MasterCard's Jankowski: The CPM Isn't Dead, Programmatic Will Continue To Grow

Originally posted on MediaPost

In a freewheeling conversation that touched on everything from the role of ad agencies, the adoption of programmatic media-buying systems, and the emergence of new forms of data for targeting consumers that could become new forms of currency for trading with media, MasterCard media chief Ben Jankowski said while traditional media-buying values have not been abandoned by big marketers, they no longer are the dominant reasons they choose the media they do.

“The CPM is not dead,” Jankowski said during a conversation with Simulmedia Founder and CEO Dave Morgan during one of its monthly “salons” in New York Thursday evening.

While CPMs – or cost-per-thousands – used to be “the only thing we looked at, now it’s one of five things we look at,” Jankowski said, implying media valuation systems are still in flux, but are evolving rapidly as marketers find better ways of using data to define and target their audiences and measure the results based on actual business results, not just impressions-based metrics like reach and frequency.

“We are still looking at CPMs and things like that, but the more we can connect our business results – that’s going to be the currency,” Jankowski said in response to a question from audience member Doug Ray, CEO of Carat, which is also one of MasterCard’s agencies.

Specifically, Ray asked whether the shift toward more sophisticated audience data and the adoption to programmatic media-buying systems was giving marketers like MasterCard the “ability to target audiences, as opposed to targeting content, and hoping the audiences are there.”

Citing the “hold” things like Nielsen audience ratings have on the ad industry’s media currency, Ray asked Jankowski whether the ability to target audiences directly might change that.

While not identifying Nielsen by name, Jankowski acknowledged that big marketers like MasterCard are beginning to shift their reliance from the kinds of audience estimates it produces.

Responding to another audience question from The Daily Meal Founder Jim Spanfeller, Jankowski said the trend is toward using dynamic, real-time data to measure brand impact with specific groups of consumers, not classic demographic ratings segments.

“We can get a lot more granular about brand health targets,” he said, adding that data is enabling brands to measure their performance with explicit types of audiences based on their actual consumer lifestyles vs. demographic surrogates.

“Before it was a big, giant cumbersome study that went out into the field once a year, and now it’s much more dynamic and I can be actionable in a quicker period of time,” he said.

Aside from the emergence and adoption of better forms of consumer data targeting, much of the conversation focused on the shift toward programmatic media-buying systems. Jankowski, who leads the programmatic committee at the World Advertising Federation, noted that the trade organization released a white paper Thursday to help marketers deal with the somewhat daunting task of understanding the programmatic “ecosystem” and how they can adopt it.

He acknowledged it is complex and complicated, and admitted that LUMA Partners’ infamous Lumascapes charts keep him “awake at night,” but he said programmatic media-buying is here to stay and will likely grow as a critical part of marketers’ media-buying, because it is efficient, effective and enables brands to leverage data to target audiences in a way that traditional media-buying based on audience estimates never could.

That said, he said his “biggest a-ha” reaction to the WFA’s study was the fact that so many big brands are still putting their “head in the sand and waiting for people to figure this out.”

“People spend way less time with it than they should,” he said.

Asked whether fear-mongering from some big media agencies and ad tech players that programmatic media-buying is rife with fraud and non-viewable traffic was casting a pall on it in the eyes of big marketers, Jankowski said, “I don’t.”

Contrary to some industry pundits, Jankowski said he doesnt believe big marketers are putting a “black X next to it,” but he said they do “need to figure out how to manage in the ecosystem.”

“Programmatic will continue to grow in size in the marketplace,” he asserted, describing the issues raised by critics more as “speed bumps” than “barriers.”

4As honcho Mike Donahue probed Jankowski on one of those potential speed bumps – the issue of “transparency” among agencies and trading desks that arbitrage programmatic buys for their clients – and Jankowski more or less demurred, noting that while “virtually nobody would say, ‘Yeah, I don’t care about transparency,’” he noted that “there are a lot of layers between that.”

Overall, Jankowski – a long-time agency media executive before joining MasterCard four years ago – said he was bullish on the relationships between marketers and their agencies, and while he acknowledged that marketers have been pressuring agencies on compensation and performance, he believes agencies are changing and adapting, shifting from a mindset in which they have to “control everything” to one in which they are more of an “orchestrator.”

“That’s one of the ways they can create more value,” he said.

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