More excitingly, Frankel and I both believe that 2014 will be the year branding goes real-time. While a few brands had their toes in this water in 2013, marketers are beginning to understand that programmatic techniques and technologies can very effectively drive branding objectives. Frankel says, “I think what will happen is that brand marketers will start to hear from their CFOs -- and from each other -- ‘Wow, programmatic works so well for direct response. Why can't it help us too?’ And it can.”
Brand marketers may have talked a good game about programmatic in 2013, but 2014 will be the year of action. “I wouldn't say revolutionary action,” Frankel cautions, “but it's going to be the year of evolutionary action, where marketers get rewarded for and with healthy business results.”
Marketers will also need to think differently about ad units and targeting. “It will be absolutely crucial for more sophisticated, bigger, deeper creative units to get more programmatic scale so they can play a bigger role in branding,” Frankel affirms. That scale question is huge because there are many richer, larger units available today that are really geared to convey brand stories in an engaging way. While there are myriad opportunities to tell those stories, there's very little scale of these kinds of units through real-time exchanges.
However, in the months ahead, Frankel believes we will see publishers and the exchanges working harder to promote these brand-friendly ad units -- and push them to get greater scale so that companies like his can make them available in the market and deliver those results. The scale is crucial because, let’s face it: the best solutions in the world aren't very helpful if there's no scale, and the infrastructure exists to bring Rising Stars and their ilk to the broader programmatic marketplace.
Frankel does see pre-roll video ads in particular picking up steam in 2014. “I think early programmatic branding in 2014 is going to be heavily driven by pre-roll. It’s starting to get adequate scale already. That’s going to be the first one to break through.” He also believes that some of the other large units that “create brand moments” will gain traction this year. But that's really going to depend on the sell-side agreeing on a few units and moving them out.
Frankel also believes that for brand marketers to embrace programmatic, they’ll have to “cross the divide of belief.” He explains that brand marketers, historically, have made belief-based decisions about the images that relate to their brand. They’ve conducted research that supports those beliefs, but still it's very belief-driven. In contrast, programmatic is very data-driven. “So the question is, how can we bridge that gap?” Frankel asks. “How can we turn brand marketers into marketers who want to have really measurable goals that they read and they support in real time, the way we can in programmatic?”
Frankel also believes in implementing a Nielsen-like “last night’s numbers” for digital. “I think if the industry can somehow figure out how we turn the brand marketer’s attention to last night's numbers into something that they can connect with digital, then programmatic branding will explode.”Overall, Frankel is excited about the opportunities ahead this year, and so am I. “I am very excited about the opportunity to help marketers get more value out of their data,” he concludes. “But I think in 2014 the thing I'm really excited about, is that innovative marketers are going to take some risks. They’ll put their data to work, and stories will emerge in 2014 about what people have done. I see it as a real learning year.” A final, easy prediction is that RocketFuel, data and measurement will drive programmatic BRANDING!