Recent articles have declared 2015 as the year that programmatic branding is going to take off. The reality is that it has already -- with a number of brands, publishers and tech providers successfully delivering high-impact formats, expandable units and page skin creatives programmatically across multiple devices. Rich media is increasingly the mechanism of choice: but it’s important to remember we’re still at the start of this journey.
For a year or so, in-stream, pre-roll advertising has pioneered programmatic as a valuable alternative to the traditional network buy, transforming the space to the point where now the majority of spend outside of major broadcasters is delivered programmatically. But the lack of genuine premium supply and the reluctance of some broadcasters to trade programmatically is still restricting spend. And with very limited premium pre-roll video inventory, there is only so much that a brand can achieve.
One traditional route to deliver video within brand campaigns is using traditional rich media networks to deliver large high-impact formats. However, wastage issues and lack of control around the duplication of audiences, stemming from the use of multiple networks and a lack of transparency, mean that many agencies and brands are now turning to programmatic solutions to help deliver a much more efficient campaign.
So what are the next steps for programmatic branding to achieve its potential as an efficient and effective brand solution?
1. A change of habits. Demand already exists -- agencies understand the issues surrounding the current network solutions and are poised to shift budgets into a more targeted, controlled programmatic approach. The key challenge for agencies is going to be migrating planning and spend away from legacy network trading partners. Adopting new habits takes time, but it’s exciting to see it already starting to happen.
2. Fair rewards for publishers. There’s a growing receptiveness among premium publishers to trade high-impact formats through automated platforms -- a major development that is helping to accelerate the supply side of programmatic brand. This progress has been gradual, moved along by a growing market understanding that programmatic doesn’t equate to buying cheaper impressions but means paying the right price for the right impression. To power this further, premium publishers need to be rewarded with a fair price for the inventory they trade programmatically, so they are encouraged to continue to open up more high-quality inventory and audience segments. What’s great to see is publishers’ increasingly concerted investment in developing editorial propositions that attract engaged and high-value audiences -- this also needs to be recognised.
3. The audience experience needs to be put first. This means delivering the right proportion of targeted, high-quality creative executions that are user-initiated, against the more intrusive formats that -- whilst driving awareness and impact in the short term -- run a very real risk of delivering negative brand affinity.
4. The right resources. The right agency trading desk resources are needed to plan, deliver and optimize against this new strand of activity. The ability to work with the right creative and technology partners who offer strong account management and support is essential as agencies look to build and train their internal teams to be able to offer brands a market-leading solution.
5. Measurement that matters. Historically the market has been obsessed with cost per view as a success metric, and whilst most agencies have moved away from this flawed buying model, the cost-per-engaged-user metric is still often used as the main measure of campaign success. As programmatic platforms help to centralise and control brand campaigns, there is now an opportunity to offer a weighted balance of campaign measurement tailored to each client’s campaign goals. The ability to measure verified audiences, viewability, engagement quality and brand uplift alongside a traditional cost-per-engagement metric allows brands to better understand, plan and deliver campaigns that really make a difference. This means the industry can concentrate on producing genuinely entertaining content, exceptional creative executions, and continue to raise the branding bar with confidence.