As programmatic advertising continues to come to the fore of many digital strategies, so does the discussion of whether or not agencies should begin to expand their offerings and skill set to take programmatic media buying in-house.

Making difficult decisions

The driving force behind this conversation is the increased recognition that cross-channel, cross device and cross-strategy marketing is necessary for achieving cohesive goals. No longer can channels be siloed in the ways they have been in the past. There should be no divide between display, search, social, video, or direct online buys. Programmatic has the unique ability to help bridge the gap with many of these channels and provide a centralized location for campaign planning, execution, management and reporting.

For many years, when faced with the prospect of utilizing programmatic advertising, agencies would usually opt to outsource their programmatic media buying to outside vendors, who offered fully managed solutions using proprietary tech and data. I’ll be honest, there are a number of advantages to doing so.

  1. Someone else manages it!: Less workload, no learning curve… perfect harmony.
  2. Easier projections: You can tell the vendor you have this much budget and you will receive and estimated number of impressions at a set price.
  3. Usually, the vendor will give an aggregated snapshot of your audience persona.

So, this is all fine and well. Why would you take it in house…? The work is done for you… Right?

I am of the belief that as the digital landscape as whole evolves, we need to break down the silo walls, have a better cohesive look at how our strategies work together to achieve an overall goal. Like the outsourced option, there are a lot of advantages to managing your client’s programmatic campaigns in-house.

  1. You have total transparency: You control the bids, you know exactly how much you are paying for impressions. Self Service options usually come in at a cheaper rate than managed options when you drill down to the raw cost. You have full access to where your ads are being placed, how they are targeted and when they are served.
  2. More control: Managing in-house allows you to control creative flights. This is important when you have clients that have frequent creative swaps outs and/or sales & promotions.
  3. Cohesive Approach: No-one knows your client better than you do. You create the cross-channel strategy, why shouldn’t you manage the programmatic and make changes on the fly based on your own data from multiple channels.

Last year at Hanapin, we have started to take the next step to move our programmatic in house. We have centralized our campaign reporting, planning and execution. So far, we have seen great results. Below is a comparison of our data from our outside vendors vs. self-managed for one client in particular.

Programmatic data comparison outside vendors vs self-managed

We saw our transactions more than double, with our CPA dropping 70%. It is also worth pointing out that we took over management in the most competitive time for valuable ad space, Q4 during one of the most data driven Presidential campaigns in history. For us, the move has worked well, and we are continuing to learn, evolved and enhance our capabilities and campaign performance.

Yes, with an in-house approach, there is a learning curve, extra work load and a need to constantly adapt to changes in industry. But, something to be aware of, is that a lot of the philosophies we have when we manage PPC campaigns, are easily transferable to self-managing programmatic campaigns.

Final Thoughts

This blog was not to tell you that in-house is the best option, it is mainly to highlight the options that are available to marketers. Programmatic is growing, and showing no signs of stopping. It is time to explore to most effective and efficient way to improve the performance of your online strategy.

For more advertising alternatives, visit 10 Alternatives To Google AdWords!