Member blog – GfK – Developing programmatic strategies: the American and European approach

The old phrase ‘Europe is like the US, but three to five years behind’. Where have we heard this before? It seems like every digital marketing generation needs to learn the same lesson over and over again. So here it is – Europe is different, and not a time delayed template copy of the US. The same lesson applies in programmatic and data activation.

Programmatic media buys are increasingly part of every media plan, including premium campaigns. Programmatic approaches are spreading from the web to mobile and into television. A natural consequence of this traction is that, in Europe, advertisers, agencies and specialist providers are scrambling to develop programmatic and data activation strategies and to make this part of their marketing approaches.

US and Europe: Lumascape maps versus a patchwork quilt

They are finding, however, that this is anything but simple. On the one hand, the US seemingly has all the answers. Beautifully developed Lumascape maps showing all the players and their respective areas, standardized services provided by Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) including simple and straightforward means for on-ramping offline and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data. A wide range of third party data is readily available to enhance premium targeting. Private marketing clouds can be relatively easily built by advertisers anxious not to see their data leaked into big data pools.

Europe, on the other hand, is more of a patchwork quilt. Many countries have local tech champions and it’s not always size that matters. Deep local knowledge is required to understand which combination of global and local partners to work with in each market.

The IAB Europe panel: discussing the European approach to programmatic

But maybe the European landscape is confusing only at first sight. GfK has been invited by IAB Europe to participate in a panel of European programmatic leaders and experts at its Interact in Lisbon on May 11, 2016, to discuss the European approach to Programmatic.

Here are some soundbites of the upcoming panel:

Niko Waesche, Global Industry Head, Media and Entertainment – GfK,

I have heard very clever people say that Europe is a ‘white space’ in terms of programmatic. This is a ridiculous hypothesis given the amount of activity we see here by publishers, brands, ad tech companies, agencies and data providers. Take the publisher alliances of Pangaea (UK) and eMetriq (Germany), for example, in which anonymous data is shared to improve insight and targeting. European start-ups such as Eyeota or Adsquare have developed novel approaches to onboarding third party data while protecting personal information. And we are only at the beginning of this development. Publishers, start-ups, US players and data providers are working right now on exciting new approaches which will ensure that Europe will be a dynamic growth market for years. Instead of finding a confusing mess of incomprehensible markets, Europe will provide safe, sound and smart ways to reach their customers for to advertisers willing to engage themselves here.”

Sébastien Robin, Global Programmatic Director – Havas Media

In Europe, it is essential for marketers and agencies to have a market by market approach to be able to activate the best local opportunities either in terms of publisher opportunities but also when it comes to data and adtech sometimes. We, marketers and agencies need to protect our local and European publishers in order to give them the opportunity to scale.”

Anthony Rhind, Chief Strategy Officer – Adform

Digital is creating immense opportunity for marketers to engage with people more effectively.  Relying upon data & automation, it’s possible for brand & response marketers to offer a relevant message at the right moment to make people laugh, cry-out or buy!  Much of the digital ecosystem originated in the US, but Europe is a very different world where one-size doesn’t necessarily fit all.  We are excited to discuss the areas of complexity in order to illuminate the means & opportunities to invent a new programmatic model for and in Europe.


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