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5 key considerations for in-housing programmatic media buying

Friday 18 January 2019 Digital ConsultancyDigital Marketing


Ruud Verdellen's picture
By Ruud Verdellen

Over the years, advertisers have in-housed various digital channels including CRM, PPC and Affiliates. This trend, coupled with the rise of investment in programmatic media buying has meant that an ever-increasing number of brands are pushing for more control over how their valuable first party data is being used in media buying. According to a 2018 IAB study, 80% of digital ad spend is now programmatic and 18% of the brands surveyed have brought programmatic buying in-house, and a further 47% have done so partially.

Before you get started, here are five things you should consider if you’re planning to bring programmatic media buying in-house.


Undertake a cost/benefit analysis

Firstly, you will need to consider if your current programmatic budget justifies taking the management of it in-house, this is fundamental as some significant costs will be taken on. If you’re spending over £2m on digital media buying, there’s a good chance that bringing programmatic in-house will make your business more efficient. Some of the costs associated with this transition include hiring new staff or upskilling current team members. Resourcing and acquisition of several pieces of tech such as a DSP, adserver, fraud protection, viewability tracking and most likely a DMP will need to be taken into account. Does your expected uplift in programmatic performance and agency cost saving outweigh the additional resource and technology costs of in-housing programmatic?


Decide on your operating model

There are various operating models you can implement and there’s flexibility so you don’t have to in-house every part. Here are 4 common operating models, varying in ownership and responsibilities.

Types of operating models

  • Agency operated: Digital strategy and insights are managed in-house, execution is shared with an agency and a managed service is required from the tech supplier. A good option when you consider taking things in-house but don't have the staffing requirements or capabilities.
  • Tech + agency hybrid: You own the tech stack, but an agency does the day-to-day management. You get access to data and gain transparency, but you won't be self-sufficient (if that's your goal).
  • Tech hybrid: You own the tech stack, but the tech supplier manages the day-to-day operation. You get access to data and gain transparency, but job roles and responsibilities could be difficult to define, and you won't become self-reliant.
  • 100% in-house: The tech stack is owned and operated completely in-house. You get full control and transparency and probably a cost-saving but, the challenge will be recruiting and keeping talented employees.


Set your objectives, goals and KPIs

Once the cost/benefit analysis and operating model have been decided on, business objectives and short/mid-term goals are to be set. These will determine how you measure success. Typically, brands are looking to increase the efficiency of their digital and programmatic campaigns, but what does efficiency mean for your business and how do you measure it? Here are 3 examples of things to consider when setting KPIs:

  • Are you looking to increase the reach of your campaigns?
  • Do you want to decrease the cost of traffic to your website and subsequently the cost per acquisition?
  • Are you looking to use programmatic channels to decrease churn?


Get your data in order and map your objectives to your data

To maximise ROI of programmatic campaigns, your data needs to be in order and objectives against available data need to be mapped. Often brands have masses of data available elsewhere in the business, but it’s not used in digital campaigns. Sometimes additional first, second or third party data can easily be captured through more specific tracking which can then be used to build out more specific segments in your customer base. Read Suzanne Jiggens-Johnson’s blog post on how to layer new data points into your digital strategy to develop audience driven marketing.


Check if your marketing technology is fit for purpose

In the UK and North America, brands have upped their budgets on marketing technology by 44% over the past year to £40 billion which represents 23% of total marketing budgets, according to a WARC study. Some brands own their MarTech stack completely while others rely on agencies and tech suppliers. Once the four steps above have been completed you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how to get there. However, getting the right marketing technology set-up or optimised is essential. Some questions you need to consider are:

  • Which DMP do you need to deliver against your objectives?
  • Which adserver is suited to our requirements?
  • How will we protect against fraud?

Map your needs against the capabilities of your current marketing tech stack to identify gaps and where gaps appear, find the right tool to fit your needs. There’s usually capability overlap between marketing tech suppliers, so you could identify some potential savings which should be added to the cost/benefit analysis. We frequently get asked what the best DSP or DMP is, but there isn’t a single answer to that as it depends on what your needs are. You don’t need to buy a Ferrari if an Audi fits all your needs.

David Sealey’s 20-minute webinar on DMPs delves into value of using a DMP.

There are quite a lot of hurdles and tricky questions you need to answer before you start with in-housing programmatic media buying. At CACI, we have a 12-step process which includes a cost/benefit analysis and strategy definition, through to technology set-up and training your in-house programmatic media team. If you want to find out more about this process and how we could potentially help you taking your programmatic media buying in-house, get in touch.

In-housing digital channels is becoming more popular than ever and now brands are turning to programmatic media buying to gain a competitive edge. Here's 5 key considerations before you take the plunge.

5 key considerations for in-housing programmatic media buying