What should you be asking potential ad tech partners?

jj eastwoodWith so many ad tech solutions promising different things JJ Eastwood looks at some of the questions clients should be asking when looking to find what’s right for them.

Whether we like it or not, the way that media is bought and sold in this country is transforming at an unprecedented rate. And with it, innovation in the advertising ecosystem is bringing a huge range of new opportunities for brands, marketers and agencies.

For the most part media buyers, both agency side and client side, are embracing this change. Any conference billed as ‘programmatic’ sells out immediately, and a slew of so-called ‘experts’ are popping up everywhere to add their opinion.

While the basic concepts of the ad tech industry are sinking in, the vast majority -myself included – are scrambling to keep up with the myriad of new vendors and their rhetoric.

Advertising conforms to some pretty basic principles, and always has done. Deliver the right message to the right audience, through the right medium and you (should) be onto a winner.

Let’s get this straight, cutting through the ad tech noise shouldn’t be an ‘us versus them’ debate, with the ad tech industry on one side blinding the market with science and advertisers on the other.

You wouldn’t expect a publisher to be any less than transparent on where and when your ad is going to run, and therefore technology solutions shouldn’t be any different.

In actual fact, with so much data derived from programmatic campaigns, that often reveal important non-intuitive insights about consumers, a lack of transparency is a wasted opportunity and disservice to the medium.

So how do you cut through the noise?

Of course, coming straight out and asking your vendor about their specific USP is the logical option. Which of course is great if you are well versed enough to dissect the answer. However, more often than not, this question is more of an open invitation to bamboozle with jargon and distract with shining point solutions.

In an ideal world clients would lineup every vendor, testing them head to head, sacking the ones who under perform and hiring whoever provides the best return on ad spend. A great idea, except most people simply don’t have the time or inclination to spend the rest of their careers testing vendors.

Calls by agencies and, more importantly, marketers for “transparency” and “control” in their media management get louder by the day. Prospective vendors should be comfortable enough to let you take a look under the bonnet. Simple platform login access will provide you with transparency on exactly how your campaign is preforming and where your ads are running.

Transparency, quality and brand safety are all dominating the global conversation around programmatic advertising. All media channels are bound by impartial governing and auditing bodies, and digital is no different. The easiest way advertisers can protect themselves is to only work with vendors who have been audited by the IAB or a similar body, and are certified as a technically competent and safe platform.

Just think about it, you wouldn’t pour your budget into an unaudited or regulated newspaper, so why trust your money with a similar online destination?

Lastly, with Magna Global forecasting the global programmatic ad spend to be over $50Billion by 2018, everybody wants a piece of the action. This has led to many niche vendors popping up specializing in one particular tactic or channel.

While tactics like retargeting – marketing’s sexiest tactic of 2012 – are very effective, unless advertisers are also attracting new customers, they will begin to witness diminishing returns. The same goes for channel optimization, certain channels will always be more effective and therefore advertisers need the ability to move budget around seamlessly.

At a base level, yes programmatic and other technology solutions can seem daunting in their complexity. But the industry is doing itself no favours by blinding customers with unnecessary technical details and endless acronyms in an attempt to sound knowledgeable.

After all, it is those who can explain things clearly who really know what they are talking about. The truth is, it should be easy for you to understand the process, Ad Technology should be about saving you time and delivering the results.

So the next time you are faced with an Ad Tech presentation full of convoluted jargon, remember its transparent results that really do the talking.

  • JJ Eastwood is managing director of Rocketfuel

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