Choosing Programmatic: Specialized Partners or One-stop Shop

Collective Measures
November 4, 2016
When choosing programmatic media partners, should marketers use a specialized programmatic partner or a one-stop programmatic shop? Read Vice President of Media of Media Kathleen Petersen’s take on selecting a programmatic partner.

It was the age of fragmentation. Digital was growing, and no one knew quite how to handle it. The big agencies said “we’re better: we do all of the things.” Digital agencies would say “We’re better: we focus only on digital!” And then boutique agencies would say “We do only paid search/only social/only campaigns focusing on getting clicks by women named Susan: you should use us!”

It was a confusing, unstable era. Brands had to figure it out for themselves. What did they have in the way of time and resources? Was it better to have individualized groups focusing in certain areas? Or was that too much work, and was a one-stop shop the way to go?

Marketing and technology companies often offer betas in areas that aren’t currently their bread and butter. While it’s not the first time marketers have heard about a programmatic audio offering, it begs the questions that marketers and clients alike are asking: go with a specialized shop or one-stop shop?

During a recent conversation with Dstillery, a demand-side platform (DSP) that Nina Hale partners with regularly, the DSP spoke to their ability to offer All-The-Things (AtT). A significant amount of the conversation centered on the pros and cons of each – specialized or one-stop shops.

Specialized Programmatic Media Partner

With more focused and specialized partners, marketers may see advantages in proposals in the form of custom packages and unique creative opportunities. The price one will pay is that: price. Higher management fees will be charged – for time maintaining campaigns, reporting, etc. – with multiple partners. Also, with multiple partners, it is hard to maintain a certain frequency level.

“One-stop shop” Programmatic Media Partner

On the other hand, with a one-stop shop, one would go through one sales team, and can probably slice and dice dollars for a little bit of this and a little bit of that when it comes to creative units. However, one will pay in experience: these partners are often experts at one or two of the tactics, while they try to get acclimated in other tactics.

Then the question becomes: should marketers buy programmatic banners, videos, native ads and audio all at once, or go to an assortment of different partners?



When selecting programmatic partners, marketers should evaluate the following:

  • MEDIA MIX: Is my media mix well-rounded? Am I missing any phases of the consumer journey that an AtT partner could help with?
  • BUSINESS GOALS: What are my business goals? In order to achieve them, how much emphasis to I need on one, or more, channels?
  • BUDGET: How big is my budget? Considering required minimums, and the importance of testing and comparing partners, how many partners can I afford without stretching dollars too thin?
  • TIME AND RESOURCES: How much time does my team have? With every additional partner, there are more questions, more optimizations, and more reporting — which is great, as long as the hours are there to give each partnership the TLC they need.

When selecting programmatic partners, marketers should ask potential partners the following questions:

  • RELIABILITY: How reliable are they? Keep in mind that even though a one-stop shop is only one partner for you, they are likely buying/bidding from multiple sources.
  • AUDIENCE: Where does your audience come from? Audience is at the heart of everything programmatic – make sure the source is legit, and not the same across all partners – sources should be well-rounded and work in harmony.
  • SPECIAL ADVANTAGES: What is the advantage of going with them, whether they focus on one area or offer AtT? What special sauce does that partner offer that makes them better than the alternative?

If marketers could find a partner that did everything and allowed better control of user exposure (like targeting someone who has seen a video twice and a native ad once with a banner ad), everyone would be all-in on programmatic. It’s only a matter of time before a vendor has this figured out.

As always, marketers should keep a well-rounded media mix. The people you reached through an awareness audio ad today are tomorrow’s ready-to-converters reached through a paid search ad, which is true no matter who you partner with.

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