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Traditional & Programmatic:

An inside look at media trends in 2018
By Betsey Griffin Jones, Media Director
and Melanee Arnett, Digital Media Director

It’s been difficult to “follow the money” invested in media campaigns—both traditional and digital—for nearly as long as, well, either marketing tactic has existed. This has led to, at its worst, industry fraud, and at its best, suspicion and confusion among brands which continue to pump money into both traditional media and the programmatic supply chain.

Technology played a role, for sure. Tracking hasn’t always been as accurate as either side of the ad buying and selling equation might prefer. And, for publishers and traders who found ways to take advantage of selling ads to buyers without clear accountability to their brands, the temptation to cut corners has left some advertisers feeling blindsided. This includes cutting “untrackable” traditional channels from media mixes.


LAVIDGE | Media Trends

The result? Last year, digital media buys outpaced television for the first time—ever. Without the much-needed lift from television, however, digital results began to plummet. Brands have since caught on. So, in the age-old words of folk music legend Bob Dylan, “The Times, They Are A Changin.”

In 2018, transparency is not only possible. It’s expected. No longer is the client’s bottom line the only one at risk. Advertising agencies which fail to provide detailed reporting based on their programmatic data do so at their own peril. That’s because as clients become savvier, many are ditching their agencies and moving their digital ad trading in-house. The same trend is just beginning with Out of Home (OOH) buys which are also becoming available as self-serve options for everything from billboards to audio ads on streaming music services.

We understand. It sounds great. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, far more than you might think.

Maybe you’re planning a traditional television ad, radio spot, static billboard or Digital Out of Home (DOOH) campaign with a few thousand blips on major billboards along major city arteries. Or perhaps you need to teach a machine to bid on the fly for the best digital space at the best price. These sorts of tasks have long been in the hands of capable agency professionals—and for good reason.

Let’s take a look at what’s trending and why LAVIDGE clients who have long relied on our expertise can count on us to lead the way in reporting transparency, campaign effectiveness—and a whole lot of integrity. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Every industry has its lingo

Spillover. Halo effect. Universal viewability. Effective reach and mass reach. Premium and remnant inventory. If these and other terms such as added value, traditional, programmatic, location-based intelligence, look alike, and attribution modeling roll off your tongue with ease, you just might be a media professional.

Most clients, however, need a little guidance navigating the world of outdoor, television, radio, print and programmatic marketing for mobile. So much of our jobs is educational, explaining to clients why we need to attach a tracking tag or pixel to content and why last-touch attribution isn’t as reliable when calculating return on investment (ROI) as some ad platforms would have you believe.

We don’t expect you to pick up every nuance of what we do, but we do hope you’ll trust us when we make recommendations to add tracking analytics for actionable insights, so you can tell what is truly in your best interest. At LAVIDGE, we lose together and we win together. If it’s all the same to you we prefer to keep it on the winning side.

Outdoor, radio & mobile…the perfect trio

Commuters are exposed daily at eye level to posters behind Plexiglas on bus shelters, ads painted on benches, and city buses wrapped in vinyl. If they glance up they’ll see billboards, both static and digital. They might even see a mobile billboard on a truck either parked or driving by. Along the way they might pass additional street furniture such as newsstands, kiosks, or view panels in or around shopping malls—or even in the convenience store or gas station where they stop to refuel. And because sound drives better engagement than visuals, adding radio is like adding audio to your visual outdoor messages.

Why audio? Infinite Dial Research, Edisdon 2017, reports 82% of drivers listen to AM/FM radio in their vehicles. And you hear even when you’re not listening, but you don’t see unless you look. This is why you can sing hundreds of songs you never intended to learn but you cannot always recall the color of the vehicle next door. It’s why Phoenicians know that Shane Company is at Scottsdale Road at Acoma and the phone number of Lerner and Rowe is 977-1900.

That doesn’t mean you should discount visual signage. Consciously, no one is going to notice every single sign, read every single message or pay attention to most of the details. These ads, while they might not merit one’s undivided attention, cannot be completely ignored. Repeated exposure to ads with strong visuals, over time, influences the audience on a subconscious level. This offers brands the opportunity to build a strong presence simply by being, well, everywhere.

That’s great for generating broad branding and awareness. When you’re ready to engage at a personal level it’s time to focus on what people see when looking down—their mobile devices.

Like pairing a slow-roasted chicken with a perfectly aged Merlot, combining traditional ads with programmatic on mobile allows you to engage your audience in a more personal way. You’ll also be reinforcing the brand messages your audience might have missed even if the ads have been literally staring them in the face for weeks.

In addition, engaging individuals using their personal devices allows you to gather information such as their travel patterns. It allows you to track their locations in real time, so you can reach out to customers when they are right around the corner, or even just next door.

While adding mobile is great, adding another touchpoint such as social media, print and another such as television, and so on, is even better. The more you layer your messaging through various touchpoints, the more effective your campaigns can be.

Beacon-to-phone messaging is growing

If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite home improvement store just happened to ping your mobile device with a discount coupon at the exact moment you pulled into the parking lot, wonder no more. It had nothing to do with your daily horoscope or the alignment of the planets and stars in the sky.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who prefer a less scientific answer, but there’s actually nothing mystical or clairvoyant about it. Many brands use beacons to broadcast signals to phones and tablets. They generally program them to reach users within a targeted geographical area. Users who have downloaded apps which allow publishers to display ads and meet whatever other criteria the advertiser might have specified will be served their content. It might be a discount code, directions to the nearest location to buy a featured product, or a link to download an eBook or newly released song.

So, the next time this happens to you, congratulations. You’ve just been served (an ad).

This trend in digital advertising is definitely on the rise, so expect to see more brands using it in the future. It’s effective, and by using tracking, device IDs and aggregate movement patterns, it’s easy to attribute impact.

(Some) digital billboards are going programmatic, too!

When you think programmatic, you likely think about real-time bidding (RTB) for ad space on digital screens compact enough to hold in your hand. While most of the digital outdoor inventory is reserved as spots or in a loop far in advance, there is always unsold inventory. One creative way to fill that space is to make it available on the fly. While digital outdoor doesn’t offer true RTB, it does take place within 60 seconds. That might seem fast, but in mobile programmatic, bids are placed within split seconds.

Programmatic or not, digital outdoor provides opportunities to leverage consumer location and other data in real time. Up-to-the-minute scores for important sports events and exit polls during elections, as well as posting the temperature as it rises on a potentially record-breaking day, are all ways data can drive interest in digital space in real time. This is called dynamic content.

Self-service options are filling gaps

In the beginning of this piece we alluded to the availability within the past two years to use self-service options to get your brand on a digital billboard using original artwork or a self-produced radio spot on a live-streaming audio service.

While these options certainly seem low-cost, they also come with high risks. It’s kind of like trying to save money by buying spray paint and a stencil from a discount store to add your logo to all of your company vehicles instead of hiring a professional. Sure, you might save a few dollars. You also might ruin your vehicle’s original finish. Or, in the case of using self-service, bargain-basement advertising with creative you might also have personally designed or farmed out to a friend, you could damage your brand.

Bottom line: there’s a learning curve when it comes to placing any media programmatically. You need to understand how to achieve effective reach and frequency. You need to have a feel for what locations and times will convert for your target audience. And it helps to know how to target audiences, so you can capture net-new clients you didn’t know were available.

None of these things are available to the average DIY programmatic buyer.

Understandably, our concern is that those who “give it a shot” on their own will walk away from the experience thinking media doesn’t work. And that just isn’t true.

Transparency builds trust

Okay, back to the beginning. We’ve already acknowledged that some brands are ditching big programmatic trading desks at behemoth agencies to move their buys in-house. Other are moving their business to full-service agencies like LAVIDGE because they can count on us to have the expertise and a mid-sized economy of scale—without the bloat.

CHART: How we are different: our comprehensive approach

We also offer some of the most transparent analytics available anywhere. If it can be tracked, we keep tabs. If it can be measured, we do so. And if it can be optimized for the client’s benefit, we’re on it. Best of all, we share all of these insights with you. It’s our way of earning, building and maintaining trust through legitimate transparency.

We could go into the nitty-gritty of how we do it, and the definitions of all the industry lingo. But that would spoil the presentation when you ask us to put together a combined traditional and programmatic media strategy—tailored just for you. When you’re ready, let’s talk! We can’t wait to help boost your bottom line.


Betsey Griffin Jones
Media Director
Betsey Griffin graduated Magna Cum Laude from​ Stephen F Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, with a double major in Radio/TV Communications and Marketing. After 10 years of Radio Sales and Sales Management with KRMG Tulsa, KTRH Houston, and WRBQ Tampa, she started media planning and buying with New West Group in Oklahoma City. In addition, Betsey was Account Executive/Senior Buyer/Broadcast Supervisor with Results Media Group/E.B. Lane for seven years upon her move to Phoenix. She came to LAVIDGE in 2003 as Media Director, working on many accounts over the last 15 years including McDonald's, ASU, Bonneville Radio, WAYMO, and ISM Raceway. She currently serves on the board for Phoenix Ad Club.
Melanee Arnett
Digital Media Director
Melanee brings 12 years of media buying and planning experience to her role leading a cross-functional team of digital media planners, buyers and programmatic traders. Leveraging the latest targeting and attribution technology, she develops and executes strategic, efficient and effective cross-channel and cross-device digital media campaigns that drive business results. Melanee has experience across a variety of industries including Retail, Gaming, Consumer Packaged Goods, Hospitality and Tourism, Restaurants, Political, Government and PSAs, Utilities, B2B, Higher Education, Finance, Pharmaceuticals, Health Insurance and Information Technology.

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