Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Q&A: the challenges of leveraging programmatic for ecommerce

Manal Saho, Regional Sales Director at Preciso, discusses the challenges agencies face in their media buying journey, particularly in the ecommerce industry…

Manal, can you tell us a little about Preciso and your work there?

Preciso is a demand-side smart-bid platform for media buying. In other words, it uses customer journey data and machine learning to optimise dynamic creative ad campaigns. The platform calculates the best value placements in real time by learning and predicting customer behaviour.

The platform is all automated, so it continuously learns, applies and adjusts based on an algorithm that, in turn, is continually fed back with data on the best-performing placements.

As Regional Sales Director, my job is to help media, marketing and ecommerce agencies, as well as freelancers, understand the value of platforms that can work hard for them, not the other way around.

Can you tell us what makes Preciso different from more traditional DSP (Demand Side Platform) services?

One of the main differences we’re proud of here is that there’s no minimum spend requirement to use the platform. This means agencies and in-house marketers can get started no matter their budget – unlike most DSPs, where you need a hefty minimum investment and monthly budget contract.

Another feature that makes Preciso different is our approach towards reducing both media cost and ad redundancy. Most DSPs are set up to spend the whole monthly advertising budget, whereas our platform only bids on placements that have the best chances of converting – relevancy over scale is always our goal.

Lastly, Preciso is a platform that anyone can use – it can be white-labelled for in-house campaigns as well as multi-client campaigns. On the other hand, we also offer a full campaign management service, if agencies are looking to outsource instead of using us as a self-serve platform.  

So what are some of the biggest challenges agencies or marketers face when using DSPs?

The most apparent challenge most agencies and marketers face with DSPs is cost. As I said, many providers won’t take you as a client unless you spend a certain monthly amount. So, many SME advertisers are stuck – they realise the importance of programmatic, but can’t afford to use the DSP. And of course, most of these companies – even the larger ones – simply don’t have the engineering resources or domain expertise to build their own solutions. 

Another significant challenge for marketers using DSPs is ad redundancy – spending too much money on ineffective ad placements and ending up with duplicate impressions. This, in turn, makes it difficult to achieve performance goals with traditional DSPs.

So, with those challenges in mind, what would you say to someone or a team looking to get started with media buying?

First, I’d say, don’t be scared of platforms. The technology is there to help you with the heavy lifting – especially if you’re just starting out with programmatic and media buying. 

Also, think about the most efficient way to get the results you want. All too often, agencies that work in-house use multiple platforms to cover different aspects of a campaign’s strategy, including social media, Google Ads and SEO. Using a single integrated platform can cover all of these campaign elements and enable agencies to get back to what they do best – creative campaign strategy.

Lastly, take every opportunity to reduce budget waste, which is an all too common by-product of traditional DSP-based advertising. 

How do marketers apply a platform like Preciso in the ecommerce industry?

The ecommerce industry is fast-moving, and new ecommerce businesses pop up daily. The benefit of Preciso in this space is that you can get started with programmatic straight away – again, no matter the size of the advertising budget. 

On our platform, you only pay for the traffic where your ads are running. Since we consider the three crucial ad metrics – time, user, and contextual environment – you get the most value for your spend. In other words, the platform learns and automatically targets the right customers at the right time. For example, customer A is shopping, but customer B isn’t, so the platform targets customer A, since live shopping behaviour is more likely to convert.

Do you have any other words of advice for marketers or agencies regarding media buying?

I would say don’t forget to look at the whole picture. For example, even if you secure the best placements possible, this might not always translate into sales. For instance, the algorithm the platform uses might indicate the ad creative isn’t resonating. Meanwhile, a high cart abandonment rate might mean there is a problem with the checkout pages. 

The point here is that while a smart-bid platform can help you find the right audience at the right time, you’ll still need to think about the ad creative – design and messaging – as well as the website functionality, and how campaigns align with the overall customer journey.