The overall advantages of using machines to make purchasing decisions on advertising impressions are undeniable. In fact, over the last few years, programmatic advertising has evolved to become the preeminent way brands/ their agencies buy display.
And, as we see programmatic achieving positive results just as well for brand marketing as for direct response – programmatic is growing.
So what impact is this having? What do marketers need to know?
Assessing the Programmatic Landscape
Originally, agencies were quick to offer solutions for marketers who saw the potential of programmatic, but lacked the skills or resources to start. However, as spend into programmatic increased and budget holders began to ask more questions, programmatic has come under closer scrutiny.
As a result, as brands become more conversant with programmatic, many are bringing programmatic advertising in-house.
But what must marketers be aware of today, on their journey to programmatic maturity?
Asking The Right Questions For Programmatic Success
Regardless of their position on the brand or agency side, marketers are working hard to integrate programmatic with their other channels. This has seen brands catching up by upskilling their workforce – and for those bringing programmatic in house, seeing success means answering a few key questions, such as;
- How do we develop personalised creative to appeal to every consumer?
Consumers today expect increasingly personalised content. To see success, brands must know how to develop creative that is multifaceted, personalised and flexible enough to appeal in real-time.
- How do we get the data we need to target the right audiences at the right time?
Of course, to create personalised, real-time campaigns, marketers need to know what data is required – and how to connect their own data with vendors to target increasingly specific audiences.
- How do we regain control over our programmatic landscape?
In the early days of programmatic, marketers learned as they went – finding the best software, partners, skilled staff etc, piece by piece. Inevitably, this created inefficiencies. To see success today, marketers need to know how to regain control.
Addressing the Challenges
By asking these questions, marketing leaders are demonstrating progress; they are addressing key issues by firming up infrastructure, demanding more from partners and developing flexible, long-term strategies.
Yet while we can learn from past mistakes and inefficiencies, there are still a number of challenges that must be addressed:
- Fraud. Fraud has always been a challenge in online advertising. But for programmatic, where personal relationships in buying and selling are reduced, and more intermediaries are added, visibility and accountability become poor. The result is that ad fraud is a more-than-7-billion-dollar issue. And, with marketers typically willing to ‘expect a level of fraud’, ad networks often aren’t doing enough to detect and prevent fraudulent impressions. However, as brands become more conversant with programmatic, this perception is changing – brands are starting to challenge their partners and look for more realistic results.
- Viewability. One of the key challenges facing marketers right now is that a portion of the impressions they buy are not being seen. While some of that is accounted for as fraud, publishers and media platforms’ placement of ad sites – or inclusion of advertising within content – can also contribute to poor viewability. Equally, misleading reporting from publishers can result in difficulty auditing success.
- Price and safety. To lower overall costs, many networks have in the past, mixed subprime and prime media together, hoping advertisers wouldn’t notice / care if their ads were sometimes served in less-than-ideal situations. While most platforms and networks are now addressing these issues, there’s no failsafe – brands must invest in audits and demand transparency from partners.
- Targeting. While platforms like Facebook or Google offer demographic targeting, brands must be able to match their own datasets to actual users generating impressions in real-time. Identity resolution and targeting remain a challenge – to achieve it requires substantial investment in integration and a focus on data compliance.
- Systems and data integration. Effective integration between systems is hard. But it’s the answer to build scalable, intelligent processes that reduce manual input and export, and run and report intelligently.
- Agencies. As brands demand increasing transparency and insight, agencies have had to face the challenge of solidifying processes, skills, people and technology to offer the best service. For brands, they face a decision; in-house or partner with an agency (who can now offer substantial support and experience insight)?
The Future of Programmatic
Marketers who see success today are less willing to accept compromises in brand safety, fraud and measurability – and are working hard to build skills, deploy technology and reassess their partners.
Considering the impact this will have, in the short term at least, this will mean a number of things. We’re likely to see:
- Content evolution and re-categorisation as the availability of inventory which brands are actually prepared to buy is increasingly reduced – forcing media owners and sellers to re-categorise subprime content and ad positions. In turn, this will undoubtedly drive up the price of what’s left – premium inventory.
- More personal creative as brands aim to meet consumer expectations for relevant, contextual and timely ads. As consumer expectations continue to develop, the lines between creative and content will continue to blur. Native advertising, content marketing and truly personal creative will become standard.
- Greater use of automation technology as AI and automation continue to shape programmatic. Marketing organisations of the future will be much more integrated and much less operationally reliant on human intervention – even now, the aspiration is fully connected, fully automated. When marketing departments have retooled, it will be second nature for organisations to deploy technology underpinned by AI, (such as Machine Learning) to drive results.
The future of programmatic is undoubtedly bright – but complex!
To learn more about how brands can see success with programmatic, you can read our eBook:
Source: LiveRamp & Bizibl ‘All Grown Up? Brands’ Journey To Programmatic Maturity