‘Marketers can see the promised land of precise targeting but media world is standing in our way’

Programmatic buying essential guide

Media owners and agencies were the subject of a rallying call to action last week: “Marketers can see the Promised Land but how do we get there?”

The question come plea came from Dominic Grounsell, sales and marketing director at More Th>n. Speaking during a session hosted by The Marketing Society on global trends at The Festival of Marketing last week, Grounsell told delegates that the pace of innovation in targeting tools needed speeding up: “Marketers are taking control of data. You [media owners and agencies] need to come with us and not stand in our way”, he said.

Speaking to Marketing Week after his presentation, Grounsell explained his frustration. “ For years as an industry we’ve hidden behind the maxim that ‘I know 50% of my marketing is working I just don’t know which 50%’ – that’s frankly embarrassing for an industry that calls itself a profession.

“We have always wanted to be in a position where we know the ads are going to the right people but we have never been able to do it – some of the reason for that is the channels we have been using, some of it because of the channels we have been using, some of it is because of the data we have had in the past or the lack of it and some of it is because frankly as marketers we have relied on third parties and agencies to tell us what was happening in the market and give us a view of performance

……”We’re in a place where we want to start to drive a more sophisticated view of targeting and were fining challenges in doing that because the capabilities to do that do not exist right now.”

Programmatic, or at least the promise of programmatic trading is a particular cause of concern, Grounsell adds. Programmatic – the automated buying of online ads according to the audience they reach rather than the sites they appear on – is on the increase. Spend grew by 61.6% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2014, according to Standard Media Index (SMI). This compares to a 2.7% decline in traditional display advertising bought directly from media owners.

Despite the surge and notable multinationals such as Mondelez demonstrating faith in the practice, there remains a lot of unanswered questions, he added.

“There’s a lot of myths and legends and promises in the new world of programmatic but what we’re finding is when you scratch the surface – all that glitters is not necessarily gold”

“There’s a lot of myths and legends and promises in the new world of programmatic but what we’re finding is when you scratch the surface – all that glitters is not necessarily gold. It’s about innovating but it’s also about being honest and managing expectations and what is actually possible versus what’s promised.”

Want to know more about programmatic? Attend Marketing Week and Econsultancy’s “Get with the Programmtic” event in association with AppNexus on 4 December. Go to marketing week.co.uk/programmatic for more details.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here