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Programmatic summit peaks

Programmatic's not just something for digital nerds in the US to worry about - it's already creeping into TV, OOH and radio's media buying models, right here, right now, and will not be stopped by the rise of ad blockers.

On Wednesday, 9 March I attended the second Programmatic Summit hosted by MaxAxion, Kagiso Media and the IAB, held at the Inner City Ideas Cartel. IAB chairperson Jared Cinman kicked things off by pointing to the pertinence of programmatic, especially as this year’s IAB Digital Summit saw a rise of talks about programmatic throughout the Summit, no matter the talk topic.

Programmatic summit peaks
© Sergey Gavrilichev –

According to Cinman, the IAB hopes to work with players to drive the local programmatic move and assist independent publishers in investing in the technology and developing a strong local publishing base comprising a free and strong local media.

Digital advertising evolution

James Brown, MD of Rubicon in the UK, put things into perspective by talking through the timeline of digital advertising. The true publisher evolution took place from 2007 to 2014 and started with publishers focused on their display-driven, desktop-centric business and an oversupply of ad inventory. It was common to work with multiple ad network partners and simply take ad inventory from them and monetise that. “You could only find your own yield by paging through an A4 binder,” explained Brown.

2011 was a watershed year as it saw the rise of the private ad marketplace, which acknowledged that not all advertisers are equal and that company D, while less known in the industry, may be willing to pay more for that online space than market leader company A. In 2015 there was a rise of ‘automated guaranteed price’ selling and now we’re moving further up the inventory pyramid, facing challenges set to dominate future discussion, like ad-blockers. At the end of the day it’s about protecting your core direct sales, especially as Brown says the overall advertising future is all about automation: It’s coming to all media channels, like TV, radio and OOH, and still has a long way to go in digital.

Interruption economy

Mihai Fanache, CEO of Chargeads shared the top ten trends in journalism. Key among these is that consumers have stopped paying attention as there are simply too many devices out there. We have an 8-second attention span, down from 12-seconds in 2000 – shorter than that of goldfish. One way publishers can overcome this problem is to move from an interruption model to a participation model by embracing native ads. A proper content marketing campaign today is all about native ads, says Fanache. It helps that native advertising is finally scalable and actually gets 10 times as much views as traditional ad content when implemented correctly, especially where there’s clearer disclosure that the content is sponsored, supplied or paid for. In-feed ads like those on Facebook and content recommendation widgets also do well: It’s about publishing content that's relevant, content your audience wants to explore further and share, presented on a platform that ties it all together.

On the other hand, Fanache says an uncoordinated or one-off campaign is a mistake today as your audience wants more of what they like. To get this right, business models have to evolve. While most of the advertising revenue goes to Facebook and Google as they are better at trading and targeting, newsrooms need a smarter workflow. For example, Fanache says your content management system (CMS) is likely outdated and unable to keep up with the current data revolution. The stories that flit through journalists’ minds usually aren’t assisted by the existing CMS, which can prove frustrating as journalists are more connected and clued up than ever before: Many know they can improve the click-through rate on their articles by AB testing various headlines and implementing SEO and other tricks of the trade, especially as content keeps piling up online with journalists incentivised to put out as much content as possible.

Fanache concludes that the decision funnel no longer works. Instead of narrowing our choices, we learn more as we read more, which complicates the process – especially as more media is now created by consumers than ever before. Everyone shares opinions, experiences and reviews online and as markets become increasingly liquid, we need to do what we can to take control of distribution channels. One way of doing so is for publishers to understand programmatic trading. You don't need to build more inventory, you need to grow your audience and engage with it.

Rich media = rich engagement

Rob Fear, creative lead at Celtra in the UK, joined the Summit via live video call. He explained the importance of rich media engagement and using different tags in your media targeting, ensuring the right person gets the right message – not necessarily that the same person gets the same message. In explaining this, Fear said you need to use contextual data to create dynamic creative and engage the user with well designed, interactive ads that convey your message quickly and effectively. Animation does this well, and Fear says while ad blocking is coming to the forefront, it’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s a sign we need to get rid of poor ad content and its resulting poor user experience and reward users for their engagement with our brands.

Programmatic is just automatic media buying... And then some

In another talk, Steven Kaufman, EVP of integrated media at AudienceX in the US, spoke of the importance of combining the volume and variety of big data. It’s a process based on taking basic demographics, then layering online behavioural information over that, as well as context such as the time of day, device used, and current mood. This results in ‘moment in time’ marketing, and means that showing a specific consumer a certain message on their laptop at home this evening will result in a different reaction than if they were to see it tomorrow morning, on their phone while fighting traffic.

Kaufman says it boils down to moving away from “marketing in a silo to a single profile”. Instead, you need your campaign to be unconstrained and to get smarter about when to market to a specific person across a specific device, then take that information back into your CRM for deeper, richer big data.

That same big data should be applied to create segmented messaging through dynamic ad units. In predicting programmatic trends for the year, Kaufman said competition for company analysts and data scientists will increase and that marketers will consolidate technology platforms, budget will continue to shift from traditional to digital, and more brand marketers will move to programmatic, getting closer to the customer through their campaign data. When you factor in the statistic that the average US adult will have access to at least four connected devices by 2017, it’s definitely time to rethink your marketing strategy.

For more on the Programmatic Summit, search for the #Programmaticv2 hashtag on Twitter.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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