JJ Bannasch, President of KATANA Media

Ask The Experts: Buyers

November 2, 2018

Digital media agencies have to constantly be in the know of new breakthroughs in advertising technology and be at the forefront of changing media trends. Considering the breadth of what that entails, it’s no easy feat. One of the agencies we work with that does a consistently great job of truly understanding ad tech and the converging media landscape is KATANA. Named one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. 5000, KATANA has made a name for itself as an innovative agency in just the five years it has been around. We caught up with KATANA’s President JJ Bannasch to learn more about how his team is working with their clients to master video advertising across a variety of formats.

How does video factor into your buying strategy?

A number of our clients have recently been expanding into more video assets and media executions in the last year, treating video as an upper funnel tactic to help drive warmer audiences in their mid and lower funnel media efforts. This strategy is something that we have implemented into various client campaigns, as we now have more avenues to execute video media buying and can utilize performance data to help guide lower funnel media channels to capture more engaged audiences. Many of our heavy direct response clients are still very weary of video, but clients that have expanded into and leveraged it have actually seen improvements in lower funnel performance, in regards to business value and quality of conversions being driven.

What excites you about video advertising/connected TV?

Video is a much more engaging medium than other typical digital media formats, and when done successfully, drives strong performance for clients to help their business grow and scale. There will always be clients who continue to focus on only low funnel tactics (remarketing, low funnel paid search, etc.) but when you expand and influence audiences with video, it can really contribute to driving overall marketing performance for clients.

Connected TV in itself is an extremely exciting topic and still very fresh and unchartered territory for most of our clients. There is still a major learning curve with it, but is a tactic that most clients need to keep a close eye on to integrate within their media mix.

Where does programmatic fit into your buying strategy?

KATANA is built upon the concept of value based optimization (VBO), which foundational relies on programmatic executions and merging optimization data around business objectives and goals across all media. Our team essentially only leverages channels that are programmatically executed and allow for real time data, 100% agility and enablement of our VBO buying frameworks to be applied to our buying.  This buying strategy spans across paid search, display, native, video, connected TV, paid social and e-commerce channels.

How do you work with your ad tech partners to build a programmatic approach that works for you? How do you measure the success of your ad tech partners?

We are very active with a number of our ad tech partners to both better utilize their platforms and to build upon and between platforms. There are a handful of relationships we have with DSPs, data providers, platforms and SSPs like Telaria that we have engaged with to get additional tools to help our media team better understand what is being purchased, QA campaigns/delivery, and gain additional data sets beyond what we would see within a standard DSP.

We also have do have a number of efforts right now that are focused on infusing machine learning and Ai across platforms to better optimize and build business intelligence into what we currently see as more one-dimensional media buying.

What does it take to be a successful programmatic buyer?

Over the years the most successful partnerships we’ve had are the ones that are willing to think outside the box and try innovative ideas and executions with our campaigns and clients. Many of our clients hire us to be their agency simply on the fact that we are always testing and trying new approaches, techniques and tools and are far ahead of their current media buyers. The success and upkeep of this type of approach requires not only a very strong culture on our end with our employees and teams, but also a suite of partners that are willing to do this with us. Many times, these are partners that have the same type of innovative culture and see us as that team of tech, media and strategy nerds that are ideal to pull of something non-standard and still make it work well for our client’s objectives.

What is one misconception about advertising agencies do you want to dispel?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have many agencies shaking in their boots as they don’t see a role for them moving forward and clients can directly manage their media buying without their agencies. While this is true for a huge portion of agencies that haven’t adapted to this new world of AI and machine learning, there is still great value in working with an agency with folks who understand how AI and machine learning works and can be properly leveraged into client’s business objectives. Today, there are still a tremendous number of items that have to be strategically in place for clients to succeed in the world of machine learning and AI, and clients just need to ensure they are working with the right agency and not the ones stuck in what they were doing in the last 3+ years. KATANA is an agile agency that has embraced the advancement of AI and machine learning and have incorporated into our strategic approach and execution for our clients.

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