Why Are We All Talking About Programmatic Advertising Technology?

Originally Published in: Forbes

July 2nd, 2018

The principles of digital advertising haven’t changed. The need for a brand to reach target audiences and drive sales revenues hasn’t changed. The customer landscape and the way in which audiences consume content, however, has changed dramatically, and advertising technologies have evolved in response.

Complexity Leads To Confusion: The New Wild West

Demand-side platforms (DSPs), data management platforms (DMPs) and ad exchanges all exist to identify and segment audiences and manage the publishing process for advertisers. They are just a few technologies and platforms that make up the ad tech landscape. These technologies have nestled their way into the digital media world to offer genuine data-driven advantages to advertisers needing to gain a competitive advantage and achieve cut-through. Programmatic technology has developed as the facilitator, enabling brands to reach highly targeted audiences at scale and often in real time, for optimum efficiency and return on investment (ROI).

However, this complexity has led to confusion, with brands attempting to find that one-size-fits-all technology they hope can deliver on all their specific objectives or working with multiple suppliers and not having a way of evaluating the value each delivers. Additionally, the pace of change means the right technology to achieve those goals today may not be the right technology tomorrow, which leads to brands having to compromise. Rather than considering these technologies as part of the wider industry, advertising technologies like programmatic are, time and again, put on a pedestal and held accountable for the criticisms leveled at the digital media industry — issues such as brand safety, viewability and fraud.

By directing these criticisms at programmatic itself rather than the industry as a whole, marketers are in danger of missing the point. Programmatic advertising isn’t a separate entity that’s at odds with the industry — it is synonymous with media trading as a whole and is simply a facilitator of data-driven decision making. In fact, the industry is wasting time and breath discussing it at such length, and I believe the word “programmatic” should cease to exist. It is part and parcel of digital media and should be considered crucial to the overall marketing mix, integral to any digital advertising strategy.

But Would You In-House TV?

A 2017 survey from the Association of National Advertisers revealed that 35% of brands have broadened their reliance on in-house programmatic media buying and curbed the role of outside agencies, up from 14% in 2016. This trend has arisen as a response to these industry issues with brands feeling they would have a better sense of control, but many issues stand in the way of them doing this successfully, not the least of which includes the investment and resources required. Brands wouldn’t dream of bringing TV ad-buying technologies in-house, nor would they do so for out-of-home media, and yet with the most complex and fluid sector, which programmatic represents, that is the plan. Agencies have a role to play in that they have the dedicated expertise to execute these technologies in tandem for maximum results and in an appropriate way for their clients.

Written by:

Chris Dobson

CEO, The Exchange Lab

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