Bringing programmatic digital advertising in-house “just in time” embedded the discipline in Publicis Media’s client teams and provided a test bed for better understanding how to reach audiences with addressable television ads.

When the agency first began doing programmatic, it used its agency trading desk and third-party managed services, according to Helen Lin, President of Digital Investments & Partnerships. “While somebody was conducting the buys for us we were basically outsourcing some of the learning that could be gleaned from these data-driven buys,” Lin says in an interview with Beet.TV. “That was a problem for us.”

Another thing she noticed by virtue of her proximity to the company’s VivaKi trading desk was that audience insights were being gleaned not only during campaigns but in the planning and audience sizing stages.

“We realized it needed to be with our client teams. So we went all in and brought those teams in, embedding them into our actual client teams,” Lin says.

Like many agencies, Publicis initially used programmatic digital ads for efficiency. “What’s different in premium video is it’s still very scarce, so really the benefit there is the application of data across video. But it’s not necessarily about efficiencies, it’s about effectiveness,” says Lin.

Acknowledging “some naysayers” about bringing programmatic in-house, Lin concludes that “We probably did that just in time. With addressable TV now possible but not without a premium, it was vitally important for us to know what data segments really worked for audiences. We were able to test that out in digital with very little risk and low cost.”

Looking ahead to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Lin hopes to see evidence not only of the intersection of data, technology and creativity but also great strategy.

“We know what our brands stand for, but what we haven’t done a great job of in the past is delivering the right messages that are super relevant and tailored but also very exciting to a particular audience,” Lin says. “What I’m hoping to see is amazing brands that have been able to do this at scale using technology.”

This interview is part of our series “The Road to Cannes”, presented by FreeWheel. Please visit this page for additional segments.