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Q&A: Wade Rifkin, VP, Programmatic, DigitasLBi on Programmatic & Private Marketplaces

June 4, 2014 | By Danielle Block, Director, Agency & Advertiser Relations - DCN
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This Q&A is part of OPA’s “Three on Three” series where we ask three industry executives the same three questions on a topic to uncover actionable insights… If you want to learn more, keep an eye out on our site for more interviews. Today’s Three on Three interview is with Wade Rifkin, VP, Programmatic, DigitasLBi on Programmatic & Private Marketplaces.

Wade Rifkin HeadshotQ: Are you shifting budget to programmatic?

A: There’s still a good amount of variance in programmatic investment based on client, category and objective. The first wave of brands to embrace the programmatic transactional means and toolkit fell more in the direct response space, and some of those clients are now spending up to 50% of their budgets in programmatic. Following in line, brand advertisers have started to embrace it and are spending more around 20-25%, with ambitions to grow that to a good degree over the next 6-12 months.

By shifting more money into programmatic transactions, we’ll be able to establish more control of our buys – frequency management, media decisioning – through the demand side platform, and centralize knowledge in our data management platform.  With these tools, every impression is now an opportunity for us to extract greater media value for our clients and to derive intelligence in a new way about individuals.

Q: Do you use programmatic for upper funnel programs? Do you think you could/would in a private marketplace?

A: Yes, the misconception that programmatic is only for DR is just that, a misconception. As the world goes programmatic, there are clear places for brand advertisers to play there, even in the biddable environment – video, social, mobile, out of home and eventually TV. Dynamic creative will become a huge transformative capability for brand advertisers, tailoring messaging to audiences in an incredibly specific and powerful way, made possible by programmatic technology.

Private Deals do, however, represent the singularly largest opportunity to shift share into programmatic for brand advertisers, but it requires a reimagining – and more due diligence – around negotiations, supply chain management and ad tech infrastructure.

Q: Who sets up private marketplace relationships? What are important considerations when selecting partners for private marketplaces and what have you learned through the process?

A: There are three levels at which you can set up a private marketplace: at an account level, at an agency level and at a holding company level. As you move from the first to last, clout increases, but site diversification, terms and targeting can get a little more diluted. There are pros and cons at each level, but in the long term, I think there’ll be many agency-level private marketplaces that each account can take and customize, with master rates / volume discounts that can apply at a holding company level.

As you go to set up a private marketplace, you need to evaluate two levels of partner relationships:

  1. The marketplace enabler, or gateway: this generally sits within a DSP or supply side platform (or, in some cases, both)
  2. The end publisher set you’re actually procuring inventory from

The biggest potential pitfall is from not scrutinizing the deal structure enough. You need to evaluate which flavor of private marketplaces / deals you’re looking at: automated guaranteed (in many cases, not truly programmatic media decisioning), unreserved fixed rate or private auctions, then decide on the right tech partners that can execute against these with the right placement in your target publishers’ inventory queues. Not thinking this through and vetting upfront with the right lens will result in watered down inventory and a net result that’s only marginally better than ad network and open exchange inventory. If that happens, it’s a huge missed opportunity.


Wade Rifkin is VP, Programmatic at DigitasLBi, a leading full service advertising agency with digital at its core. Wade works across the agency’s client base to help them understand and embrace the growing real time programmatic marketing space. With a background in cross-platform media planning & buying, Wade is specialized in emerging channels like mobile, social media and data-driven audience buying.  Prior to joining DigitasLBi, he worked across clients in the CPG, telecom, auto and entertainment spaces at other Publicis agencies, as well as Wieden+Kennedy.


Note: This Q&A is part of OPA’s “Three on Three” series where we ask three industry executives the same three questions on a topic to uncover actionable insights.

Also in this series:

Q&A: Bruce Kiernan Partner, Senior Director Digital, MEC on Programmatic & Private Marketplaces

Q&A: Christopher Murphy, VP Media Investment, Accuen on Programmatic & Private Marketplaces

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