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INsider Questions: Chris Dobson, Executive Chairman at The Exchange Lab
Image Credit  – The Exchange Lab

INsider Questions: Chris Dobson, Executive Chairman at The Exchange Lab

In our series of articles titled INsider Questions, we have sought some of the industry’s top figureheads to see what they think advertisers should be asking performance marketers to eke more out of their campaigns.  Each feature will cover a different topic and for today’s piece, Chris Dobson, executive chairman at The Exchange Lab, has provided what he feels are the most important questions regarding programmatic advertising campaigns. 

How does the existence of programmatic impact your marketing plan?

Through programmatic marketing brands have the ability to gain deeper insights into customer engagement and campaign performance. The level of insight is not confined to post campaign analysis; programmatic provides real time insights and analysis of live campaigns which allows traders to move money to where it’s working hardest. Due to the breadth of programmatic targeting methods, brands now have the ability to identify and connect with potential consumers.

Programmatic insights identify and deliver advertising to target demographics at the moment they would be most responsive to brand messaging, allowing messages to be tailored and to consumers. Relevant content boosts engagement with new and existing customers online. Personalised content but delivered at scale globally, programmatic really is the Holy Grail for marketers. Programmatic campaigns provide increased ROI for brands and its ability to serve the best price for inventory and deliver the best performance is priceless. 

Consumers are now always connected, so programmatic is not just one line on a marketing plan; it is multiple lines running simultaneously.

What elements make up a successful programmatic campaign?

According to MAGNA GLOBAL, by 2017 $32.6 billion or around 70% of online display advertising will be purchased programmatically. In the UK alone the IAB predicts that programmatic will cover as much as 75% of the display market by that time. Despite these staggering forecasts and many others like it, some CMOs are still daunted by the thought of putting their brand reputation at the mercy of an automated system. This is a perception issue from the early days of programmatic. Programmatic is by no means a ‘set it and go’ approach; to truly reap the benefits you need a combination of man and machine. The programmatic infrastructure delivers the insights and data through automation but it is the traders who take this analysis to inform their decision making across media purchase and performance.

The key to embracing this relatively new technology is having an open mind to test and learn from campaign strategies and executions in order to get the best results. Those marketers that take the leap into programmatic should set clear objectives and work with companies that see it as a partnership. There should be a mix of tactics, including targeting and retargeting that run on multiple platforms simultaneously. Campaigns should target the audience whenever they are online, on whatever device they are using. They should be agnostic to device and provider - what you believe might be the best method to reach your customer, may not necessarily be the right one. Do not be prescriptive - let the data dictate the channel and it will direct you to your consumers.

Getting the best results from a programmatic marketing relies on the same principles as traditional media. Plan well and in advance.

What you should expect in a top class service from your programmatic provider?

Transparency, transparency, transparency! In some quarters programmatic is still viewed as a dark art. It is a fast moving and constantly evolving landscape with a growth curve the envy of many businesses. Fuelling this growth is the realisation that programmatic’s benefits are huge, in terms of the ROI and opportunity that it offers brand and marketers to innovate and connect with their audience.

You know you have picked the right company when there is consultation and feedback at each stage of the process. Expect insight and analysis; you should be briefed on what elements of the campaign are working well, what is not. These audience trends and insights to increase the performance of your campaign and incorporate learnings into future marketing planning. Best in class programmatic consultants will be accountable and approachable. They should be able to clearly articulate in simple terms what elements of the programmatic process drove campaign success and what did not work. And finally do not try to be too prescriptive – try to break down the old barriers of display, mobile etc. and let your programmatic partner find the right audience on the right device without having one hand tied behind their back!!

How do you measure ROI in a programmatic campaign?

The key to measuring ROI on programmatic campaigns is to set clear, achievable objectives at the beginning of the campaign. At The Exchange Lab, we carry out an in-depth analysis of our clients current and potential customer base before we set anything live. We agree metrics before any campaign executions begin. These metrics can include anything from increasing a brand’s customer base, increasing sales of products and services to changing or shaping brand perception.

How does programmatic work with other elements of your marketing campaign?

Marketing campaigns now have to be as flexible as the lifestyles of the consumers being targeted, so single tactic campaigns no longer cut it. Programmatic is a fantastic way to compliment and enhance each tactic a CMO and their teams may employ. If a brand is running a TV advertising campaign, such as John Lewis’ infamous Christmas campaign for example, programmatic activity can sync with it, providing increased brand impact and more importantly a direct route to purchase by displaying online ads just before or at the same time the TV execution runs.

Its 2013 ‘Bear and The Hare’ commercial even aired first online before it did on TV screens.  Similarly, it can work in conjunction with in-store activity, giving the brand an online boost pre or post visit to its high-street showroom.

Programmatic is data rich. By layering first party data with third party data it is possible to gain insights from similar modelling on existing clients that then enables effective and efficient communication with new customers. Data taken from one campaign can run alongside a brand’s social campaign and be layered over other channels from the marketing campaign. Programmatic allows clients to react and respond in real time, changing the course of activity to match the behaviour of consumers to achieve the best results.

Once a client’s desired ROI and objectives have been defined, data rich programmatic is an excellent method for achieving more efficient media planning and buying. It is not just about demographic data anymore, it is about monitoring real time shifts consumer behaviour at a rate faster than humans alone can keep up with. 

Chris Dobson

Chris Dobson

Chris Dobson joined The Exchange Lab as Chairman of Global Programmatic Digital Marketplace in January 2014, and in May 2014 became Executive Chairman.

Dobson’s primary responsibilities in this role are to run The Exchange Lab board and provide strategic direction for the company while helping drive growth and establish new relationships with external stakeholders and clients.

Dobson has also held senior positions at Microsoft, Zenith Optimedia and MTV Networks Europe.

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