In the 20-year-old-plus search and display digital media industry today, video has raised all boats. Yet mobile promises the most disruption, new customer experiences and deeper engagement. And in mobile's rise to the top, innovation will fall to the "digital dogs" to lead the advertising industry television "fat cats" in dollars, mindshare and attention.
A recent trend has prompted me to preemptively say I was wrong about something. I have been claiming that while most of the industry buzz the past 18 months has been about sales channel conflict with publishers, the larger drama is among the agency trading desks set up by the major holding companies -- some partly to take advantage of client fee "double dipping" as well as to leverage specific skill sets and platforms that provide a very different operational process and client benefit for programmatic buying vs. traditional IO-based buying.
Big data's potential for programmatic advertising, if utilized in milliseconds, will allow brand advertisers to act in the moment (real-time): a place where consumers are more likely to view advertising as content marketing. The aim of marketing, after all, is to make advertising (selling) superfluous. This goal is to avoid one-way interruptions, but there is now a way to deliver useful content at precisely the moment a buyer needs it.
We've all seen it: the rampant self-identification and re-identification that goes on in the programmatic marketplace. A company is a DSP, SSP or DMP one day, and a combination of a couple, or all, ad tech categories the next. There's a desire to be all things to all buyers -- but therein lies the risk that we lose identity and opportunity in the process.
Two hundred milliseconds. Two hundred thousandths of a second. The equivalent of a slow snap of your fingers. Less than the length of a 16th note played on a piano. Digital ads are bid, bought, sold, delivered and seen in this exceptionally brief time span. The real-time trafficking process for ad units sold programmatically is incredibly complex, yet it takes place in the blink of an eye.
Programmatic advertising involves a lot of advanced technology and artificial intelligence. To place a display ad in front of the exact right user at the exact right moment requires predictive modeling, adaptive control, portfolio optimization, and a long list of other technical components. It's no wonder, then, that we're always talking about the brilliant technology and artificial intelligence at work in programmatic campaigns. But while all the attention to the technology may be justified, it's also important to focus on the role of people in creating and adjusting the models.
Automation is the name of the game. For the marketing industry, automated technology has been illuminated through the recent rise of programmatic buying and RTB technology. As a result, everyone in the ecosystem -- from marketers to ad agencies, publishers and ad tech companies -- has experienced massive shifts in their products, whom they hire, and how they buy media, value an impression, and reach an audience. While RTB technologies and programmatic buying continue to fuel the momentum behind marketing automation, common themes are being called into question.
Programmatic now delivers more than 33% of financial ads, according to the Journal of Financial Adverting and Marketing. In addition, more than half of financial brands will spend ad budgets through RTB and programmatic for both branding and direct marketing campaigns. Expect three trends in financial advertising as this segment begins to spend well over half of its ad dollars via RTB and programmatic: 1.) Video, video and more video 2.) Private exchanges with huge discounts for volume 3.) Viewability and cost-per-view (CPV) like Undertone and others are pushing to scale premium.
While programmatic has quickly become an important term in many marketers' digital arsenals, widespread adoption still faces challenges. For one, the concept still perplexes some, with a recent poll showing only 23% of marketers understand programmatic buying and use it to execute campaigns. One of the largest hurdles inhibiting wider adoption is digital media's movement toward a vertical-focused marketplace. For programmatic technology to become ubiquitous within marketing strategies, it must deal with this movement.
Jack Kerouac said, "The road is life!" Now programmatic is the life of digital media enthusiasts, and the travel industry is embracing it. Kerouac often asked, "What's in store for me in the direction I do not take?" In travel, the answer is that publishers, agencies and clients who do not embrace programmatic are getting left behind.