Your programmatic platform has an expiration date

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Listen up, agencies and brands: the programmatic platform you’re using is dying. Actually, it should probably already be dead.

Many of the major platforms that marketers know, use and rely on to drive awareness and conversions are out of date. They were built for desktop advertising, but we’re in an age where mobile ad spending is poised to overtake desktop revenues, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and eMarketer estimates. Platforms that weren’t built to handle mobile advertising are scrambling to add a cross-device layer and catch up in a multi-device, mobile-first world. Unfortunately for them, it’s too little, too late.

The future of programmatic platforms is shifting, for a lot of reasons. Here are five of them:

1. App time is all the time.

Consumers are spending more and more time on digital devices. In fact, digital media time has literally doubled over the last three years, and 90 percent of that growth is directly attributable to mobile apps, according to comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report.

With the option to use both mobile web and mobile apps on today’s devices, marketers are facing a cross-device challenge on every single consumer screen. Smartphone apps account for three out of every four minutes spent on mobile devices, comScore found, and nearly half of all total digital media time.

For a modern programmatic platform to truly be effective, it’s not just about having access to app inventory anymore; it’s about having the capability to take data and signals from both mobile web and app environments (which are often completely different from the data/signals available on desktop) at scale. It’s about the right tech coupled with the right supply. Your dusty desktop-first platform doesn’t have that, and they’re polluting the industry with inaccurate information while they try to make excuses for it.

2. Cross-device is eating the world.

The world isn’t going mobile; it has already gone.

The vast majority of US internet users — 219.7 million this year, according to eMarketer — are already multi-device. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, 36 percent of Americans owned three digital devices and 66 percent owned two. If they’re like folks we’ve observed, they jump back and forth between devices and sometimes use multiple devices at the same time.

Platforms know this. That’s why huge companies like Google and Facebook are focusing on their cross-device capabilities. Everyone is “cross-device” these days, at least in name.

Don’t be fooled. Platforms don’t become cross-device overnight. The legacy platforms that marketers adopted years ago, and still use today, were never built with cross-device capabilities. They just rebranded and may be trying to weld new capabilities onto their existing infrastructures.

3. Devices are just a piece of the puzzle.

Consumers may own a ton of devices, but it’s time for our industry to stop focusing on devices and start focusing on the people who own them.

We need programmatic platforms built with identity in mind. Platforms should have the ability to take inputs from all identifiers — from desktop or mobile web cookies to device IDs — and take action seamlessly across them.

Rather than identifying a device and assuming the closest ones are connected, technologies should build identities using machine learning to find a bundle of consumers’ connected devices and attribute them to the same owner. While many DSPs (demand side platforms) can identify devices on a user level, as desktop-based platforms, they can’t always take action on the information.

A platform that has identity at the core of its optimization, bidding and measurement is more efficient in reaching the right user, at the right time, with the right message, and on the right device.

4. Built-in measurement shouldn’t be a luxury.

One of the main things missing from legacy platforms is a built-in reporting tool capable of measuring cross-device. To understand and measure consumers holistically across all of their digital touch points, platforms should be able to measure overall global frequency at the user level, true path to purchase across devices, engagements and conversions on mobile and desktop, and cross-device attribution.

More than that, a really good platform will provide information about offline attribution: store visits, transactions, and even purchase-based data. Conversions don’t happen exclusively on the web — neither should measurement.

Keeping track of this key data can inform decisioning and healthy campaign activations.

5. Platforms are going DIY.

Ad tech can be confusing, but platforms don’t have to be. They should be user-friendly enough for marketers to decide on their own where money and ads go.

Onboarding takes time, and partners should respect that the end goal of a modern platform is to give clients as much control as they want: full transparency for each of their insertion orders. That’s what agencies need to be capable of providing.

This might all sound like a futuristic platform, but these SaaS (software as a service) products already exist. They were built for today’s mobile-first, cross-device world.

So, desktop-first programmatic platforms, thanks for getting us here. Now, may you rest in peace.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Dini Mehta leads the US commercial team at Drawbridge. She has been in the mobile and cross-device space for nearly a decade, having previously held roles at Quantcast and YuMe. Dini is responsible for all cross-device revenue, building out the organization by hiring, training, and mentoring team members, defining processes, systems, and go-to-market strategy for the industry’s leading cross-device identity solution. Dini was named one of Mobile Marketer’s Women to Watch for 2017.


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