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Omnichannel: It’s Not What Your Ad Tech Provider Tells You It Is

Joanna O'Connell
Joanna O'Connell
Vice President, Principal Analyst
March 8, 2018

I love digging into data. Sounds obvious, I know. I’m an analyst, after all. But when I returned to Forrester, just after the Q2 2017 Omnichannel DSP Wave published, I found we were sitting on a treasure trove of data gleaned during the customer reference survey portion of the research. And it was illuminating.

This group of surveyed DSP users, mostly agencies and marketers, are believers in programmatic. For them, it DOES deliver value. It’s bringing more transparency, control, intelligence and performance to digital advertising, and their dollars are following.

But they also want MORE. From programmatic itself, from the inventory providers who transact programmatically (or don’t) and from the tech that powers it. Because the reality is:

  • Buying remains fragmented. In spite of the early promise of “fewer platforms to buy more stuff”, today’s sophisticated buyers find themselves chasing down inventory in a lot of disparate places in pursuit of well-rounded cross channel media programs. This is operationally onerous, to say the least, but can also have an inverse effect on performance: all those disconnected inventory sources are being optimized in siloes, and the smart buyers know this is suboptimal. Because let’s also not forget about consumers in all of this: fragmented buying means a fragmented consumer experience.
  • Ad tech stacks are REALLY complicated. Buyers need a lot of STUFF to execute cross channel media programs: media buying and optimization tools for programmatic and non-programmatic inventory, search engine marketing and offline channels like linear TV; ad serving; brand safety, fraud and viewability tools; audience management tools including identity resolution and management, data ingestion, segment building, and insights generation capabilities; creative management and personalization tools; measurement and attribution tools…Whew. And in spite of the big DSPs offering many of these features, buyers are turning elsewhere for lots of these things. This all costs money and takes expertise to manage, not to mention cobble together.
  • “Omnichannel” is more marketing-speak than actuality. Ask any DSP worth its salt and it will tell you its platform is omnichannel. I’m not going to deny that buy-side tech has made MASSIVE progress in this regard, but the reality is, there’s still plenty that happens outside these platforms including search, social spend, and television… well, television could be a blog post of its own (oh wait, it was.) All that said, buyers can’t rely on their tech providers to tell them what omnichannel should mean; they must lead here, not follow. Certainly, consumers don’t care about a DSP’s definition of omnichannel – they just want simplicity, convenience, seamlessness and advertising they don’t hate.

To dig into the story further for yourself, check out the full report here.

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