That may be true today (who am I to question Mike Shields?), but it probably won’t be for long. Sure, programmatic may have been created with DR in mind, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work for brands. Erin Matts, CMO of Annalect, points to Kellogg’s, a brand reaping the benefits of (and evangelizing) programmatic. She should know: Matts served as global director of Anheuser-Busch InBev and CMO of Glam Media, in addition to her many years with Omnicom.
Matts sees a huge opportunity for brands in programmatic, particularly where data is concerned. “Every brand marketer would admit that they’d love to know more about the audiences they reach and the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, but no one would claim they can 100% accurately account for every single marketing dollar they’ve put out there,” she says. “There is always a degree of uncertainty, even in the highly measurable digital space. The growth and rise of programmatic, and the influence that data can have on marketing efforts, mirrors the rise in popularity and effectiveness of DR-driven digital advertising a few years ago.”
Brand advertisers are slower to adopt programmatic buying, but it took them longer to really embrace digital, period. Although online spending surpassed print in 2012, that increase doesn’t yet reflect the shift in consumer behavior. “It’s still completely out of whack,” Matts observes. “People spend way more time on digital than they do with print. There is still going to be an opportunity for growth. Programmatic and data-based buying will follow that same trajectory.”
As Shields noted, DR led the march into programmatic, and analytics evolved accordingly. Today, the measurement needs of brand advertisers must be met. It’s harder to track and measure success for products that aren’t sold online; metrics like brand lift and purchase intent are challenging to measure in any environment.
Ad tech is catching up to the demand: Annalect in particular has the ability to optimize to several brand metrics within a programmatic environment, a huge benefit to advertisers. “If I’m brand A, and the measure of my success is consumers choosing my brand over brand B; or I want my net promoter brand equity scores to continue to rise; or I want to change consumer opinion regarding my brand - those are things that can be measured in digital. That can be applied as a KPI in a programmatic environment,” says Matts. “
Matts also believes transparency, as it relates to ad spend, makes programmatic more appealing to brand advertisers, even if it is a bit of a double-edged sword. “Some mistakenly viewed programmatic as a way to buy inventory cheaper,” Matts says. “That is not the purpose, nor is it the value proposition of programmatic. It’s the transparency and understanding the value of those impressions vis-à-vis my particular KPI set.”
Matts recognizes that programmatic can be used simply to buy audiences, often with a more transparent and often cost-effective approach. However, the real value comes with layering in data sets that help advertisers better understand how they can achieve their objective, and paying a price in line with those KPIs.
“The advertiser is setting and controlling more of that price for inventory, but they’re also gaining great insights into how those audiences behave and how that can scale in a meaningful way,” Matts says. “Without the scale everything is just a little, cute ‘interesting’ idea. For a lot of brand advertisers, programmatic can help achieve that scale.”