“There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for pub­lish­ers to be­come clas­si­fied as pre­mium if they get var­i­ous things right.”

DAVID GOD­DARD, BBC Ad­ver­tis­ing’s pro­gram­matic head, on build­ing trust in ad tech.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

The BBC re­cently held an event in Dubai to dis­cuss pro­gram­matic buy­ing with re­gional me­dia buy­ers and their clients. It was aimed at brands who buy ad­ver­tis­ing on the UK na­tional broad­caster’s dig­i­tal plat­forms.

Af­ter the talks and panel dis­cus­sions, Cam­paign caught up with David God­dard, global head of pro­gram­matic trad­ing at BBC Ad­ver­tis­ing. He says pro­gram­matic – the au­to­mated buy­ing of on­line ad space – has long been seen as a bit of a dirty word, a way to get rid of rem­nant in­ven­tory. The tech­nol­ogy needs to re­build trust and re­spect among ad­ver­tis­ers.

God­dard had told the au­di­ence that pro­gram­matic has “re­de­fined pre­mium”. That may sound like a tired press re­lease from a strug­gling ho­tel, but for God­dard it means putting ads on pages that are good for the au­di­ence, the pub­lisher and the ad­ver­tiser.

“The con­tent I’m con­sum­ing, do I trust it? That’s pre­mium to the au­di­ence,” he says. “If I’m the pub­lisher, am I get­ting the right in­for­ma­tion out there on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to the vast reach and au­di­ence I’ve got? And for an ad­ver­tiser it’s 60 per cent viewa­bil­ity, it’s trans­par­ent in­ven­tory, it’s hu­man traf­fic, it’s brand safety. But it’s also an au­di­ence that will po­ten­tially en­gage with your prod­uct, and one that would buy it as well.”

He adds: “‘Pre­mium’ is a word like ‘trans­parency’, like ‘au­to­ma­tion’. It can mean any­thing.”

The BBC’s of­fer­ings have long been seen as pre­mium con­tent. Its jour­nal­ism has 95 years of her­itage and a rep­u­ta­tion for ed­i­to­rial in­de­pen­dence and fact check­ing. The much more re­cently formed ad­ver­tis­ing divi­sion basks in the re­flected re­spectabil­ity of this.

“Trust needs not just to be in our con­tent and in our brand, from our au­di­ences and run­ning through our jour­nal­ists,” says God­dard. “It is also run­ning through our ad­ver­tis­ing of­fer out there in the mar­ket as well.”

But the cor­po­ra­tion can­not af­ford to rest on its lau­rels. Like all dig­i­tal pub­lish­ers it must con­tinue to prove that its ads are be­ing seen and that they are not run­ning next to sto­ries – con­tro­ver­sial, tragic or at odds with the brand’s mes­sag­ing – that might make them look bad.

“We are putting a prod­uct out there, polic­ing our own prod­uct and en­sur­ing that we are tak­ing down ads when there are cer­tain sen­si­tive news sto­ries break­ing, and not cap­i­tal­is­ing on that,” says God­dard. “This is to avoid hav­ing to have the con­ver­sa­tions with ad­ver­tis­ers about ‘This wasn’t right for my brand.’ If we weren’t, they wouldn’t trust us and they wouldn’t in­vest in us either.”

The BBC may rep­re­sent old­school pre­mium, but there is room in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­place for new­com­ers if their con­tent is good, their ads are good and they have earned enough trust.

“Pre­mium is de­fined by KPIs, hence why there are other sites that do achieve these but may not have the brand and the trust that the BBC hold, but are now be­ing clas­si­fied as pre­mium,” says God­dard. “There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for pub­lish­ers to be­come clas­si­fied as pre­mium if they get var­i­ous things right.”

A point God­dard was driv­ing through his time on stage at the fo­rum was that “peo­ple are at the heart of au­to­ma­tion”.

“Peo­ple play a big part,” he says. “One of the rea­sons I got into this was back in 2010 some­one said a robot is go­ing to take your job. Well, I am still work­ing quite heav­ily in this in­dus­try.”

He adds: “If you look at pro­gram­matic, it is just a way of ex­e­cut­ing a dig­i­tal ad. It isn’t every­thing else au­to­mated. The in­ven­tory dis­cov­ery is still re­quired.”

That ‘in­ven­tory dis­cov­ery’ comes from con­ver­sa­tions with sales teams. This is why, says God­dard, the BBC is train­ing all its sales staff in the ba­sics of pro­gram­matic.

“We rolled out a global trend pro­gramme for all our front-line sales to fully un­der­stand what pro­gram­matic is at the BBC, how it can ben­e­fit clients, how they can act upon which ex­e­cu­tion is right de­pend­ing on the con­ver­sa­tion they’ve had, and how it re­ally ben­e­fits them as a team and the client as a whole,” he says. “We’ve put great ef­fort into ed­u­cat­ing our en­tire work­force across the globe to en­sure that it is not just pro­gram­matic peo­ple talk­ing about pro­gram­matic; it’s every­body.”

He con­tin­ues: “Pro­gram­matic is just a dig­i­tal ex­e­cu­tion. There is com­plex­ity, but within dig­i­tal we like to add the com­plex­ity, which can scare peo­ple away. Com­plex­ity is the en­emy of progress.”

There’s no deny­ing the pro­lif­er­a­tion of jar­gon in the world of pro­gram­matic ad­ver­tis­ing, though, and con­stant up­dates to the tech­nol­ogy be­hind it. All those in­volved need to keep up with changes in a fast-evolv­ing mar­ket. These changes in­clude the shift from pro­gram­matic guar­an­teed to au­di­ence guar­an­teed, and the in­tro­duc­tion of GDRP.

Pro­gram­matic guar­an­teed is a tech­nol­ogy that was in­tro­duced by Google in Jan­uary 2016. It was meant to of­fer a com­pro­mise be­tween buy­ing fu­ture im­pres­sions (with a dan­ger of not be­ing able to use up bud­gets) and real-time bid­ding (which could be less safe for cau­tious brands). With pro­gram­matic guar­an­teed, agen­cies and pub­lish­ers sync their data­bases and im­pres­sions are sold at a pre-de­ter­mined price as long as the au­di­ence’s cook­ies cor­re­late with what the pub- lisher is send­ing the agency.

But it was never a per­fect so­lu­tion. “For years we’ve been talk­ing about real-time bid­ding, data, speed, ef­fi­ciency [in pro­gram­matic], and then we just did what we did be­fore. So it sounds like a bit of a con­tra­dic­tion,” says God­dard. “In ad­di­tion to the priv­i­lege of us­ing that tech­nol­ogy to do what you did be­fore, there was a tech fee on top. So it in­flated the cost.”

Au­di­ence guar­an­teed, on the other hand, of­fers ad­ver­tis­ers a way to avoid preach­ing to the choir. It pre­vents sites serv­ing an ad to any­one who has al­ready bought the ad­ver­tiser’s prod­uct. To il­lus­trate this, God­dard points to sub­scrip­tion ser­vices such as the Fi­nan­cial Times on­line, and video stream­ing plat­form Net­flix.

He says: “What au­di­ence guar­an­teed does is it en­ables the buyer to take [its data about sub­scribers] and pushes it to the pub­lisher’s ad server, the thing that’s fore­cast­ing how many im­pres­sions you’ve got in the fu­ture. Then it takes out of the fu­ture im­pres­sions those who are an FT sub­scriber, or a Net­flix sub­scriber. This means that ev­ery im­pres­sion that is served in the fu­ture cam­paign is not go­ing to be served to one of their sub­scribers.”

Leg­is­la­tion will af­fect pro­gram­matic as much as tech­no­log­i­cal change. The finer de­tails of the Euro­pean Union’s Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR) are still to be de­cided. But when the new rules kick in on May 25, 2018 they will have im­pli­ca­tions across the board and around the globe. Although GDRP is a Euro­pean ini­tia­tive, in prac­tice the leg­is­la­tion will be in­ter­na­tional It will gov­ern how data gath­ered by pub­lish­ers and ad­ver­tis­ers may be used.

Some work­ing in the on­line ad in­dus­try see the stricter con­trols on au­di­ence data as a hin­drance to their abil­ity to tar­get ads, but God­dard says he is ex­cited, as it brings back con­trol to pub­lish­ers and their au­di­ences.

“You could say that the pub­lisher is con­trol­ling the re­la­tion­ship with the user again, which is quite a nice way to look at it,” he says. “We are go­ing to be the ones set­ting and stat­ing which tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to be used. If you are go­ing to col­lect data, to use data, we have to let every­thing out.”

That is “en­abling”, he says. “If a user de­cides then, at that mo­ment, that she doesn’t want her data shared with X, then it changes the dy­namic again. … The pub­lisher is go­ing to be tak­ing own­er­ship of that re­la­tion­ship in a sense. He or she is not go­ing to be forc­ing any­one’s arm, but it’s an in­ter­est­ing way of look­ing at it, say­ing that the pub­lisher and user are to­gether again in that sense.

“The pub­lisher is tak­ing the power back. It’s no longer in the tech com­pany’s hands. The pub­lisher is say­ing these are our users, and if you be­have we’ll al­low you [to serve those ads], but only if [the au­di­ence] gives their con­sent. It’s an in­ter­est­ing dy­namic.”

This ar­gu­ment helps God­dard prove his point: that as au­to­ma­tion of ad buy­ing gets more ad­vanced, peo­ple re­main at its cen­tre.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.