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Navigating the Programmatic Advertising Landscape

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By Dolma Memmishofer
Dolma Memmishofer

9 Min

June 27, 2023


Can you share your experience with programmatic ads and the story of why you selected this branch for your business?

I began my career in 2013 at a trading desk in France, working as a business developer. My role involved promoting programmatic advertising to advertisers. Later on, I joined the Swatch Group, which comprises 17 brands, including Swatch, Omega, and others. At the time, there wasn't a dedicated programmatic team, so I was brought in to establish and lead the programmatic activities for this renowned brand group. It was a significant achievement for me, and I took great pride in implementing the programmatic strategies.

Subsequently, I briefly worked at Publicitas in Switzerland in 2018. Unfortunately, just three months later, the company experienced economic difficulties and collapsed. Following this setback, I decided to start my own company. Building on my expertise in programmatic advertising, I focused on developing innovative products, particularly in conjunction with social media platforms.

What do you think about multichannel programmatic advertising?

Multichannel programmatic advertising offers immense potential for advertisers to reach their target audiences across multiple platforms and channels. It allows for coordinated and synchronized messaging, ensuring a cohesive brand experience for consumers as they interact with different touchpoints.

One of the key advantages of multichannel programmatic advertising is its ability to leverage data and insights across various channels. By integrating different data sources, advertisers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their audience and target them more effectively. This enables personalized and relevant messaging tailored to specific channels, maximizing engagement and conversion rates.

Furthermore, multichannel programmatic advertising enables optimization and budget allocation based on performance data. Advertisers can dynamically adjust their campaigns, shifting resources to channels that demonstrate higher effectiveness and deliver better results.

However, it's important to note that implementing a successful multichannel programmatic strategy requires careful planning, coordination, and optimization. Advertisers need to consider the strengths and unique characteristics of each channel, adapt their creatives accordingly, and ensure seamless integration across platforms.

people walking in the mall in front of stores

Can you share insights or strategies from your experience strategizing multichannel or omnichannel campaigns for your customers? Have you had success in guiding users seamlessly from DOOH to mobile to stores?

Certainly! In my experience, when working with e-commerce clients aiming to generate online conversions, I have found success by combining programmatic advertising and social media strategies. One interesting observation is that the conversion rates on mobile and desktop platforms differ significantly.

To address this, I utilize mobile web and social media platforms, which have a significant mobile user base, to drive results. However, to also capture desktop traffic and leverage the higher conversion rates on that platform, I incorporate programmatic desktop advertising into the campaign.

Specifically, for performance-based campaigns, I focus on desktop traffic through programmatic display ads or native ads. This ensures that I have a channel dedicated to targeting users on desktop devices. Meanwhile, social media platforms continue to drive results through their mobile traffic.

By combining programmatic advertising and social media in this manner, I can effectively target both mobile and desktop users, capitalizing on the strengths and conversion rates of each platform. This approach maximizes the reach and impact of the campaign across multiple channels.

How would you characterize the digital out-of-home market in Switzerland after your involvement in this field? What are the prevailing trends in its utilization, and what level of interest do advertisers show in programmatic out-of-home advertising?

The digital market in Switzerland, particularly in terms of digital out-of-home advertising, offers significant advantages. Programmatic digital out-of-home brings a new level of flexibility to campaigns, departing from traditional booking methods. Previously, advertisers had to coordinate with multiple publishers, such as APG-SGA and Clear Channel, to secure ad space. However, with programmatic platforms, there's a single point of contact, simplifying the process. Advertisers can take control of their ad budgets and strategically allocate them across the available digital out-of-home inventory. This streamlines the campaign setup and saves time.

One of the significant benefits of programmatic digital out-of-home is the ability to measure impressions. Unlike in the past, where ad slots were simply purchased, programmatic advertising allows for tracking the number of people reached, enabling the calculation of metrics like CPM (cost per thousand impressions). This measurement aspect sets programmatic apart and provides advertisers with valuable insights into their reach and potential audience.

However, one challenge with digital out-of-home advertising is demonstrating the impact on clients' businesses. While some clients view out-of-home campaigns as effective for branding purposes, others seek more tangible results and want to measure the impact on their business directly. This poses a difficulty, as it is challenging to establish a clear correlation between digital out-of-home advertising and business outcomes. In contrast, advertising on social media platforms offers better measurability and attribution. This limitation motivates us to explore solutions that bridge the gap and provide more comprehensive measurement capabilities for digital out-of-home advertising.

You mentioned that programmatic digital out-of-home advertising allows for rough COM and viewability estimations. However, considering the numerous publishers and inventory from various infrastructure holders, could you elaborate on the methods used to deliver the numbers?

In programmatic digital out-of-home advertising, there are methods to estimate viewability and gather data on audience exposure. To ensure transparency and reliability, all digital out-of-home inventories undergo audits conducted by independent organizations. These audits help in obtaining valuable data about specific locations and their audience traffic. For instance, if there is a panel installed at a street intersection in Bern, it can provide insights into the number of people passing by during specific timeframes, such as Monday mornings between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. With this information, advertisers can make informed decisions on when and where to activate their campaigns, optimizing their targeting based on the available data.

However, it's important to note that these audits are conducted semi-annually, which means the data is not real-time but rather provides a rough estimation. While real-time measurements exist in some countries like the USA and China, where cameras capture live data, such methods are not feasible in Switzerland and across the European Union due to privacy regulations and restrictions. Hence, the current approach in Switzerland relies on periodic audits and panel data to approximate the viewability and reach of digital out-of-home advertising campaigns.

technology facial recognition and detection

Considering your earlier mention of real-time measurement solutions used in the US and China, which rely on technologies like GPS and facial detection, do you believe Switzerland would be receptive to such technologies, or do you think privacy concerns might hinder their adoption?

While real-time measurement solutions exist in other countries, their implementation in Switzerland poses challenges due to privacy concerns. Swiss residents generally place a strong emphasis on privacy and data protection. Therefore, the widespread adoption of such technologies might face resistance.

In Switzerland, there is a cautious approach when it comes to privacy and the use of surveillance technologies. The concerns regarding the potential misuse of personal data and invasion of privacy are significant. As a result, it is unlikely that the technology involving facial detection for measuring accuracy and performance would find widespread acceptance in the Swiss market.

The readiness of the technology itself is not the limiting factor. Rather, it is the careful balance between technological advancements and privacy considerations that must be maintained. The Swiss public and regulatory authorities prioritize safeguarding personal data and ensuring privacy rights. Thus, it is crucial to proceed cautiously and address privacy concerns appropriately when considering the implementation of such advanced measurement technologies in Switzerland.

What are your thoughts on the future of the programmatic industry?

I have a positive outlook on the future of the programmatic industry in Switzerland. We are witnessing continuous advancements in technology, data analytics, and automation, which will further revolutionize the way advertising campaigns are executed and optimized. The programmatic landscape will continue to evolve, offering more sophisticated targeting capabilities, and enhanced personalization. At the same time, programmatic advertising, like the rest of the digital advertising industry, faces challenges in measuring and collecting data. The way we monitor campaigns over the next few years will be very different from the way we've done it over the last decade.

In the coming years, I expect the programmatic industry to expand its reach to new channels and platforms. We will witness the integration of programmatic advertising in emerging digital mediums such as connected TV, DOOH, and even virtual reality. This will open up exciting opportunities for advertisers to engage with audiences in innovative ways and tap into new inventory sources.

Additionally, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a pivotal role in driving programmatic advertising forward. These technologies will enable better audience segmentation, dynamic creative optimization, and real-time decision-making, leading to more effective and efficient campaigns.

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Photo by Eleni Afiontzi on Unsplash

What about DOOH?

Looking ahead to the next four or five years in the digital out-of-home advertising industry, there are a few trends and possibilities to consider. Publishers have told me that the trend is to reduce their analog inventory and focusing more on impactful placements. Currently, there are instances where placements can be found in unusual locations, even in fields among cows, which demonstrates the wide range of inventory. However, the aim is to streamline and concentrate on fewer, more effective placements.

To achieve this, it is likely that publishers will further develop their digital out-of-home inventory. This would involve expanding the availability of digital placements in strategic locations. Presently, the challenge in Switzerland, and especially in covering the entire country, is the limited availability of digital out-of-home placements. They are primarily concentrated in specific areas, such as train stations and industrial zones. For one company to achieve nationwide coverage using digital out-of-home alone, it is currently not feasible. However, it is possible that efforts will be made to expand the inventory and coverage of digital placements to address this limitation.

In terms of the industry's future trajectory, there is a growing emphasis on ecological considerations and the environmental impact of advertising practices. The perception of digital advertising in this context is not uniformly positive. Discussions surrounding the ecological implications of digital advertising are ongoing, and opinions vary. As sustainability and environmental concerns continue to gain prominence, it remains to be seen how the industry will adapt and respond to these challenges over the next five years.

Overall, the future of digital out-of-home advertising may involve a shift towards more impactful placements with reduced analog inventory. Efforts will likely be made to expand the availability of digital placements across Switzerland. Additionally, the industry will need to navigate the evolving discourse on ecological impact and address concerns related to digital advertising and sustainability.