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ARTICLE

How to End the Marketer Paradox of (Too Much) Choice

June 1, 2018 — by Aaron Lassila

We’ve all likely experienced the paradox of choice in our lives at some point.

Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice, posits that making decisions has become complex because of all the options we have, from deciding where to eat for dinner to selecting a new primary care physician. The marketing industry has not been immune to this theory. As advertising technologies have proliferated, marketers are now faced with numerous options for choosing how to run campaigns, manage their data, attribute results, manage identity, and more.

This may seem like a good thing, except that according to Schwartz, “choice overload” can make us over-question our decisions, misalign our expectations and cause self-blame for any failures that result. Eliminating choices, on the other hand, can reduce stress and increase satisfaction over our choices. Any Whole Foods loyalist who has spent time exploring a major supermarket knows the pain of having to browse an aisle of options for one food item vs a more limited, highly curated, selection.

I am not digressing. This is stuff is important to marketing, and here’s why. Advertiser Perceptions, a market research firm that surveys hundreds of brands and agencies to get feedback on vendors, recently released its updated DSP and DMP report that surveyed that surveyed 740 advertisers with an average annual digital spend of $20.8 million USD, with a 50/50 breakout of agencies and marketers. MediaMath was excited to be rated #1 in Net Promoter Score (NPS), an index that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others, and that is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service.

This strong NPS score is a leading indicator of future adoption of the MediaMath platform, especially given the 10+ point lead over one of our biggest competitors. But one of the things the Advertiser Perceptions report also highlighted was the average advertiser uses three to four DSPs (up from two to three in the July 2017 report). Marketers are still clearly evolving their sophistication with digital advertising and are gobbling up technologies to navigate a variety of campaign needs, channels and client goals.

It’s hard to think of having to find a single solution to rule them all. And we know that for certain advertisers and campaigns, it can be important. But if you’re really looking to drive outcomes for the long-term, single-channel DSPs and siloed systems are fundamentally not the answer. They might provide immediate gratification in campaign-specific performance upticks, but they won’t move the needle on long-term goals like customer lifetime value. This is why you need to consider consolidating your technologies. Hear me out…

  • You don’t need multiple DSPs to run campaigns in multiple channels. If you do this, you rob yourself of a single source of truth in terms of customer view, budgeting, insights and reporting. A single omnichannel DSP that has capabilities across standard and emerging channels like audio and the ability to ramp budgets up and down and control frequency and sequencing to run omnichannel campaigns gives you the best of both worlds. With a centralized view of performance, you can quickly change tracks in-flight to optimize towards your desired outcomes.
  • An integrated DMP+DSP solution can enable dynamic, granular segmentation, real-time analysis, ingestion of bespoke data and immediate activation of audiences in media. This gives you seamless execution and a feedback loop whereby data informs media and vice versa. Plus, you can still use standalone DMP technology alongside a combined technology to meet your specific business goals.
  • The beauty of a single technology platform—and, yes, one into which you can plug and play other systems via API or integrate other compatible technologies to custom-meet your needs—is that you can go to a single service and support team to address issues, optimize your experience and get consultative advice. You’ll get consistency across how you manage your technology and be able to make decisions that don’t run the risk of breaking one component to fix another.
  • A transparent, open, buy side-aligned platform is good for the long-term. There are big players out there with conflicts of interest in that they keep your data and insights behind walls, with unreliable measurement approaches, and also cater to the supply side and, therefore, might prioritize their own inventory over what’s best for individual marketer goals. Your technology should align with your best interests, and you should be able to look under the hood to understand how it works.

In this world where vendors are often playing both sides of the buy-side and sell-side equation, it is more critical than ever to ask the right questions when exploring potential vendor partners (regardless of which side of the ecosystem you sit on!). As a marketer, please select a transparent offering that takes no opaque position in supply and offers log-level insights into tactics performed via the platform. With brand-safety and fraud issues prevalent throughout the industry, transparency into your provider’s programmatic buying should be top of mind for all parties in the ecosystem. While avoiding “the paradox of choice” can represent a cumbersome decision upfront, those that make the call to consolidate vendors to run their full-funnel programmatic practice will be rewarded handsomely with outsized performance.

Aaron Lassila

Aaron Lassila serves as GM at MediaMath, the global leader in transparent and outcomes-based programmatic advertising technology for the Enterprise. MediaMath empowers marketers to activate data, automate execution, and optimize every interaction across all addressable media channels. Aaron's team ensures the success of MediaMath's clients, from activation through ongoing technical support and services. Previously, Aaron was Senior Director of Global Media Solutions at EA, overseeing all strategic partnership, ad sales, client services and go to market positioning for the company, globally. Lassila led a talented team to bring cutting edge, cross-platform audience engagement opportunities to marketers. Over time, Lassila established himself as thought leader in digital media, bringing games to the forefront as a best in class method for brand marketers to engage consumer audiences. In 2005, Lassila was a co-founder of the in-game advertising group at EA, leveraging his background in sports and event sponsorship to develop relevant advertising programs for top marketers wishing to tap into EA’s massive audiences via a global portfolio of best-selling interactive entertainment properties across multiple platforms. In addition to his management experience at EA, Mr Lassila previously worked in media sales, sponsorship, and partnership management roles at Microsoft, Double Fusion, Clear Channel Entertainment (now Live Nation) and Kemper Sports Marketing. Lassila has also served in advisory capacities at Mozilla (where he helped the company to prepare an offering for the advertising market for the first time) and BrandBoards (a live event video ad technology that reaches captive and engaged sports & music fans in the US through a network of digital screens at scale). Aaron is a proud graduate of the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and lives in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters (Go Giants!).