Ad Tech’s Simplification Challenge

Machine buying has already transformed advertising and media, but we in the industry are holding back its full expression by focusing too much on the how and not the why.

An inside baseball conference or panel is littered with the jargon of the day: APIs, RTB, DSP, SSP, QPS, S2S. The short-hand makes for efficient conversation for the initiated, but leaves the true end customer — the CMO, CEO, or CFO of the Fortune 1000 brand – annoyed. And rightfully so. We’re like the foodies in Portlandia, tracking the provenance of a chicken down to its local roots, boring our tablemates by extolling the virtues of free-range, grain-fed, and heirloom New Hampshire Red poultry.
There are customers who want to know the grittiest of details, to be certain. But the majority are craving a simpler solution – one place to go to meet all their needs, whether branding or performance oriented. As an industry, we need to pull together all the various media outlets, data sources, and technology enablers for the customers who just want it all to work, and at scale.
To return to the analogy: Buyers are patrons in an advertising technology restaurant. The customers don’t need to know the recipes, how the kitchen is laid out, the dessert line organized, or how to build their own oven. The diners order what they want, and the kitchen sends out something delicious.
In fact, it’s this very behind-the-scenes coordination that gives buyers a reason to automate their ad spend rather than buy ads manually. The important ingredients are technology, algorithms, and data, across multiple media channels. The right partner pulls together these ingredients, in the right order, to deliver the business results the end marketer is looking to achieve. It’s no piece of cake doing this seventeen billion times per day, mind, but we are proposing most people would prefer not hear us gripe about how much work we do to make the complex possible and the result scrumptious.
To give one example, we were able to dynamically adjust goals, algorithms, ad spend, and creative at different phases of the purchasing cycle to promote AmEx’s new prepaid debit card, aimed at parents of teenage children. The results were impressive. In five months, AmEx saw a 96 percent increase in brand awareness when measuring exposed vs. unexposed lift. Sales volume exceeded AmEx’s forecasts by 10 percent. What’s more, by targeting consumers differently at multiple steps along the funnel, rather than separating the campaigns and strategies, AmEx experienced a 600 percent increase in response and 500 percent decrease in cost per conversion relative to traditional planning and buying. Put another way: programmatic buying delivered a 30x improvement over buying sites and networks directly, and required only one person using a platform rather than a whole team without.
This is just smart marketing. It’s not about alphabet soup. It’s about leveraging the most up-to-date technologies in one place to efficiently deliver results for the brands ultimately doing the buying.
Joe Zawadzki is CEO of MediaMath, a digital media buying platform.