Daniel Young: Programmatic, a Gateway for Creativity
Posted on July 01, 2015 | By Ghada Azzi

Originally from New Zealand, Daniel Young has been working in the UAE since Feb 2015. Prior to joining the Choueiry Group, Young has worked in London from late 2007 for the likes of AOL, Vevo and The Weather Channel where he was responsible for international programmatic revenues and overall yield across multiple platforms and products.Today, he is based in Dubai and working as the Yield and Programmatic Director for Digital Media Services (DMS), the digital branch of the Choueiri Group, where he is concentrating on building and developing the programmatic offering and maximising overall yield from its array of audiences, titles and platforms. In the following interview, Young delves into programmatic buying and expands on how programmatic can serve creativity and achieve success.

What are the challenges advertising firms are facing in making the shift to programmatic, both from a technical standpoint and in convincing clients to make the leap? 

Ultimately, it is only a leap when the outcome is unknown. Therefore, the first challenge is in understanding what programmatic is and how it benefits the parties involved. Cutting through the acronyms and understanding the efficiencies in process and granularity in targeting that can be achieved, go a long way to increase the interest in programmatic trading. Benefits of increased demand on inventory and higher fill rates is attractive for a seller, where boosting reach, relevance and minimising wastage are strong drivers for the buy side/advertisers. Having a holistic approach to programmatic is also important. Realising that it is in fact a complimentary tool for buyers and sellers alike and not something that works in isolation as it can pave the way for greater success. Important to note is that there are large investments in technology platforms and human capital needed to manage and optimise programmatic despite much of the ‘heavy lifting’ being done in an automated fashion. This is why entire teams are employed to get the best out of the platforms and maximise their effectiveness on both sides of the transaction. This can be a barrier to entry for many but an area that DMS has placed a massive amount of emphasis on. Finally, evolving the way of thinking towards media transactions and campaign delivery from traditional methods of buying and selling towards the often daunting but ultimately efficient and effective programmatic can take some time and effort. However, by increasing understanding, driving results and embracing the tech and process effectiveness, the level of convincing will drop.

How does programmatic affect the creative aspect of advertising both in the short term and long term?

Programmatic is actually a gateway for creativity. Gone are the days of building one creative campaign and blasting it to all audiences via bulk buys. With the addition of programmatic efficiencies and optimisations, you can better deliver the right message to the right user at the right time and context. Creative platforms that use readily available information to build and display the right message to the prospective audience can achieve greater return on investment and user experience. If we utilise a dynamic template, a multitude of interchangeable creative components or messages and data points to evaluate and optimise towards, we will be able to deliver the best ad for a particular user in the best possible environment. This is already growing in adoption and will become more prevalent, eliminating the ‘one size fits all’ approach. 

Big data is often described as the key behind the success of programmatic. Please describe its role in programmatic.

Data or big data does play a very important role in programmatic. Outside of the efficiencies in process that can be achieved through programmatic buying and selling, it is the increased granularity in targeting and optimisation that is its great strength, and this is driven by data. The more you use the appropriate data from the vast amounts  available the more you are able to understand an audience. Therefore, it is with an increased certainty that you can base your decision, whatever that may be, or the value they present to you. As a seller, if you can identify pockets of your users that are of high value to certain buyers then you can bundle these and offer them out, often at a premium to the right buyer. On the other hand, as a buyer, if you can make a more informed decision on whether a particular user is of value to you (leading to a higher propensity to convert, engage or respond) then you are more willing to purchase because the ‘return on investment’ will be greater and wastage limited.

Advertisers willing to experiment with media campaigns on leading social networks now have a distinct advantage moving forward. Whether they choose to go big or small, the social web equips advertisers with significantly more consumer data points than ever before to improve the targeting and relevance of online advertising. Where do you come in and what can you offer that in-house marketers can't solely do? 

Those that have been quick to adopt social may be a little farther down the track to embracing programmatic. Some of the components are similar, in particular the need for well thought out and timely executions by the right advertiser and with a clear objective. Each individual impression presents a new opportunity to reach a particular user/audience, which is an advantage that can be capitalised on through programmatic advertising. We as consumers can be in a different frame of mind when consuming various pieces of content, or at different times of day, on a desktop vs a mobile or reading vs watching. This is why taking all these factors into account can increase relevance and effectiveness. We, as publishers and programmatic focused professionals, are able to help in-house marketers navigate the programmatic landscape and enable them to spend their time and efforts on that which they do best. Programmatic experts are helping facilitate greater creativity and increased transaction volumes by making sure that performance along with simplicity is maximised. For this to work, it is important for us to understand what a buyer or marketer is trying to achieve and what the measures of success are for a given campaign. We then work with and/or consult where necessary so that the best match can be achieved and all parties reach their goals.

Today, the data and analytics-driven approach is paramount to drive marketing performance. What’s your stance? 

I believe that success can be achieved through both buy and sell sides embracing and leveraging not only the advanced technology that we have at our disposal but also challenging ourselves and what we ‘know’. The data that is available to us is the enabler and with this we can continually test and learn, developing a greater understanding of what works and what measure we should be using. This in turn will lead to performance levels that will form the benchmarks of tomorrow. For this to work however and to best judge performance there needs to be robust and clearly defined measurements in place at the beginning. What works for one product, brand or service may not necessarily work for all. We do not have to re-invent the wheel but we also cannot take a cookie cutter approach. Establishing this early will allow for the right blend of content, platforms, audiences and campaign executions to be undertaken, actionable data collected and optimisations made, which ultimately will lead to achieving the overall objectives.