NEW YORK: Unilever, Kimberly-Clark and Kellogg are among the firms running in-house trading desks to buy digital ads, a move allowing them greater control over accessing and managing data.

Unilever, the FMCG group, rolled out this type of system last year, based on its in-house Digital Reporting Analytics Warehouse, which assesses a vast amount of information covering digital media trading.

While agreeing that spreading new learning to firms that are not direct rivals is desirable, Rob Master, Unilever's VP, North America and European media, argued it can also now obtain a unique advantage.

He told Advertising Age in an interview: "We've found between the trading desk and DRAW's enormous learning within our walls."

"We feel that, just based on our global scale and our investment in this space ... there's so much we can learn from Dove to Axe to Hellman's by just organising it in the right way."

Kimberly-Clark has also adopted an in-house model, which it co-ordinates through a partnership with Mindshare, the media agency network which has also partnered with Unilever.

"We designed it this way so we can retain the data and plow it back into our systems," said Mark Kaline, Kimberly-Clark's global director, media. "And hopefully we can get plans that get smarter as they go."

Kellogg, the cereal specialist, also purchases over half of its digital ads using programmatic buying, and is now attempting to identify the next generation of metrics to advance its capabilities further.

Bob Arnold, global digital strategy director for Kellogg's, said: "We're actively trying to figure out what other real-time signals we can find that show that our message has broken through. Things like dwell-time and viewability are some."

Procter & Gamble, the major rival to Unilever, is also said to have created a similar system, known as Hawkeye, around two years ago.

Forrester, the insights provider, found in a poll last year that 7% of marketers now utilised in-house trading desks. Agencies, the company added, will soon need to create bespoke tools for their clients.

"The holding company trading desk is not long for this world as a centralized execution model," Joanna O'Connell, a Forrester analyst, warned.

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff