The online advertising world has seen the rise of biddable media, programmatic bidding where automated auction platforms are used to purchase ad impressions. In essence, the advertiser who is willing to pay the highest price for an individual impression wins that impression.
In some ways, this has simplified how purchasing online ads works. It’s an efficient, transparent and precise means of ad buying that cuts out a lot of the manual input, allows for more specific targeting, and makes the ad-buying economy more organised.
However, while biddable media platforms have all of these advantages, media and marketing agencies frequently fail to integrate the needs of biddable media properly into their agency structure, resulting in a fragmented media team whose priorities can conflict.
So what should a biddable media team look like, what should it do and how should it be structured?
Search versus display
The responsibilities of purchasing ads are traditionally split between:
The search team — responsible for search ads, typically Paid Search where they show up alongside search results.
The display team — responsible for display ads that appear on websites.
However, thanks to the evolution of online advertising where both kinds of ads have grown in complexity, these two sides have merged such that the distinction no longer entirely makes sense.
Search ads include increasingly rich media and social extensions that aren’t fully accounted for by the responsibilities of the search team. At the same time, display ads have also adopted elements of search; for example, targeted native ads that reflect a user’s recent searches.
Biddable media, where advertisers purchase audiences via ad impressions, has grown in popularity because the ability of ads to collect and exploit contextual user data has become more universal, allowing the attention of specific target audiences to be purchased for all kinds of ads–while previously, search ads would ignore the audience data layer, looking only at the immediate context of, for example, search keywords.
So when putting together a biddable media team, it becomes a question of ownership: who should own biddable media when the traditional priorities of the search team are no longer sufficient?
What does biddable media need?
A biddable media advertising strategy needs to incorporate the following stages:
Planning — the team develops plans according to a branding strategy and business objectives.
Buying — real-time bidding for ad impressions, purchasing targeted audiences.
Optimisation — making ongoing changes to the ads according to their performance.
Reporting — evaluating the success of campaigns and citing where they could be improved.
Analysing tech landscape — keeping an eye on current developments in the online advertising world.
This is a process that needs to be at the centre of marketing operations. Programmatic buying should be treated as an integral part of the wider strategy and communications plan, and as such the different teams should be brought in line so that they both serve each of these stages of the process.
The aim of a biddable media team should be to foster an approach to the campaign that is adopted by both search and display teams and reflects the process required by today’s biddable media. And there are key attributes to look for in the team.
Experimental — willingness to test, look at results, and experiment with changes.
Analytical — the ability to interpret data and campaign results using analytics tools.
Quantitative — crunching the numbers, being aware of costs, clicks and audience reach.
All-round data nerd — (said with love, obviously!) understanding the overall precedence of data, and looking not only at search data but display data (e.g. which images or videos are effective) and social media reach.
Each team should retain its core expertise and be able to bring that to the table, but with some understanding of the other side of the process. An effective biddable media team requires ‘cross-pollination’, each team learning from the other to synthesise their practises.
This means that team members are likely to need some training in each other’s disciplines. The search team will need greater awareness of audience and brand, while the display team will need to fully understand the implications of targeted ads ruled by data and algorithms.
The result should be a dynamic culture of constant testing and experimenting, with continuous review and improvement of workflow processes. Each member of the biddable media team should be multi-skilled specialists with a full understanding of ad requirements.