What are the adoption barriers of self-serve programmatic platforms?

What are the adoption barriers of self-serve programmatic platforms? Prior to Choozle, Andrew co-founded and built the RGM Alliance, a premium focused online advertising network that reaches over 120 MM consumers in the US. Andrew holds a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business.

Despite the clear strategic business advantages, programmatic platform adoption is still often met with significant resistance from some advertising agencies. There is no doubt that change can be difficult and requires costs and investment.

Programmatic platform adoption (self-service operation) can be disruptive as it may touch operations, billing, and human resources at any advertising agency.

More often, however, the perception of barriers are often much greater than the reality, thus halting or delaying platform adoption.

Many of these concerns apply to the adoption of any self-service programmatic technology platform. The concerns can be placed into three main buckets: resources, cost, and risk. Upon inspection, however, each of these challenges actually aligns with the underlying core benefits of making the switch.

Overall, the return on investment greatly outweighs the ‘costs’ of implementing the change.

As self-service operation continues to evolve and platforms become even easier to use, with even more features, the investment into programmatic will only continue to return investment as you get better insight into your ideal customer and data on your marketing campaigns.

No resources for an in-house platform

The lack of knowledge around any business change can naturally provoke confusion and fear about the proposed change. Regarding self-service platform operation, a common legacy concern is that an entirely new team of individuals will need to be recruited to run said platform.

All platforms have multiple safeguards that enable capping buys on a daily level, as well as at a campaign level

The current reality is that often a single platform operator can efficiently run a massive amount of budgets at scale—and typically the operator is an entry or mid-level media professional with little or no prior media trading experience. The time spent previously on managing vendors, complex RFP processes, and spreadsheets can now be directly applied to the application and optimization of the digital media budget.

On an individual level, those who invest to learn platform operation often realize rapid career development and advancement.

As programmatic becomes an even bigger percentage of total display advertising spend, those platform operators will be the key to success for many agencies. Training one person now on platform operation will only continue to be an asset to any company.

Self-service is costly and confusing

Due to the scale of the market opportunity, billions of venture investment dollars flowed into the marketing and advertising technology space over the last ten years. This investment created an environment of continual and rapid innovation—what was once complex is now highly intuitive. And what was once expensive is now highly affordable.

Furthermore, with ad tech investment significantly reduced in the last three to four years, the Darwinian effect ensures that only the strong, usable, and practical platforms survive thus forcing scores of inferior vendors/platforms out of the marketplace.

The result for buyers is now fewer, higher quality software suppliers in the marketplace. Thus, as discussed, with minimal education, most media professionals can become adept at running platform(s) in a short period, with minimal commitment and financial investment.

 What if we spend $1m instead of $1000?

This perceived risk can apply to many scenarios including budgeting, creative, targeting, etc. But generally speaking, all platforms have safeguards built in to mitigate against any catastrophic risk.

Speaking to potential overspend, all platforms have multiple safeguards that enable capping buys on a daily level, as well as at a campaign level.

Furthermore, campaigns can be peer and/or vendor reviewed before going live. And with real-time reporting data (and often automated reports), plenty of informational access is available to safeguard against egregious planning. But even with operational risk highly mitigated, self-service operation certainly carries risk of mistakes.

As with any new technology adopted, there is always the potential for risks.

But the overall reward of self-service platform operation greatly outweighs the respective risks. It is a common business pattern that those who are willing to (smartly) assume the risks will reap the rewards.

The perceived risks can seem like enough to push anyone away from adopting programmatic.

But, once a deeper dive is taken into the reality associated with each risk, the benefits continue to show investment of in-house adoption of programmatic is worth the cost associated.

Additionally, as programmatic continues to innovate and become even more widely used, adoption barriers will start to disappear, and marketers and advertisers will be more willing to invest.

This is an adapted excerpt from “Adoption of Self-Serve Platform Operation by Advertising Agencies” free whitepaper by Choozle

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