The Tao Of Gary Milner

The Lenovo digital marketing chief made a strong case against open RTB during his opening keynote at the Programmatic Insider Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. Actually, Milner said, “I hate the word RTB.”

The reason, he said, is “because real-time bidding drives you down a path of auction-based media-buying.”

From Milner’s POV, the real value of programmatic media is the ability to use software and data about users and media to find better and more cost efficient ways of reaching the consumer.

He also cast aspersions at the concept that programmatic is “remnant” inventory, noting that when Lenovo uses programmatic media, it is buying “the user,” not the media they happen to be on when a programmatic media impression is served to them.



Still unsure? Milner said that Lenovo did some A/B tests of its programmatic buys vs. direct “premium” buys with publishers, which concluded: “We found that the programmatic inventory to outperform in most instances the premium inventory.”

That said, Milner said Lenovo approaches programmatic as part of a greater whole -- a Taoist whole.

“You’ve got this Yin/Yang that is kind of fundamental,” Milner said, outlining the way the two divergent approaches work together.

Basically, he said Lenovo divides its media into two strategies: one called “Designed Media,” which means working with big publishers to develop content that is unique to Lenovo’s marketing objectives; the second is conventional media-buying including both programmatic and publisher direct negotiations.

“We build content with them. It’s not just about buying media,” Milner explained, adding that the content created in the Designed Media component can be “pushed out into programmatic.”

The thing he really likes about the approach is that Lenovo is a technology company that can use data and technology to test which components work the best.

While he didn’t go so far as to predict that most of the procurement part of the media process would become programmatic, Milner said it was really up to publishers to decide, more than brands and agencies.

“It’s as much in the case of the publisher making that change as anything else,” he said.

This article initially appeared as a "Show Daily" post during day one -- Monday, March 23 -- of the 2015 Programmatic Insider Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. The event continues through March 25 and can be followed live here.

3 comments about "The Tao Of Gary Milner".
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  1. Joel Ownby from R/GA, March 24, 2015 at 11:53 a.m.

    Yes, the real value of programmatic is it's targeting capability (1st party data, 3rd party data, internal DSP data, modeling, etc.) but it is still auction based. RTB is referring to part of the method of execution, has nothing to do with targeting, and is not a term used to refer to programmatic as a whole.

    Additionally, programmatic should always out perform premium buys when measuring on DR or addressable KPIs. Premium buys and your big ticket partnerships should be measured on brand and demand generation KPIs (brand lift, etc.) similar other forms of traditional media through executed brand studies. Comparing premium buys and programmatic is apples to oranges.

  2. Jason Jedlinski from Twelvefold Media, March 24, 2015 at 7:38 p.m.

    Re: buying 'users' versus 'content' -- It's possible to efficiently reach the right consumers while still being mindful of the environment they're in. It shouldn't have to be an either/or decision when buying programmatically. We built our SPECTRUM platform to solve that challenge, and to reach ideal consumers at scale, when they're in the mindset to hear a marketer's message.

  3. Gary milner from The Simpler Way, March 25, 2015 at 11:19 a.m.

    The point in my presentation was two things :
    1/ Buying programmatically is buying through a software platform and can be private fixed price inventory OR exchange based inventory and we have ran both while buying audiences.
    2/ We have ran exchange and premium private exchange buys and exchange has outperformed premium at the brand level even, if you are buying the right audience.

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