing hosted by Marketing Week and DoubleClick, Google’s ad serving business, on the topic of programmatic branding. While programmatic has become one of the hottest topics in marketing over the last year, the event sought to look beyond the hype and consider how brands can derive value through practical applications and organisational change.
Programmatic refers to the automated buying and placement of media. However Jones argued that beyond advertising technology, programmatic should also encourage brands to reassess their approach to marketing and their interactions with consumers.
“Lots of marketers are grappling with the challenge of how do I understand the consumer journey and how do I use those insights, increasingly in real time, to change the way I talk to consumers” he said.
Programmatic as a branding tool
Gawain Owen, digital lead at Nestle, agreed that programmatic can have a transformative impact on an organisation. His presentation, alongside Nestle’s digital agency Jellyfish, revealed that the company has used programmatic as a tool for raising brand awareness about its Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee machines.
In order to communicate the right triggers at the right time and in contextually relevant places, Jellyfish created an online journey designed to complement offline activity such as TV advertising. Using online audience data and bid analysis, Jellyfish optimised the programmatic display campaign using the DoubleClick real-time bidding platform. This achieved a 21 percentage points increase in ad viewability compared to IAB standards, Owen said.
The campaign involved retargeting effective placements on eBay using shopper behaviour data to drive sales further. Nestle also used programmatic to run a display campaign on the Mail Online on the same day that the site published a feature about the coffee machines.
Owen said that key to the success of the campaign was the high level of collaboration between the different parties. Nestle was given log-in access to the ad trading platform, for example, providing the company with a high level of confidence about where its ads were placed. “It’s no longer an insertion order where we send it to a [ad] network and there’s no transparency,” he noted.
Meanwhile Benoit Cacheux, global digital director at ZenithOptimedia, spoke of the importance of “stack storytelling” whereby marketers use integrated programmatic technology to create “seamless brand stories across multiple platforms”. He presented a case study in which the media agency had worked with DoubleClick and Toyota to deliver a programmatic campaign for the car marque’s range of hybrid models.
This included using display advertising to retarget people who had watched a YouTube video for Toyota Hybrid and those who had visited the company website for further information. This approach led to a 25% increase in the clickthrough rate on display ads and a 48% fall in cost-per-click.
“One of the great benefits of stack storytelling is the ability to integrate data,” said Cacheux. “The amount of data you use is only limited by your imagination.”
Thibaut Portal, head of media for Pernod Ricard, revealed that the drinks group is using programmatic to target consumers in different countries and around specific special occasions. He used the example of Poland, where people tend to buy large orders of vodka online when celebrating a wedding. Pernod Ricard is currently exploring ways to use programmatic in order to target such opportunities.
“Growth lies in ecommerce for us, so we are thinking about how we can implement our own ecommerce platforms,” said Portal.
In addition to its own moves into online retail, Portal said the company is in negotiations with existing ecommerce players about gaining access to their data so that Pernod Ricard can advertise on their platforms programmatically.
Though many retailers remain reluctant to open up their data to third parties, he argued that early partnerships with retailers will allow brands to build case studies to use as evidence with others to say “this is working”.
Andy Mihalop, head of network agencies at DoubleClick UK, agreed that “a lot of retailers are waking up to the power of data” and are consequently more open to trading their media inventory programmatically. DoubleClick is also currently developing offline tracking capabilities to enable brands to understand the impact of their programmatic activity on offline purchases, he revealed.
Mihalop said that going forward, he is most excited about seeing more media channels become programmatic, including TV, radio and outdoor.
Changing your organisation’s culture
One of the big themes of the discussion was the impact of programmatic in changing brands’ broader approach to marketing, both internally and through their relationships with agencies. Owen at Nestle said the ability to optimise campaigns online meant that teams must show agility and a willingness to “push and pull” one another by continually exploring new possibilities.
“Within Nestle itself the Dolce Gusto team and the Nespresso team are competing over who can get the best results from programmatic,” he noted.
Owen added that Nestle is pushing its agency partners to produce dynamic creative at high speed, so that rich display advertising can appear in real time across all media channels. “The creative agencies are going to have rethink their business models,” he argued. “Programmatic will only be as good as the creative – if the creative doesn’t perform I can’t drive market share.”
Jones at DoubleClick UK agreed that fundamental organisational change is vital if brands are to make the most of the opportunities generated by programmatic. “We can really challenge ourselves to think what do we need to do next as an industry,” he suggested.
“The forces that we’re grappling with are changing marketing very quickly and we need to be leaders at the forefront of that. We’ve got to be prepared to rip up the workflows that we’ve had traditionally and reimagine it.”