Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Programmatic Predictions: Cadi Jones, Commercial Director EMEA, Beeswax

For NDA’s Programmatic Month, we’re asking some of our favourite people for their predictions for programmatic technologies and advertising in 2021.

The inimitable Cadi Jones, Commercial Director EMEA, Beeswax is first up.

What impact has the events of 2020 had on the programmatic advertising industry and how is it recovering?

2020 has been a very uncertain year for many in the world of digital advertising.  The initial lockdown resulted in many budgets being pulled in March and April and some sectors, such as travel, are still really hurting.  Globally we’re seeing different levels of recovery country-by-country.

What has become clear to me through the pandemic across media is the two different reactions to challenging times.  Outside of the pandemic, digital advertising faces other existential threats – the cookiepocalypse being the most significant.  While some media companies have hunkered down and tried to weather the storm there are others who have used this time to redouble their focus on future readiness.

What is the biggest opportunity in programmatic for 2021?

At Beeswax, we’re seeing huge innovation in bidding strategies for the coming deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome.

Many brand marketers are still unaware of the consequences of the changes to identity  or perhaps even that they are currently neglecting to target the large chunk of the population that is already using ‘cookie-less browsers’ as their default browser choice.  Brand marketers often associate cookies with performance marketing – and while that is true, the death of the cookie will also mean the death of post-view attribution, cookies control much more than this.  Programmatic advertisers have to make choices about how they will continue to put in place frequency capping and the use of third party data for socio-demographic or behavioural data for targeting – both of which are currently reliant on third party cookies in most DSPs.

We have many innovative solutions to these issues, indeed some of our customers already deliver campaigns optimised purely on inventory based signals – whether contextual or otherwise.  In 2020 we released further non-cookie based targeting capabilities to complement the flexible options we already had.  We’ve seen a huge number of our customers make use of these alternative strategies on identity, and start to combine them for optimal results.

Initial feedback is very positive, and there are many studies that point to better performance of campaigns in cookie-less environments.

What is the biggest challenge that programmatic faces in the year ahead?

The biggest challenge that programmatic faces in the year ahead is, very frustratingly, STILL transparency. The ISBA – PWC report in summer 2020 revealed that many buyers, stuck on legacy platforms, are struggling to get the information they need in relation to their programmatic buying.

At Beeswax, our unique approach to single-tenant architecture allows us to take a different stance on data.  We believe that the data that derives from an advertiser’s programmatic buying is their data, and we’re therefore happy to share it with them.  Broadly our customers use the log-level data that they can access through us for one of three reasons – all of which are increasingly important in today’s privacy first world (see above!)  Firstly, it’s important to spend time evaluating the trustworthiness of your partners – and can there be better routes to supply.

Significant gains can be made from cultivating an efficient route to the best supply with SPO.  Secondly, custom optimisation especially around inventory factors is only really possible if you’re able to analyse the details of what works for you.  And Finally, there are real insights to be learned about your most valuable audiences through log-level data that can be used not only to enhance your programmatic buying, but much more widely, to inform planning and partnership strategies.

What channels will fare best? And worst?

User behaviour has changed rapidly through 2020 – I saw a brilliant quote recently that said “Q: What’s your approach to digital transformation? A: 2020”. Just as an example, L’Oreal has been very transparent in the press that the pandemic has accelerated the growth of ecommerce. This rise in  online shopping  will have strong implications for performance marketing across all channels.

Users have also changed other elements of their behaviour too – mobile usage is significantly up, with much more time spent on mobile devices connected to wifi than roaming.  Adoption of digital TV streaming services is growing too.  Video will continue to enjoy strong growth as brands get excited by the opportunity to add more targeting to ads shown on actual television sets – it’s the programmatic promise: high impact, quality media available addressably.  .

How will new and emerging channels such as TV, outdoor and audio better plug into one-to-one programmatic channels?

As traditional media switches to digital delivery, then it should become possible to access those channels programmatically.   However, where these businesses have not previously been required to have real-time booking systems,  this digital transformation process can be more complicated than it sounds!

There is rightly some nervousness about coming directly into contact – and perhaps competition – with the tech giants here, and so many traditional media owners have moved towards building out their own walled gardens.  This is a fantastic solution for them to be able to layer their own first party data on top of their supply, and retain control of their valuable inventory and their data.  However, in reality, for buyers, this probably means a multiplication of the programmatic buy-side tools they need to master.

Crystal ball time: what do you most hope will happen in the industry? What do you most fear?

I hope that brands will continue to challenge their technology partners to do more – to be better.  Brands deserve more control over their programmatic buying, especially as programmatic becomes their main transaction method across an increasing number of channels.  Whether it’s in relation to transparency – the ISBA – PWC supply chain study this summer shone a light onto the 15% unknown delta.

Or in relation to customisation and flexibility, as we’ve seen significant adoption of our custom optimisation and custom algorithm opportunities.  Or finally, in relation to the control of everything that goes on in the platform that they’re using – ultimately, it’s the advertiser’s platform to carry out their bidding.