Mobile programmatic I.

Gábor Brindza

Managing Director

Uncountable materials, presentations, speeches and suggestions were revealed about programmatic buying, but nobody had went into the mobile part of it, in my opinion mostly due to the general insecurity regarding the mobile itself in marketing communication. Most marketers see it as desktop, and assume that works the same.

Some words about automated buying in advance. It’s quite strange that only boring and general things are said, I rarely hear real information, useful knowledge. Instead there come the definitions and there’s no conference without “RTB is programmatic, but not everything that is programmatic is RTB”, but my favorite slide is which says “…everyone talks about it, but nobody really knows how to do it”. The best is when the speaker asks mercy in the beginning because the three letter abbreviations are coming. It’s clear at this point that the presentation will be boring, as it would take the 10 minutes to get to a decent thought from here.

The theoretical background of the topic is the least interesting for me, I’m not even sure whether I know all the definitions properly or not, but what many people – especially those typical phrases using speakers – do not expect that much more is at stake here, and it’s a pity to spend time reading the definitions and repeating the theoretical background of the process. If someone has spent a few years in advertising and practiced (digital) media planning that person should know what happens between seller and buyer. Therefore, instead of the theoretical reasoning, here are a few hard-core facts about what it is that automated purchasing “a blow” to solve, and why it represents a paradigm shift in the digital market as a whole.

1. Significantly simplified administration

Let’s see the scheme of ordering a campaign: in good case a phone call is enough to settle the deal with the agencies (or direct clients if they don’t have agency), but in bad and most often cases several e-mails are necessary to clarify the details (price, weekly number of visitors, daily AV, targeting, discounts, etc), and if the sales person is not available at 5 p.m. it is the end of the world. But the situation is not brighter on the other side, the clients don’t give back information about what did they plan, whether they will order the campaign or not, when will it start, keeping the sales person in insecurity.

Then the order containing the details comes in an e-mail to the media owner, that should be confirmed and should be filed and inserted into an administration table. If there is a change, there is a new order, a new confirmation, filing, and then comes invoicing, keeping track of whether the money came in, if not, why not, if arrived to the account, and so on.

Let’s see it from automated side. This administration part falls out from the process, minimizing the mistakes from human negligence, partly simplified operation. In an automated system the ad starts by clicking on a button, systems pay for each other, making the payment automatic. Obviously it is not so smooth in reality, but automated buying holds the hope of it. For a company running a huge amount of campaigns this means a big administrative ease and the freed capacities could be transferred to other areas easily.

I haven’t even mentioned contracts, but you can imagine how much time does it take to formulate the relevant contract. With a template contract this process may be replaced both on SSP and DSP sides.

There is no much words about administration in the presentations, but a big part of advertising processes are doomed by it, and a well-oiled system would be able to provide noticeable help.

2. The campaign could be started anytime

There is no need for the other party, no problem if the sales leave earlier or are on vacation, neither is if the campaign manager has to start other campaigns, and the creative doesn’t have to go trough several people until it is served. The campaign starting becomes one-sided, and only the DSP operator is responsible for it.

3. Screenshots

Only the amount of screenshots floating on the advertising market would be enough motivation to replace the old ‘institutes’ somehow. The tendencies are going in that direction, but the systems are not so trustable. Nowadays we use screenshots not to track the campaign running, but to see if everything is fine, especially when we use not static pictures. I admit we are notorious screenshot senders, and in programmatic campaigns we do them as well, because many mistakes could be detected this way.

4. Exciting new contents

This is my favourite part. 10 years ago it was a big deal to reach the Hungarian users of, the solution was very expensive, but we believed that we couldn’t reach those people anywhere else. We were worried whether the campaign completed, because obviously there wasn’t so much inventory. Today we are able to advertise on any well-known site, even on the most prominent ones. Despite it, my heart still beats faster when we appear on the front page of (mobile) BBC or New York Times.

5. Data

Except the western countries the lack of data is an unsolved problem. There is no data and won’t even be, more accurately it doesn’t worth it now to develop something like that for campaigns purchased with traditional media-buying. All the more it’s a great business to work with a DMP, or develop one that can be linked to other (three lettered) players. Compared to the previous options it’s already a big step.

6. More thoughtful inventory management 

The media side players actually did get involved in this strange, automated world unintentionally. Somebody started to talk about it and there was no stopping, everybody had to join, but only a few of them have a strategy on what source they accept campaigns from and how to prioritise them.

This brave new world forces the media owners to create new (well-working) ad placements more consciously, constantly check them and invent formats that are effective from the advertising perspective.

7. More detailed statistics

Due to the fact that we are present on many sites, and it is physically impossible to make a screenshot of everything, gathering data about the campaigns performance becomes more important. Viewability is still not there where it should be, but it’s one of the most important metrics of programmatic campaigns. The same types of figures are available here just like in an adserver, but an rtb campaign manager will probably send more complex and deeper analysis than a simple AV or CT statistic.

8. Swindles

In the old fashioned world the campaigns were checked manually, so someone was pinched of mischief only by chance, for example if the campaign wasn’t running there where it was ordered. In programmatic it’s possible to see a detailed domain list, thus it falls out quickly if the campaign runs on a site where it shouldn’t. In addition, earlier it wasn’t necessary to have brand safety options, even if not everything was brand-proof. Anyway, it feels good to have some tools to control the circumstance of a campaign.

9. Uniformed sizes 

This is a topic we just smile at, but not a long time ago the designers defined the measurements of the ads indeed, so you regularly had to produce 10-15 different sizes for one medium sized campaign, these banners obviously didn’t comply with any standards.

This is over too, because the automated system only operates with several (standard) sizes and is rather strict in terms of the “heaviness” of the banner. For example, if our banner is over 50k, the system won’t accept it (the campaign won’t start), and in this new era the magic spell “please do a favor and please commence the campaign with this banner on this one occasion” does not work. Here you or have the required, standard sized banner or don’t. This obviously simplifies the process and saves a bunch of money for the clients too.

10. …and even the ad could be pretty nice

In my previous post I have discussed, what makes a perfect impression. One of its cornerstones is the aesthetical, crisp, nicely animated banner. Luckily, the programmatic channel isn’t an obstacle, it can easily serve (well, maybe not easily, but with some DSPs yes) retina sharp banners on mobile, and even rich media or video banners.

In recent years from nonsensical performance approach programmatic has become a more consciously used platform, which changes the mentality of digital advertising. In programmatic branded or any kind of media buying is feasible, and it makes us capable to advertise there and then, where and when we want, with the solution that best conveys the campaign message. This simplifies and unifies the process, thus only the setting details affect the campaign.

This is how we approach this new world. This isn’t a recent, fashionable advertising solution, a passing fad but a fresh new base of digital advertising, so without the understanding of this platform nobody would be successful in mid term.

And I haven’t even talked about mobile yet…

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