Evaluating whether to bring programmatic in-house? Here’s how to get started

October 5, 2021
Nicole Felix

It’s no secret that U.S. programmatic spending is booming. 

Since 2021, the automated buying of ad space has gone from a $4 billion industry to an $80 billion one. And as companies increase their programmatic spend (a particularly powerful partner alongside content marketing), many are choosing to move that marketing partnership in-house to maximize not only their media investments but factors like privacy and control/ownership of first-party data, too. 

A report produced by Media Link and WARC that surveyed over 700 brands, agencies, media owners, tech vendors and other global businesses in 2020 found that roughly 34 percent of marketers were looking at taking more of their business in-house—and it’s a trend that is likely to keep growing in importance as it relates to programmatic, too. 

Bringing programmatic in-house, after all, has serious potential for savings by helping you negotiate better pricing with vendors than what you’d likely get by going through a middleman or agency. As an example, when Bayer brought its programmatic buying in-house, it was to the tune of a $10 to $11 million reduction in programmatic buying costs—and that was just in the first six weeks of in-housing programmatic. 

But there are many benefits beyond cost-efficiency, too. No matter the size of your company, if you’re considering pulling the reins of your programmatic in-house, consider the following to keep you right on course as you move through the transition:

  • Consider your overall goals for beginning programmatic in-house
  • Evaluate your talent to handle programmatic in-house
  • Increase internal expertise and knowledge through education
  • Stay friendly with your agency

Consider your overall goals for bringing programmatic in-house

Your long-term business goals are one thing. But when it comes to assessing the benefits of bringing programmatic in-house, it’s important to take a narrower look at what exactly you’re looking to achieve by doing so.

For some marketers, the chief goal may be maximizing the effectiveness of the digital media buy. Others may be looking for better targeting and segmenting of the market or to focus on things like optimizing, automation and messaging. Consider other factors, too, like the mix of outbound media you’re looking to target—is it a broad range or are you looking to hone in on just a few formats?  Perhaps you’re looking for more transparency with your data in a complex media landscape. Most likely, of course, it's all of the above.

These initial discussions will help set the stage for more questions that will surely arise—and ultimately set the stage for success, too.  

Evaluate your talent to handle programmatic in-house

You know your customers best. And bringing programmatic in-house helps to ensure the relevance of your messaging to them. But that’s hardly to say you're ready to go this alone from the get-go with your existing team. In fact, that’s almost never the case. 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a successful transition to in-housing programmatic is often the lack of existing talent and internal support on your team. A successful in-house programmatic team spans marketing professionals, IT professionals and a sales team, for starters. With programmatic moving in house, you’ll likely be responsible for collecting, managing and analyzing your own data, which might require the need for a separate data team. 

So be aware that a big part of the process of bringing your programmatic in-house is likely to mean hiring and training new staff—all of which takes resources, not to mention being in a place with a big enough talent pool of problem solvers to add to your team (or being able to use remote workers). 

The transition, luckily, hardly needs to happen overnight. 

Make a timeline of when responsibilities will shift over to in-house from your agency for a more sensible, step-by-step approach to the process. 

Increase internal expertise and knowledge through education

There is no one-size-fits-all method for bringing programmatic in-house. But to build a team that understands the value and benefits of it, it’s important to put the focus on education every step of the way.

Start by making sure that the decision makers in your company—whether that’s the board, stakeholders or some other entity—understand the basics of what you want your programmatic to achieve, how you plan to get there, and how it will benefit the entire business by leading to increased sales and meeting CPC targets as well as improving overall customer satisfaction and relevance. Once everyone is on the same page under the same roof (so to speak), the benefit of having a cohesive team with a common goal can lead to cross-market strategizing that helps save time and resources. 

Stay friendly with your agency even if you decide to bring programmatic in-house

You know your customers best, and bringing programmatic in-house helps ensure the relevance of your message to them, in addition to the obvious cost-cutting potential. But an outsider perspective remains invaluable to your business.

Make sure to maintain transparency with your agency as you transition to in-house programmatic buying. You might not be using them for it after you fully transition operations in-house, but their expertise in other areas will hardly diminish in value. 

To learn more about PulsePoint, and how our data and technology solutions can support your healthcare marketing efforts, request a demo.

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