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A Career in Programmatic Advertising

Merkle is the right place, now is the right time and you are the right person.

Searching ‘Programmatic for dummies’ will deliver you statements like ‘Programmatic is just using software to buy digital advertising’ or ‘Programmatic is the buying and selling of ads through machines’. Let’s be honest, that’s not going to get many people excited by the prospect of choosing a career in this industry. If you’re faced with that, should you read on? Should you delve deeper into these articles or would you be better off closing that tab and firing up the kettle so that you can settle in to the latest Netflix hit? 

Whilst binge-watching Netflix is always tempting, I’ve now worked in programmatic media for over 6 years and I truly believe that when you research further into its capabilities, you will not be disappointed. 

What makes Merkle different?

The digital advertising industry is fast-paced, exciting and challenging but, overall, a rewarding space to work in. The beauty of programmatic, in particular, is that being an expert in this field gives you the opportunity to work with a multitude of different technologies, suppliers & client verticals and therefore demonstrates a varied skill set purely because of the sheer scale of approaches you can take.

Merkle is different in the sense that our media specialists have a direct relationship with the client. Why is that important? Well, that varied skill set I was talking about means that our team runs the process from start to finish. This means that we plan, build, optimise, report and present back directly to the client. This approach has tangible benefits for everyone involved:

  1. The client - We are industry leaders in understanding the technology and platforms that will give our clients a head start in achieving their key business goals. The client gets access to a wealth of knowledge from an expert who knows everything there is to know about their campaign. Quite simply, they become an extended part of the client team! 
  2. Our team - Variety is the spice of life, as they say. We have a culture and work ethic that we’re very proud of at Merkle. Our team is challenged, motivated and driven on a daily basis.
  3. Merkle - Our retention rates are fantastic and above industry benchmarks. We therefore provide consistency and maintain the highest level of talent there is. This drives us on to always be one step ahead of the game.

So if you’re motivated by challenges, variety in your daily routine and the mechanics of the online advertising world and you mix that in with being curious, organised and a team player, then I think you have found an industry that is suited to you.

Why is now the right time?

I obviously can’t ignore the situation that 2020 has seen for all of us. The Covid-19 pandemic will continue to challenge the advertising and media industries through the end of this year and beyond, as consumption habits and marketing budgets change, but the ad market is expected to recover in 2021. I don’t need to labour the point that has been dominating the headlines but, if you’re reading this, I hope you have weathered the storm and are excited about what we can look forward to next year.

According to forecasts, total spend on programmatic display advertising in the United Kingdom will continue to rise annually. The point to take from this is that programmatic buying is going to come out positively from the crisis and continue to grow. Why is that the case? Ultimately, advertisers need to be more efficient with their spend than ever. The infrastructure of our industry is vast, and advertising budgets can take a number of different routes ranging from sophisticated guaranteed buys with multiple publishers or a mature approach to direct response within the demand side platforms that have a wealth of inventory to tap into. This means that a career begun by specialising in programmatic allows for innovation, communication with varying partners and a situation where no two weeks will be the same.

If you specialise in programmatic, does that mean you cannot have an influence on other marketing channels? Quite simply, no. All parts of digital advertising are connected with each other as we strive to put the customer and their online journey at the heart of everything we do. The opportunity to share learnings and influence how all the dots connect is another reason why Merkle stands out from the crowd. Continued thought leadership in this area is crucial. In our programmatic department, more than 80% of our clients utilise other Merkle and the wider dentsu network offerings so the possibility of exposure to other channels is high and your learning opportunities increase in turn.

Why should I be excited by Programmatic?

It’s very easy for me to sit here in the comfort of my home and write that I enjoy working in an industry that I’ve been in for 6 years, especially when my part of my role is to get other people excited by the work we do. That shouldn’t take away from the main points of me writing this article but perhaps it is pertinent to divulge why I’m still here after 6 years and avoided the route down which my economics degree typically would have taken me.

A common question I get asked when conducting interviews is “what do I enjoy about working at Merkle?” I always answer that I hugely appreciate the responsibility and trust I feel to achieve the goals that we have set out to accomplish. Whilst I can’t talk on behalf of everyone else here, I would be willing to hedge my bets that those two buzz words would filter through if you were to ask any of my colleagues the same question. This sense of responsibility and trust was also the foundation that led to my biggest win when working with B&Q (an abundance of industry-leading brands to work with is also very high on my list of the positives of working here!) Simply put, we won an industry award for executing a campaign that adapted to the UK’s changeable weather, altering the products served in the creatives that were more likely to be purchased in the rain, sunshine or freezing cold! Clever and brilliant, right?

The greatest challenge? Well that has to be the environment we find ourselves in as we navigate the “death of the third-party cookie”. How will programmatic be able to measure our activity without these cookies? How will we be able to prove our worth? However we are in a time where we can take a challenge and turn it into a positive. Merkle has also led the way with transparency and a problem-solving attitude and I’m confident the industry is going to continue to thrive. 

I hope that has given you a taster of the world I work in and has given you the encouragement to research more into a career in programmatic. Check out our website for more awesome articles to help you.

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