Powering your advertising through technology

Tech partners can add value to your brand's digital media plan but you need to ask the right questions

Connolly…“Are you delivering your message to real people, cookies, or impressions?”
Connolly…“Are you delivering your message to real people, cookies, or impressions?”

If you are a digital media buyer, you hear a lot about how technology companies can help your advertising as you engage with Dmexco. Unlike most areas in digital media, the value that the right technology partner can deliver may not always be straightforward or clear. Each business has its own set of unique questions to ask tech partners, but the five below establish a baseline of expectations for any potential partnership. 

How much will your technology solution cost?
The true cost of a tech-powered media buy may not be immediately obvious – even though it should be. Demand transparency in fees and pricing from any partner; otherwise, you are liable to get hit by unexpected fees eroding your spend. Ask what fees beyond the direct platform fee you will pay on top of your media buy. How much of any dollar you put into the technology partner’s system goes to the publisher? What other parties are between you and the publisher?

Does the ad inventory match your quality expectations?
Just because you’re buying ads with technology doesn’t mean you should lose control over the quality of ads you purchase. Ask: will your ad be viewable? How many other ads will be on the same page? How deep in the user session is the content you are sponsoring? And you need to know: how does a partner guarantee the quality of the ad experience you are purchasing? 

How do you know your ads are being seen by your audience?
The ability to communicate a targeted message to a specific group of people is one of the core benefits of digital marketing. But a significant and expensive amount of traffic is bought, with lots of impressions wasted on bots and irrelevant audiences. How does a partner ensure your ads make it to your customers? Do they let you use your data – CRM, DMP, or any other assets you’ve created – to ensure you are speaking to those you wish to, without waste? Are you delivering your message to real people, cookies, or impressions?

How close are you to the content?
If you are looking to invest in content, you need to go directly to the people who created it – the fewer intermediaries the better. Tech firms, by their nature, act as intermediaries to content, but in doing so can create barriers. Put another way, if you’re not careful, partners can misrepresent the media they have access to and complicate your media plan, all while limiting your control. Does your partner provide direct access to content? Is all inventory direct inventory or represented by other intermediaries?

Can you be ensured of a brand-safe experience?
Beyond ensuring contextual relevance, it is important to consider the environ-ment in which content is viewed. The rise of social and user-generated content, combined with the rise in sensational content, means that before spending a penny, you need to ask: what is being done to ensure your ads will run only in places that meet your brand’s quality and context criteria?

Ultimately, the questions to ask your technology partners aren’t very different from those you should ask about any media buy. However, there is some nuance that is important to understand, as well as additional key details you need to investigate. But, by working with a trusted partner, and asking the right questions before you get engaged, you go a long way toward ensuring you make the most of your investment.

Michael Connolly is chief executive officer at Sonobi