“Programmatic has got the worst rap of them all," said Luma Partners' Gayle Meyers. Programmatic executives understand the concern. Clients say they want a better user experience, with verifiable data and value.
"We want to help marketers increase the quality of engagement with consumers," said Amnet's Art Muldoon. “There are opportunities to track and measure all aspects of a campaign."
He suggested taking advantage of the hyperfragmentation of the market to reach an audience at scale, “We can run an audit and provide some behavioral and psychographic insights. Programmatic is powerful to do that," added Muldoon. "The question is,how do we filter for quality? Measure engagement. That is the mission."
However, some of the concern about brand safety is exposing lower-quality shops. "This is like when I opened an ETrade account and thought I could do a better job than Morgan Stanley," said Xaxis' Matthew Sweeney. Clients are putting their ads in situations that require more caution and analysis. For instance, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chase Bank is running a massive amount of ads on TrueView, Sweeney said. "We would never do that. It feels like newer [agencies] and some companies took it in-house, not knowing how difficult it is to stay ahead of [content publishers]."
"It scares me that brands are trying to do it themselves,” noted The Trade Desk's Alex Schneider. The biggest change is the hunger for control. "Clients want to control everything," he said -- but they need to be "wary of the easy button."
What's ironic is that programmatic has one of the most transparent structures within the industry, said Accuen's Megan Pagliuca, Agencies monitor inventory format, ad size, mobile or Web, among other factors. They have results for every category impression ever served. There isn't this level of visibility when just giving tags to publishers, she pointed out.
Looking forward, the 4As Programmatic Council will deliver a white paper that essentially examines the value of effectiveness, not just efficiency. "There is a bulk of brands focused on cost savings and not as much on quality," Pagliuca said.