TripleLift recently interviewed Erin Mulrooney and Michelle Wimmer of Dish Network. The brand brought programmatic in-house, opening up doors in creative and strategic opportunities. It also brought challenges, from building a strong team to setting the right expectations. In our recent interview, the two powerhouse leads talk about their journey to develop a brand-first programmatic team, how they improved acquisition costs when they prioritized a proper attribution model, why native is proving to open new creative avenues for the brand, and what every trader should know. Interview by Trisha Tomaszewski and Patrick Wall of TripleLift.
Trisha: I’m super excited to connect. We get a lot of questions from both advertisers and agencies about why brands bring programmatic in-house and how to successfully execute in-house buying. I’d like to start by hearing your story and background. Did you know you wanted to get into programmatic?
Michelle: No I’m old, it didn’t exist. I enjoy data and learning trends. I’m inclined to look at the numbers behind things and ask why. Essentially, I have a natural curiosity that lead me to a role that is more numbers and trends driven.
Patrick: To interject, did you know you wanted to go into marketing? Did you have a degree in marketing?
Michelle: Definitely. I have a marketing degree and business background.
Trisha: How did you discover programmatic? Was it your first job, did someone approach you?
Michelle: I started in traditional marketing, there was no programmatic when I started. I started in TV, print, then email. Drifted into email compliance, paid search, campaign management and eventually programmatic.
Erin: I don’t even have a marketing degree (which I might get shamed for) but I have a Master’s in Women Studies. I also like data and statistics and wanted to get involved in the digital space. I’ve had every job in digital you can think of and eventually came across programmatic about 7 years ago.
Patrick: Oh wow, early stages of programmatic!
Erin: One of the things I like about programmatic is that if you have the curiosity to teach yourself, the sky’s the limit.
Trisha: For people who are not familiar with what you do at Dish, what is your official role at DISH?
Erin: I am a Programmatic Manager on DISH’s centralized marketing team. Michelle’s role has been bringing programmatic in-house for the past 3 years. This past May we completed the transition for display and I joined to help with the execution and scale our programmatic capabilities to other business units at Dish.
Patrick: Do you feel like the dust has settled or is there still some growing pains of having that responsibility under one roof?
Michelle: Everything has been fairly smooth as we’ve built our own in-house agency for internal clients here. There are still some growing pains but that’s to be expected. We are however achieving our metrics with a lean team, added transparency and cost savings only two quarters into the process.
Trisha: It sounds like as DISH has brought programmatic in-house, you two have had to clarify what your roles and responsibilities are? What advice /feedback would you give other brands that want to bring programmatic in-house.
Michelle: Setting expectations with internal stakeholders about what this team will and will not be scoped to do. If a brand brings programmatic in-house to streamline costs and create transparency, then a trading team may be an excellent solution. If a goal is a behind the scenes view of everything happening, then consider staffing for more client facing (even internal client facing) roles. A person who enjoys being a hands on keyboard trader is not typically the same person who excels at Account Management. They are two different types of people and this is partly why setting expectations is so crucial to the success of an internal programmatic team.
Erin: I would also say, investment in talent is important. DISH has set the bar high for wanting to invest in people who have already been in the programmatic space. There are a lot of different roles from traders, analyst, ad ops and others that an agency supports. It isn’t as simple as hiring a couple of traders and saying we have an in house programmatic team.
Michelle: It’s also important to think about the right culture fit. Is someone going to thrive in a more corporate marketing culture vs. an agency? What does the career satisfaction look like beyond the honeymoon phase? The goal is to find someone who is skilled, not well read about programmatic.
Trisha: Where does programmatic buying fall within DISH’s marketing funnel?
Michelle: Our goal is to have a full funnel approach and bring in as many channels as we can. The goal is to drive more sales with the proper attribution model beyond last touch. When I started at Dish, viewability was incredibly low while partners were getting credit because they cookie-bombed and that wins in a last-touch model. As a brand, we were blindly trusting partners without looking into how they helped drive sales. Now we look at viewability and want to properly measure across the ecosystem, giving appropriate credit to everything from upper funnel prospecting tactics to lower-funnel retargeting.
Trisha: By focusing more on viewability, did your acquisition cost go down?
Michelle: Yes, our acquisition costs improved as we increased viewability.
Erin: The attribution discussion is so important on the brand side. Brands should view attribution as a continuous dialogue. Changes and adjustments are always happening in the digital world and attribution is never fully solved for. Something we see at Dish is a constant need to solve it and then revisit it.
Trisha: Last year Buzzfeed broke a story about the FBI was investigating a fraud scheme in the digital landscape, with so many bad players, how does DISH avoid them?
Michelle: Our relationship with our DSP is incredibly important, we look to align with the top partners that provide complete transparency as well as ensuring we have third party verification in place as a double check and an internal audit team that is agnostic from our media team as a triple check.
Trisha: My last question before the lightning round is you buy Native and buy TripleLift. What are your thoughts on native?
Erin: I’m super excited that we’re able to tap into native programmatically, there is so much opportunity to explore it! There’s a lot that we can be doing with different types of creative (video v., display units) we’ve only scratched the surface. I think for the user it presents a really nice way to engage with a brand outside of a traditional banner. One of the things I look for when dealing with a native partners is how easy are you going to make my job? Triplelift has made it extremely easy to work, even in the complicated ecosystem of native.
Trisha: Great! Lets jump into the lighting round, Favorite podcast?
Michelle: Work related I like Behind the Numbers, there’s a lot of good tidbits.
Erin: I’m going outside of work, I am a huge Two Dope Queens and I’m so sad it’s over!
Trisha: Facebook or Instagram?
Erin: Instagram all day everyday
Michelle:..I have to say Facebook
Trisha: One thing you do everyday
Michelle: I run everyday
Erin: I walk my three pack of greyhounds
Trisha: What should every trader know?
Erin: Don’t be content with current results.