On Wednesday, I ate Programmatic for breakfast. At first, it was a little hard to swallow – but with the help of two Irish lads, a flower man, a brand safety Diamond, and a lovely trading desk in the middle… it went down ok..
I have to say – I love Programmatic! Not because of what it does or what it can achieve… I love it because it has the ability to put people’s heads in a spin, it has the industry up in arms, and quite frankly it has a lot of people scared sh*&tless. But why I love it most, is the fact that it forces us to ask the questions we should have been asking in 1994 when the first banner ad appeared.
As JJ rightly pointed out, Programmatic came about as a solution to a problem.
(JJ Eastwood is one of the Irish lads in the above picture – on the right… he is also the Managing Director of Rocket Fuel in Australia & New Zealand, and claims to know a thing or two about programmatic – which I must admit, he is one of the few that actually does!)
As digital display media grew we needed a way to de-dupe audiences across networks, and we needed a way to accurately frequency cap how many times users (people) would see the ads. Thus arrives Programmatic! I would also argue that it came about to simply THE MONEY… it makes buying more efficient, (saving time and money), and it has provided a platform that can easily buy and sell all that inventory publishers are so dying to get rid of! Either way – Programmatic is here, and it does just that.
For those still trying to wrap their heads around Programmatic… fear no longer – it isn’t actually that complicated.
Programmatic is simply the process of using technology to buy and sell media.
The beauty of it – is that ‘digital inventory’ (or – potential places to put your digital ad) has been aggregated into nice big pools via the AdExchanges and Supply Side Platforms, then throw in some big data and a few algorithms and the Demand Side Platforms will buy the inventory on behalf of the Advertiser.
Make sense? Clear as mud? …I thought so.
But don’t worry so much about the logistics of programmatic – worry about how it can benefit you, and how it can make your current advertising so much more effective.
As the other Irish lad pointed out, Programmatic is helping solve one of the age-old problems of advertising:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted… I just don’t know which half!”
John Wanamaker 1838-1922
Programmatic helps us find out which 50% of our digital advertising is working, and also lets us optimise the 50% that isn’t.
And as much as you may want it to go away, and as much as you are resisting this digital revolution… Programmatic is really about the DATA.
We are pretty good at understanding what 1st party data is – the data YOU collect directly about YOUR customer, and we are pretty ok at understanding 3rd party data – the data aggregated and generated from other sources and sold back to you.
For a long time, we were buying and selling media based on these two types of data sets. NOW, where Programmatic really comes to fruition is its use of 2nd party data.
…If you ask me, we have it all wrong – there is way too much data and definitely not enough parties! Bring back the Mad Men era…
So we have:
1st party data – we know who our customer is and who we want to target
And we have:
3rd party data – we are being sold cookie pools of audiences who we know a fair amount about
But now… in real time we are being sent and have access to…
2nd party data – where 1st party data is being sold or traded with someone else
Through programmatic trading – the Demand Side Platform technology can make decisions about each ad impression in real time. Each ad impression sends hundreds of pieces of data points to the Demand Side Platform to help it make the decision whether to buy the ad impression or not… these 2nd party data points can include the exact geo-location of the user (down to the exact longitude and latitude positions – think Will Smith & Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State), the gender, the browser history, the age, the exact type of the device they are on (down to model, make, and even carrier), and literally hundreds more.
Programmatic trading of advertising gives us the ability to leverage this data. So many companies are sitting on LOADS of data – as we go more programmatic, companies can start using this data… to ultimately eliminate wastage, buy advertising more efficiently and genuinely provide a better consumer experience.
As the Flower Man so importantly stated, the questions that programmatic forces us to ask are needed in ALL areas of business. So if you do not have these skillsets inhouse, across ALL areas of the business – you will be hugely disadvantaged!
This is all good and well – but what about the darkside of Programmatic?? The black box… the porn sites my ads appear on, the fraud, the adblockers, the declining viewability, the lousy creative, the value banks and the $1 million TV ad I just invested in!!!
Well… don’t fear… the Diamond in the rough is here!
James Diamond is from Integral Ad Science – the tech company focusing on brand safety… (you know… the guys who stop the Smirnoff ad appearing next to the “Another Alcohol Fuelled Brawl In Kings Cross” article).
And – I can tell you now, we have a long way to go when it comes to true brand safety, and getting rid of fraud in the digital world (we can’t even get rid of it in the physical world!), but we are at least getting better. Go back a few years and it was full of cowboys (and definitely not enough cowgirls!). Thankfully, some of the cowboys have been weeded out, so the inventory available is much cleaner (thanks to leadership from the likes of PubMatic, Rubicon and Google), the algorithms are much tighter, and you have the likes of Integral Ad Science… holding people responsible, accountable, and forcing transparency in the market. This is also where the likes our “lovely trading desk” come into play (As Michelle Kyd from Cadreon reminds us, of what we easily forget), as various players enter the market you really need an objective voice to have your back. Don’t get caught up in the sales speak, and make sure you have the ability to shop around and test.
Lousy creative will and always has been a problem for our beloved digital industry. Thankfully – I feel like the “time of tactics” is coming to an end. For the last 10-ish years – strategy has been about the technology you are using. My algorithm is bigger and better than yours! Now, we all have access to the same tech platforms, the inventory is going into the same pools, and we are finally breaking into the black box of Programmatic… so what’s next? Well, as always – we go back to the basics. I am connecting with a human being. Sure, I may know more about them – even better! But at the end of the day, we are all human… we want to connect, share, and experience life to the fullest. So if you are not focusing on the creative, and you’re not putting the customer experience at the heart of your strategy – there isn’t a programmatic platform on this planet that will deliver you one iota of a result.
Disagree? Comment below or connect with me on twitter.
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