Challenges Remain for Programmatic Buying in DPB Ad Space

Jay Sears, Sr. VP Market Development, The Rubicon Project, moderated a panel called Programmatic or Problematic? at the DPAA Summit

Supply Constraints, Lack of Real-time Distribution, and Synchronization Issues Hold Back Programmatic Buying in Digital Place-based Advertising Space

NEW YORK, NY — Programmatic buying has become an essential component of multiscreen advertising strategies though which digital place-based (DPB) media can be bought alongside television, mobile, and online media. It was one of several topics explored at the Digital Place Based Advertising Association’s (DPAA) 2014 Video Everywhere Summit, an annual event that brings together advertising agency media professionals, brands, and digital place-based network stakeholders, held last Tuesday, November 4 in New York. The summit covered a range of topics that included multiscreen campaign planning, and location-based mobile advertising in an open forum discussion.

Programmatic buying can bring forth a range of emotions from stakeholders on the buy-side and sell-side of the digital place-based advertising industry. Those on the sell-side—media professionals, agencies and technology companies— point to the benefits of automation and increased efficiency in the buying process, which deliver greater opportunities for brands and the planning process. Those on the sell-side—digital place-based and digital out-of-home operators—remain somewhat ambivalent about the real benefits programmatic buying provides their networks. Most network operators say that programmatic buying has the potential, in the near-term, of selling unsold advertising inventory and providing small, incremental gains to their bottom line.

Jay Sears, Sr. VP Market Development, The Rubicon Project, moderated a panel called Programmatic or Problematic? He was joined by panelists that included Eric Fischer, Director of Global Media, GoDaddy; Carl Fremont, Global Chief Digital Officer, MEC Global; Rob Griffin, Exec. VP Global Head of Digital, Havas Media; Jeff Dow, Exec. VP Digital, Data & Analytics, Starcom MediaVest Group; Julian Zilberbrand, Exec. VP Activation Standards, Insights & Technology, Zenith Optimedia; and Matt Bayer, VP, Advanced TV, Magna Global.

The panelists focused on the impact programmatic buying has today across all media channels and addressed issues directly related to digital place-based ad networks, which include supply constraints, measurement, and the desire for real-time content distribution and synchronization.

Is Inertia Television’s Last Great Hope?

According to a recent Magna Global study, more than 70% of all advertising spending is still allocated to television. One of the reasons for this is that buying television is a relatively frictionless transaction—all of the pieces are already in place and brands are still asking for it.

“Television is still relevant from the perspective that people are still spending a lot of time with linear TV and there are still a lot of shared ad dollars that go through linear TV. So I don’t think we can claim it’s not currently relevant,” said Jeff Dow. “When it comes down to some human things – how agencies, how advertisers, how marketers, and how networks are used to buying and selling – we have a lot of people in this ecosystem who are really comfortable with how things are bought and sold today. I don’t see that changing rapidly, at least within the next 5 years, because this is a human business and humans are generally governed by inertia and like to do the same things over and over again.”

Most agencies use proprietary planning systems to buy media that are based on audience data. Because digital place-based media is relatively new, there isn’t as much audience data available to directly plug into these systems. As a result, it’s hard for agencies to recommend the medium to clients if planners don’t have the audience data to work with. In addition, agencies are not always structured in ways that enable planning and buying the medium with ease.

“Havas is in the process of a restructure to put digital out-of-home with traditional out-of-home, put digital radio with traditional radio, put television with the online video buyer, and then have programmatic spread across all of that,” said Rob Griffin.

“When you’re looking at any medium that’s looking to mature, the way we can make it mature is being able to measure against it. Once we can measure against it, you can put it into your entire funnel of how you figure out media investment and attribution, and then apply that and figure out where the dollars need to go,” said Julian Zilberbrand. “And if that’s where your audience is, you tend to invest there. But until we have the maturity on the measurement side, there’s a gap.”

Audience measurement is an ongoing process that has yielded positive results for some DPB advertising networks, including Adspace Network, Titan Transit, GSTV, and the Pharmacy Health Network, which are all Nielsen audited.

Figuring Out DPB Media’s Supply Constraint

“I think we have kind of an odd problem to solve, said Dow. “People in our business are generally comfortable with programmatic toolsets and automated activation from the digital [online] side of the world, where there’s an almost unlimited amount of supply. We’ve grown up in this world where we expect automation to be able to activate against supply that’s just there. We also have a wide variety of sellers to bring into our automated world. That’s not really the case in either the digital place-based space, TV, or any other video environment.”

Dow says that the media industry is working to solve the supply-side issues by cross-exposing people who have programmatic skill sets with people who understand the digital place-based industry.

“The supply of outdoor [DPB] is definitely a challenge that we need to solve as an industry, because it simply means you attack the problem differently. The way that you think about new models, financial models or compensation models, really drives how operators and publishers are getting paid incrementally for selling media that they haven’t historically sold programmatically through more automated means,” added Dow.

Real-time Ad Serving on the Horizon?

The ability to deliver video content in real-time has not caught up with our ability to understand who a consumer actually is at the point of delivery and target content at a specific point of decision. Digital place-based and television currently lack this capability, especially when compared with online re-targeting. According to Dow, we need to think about programmatic buying as a way for creating more valuable outcomes for consumer and marketers, whether those outcomes are behavioral outcomes or attitude outcomes.

“The real value of programmatic buying is allowing people to make more decisions more quickly, and one of those key decisions is understanding what content needs to be delivered at a specific moment in time, because I’ve just uncovered a set of consumers who are about to engage with my ad,” said Dow “That can be really powerful. There’s some really interesting technology problems that need to solved in order to be able to take video content, which brands work so hard to create, and engage specifically with different audiences and micro-audiences, and then deliver that content in real-time once you know who’s about to see it.”

The ultimate goal is finding creative ways to reach consumers. “We’re so hung up on automation and everything that goes with it and patting ourselves on the back for creating tools and technology, but what’s missing is the actual creative work to get in front of the consumer and engage with them,” said Zilberbrand. “Because it’s not simply about getting them the message, it’s about getting them the right message, and getting it at a point in time where you’re going to elicit a reaction.”

Learn more about programmatic by downloading ScreenMedia Daily’s Digital Place-based Advertising Trend Report: Programmatic Buying and Digital Place-based Media. The report includes interviews with network operators and media executives in the digital place-based advertising space and examines the issues with the planning and buying process, and provides a glimpse into solutions currently under development designed to facilitate the buying of digital place-based advertising.

Photo courtesy of: DPAA

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The DOOH Ad Network Locator is a free online resource designed to help media buyers, planner and brand strategists identify place-based digital out-of-home advertising networks by location, venue type, demographics and reach. There are more than 160 advertising-based networks organized by country that include Australia, Canada, United States and the UK. The United States is organized by venue type as it has the broadest range of venue categories, with the greatest number of ad-based networks operating within each category.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising, also known as Digital Place Based (DPB) media, utilizes strategically placed, networked digital signage displays to reach on-the-go consumers while they are outside of their home with highly targeted messages. Digital out-of-home screens can be found in locations that include transportation hubs such as airports, railway and bus terminals; executive networks in office-building lobbies and elevators. Other venues include shopping malls, gas stations, fast-casual restaurants, fitness centers, hotels and more.

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