Programmatic Media Buying

Episode 31: Programmatic Media Buying, with Mary Ann Pruitt

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Programmatic media buying is an automated way of buying advertising. Listen to Mary Ann Pruitt to learn more about programmatic media buying.

Programmatic media buying can be confusing for those who heard of the term for the first time. If you’re one of them, then Mary Ann Pruitt will explain it thoroughly in this podcast episode.

Mary Ann Pruitt started her career in media by working as a senior sales executive for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. After discovering her talent and love for all things media strategy, she founded Mosaic as a way to provide niche expert experience to agencies and marketing departments across the country. Her hard work and savvy strategy skills have led Mosaic to year-over-year growth, and has expanded her impact as an industry leader in all things traditional, digital, and everything in between.

A 2020 award from Cynopsis Media named her as a Top Woman in Media. Mary Ann’s hands-on approach ensures she understands the moving parts of Mosaic at all times, allowing her to provide tailored insight and guidance to the Mosaic team and her clients. Client success is her number one priority and how she measures her own accomplishments, all of which is apparent in her tireless drive and strategic approach to every project.


What you will learn in this episode is about programmatic media buying:

  • How Mary Ann began her career in media and went on to become the President and CEO of Mosaic Media
  • Mary Ann’s definition and simplification of what programmatic media buying means
  • Ways Mary Ann and her team work alongside agencies to make media buying a profitable growth generator
  • Why Mary Ann believes there are riches in the niches
  • The 5 myths of programmatic media buying
  • Mary Ann’s insights about what gets in the way of agencies offering and selling programmatic to clients



Programmatic Media Buying: Full Episode Transcript


Does programmatic media buying seem new to you? If so, then welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI, and my team and I created this podcast specifically for you. So if you’re an agency owner, a business coach, or a strategic consultant and you’re looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality, well then you’re in the right place.


Do you want proven strategies for attracting a steady stream of well-prepared, right fit prospects into your sales pipeline? Yep. We’re going to cover that. You want to learn how to step away from the sea of competitors so you actually stand out on the ground you’re standing on. Yeah, we’re going to cover that too. Do you want to futureproof your business so you can navigate the next challenges that come your way?


What absolutely will help you there, too? I promise you, each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights and tangible examples of best practices, never theory from thought leaders, experts and owners who have done exactly what you’re working hard to do. So I want you to think practical and tactical, never any fluff. Each of our guests have built a position of authority and then monetize that position by claiming their ground, by growing their audience and nurturing leads and yes, converting sales.


But all the while they did it by being helpful. So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were given a helpful answer to an important question. So their prospects never, ever felt like they were a prospect. I also promise you every strategy we discuss, every tool we recommend will be shared in full transparency in each episode so you can plant your flag, so you can claim your ground, and you can fill your sales pipeline with that steady stream of right fit clients who never, ever, ever were made to feel like one of your prospects.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Mary Ann Pruitt’s Introduction


Okay, so I’m super excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today,  Mary Ann Pruitt. In case you’re meeting  Mary Ann for the first time, she’s the president and CEO of Mosaic Media and one of the country’s foremost authorities on the topic of media buying in a particular programmatic media is an area of deep expertise for her and her team.


So before I map out what  Mary Ann and I are going to talk about during this episode, I also want to share some context with you in full transparency. So  Mary Ann and I, we’ve known each other and worked alongside each other in the trenches for over, gosh, let’s call it five plus years. So  Mary Ann, Erik and I were members of the same agency owner group inside the Agency Management Institute.


So our group is called Velocity and includes 12 agencies in total and as a group, all the velocity owners, we come together and meet twice a year. We share our full financials and full transparency. We also jump into the trenches with each other to work through challenges and provide emotional support and oftentimes lots of hugs, but also lots of high fives along the way so our families know each other, our teams know each other.


We travel together, we attend other AMI workshops and summits together. And because of all of that context, there is a very, very high degree of trust. So when thinking about today’s topic, The Five Myths of Programmatic media buying, I cannot think of anyone more qualified or candidly, anyone I trust more than  Mary Ann to guide us through that conversation.


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Making Your Agency Profitable


Okay, so some more context.  Mary Ann and her team work alongside agencies acting as their outsourced media buying department, and by doing so, help agencies finally make money from providing media services to their clients. And I’m saying in that way we’re seeing it that way. Make money from providing media services to clients, because oftentimes buying media on behalf of clients isn’t profitable.


And maybe your agency’s in that situation. It isn’t profitable because of its complexity and the scale necessary to make it profitable, especially if media isn’t a specialty of yours or the results delivered for a client consistently. Meet the mark again because media might not be a deep specialty. So I invited  Mary Ann to join me today so we could talk through the five myths of programmatic media buying.


Because if you and your team are currently buying media on behalf of clients, her advice will most likely help you tune up the offering and make it more profitable. So yay for that. And then let’s say you’re not currently offering programmatic to your clients, but you think that it could be a growth area for your agency. Well, you for that too.


So I’m also going to ask  Mary Ann to share her insights around what she believes gets in the way of agencies offering and selling programmatic to clients. Okay. So after that very long introduction, without any further ado, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast, my friend  Mary Ann. Thank you Stephen. I’m so excited about this. I do lots of interviews, but I think this is my most exciting one.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: A Background About Mosaic Media


I really am looking forward to this conversation and talking with you and your audience. Me too. I’m very much looking forward to it as well. And if you could have heard or seen  Mary Ann and I in the green room before we hit record, it was ridiculous. I mean, we were just laughing and giggling and teasing each other and all of that.


But I think that speaks to the relationship and context that I just alluded to inaccurately. Absolutely. And I think I’m sure we’ll have laughs and fun throughout this entire conversation. my gosh. Okay. So before we dive into the five myths, which are certainly, definitely important and I know you want to give us a foundation of what programmatic media buying is, simplify it to give us a good foundation of where to jump off from.


But before we do that, take us behind the curtain and give us a little bit more context around you, around Mosaic and so forth. Obviously, I give a lot of personal context, but give us some additional context and then we’ll dive in. Our job is to partner with agencies. We partner with agencies, in-house teams of big brands that really need to outsource their media and work with that.


We turn your media into a profit generator for you as opposed to a money suck. And what happens is in the media, especially for agencies, in today’s world, you have to have so many specialized people to do your buys that in reality your overhead gets much higher than what your profit margins are going to be unless you are doing in the tens of millions of dollars.


And even if you are in that, you are having a hard time finding the right staff to do it. You’re having a hard time finding the right team to be behind it, and then it’s managing those costs once you do find them and once you do have that team. So in reality, what we do is we turn this into a profit generator for you and we work with you on establishing that media team, whether we work with your current team and we we help generate that and help move that into a more profitable way and coach them in that or that you fully outsource it to us.


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Invest To Make a Profit


So we really are here to help. I love to talk to the media all day. My background started in marketing actually as graphic design, believe it or not, but I fell in love with marketing through college and then economics, and that ended up being my undergrad work was then economics, and I fell in love with all the numbers and the data and the statistics.


And it took me right into the love for media that I’m in and frankly, 20 whatever, plus years ago when that was a thing and we were just looking at numbers in a spreadsheet and spreadsheets were fairly new to now, where media is where we live, our data, our data is everything to us. Okay, So one more question before we get to, you know, what is programmatic simplifying it and so forth and please don’t feel any pressure to share the number.


It’s just I have a little bit of behind the scenes kind of information because you’ve shared this with me before about the significant investment it takes in order to get the scale. So whatever you feel comfortable with and sharing, but just to kind of set expectations that in order for this to be like when you said into a profit generator instead of being a money suck, part of that is like the scale that the agency has to obtain in order to step into profitability.


Programmatic media buying can be difficult to comprehend if you’re not used to it. I think I understood this from you. Yeah. And when we get into the myths, we’ll talk about vendor versus versus partner and talking a little bit about that and revenue generation on that front. But finding that partnership is so crucial because the investment on our end, it’s in the millions and that’s what happens in order to build the team.


That is correct. And in order to build the softwares and to have everything that you need in order to have a seat at the table and to be able to do anything, you have to have millions of dollars that you’ve invested just in your company to do so. And for a lot of agencies, that’s not realistic. That’s not a that’s not an area in which they’re like, you know what I’m doing?


Maybe I’m doing a couple of million in placement, but how much I’m going to take off that I can’t take. I’m only making 15% or I’m only in some cases making 10%. How am I going to take that? Let’s say I’m doing $3 million. I make $300,000 off of that, $300,000 off of that isn’t enough to then invest into the platforms and everything you need and the team.


You’re looking at 1 to 2 team members at that point, Right? You’re not looking at this significant amount. I mean, and maybe in some market you’re looking at for team members, depending on what you’re looking at, that’s not enough. So you have to add the investment is in the millions and you have to be willing to take that leap of faith to do it and put the money into it for them to build out that type of a structure.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: The Definition of Programmatic Buying


Okay, Thank you. Because that helps level set some expectations. So let’s step into your definition of or I guess the definition of programmatic media buying, because I know one of your goals is to really like to simplify it and sort of break through some of that myth, I guess we’ll get into the myths. But how would you define programmatic media buying?


So first, I would like to say that most media firms and most media people like to make programmatic the most confusing thing in the world because it’s behind the curtain. And the more mysterious it is, the more money we’re going to make off of it. In reality, let’s break it down to simplicity and let’s break it down to what it actually is.


Programmatic media buying is an audit, automated way of buying advertising, period. It’s an automated form. That’s all it is. You gain a wider audience by narrowing your audience also. It’s one of those things, and Stephen, I know you preach on this all the time and I heard this new phrase, and I’m all for it now and I’m using it and I love it.


And that’s exactly where I’m going, because truly, the more you know, your audience, the more programmatic can help you and the more you can do so, the more you know your clients audiences, the more programmatic can help you and for your agencies, as you’re preaching niches and as you’re preaching things for them and the people that listen to your teachings in that you can build so many different packages and models because there if you’re in a niche and you’re following that niche and you’re advising on that niche, you know that audience extremely well.


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Automation Makes Things Easier


Programmatic media buying is a tool you must have. So, I’m going to give some history on the media because I’ve been in the world a little bit for a little while. So when I first started the media, your platforms were radio and TV, print, outdoor. That’s pretty much it. That is all it was. I started very young in the media. I started at 17.


And you know, as an intern, doing some things, eventually got into sales very quickly and started going into the buying role and then actually worked on the marketing side of it to buy in for the actual stations. But with that, looking at it the way you used to buy advertising and there’s still formats in this in the traditional platform, it was via rate card or it was via RFP, right?


That’s how you did it. Like somebody would send out an RFP. I’m going to see how I can get my lowest cost per point, my highest piece. This is what I’m going to send out. Here you go. This is a great plan—your highest frequency. Here you go. That’s how we did it. Now, in today’s world, this just automates this.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Avoid Confusion by Making People Understand


Our traditional platforms. We still have RFP processes. However, we’re starting to see traditional move into programmatic as well, and we’re starting to see the traditional platforms. It’s only a matter of a couple of years before it’s fully over there. And the reason why it’s not fully over there yet is because the station side, it’s too confusing for them to do it on a digital side, it’s much easier for Web sites and other data sources to just be able to.


I am on board with that. So that’s how we used to do it. Now we automate it through programmatic. So I’m going to walk through the steps because I want to simplify this as much as possible. Okay. People like to make this complicated. Okay, So a website puts an impression up for bid. Yep. You go through a DSP, which is a demand side platform.


That’s the software that you use. That’s a big part of you, that’s a huge part of your investment. Yeah. Okay. The highest bidder wins on that impression. That ad is served and your audience sees it. Okay. It really is that simple. What complicates it is people don’t understand how that works and how do I do it? Because our brains can’t wrap around.


It’s just like, do you remember dot com being new? Yes, I do. I do remember. I hear that I read Y2K and being scared out of my mind all these things. And dot com being real and our brains just could not wrap around how works. We don’t understand it, right? We didn’t get it. And frankly, that’s what went into the crash in the early 2000s because we overvalued all these dot coms when they had no market value whatsoever.


Yes. Okay. I owned one of those. Yes, I do know it well, I didn’t mean to rip the Band-Aid off. I apologize. But we’re hausfeld. Thank you. So I appreciate that. You’re welcome. I’m here to call it out. But however with that programmatic now is that mystery. And another thing that used to be a mystery were podcasts.


And I understand how to do one. I don’t understand how to record it. Right. That was the mystery. Now we’re in that last frontier of programmatic. I don’t understand it. And it’s overwhelming because you have to have the software or you have to have the team. You have to be optimizing there. There is a lot that goes into it.


This is not a set it and forget it type of model, even though it is automated. Okay. So let me give opportunities there to be able to narrow interviews. Yeah, these are big. It sounds like it shouldn’t. Let’s keep let’s go back to the narrowing piece. So because this sounds like a pretty counterintuitive point, I want to make sure that I’m understanding it correctly.


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Narrowing Down to Know Your Audience Better


If somebody has niche down and decided to go narrow, it sounds like if I’m understanding, right, that the more narrow you go in, the more define and that you get around your audience, you know, the the who right who is your right fit prospect that makes that that increases your probability of success in the programmatic world.


The more narrow you go, the more you know that audience too. So it’s not just narrow, but what are the behaviors behind that audience? They do. Okay. What we are gone are the days again, back in the history of the media. Gone are the days of just demographics. Yes, that’s a question. Demographics, though, play into who is our persona?


Is that individual that we are targeting? And with that, the great thing about programmatic, it gives us the opportunity to use data. And I think that together and in this and targeting it I can’t do that in traditional platforms and traditional has its place. And we can talk about the strengths of traditional because TV, radio, print, outdoor they 100% have their place and and they have their strengths and but when it comes to programmatic, you need to be using programmatic and you need and I can’t preach this enough you have to include programmatic in your media plans period, whether it’s in display, whether it’s in pre-roll, whether it’s in connected TV and OTT, whatever it is you need to be using it. Okay. I love that. All right. So before we are there anything else that you think we should cover before we step into the five myths and any sort of foundational thing and anything in addition that you think we should cover? The only big thing to you, though, is just one thing to make sure that everybody understands.


The more you do know their audience, then the more data is available for you to target. So in that programmatic space, I can add these layers and where, okay, let’s say I need to just target CFO, let’s say I need to target CFOs in the health industry. Let’s say I need to target CFOs in the health industry while they’re at home.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Targeting Your Ads to The Right Audience


Okay, what kind of car would they drive or what kind of things? These are all layers of targeting that I can add into this automation when it comes to programmatic media buying. So I can target you by job title. You can target by income, you can target by beliefs and opinions. And whether there are parents, whether they’re single, whether there’s so many different layers of what you can do.


And you’d be surprised at how much I’m shocked when I come to my team and I say, Can we target this? We target pet owners, can we target pet owners of Dalmatians? And I’ll be like, Well, we have this dataset available and it boggles my mind every single time. I’m like, really, really? How narrow can we go? So the more you know that audience, the better for you in your ad planning.


So that goes back to, like you said, understanding the behaviors of the audience. So it’s more than just demographics. It’s more than even just psychographics. It’s those two things, but then additional layers, because it truly is behaviors. I’m blown away. When you mention Dalmatian things, it’s like holy bananas. I mean, that’s really super specific.


Yeah. I mean, let’s say let’s say I have a client and an agency listening has a pet food store and there’s a client or, you know, of or a wholesaler or somebody that’s trying to unload. Let’s say it is a wholesaler, okay? Let’s target pet store owners. Let’s target that. Or if you want to go big box, let’s target the procurement officers.


You absolutely can target them with your ads. So these are things that you really need to know. Okay, who is that audience? And gone are the days of just this of just cold calling and things and sales where now we can use our media tools to complement that. That is amazing. Wow. Okay. Do you think we’re in a good spot to jump into the five myths?


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: The 5 Myths of Programmatic


Okay. Yes. All right. So first, let’s go to a 30,000 foot view to just give our audience just sort of an overarching view of the five myths and then we’ll break each of them down. So how would you describe them? High level first. Okay. So number one is I have to have minimums to buy programmatic. Okay. That’s that number one myth that we always run into.


Number two, there isn’t a difference between a vendor and a partner and this one I will hang out with for a long time because we need to talk about this. Fine. Okay. Was good. Number three. I’m doing Google. I’m doing programmatic media buying. We will talk about that one too. And Google is a great platform, but we’ll talk about that.


Okay. And number four, programmatic is only one dataset. And number five, I am programmatic are different. So we’ll talk about all of this. I, I get really excited about these maps because it is the number one thing that people there have the mystery of what certain media has put around it. And in reality we don’t have to have this mystery.


We can absolutely break this open and take the mystery out of it. Yeah. So when I when I hear you walk through the list, it, it, it then as I’m filtering this through, as somebody who is a neophyte on this topic mean, I think okay, well then that’s, that’s, that’s counteracting and B well, that’s not for me because I got to spend a whole lot of money or maybe I’m already doing this, but, but I’m really not.


Or if I am doing it, I can probably be doing it a whole lot better. If I properly understand the mistake I can be doing it with greater excellence, deeper, more profitably, more accurately, or whatever the correct words would be to use, right? Yes. Yep. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. All right. So let’s step into the first one then.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Setting a Minimum Budget for Your Investment


So myth number one has to have a minimum. So that’s false. So it is false when you have the right partner. When we get into and we get into number two, I’ll be able to go into it a little bit more. But the minimums come into that investment that we talked about and making sure that you have that direct seat and making sure that you have a staff and you have all of that if you have the right partner in place, you’re not going to have minimums now.


But good marketers, though, we will always tell you, that’s not going to work. $500 in Times Square is not going to work. Sure, you’re trying to reach a million people. That’s just not real. Right. However, that being said, that minimums, you really don’t, you don’t have to have the minimums there. You can, you can spend. But depending on the audience and what you’re reaching, that’s how you’re going to build that budget.


There’s so many things that go into the budget planning of looking at competitive analysis and looking at all the research that you have as well. That is so important in that piece. But don’t get caught up if I can’t do programmatic in my agency because I just don’t have the minimum score. I just don’t have it. Okay, So let me give this piece back to you and see and see if I’m understanding correctly, if we slice this part a little bit more.


So like, let’s say that I didn’t have a partner and I was just going to try to fly solo, which is probably an impossible thing to do. But let’s say that I was just going to try to fly solo with programmatic. There would be a minimum, but would but because I choose the right partner, as you mentioned, I get to go no minimum because I’m riding along the coattails of that partner, having lots of other people participating because they’re a great partner.


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Have A Strong Partner to Help You


So I get to benefit from their strengths, even if my buy wouldn’t qualify in the normal minimum world. Is that correct? That’s correct. So you get to ride the coattails, and you get to ride the train and the gravy train of all the volume that a good partner is going to bring for you and frankly, good volume with the partner is always a strength to help you because you’re going to have that’s the stronger expertise, that is the strategy mindset that’s going to be there to help you even with your smaller budgets.


It’s going to carry that for you. Having a strong partner helps you in so many different things. So like having a partner like us, we have other parts of this investment are not just the DSP, it is the significant amount of research tools that come with this. We want to study that persona with you. We want to know where they are.


We will dig into that. We also then can go in and see the competitive spend. What are your competitors spending? Because we invested in this. So let’s pull, you know, competitor A, competitor B and competitor. See, this is what they are spending in the digital space. yeah. By the way, this is what their ad looks like, as we can pull these in.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: There is Value in Knowing What Your Competitors Are Doing


If you have the right partner, you’re going to have these tools come in for you. Yeah. So you’re not only going to be able to access the niche going back to that word, not only going to be able to access the niche using programmatic because of your partners, you know, cumulative spend. So yeah, for that. But then the right partner is also going to give you a level of visibility into some competitive research that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise and that you can charge back to your clients and make money on.


Okay. So second, tell me more about that because this goes back to what you said at the onset of turning it into a profit generator instead of a money suck. So to tell us more about that, let’s talk about it. We think of our customers and our clients so we’re agency owners, right? Do clients find value in knowing what their competitors are doing?


Yeah, absolutely right. So why would we give that to them for free? We don’t. Okay, pull the data. You pull the strategy. It helps drive your strategy to guess what customer A is spending over $1,000,000 or customer A is spending $100,000 in this market. Okay. You know what? You need to be looking at that and this is what customer A’s ad set looks like.


These are the ads that they are running. You think that they don’t have value and that they do have value. We are so quick as agencies to not monetize our value 100% and give it away. We just give it away. You know what? No. And a part of it is too, especially for those of us who’ve been around for a while.


We’ve had clients push us on that and we were never confident in what our tools were of the value that we brought and frankly, programmatic and now has allowed ad buying to be a value asset to your team and to your customers and to your agencies. So smart. I love this. Yeah. And we often have this really bad habit of, well, that’s okay, I’m going to give this away, but you know, I’m going to bake it in and we’re going to get it back sometime in the future.


And then we never do. We never think, okay, you know what? I’m going to bake this. I’m going to and I’m going to tell them I’m giving this to them for free because of the likely future, because they’ll like me more, They’ll think that we’re doing better business together and we’ll get more budget.


And you know, what we see is budgets start to do this as opposed to using strategy and using that value that we have. They want to buy it. They want to have it. They see value in it. And you know what? They’ll pay a pollster for it. They’ll pay other people for this research. But for some reason, in the ad space and in the media space and in the agency space, we are like, you know what?


Learn more about programmatic media buying by attending our open-mic Q&A


Programmatic Media Buying: Using The Right Research Tools to Make a Competitive Analysis


Go ahead. We’ll give it away for free. Now, our research is of high value. It costs money. It costs money to do so. There is no reason why you can’t use research assets to then drive a strategy that is a stronger strategy and a more valuable strategy to the customer to charge them for that research. And because they want that information, you are telling them what their competition is doing, and that is when agencies get that question: What do we think our competitions are doing right?


We get that all the time. It’s not, it’s not something that we don’t get. We get that. So to be able to provide a true competitive analysis of where your competitors are and where your client’s competitors are can then you make money off that research. And if you have a good partner, they have these research tools for you.


They’re able to build these things for you and then you send it out, plus your audience research. Audience research is a big thing, too. You should be paying. You should be charging for that, too. It’s hard because these are big investment tools that partners like me have invested in and have built up. But that’s why I find a good partner, find a good partner to be able to get that information back to your customers and to your clients to be able to sell them on it.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: There’s No Value in Impressions Coming from Unwanted Traffic


Okay. What I love about where this conversation is going is the fact that unintentionally we’re starting to knit myth one and two together because of our rights, which is really cool because when you crushed the myth number one about the minimums that took us into a partner conversation. Now that’s taken us into this research and tools and really this competitive intelligence, if you will, that you can provide as a great partner.


So now let’s finish myth number two, which is the vendor piece, because it sounds like, as a vendor, the relationship’s probably super transactional and you don’t get all of this other stuff, right? That’s exactly right. So you can go to a DSP, and they’ll have their automated system, you can go to a TV vendor, you can go to a radio vendor and it’s all automated.


Okay. So the difference truly is when you go to them, you say, okay, this is I’ve got $100,000 to spend in this market, this is what I have. They’re going to give you a CPM quote. They’re going to do all those pieces, okay? They set it and forget it. So that is a set and forget. And you’re paying the lower CPMs for that.


You’re paying, you know, you’re getting that. You’re getting some bots; you’re getting some websites that maybe you shouldn’t be on. Right. Every single time we take something from a vendor to us, we always find sites that no one should have been on. Okay. So let’s make this a little bit more specific so we’ll keep it clean.


But I think from the audits that you’ve shared with me before, not the audits themselves, but just the outcomes that that clients have been aghast when when you said, well, actually a big chunk of your percentages were or excuse me, impressions were because of bots and your brand was actually featured on inappropriate adult websites, right? Yes.


Yes. Correct. No, not awesome. No. And nobody wants that for their brand. And when you’re pulling those reports and you have this more, set it and forget it mindset with programmatic, that’s where it goes awry and that’s where you could be getting 10 million impressions. That’s fantastic. But if more than half of them are bots, what value is that to you?


Right? It doesn’t matter. Those aren’t real impressions. No, that’s not the net data sets, but that’s not really your niche, Right. So you don’t want either. And I talk about it all the time, the quality CPM cost per impression, right? So my quality CPM, you could get a $3 CPM. Sure. But you are paying, you are getting what you are paying for.


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Programmatic Media Buying: Knowing The Difference Through Quality Results


You’re going to have that is not that is buying that Pinto versus buying that a good car and it’s going to break down. It’s not going to work, it is not going to happen, and you’re not going to see the results. But you know what? You’re delivering impressions for your client. And in reality, that’s not good service. So, the difference between a partner and a vendor is quality.


And we have a good partner. That partner is allowed to be; it will allow you to have those research tools. The partner will have an optimization that is taking place daily where they have a whole team. I joke, and I say it’s our guys in the back dark room who are just bidding all day long and just doing that in the future.


But in reality they are. They’re checking. They check every single client, the hundreds and thousands that we work with, and they are looking through and making sure that okay, they are on the sites that they should be on and they are optimizing. That’s a partner, somebody who is optimizing. There’s no setting. Forget it. It is making sure that we’re reaching the goals and the KPIs.


Okay, so let’s go to myth three because your eyes lit up when I said or when you said, actually Google is programmatic. So I’m sensing that there’s a story there. Well, so here’s the thing. Like number one, I have agencies, and no disrespect to any agencies like it’s actually I fell into this category, and I’m a media person, so, you know, five, six years ago, maybe seven years ago, you know, programmatic is on the brink, and you’re learning programmatic, and you’re figuring it out.


And I remember telling my team, okay, let’s figure out what programmatic is. I want us to figure this out. I want to be on the brink of this A B new on this first thing that came back was my day. And we laugh about this now. First, my team returned and said, It’s pretty much what we do on Google.


And here’s why. Because Google has a bidding process. Google actually started this platform. They started this type. But Google is one set of data. It’s Google’s data. And what are we talking about specifically? AdWords. AdWords display. You have Google Display, you have Google Pre-roll, you have Google, you have YouTube. Am I saying that we’d go away from Google?


No, that is an ad set and that is something that you look at an ad word. Absolutely. It is a program. It is a programmatic way of bidding. It is automated, right? That’s if I go back to my own definition of automation. However, where true DSP programmatic targeting is, and that gets into our actual, it’s funny, how am I Miss World together?


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Programmatic Media Buying: Finding The Sweet Spot on Your Bidding


That gets into our next myth, right? That it’s only one dataset, but programmatic is actually not. If you’re doing it through, if you’re directly on a DSP and that’s the number one question that you need to ask your partner is are they a direct C on a DSP? Okay, that’s like, what? What does that mean, a direct seat?


That means that they literally have a seat at the table, bidding straight on the bidding table in the software as opposed to three or four layers in between them in the DSP. Okay. So, that sounds like if you’re if your partner is actually a vendor of somebody else who’s a vendor, somebody else who’s a vendor, or somebody else, then that really also should fail the partner test. Correct? 


So, if a TV vendor, there are usually 3 to 4 layers between them in the DSP. You’re also talking about 3 to 4 layers of spending difference. That’s okay. Impression. Okay, you’re so and then, but if you’re a direct seat and it’s fine and look for the partner that is the direct seat on the DSP but then also optimizes internally, that’s how you know that’s where we found our sweet spot is we have the team doing the optimizations daily on, on the accounts, but then we also have the direct seats, and that makes a big difference because your direct seat bidding, we’re right there.


We’re right on that direct seat. We are. There are no layers between us. Yeah, that is it. And then we’re optimizing that, finding that sweet spot. There’s no set it and forget it. But you’re also a direct seat. It’s very hard to find books. Usually, it’s one or the other. Okay, so you’re out there, but that’s how that’s where you want to find it.


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Programmatic Media Buying: The Difference Between a Vendor and a Partner


So going back to your original point, into a profit generator instead of a money suck, if you’re three or four layers removed essentially from the direct seat, those three or four layers are all taking a cut or profit essentially out of that impression. Correct? Correct. Correct. So when you start to get to it, you’re adding all these different 3 to 4 layers to get to the CPM that you need to be at or that you or that is finally quoted to you, and you might make 15% off of it.


But realistically, at that point, once it’s separated all the way through, what you see is actually a discount that you’re going to see, but it’s probably going to be closer to 5 to 10% that you’re only going to be able to mark it up. Wow. That’s not a great revenue generator for you because you also want to get results for your clients.


That’s the other portion of this. And so in reality, you’re getting certain amounts of impressions, and you’re also very wary of impressions over quotes because some of these vendors will say, yeah, I’m going to get you 10 million impressions. It goes back to the quality of the impression they can get. They can get a ton of impressions, and anybody can do that.


It’s just a matter of what the quality is with that. But just to be wary of that, if they’re going to get you a million impressions, a $4,000 question looks at it. See what it means. Right. And because how much is actually going to come back to the client for those results to be good results? Then what’s going to end up happening is I don’t see anything.


I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what clicks are. So and then I guess, sorry, these just go down different rabbit trails when I go to help. This reporting is also so important. Like know that you get your being able to track and get your tags to track those conversions and to track those attributions back. And that’s also the difference between having a partner versus having a vendor.


A vendor. Yeah, they can put the tags there, and that’s fine. But having that partner to know exactly what you’re looking for, making sure that the creative is running correctly, but that also, okay, this ad set that AB testing, watching that of this ad so it’s not performing as well as this ad set with the same audience. I need to optimize further to these other ads, and because I’m getting better results, that’s a partner, a vendor.


Yeah, I read your traffic. I ran ads. This is so good. Okay, so what’s interesting is the interdependency, if you will, between myths one and two, right? Minimum spend that dips into a partner. Myth number two is the difference between vendor and partner. So I totally get that. That’s really cool. And then if I’m tracking with you here, there’s some interdependency between three and four.


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Programmatic Media Buying: Narrowing Your Target Audience


Google’s programmatic and then programmatic one data set. So. So why is it sort of a misnomer, if you will? I guess why the myth with number four is programmatic media buying, which is one data set. Why is it not a mesh? Yeah. So a lot of times we get in there, and it’s like, okay, no, it’s only one dataset. No, this programmatic is actually the opportunity to use your first-party data as well as third party data.


So we all know it’s also the back of Google, and let me go into social for a little bit because we used to be able to target and socialize Facebook. We used to be able to target certain views, by behaviors. No longer do that. You can’t target. Why? Because of the Apple updates and various privacy acts, various things that we can no longer target and Facebook programmatic is now that tool that we can target.


And when in Facebook we’ve lost that, Facebook is still a great tool for overall brand impression. We’re not talking about targeting anymore. We can’t have that list. You can use our first-party data, right? We can still do some things there. But programmatic, these data sets, there’s like I mentioned, hey, do we have, you know, can I target Dalmatian owners?


Can I target Jeep owners? And going to tell you right now: I can’t think those are the things I can target. If you pick up owners and pickup trucks, what are the other things and personas that go with a pickup truck owner? What are some stereotypes that go there? Right? What are some personal targeting that I can add to it?


Maybe they’re more outdoors, maybe they’re more. Maybe they shop at Ari. I’m more or maybe they shop. You know, they have one pet in all these different layers in it. Those are all separate, different data sets that we can layer on top of each other with them. Programmatic, we don’t. It’s not just one data set. Wow. Okay, so then, let’s take this into account. I can’t believe that we’re quickly running out of time.


How’s this? I know, I know. Amazing. Okay, so let’s take this into myth five. I am programmatic. Are they different, or are they the same? So I wouldn’t say, okay, in media, you use an I, you have to in programmatic, we have to use, I like to call it digital intelligence, and I like making intelligence.


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Programmatic Media Buying: Using AI To Gather Data for Your Ads Bidding


Okay. So it is a form of AI that we use to bid. In order for that whole process that I walk through of owning a website, I’m going to put this impression out for bid. I’m going to bid on it. You know someone’s going to bid on it. Then, the ad is served when the customer sees it, right?


That is a form of audit of automation and AI. And what’s really important there is, frankly, if you’re not using AI in your media today, you’re ten years behind. We have to get to this point where AI’s there. This goes back to having that good partner. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the investment in a guy, but I’m a big believer in A.I., and it is so important for us as agencies to at least pay attention to what’s going on.


But when it comes to our data sets and everything that we’re bidding on, in order for me to have this information, I have to have AI gathering it regularly. So, really, truly, they complement each other. They may not be the exact same thing, but they’re definitely complementary to each other. And I cannot do programmatic without an AI.


This is so smart. So smart. And I’m really sort of not taken aback. That’s not the right word. Maybe it is, but just the interdependencies of each of the myths or, excuse me, how they’re all interdependent with one another and how they all knit together, but also the importance of transparency through the process and finding the right partner who will then also be transparent.


Exactly right. It’s so crucial. And in today’s world, we just don’t have that transparency. And I really feel this way in the media world and the programmatic world specifically. It’s like we’ve wanted a story so that you pay us, and it’s like, okay, no, here’s the thing. I’m going to explain it to you so you can explain it to your clients, and you can explain it to your customers and you can provide this information to your customers.


Then, we partnered and worked together on this. It’s all in a helpful mindset. And frankly, it’s back to what you preach all the time. Be helpful. And if we are like that as agencies and we are like that as just service providers, right? That is going to help long term over everything and frankly, I, like Stephen, knows me very well.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Solving Things Together with The Right Partner


You know, I’m very transparent. I’m a pretty open book, so let’s not let’s not go down any rabbit holes. Yeah, let you know, sometimes people I am known for my radical candor at times. There we go. They rather have the radical outlet list Polish it up. Phenomenal. Quoting Kim Scott. Okay, really good. It is one of my favorite books.


So I know we don’t have a lot of time left, but there’s one topic that I would like for you to touch on for just for just a couple of minutes. And even though I know that we could do an entire series of podcasts around this next topic, what do you think gets in the way? Like, like what gets in the way of agencies offering and selling programmatic to clients?


Is that a mindset issue as a tech issue? Is it an infrastructure issue? Like what are some of the things that get in the way of agencies selling this to clients? I think they get overwhelmed. So I think agencies get overwhelmed at the thought of it because once you start researching it, you realize how much you have to have to go into it and to put into it.


And frankly, every time you see something, and you try it, you go down a path of, I thought I got a vendor, or I thought I did this, or I did that. And it never worked out because there’s a lot of actually, to quote another and my agency, there’s a lot of bad frogs out there, and they’ve kissed them all.


And that, you know, when they and when we start working with them, it’s like we’ve kissed all the bad frogs. And in reality, that does happen, unfortunately. And that is the importance of finding that good partner, finding that partner that’s going to work with you and finding a partner that’s going to walk through that journey with you. And it goes back to relationships with it.


But that is overwhelming. And I remember being in that boat. I remember being there going, okay, how do I have to do this? This is my specialty. I have to go programmatic, but how do I do this? How do I not? Because it’s confusing. Is that the right path? Is it not? Especially when you’re looking at a huge dollar investment.


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Programmatic Media Buying: Treat Your Partner Like They’re Part of Your Team


Is this the right thing to do? Is this not the right thing to do? 100%? And in reality, that’s overwhelming, that’s fearful, that’s scary. And what I urge agencies to do is don’t be scared to just dip your toe in. So the other roadblock is I have to do it all myself. I have to have a programmatic department in-house.


That’s the number one roadblock that I think I see agencies have. Well, if I don’t have an in-house partner, I’m just going to do it and I’m just going to do it in-house and in reality, pick a partner that you can bring as part of your team. It’ll make you more money long term. It’ll make you so much more money and let go.


And don’t try to just let it go. They know their expertise, and you know your expertise. Don’t question everything. Don’t make it where it’s so difficult when we can be radical candid to each other and have that radical candor and you have that relationship with each other. And I like to say we play well in the sandbox. Treat it, treat people, treat a partner like they’re part of your team.


That’s where it goes. Well, that’s where it goes, right? When you have a partner that you feel is part of your team, and you treat them like they’re part of your team, that’s a true partnership where they want to be part of your team, and they want the extra information. They want to know what’s going on.


That’s a good sign of a good partner. Give them that information. Don’t be so scared that they, you know, they’re going to take our information or they’re going to do this. Guess what? Your information is not that secretive. We can find it out. We can figure it out. But in reality, share as if we are part of that team. The better and the more available you are as a partner with each other, the better that’s going to be and the more money you’re going to make off of programmatic because you’re going to have this team going, you know what?


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website


Programmatic Media Buying: Don’t Be Scared About the Partnership Idea


We think you should do this, and it’s upselling your clients. You think we think we should do this, giving advice back to the agencies on things that you can do. And the more you include them, and you make them part of your team, the more you’re going to see that strategy come out of that partnership. Don’t be scared of the partnership idea.


You do not have to have an in-house programmatic team. You do not have to have that investment. Don’t be worried about it. Don’t be scared about it. It’s okay. No one cares if you have it in-house or not. They really don’t. They care that you have a partner or that you can do it. Yep.


This is great because then going back to the were helpful. Not only were the five myths helpful, and the foundational knowledge that you provided before the five, myths. This last piece was helpful, too, because, you know, many in our audience are probably evaluating potential partners. I think what you gave here through this conversation or litmus test questions is that they could be asking prospective partners to really find out if that partner is the partner that they should actually partner with.


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Programmatic Media Buying: Closing Remarks


So this was a really, really great conversation. So before we go before we close out in saying goodbye, what is the best way for someone to reach out and connect with you? Absolutely. So you can find me on Twitter@MediaMaps. So those are my initials. Mary Ann Pruitt at Media Matters. I’m on LinkedIn and find me on LinkedIn.


If you go to our website, it’s which comes straight to my email. So that comes immediately to me. I love to just have conversations. If you have questions about programmatic, if you have questions about media as a whole, we have a team for all of it. Traditional digital, Google, programmatic, all the above.


So, if you ever have questions or if you ever just want to pick someone’s brain, we’re here for it. Okay, everyone, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and relisten to  Mary Ann’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do. I hope that you take all of the insights, all the framework, all the breakdown of the myths, all of the guidance that she gave you, take it and apply it and, put it into action and accelerate your results.


And Mary Ann, thanks again for saying yes. Thank you for coming on to the show. Thank you for being our guide. Our experts there are mentors to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. Thank you for having me. It was a great time.


Continue learning about programmatic media buying by reading the blogs of Mary Ann Pruitt on her website

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