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Fixing digital advertising: 5 minutes with… Tom Bowman

Digital advertising makes a large part of the publishing world go round, yet market complexities prevent the system working optimally. We grab five minutes with multilocal’s Tom Bowman to ask how digital advertising could be made to work better for all concerned.

By Tom Bowman

Fixing digital advertising: 5 minutes with… Tom Bowman

Q: What challenges do you see in digital advertising today?

A: A critical one is that advertisers are struggling to access audiences, get their campaigns away and achieve the campaign results they want. This means publishers are losing out on revenue and opportunities because marketers are failing to maximise the value of their digital campaigns. Having worked in operations and strategy for many companies, I’ve realised this challenge has arisen because of the fractured and fragmented nature of digital advertising.

Q: Why do you think digital advertising is fractured?

A: The perception of programmatic is of a highly automated approach, delivering efficiencies and speeding up processes across the whole buying and selling of advertising. But this is not true. While some aspects are automated, such as bidding, other areas still rely on manual intervention, which can make it incredibly complex.

At the BBC, where we sold TV and digital together, digital was where the complications and delays occurred when we were trying to deliver integrated multichannel campaigns for advertisers. And these issues remain today.

For example, advertising agencies are finding digital video campaign turnaround times significantly lag behind TV. And we’re talking weeks rather than days in some cases! These complexities and inefficiencies have negative implications for both the demand and supply sides, and publishers and advertisers are crying out for solutions to overcome these issues.

Q: So what can publishers do to address this?

A: It’s about ensuring they focus on what’s important to advertisers and delivering this. Marketers’ needs boil down to finding the right audience, optimising their messaging and hitting their campaign objectives. That’s it. They don’t obsess over technologies used, supply chains or the myriad other issues we as an industry concern ourselves with. To them, it’s just background noise.

Publishers need to home in on simplifying things for brands and make it easy for them to buy the right audience that will deliver campaign success.

Q: How should they go about this?

A: Whether it’s doing it themselves, if they have the capabilities, or accessing services that can help them, they must reduce the friction around brands getting their advertising in front of relevant audiences in the right environments. Key to this is helping advertisers discover and access the right audiences that they can then optimise to achieve their campaign goals.

For publishers, this means realising the value of their inventory and using it more efficiently. But it goes wider than this. Traders must ensure they’re getting their campaigns away, and advertisers must be optimising them and correctly measuring success. It’s all about unlocking the potential of digital campaigns for marketers: if it works for them, it works for the publisher, which translates into repeat business. And increasingly, this requires external support.

Q: Why is this a problem that necessarily requires external support?

A: It comes down to the complexity and friction in the programmatic buying and selling process. Trying to keep up with the technology around that is challenging. For many publishers, and indeed other businesses across the digital advertising ecosystem, gaining and retaining the expertise needed to do this is impossible. While some are set up for it, many struggle and need the support of professional services that understand the industry and technology.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, online has become even more central to people’s lives, so digital advertising has never been more important. Getting the fundamentals right is now a critical success factor. Tapping into services that allow publishers to deliver the targeting and audiences that brands need to drive effective advertising is essential for future success.

About us

multilocal simplifies the way digital programmatic advertising is purchased across the world. With the ever-growing complexity of the digital landscape, we deliver high-quality, domain-vetted websites, data, optimisation and reporting regardless of location to ensure that any advertiser can reach their desired audience, regardless of scale, in any market at any time. Our friction-free solution, which is entirely set up to thrive in a cookieless world, connects brands with multiple international publishers without the need for any party to tackle intricate technology or complex data collection. Founded by a team of former Microsoft executives, multilocal has core teams in London, El Salvador and Manila; multilocal is on hand to help advertisers and agencies in every region of the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week.