How WPP’s Exchange Lab trains programmatic buyers
Programmatic advertising is never sexy, but being nestled between glass-paneled business buildings and weathered Romanesque dwellings in London’s Victoria district at least makes things interesting. As ambient music reminiscent of Sigur Ros pumped throughout the common space at London-based The Exchange Lab, Digiday got a look into how the programmatic company tailors its training to fit its prospective buyers.
With programmatic advertising, training isn’t one size fits all. To train 5,000 people in programmatic, Havas relied on online courses and standardized grading systems that placed trainees at one of three levels depending on how they scored. But at about 150 employees, The Exchange Lab is a much smaller operation, which means it can rely on a less formal form of training that provides recruits with hands-on data analysis and mentoring from a senior staffer.
Purchased by WPP in 2015, a major component of The Exchange Lab’s programmatic training involves handing an aspiring programmatic buyer a ton of log data and use it to create a presentation about its most interesting findings, said optimization director Charlotte Still.
“You can see in the discussion if they have their head around the data or not,” Still said.
Another training tactic The Exchange Lab uses is pairing new employees with senior staffers for on-job training. These pairings are customized according to the strengths and deficiencies a candidate displays in their interviews and presentations. For example, a candidate with solid data skills but lack of marketing experience will get paired with someone who has worked with agencies for years.
Vendors also bring new buyers up to speed on how to get the most oomph from particular platforms. For instance, some demand-side platforms rely heavily on algorithms, so DSP reps will come in to The Exchange’s Lab’s sunlight conference room to show buyers how they can use the algorithms to buy more efficiently.
Because The Exchange Lab uses its own proprietary technology to aggregate data across multiple DSPs and ad servers, new buyers have to spend at least a year in operations setting up campaigns (where their setup must be approved by a buyer before it is activated) before they are allowed to execute buys.
“There is no point in letting people play with tools to make changes if they don’t understand the data behind it,” said Tim Webster, co-founder and chief strategy officer.
Although programmatic buyers are ultimately marketers, Webster said that he likes to target STEM degree holders since the job is data intensive. As with any job, hiring people with experience is ideal; however, programmatic agencies are often forced to rely on aptitude as a proxy.
“There is a huge skills shortage in the market,“ Webster said. “People are more important than they were before because the general level of understanding of programmatic in the industry isn’t as high as it needs to be.”
Photo via The Exchange Lab
‘You’re not going to get it all right’: IBM CMO Michelle Peluso on managing through a crisis
As marketers manage another crisis, they are thinking about how to help their teams as well as how they should be advertising.
‘Stand for something’: As protests continue, tone-deaf influencer marketing is in the spotlight
Questions about diversity in influencer marketing, opportunism and the need for brands to get comfortable with influencers taking a stance on politics and racial issues are bubbling up now as this may be a moment of self-reflection for the influencer marketing community.
‘There isn’t a talent pipeline problem’: Confessions of a black advertising exec
In this edition of our Confessions series, in which we exchange anonymity for candor, we hear from a black media buyer who believes brands need to do more to support for Black Lives Matter and that agencies still haven't truly changed their hiring policies.
SponsoredVideo: Marketers discuss the future state of less interruptive in-stream ads
In a new video, experts from GumGum, The Martin Agency and Pinterest discuss the future of video advertising — and outline their vision for how video ads can be less disruptive.
Member ExclusiveDigiday Research: Over half of brands say they handle marketing ‘mostly’ with internal resources
Digiday’s quarterly benchmarking survey found that about 83% of marketers are managing their marketing either mostly in-house or completely in-house. That's up from the 55% of marketers six months ago who said the same.
Member Exclusive‘Our job is to sell’: Marketers, moving past coronavirus response, return to selling products
Marketers need to get back to the job at hand: Keeping the squeaky wheels of capitalism turning.