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The top takeaways from the 2016 Programmatic Summit

2016 programmatic summit

Didn’t make it along to the sold out 2016 Programmatic Summit or keen to refresh your memory on what you heard? Check out our wrap-up of the key learnings.

2016 programmatic summit

Newest piece of programmatic lingo: the meta DSP

Vic Walia from Expedia got quizzed by TubeMogul’s Steve Hunt about his experimentation with a meta demand side platform (DSP). What’s that? I hear you ask. Good question.

“You’re one of the few marketers I know who is actively experimenting with a meta DSP,” said Hunt. “Quick show of hands – do we know what a meta DSP is?”

Only a few members of the audience raised their hands and so Walia did his best to explain.

“It’s really a DSP that sits on top of other DSPs. So instead of working with anyone DSP, you basically work with a meta which pings every DSP for the right audience and can de-dupe across DSPs,” said Walia. “Not all DSPs are created equal. Some are better than others depending on the partnerships they have, media and platform etc. A meta DSP can transcend all of that.”

Of course, we know a DSP is the interface that manages multiple advertising and data exchange accounts and now we know what a meta DSP is. It may have been news to many in the room but meta DSPs have been around for a couple of years. Havas Media launched what it claimed was the first meta DSP at the AOL Annual Programmatic Upfront in New York City in 2014.

Still, Expedia is currently in the test-and-learn phase implementing a meta DSP in one region but not others with the view to see whether there’s a clear advantage in doing so. Walia said: “We’re going to compare notes and see where we want to move forward. One of the tests is around what role a Meta DSP plays in the marketing mix and whether or not it favors direct response versus brand. It’s important to see which of the platforms, whether it’s a meta DSP or not, can help brand building efforts.”

The takeaway: Let’s wait and see if Walia rolls out meta DSPs internationally before we jump on board.

The catchiest programmatic saying

Hands down, Simon Williams from Dentsu Aegis takes the trophy for the most clever programmatic turn of phrase. While chairing the panel discussion How are brands surviving in the new programmatic ecosystem? Williams floated the concept of “programmatic Darwinism”, the idea that unless brands are able to evolve their media offerings to include programmatic, they will be weeded out as if by natural selection.  

Williams coined the term in response to what he sees in his role. He said: “Every other day, I’m probably meeting three to four to five different new technology publishers that are coming to market, or vendors or suppliers. Navigating through that is exceptionally difficult.”

Williams said: “Technology and data are fast evolving, quicker than brands can survive or adapt and evolve. What should we be doing? What should we be asking?”

From a client perspective, Rob Moore from Roadshow Films said: “It’s a really difficult road for us to try and navigate as clients and it’s not something that we’re going to be able to achieve very quickly. So we need help. At the moment, we kind of don’t know who to trust.”

For agencies and clients trying to avoid programmatic Darwinism, Ciarán Norris from American Express suggests asking one key question: “To the technology providers, how do you make money? How are you paying for your services?”

While Williams applies the theory of specifically to agencies and brands, it also works for the tech providers. Those that can evolve and differentiate will be more likely to survive according to Dave Osborn from AppNexus.   

The takeaway: Evolve or die. No matter which side of the programmatic equation you are on.

The tech commandments

A huge part of programmatic comes down to technology and Dave Osborn from AppNexus was keen to lay some ground rules for companies playing in the space. Thus, he presented the “tech commandments”.

Osborn said: “Let me be explicit about the things you should require from a technology platform that empowers you. To compete with the bad guys, whoever they may be.”

The three commandments are:

1. Your tech provider can’t compete with you

“The technology provider that powers your business can’t compete with you. In medieval terms, this is like buying a shield from the guy you’re going to war against,” said Osborn. “If your technology partner runs a media business that uses your inventory to grow share at your expense, then you shouldn’t work with them. If they go direct to your clients in an effort to disintermediate your agency, you shouldn’t work with them.”

2. You need to exert downward pressure on tech margin

“For the internet to be a better place for consumers, far more than 40 cents on the dollar has to go in the hands of Australia’s media content producers. Things that should be free like viewability measurement, in my opinion, are free,” said Osborn.

3. You must be able to differentiate

“That means you own and control your data. You can take it with you. You can work with other partner’s data securely. It means your people can make the platform do what they want it to do. It needs to be programmable,” said Osborn.

Osborn concluded: “If you can tick those tech boxes, you’ve got an enabling platform. The good news is then the hard work can really start.”

The takeaway: Know thy tech commandments.

Big brands have the power to drive change and innovation in mobile programmatic

AdRoll’s head of APAC marketing Cat Prestipino presented the findings of the AdRoll State of the Industry report, a look at retargeting, programmatic advertising, and performance marketing. Prestipino shared a number of eye-opening snippets such as 22% of marketers track attribution but don’t know how to analyse results and that a large number of businesses think if they don’t have an app, they can’t be on mobile.

The topic of mobile was a hot one throughout the day and Prestipino said: “The year of mobile still hasn’t happened.”

What’s likely to tip the scales? In Prestipino’s opinion, Big brands.

“I don’t want to make a comment that Google or Apple or Coca-Cola is going to save us all, but it is a little bit like that,” she said. “The brands with the larger budgets need to push the technology further. They need to be talking not only to their creative and media buying agencies but also the ad tech vendors about what they can do and working together to create a solution.”

This is not without precedent. “At the companies I have worked for, a lot of the products have come from a one-off request from a really big client,” says Prestipino. “If those clients are able to push the needle, it then becomes available to all of us. I really think it’s important for those companies that can to push the needle.”

This is probably some way off in Australia with Prestipino noting: “One of the things we’ve seen in this market is people are afraid to take really big risks and it is a big risk. I probably wouldn’t, with my budget, go all out on mobile because I need to show my ROI.”

The takeaway: Don’t mark the year of mobile in your calendar just yet. Unless you’re the marketing director for Coke and have a game changing campaign on the horizon.

People, not tech, still reign supreme

When programmatic first entered the marketing world, there was much fear the machines would be coming for all our jobs. It’s a concern some people still have, and rightly so. Yet the general sentiment at the Programmatic Summit was that people will continue to play a vital role.

Rob Moore from Roadshow Films gave the nod to one group of people during the session How are brands surviving in the new programmatic ecosystem? – agencies. “There is absolutely a role for agencies,” he said.

With agencies – and tech vendors and brands – comes relationships, a key topic of discussion during the session Programmatic is not a medium: how it’s advancing beyond digital screens to TV, radio & outdoor.

TubeMogul’s Steve Hunt asked the panel: “In the vendor selection process, it should be pretty objective because you’re talking about technology and whether it can actually do something for you. But I’m curious to know, how much of it is still relationship driven?”

MCN’s Mark Frain was the first to answer saying: “There is no doubt relationships still get the job done.”

Hayley Cameron, digital commercial manager at SBS, added: “We’re now seeing big spends coming from trading desks so we’ve got to have the relationship with them. It’s fundamental. And this is a small market down here in Australia. It’s definitely about relationships.”

The takeaway: Until such time as the premise from Spike Jonze’s film Her becomes a reality and people can have relationships with computers, human relationships will remain vital to the programmatic business.

Programmatic TV – where will the discussion be in a year’s time?

Another hot topic at the Summit was programmatic TV and it’s a topic we’ve covered here before with Rocket Fuel’s JJ Eastwood discussing how programmatic will affect the future of the Super Bowl in this piece.

During the session Making TV Part Of A Precision Marketing Toolkit, the panelists were asked to give their predictions on what the conversation will be in relation to programmatic TV 12 months from now. Dan Ackerman, SVP of programmatic TV at AOL said: “Next year we will be talking about not just programmatic television in the linear space but about how programmatic video across all screens is at scale in market.”

The takeaway: Let’s check back this time next year and see if he’s spot on.

The biggest risk to the programmatic industry

One of the more vigorous panel discussions came during the session Addressing industry hot topics: ad fraud, adblocking, and viewability. When asked which of the three topics is the biggest risk and to whom, three out of four panelists agreed on adblocking. Tereza Alexandratos from Fairfax Media summed up the sentiment: “Adblocking is the biggest risk if it escalates because it obviously destroys the industry as a whole.”

That said, there was debate on the day as to whether the quoted statistic of around 200 million consumers having installed some sort of adblocking software was accurate with Timothy Whitfield, director of technical operations at GroupM saying: “Adblocking is a little bit of a ‘chicken little’ situation. Someone says a number, then someone repeats that number and it amplifies. When I measured it by looking at a single server, one data set over another data set, it was 7.3% in Australia. Now 10% is an agency discrepancy and we were under the discrepancy for adblocking.”

The takeaway: Adblocking equals bad but we’re not sure how bad just yet.

Who’s making all the money from programmatic?

With more than $100 billion tipped to be flowing through programmatic pipes by 2020, someone is taking home the bacon. And speakers at the Programmatic Summit have little doubt about who.

Dylan McBride from AppNexus shared his thoughts during the session How Transparent Is Transparency And The Rise Of Programmatic Intermediaries. He said: “The tech companies and even the agencies take a lot of heat when it comes to margin. The bigger picture, the agencies aren’t necessarily the ones running away with the money here. If you look at who’s actually making all the money, not to pick on them too much but Google and Facebook. They grew an average of 26% year-on-year and the big holding companies grew on an average of about 2-3% top line revenue growth. So I think picking on the agency and picking on ad tech vendors gets a little bit out of hand. It could be better but we actually know who’s making all the money and it’s not necessarily the agencies.”

The takeaway: Buy yourself some Facebook or Google shares. Stat.

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Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.