Dispatch from the ad:tech Trenches: Defining ‘Programmatic’

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What is “programmatic” advertising? It depends on whom you ask.

In an interview with BIA/Kelsey Managing Director Rick Ducey, John McIntyre, Founder & CEO, Sightly said: “Programmatic buying, in its most simple form, is the automated real-time bidding and purchasing of digital advertising inventory.”

During a programmatic advertising session here at ad:tech San Francisco, panelists gave their own definitions:

“Programmatic is an evolution of media automation”

“Programmatic means relevance: the right message in front of the right audience at the right time”

“Programmatic means control over ad placement, based on [your company’s] unique goals and customer information”

Programmatic

Going deeper, here are some of the key points made by panelists:

— Agencies are a bit behind the curve in moving to programmatic [not surprising, considering it often costs them media commission dollars]. But advertisers can start buying programmatically using a DSP [Demand Side Platform].

— Programmatic is a TOOL; it isn’t a solution. It requires a robust understanding of customer segments, customer interaction points with the business, and messaging — in fact, using programmatic advertising successfully requires an even deeper understanding of these things.

–Although “viewability” may be a key metric in evaluating programmatic advertising, it’s a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a successful impact on the consumer. It’s about action, not impressions.

— Programmatic will become a primary sales channel for ALL digital media — although this may take several years. Advertisers will be buying all their media (particularly digital media) this way: algorithmically, and real-time.

So — is there poetry in programmatic for the SMB advertiser? Yes — although as with other leading edge technologies, SMBs are a few years behind nationals and brands in adopting this tool set.

But it should be clear to companies that provide advertising and marketing services to SMBs that they’ll need to master programmatic advertising (and the robust data/analytic platform upon which it rests) on behalf of their SMB customers. Sooner rather than later.

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