Transitioning to self-serve: 3 common challenges & how to avoid them


There are many benefits to managing your programmatic campaigns directly, which is why we are seeing a steady increase in self-serve users. It allows you to have more control over your media spend, make changes in real time, and pull reports to analyze performance. Both agencies and brands are beginning to make the switch from a managed-service model to a self-serve model—and like any other change, this transition comes with its own challenges.

On the surface, it may seem like the only difference between the two models is who is running the campaign. In reality, it’s not that simple. Agencies and brands who have decided to bring their programmatic operations in-house may face some unique challenges that were not an issue when they were operating on a managed-service model. You may be eager to begin managing your own programmatic campaigns, but it’s important to identify and solve for these possible challenges before you begin. 

To help you seamlessly make this transition, we’ve rounded up common challenges for you to identify and avoid before they interfere with campaign performance.

Challenge #1: Understanding that services differ between managed-service & self-serve

As stated earlier, you may think the only difference between these two models is who is running the campaign. However, there are other distinct differences in these services that you should be prepared for.

With managed-service, the external team running your campaigns manages any and all optimizations and adjustments to ensure that your campaign is successful. As you transition to running your own campaigns, you will have to understand how to make these changes on your own and the reasoning behind them. To do this successfully, it is important to understand and utilize any resources offered by your vendor for self-serve customers. For example, here at dataxu, we have a Customer Success Manager that works with you regularly to ensure successful in-house campaign management. Not taking advantage of these resources may leave money on the table.

As you are making the switch, ask your vendor if any other services come with their self-serve model. Having a clear understanding of the service offerings will ensure that you are getting exactly what you want and will set clear expectations as to what each party in the partnership is responsible for.

Challenge #2: Understanding the time that goes into running a self-serve campaign

When agencies and brands run programmatic advertising through a managed-service model, an external team is setting up, running, and reporting on their campaigns. When transitioning to self-serve, it is critical to keep in mind that this work will now fall to your internal team. This will include tasks like setting up campaigns, loading in and keeping track of creatives, executing daily optimizations, and pulling reports.

While these tasks may sound simple on the surface, they take time to master. As you get started with self-serve, it’s important for you to put in the time to get familiar with the platform and functions of running campaigns. As you become more familiar with the ins and outs of the daily work, these tasks become easier and you will be able to run campaigns more efficiently.

PRO TIP: Find a platform that makes completing these tasks easier. Convoluted functionality in your DSP can add additional time to the learning curve and make it harder to complete campaigns.

Challenge #3: Understanding the internal workings of the transition

More likely than not, you will experience some overlap as you move from managed-service campaigns to running them in-house. It might be easy to overlook the needs of your managed-service campaigns but it is important to give both equal attention throughout the process to ensure that all campaigns reach their performance goals. This will allow you and your vendor partners to work together for a seamless and successful transition.

Maximize success

We know that big transitions like this can be daunting, but investing in an in-house programmatic strategy can result in great gains for you, and especially for your clients. By creating a plan and developing a firm understanding of self-serve, you can minimize the common issues that come along with the transition and maximize your success.