Winning the programmatic game

As ad budgets shift away from TV, Mike Shaw, VP, EMEA at Dataxu, asks what lessons agencies can learn from this year’s Six Nations tournament

As the Six Nations rugby tournament draws to a close this weekend, it remains to be seen whether this year’s sponsorship problem, in which the organisers had to agree to a deal worth £4m a year less than they were initially offered, was a one-off or part of a larger unwillingness to spend money around big TV sporting events.

Marketers have in the past justified their lower ad spend on TV by moving their budgets towards digital, investing their money in more efficient ways across all consumer touchpoints, including eCommerce and Advanced TV. These decisions reflect an undeniable industry trend: consumer behaviour and digital advertising are transforming, and if agencies want to stay relevant and valuable, they’ll need to transform their game, too.

Agencies play an important role in helping brands develop, execute, and understand their data-driven advertising campaigns. But in recent years, they’ve come up against big challenges: some brands have begun to move their programmatic ad buying in-house, while tech giants like Google and Facebook are starting to take on some of the roles and responsibilities previously reserved for agencies.

So in today’s competitive – and increasingly complex – advertising ecosystem, agencies need to find ways to stand out and become the kind of players brands need to overcome key industry challenges. Learning from this year’s Six Nations means offering cutting-edge innovations, reliable analytics, cross-device media planning and outstanding leadership to help brands decide how their pounds can be spent effectively.

Implementing innovation
With the advertising industry changing at the speed of light, agencies need to demonstrate they are both the right choice for right now and in the future. In other words, they need to show that they aren’t just aware of the industry’s latest innovations, but that they are capable of implementing them, too.

By investing in the opportunities that programmatic advertising has to offer and focusing on technologies like Advanced TV (ATV) and digital radio advertising, agencies can offer their brands the opportunity to innovate. Not all brands will be ready to dive into ATV and other promising trends right away, but agencies need to be ready to support them when they are. And with eMarketer estimating that addressable TV advertising will reach nearly $4bn by 2019, they should be ready sooner rather than later.

Staying up-to-date with industry trends will give agencies the ability to support their client’s goals and priorities as they change over time. It will also help agencies differentiate themselves as innovative and future-proof partners.

ROI analysis
Today, agencies are under a lot of pressure to demonstrate the value of their advertising efforts and their impact on ROI. While these tasks that may seem daunting, agencies now have access to technology that enables them to provide detailed ROI analysis.

By ensuring your programmatic offering includes sophisticated technology and measurement tools, agencies can gain access to unique insights about their campaigns, including performance and conversation rates. When agencies harness cutting-edge measurement tools to support their clients, they will emerge as vital partners to any brand.

In addition, agencies should pay careful attention to the kind of analytics services the various programmatic platforms offer. For instance, do they offer the cross-channel attribution reporting and path-to-conversion analytics they’ll need to provide the best-in-class metrics for the brand? After all, it’s the agency’s job to make sure they’re delivering reliable data and analytics to the brand, so they need to make sure they have the best possible programmatic line-up to stay in the game.

Technological disruption
As the headlines keep telling us, the way brands are investing their budgets is changing – and the future of advertising agencies is uncertain. Technological disruption and growing competition are causing many to wonder what these partners look like and what roles they’ll play.

Amid this uncertainty lies another trend we’ll keep seeing amongst agencies: highly effective media agencies will be the ones who step in to help brands successfully navigate this uncertain future. They’ll be the ones that evolve their roles and responsibilities to become leaders, offering strategic advice and guidance that brands can rely on.

In addition to providing cutting-edge innovations and in-depth analytics, effective agencies are the ones who provide strategy and advice. Access to cutting-edge technology will encourage agencies and their brands to become more progressive in services such as out-of-home advertising or Advanced TV.

By adding value beyond creating and running campaigns, agencies will beat out the competition, win over brands and become industry leaders, not only during sporting events, but throughout the entire year.