Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Programmatic has the power to build a better internet

Programmatic advertising has the ability to make the internet a better place for consumers and advertisers with Dave Osborn, VP, Asia-Pacific at AppNexus, saying it’s his company’s goal.

“AppNexus’ mission is to build a better internet. It is why all of us come to work,” says Osborn, who believes this can be achieved by focussing on both targeting and creative execution.

Osborn says: “We work really hard to facilitate that virtuous cycle where targeted and relevant advertising to consumers leads to better outcomes for advertisers, which leads to more money for media companies who can then produce high-quality content and news for consumers. In that way, it is not just a better ad but it is the downstream impact of consumers seeing better advertising that leads to a richer online experience.”

Who’s responsible for good programmatic?

The mission to improve the online experience shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of programmatic companies like AppNexus. Advertisers and agencies also play a role.

Osborn says: “Obviously the companies that are in the business of providing the pipes, it is on us to make sure that those are fast and as well greased as possible. The really interesting question is the advertisers versus agencies question. My view is that programmatic is a responsibility of both.”

Osborn sees a place for all three players in the programmatic mix with each utilising their unique strengths. He says: “I do think the swim lanes between marketers and agencies are pretty clear and they should live in harmony.

“The role of the advertiser is to know their consumer and to instruct platforms or agencies on how to talk to them. Then agencies as a whole should provide trading expertise and campaign execution. That is what they do really well. Big agency holding companies aggregate billion of dollars of spend and negotiate incredible deals on behalf of their client. They offer tremendous scale.”

Agencies also have the power to give advertisers peace of mind with Osborn saying: “I don’t think marketers want to be worrying at 5pm on a Friday whether their campaign is delivering. That is the job of their execution arm in the agency.”

Programmatic: just another touchpoint

When all the buzz dies down about programmatic, Osborn believes it will simply be seen as a touchpoint similar to a website visit or a call to a company’s customer experience team. The data associated with programmatic, much like web traffic, should then feed into the total customer experience.

Osborn says: “Data on a consumer – from business to website, phone calls, or exposure to advertising – that needs to drive the subsequent delivery of messaging. So if I visit a website, make a call, then show up on The Sydney Morning Herald, that should just be another opportunity to influence me the same way a person who picks up the phone sees all my history.”

With the wealth of data and the infrastructure being set up within most organisations, Osborn sees marketers best placed to drive this. He says: “Marketers are well positioned – they have data scientists, they’ve got huge teams of people who analyse data – and they should use all of that data cumulatively to inform the algorithms that make decisions on what messages to deliver consumers.”

The move in-house

Despite the opportunity for advertisers, agencies and programmatic providers to work hand in hand, there’s a movement to take the programmatic function in-house with brands such as Expedia in the US doing just that.

The reason for this move has long been a hot topic but Osborn says many have got it wrong. He says: “A lot of the media messaging about advertisers bringing their business in-house is around how advertisers don’t trust their agencies and don’t trust their trading desk anymore. If you really look at the reasons, it has less to do with that and more to do with wanting to be in control of how their messages are delivered to their consumers. With consumers having an ever increasing digital footprint, and programmatic being digitally enabled, bringing it in-house offers a good means to do that.”

Next phase programmatic

Osborn recently spoke to Ashton Media about consolidation in the programmatic market referencing AppNexus president Michael Rubenstein’s phrase ‘the ad tech power game’. Osborn, like many, believes there is great change on the horizon for businesses associated with programmatic. Change that will see businesses shifting their offering significantly.

“Companies that have been sell-side focused are rushing to develop an offering for the buy side and vice versa. It is quickly emerging that you need to be able to address entire marketplaces which mean buyers, sellers and technology providers, in order to operate a successful business. You are going to see a lot of frenzy in the market as companies try to pivot and reinvent themselves,” he says.

Osborn doesn’t see this as a negative. He says: “There needs to be a bit of a shakeout in our industry. Our clients, be it big advertisers and agencies and media companies, are fatigued by lots of companies with undifferentiated offerings. A bit of a shakeout is inevitable.”

There is also an opportunity for businesses to take programmatic and use it to incredible advantage by developing unique offerings. Osborn says: “The time has come for ad agencies, media companies and marketers to build their businesses on top of the technology that is available. A lot of those companies have used the technology as a kind of – we use the phrase ‘media vending machine’. That is what a lot of ad tech is, but that is not differentiating for these businesses. It might give them a short pop in margin, but what they need to do is start developing on top of platforms that exist, not just using the technology itself as a differentiator, because I don’t think it really is.”

Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.