2 Reasons to Connect Programmatic Media Buying With Direct Buying


Many brands and agencies look at programmatic buying as an entirely separate effort from “direct” buying — working with media properties in the more traditional fashion. While the people handling these approaches should definitely be shaped from different molds, campaigns work best when the specialty areas are brought together. Here are the two main benefits for integrating those efforts.

1. Shared Learning

Data that becomes available during the campaign provides valuable insights into placements, messages, audiences and countless other, more technical, aspects of execution. When the activation team is assembled in a way that includes both programmatic and direct specialty areas, the in-flight insights uncovered in one area benefit the other, and vice versa.

For example, programmatic buying regularly reveals entirely new brand prospects versus the strategic target that was first delivered to the team in the media brief. Working across direct and programmatic tactics, those fresh prospects are activated much more quickly through an interconnected approach. This contrasts with the typical campaign “wrap report” cycle that — at best — takes those learnings into consideration for the next campaign.

2. Holistic Optimization

When those teams are working together, and the brand has a clear objective, success is easier to achieve. In most campaigns, there will be a healthy mix of direct and programmatic tactics. When one approach is working better than the other, an interconnected team moves money on the fly to take advantage of the higher performing tactics. Without that built-in cohesiveness, money simply does not flow across teams without extraordinary effort from the brand or agency leadership.

In many cases, programmatic and direct buyers work so far downstream (and down different steams) of strategy that it is nearly impossible to make decisions across those two teams holistically. To complicate matters, each team is working to reach separate revenue goals. This provides little incentive to collaborate with each other (and lose dollars).

Site optimization is one key area worth highlighting. In many programmatic buys, a few high-performing sites rise to the top. This provides an excellent opportunity to create a programmatic direct or private marketplace deal. Doing so (perhaps) provides more inventory and/or higher quality inventory to execute against.

It also presents direct opportunities for high-impact placements or content integrations. Obviously, this works in reverse. If the higher-quality, higher-impact placements negotiated through the direct team aren’t providing the value expected, the buyer might consider moving to a more programmatic relationship. In doing so, the programmatic team better controls the price the brand should pay in order to make those placements effective.

The shared learning and holistic optimization that take place when direct and programmatic teams work together on campaigns lead to clear benefits for advertisers. However, brand and agency leadership shouldn’t assume that this is the norm. In fact, it tends to be the exception.

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Ryan Derrow
Ryan Derrow

Ryan is Vice President of Media at Empower MediaMarketing, one of the largest independent media agencies in the country. His team plans and executes integrated and programmatic media for clients like Bush's Beans, Dremel, Famous Footwear, LasikPlus, and Rust-Oleum.