Self-serve or managed services for programmatic buying – the pros and cons

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Self-serve or managed services for programmatic buying – the pros and cons

By Christian Jones, SVP, Marketing & Client Development, Hawthorne Advertising

The Draw of Self-Serve Platforms

There’s no denying the allure of self-serve programmatic platforms. Designed for the savvy marketer, these platforms offer the promise of complete control and the joy of hands-on media buying. They especially resonate with those who have specialized in-house teams to manage the intricacies of programmatic advertising. Agencies, too, are adapting these self-serve platforms to serve their clients, promising both control and customization.

However, there’s a counterargument that shouldn’t be overlooked: the significant advantages of managed services for programmatic media buying.

The Limiting Factors: Time, Talent and Moving Targets:

The marketing industry is undergoing a paradigm shift and more brands are opting to manage their advertising strategies in-house. But even within this evolving landscape, staffing and time remain constant challenges.

Managed programmatic services alleviate these concerns. They bring with them dedicated teams of experts who can monitor, tweak, and optimize your campaigns around the clock. In contrast, with self-serve platforms, you’re largely on your own. And while some vendors do offer support services to help until you’re comfortable using their platforms, it still demands a significant time investment for true mastery.

Programmatic advertising is a moving target. Marketers have to keep up with changing user trends, device limitations, and ever-stringent privacy laws. This industry is in a constant state of flux, necessitating ongoing learning and adaptation.

Managed services have the upper hand here. They pool industry-wide data and insights to stay ahead of the curve, making it easier for advertisers to navigate through the complexities of the digital landscape. Self-serve platforms may offer technological advancements and improved data quality, but they cannot fully replace the nuanced expertise and foresight that managed services provide.

Not All Self-Serve is Cost-Effective

One of the hidden caveats of self-serve platforms is their pricing model. At first glance, they might appear more economical, but hidden fees and other costs can quickly add up. It’s essential for advertisers to weigh the actual costs against the level of support and effectiveness they’re receiving. Many find that, when all is considered, managed services offer a better return on investment.

As industry professionals point out, the efficacy of a self-serve programmatic platform isn’t just about performance metrics. It’s about the level of customer service and support provided, which can be pivotal in retaining clients.

Ultimately, while self-serve platforms appeal to those with the expertise and resources to manage them, managed services offer a holistic solution that addresses the challenges of staffing, time, and the ever-changing landscape of programmatic advertising. For most marketers, managed services are not just a viable alternative; they’re a wise choice.

So, before diving into the self-serve pool, consider the hidden depths and possible pitfalls. Managed services may very well offer not just a safety net but a more effective and efficient path to achieving your advertising goals.

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