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Industry Contributor 13 Oct 2021 - 3 min read

Programmatic stacks: Putting an end to the cold war between value and price in digital ad buys

By Joe Frazer - Managing Partner and Head of Growth, Half Dome

A single stack approach to technology may not be the best for some brands. The key factor should be value, and choosing wisely can save millions. 

Value, as a concept, is broken.

Over the last three years I have watched more and more commentary about what ‘value’ looks like in our industry and like a lot of things in our space, most people have tried their best to oversimplify the concept to the point where they continually misinterpret the basics. Consequently, there is a cold war between value and price as agencies look to differentiate based on one or the other.

To put it simply, price contributes to value; it is an important cog in the wheel.

My question is this: are you or your agency partner selecting technology based on what is going to be easiest for the team to work in or are you centralising in a single technology stack just ‘because’? We have clients executing $10-20 million worth of media through DSPs in a given year. Smart technology selection can allow the exact same media to be executed, but with 5-8% cost savings as compared to a single tech approach.

If I could save you $1 million whilst delivering the exact same thing tomorrow, would you call that value?

The key takeout here is tackling a complex media landscape through a lens of smart planning and even smarter buying.

As an example, look at the ad technology landscape we are operating in today. Price is a really interesting and underexplored concept, which can support driving value for clients of all sizes. One key notion is the model of moving away from single technology or centralised buying platforms. Instead, look to utilise the best, most cost-effective technology at a channel or campaign level to execute for clients.

But in reality, what does this look like?

It might mean activating your video buy in Mediamath, your high impact display in The Trade Desk, and your performance display activity in Display and Video 360.

Understandably, driving cost efficiency doesn’t offset poor planning – but you have bigger problems if that is where it is falling down.

Some of the biggest DSPs in the market charge more than double that of their competition, at times this is warranted, and they have invested in technology allowing their platform to drive value (not in a price sense) beyond what their competition can.

This may be in the ability to leverage unique data sets, execute innovative creative formats, or even optimise towards better outcomes than the competition.

However, one of the unfortunate realities facing clients today is that the technology selection process, is often in conflict to clients’ best interests or being done without consideration of a multi-technology approach. In a market like Australia, where there are five to six key publishers, this trend is only amplified as publisher capability is constantly in dispute with DSP capability, meaning there’s even less ability for technology to differentiate.

Ultimately, let’s bring value back to the forefront of our conversations and fix this important aspect of the industry, driving market change for the betterment of DSPs and clients alike.

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Joe Frazer

Managing Partner and Head of Growth, Half Dome

Joe Frazer is the Managing Partner and Head of Growth at indie agency Half Dome.
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