The Slant – Programmatic Q&A with Grapeshot’s Kevin McElroy

Kevin McElroy, VP of Sales at Grapeshot shares his programmatic knowledge

PA.O: What do you wish you knew about programmatic strategy and execution before you started?

Kevin McElroy: As a vendor, I wish I understood earlier how differently agencies define certain terminologies and tactics. For example, the term “brand safety” can take on a variety of different meanings – ranging from protection from negative content to protection from “bots,” or data on spoofed URLs. So, I’ve learned that, as the landscape evolves, these terms can rapidly take on different connotations.  I also wish I understood how little agency trading desks had been empowered by the account planning teams to make decisions on campaign strategy and execution. Thankfully, this appears to be changing, but it was very surprising to learn how traders were, in most cases, obligated to run a plan verbatim without any deference to their expertise.

PA.O: What vendors and/or partners does an agency need to venture into programmatic, from beginning to end?

Kevin McElroy: Agencies typically use partners that specialize in contextual targeting, audience targeting and retargeting. Contextual partners are often used for “top-funnel” new user prospecting initiatives. Third-party audience targeting is used to drive performance by targeting large segments of users that have been defined by specific demographics and signals of intent. Retargeting vendors are used to drive “bottom funnel” metrics by retargeting users based on site visitation and searches performed,  In addition to this, most agencies use one or more verification vendors that specialize in detecting fraudulent activity and reporting on ad viewability metrics.

PA.O: How do you structure a programmatic team? What roles need to be filled?

Kevin McElroy: A typical programmatic platform team generally consists of salespeople, traders, account managers and analysts. It is the salesperson’s job to secure the deal for the brand to run the campaign. It is the trader’s job to buy the media and make all necessary optimizations to ensure that the campaign achieves its target goals. Account managers are primarily responsible for being the key “point person” on the account and communicating performance feedback and strategy to the agency and/or brand. Lastly, the analysts are responsible for analyzing the metrics of the campaign, in addition to data providers used to provide real time and post buy reporting insights so that the goals are met and the client gleans legitimate learnings from the campaign.


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