NEW YORK: Kimberly-Clark, the personal care giant, is yielding significant benefits from the programmatic buying of digital ads in North America, a model it hopes to increasingly expand overseas.

Jeff Holecko, the company's North American media manager, told AdExchanger its automated system means messages can be tested in "real time or near real time" and reach a "higher quality consumer".

"Ultimately, we have better control over how we optimise our communications," he added. "It's naturally integrated. The desk team can work as easily with the multicultural team as they can the search or planning team."

The firm began discussions about creating trading "desks" for automated purchases of digital ads two years ago, talking to industry bodies as well as its data, media and advertising agencies.

It also worked with the leads of its in-house media, procurement, customer relationship management and digital teams, and then met eight different potential vendors.

"Data is key to everything we do in media. We've always used data to plan and buy on and offline media," said Holecko. "We simply need data to be more efficient and more effective at reaching the right people at the right time."

As a result of its various consultations, Mindshare, a unit of WPP Group, was handed responsibility for planning and buying, alongside serving as a "major partner" in the research process.

"In a very structured and rigid way, we netted out with the final partnership because it met our collective requirements," said Holecko. "Additionally, we wanted a model that could potentially help our global KC partners."

The early aims of this scheme included being able to interrogate in-house data, combine it with external data and optimise campaigns as they ran. Spending efficiency and commercial goals are also important.

"It has far exceeded our expectations ... 2012 was proof positive of the benefits in both driving efficiency and quality," Holecko said. "We had very specific qualitative and quantitative goals. It's blown through all of them."

Among the core objectives for 2013 are achieving better targeting with regard to engagement, with video and social media also attracting attention, as well as greater integration across the board.

"There is an opportunity in better linking the data, media planning and buying teams," Holecko said. "I think it would be helpful for the data professionals to better understand on and offline media professionals and vice versa."

Data sourced from AdExchanger; additional content by Warc staff