By Kelli Lakis on May 20th, 2020
When you’ve already done the legwork of choosing the best programmatic agency for your business, the process of actually working with that agency to plan, launch, optimize, review, and wrap up your digital ad campaigns should be a positive experience across the board. You’re paying for their expertise, so you should expect the process to be seamless—from the initial consultation to signing the contract to receiving the final report.
There are a few key things to know as you begin working with a programmatic agency, but the most important thing to expect is transparency and thorough communication through every step of the process. Beyond that, here’s what the day-to-day of actually working with a programmatic ad agency looks like.
Initial Consultation & Qualification
Transparent communication starts on the first phone call. Programmatic agencies will generally offer a free consultation to assess whether they’re the right fit for your budget, marketing goals, and specific advertising campaign needs. If they’re not, they should say so, and you should feel comfortable saying so as well—that’s why the free consultation stage exists in the first place.
Most programmatic agencies will have a minimum ad spend requirement as well as a certain amount of time needed to complete the onboarding and setup processes, so come to the call prepared to discuss your advertising budget and target campaign launch date. You should also be prepared to ask the right questions about the agency’s campaign management processes, technology, and pricing.
From there, the agency may also schedule a more complete presentation of their services to provide additional information pertaining to your goals.
Media Proposal & Contract Approval
Once you’ve shared your digital advertising needs with the agency, they will develop a formal proposal detailing how they recommend running digital media to reach your marketing goals. This media proposal will include details on channels to be used, data to be leveraged, audiences to be targeted, and ad creative needed. If you don’t have your own ad creative, the agency may include their recommendations on creative development.
A high-quality proposal shines from the start, and each element of the media plan should have sound reasoning behind it. Getting to the ‘why’ behind what they are proposing will help you see the bigger picture of your campaign strategy. Once both parties are satisfied with the media proposal, a contract will be provided for review and signature.
Onboarding & Kick-Off Call
After the contract has been signed, you can expect a kick-off call to officially start the onboarding process. This is where key stakeholders of each team will meet and set expectations like KPIs, reporting cadence, and who will be managing the relationship. The details of the media plan get reviewed here, and no small detail should be overlooked. If you have questions or concerns that have yet to be addressed, raise them now.
Depending on the campaign launch date, setup can move quickly, so make sure to have your ad creative and digital assets ready to send over as soon as possible. We recommend listening to the agency if they provide recommendations on ad creative or user experience: These are often based on past experience, and any agency worth working with will have their thumb on the pulse of what works and what doesn’t.
When ad creative has been supplied and logins to tools like Google Analytics have been granted, the team managing your account will prepare the campaign to go live. Expect to hear from the agency on the day of launch, frequently with screenshots of live ads. They should also review the campaign details with you again and set benchmarks for what success will look like.
When a reporting tool is available for viewing your campaign results, you should receive login credentials within a week. We recommend finding an agency that offers a data visualization dashboard available for your use 24/7. You’ll also want to confirm how often you’ll receive reports on your campaign performance: Frequency may vary based on the campaign’s ad spend, length, amount of channels used, and so on. Every agency is different, but whether you talk by phone or by email, twice a week or twice a month, just make sure your agency sticks to their commitment.
Optimization & Reporting
Reporting is the most essential part of the campaign. It’s the longest step in the process, because it continues from launch until after the campaign is over. When an agency communicates with you there are several things they should be sharing, including:
- data-based optimizations they’ve made to improve the campaign’s results;
- trends they are seeing in campaign performance;
- any concerns they have about the campaign, such as poorly performing ad creative.
Don’t be afraid to ask big questions and dig deeper into why they are running things a certain way, even if you’re just curious. If the campaign performs poorly, it looks bad for everyone, so the agency will want to do everything in their power to ensure great results.
See also: How a Programmatic Ad Campaign Is Optimized & Measured
As the campaign continues, be sure to touch base with your agency about any shifting goals or priorities—things may change over the course of your campaign, and your agency will want to be aware of that. An agency’s willingness to work with you on sudden changes speaks volumes to how much they care about their client base.
Campaign Completion & Wrap-Up Report
When all is said and done you should expect a wrap-up report that reviews the campaign, ensures everyone is happy with the results, and provides some data-based insights. Whether you’ve chosen to renew for another campaign or part ways after a one-off, this comprehensive report should showcase campaign successes, highlight how the agency helped to advance your goals, and note anything that could have been done better. Agencies love to have case studies and client testimonials on hand, so if you’ve had a great experience, let them know if you’d be willing to share it!
Last but not least, make sure the agency receives any feedback from your team, whether positive or negative, so they can continue improving their performance for your business and their other clients going forward. The agency-client relationship is a two-way street, and both parties should finish a programmatic campaign with more advertising knowledge and expertise than they had going into it.
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