May 8, 2017

Programmatic Rich Media Has Forgotten About Efficiency

Mike McNulty

Product Marketing Manager

Rich media has seen its fair share of challenges over the past few years, mostly stemming from the programmatic environment. Publishers of yesteryear owned and operated a single domain that ensured continuity across their website, making it easy for advertisers to build, deploy and manage all types of rich media executions.

Fast-forward to today and the majority of publishers own multiple properties with different sites, domains, layout, and ad requirements. This makes running rich media across all of these properties virtually impossible. In addition, it increases advertisers’ time-to-market, decreases productivity, and brings efficiency to a grinding halt. These effects are felt across the industry. To ensure their clients’ ads work, creative agencies need to devote further resources to account for the numerous versions, differing specs and functionality required to run across these networks. Media agencies then have to traffic multiple ads, so any efficiencies found in the programmatic exchange of media are almost immediately lost.

For rich media to survive – and provide the type of brand lift and engagement that advertisers want – this process needs to be simplified. Fortunately, help is on the way, in the form of single-tag solutions and certifications. But for any solution to take hold, advertisers and agencies need to move away from the engrained practices they currently rely upon.

An integral part of this discussion is the evolving definition of a “publisher”. With programmatic rich media, the inefficiency issue is a carryover from the days of 100% direct sale to single domain publishers. Previously, creative and media agencies built and trafficked one ad for every publisher – if they bought five sites on behalf of a client, they’d build five rich media ads and deliver against the impressions they purchased.

The consolidation of publishers into larger networks and the rise of programmatic were twin engines of change when it came to acquiring media, and direct sales are no longer the only strategic option. Now media buyers have access to a wealth of data they can use to help run campaigns at scale across thousands of domains. In addition, they may run ads across multiple domains all owned and operated by a single publisher entity, but with different requirements for each site.

The trouble is that ads are still built with the same logic – agencies create multiple versions because this has long been the traditional process. However, building thousands of versions of an ad is a cumbersome task that no agency should be required to undertake.

So, while the media buying side has become data-driven and introduced endless efficiencies, no one has brought the same kind of thinking to the creative side, at a loss to advertisers. Meanwhile, publishers are dealing with thin margins and are, unsurprisingly, reluctant to carry the responsibility of ensuring ads work all by themselves.

A single tag solution changes the landscape dramatically. By using a single tag and a centralised ad server, brands and agencies can build just one version of an ad, and be rest assured that it will perform efficiently across all sites, no matter what nuances or specifications may be required by publishers. A single tag also allows advertisers to make changes in real-time to a campaign, adjusting or altering rich media elements to drive performance – something that simply can’t be done in today’s labour-intensive process.

This presents countless benefits across the ad landscape. A single tag makes it far easier for all publishers to run rich media ads across their networks, which theoretically opens up further inventory for buyers. No longer forced to traffic so many different versions, buyers will now have more time to think strategically on behalf of their clients. What’s more, creative agencies will no longer be tasked with burdensome building, and gain the capacity to brainstorm new and innovative ways to bring their clients’ messages to life.

On a whole, programmatic has made media acquisition easy and efficient. But the future of programmatic relies on creative catching up with those media buying efficiencies. The only way to move advertising forward from commoditised standard banners is to deliver more impactful ad experiences and to do that, the industry needs to make programmatic rich media as simple as possible.

This post originally appeared on IAB UK.