Developing Programmatic Strategy — A How to Guide with Jeff Mayer

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For this podcast we reached out to Jeffrey Mayer, who has spent the past 5 years working directly with programmatic operations and is currently the senior manager of programmatic demand at Shazam. Jeffrey’s extensive programmatic background made him an ideal person to discuss the finer details of the increasingly essential process of programmatic strategy for ad operations.

In our conversation we discussed how Jeffrey views programmatic strategy, how he approaches implementation of a programmatic strategy based on different circumstances, details of the inner workings behind the programmatic process, and what benefits programmatic can provide to publishers. Jeffrey has provided us with very detailed and valuable information pertaining to all of these subjects.

Interesting Quotes:

When you say programmatic strategy, what do you mean?
There are two ways right now of how the people set it up… Some publishers out there view programmatic as remnant opportunity and some as premium opportunity. I am under the impression that programmatic is premium. It could be even more premium than your guaranteed revenue and direct sales process. That’s my belief and it is the way to go with programmatic especially as we go forward and programmatic budget is being put into exchanges and we’re seeing higher quality advertisers in there. That’s one part of it. The other part of it is making use of the assets you have in your organization. You have your sales people that go and “knock on the door” and know how to sell your brand. They know the audience, they know what you can do on a direct sale basis, so if you can integrate them into a programmatic process then you’ve essentially extended your sales force and there is another tool in an arsenal kit.

Bottom Line: Programatic should be treated with as much potential as direct sales. You should sell programatic alongside your direct offerings.

What does it take to set up a programmatic strategy? Let’s say you have a team of two who know what they’re doing. How many weeks or months?
It’s a continuous cycle and it never stays the same because everything is moving at the same time. I am one person and I manage all of that… The first thing you have to do is build out your inventory architecture, build your exchange platform at the top, then you start building your exchange platform at the bottom and you start making your top exchange fight harder and harder to increase those flow rates as much as possible. Your network partners make sure you’re not ignoring those you’ve already worked with because I think what happens a lot of time is that we’re chasing the “dragon”, shiny objects and what happens is that the partner will stop performing well and you’ll be like; alright I’ll find a different partner. But it happens again so it’s a continuous cycle of their performance drops off over time. So you have to reengage with them to build tight enough relationships with them and really extract as much as value as they can give you.

Bottom Line: Programmatic is an evolving offering and takes continuous effort.

Lets say that you have to set up and develop programmatic offerings for a publisher with 10mm unique a month with an established a sales force, running a DFP in Adx and one or two networks. What would you look at, where do you start, and what would you develop?
The first thing that I would do is I would cry. It’s obviously easier to sell a blank slate with an organization that hasn’t built out any strategy or operations around it. So you can kind of set strategy from day one and what your vision is. If you’re walking into a place that has some kind of organization set up already you have to take their tool sets into an account. So if we’re building it up from ground zero with no tools right now, first we have to look at: what do you want to accomplish with this, do we want to create parity between guaranteed and programmatic, what’s our operation work flow, what’s our sales process, what’s the marketing material going to look like when we send it out to the marketplace, what’s our go-to market strategy for that, how do we define analytics when we get that data in and how do we optimize. These are all the things you have to think about before you actually touch a button, you have to map it out and process and start executing on that.

Bottom Line: Making the most of programmatic means aligning the organization to manage it. Profit follows having a good process

Do you think that most publishers would think to run programmatic in front of direct?
Some do it, some absolutely won’t. Part of it is fear based, but once you kind of get over that fear then you’ll realize that it’s a really good opportunity, the right way to do it. There are certain business cases of when you absolutely should not but I would say for the most part if you can allow your programmatic buyers higher access into your stacks. Now you’ve eliminated a very important word out of your lexicon and that word is remnant… Think about it, now that I have exposed my programmatic buyers into the same tiers that a direct campaign can deliver in, which impression is the remnant? Shazam has a property, every single time that you go to our app, the page is the same. It has a lot of brand values so nothing from our app is remnant. I also look at it as a property, so your impressions maintain value regardless of how that impression is delivered, programmatic or direct channel and that value always holds regardless. You’re either selling your inventory or you’re not selling your inventory.

Bottom Line: So long as direct deals are meeting their goals, you programmatic can be run at a higher priority.

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