Programmatic has broken through to the mainstream. In just a few short years it has graduated from being a single line item on a media plan to a predominate strategy for planning, buying and optimizing digital advertising. Early on, programmatic was hyped as a great tool to drive cost efficiencies and savings. Now marketers see it as a way to gain previously unavailable insights into how budgets are spent and where ads are shown.
In the past year, the programmatic principles of automation and data-driven targeting have moved beyond online to other media. Both TubeMogul and AOL have launched single-platform digital buying solutions. One by AOL was announced in April and last December TubeMogul expanded its buying platform to include programmatic television.
PTV gained acceptance almost immediately when Mondelez used it to buy its Super Bowl spots and DigitasLBi bought the Oscars across eight markets just three days before it aired. This year TubeMogul added a third screen to its programmatic menu – digital OOH. It is already in use in the Australian market and TubeMogul is currently exploring partnerships in Canada.
Grant le Riche, TubeMogul managing director, Canada, says, “Marketers want a single piece of software that handles all media across all channels – desktop, phones, tablets, TV, billboards – and lets them make strategic decisions based on real-time data. They want one platform to manage them all.
“The marketers in the forefront of this look at screens the way we look at screens – it’s not so much the content, it’s the container of that content. Whether you’re watching a show on iPad, mobile, or desktop, it doesn’t really matter what screen you’re hitting them on. To have software to seamlessly shift through all screens and platforms makes it very easy and it makes it possible for agency silos to start breaking down because they shouldn’t have a digital strategy, a mobile strategy and a TV strategy – you should just have a strategy.”
The benefits of automated buying have so impressed brands that, increasingly, they are licensing the programmatic software themselves. In most cases, they have their agencies manage the platform on their behalf but by holding the license, brands have full control and transparency into what’s being bought, all the economics and the metrics, and they own the research.
Planning, buying and measurement tools integrated into programmatic software enable optimization almost at the push of a button. Marketers get a real view of the inventory and audience to ensure they’re on target before buying, not after. Additional tools – either built-in or add-in – ensure brand safety, measure viewability and campaign effectiveness, and ad ratings across every screen.
Multi-touch attribution, a new tool to help marketers measure ROI across screens and platforms online, is integrated into One by AOL. It uses a machine-learning algorithm to look at thousands of variables before accurately assigning credit across every online and offline touch-point on the target consumer’s path to purchase.
Leanne Gibson, head of Ad Products and Business Operations for AOL Canada, says, “Data really is the new currency. Data management, data targeting, data-driven optimization, audience analytics and attribution modeling are important. Data really is the thread if you think of the consumer journey. Consumers are complicated and if a marketer wants to follow the path to purchase, what is really consistent in that path is data, the one thread they want to follow and understand.”
The other themes that Gibson is seeing in the industry this year is how important transparency and safety are to brands and, of course, innovation.
“Innovation is always at the forefront of marketing priorities but with programmatic, it’s really about transforming the consumer strings in realtime, powered by data and analytics, predictive optimization – all with continual application of learning during a campaign cycle across all screens, all channels.”
Gibson adds, “This industry is still evolving. There’s going to be a lot of growth. I don’t want to say we’re in the infancy but there’s a lot of learning still to come in the programmatic space and no one has quite figured it all out yet.”