In today's world, things are easy. Anyone can be a photographer, a graphic designer, a web developer, or a mortician. Okay, not a mortician, but you get the idea. Tools and the internet have made almost anything accessible to anyone - including programmatic digital advertising. But is having access enough? Is it so easy a caveman can do it? Let's find out.
When considering in-house programmatic buying, there are two options.
Working with a partner
Find an experienced, knowledgable, and trusted partner to manage your campaigns. If you run an agency, you might use a partner blindly with your customers. Or, you might introduce the partner to your client. As an individual advertiser, your agency might direct you to a partner, or you might find one yourself. We'll explore what to look for in a partner in a follow-up article.
Doing it yourself
The other option? Bring everything in-house with your own staff. This might include: media buying, audience management, trafficking, optimization, and reporting. This setup looks identical for agencies or individual advertisers: you bring on the staff, and they run this part of the business. This is the focus of our article.
Doing it yourself has both perceived advantages and disadvantages.
- Control - Bringing programmatic in-house appears to provide greater control over every aspect of your campaigns. This includes both targeting and turn around time.
- Expertise - Specifically for individual advertisers. You know your business better than anyone, so it seems to stand to reason that you will have better results if you handle your own advertising.
- Cost - Without the extra cost of having an advertising partner manage your campaigns, you'll save money and improve the bottom line.
I've carefully called these "perceived advantages". In some cases, clients can realize these advantages to varying degrees. However, others will never realize these advantages. Here's what you need to know.
- Control - Once you've mastered the inventory source and system, you will have greater control. Until that time, there is a good chance you will fail hard, and often. You're at the beginning of the learning curve, and that puts your campaigns at a disadvantage. Competition in advertising is fierce. Can you afford to fail often?
- Expertise - You know your business better than anyone; in fact, you probably use expertise as part of your sales pitch. It's fair to assume, then, that those in the advertising business know their business better than you. There are times when an expert isn't needed, but your advertising isn't one of them. Be engaged with a partner, be involved in each aspect of the campaign, but let the experts do what they do best. By doing so, you'll reap the rewards.
- Cost - What most agencies and advertisers don't realize is that moving to in-house digital advertising is very expensive. Here's a rundown:
- Marketplace seats - You'll need a place to traffic your campaign. That's a marketplace. Many marketplaces require you to purchase a seat or have a minimum amount spent each month. If not, they may instead apply pressure to use their managed services. This goes back to the marketplace knowing that what you don't know can hurt you in digital advertising.
- Staffing - Talent isn't cheap. You might be thinking you can put your "computer person" on the job. Digital advertising requires a very specific set of skills (not Liam Neeson skills), general computer knowledge won't do the job. You'll need to source your talent, pay them well, and provide benefits.
- Media Cost - Of course, there is a cost to actually run your campaigns. Will you set each up per view, per click, per action? Each has its pros and cons, and each comes with its own set of costs.
- Specialized Vendors - Digital advertising has a unique set of challenges you'll have to face. At a minimum, you must have fraud and viewability vendors to meet these challenges. Vendors typically have a minimum spend or a per-use spend with a rate that rises the less you use it.
- Higher Fees - Fees such as bid reduction are reduced at greater volume. Partners that reach this volume enjoy and pass on better rates. The chances of you reaching the necessary volume is slim, hence you'll pay higher rates.
- Limitations - Working in-house is expensive. This expense is going to limit you in ways you may not have considered.
- Inventory Sources - Partners typically have access to multiple platforms. They move your budget between platforms to find pockets of performance. Without deep pockets, you'll only have access to one source.
- Targeting options - Depending on the platform you choose, you may or may not have access to some targeting options. Not all platforms support all targeting options. Partners working in many platforms consider targeting availability when making platform choices. This gives you better options.
- Other options - Any time you limit your platform, you'll limit what you can do with your campaigns. This includes optimizations, inventory access, partners you can work with, and the data sources you can use. A quality partner will select platforms based on these factors and more. What's more, platforms and vendors will be vetted by partners. That means a more secure environment for your campaigns.
- Single point of failure - When limited to one marketplace or platform, you have placed all your eggs in one basket. When a platform experiences problems, or goes down, so will your campaign. A partner with a diverse portfolio of marketplaces can move your campaigns. This keeps your campaigns active and driving business.
It's up to you to decide what's right for your company or agency. With deep pockets and patience, you can succeed on your own. But for most, it's easier and more profitable to work with a partner.
In our next article, we'll cover what to look for in a partner when it comes to digital advertising.