Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Highlights from Programmatic Forum – Programmatic Beyond Screens

At another successful instalment of the Programmatic Forum this last week, I was lucky enough to moderate what I think were some of the broadest discussions of the day – very much a “what next” for programmatic. How are advertisers navigating the uncharted waters of programmatic in traditional / broadcast / non-digital / offline (call it what you will!) channels? 

Across all three discussions, there were two camps: those who had run some initial trials across TV, audio or out of home and those who were keen to, but didn’t know where to start. Across the board, however, nobody felt they had cracked it or were even close.

Often heated, there was much discussion over the many variations on how programmatic beyond “digital” could be defined: some believe in the need for real time bidding on inventory, others were happy to have a pre-bought inventory with the ability to dynamically insert messaging into the ad slot. Other factors discussed covered the need for data and automated software to manage the process. All of this points to a nuanced version of what has been the case for Display, Video and Social programmatic media trading, but it’s the nuances that add ever more layers of complexity… and confusion.

As the discussions developed, all groups turned to the barriers impeding greater endeavours, the biggest being scale – across TV and OOH in particular, the lack of market-level, multi-inventory source technology offering true scale is a hold back to buying. Pretty much all felt that not being able to buy, optimise and report across a multitude of publishers through one system, as is the cornerstone of programmatic display via a DSP, holds back anything more than some simple testing.

Moreover, there is an underlying concern around the lack of educational resource at this bleeding edge of the sector. Advertisers and agency folk alike feel they are needing to “learn on the fly” which is unfortunately not a benefit – there’s seemingly no first mover advantage. To also add to the complexity, the “new” programmatic channels lack common sets of language and measurement – it is not always clear whether they are being measured by “digital” standards (e.g. CPMs and impressions) or “traditional” (e.g. TARPs and GRPs).

Finally, it was felt the market itself may not be set up for success as yet – there is an additional resource needed to get tests set up, time advertisers and agencies can ill afford when there is no current proof point of efficiency gains. Planning and particularly buying departments are also not necessarily set up to make the most of technology-led buying in these channels.

While these barriers paint a gloomy picture of the outlook for programmatic in “traditional” channels, the mood on the day definitely wasn’t negative. The underlying sentiment was one of a fresh chance – the industry is getting a second chance to “do programmatic right”. This means all of the negative stories which have blighted programmatic’s story in recent times such as a tendency towards (in display and video at least) low quality, blind inventory sources can be washed away. Brands will use technology, with a data layer, to really reach their target audience more efficiently and more effectively. Allowing the machines to do the heavy lifting will open up time to be more creative… it’s just going to take a lot of work to get there in the eyes of advertisers. xx

About Steve Poyser