At a Think LA/IAB sponsored conference on programmatic began at the downtown Biltmore Hotel this morning, Joe Laszlo, the IAB's vice president of industry initiatives, asked a packed ballroom of 600 marketing and advertising pros how many of them considered themselves experts on the subject.
A surprisingly small number of hands were raised. But most of the crowd self-identified as just moderately knowledgeable on all things programmatic, and some worse off than that.
Indeed, one of the first speakers, Gayle Smilanich, the associate director of media at Kellogg’s, said that her family frowns when they hear she’s giving another talk about what they refer to as “problematic media.” Out of the mouths of babes. . .
That’s the deal with programmatic. Many people don’t get it. The consulting firm PwC was hired by the IAB to canvass the impact of programmatic buying and reported back that the statistic was hard to come by because there’s no clear definition of what it is.
Or they don’t like it. And, as for fearing what you don’t know, one of the day’s topics is to address the internal friction that programmatic represents in media workplace.
Three years ago, Laszlo said, attempting to make a Hollywood analogy, the ad business thought of programmatic like an episode of “Teminator”--flash to the movie poster on the ballroom screen--as in “My career is going to be terminated,” he said. What he would hope for, he continued was a happier vision of the ad future--flash to a “Wally-E” poster--in which programmatic is a “cuddly robot, not an evil robot.”
What is happening and what might be happening soon is a fascinating process. Smilanich pointed out, for example, that at Kellogg’s, “historically, we would have one message” for all forms of media. But with programmatic buying better identifying places to advertise, and the people to advertise to, “Now our brands don’t have to make tradeoffs” and the messaging changes.
So, she suggested, while programmatic buying would seem to be a way to eliminate staff by automating the buying, “the unintended consequence is that we may be spending more money on the creative side” devising ad strategies and concepts that work on some platforms better than others.
“We have a lot more screens to care about,” she said, and she predicted in the next year or so, programmatic’s biggest impact, at Kellogg’s at least, will be a bigger emphasis on paying attention to the creative aspects of ad strategy.
Weirdly, Laszlo, suggested, maybe programmatic is taking advertising down to the bare studs, where now the idea of media planning and creative will become as close as they should have been all along.
In any event, that perfect working model isn’t there yet. As Smilanich pointed out, while Kellogg’s has been in the programmatic game for the last five years--making them pioneers of sorts--it’s still learning what’s going on with every campaign. “Our goal is for our next baby to crawl, walk and run better than the baby that was born before it,” she said, and added the programmatic business is still at the crawl stage. But maybe, it’s not so problematic anymore.