It’s about time: Consolidate your ad buys to maximize reach and increase efficiency

Matt Brocklehurst, Jonathan Meltzer / February 2018

Since the earliest days of advertising, marketers have looked for ways to make their ad dollars go further. And they've been trying to address the challenges of wasted impressions, redundancy, and lack of measurement capabilities. Despite advances in technology, many businesses still find themselves asking the same question: How can we use ads in a more cost-effective and efficient way? New research shows that one answer lies in a consolidated approach to buying media.

With the arrival of the web, marketers commonly engaged in direct relationships with publishers to reserve premium digital ad inventory. And as they’ve become more tech savvy, they’ve also embraced programmatic auction buying as a more efficient method of reaching people at scale. Here’s the problem: These two approaches haven’t been optimized to work side by side. By using separate systems instead of a single, streamlined workflow, marketers are losing out on performance and efficiency.

To quantify the benefits of consolidating these two media buying approaches, Google worked with Nielsen and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and found that buying media with a single tool enables marketers to reach more unique users—for the same investment in impressions—and saves time.

"By using separate systems instead of a single, streamlined workflow, marketers are losing out on performance and efficiency."

Improve reach efficiency

Google worked with Nielsen to measure 10 campaigns run by large advertisers in regions around the world, including three campaigns in Asia Pacific, to see how a siloed ad-buying approach with traditional reservation deals and programmatic auction buys managed separately stacked up against a consolidated approach with both traditional reservation deals and programmatic auction buys managed in a single platform.1

With a consolidated approach, brands can control how many people they reach and how often they reach them during the purchase journey. Instead of inadvertently reaching the same people over and over again, brands can now direct their budgets to reach more consumers. This also translates into a better experience for consumers because it reduces over-exposure.

The consolidated campaigns were run using Programmatic Guaranteed, which allows buyers to use programmatic ad technology to reserve inventory directly with publishers.

"With Programmatic Guaranteed through Display & Video 360, you can get the maximum value from your efforts because you reach more people with the same level of investment".

- Simon Gellibrand, Head of Performance Media, Performics Australia

Across the 10 campaigns studied, Nielsen found that when brands consolidated their campaigns using Programmatic Guaranteed, they experienced an 11% increase in reach efficiency. That means that for the same impression investment they reached 11% more unique consumers.

"Nielsen found that when brands consolidated their campaigns using Programmatic Guaranteed, they experienced an 11% increase in reach efficiency."

Save time

In a separate study, BCG closely evaluated the ad buying and selling workflows of over 40 agencies, advertisers, and publishers around the world, including 23 from Asia Pacific.3 These companies used both Programmatic Guaranteed and traditional reservations to transact direct media buys.

BCG found that there were significant time savings for all parties when using Programmatic Guaranteed versus traditional reservations. From insertion order to billing, agencies spent 29% less time on set-up and ongoing campaign management with Programmatic Guaranteed compared with traditional reservations. And publishers spent 57% less time on set-up and ongoing management compared with traditional reservations.

Programmatic Guaranteed vs. traditional reservation


From a process and workflow standpoint, managing multiple types of ad buys in parallel for the same campaign creates operational waste for agencies, marketers, and publishers. They end up duplicating work on budgeting, forecasting, creative reviews, and other tasks. Collectively, this extra work adds up to a substantial amount of time that could be spent on other higher-impact initiatives.

"Programmatic Guaranteed has been integral in our ability to address desired audience cohorts with impact ad formats and within premium environments at a scale not possible with traditional programmatic direct methods. Doing so allowed for greater consolidation of direct publisher transactions, significantly improving operational efficiency."

- Vincent Niou, Senior Director of Programmatic and Partnerships APAC, Essence Global

The research from BCG and Nielsen explains why Programmatic Guaranteed is increasingly being adopted globally by advertisers, agencies, and publishers. This is particularly true in Asia-Pacific.

There are several forces at play unique to this region. For instance, while adoption of basic ad tech is low in India, some players are advancing directly into programmatic, leapfrogging basic ad tech and adopting advanced, automated models. With fewer legacy restrictions, they can achieve efficiency gains immediately.

"We launched in India with our entire inventory being available programmatically. Today, 60% of our inventory is sold through Programmatic Guaranteed, which helps us to achieve better yield, operational efficiency, campaign optimisation, and ensure on-time payments. This way, we can leverage scale and advanced targeting capabilities, while providing enhanced control and value for our advertisers".

-Tejinder Gill, Vice President Sales & Head of India Operations, Truecaller

"We’ve moved most of our direct buys to programmatic, and in case of publishers that haven’t embraced programmatic yet, we’re urging them to do so quickly because we would ideally not want to buy anything that cannot be purchased with this buy type".

- Rahul Gautam, Vice President, Marketing, Ford India

Southeast Asia is also emerging as a growth area for Programmatic Guaranteed. More and more people are coming online in markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—many for the first time via low-cost smartphones. For players based locally and in Singapore, the region’s hub, this rapidly expanding pool of online consumers provides a golden opportunity for using Programmatic Guaranteed.

"Programmatic Guaranteed has simplified media buying across the board, making the process more efficient for both the media buyer and the publisher. The Programmatic Guaranteed approach also helps drive the Premium Programmatic discussions with the clients and offer a completely brand-safe premium environment to reach desired audiences effectively".

- Mandar Kambli, Head of Products & Partnerships, Amnet Southeast Asia

While many different dynamics are at play across Southeast Asia and India, one thing seems clear. With greater reach for buyers and increased efficiency for both buyers and sellers, consolidating ad buys is clearly the winning strategy.

To learn more about the Nielsen and BCG studies, make sure to read the White Paper and check out the BCG article "The Rise of Programmatic Guaranteed Advertising in Asia-Pacific."

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Matt Brocklehurst

Head of Apps, Measurement & Privacy Marketing, Google APAC Google APAC

Jonathan Meltzer

Director of Ads Marketing, Measurement and Platforms, Google

Sources (3)

  1. Results based on a Google-commissioned Nielsen study, EMEA (Italy, France, UK), APAC (Hong Kong, Australia), Americas (US), May-Dec 2017. Campaigns in the siloed media buying portion of the study reached an average of 322,575 unique consumers for each million impressions purchased compared to campaigns in the consolidated media portion of the study which reached an average of 359,617 unique consumers for each million impressions purchased, as measured by Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings.
  2. DoubleClick products for advertisers are now a part of the Google Marketing Platform. Learn about our new brands.
  3. Google commissioned BCG report, “A Guaranteed Opportunity in Programmatic Advertising,” July-September 2017, 40 participants from 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, the U.K., and the U.S.).
Global State of Play: Programmatic Video Insights Report