MediaCom’s Dominik Majka tells us about the sweetest element of programmatic buying and explains why he spends so much time talking to his clients about what all that digital data really means.
AAM: What does media transparency mean to your organization?
Dominik Majka: I think the definition of transparency needs to be further divided. A lot of people confuse business transparency with information transparency. There are a lot of conversations geared around information transparency yet we confuse that statement with rules of business. And I think the issue started with transparency and information sharing.
Unfortunately, programmatic media buying is largely spreadsheet-driven marketing. You get good data, but what do those numbers actually signify? What do they represent? When it comes to marketing decision making, you need to know more. You need to know inventory sources, you need to know about those audiences and if somebody doesn't provide that conversation at every level of information sharing, then it becomes a bigger issue. Over the last two years, media transparency has been part of this conversation which includes business models.
AAM: How much time do you spend educating your clients on digital media issues?
DM: Most of my time is spent educating my clients on how to actually perceive media purchases and what it means for end results. Because of spreadsheet-driven marketing, a lot of them are too focused on that spreadsheet and it actually leads to diminished ROI. If you just focus on that spreadsheet and look at outcomes by avenue, then search beats everyone on performance. But everything else we do through our marketing and advertising efforts contributes to that search number. The contribution methodology is part of the digital attribution or market modeling and is still a little bit broken and a little bit unaccounted for. They look at these pillars of advertising execution as the be all, end all. So my conversation gears around how to look at connectivity even if there isn't one on paper. How does one element contribute to another and what do we need to do to lift that brand perception and create a brand preference? Most people talk about awareness but a lot of clients already have awareness. They have recognition in market, so how do we build preference? And preference cannot be built with lowest cost per acquisition outcomes.
This is what we're supposed to do as an agency. Not only have a conversation about how to execute but also have a conversation about how to perceive it.
AAM: What is your opinion on using measurement provided by a publisher versus third-party metrics?
DM: The industry is in a state where nobody trusts nobody and I don't quite understand why. The publishers are not in the business of screwing clients or agencies over. The agencies are not in the business of screwing clients over so why is there this distrust in the industry? Why do we need verification tools on top of verification tools? For me, it just adds to the cost and, because there are different methods of measurement, it creates a bigger conversation with no possible outcomes. If you're using a DoubleClick campaign manager on the publisher side and we’re using DCM on the agency side then there’s connectivity and symmetry in data. But when the client is using Omniture for their site's analytics, we’re going to get different results. Everybody wants to see that symmetry across different platforms and it's just not going to happen. If you have properly established relationships with publishers, some of these things should be accepted at face value. Some of the things are not as measurable on the agency or client side as they are on the publishing end. And it’s not supposed to become the primary means of evaluating; it's supplemental information that should be evaluated, not discounted.
AAM: How much of your buying is done programmatically? How do you weigh the benefits/risks of programmatic media buying (e.g. reaching the right audience vs. brand safety)?
DM: I'm an odd duck in this industry because I look at programmatic buying as a consolidation of marketing efforts on behalf of our clients. We need to focus on the audience. And not necessarily the audience as it is defined in programmatic technology. We need to understand how to approach the audience with the advertising message. We need to learn how to talk to the audience through digital means. Programmatic gives me the opportunity to consolidate among publishers. The best element is the holistic frequency cap because then we don't upset the receiver of the message.
We understand how much is enough. We know how much it takes to convert an individual and when we should stop. We can put some latency in place before we begin retargeting.
We all talk about looking at shoes on a specific website and then those shoes follow you for months across the internet. How aggressive do you really need to be? My job is to help clients understand that the funnel is still in existence even though we have programmatic means of execution. As much as we can retarget, we still need to feed the funnel. There needs to be prospecting, there needs to be positioning, there needs to be lead targeting and each plan is different. There is no overarching framework. This is a fluid design.
Programmatic allows us to define that audience a little bit better and, if we do that, we're much more efficient with how we purchase and execute media. This means we should see an increase in the return on investment. We’re creating these efficiencies to redistribute the investment to go into better inspirational elements that drive positive brand perception. And a lot of clients still have a hard time wrapping their heads around it.
AAM: Is ad blocking as much of a concern for your organization as it has been portrayed in the news?
DM: Yes, however, I can't blame the people for feeling inundated with advertising. We've followed them with the same shoes instead of saying, okay, they looked at shoes, maybe we should serve them advertising for socks that go nicely with these shoes. At some point in time, you reach that point of no return where your audience says “enough, I'm installing ad blocking.”
At the same time, I think there's a lack of education that advertising drives revenue for the websites, which drives employment for the people that produce meaningful content, which is read by the audiences. It's kind of an evil cycle we're in and it is a concern for us because it limits our means of getting in front of that individual with a meaningful message.
AAM: What challenges remain in establishing an industrywide viewability standard?
DM: The industry says we’re all on the same page, but we have clashing objectives because publishers need to monetize their websites and not all of the websites are exclusively represented.
It's impossible to have high viewability at the current pricing model. They need to redefine how to price based on viewability and allow publishers to actually run their business. No publisher is going to cannibalize their revenue stream by 50 percent just because the industry says they want it. You have to adjust for that revenue stream to remain somewhat constant to achieve the desired result.