What Lenovo has learnt about programmatic advertising

As IAB releases fresh guidelines into buying and utilising advertising technology platforms, PC vendor's digital and social marketing APAC leader shares her views on adtech utilisation

The onus is on client-side marketers to keep themselves educated on the latest advertising technology platforms if they want to drive more efficient and valuable customer engagement, Lenovo’s digital and social marketing leader, Danielle Uskovic, says.

Lenovo’s sizeable investment into programmatic advertising and its decision to adopt a hybrid DSP-DMP model is highlighted within the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia’s new Advertising Technology Purchase Guidelines, an executive briefing document designed to help the industry better invest and optimise adtech.

The guide advises on how to select and utilise five core advertising technology platforms: Ad servers, data management platforms (DMPs), supply-side platforms (SSPs) demand-side platforms (DSPs) and ad verification software, both publisher and buyer-side. It does this via an explainer of what each technology does and how it fits into the digital advertising ecosystem, as well as top considerations when purchasing in each area, checklists, diagrams and some case study examples from Lenovo and Carsales.

Lenovo is one of a host of vendors, agencies, publishers and brands that participated in the guidelines, a list that includes The Trade Desk, Amobee, Quantcast, Integral Ad Science, ANZ, Google and PubMatic.

Uskovic told CMO the PC vendor’s programmatic advertising journey began in 2012, when it kicked off a relationship with adtech platform player, TubeMogul.

“We were using multiple agencies doing media buying across multiple segments. We didn’t have ownership, reach or frequency dashboard across all customers and using advertising very inefficiently,” she said. “Fast forward to when we were launching into the Australian consumer market, and I realised we were spamming the customer and suffering from media wastage.

“So in 2015, I blew it all up and brought it all in-house. It was the only way to learn.”

Uskovic is the first to admit adtech is very complex. “A lot of agencies wanted to keep you in the dark, so there was a lack of transparency,” she claimed.

Lenovo’s objective ultimately was owning customer data across all segments and business units. “The best choice we made was to bring it in-house, understand it and the supply chain. It opened the eyes of our team, who were learning new things and forging stronger relationships with publishers and technology partners. I was surprised by just how strong those became,” she said.  

But what Uskovic also realised was doing programmatic advertising internally was resource intensive and took teams away from the core role of marketing. Lenovo had both brought on media trading specialists as well as trained existing marketing staff in order to embrace programmatic advertising internally.

“We are in the business of selling PCs, and this was taking teams away from that and those strategic goals because we had to become experts in trading media.”

In 2016/2017, Lenovo adopted a hybrid DSP-DMP model, appointing an agency to run the technology.

“I can still go into the platforms at any time, we own the data and the technology; it means it’s on my terms and we have transparency,” Uskovic said. “But the biggest lesson when it came in-house was that I couldn’t keep us up to date as quickly as we needed to. The hybrid model allows us to own data and the customer and technology, with an agency sitting on top.”

Whatever model you adopt, as client-side marketers, it’s vital to keep yourself educated and a finger on the pulse of technology development, Uskovic said. “No one else will teach or keep you up to date,” she said. “When the Internet hit, we became inundated with many channels and ways to market and gave us data at our fingertips. It’s getting faster every year.

“Having documents like these [IAB] guidelines are a way to learn. This kind of thing is fundamental to helping marketers and you have to take ownership of that.”

Lenovo also partnered globally with Integral Ad Science and is using ad verification through DoubleClick. “With every dollar spent, we want to make sure it’s a good dollar spent. We want ads to be on safe sites, be valuable and be addressing a real person,” Uskovic said. “We don’t mind paying a premium for that.”

With the arrival of Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches legislation in February, along with the GDPR laws in Europe in May, it’s arguably even more important client-side marketers understand that adtech needs to be considered as part of a whole-of-business solution, Krishnan said. To help, the IAB guidelines include some privacy and data governance questions to consider when purchasing and utilising these forms of technology platforms, particularly DMPs.

“It’s become more important than ever to have the right technology in place and manage data consistency,” Uskovic commented. “With a company of Lenovo’s size, there need to be many stakeholders involved. With GDPR, for example, our legal teams globally are involved and it’s more important to own data to keep it safe and keep information in your control.

“The customer wins if brands and adtech companies are being more considered with data and in a way they treat and protect it.”

Like most, in the industry, however, Lenovo needs to continue to simplify things, Uskovic said. “We have the ‘frankenstack’ most have with the likes of Salesforce, Adobe, Google, Oracle. Nirvana for me would be to have one contract that covers everything for me, but I don’t think that will happen,” she said. “But consolidation will happen. Complexity is where the customer loses out.”  

Uskovic also agreed it’s still early days for the programmatic advertising space, noting the TV industry is still struggling with measurement and transparency 60-odd years on from launch.

“Ten years in and the amount of improvement year-on-year, month-on-month in adtech is incredible,” she said. “Now with technology like blockchain, we’ll put more power into the customer’s hands to control their own data and who does and doesn’t access it. They’ll be able to share the data they want.

“In addition, artificial intelligence and machine learning are only going to make things better and make us more efficient. I’m excited about that. There is a lot of hype, but it will make the industry better.”

The Advertising Technology Purchase Guidelines are the latest in a series of papers produced by the IAB, the most recent being the Digital Advertising Effectiveness Playbook.

IAB regulatory affairs director, Kamani Krishnan, was in charge of the project and said the ambition was to unmask the ‘unknowns’ in the digital advertising ecosystem and create a “common language” all parts of the industry not only understand, but use effectively.

“If we can raise the level of understanding among purchasers of ad technology, we can drive better decision making, achieve greater return on investment and improve transparency within the ad tech supply chain,” she said.

“In all digital media, we’ve had to adapt to new business models, technology and infrastructure and we have varying levels of knowledge. I’ve found personally the process of pulling this together has helped my understanding of programmatic and adtech, which in regulatory affairs, you need to understand.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

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