Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Programmatic Predictions: Liting Spalding, Havas Media Group

For NDA’s Programmatic Month, we’re asking some of our favourite people for their predictions for programmatic technologies and advertising in 2021. Next up is Liting Spalding, Head of Audience Planning and Programmatic, Havas Media Group.

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

The marketing mix has changed dramatically, but online channels have shown much more resistance to the uncertainty. What 2020 has taught us is that the programmatic industry will need to focus on anything but “business as usual”, think outside of the box and be even more proactive to embrace industry change.

The unique agility and capabilities of programmatic have posted opportunities of full funnel media approach at scale, establishing meaningful connections with the right content and suitable context. We have been looking beyond media metrics and going above and beyond to address business challenges.

What is the biggest opportunity in programmatic for 2021, and why?

1. A multi-channel integrated proposition. This is not a new concept, but 2021 should be the year when we truly make it happen. It will require an integrated approach across strategy, planning, activation, optimisation and measurement, driving business outcomes. Digital marketeers and specialists will need to come out from a single channel mindset and skillsets, which is also a very exciting development opportunity.

2. Fully leveraging the power of insights and automation in the areas of custom audience modelling from media activities, custom optimisation at scale and meaningful audience and media planning. Media planning and activation need to provide an answer to the question: “so what?”. What does it mean to the brand, and what have we learned, short- and long-term?

3. Encouraging diversity in the digital eco-system, which will enable brands and agencies to take advantage of industry innovation initiatives. Advanced and agile technology, partner portfolios and agency marketplaces are often built on this foundation and this approach will also help brands to future proof for brand suitability and a cookie-less world.

4. Truly connecting content strategies with media strategies. This will ensure seamless connection between media teams and content production teams. Brands need to enable and encourage connection between the two to make meaningful connections with audiences.

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

The biggest challenge is to achieve end-to-end automation, aligning strategy and measurement with the latest technology offerings. Advertisers and agencies need to work together to define the most suitable option for the brand, not just the newest and most shiny one.

The approach should focus on driving a meaningful media experience for audiences, and that requires all programmatic specialists to refocus on the fundamental value of marketing, using transparency, responsible and ethical advertising principles to achieve business outcomes.

Other major challenges lie in how we nurture talent within the programmatic industry, to create a sustainable career path for future leaders.

What channels will fare best? And worst?

Depending on government regulation, digital channels seem to have higher potential for growth. Channel agility and innovation will be the key to competing in future. The quicker we move away from “business as usual”, the better off we will be.

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

It’s a very exciting era where new technology meets with tradition. Digital and AV planners will need to work closely together to define the proposition of advanced TV, programmatic OOH and programmatic audio in their existing media approach, from a strategy, audience planning, targeting and measurement perspective.

There is also a need for frequent and effective knowledge sharing with brands and other advertisers to define what works, finding the balance of test, learn and scale. Agencies and partners will need to support brands to drive emerging channels’ test and scale in their roadmap.

What do you most hope will happen in the industry? What do you most fear?

I hope that advertising will become more responsible and sustainable, and that brands will aim to promote and increase awareness of sustainability beyond sales. I really hope all senior stakeholders in the leading advertising networks and brands will be dedicated to making positive changes, as we are in an ideal position with the ability to leverage tools of communication and connection.

My biggest fear is that teams will work in silos and continue to use Excel sheets for reporting!

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