TailWind’s Executive Director on the potential of Programmatic Trading

Jan 10

TailWind’s Executive Director on the potential of Programmatic Trading

This interview with Elias Gagas, Executive Director of TailWind EMEA & Liza Vasileva, Country Manager of ThinkDigital Bulgaria, was published on Investor.bg.

What follows is the english version of the discussion about Programmatic Trading and how it is starting to revolutionize the way publishers, advertisers and agencies are doing business.

Investor: What kind of company is TailWind?

Elias Gagas: TailWind combines digital Advertising & Marketing technologies with human knowledge and expertise. Knowledge to identify which technologies are applicable to the needs of our clients and expertise that guarantees the successful implementation / adoption of the correct technologies and achievement of the clients’ goals.

Using the aforementioned combination of skills we energize publishers and advertisers to cut through the complexity of digital business and drive their business fast forward. How? Through our partnership with DG MediaMind and Appnexus in CEE & MEA, which enables us to offer services in areas like Programmatic & RTB Trading, Audience Data Segmentation, Ad-Serving, Yield Optimization, Multichannel Campaign Management and Monitoring & Optimization.

Liza Vasileva: So, in case you were wondering, it is ThinkDigital the one that introduces Programmatic Trading Services to the bulgarian market. Yes, this will happen, of course, through our partnership with TailWind, the Ad-Tech expert unit of TDG. However, ThinkDigital is the company that will work closely with publishers and advertisers to help them reap the benefits of new technological solutions.

How would you describe the current status of the bulgarian media market?

Liza Vasileva: Looking at the year-on-year numbers, it is obvious that the market has been growing steadily over the last few years, as it enjoyed a 4.5% increase in 2011 and an 8.3% boost last year –the big winner was Mobile with a 6x revenue increase, as reported by IAB Bulgaria.

Therefore, it is becoming clear that the big trends in the most advanced markets are evident also in Bulgaria. Trends like Mobile and VOD consumption are increasing with high rates. And this is the case also with the Real Time Bidding phenomenon.

How important is online Marketing in the mind of the average bulgarian advertiser? Do you observe growth in this sector?

Liza Vasileva: A couple of years ago the dominant question was whether “advertisers recognize the opportunity of online Marketing”.  Well, today that’s not a question anymore, it’s a fact. And brands are communicating with their customers in every screen available; from desktop and smartphones to connected TVs. Because they know that in order to catch the attention of their audience, they have to follow them across different screens. For instance, according to IAB Europe, over 38% of Bulgarians are online while watching TV.

What are the main obstacles that online Media should overcome on their way to win the trust of advertisers?

Elias Gagas: I would narrow them down to these: the first is the need to bring transparency to the publishers. And the second one is to provide meaningful results for advertisers, i.e. to bridge the gap between Impressions and CTR to true ROI metrics.

Liza Vasileva: The missing piece to be solved is the challenge of efficiency and effectiveness when acquiring ad space online. Since the very first ad was purchased, advertisers have been dealing with the inefficiency of buying in advance directly from sites in their media plans, and the difficulty of reaching the right audience with manual methods. The resources already exist! RTB doesn’t just solve problems. It adds value by helping advertisers attain a new level of precision in acquiring ad space online. And we are excited that through our partnership with TailWind, we open up a new world of opportunities for the bulgarian market.

In a nutshell, what is Programmatic Buying?

Elias Gagas: To answer your question I will use a definition by Business Insider: “Programmatic Buying is the process of executing media buys in an automated fashion through digital platforms such as exchanges, trading desks, and demand-side platforms (DSPs). This method replaces the traditional use of manual RFPs [Requests For Proposal], negotiations and insertion orders to purchase digital Media.”

Ok and what are the advantages of this platform?

Elias Gagas: The advantages it brings are enormous. So, to start, what does Programmatic Buying bring for publishers offering their valuable content online in exchange (pun intended) for advertiser euros?

-It doesn’t replace traditional trading methods, nor does it render sales forces obsolete. By any account, Programmatic Buying will be a part of the overall digital Advertising ecosystem: Ad hoc deals, Highly Creative bespoke formats, native Advertising are here to stay. If anything, Programmatic Buying will free up time and provide tools for people to come up with more creative uses of digital Media.

-It opens up new opportunities for demand both in global as well local scale. This, in addition with better mechanisms to optimize yield, can lead to increased revenues, e.g. monetize inventory in markets outside the core geography of a property.

-Packaging content with 1st party data and creating precise audience segments provides an excellent mechanism to increase the – impression specific – value per advertiser -Yes, that means higher CPMs.

-It also opens up the doors for consortia of local publishers to emerge, combine their Inventory and Data strengths and create the necessary scale to compete against the international media giants.

-Efficiencies in time & effort spent for deals which can be automated. More time for the sales teams to go after the more expensive and time consuming Premium deals.

-Programmatic Buying big technology providers have emerged – publishers don’t need to deal with building up technology stack & functionality. They can instead focus on building their competitive advantages.

And what about brands and advertising agencies? What’s in it for them?

Elias Gagas: The big question is how the other end of this coin – brands & their advertising agencies trying to connect with prospective customers – is affected:

-Agency media strategists and buyers are still very much relevant! To a large extent, even more so than before since Programmatic Buying allows them to focus on dealing with the core questions each campaign must tackle and possibly participate in the creative process as well.

-Access to more inventory on a local and global scale, which means more selection and potentially better prices. Keep in mind though that this larger “buffet” must be enriched with data to deliver on its premise of lower costs and increased results, leading to an overall better ROI.

-Efficiencies in time – reduce the time spent on workflow facilitation, concentrate on creativity. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group suggests time saved can be more than 1/3 of what we currently attribute to mundane, repeating and no value contributing tasks.

-Real time trading in conjunction with the use of Data, allows advertisers to pay the proper value for each impression / customer / set of eyes according to the relevance it has to each campaign. This combination gives rise to new solutions and services such as Retargeting and Behavioral Advertising. Under this scheme one buys relevant Audiences instead of mere Inventory, the end result being -wait for it- more effective campaigns.

-The automation & digitization of the entire campaign also holds the promise of better & consolidated reporting across channels and the production of better insights as well as quantifiable results. However, Programmatic Buying is just a step in this process, albeit an important one.

All this sounds exciting, but what are the differences in terms of cost between the use of such a platform and the traditional ad agency?

Elias Gagas: A programmatic platform doesn’t – inherently – replace a traditional agency. The platform provides a set of tools and a digital Advertising marketplace that allows its users to deliver campaigns and results more efficiently and at a much faster rate.

Liza Vasileva: The evolution of the digital Advertising industry started with auction Marketing, followed by DSPs and accelerated with RTB. The progress goes with explosive rates in some markets with over 50% of display Advertising being purchased through RTB. The latest trends are moving towards Private Seats, “prioritized bidding” and “forward markets“, all of which will enable buyers to see what impressions a publisher has one day, one month and one year ahead. All this leads to an increased level of accuracy.

What is your mid-term objective in Bulgaria?

Elias Gagas: Our goal is clear: to evangelize and educate the market on the advantages, challenges and best practices of Programmatic Ad Trading. And, of course, to actively assist the bulgarian ecosystem to join the Programmatic evolution and reach western markets standards.

Liza Vasileva: We want to make clear that Programmatic is not here to replace the traditional agency. That is not going to happen. Most traditional agencies are moving towards Programmatic either through the support of their central hubs or through local facilitators like ThinkDigital. And, as I’ve said before, we are here to work together with publishers and advertisers to help them take the most out of Programmatic.