Artificial intelligence (AI) enhances an online retailer’s ability to engage with customers, says Peter Thomas. The technology that is now redefining retail enables algorithms to make the same complex decisions a human could, sifting through the data, but much faster and at volume. It means the customer experience (CX) becomes more tailored and personalised; the customer journey more comfortable. When used well, the tech helps both retailer and consumer.
Today’s advertising industry is a far cry from its pre-digital self. Huge innovation across the sector has forced many advertisers to transition away from traditional processes and go digital. Advertisers around the world are therefore now investing huge portions of their budget to ensure they achieve well-targeted and effective advertising, so much so that global digital advertising spend is forecast to reach $335.5 billion by 2020.
The ascendency of programmatic technology has taken this degree of digitalisation to another level, as the industry looks for new ways to streamline operations and conduct large scale advertising in an automated landscape, also known as easy advertising. In the UK alone, programmatic spend now accounts for 79% of all digital display ad spend. This exponential growth has not only played a huge role in driving ad spend, it has presented advertisers with myriad new solutions and protocols which have made the sector a more intricate and complex place to succeed.
Easy advertising, unlocked:
Yet, amid the sea of disruptive technologies and strong concerns over ad fraud and lack of transparency in ad spend, I believe there are some essential steps the industry can take to optimise performance and unlock easy advertising for marketers at scale, while overcoming the wider challenges affecting our industry.
1. Ensure true transparency over spend
The shortage of spend transparency is by no means a new issue for digital advertising. However, it is one which has been amplified by the growth of automated programmatic media buying, making it even harder for marketers to achieve absolute efficiency. Yet, with this quality so deeply ingrained in the requirements for easy advertising, it is vital that programmatic providers capitalise on new innovations to deliver solutions which help advertisers combat these ongoing concerns.
One emerging technology which is being leveraged incrementally by providers to achieve true transparency is blockchain technology. Blockchain is being increasingly recognised for its ability to collect and store a full audit trail of every transaction, which can provide companies with an incorruptible record of events. Integrating this technology within programmatic platforms therefore allows advertisers to see exactly where their budget is being spent, on which publisher and where their campaign is delivered. This also offers a clear insight into the transactions which are occurring automatically and ensures that only fair charges are being issued, eliminating the risk of fraud and hidden costs.
With the likes of blockchain working to install a greater level of transparency across programmatic, advertisers utilising these channels will be presented with a more secure network, allowing them to trade with ease and without risk.
2. Maximise your inventory scale
Another way to streamline in the programmatic age is to maximise the opportunity for trade by offering an extensive inventory. The evolution of digital ads has enabled advertisers to increase their brand exposure by distributing content across multiple devices and in various formats, such as standard web, native, video and in-app advertising. With this is mind, it is crucial that programmatic providers expand their platform’s inventory to include large quantities of different ad formats from a broad range of publishers.
Doing so, this gives users easy access to all types of advertising within one dynamic marketplace and removes the tedious process of moving between platforms to buy and sell ads. However, scaling up inventory in this way not only streamlines the process of media buying and selling between industry players, it also widens a programmatic platform’s appeal against competitors within the wider market, attracting more marketers to their channels and encouraging further business.
3. Maintain inventory control
Although maximising scale is hugely important, having control over programmatic inventory is equally as vital when it comes to achieving easy advertising. In today’s landscape, it is important that both buyers and sellers utilise well-established and verified bidding streams, to ensure they have full control over their inventory and who is looking at their ads. This also serves benefits for the publishers, by giving them further governance over which advertisers they choose to trade with.
By supplying advertisers and publishers with a secure, fully inclusive marketplace in which to bid and exchange digital inventory, programmatic providers can help brands maintain a high level of control over their ad property and ensure they are trading in the most efficient way possible. Should companies capitalise on this opportunity to increase control over their programmatic inventory, this will prove instrumental to achieving easy advertising.
This not only facilitates ease of use for all parties involved, allowing advertisers to see exactly who is watching their inventory and where can also work to reduce the risk of fraud and further eradicate this obstacle.
4. Offer a good user interface (UI)
Despite its potential to solve long-standing industry issues, programmatics’ huge disruption across digital advertising of late has undoubtedly left many traditional players apprehensive about the complexity of fully transitioning to automated ad trading. However, with more companies embracing programmatic strategies, services providers must now offer a clear and intuitive UI which helps users to navigate the marketplace efficiently.
Combining a good UI with a simple and easy-to-follow workflow, providers can successfully guide companies, no matter how advanced or experienced, through the programmatic landscape to ensure they achieve maximum results with ease.
That said, it is also important that platform’s UI is flexible enough to allow users to tailor their own programmatic access and inventory exposure, giving them the freedom to proactively self-serve within an ever-changing landscape. Doing so, providers can further diversify their user experience within a highly saturated market.
5. Optimising inventory quality
Within the digital advertising space, ensuring that quality adverts are reaching the right audience in real-time is the key to easy advertising. However, for the seller high quality ads reduce the loss of either traffic or revenue that can occur when running slow or bad ads, which again ties back to the user experience. Optimising inventory quality is therefore vital for smooth and secure ad buying within the programmatic space.
It is the responsibility of providers to make high quality programmatic accessible for all, by implementing tools which safeguard buyers from poor ad quality and reduce the risk of fraud. This hugely benefits the buyer and seller by promoting high levels of trust and confidence. It works to make the process simple for all involved. This also has advantages for the provider; a high quality digital inventory can increase traffic across the network and generate more transactions.
Understand the tools available
With programmatic ads now at the forefront of digital advertising, it is important for companies to understand the available tools which can streamline the process of media buying and achieve simple and secure advertising. As more companies implement programmatic into their strategies, I predict a surge in efforts to optimise digital inventories and increase transparency in order to simplify advertising across our competitive sector.
However, it should be noted that programmatic advertising does not have a ‘one size fits all’ approach and it’s important that advertisers and publishers utilise today’s digital ecosystem in a way which best serves their business. Should this be achieved, the industry will be able to successfully capture easy advertising.
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