‘Not a geeky stereotype’: What a publisher programmatic analyst actually does

“Programmatic analyst” is a new, increasingly important role in publishing as companies struggle to wring more value from their digital media.

Programmatic analysts need a mix of skills that have traditionally been found in different people. They need to be able to scrutinize data from data-management platforms, demand-side platforms and ad servers to viewability and CPM auditors; and determine where and how tweaks can be made to the open-market programmatic trading processes. They also have to communicate that internally and identify new commercial partners based on all that data.

It’s a hard combination to find. One of these analysts is Freddie Boyle, one of Trinity Mirror’s five programmatic analysts. He joined the publisher a few months ago with a degree in business and management and focuses on the buy side. (Fellow programmatic analyst Ken Kietmontree specializes on the sell side.) In the interview process, Boyle was asked about his communication skills with outside partners and internal departments.

“A candidate can’t just have the analytical skills,” Boyle said. “The real emphasis is on communication internally and externally. You need to also be able to socialize with partners and maintain partners. It’s not the geeky stereotype. You need to be able to balance and hold the concept of where and how programmatic sits within the whole company, and industry.”

Here’s a look at what he does throughout the week:

Freddie Boyle is a programmatic analyst at Trinity Mirror.

Internal communications
Pinpointing where and how digital ad yields can be increased, in a landscape the duopoly dominates, is daily priority for publishers. Programmatic analysts must be able to translate technical information for the sales teams so they can take action on it.

Boyle and other programmatic analysts regularly meet with the digital ad sales teams to discuss what trends they see around yields and how to increase them. “You’re not at your desk just analyzing spreadsheets; it’s all about coordination and communication,” Boyle said.

Data-sharing projects
Trinity Mirror has been exploring new ways to monetize its data. That has extended to decoupling its audience data from its inventory for advertisers to use across whatever online property they wish. Boyle maps out the various potential uses and benefits of its data with a partner — often another publisher. So, if a sports-equipment website wanted to share data, Boyle would see which segments would add the most value to Trinity Mirror’s own sports sites.

In the analytics weeds
Analysts must have the nerdy skills, too. A good chunk of Boyle’s time is spent setting up private marketplace deals and manually inputting deal information, such as buyer rates, into an ad server. He’ll choose targeting segments from across Trinity Mirror’s own data network for campaigns to run across or create bespoke segments for buyers.

He’ll also optimize campaigns on the fly, tracking advertiser spend, clicks and impressions, as well as the places ads are being served, and changing sites if they’re not performing well.

Audience mining
Audience data is the gold mine of any publisher, so another big part of Boyle’s time is spent selecting the right audience segments for ad campaigns and expanding on or improving audience categories. A segment like cars, for example, could be expanded from “car interest” to “used-car interest” and “brand-of-car interest.” It could also mean tweaking data like geographic targeting for a sports segment to target stadiums only.


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