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Advertisers have many new opportunities due to the more efficient use of data and more precise targeting. These trends are most clearly evident in programmatic ad buying. But how do you buy advertising programmatically so that the brand image is maintained, or even improved? Kauppalehti and Alma Media Solutions Director of Media Sales, Tiina Järvilehto guides us over the worst pitfalls.
At the moment it seems that programmatic ad buying is more about talking than doing.
The reality is that programmatic ad buying is only in its infancy, both in Finland and at a global level, at least in terms of technologies that allow the use of guaranteed inventories. The methods and price levels have not been set yet. The level of skills varies considerably among both sellers and buyers.
At its best, programmatic advertising works extremely well but you should do your homework before committing yourself. Buyers must consider carefully what they are buying so that they can be sure that the advertising really promotes the company's brand.
Schibsted/Webtraffic CEO Svein Eriksen gave me permission to share the following story with you. Svein and his colleagues went to Paris recently to meet a major client. A taxi took them from the airport directly to the client's offices. As they stepped out of the taxi, they thought they had ended up in the wrong place as the neighbourhood looked like a red-light district. But it was the right place. Svein and his colleagues entered the office and wondered about the goings-on in the street. The client was explaining frantically that they had arrived through the 'back door' entrance; that the street on the other side of the building is absolutely beautiful! To prove this, the client took the Schibsted team to the front of the building, and true enough, the street was filled with smart shops.
Svein and his colleagues told the client that while they were at the rear of the building, an elegant lady had approached them. They had been a little sceptical about her intentions and admitted that, had they seen the woman in the fashionable street in front of the building and she had approached them in the same manner, their reactions would have been very different.
Svein's story serves as a good guideline for programmatic ad buying: a brand is either supported by its environment or its image can be considerably damaged if it is placed, even by mistake, in the wrong location.
Do you know if your brand is only gaining visibility on reliable websites or if it is also displayed – perhaps by mistake – on poor-quality or even spoof websites?
The 'dark secret' of business has been discussed intensively; this refers to the fact that an advertiser is not necessarily aware of where and how visibly a brand is actually displayed on the internet.
However, agencies and media are developing their reporting systems concerning programmatic ad buying. Advertisers benefit from reports that are sufficiently comprehensive and describe the campaign's total extent as well as the number of websites and the prices. This ensures that the advertiser can choose where to focus the visibility and cut out the websites where they do not want the brand to be present. Brand visibility in an undesirable environment can do a lot of damage in a very short time.
Do you know how much paid ads cost? Transparency in pricing has been the subject of much public debate. It means that advertisers know exactly where their advertising budget is spent and who receives the money.
The share that any middlemen, seller and buyer platforms and other partners receive should be made clear to the advertisers. As an advertiser, I would be interested in media-specific actual prices.
Globally, the prices of the programmatic ad buying are clearly increasing due to various reasons such as a better quality inventory. That is why 'basic advertising' purchased through programmatic systems is already 30 or 40 percent more expensive than using banner ads in the most valuable sites bought directly from the media. The prices are bound to go up even further if data is used as basis for the purchases of premium placement. In that case the unit prices have risen to up to 40-110 euros, depending on the targeting criteria.
Advertisers in Finland are still experiencing a golden era as the price level has not increased in the same proportion as it has elsewhere, like the other Nordic countries. However, I presume that the prices will start going up even during this year as the demand increases, more high-quality sites become available, the partners in the sector learn more and real auctions take place even in the media's own 'Private Marketplaces'.
As the prices go up due to the use of technology and data, I would consider carefully how valuable each contact purchased really is. What is the return on investment and how accurate should the targeting be?
Or would it be more profitable to also buy 'in bulk' from target group media for everyday use? Or would the best solution be a combination of these two?
In my opinion, the best way to strengthen a brand using targeted marketing campaigns is to allocate the budget between programmatic ad buying and the methods in use at the moment. Target group media work and support a brand image in itself if the profile is right. I would suggest that it is complemented with direct purchases for campaigns. For continuous visibility I would recommend smart data usage with the latest technologies, but in a manner where the choice of media environment supports the brand instead of taking it to the 'back yard' in the short-sighted drive to make a quick profit.
I wish you all a commercially successful spring in the exciting market!
Tiina Järvilehto, Director, Media Sales, Kauppalehti & Alma Media Solutions