In our newest blog series, A Day in the Life at KORTX, we discover what life is like working in the always-evolving digital advertising space. In Part II of our blog, Bryan covers his favorite aspects of working in Programmatic Operations along with a few insightful campaign optimization tips.

Missed Part I of our blog? You can find it here.


ADITL: Bryan Presti, Programmatic Operations Part II

These are a media buyer’s contribution to strategy: the inputs attributed to additional thinking and hard work that seek to create that differentiator in campaign execution. Optimizations, which are adjustments due to the outcomes of a strategy, are inevitable. All campaigns deserve them. In some instances, a buyer should seek to modify the campaign pre-launch if they believe an alteration can enhance its potential for success.  Below are a few examples of pre-activation adjustments:

  • Occasionally, clients desire a radius targeting for their campaigns, drawing a defined circle around stores or locations. Based on our DSPs’ feedback regarding the geo input in bid requests, latitudes and longitudes – the common targeting method for this request – are passed back much less than a zip code (and city, state, DMA, and country for that matter). In order to increase our inventory available for bidding, our team will do the manual work to find all those zip codes within those radiuses to target, increasing the reach and scale of our target audiences. This adjustment from lat/longs to zip codes can take multiple hours, but the outcomes have borne the fruit necessary to demonstrate this is a good use of our time and investment in the campaign.
  • Many brands and agencies have universal inclusion or exclusion lists for domains and apps, to be applied across all campaigns. The formatting of those lists vary based on the DSP it is uploaded into. When there are sites whose formats are incompatible with our DSP, we take it upon ourselves to re-format those sites one by one. Though this task is time-consuming, anytime we can reduce the number of requests made with a client to update something so it works on our side is beneficial.
  • We have a QSR client who requested DMA targeting across their list of store locations. During the build phase, a colleague shared a segment from CNBC where the brands’ CEO stated their target audience is the 3-mile radius around each of their stores. With this insight and a DSP limitation of 4,000 zip codes per line item, our team set out to manually retrieve and input into our campaign the 1,500 cities that reside within a 3-mile radius of all our client’s store locations. The client was very appreciative and impressed with our additional work and suggested targeting alteration. After two years, this brand has seen continuous revenue growth, leading to further investments in digital media.
  • The introduction of Splits in Appnexus (now Xandr) has allowed a single line item to further granularize its targeting strategy, providing the ops team with the option to divvy up a line item’s delivery among 33 different targeting conditions via a prioritized waterfall.  For a financial services client, under one insertion order, and a single line item for each tactic of display, CTV, traditional video, and audio, we have built over 600 splits based on combinations of geo, viewability, audiences, creatives, device type, inventory list, and daily frequency and recency, allowing our client to ingest raw, granular campaign data into their visualization tool and extract unique pieces of information per brand location.

Applying insights from previous campaigns or external learnings to our campaign strategy has been very beneficial. Putting in the work to try and have the best campaign from the beginning has an added benefit of reducing the number of requests for assistance from a client, helping to solidify our high quality customer experience.

The best moments

The persistent requirement of managing pacing and delivery – consistently retrieving data across the main metrics explained above – are when most optimizations are completed. The vast array of optimization options leaves many choices to be made. Choices based on client requirements, campaign objectives and outcomes, internal tests, hypothetical reasonings, and historical knowledge.

As stated previously, there is no blueprint or industry standard approach to what those choices should be, or a single methodology on how to reach each performance metric. But when those choices have been made, and the hoped-for changes to campaign outcomes occur, it is an exhilarating, and sometimes relieving, feeling.

Watching your optimization choices have real impact are the best moments. But those moments aren’t when your contribution to a campaign ends. The next best moment requires another human touch by taking it upon yourself to provide a digestible explanation to all clients, summarizing why their campaign succeeded, and why its success was dependent on our team managing their media dollars. Here are a few of those over the years:

  • A brand saw a large increase in unique site visitors after activating their first CTV campaign. In order to maximize reach across the demos that are consistently using streaming services for video on demand apps and channels – essentially the best demo for any brand to target – we opened up inventory access to all devices, and removed the VCR threshold which may limit bidding on some impressions that don’t have an estimated VCR tied to the bid request. Our feedback was the person and not the channel is what should be our target. With the knowledge that the largest television in the living room has the most value for a CTV campaign, we adjusted our bidding at the split level for that slice of inventory.  But extending our reach to in market customers who are watching AT&T TV Now on their phone or DirecTV Now on a tablet, was the reason we deployed this strategy.
  • Working with an automotive and QSR client, respectively, provided us the opportunity to diversify our audience segmentation in our Axon Marketing Platform based on the brands’ unique buyer’s journey. The customized funnel demonstrated the differing methods of audience segmentation and targeting approaches. Executing these customized remarketing campaigns within Xandr’s prioritized splitters, provided these clients with transparent, real-time views of their numerous 1st party audience segments within Axon’s client friendly user interface.
  • A large home furnishing store with multiple locations had an enormous amount of daily website traffic to their 9 product lines. With this abundance of data, we utilized Axon to create audience segments based on products and geo, across site visitors and converters. For our prospecting strategy, we took 36 of those segments and modeled each, applying modeled audiences to splits targeted by product, geo, high funnel converter (site visitor), and low funnel converter (purchaser). Utilizing product specific creatives for each appropriate audience, we developed a 1:1 targeting strategy, ensuring these new prospects were seeing the products they may be in market for, whose seed audience came from the same DMA as them. Improving the quality of the modeled audience by increasing the number of seed audience variables, was an inclusion to their strategy that the client, in conjunction with improved conversion outcomes, found very beneficial.

A combination of programmatic & human expertise

One of the main value propositions of programmatic media buying is the automated purchasing of digital ad space through software that uses machines and algorithms to execute the buys. This value – reducing human negotiations and interactions, and applying sophisticated audience data – has brought great benefits to digital marketing.  

That value, and those benefits, work best when combined with humans intelligently pulling the correct levers, analyzing raw and refined data, and making nuanced campaign decisions. The standard frameworks of a Demand Side Platforms’ automation tools, combined with all the options of optimizations a human can devise, have created a vibrantly competitive landscape and ecosystem, always being a tinker away from improving a campaign’s efficiency, and hopefully, effectiveness.


If you want to learn more about Bryan, you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

Keep following our newest blog series, A Day in the Life at KORTX, to discover what life is like working in the always-evolving digital advertising space. Whether you’re interested in a career in AdTech, want to learn more about programmatic, or are just curious about what’s happening behind the scenes at KORTX, then follow our blog to learn more about all things digital advertising.