Choosing the Best Programmatic Partner for Performance

Display is widely recognised as the fastest growing sector in digital advertising today. The IAB and PwC’s recent 2015 Full Year Digital Adspend Results show that like-for-like, display is leading the way in increased digital media spend – and isn’t showing signs of slowing any time soon.


Source: IAB / PwC 2015 Full Year Digital Adspend Results (

With the foreseeable future of display looking so promising, it’s about time we discuss how to choose a partner who will help you get the most from the gold rush.

What is Programmatic?

For anyone who needs a refresh on the term, eMarketer defines programmatic as: an automated, technology-driven method of buying digital advertising, taking advantage of audience targeting and cost efficiencies of real-time bidding (RTB).

Pretty good. However, in practical terms, it is the automated means of reaching the right audience, with the right message at the right time – and which marketer doesn’t want that? A Demand Side Platform (DSP) is the piece of tech that allows you to simultaneously access multiple networks (of online media inventory), and programmatically (‘automatically’) serve your ads to users via that inventory, according to your targeting criteria.

So, which DSP should I work with?

This is the big question for all marketers entering the adtech space, and for some already in it. When there’s so much technicality, and with such an extensive list of DSPs available on the market, how do you select that special one to work with? Well, here are my top tips for choosing a partner who will give you the best performance for your buck:

1) Choose a platform that allows you the flexibility to scale activity (both ways) depending on your business’ needs. You can only see so far ahead, but it’s crucial to be savvy about seasonality, budget fluctuation, or other factors that could affect your ability to commit to a fixed partnership. The solution is to find a partner who doesn’t use (or offers options other than) fixed-term contracts and minimum spend restrictions.

2) Choose a platform that will give you the greatest transparency. What do we mean by transparency? We’re talking about being able to see the margins taken by the DSP, being made aware of hidden fees that crop up when you exceed limits or use certain functionalities, and of course, receiving reports that tell you everything about your campaign performance. Without transparency, you not only lose money, but you may find yourself unable to fully develop your strategy, due to a lack of accurate insight. Any vendor who isn’t willing to be totally transparent with its activity has something to hide, and you probably won’t know what that is, until it’s too late.

3) Choose a platform that allows you to reach specific goals. For marketers whose focus is on performance, the most recognised metric is usually CPA. If a vendor can’t offer you the right metrics for success, don’t do it, and don’t be told that something else can be used in their place. Trust your own expertise, and only go with the perfect fit.

4) Oftentimes, you may get stuck between two or more products, whose offerings are similar. In this scenario, ensure each offers the flexibility, transparency and metrics already mentioned, and then go with the one who is best suited to be your ‘partner’, not just a ‘vendor’. Working with somebody you trust, and who will work closely alongside your company roadmap ensures you can build a scalable strategy together.

The key to success, as with everything in performance marketing, is to start small and build on your successes. You can use display to run short-term campaigns at the start, but you’re going to see bigger, better results with a long-term strategy that uncovers and maximises your programmatic learnings.

For more advice on how to choose the best DSP for your company’s needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

David Ayre, Performance Director, MDNA
M: +44 (0)74 2712 6395


About the author: As Performance Director for MDNA, David works with brands, agencies and networks who want programmatic solutions that operate on a purely performance model. He’s a marketer with a vast experience in campaign delivery across all digital disciplines, particularly affiliate and display. Having worked agency, network and publisher-side, David brings a balanced view to the market.