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Many companies are restructuring their data and programmatic strategies to keep up with the ever-changing programmatic space. John Nardone, CEO of ad serving and online technology platform Flashtalking, recently spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher about the increasingly critical role data is playing in the programmatic ecosystem and how it is driving multiple trends such as brands taking programmatic in-house and publishers looking to co-op first-party data.
eMarketer: What are some of the broader programmatic trends that you’re seeing unfold this year?
John Nardone: There’s an inevitability of programmatic overtaking more of the spend on the ad tech side and more of the interactions on the martech side. The idea that data in real time should be driving interactions is something that almost every marketer has bought into and accepted. Though there’s a desire to do it, the biggest challenge marketers face today is getting there.
As a result, we’ve seen a lot of internal restructuring among companies looking to try and operationalize their data and programmatic strategies and organize themselves around it. That has led to a lot of things that we’re seeing as the beginning of trends. For example, big advertisers are taking more chunks of their programmatic buying in-house and taking agencies out of the process.
The goal isn’t necessarily to take advertising in-house, it’s to control their data better. It’s not to say they don’t want to work with agencies, but it’s more about the fact that they’re now making strategic decisions about what competencies and processes have to be in-house vs. what can be out-of-house when they’re using their proprietary data. That starts to become an issue inside the walls of a lot of companies, because it needs to be a core competency and they believe they need to take responsibility for the management of their data and not outsource it. Once they do that, the programmatic media piece tends to follow.
eMarketer: One of the big data-driven trends that we’re seeing is this idea of data co-ops or partnerships among companies and publishers looking to leverage proprietary data to improve targeting or expand their cross-device footprint. Are you also seeing this happen?
Nardone: Absolutely. There’s another factor that is really important that people are reluctant to talk about but is one of the driving forces behind those conversations, which is fear of Google and Facebook. Advertisers do not want to be held hostage to Google’s and Facebook’s data. The only way for them to not be held hostage in their view is to create their own data assets. Since no individual company tends to have everything, they’re looking for natural partners they can band together with to create enough value and scale so as not to be so dependent on Google and Facebook.
eMarketer: The point you made about the ad tech and martech spaces merging was an interesting one. Can you expand on it?
Nardone: At my former company, we were seeing clients wrestle with the challenge of managing communications to their individual customers across channels and formats. We had one banking client that took the perspective that it didn’t matter whether a customer got a communication in email, the call center, the website or a display ad because the customer doesn’t perceive much difference in where they communicated. All they knew was that they were being messaged by the bank.
That changed their need to manage frequency and the number of touches across all the touchpoints to be able to improve the quality of their communications with customers.
That’s the next big hill that marketers are going to have to climb: Thinking about marketing and advertising from the perspective of the consumer. From the consumers’ point of view, the artificial separation of channels makes no sense. This centralization of data that we’re seeing, that’s the first step. The next step is managing their communications across all channels, which is still a very challenging thing to do today.
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