Programmatic is not about buying cheap display ads

If you think programmatic buying is all about about getting cheap CPM’s, you are dead wrong. In fact, the programmatic promise is not about buying at all, it is about data, technology and marketing automation. Programmatic buying in the Nordic region has up until now been in its infancy, version 0.5 if you want. But the marketplace is changing rapidly, and you don’t have to be Nostradamus to tell that by the end of this year, the way we plan, buy and execute on digital media will look very different than it did a year prior.

Anybody can buy cheap inventory through the open exchanges, and many do so – with mixed to bad results. You might call that programmatic buying, and it wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but it is definitely in the lower end of the spectrum. Programmatic buying done right is about activating audiences in real time through premium publishers, streamlining transactions and creating efficiencies and better business outcomes.

Programmatic buying is not a channel and it is most certainly not a product. You could rather think of programmatic as a stack of data, technology and people. Let me elaborate:

Programmatic is all about data. It starts and ends with data, from 1st and 2nd to 3rd party data. Data fuels the programmatic ecosystem. Data will help you reach the right audiences in the right context at the right time – delivering the right message. Data will give you much deeper insights into your customers, your campaign, your creatives and your audience. Data will make all the difference, data equals audience intelligence.

Programmatic is about technology. There is no getting around the fact that technology is one of the key enablers for programmatic. Technology enables us to match the aforementioned advertiser data with the right audience; technology underpins modern media planning and buying. Technology is the process automation within programmatic.

Programmatic is about people. Even if some of the work that is done within programmatic is on the bleeding edge of technological innovation, it is still heavily reliant on people. Automation and technology today does not mean downscaling the workforce, but rather automating dull and tedious tasks and giving us better tools to create better efficiencies. Data and technology are meaningless without people to link them, and understanding the media landscape is still an important asset.

Programmatic is about reducing ad wastage. By being able to identify and target audiences and not using media as a proxy, we reduce wasted ad impressions and increase ROMI, in other words: Getting more for less.

If you are still not taking programmatic seriously as a client, publisher or agency today, you are doing your business a serious disservice. Playtime is over, 2016 is the year when a well-executed programmatic strategy will separate the good from the bad.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on April 22, 2016.