Programmatic in-house: An agency’s guide to navigating new trends


You may have seen the recent report from Infectious Media stating that “86 percent of marketers said that they planned to take some portions of programmatic in-house to manage on their own.” That same report also notes, and frankly  glosses over the fact, that  “Nearly all brands—or 96 percent—believe that agencies will need to play a role going forward because of the complexities in understanding all of the facets of programmatic.”

So what does this mean for you?

Brands want more control but they still rely heavily on agencies to help shepherd them through the muddy programmatic waters. As an agency, it’s more important than ever to lead discussions with your clients around programmatic strategy and develop the skills and technology in-house needed to navigate these new trends.

Build in-house programmatic expertise

By building in-house programmatic teams, you will gain greater control over strategic marketing efforts, from media buying to launching and optimizing your clients’ campaigns. As a result, you will be better able to meet the goals of the clients you work with.

That said, programmatic requires in-depth technical knowledge and experience, which may be difficult to hire for. This challenge can be addressed by working closely with partners who have been accumulating knowledge and refining their skills for years. This will enable you to both harness knowledge from the programmatic experts and develop your own expertise along the way.

Invest in technology

Investing in technology, such as an in-house demand side platform (DSP), will empower you to take better control of marketing initiatives while becoming the programmatic expert your clients are looking for. By removing the middleman, your clients will also find that they’ll benefit from reduced costs in the long-run. In fact, estimates suggest that by bringing automated media buying in-house, agencies, like yours, can save themselves and their clients between 25 and 50 percent each year.

Increase transparency without cutting costs

Ever since the Association of National Advertisers reported on the pervasiveness of “non-transparent business practices” in the American ad market, many marketing professionals have grown eager to wrestle back control of their programmatic efforts, seeking unlimited access to data, media prices, and campaign performance.

RELATED: Programmatic partnership models: The 2017 marketing professionals’ guidebook to building strong business relationships between advertisers, agencies, and ad tech partners

Building your own programmatic team and leveraging a DSP technology in-house, will afford you and your clients greater transparency into things like media costs and programmatic tactics. For example, with in-house programmatic you will be able to give your clients more detailed reports and analytics on campaign performance while allowing you to manage your own service margin.

Start making decisions now

As an agency, you have much to gain by bringing programmatic efforts in-house: attract new clients and provide existing clients with the expertise and technology solutions they need to succeed. In order to ensure you’re set up for success as well, make sure to carefully—and realistically—map out a go-to-market plan.

Some larger agencies may find that they are well positioned to bring programmatic in-house today. For others, the move might require more preparation. Still others may decide to test the waters by leveraging a vendor’s technology in a managed-service capacity, instead of diving in on their own.

No matter where you are in the decision-making process, there are a couple things you can do right now. First, begin developing knowledge on the latest programmatic trends and technology. That way, you’ll be better able to have well-informed and productive conversations with tech vendors. This will also enable a smooth transition if you decide to move in-house in the future.

Finally, and most importantly, continue to foster strong relationships with your clients and partners. After all, collaboration is essential for any successful marketing strategy and clients need your guidance and services now more than ever.


White Paper | Programmatic Partnership Models