NEW YORK: The Kellogg Company, the food group, is now using automated buying tools for over half of its digital advertising, an approach the company believes has numerous benefits.

Speaking at an event held by DigiDay, Bob Arnold, global digital strategy director for Kellogg's, argued automated, real-time digital ad purchases were a key area of focus for the organisation.

More specifically, he suggested the "programmatic" buying of digital ads, which works in a similar way to stock market trading desks, need not be limited to generic display formats.

"I want to show other marketers that programmatic can be used for brand marketers,"  Arnold said. “It is a direct response tool, and we are driving a round peg in a square hole, but we're still seeing tremendous results anyway."

The majority of the firm's paid-for digital ads are now traded via this route, and Kellogg works directly with demand-side providers (DSPs). Starcom, its agency, thus fulfils a different role.

"We want to be more hands on with what's going on behind the scenes," said Arnold. "Our motto is that agencies can help us on the consultation side, and to find new partners, but we work directly with the DSPs."

The first consideration Kellogg's was if programmatic buying would provide ads with the necessary level of "viewability" of ads on the page and reach the "right audience". It is now looking for additional metrics.

"For us, clicks aren't indicative of success," said Arnold. "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."

More broadly, he asserted that publishers needed to be "more transparent" in their activity to make programmatic more common, as at the moment "there are shady things going on".

"If publishers do that, brands will work with them," Arnold said.

Data sourced from DigiDay; additional content by Warc staff