Digiday Programmatic Summit: Taking programmatic in-house, GDPR, and trust

This year’s Digiday Programmatic Summit took place in The Big Easy. The weather was hot, the drinks were cold, and the discussions were compelling. The key themes we heard at this year’s event were taking programmatic in-house, ongoing discussions about GDPR, along with trust and transparency.

Taking programmatic in-house

At previous Digiday events, bringing programmatic media in-house was more of a novelty. At the time, very few brands who were actually doing this. However, the tune has changed dramatically. It is no longer a matter of when, but how brands are bringing programmatic in-house. There were three main strategies discussed:

Total control and hands-on-keyboard: Simply put, internal teams become their own programmatic agency. The big take away about this strategy is the long learning curve to achieve this.

Owning the contracts: Brands who took this approach were usually sparked by the lack of transparency in programmatic buying. Brands opt to own the contract and vetting process and choose their DSP. Though the agency is still the subject matter expert, brands have more clarity on fee structures.

Copilot model: This approach is often used as a stop-gap for brands who are thinking of managing the entire tech stack and buying process. For this route the brand vets the DSP, owns the contract and often owns the tech stack.


GDPR continues to have its time in the spotlight. We heard a lot of doom and gloom regarding how it may impact the industry. Many speakers and attendees were pointing at Europe as a sign for things to come in the USA. Many believe that it will impact 3rd party data vendors; however, attendees also voiced serious concerns about the overall quality of most 3rd party data.

Trust in the age of transparency:

Mika Yamamoto, Chief Digital Marketing Officer at SAP, stressed that trust is key. Consumer trust for your brand/product can take decades to build, but can be lost in a matter of minutes or days. Marketers need to adopt the ethos of do no harm. Brands needs to always ask themselves if they are putting the consumer first. If brands take convenience and intention into consideration, there are fewer chances to breach trust or privacy. As Andrea Schneider from Unruly highlighted, in order for brands to transition from IO to programmatic-first they MUST maintain their primary messaging and brand story. The tactics may change, but the brand voice must remain the same. This is how you continue to build trust.

Based on many of the presentations, contextual targeting is in vogue again. This has to do with the low opinion of 3rd party segments and concerns about brand safety. Whitelists are incredibly important to Fortune 500 brands like Hewlett Packard, since brand safety trumps a site’s performance. To many, a site’s name is the best indicator of quality.

As the industry begins to mature and bring quality to the forefront, I was happy to see meaningful discussions around such important topics. Along with the informative content, it was great to connect and engage with the attendees!