Commentary

The Noisy Programmatic Meeting Room

Who is driving the conversation toward programmatic: Brands, agencies or tech vendors?

The tech vendors may have the most skin in the game, but the chatter is “all over the place,” and “many people are involved in these conversations,” said Paul Rostkowski, president of Varick Media Management, an agency trading desk of MDC Partners.

Rostkowski said he’s seen the conversation be driven by vendors with something new to share, brands that have been involved in programmatic from the beginning, and agencies that have historically led brand clients down new paths.

He was speaking on the “Data, Algorithms And Automation” panel at OMMA Miami on Monday.

“The agencies … are still there,” Rostkowski added. “They are not out of it, but we’re seeing them play a more strategic and smarter role.”

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Rich Johnson, head of programmatic media and strategic partnerships at Conversant, agreed with Rostkowski. He said he's heard of a fear that programmatic is trying to push agencies out of business, but doesn’t think that’s the case.

What Johnson has seen, however, is marketers wanting to own their own tech.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they want to operate it, and [they may still work with] a media agency to do strategy and creative, but they want to own the marketing tech so they can own the data,” Johnson said. This trend was reflected in one of the major themes of 2014: marketers taking programmatic tech in-house.

But just because a brand wants to take tech in-house doesn't mean they can. Johnson said oftentimes, a brand only has a handful of people that have the expertise required to handle a programmatic tech stack without outside help. That's where the agency can still play a role, Johnson said, even if a brand "brings tech in-house."

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