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New Programmatic Agency? What You Need To Know

Hello digital marketer!

So you’ve decided to move a new programmatic agency. Congrats! We tell you what you need to know to make onboarding smoother for everyone.

If you are looking for a new agency to handle your programmatic advertising, this article is for you. We have created an in-depth guide on how to prepare yourself and your team with all the information they need to start working with a new agency.

This will help make the transition as smooth as possible.

By reading this article, you will understand what steps need to be taken to make sure that both parties are ready for programmatic advertising together.

An exciting time for your business; we hope that you are ready for the opportunities that lie ahead of you.


The first step in this process is client/agency onboarding, which means preparing yourself and your team with all the information they need to start working with a new agency.

Expert Opinion

This article has been created by the team at Advant Technology and being a programmatic agency themselves, they have first-hand experience onboarding many new clients every year.

Advant Technology works with many agencies; creative agencies, SEO agencies, PR agencies etc, not only brand/advertisers/clients directly.

This article’s information comes from expert opinion through many years of experience working with other agencies and brands/clients/advertisers.

Today, the team shares what they think you need to know when you begin working with the new agency of choice.


Factors affecting the scope of the onboarding

Naturally, every agency will have its own idea of onboarding clients, which will depend on the project’s scope. The things that are likely to affect the onboarding process are:

• Total budget – a bigger advertising budget will typically mean a more holistic onboarding process
• Timeframe – an always-on and long term contract/agreement will result in a more comprehensive onboarding
• Scope – the more extensive the scope is, the more critical it will be to have a comprehensive strategy
• The total number of ad formats required
• The goals and objectives of the programmatic campaign
• The number of ad creatives
• The size of the team required to support and facilitate the media plan
• Ad inventory – whether it will be open RTB exchange inventory, PMP or programmatic guarantee deals or a hybrid of all three deal types
• The number of DSPs (demand-side platform)
• Market research
Audience targeting research
• Data plan – depending on the size of your data plan, you may need to find a DMP (data management platform) that matches it
• Location targeting research
• Device segmentation and match rate research – audience matching can be done using cookies or device IDs
• Demographic & psychographic profiles CRM list segments available for matching against audiences
• Compatibility with existing audience data
• Existing ad technology stack
• Types of creatives and ad tags available for insertion
• Analytics – types, platforms, integrations with existing infrastructure etc.

As we’ve discussed, onboarding is just the first step, but to understand onboarding better, let’s look at that from a bigger picture view so you can see what comes after client onboarding.

Programmatic Agency Onboarding Process
Advant Technology's proprietary approach, developed for our one of clients, Destination Canada in which we managed end-to-end planning and buying.

Marketing Goals and Campaign Objectives

Goals and objectives need to be defined before onboarding a client to understand the scope of what will be required to achieve those goals and objectives. There is a difference between goals and objectives. Let’s establish what you should be looking at at this stage.

Remember: Objectives should be measurable and actionable.

Goals can be unmeasurable, while objectives should have a specific structure to ensure they’re attainable and trackable.

For example, a goal could be to increase brand awareness among our target audience.
On the other hand, an objective would be to sell 100 units in 30 days at $50 each.

This type of objective is much more specific and actionable because it’s measurable and timebound.
Advant Technology likes to use SMART objectives as a framework

SMART objectives are:

Specific: what the desired result should be and measure whether this has been achieved in your campaign. It also makes it easier for everyone involved in carrying out the digital advertising campaign to know what the team should do.

– Measurable: a number attached so you can measure your progress throughout the campaign. You will not be able to assess whether or not your digital advertising strategy was successful unless there are measurable results at the end of the campaign.

– Achievable: it is vital to set an achievable objective.

– Relevant: Choose a relevant goal so there can be a direct correlation between what you are trying to achieve through digital advertising and the objectives that need to be defined at the beginning of this process.

– Timebound: an objective must be timebound because it is the only way to know that you have achieved your goal. This also makes it easier for everyone involved in carrying out the campaign (the agency and client, for example) to follow up on progress throughout this process.

Audience Insights / Research and Education

A process whereby the agency asks detailed questions about your market, your product/service, and the audience you are trying to reach. Thorough audience research is vital before the agency defines a strategy in reaching the target audience.

Know everything you can about your target audience in detail because paid media will not be successful if it does not reach its intended audience.

Programmatic Channel Strategy – Media Planning & Allocation

In this step, the agency will use audience insights from the previous step to plan media allocation and buy digital ads; this is your programmatic strategy. Media planning is a process where we determine placement, timing and budgets for purchasing ad space on various channels.

An agency may start by looking at your budget; how much you have available to spend over what period? Then analyse all relevant first-party data that can help the agency identify which advertising avenues will be most effective in reaching your target market with the message that resonates best based upon their demographics, psychographics etc.

For example, if an insight shows your potential customer base tends to purchase more during certain times of the year, such as Black Friday or specific days like Mothers Day, placing the ads within that timeframe would make sense.

Example Digital Media Plan

Partner Strategy

Still part of the media planning stage, but rather than look at the channels, one should be looking at which partners are needed to execute the channel strategy.

Conversations and negotiations with DMPs, DSPs, Ad Exchanges, supply-side platforms or even RTB (real-time bidding) platforms to ensure the strategy is executed correctly. Additionally, it’s time to think of which specific publishers we can engage.

Lastly, reviewing third-party data can be applied inside the programmatic technology of choice to reach a particular audience segment.

Content Production – Brand Positioning / Creative Brief (Digital Advertising Campaign)

A brand positioning makes your company stand out from the competitors in the marketplace; it’s how you want to be perceived by potential customers and align with your marketing message(s). This step is where the agency will start creating ideas for ads that communicate these messages through photography or video, depending upon which platform best fits what needs to communicate.

For example, a pre-roll video ad may need to be different from a YouTube ad to an out-stream ad to an interstitial ad. They are all delivered differently, and thus their length/message may need to differ too.

Content production also spans across the landing pages. The ad’s landing page needs to be compelling and give value to the user. Why should they bother spending time looking at this ad?

The creative brief lets you see all these ideas come together in one document, so everyone involved is clear how it looks, feels, and sounds. Important because if there are any issues with production or timing, you want them sorted early rather than later. It may take longer depending upon each case.

Channel Usage

It involves making sure that everything has been planned out correctly from start to finish, it also ensures that all ad placements (website, mobile apps etc.) have tracking implemented. Hence, we know which platforms/channels are performing most effectively for us – again, data drives our marketing decisions. All assets should be adapted for their various channels.

Digital Channel Planning
Digital Channel Planning

Campaign Optimisation

Running a campaign involves lots of campaign optimisation. Progress should be tracked daily, so adjustments to media spend can be made if needed or refine messaging and creative based upon how the target audience responds. Just a few things to consider when are optimising a campaign are:

– The creative used in the ad. Does it match your brand? Is it engaging and exciting enough for people to click on?

– Your target audience, who is seeing these ads, and how often will they see them so you can better understand the performance of each one? Do certain demographics perform well or poorly compared with others? Are there specific times where an ad performs better than others (daytime vs nighttime)?

And what about locations? Do certain regions produce lower engagement rates than other areas such as cities or states within different countries that might be more receptive to this type of advertising, like New York City over small towns in Iowa? All of these factors should be considered.

– The key here is not just optimising within a specific ad but across all of them in order to get maximum results from each one being served at different times throughout the day or week, depending on what works best for your business goals.

Whatever direction you decide to take after reviewing these factors, make sure every decision aligns directly back towards improving performance and growing conversions rather than simply placing ads and hoping for the best.

• Consider removing specific channels that haven’t worked well or even introducing new channels. It might also be worth thinking about swapping out programmatic display for programmatic native or reducing programmatic spend and up-weighting publisher direct activity. There are lots of things that can be done. Some of them can be left to artificial intelligence. Others are more a manual process.

Continued Reporting, Analytics & Insights

Once the campaign has been running for a while, it’s time to take a look at what worked and didn’t work. The client should receive an end result report with clear insights into what worked best with their target audience as well as a section on next steps / future recommendations, including potential ideas for new campaigns based upon learning from prior ones executed within their brand strategy framework.

Marketing plans change over time, and agencies will need to be flexible and nimble in order for them to maximise their effectiveness.

Programmatic Video Report

Programmatic Video Report Showing Viewability, Completion Rate & Domain Reporting

Let’s take a look at other questions you might be asking in anticipation of finding a new programmatic partner. FAQs:

What is the structure of a programmatic ad agency?

Advertising agencies have different structures depending on the type of service they offer, whether that’s programmatic, web design or creative.

Programmatic agencies can vary in size and structure depending on the company, but structures are typically relatively flat, with many client service-focused roles that support programmatic buying. Programmers will also be members of this team as they play an important role in getting creative elements ready for integration into programmatic campaigns. Job functions may include:

• Campaign Managers
• Account Managers
• Ad Operations
• Media Strategist
• Business Director
• Client Services
• Creative Development
• Developer
• Analyst
• Media Planner

What are the benefits of programmatic advertising technology?

Programmatic ad technology has several benefits.

First off, it’s an efficient way to increase your target market by reaching the right audience at scale.
Additionally, programmatic media buying is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your ad spend and track KPIs such as conversions and ROI.

The technology allows companies to monitor important metrics like clickthrough rates (CTR) which is how often someone clicks on an ad that appears in their feed or landing page views for ads that direct users to a specific landing page.

Programmatic also has a dark side, with fraud being prevalent in the industry, so make sure you use ad fraud protection.

How should my agency report back to me?

The agency should be able to provide data on the performance of your campaign. They should have access to multiple dashboards that tell you information about impressions, clicks, and conversions. Tracking these elements will help give insight into what works well for a given brand or product and give an idea of where costs are being incurred.

Programmatic agencies should also be able to closely monitor the performance of your ads across different channels, including online display advertising.

Later, this information is fed back into future ad campaigns so that you can see how effective they are in converting users into customers or clients, depending on what it is you’re trying to achieve.

How can an agency make your programmatic advertising more effective?

When an agency runs programmatic campaigns, their goal should be to improve sales, increase brand awareness, and reduce costs. For an agency to achieve this, they need to follow these steps:
-First and foremost, the agency needs to understand the clients’ marketing goals.

-Next, the agency should determine if programmatic is a good fit for your marketing objectives.
– The agency will need to leverage their expertise so ask what level of service they’ll be able to provide, including campaign setup & testing as well as creative development services.

What services does a programmatic ads agency offer?

In a nutshell, they should be able to plan, buy, set up and execute a programmatic media buy, optimise and report back, and in the process, hopefully, return a positive ROI.

How much does a programmatic campaign cost?

The cost of programmatic advertising varies from agency to agency. Some agencies have a minimum spend requirement, while others may require you to commit for an entire campaign or even year, depending on the size and scope of your ad buy.

How do agency traders work?

An agency trader optimises programmatic campaigns; their role typically involves analysing data to ensure that the agency buys media at optimal prices. The trader will also be responsible for reporting on campaign performance and adjusting campaigns accordingly to meet specific agency KPIs, meaning they’ll have regular contact with agency management teams; therefore, traders should communicate effectively, both orally and in written form.

What are programmatic exchanges?

A programmatic exchange is a platform where publishers list their inventory to be purchased by advertisers using automated software platforms or algorithms called ‘smart bids’. So, this allows them to trade advertising space across multiple ad networks without being dependent on just one provider. Advertisers bid against each other for an impression which goes into an auction-style format where the bidder wins.

How do programmatic ad platforms work?

Programmatic advertising technology works by using a system of automated bids to buy ads at the best price. The whole process happens in milliseconds and delivers relevant messages to consumers across many different channels, including social media, mobile apps, audio, TV screens and billboards that are all driven through your chosen agency’s digital strategy.

What does it mean if an agency has a trading desk?

It means an agency has a specific team of programmatic specialists whose job is to buy advertising for its clients.

What does a programmatic analyst do?

They are responsible for running reports to track campaign performance and gather data used in future campaigns.
Should I own the programmatic technology stack?

Example of An Ad Tech Stack

It’s not always necessary to own programmatic technology, but it does come with benefits. This could be in the form of reduced costs, but your budget will need to be big enough. Generally, most DSPs require a minimum of $100k per month.

Should I leave my existing programmatic agency if I have issues?

Moving agencies is time-intensive, and as we all know, time is money. Try to find a solution first before making the switch.

It’s important to make sure you’re not leaving programmatic advertising before giving it a fair shot. Analyse what isn’t working and speak to other partners. The problem might not be the agency; it could be that programmatic isn’t right for you due to many factors, both macro and micro.

What programmatic agency should I choose?

There’s no shortage of programmatic agencies in today’s landscape. Choose one that will best suit your needs and programmatic approach. Make sure there is a good cultural fit, and they understand your business.

How long should my contract last?

This will depend on the scope of your campaign. You can opt for a long term commitment or just run one-off projects. Long term contracts (one year or more) is a commitment from both sides, from the client side a commitment in spend and from the agency side a commitment they will meet the services expected.

In the first instance, it may be better to run a few campaigns before entering into a long-term agreement.

Wrapping it all up.

Programmatic Agency Process


When you are onboarding a new programmatic agency, be sure to have an open line of communication.

Be clear about your goals and objectives so that the team can set out on the right path from day one. That way, any potential pitfalls or missed opportunities will become apparent early in the process, and both parties will feel confident moving forward together into uncharted territory.

If there is anything our team has learned through our years leading digital marketing teams; its that effective partnerships take time and effort, but they’re worth every minute!
We hope this blog post has been helpful!

If you’re looking for a programmatic agency, we’d love to hear from you.

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