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The three most important digital advertising and programmatic trends in Australia
Nick Ballard

Digital advertising and programmatic continues its upward trajectory in Australia, and brands understand they can’t afford to miss out, says Nick Ballard, Blis’ Australia and New Zealand regional MD. The challenge is making sense of the technicalities, the data and the rapidly evolving technology.

In our conversations with media agencies, brands, publishers and industry players, we’ve noticed a few widely discussed trends in 2015.

1) Trading desks seeking DSP technology for mobile

Media agencies in Australia have been buying desktop ads programmatically for a number of years, but with smartphones now the dominant screen trading desks are seeking solutions that give them direct access to mobile inventory.

The move to mobile programmatic has been supported by two more shifts. Many publishers have minimised inventory sales to ad networks, essentially reducing the presence of the middleman by selling directly to trading desks and other media buyers. Secondly, Publishers have also started adding more inventory to supply-side platforms, with major players like Fairfax and Yahoo! leading the charge. Even more publishers are likely to follow suit in the near future.

Today, it’s undeniably more efficient to buy through trading desks and teams who tap into programmatic to buy at scale, faster, at better rates, and with more comprehensive reporting. Programmatic technology that allows access to mobile inventory at scale is the next big step.

2) Data, data, data

Data has been, and will continue to be, a challenge for brands and media agencies to decipher. Companies are continually finding new ways to make sense of campaign data and studying how they can link that to other existing data sets for optimised campaigns.

A lot of results have been built around click-through rates (CTR), but that barely scratches the surface of campaign effectiveness. It’s a central metric that many rely on, but few go beyond.

Successful understanding of data will depend on two issues – how can brands enrich their current data with location-based intelligence, and how they can then feed this back into their platforms to perform better. The immense potential of location-based insights lies in its ability to help advertisers target only the most relevant groups of audiences at the right places for maximum impact.

For instance, an automobile brand can serve ads to high-income males between 30 and 35 years old that have been researching and shopping for new cars – and the ads can even be targeted at this audience when they’re physically in a competitor car dealership. Or later, and maybe better still, when they’re relaxing at home. When compared with a blanket ad served through a simple geo-fence or on specific publisher sites, the potential results are infinitely more promising.

3) Building internal capabilities

With programmatic and digital advertising moving front of mind, some brand marketers have started considering building in-house media buying capabilities, though the value of such an investment is yet to be tested.

Brands will likely have more control over media buys and might be able to keep a closer eye on inventory, but the dangling carrot of cost savings only applies when brands purchase in immense volume.

Conversely, brands that rely solely on in-house teams face challenges of building and developing an entire team of experts, coupled with expensive investments in new, fast-evolving advertising technology. But the most important factor is likely that brands will be missing out on proprietary technology and historical data provided by vendors, who can provide audience intelligence, and replicate successes and best learnings from cross-industry campaigns.

One thing is certain. Brands, media agencies and adtech players like Blis will continue exploring and developing newer approaches to digital advertising. And programmatic is already establishing a strong foothold as one of the most prevalent ad technologies.

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Nick Ballard Nick Ballard is Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand. Nick is an experienced mobile and digital industry leader who has successfully managed regional business operations and client relationships at digital marketing firms in Australia for more than 12 years.
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