SCROLL MEDIA ON THE FUTURE OF PROGRAMMATIC AND CHALLENGING AGENCIES.
You have been in the digital advertising industry since 2001, what changes have you seen and what’s your view on it today?
It seems we have come a long way from faxing order forms across town and fixed weekly rates, so any automation is a good thing. The technology available to marketers is fantastic. Data has massively helped us find the right audiences, however, the scramble to get the cheapest cost per thousand impression has lead to low-quality and ambiguous inventory potentially getting a disproportionate share and causing harm to brand safety. Smart marketers are using programmatic to find their audiences and choosing brand safe websites or co-ops to run on, so they know their ads are appearing on contextually relevant, safe environments. Knowing the URL of the website brands run on seems reasonable instead of masking sites, so learnings and optimisations can then be made. Contextually, some sites work better than others because of the content being consumed. If a user is reading an article about Kiwisaver, you can be satisfied they are researching Kiwisaver providers, and are about to make an important investment decision. Unfortunately, some demand side platforms may not pick up on this due to the algorithms. That’s where machines still need humans, to think strategically about what’s contextually relevant and what should be included in the plan. I think there is an overreliance on machine learning, and sometimes common sense prevails.
What do you see as biggest challenges facing programmatic advertising in the future?
Again, it goes back to education and people. Marketers and agencies need to work together to learn and upskill themselves in all that is involved with new and emerging technologies. It's ever changing and what might work one year, may not work the next. Understanding what’s out there, and testing and learning is important. A lot of work has been done in the transparency space. In fact, across the Rubicon Project, the programmatic technology that powers Scroll Media, 98 percent of publishers have ads.txt incorporated now worldwide. The industry has worked hard as a whole to provide transparent URLS and brand safety measures. Now our biggest challenge is education and finding the human resource to manage the demands of programmatic. It’s a complex process that needs smart people to execute it.
What should marketers do to challenge their agencies?
As brand managers, you understand your product/service and audience better than anyone. Have a look at what websites or platforms your audience would resonate with, and ask your agency if these sites can be included in the plan for prospecting or brand campaigns. It’s also wise to ask your agency if native has been considered as a strategy. Platforms like Outbrain are about discovering content and native technology can target and find new audiences efficiently. It's risky to over rely on one channel like search, keep a multi-channel approach. The other big thing we are seeing is mobile-first lead campaigns. Make sure mobile has a specific strategy to desktop.
Where do you see the biggest growth with programmatic?
Now for starters, when we say programmatic, we are just talking about automation and efficiencies and the ability to bid in real time with the efficiencies of data. As a whole, programmatic spend is up year-on-year. I see programmatic native advertising growing as consumers become more savvy with ad blockers and also want to read more content from brands they like. As we have seen over the years, video is rapidly growing, and brands see real benefit from using video to tell a story. Most of our 12 Scroll publishers offer video, and we have partnered with Spotx, a leading global video platform, to offer more innovative video ad formats, such as the Outstream In Content Units with Sticky Behaviour. Programmatic video is a really exciting space with connected TV reaching new heights.
So what is Scroll Media all about then?
Scroll offers programmatic advertising across 12 premium websites with a reach of over 1,000,000 New Zealand unique users a month across mobile, video and display. Through the technology of Rubicon Project, we allow advertisers the ability to target specific audiences in real time. Our publisher partners are mostly New Zealand-owned and operated, which not only supports the New Zealand economy, but also resonates with the audiences consuming these sites and potentially offers higher engagement. Scroll also represents Outbrain in New Zealand, the largest content discovery platform. Saying we are busy is a bit of an understatement.