Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Why marketers need to understand programmatic

Motorla Moto Z


As a marketer, when it comes to programmatic, I believe it’s best if you understand the marketplace and the technology yourself. Most marketers will have their media agencies controlling the buys but you need to approve them. To do this, an understanding of the technology is required. It pays to know the difference between what a company such as TubeMogul does versus DoubleClick.

I’ve been working with programmatic for about five years now. When I was at Mondelez, we were one of the first companies to sign a long-term deal with TubeMogul. We were the first people to run a programmatic TV spot, through Tube, during the 2015 Super Bowl.

Still, I would never venture to say that I know everything about programmatic. More and more things are being bought programmatically, so it’s changing rapidly. When I first started talking about programmatic, it was an efficient way to buy targeted display advertising. Now, you can buy video, you can buy social, you can buy TV. It’s constantly changing and that’s where your agency can come in handy.

Motorla Moto Z

Today’s marketer is required to know so much about every different kind of channel and you have much more responsibility. That’s where you can use your agency as an educator or sounding board. Ask them, “Is it worth meeting with these people?” Or, “Does this work? How do we best utilise this?” Your agency can help you to understand all of the various technologies out there, the different partners, et cetera.

Should you take programmatic in-house?

At Motorola, we don’t look after our programmatic buying in-house. I believe taking programmatic in-house is worthwhile if you consistently spend a significant portion of your budget on it. Then it pays for you to hire a dedicated person. Otherwise, the agency is the best way to go. Right now at Motorola, even though our spend has increased, we don’t spend enough to warrant bringing it in-house.

We don’t buy everything programmatically and I would never suggest you do. There’s a benefit to working directly with some of the bigger partners. As an example, We have a global relationship with Google that allows us certain benefits we wouldn’t get if we were buying everything programmatically through multiple partners. It gives us the opportunity to take advantage of the YouTube Brand Partner Program, or the Google Brand Lab and many other resources they have.  If you’re buying everything programmatically and you don’t have a relationship with media partners, you’re going to miss out.

Programmatic and organisational transformation

For marketers in the US, change is very slow in terms of the market itself, the industry and the business. I grew up in the packaged goods world and it’s kind of ironic that it’s called ‘fast-moving consumer goods’ because, internally, I don’t find them the fastest moving companies. To introduce programmatic to a business like that, you don’t have to completely change your organisation to make it work. I don’t think that’s necessary. More analysis is required internally. You need people who understand the analytics, how to optimise and best practises.

Because you’re audience buying, you can be much more targeted which is great but it also means you need to produce more creative. That requires a shift in your thinking as well as more resources to make that happen.

There are smaller changes you can make without having to go through a huge transformation because I don’t think it’s going to happen that fast.

The United States of Programmatic

In the US at the moment, there’s a misconception display advertising doesn’t work and that no one should use it. I disagree. I actually think it still works and acts as an effective supplement to what you’re doing from a brand awareness perspective. What is dead is measuring things like click-through rates because half the time it’s an accidental click-through. I want to know if someone viewed the ad (is it viewable), that they weren’t a bot, if they were a human. Did they engage with the ad? Did they convert? I also believe display can be valuable for general brand awareness.

We do a lot retargeting. I think it’s fantastic. If you’ve engaged with something, we should definitely re-message you. Retailers, especially, are doing an amazing job of retargeting. Nordstrom in the US does it well. Even if you’ve only briefly glanced at a pair of shoes on their website, every time you go onto Facebook it’s like, “Hey, don’t forget about me! Remember these shoes. Aren’t these awesome? Don’t forget to buy the shoes.” Without being annoying, they do a great job of reminding you. For it to really work, brands need to be conscious of who has converted already, because, like many people, that’s my pet peeve. Oftentimes, companies don’t connect the dots. Then it becomes creepy. With all of the data streams out there, we need to do a better job of getting data talking to data.

I would have thought the US was the most developed market for programmatic but apparently not. People wrongly assume that because it’s the US, we lead the charge in everything. I’m told Australia is one of the most advanced markets so I wouldn’t say we’re leading the charge at all. There are certainly some areas where we are ahead such as new product releases. TubeMogul launched its native advertising offering last year and we participated in the beta test. That product is only just coming out in Australia now.

Australia is also further along in the programmatic TV space than we are in the US which is a result of having such a complicated infrastructure from a television and cable perspective in the US.

A programmatic product launch

At the upcoming Programmatic Summit, I’ll be sharing my experience of using programmatic to help launch the Moto Z.

Verizon is Motorola’s key partner in the US and when we launch a new phone, we primarily do so with Verizon. When you’re launching a product, and you’re available on only one out of five or six carriers, it makes sense to be highly targeted and engage an audience based on that carrier. There’s still a need for general awareness driving, but for the most part, you want to be targeted. The key audience for the Moto Z launch was current Verizon customers due for an upgrade on their phone in the next year and the best, most efficient way to reach them was through programmatic buying. When we launched the Moto Z last year, we opted to put a significant percentage of our budget into programmatic. Was it a success? You’ll have to join me on March 2 to find out.

What that experience has taught me is that marketers need to understand how programmatic buying works but to take it to the next level, a little extra know-how is required and best practices need to be followed to be truly successful.

Beth Reilly will be speaking at the Programmatic Summit on March 2 in Sydney. Get your ticket now.

About Beth Reilly - Head of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Motorola Mobility
Beth Reilly is a global integrated marketing and strategy expert with a focus on marketing in a digital world. She has developed global digital strategies for brands, found global platforms and global relationships with key partners/agencies in industries including Consumer Packaged Goods, Quick Service Restaurants and Entertainment.