Paul Frampton is Managing Director at MPG & Media Contacts
Display is still a poor cousin to search. Through the eyes of an advertiser, this is generally the consensus.
Search professes no wastage, tight targeting and is even blessed with the term “distribution” by some marketers.
However, this consensus is wrong. The truth is that display should actually be more valued than PPC. It combines the best of brand (emotion and impact) and response (targeting, call to action) in one.
The simple reason for this misconception, I would contest, is because digital display is overly complicated and inaccessible.
There used to be a multitude of sales houses and networks; now everyone is a network but no one wants to be called a network. Agencies buy from some, like a network, but increasingly buy direct through their trading desk.
I think this is all about to change and that change is being brought about by the possibilities that trading desk technology enables.
Right now however, the inaccessibility and complexity issue is probably at its most acute. The trading desk model divides people, but not in a good way.
Both agency and sales folk either misunderstand the space completely or over-intellectualise it.. This means most advertisers are left trying to decipher whether trading desks are a force for good or evil. If we can’t be clear on a client benefit story, how can advertisers be expected to be?
The steady shift that is starting to correct this is a re-focus back on audience.. Whether we are using TV, PPC or a trading desk, the objective is to pinpoint the most relevant target audience and put the right message in front of them at the right time.
The point is that this new trading model, (which will of course subsume most media in time) if used correctly, allows precision targeting, day parting and messaging.
This is all combined with the ability to make a decision on price at the most granular level possible. Positioned this way, display becomes more powerful than search as it delivers everything search can offer, with the added ingredient of broadcast media’s emotive impact.
Trading desks are at a very nascent stage today but they are rapidly becoming one of the most critical hubs within an agency. As human understanding and insight begins to shine out from the terabytes of data collected, I have witnessed strategists spending more time with these emerging traders. I genuinely believe that the next wave of agency planning tools will emerge from trading desks.
Insight no longer comes from the dusty repositories that have under-pinned the industry for decades. The best insight is proprietary, not just to an agency but to an advertiser – and trading desks working closely with data teams are the answer.
The trading desk team witnesses more “action” with real human beings than any other part of an agency; it’s just that too often they are seen as the techie guys and the word insight is not within their vast and verbose vocabulary.
How ironic is it then that most trading desks sit in a separate office, with separate management to the agency that plans the advertisers’ media spend?
I predict that the combination of great strategic minds along with brilliant digital optimisers will revolutionise the way media is planned and bought. Most planning tools that agencies have today are proprietary to the agency, not the client.
Imagine a world, where 1st & 2nd party data (performance and transactional) are combined with high quality 3rd party data (not yet there today) to enable grown up, informed, data driven planning.
Planning where a media plan can be more readily tied back to business objectives, whether that is profit growth, customer acquisition or loyalty.
Connect that powerful data driven planning tool with the real-time inventory pools of the exchanges and off you go. Suddenly you have scalable, precise targeting, which can be switched on and off and dialed up and down based on requirements. Sounds a lot more like a ‘distribution’ channel than search now doesn’t it?
Once these customised advertiser data warehouses are built with planning tools sitting on top, then we can address the two big elephants in the display industry.
How is attribution tackled? With proprietary data sets and a proprietary approach to planning this becomes a lot easier.
And how is creative factored in so it becomes communication planning rather than just placement planning? With the historical data and audience segmentation possible within this model, layering creative assets in, whether static or more likely in the future, dynamic, becomes a doddle.
A test and learn mechanic will then quickly do the decision making itself, selecting the right message, right place, right time and right price all based on the audience planning inputs. Great planners will continue to be essential to analyse and define new things to test. But, suddenly they have actionable, real-time insight to plan with, rather than trying to force a claimed data source to surrender an unconvincing answer.
Hopefully, now the trading desk model begins to make sense within a media agency. It is a fundamental part of what we do and will provide unquestionable, accountable value back to an advertiser.
So I encourage you to view trading desks as a Trojan Horse to a new, more insight rich and accountable form of media planning and buying.
My personal opinion, therefore, is that planning and buying need to become much closer cousins than they have become in the last decade and sharpish.ExchangeWire