The great thing about digital media is its role in democratizing marketing. The introduction of machine learning and AI to media has given marketers of all sizes access to powerful tools that allow them to optimize their media spend and stretch their media dollars. Awesome.
The worst part of those same technologies is that anybody with a credit card can purchase digital media and it shows. Improvisation and experimentation is rampant, which can create confusion in the marketplace. Clients, who are already struggling to keep up to speed with technology, are at a loss to evaluate whether their campaigns are well run.
Companies who continue to treat digital media as another channel to be purchased are intersecting with marketers who are exploiting powerful tools like programmatics. At first glance one can be excused for not knowing the difference between the two. In reality the performance gap between them is huge.
Here are a few clues to let you know if your agency actually knows what they are doing.
Your agency has a DMP (Data Management Platform): programmatics are managed via a system similar to a stock market. To actively manage your campaign AND be in control of your first party data, your agency needs to have their own trading desk and it needs to be staffed by qualified analysts who do more than place orders. No DMP? – they are passively buying media. They sell you on a single web property at a time? - they are spending your digital dollars like it is traditional media.
Your programmatics campaign is not purchased, it is managed: a properly run digital campaign needs to be monitored constantly. In a world of real time bidding and AI-assisted targeting you need to manage the media market. A certified analyst will check your campaign daily and make tweaks to keep your campaign optimized and ensure you maximize engagement and get a proper return on investment.
You have access to responsive creative development: the feedback of a digital campaign is immediate. The closer your creative people are to your programmatic team, the better able you are to modify messaging to respond to the engagement data you are receiving in real time.
Your SEO is integrated in creative development: a proper SEO analysis should start with an in-depth query of the searches your customers are actually making in the marketplace. This is valuable data to help you refine the content and UX of your site. It also becomes extremely useful as you create your ads. A lot of agencies claim to understand SEO, yet they tend to focus only on the technical evaluation of on-site criteria, often ignoring the content itself - in which the true performance value of SEO lies.
You've outlined a strategy for your first party data: top-of-mind in the development of any worthwhile programmatics campaign is the building of your first party data. This is intimately tied into the UX of your web site. First party data accumulates over time, but only if it is collected according to objectives. If the algorithms are left to their own devices, you can end up with bad data replicating itself and you'll need to start over.
Your agency is accredited by Google: Google's database today represents 87% of all web traffic on the net. Who better to understand the ever-changing search and targeting algorithms than Google themselves. An agency accredited on the Google Marketing Platform is more likely to aware of the most up-to-date optimization requirements.
I would absolutely encourage anyone looking to develop their business to add programmatics to their arsenal of marketing tactics. When it is well run, a digital campaign can be a powerful way to generate awareness, create engagement and activate sales. Be on the lookout for the best partner to help you build your campaigns and structure your digital environment and programmatics will deliver dividends for years to come.
Best of luck!