Marketers need to stop blaming providers and finally get their heads around programmatic

Advertisers are wrong to blame their lack of understanding about programmatic trading on providers and need to start getting their heads around the discipline as online effectiveness increasingly climbs the agenda.

Seb Joseph

You know it’s important and that everyone is talking about it but programmatic trading – or the process of executing media buys in real-time in an automated fashion through digital platforms – is still a mystery to many. Over a third of respondents to a recent ISBA survey are unaware of what proportion of their own online campaigns involve real-time advertising (RTA) while just over a third admit to having a ‘positive perception’ of RTA and programmatic trading.

Clearly providers and vendors need to temper the distrust brewing amongst advertisers and do more to prove that programmatic trading can be safe, transparent and effective. But marketers themselves are at fault for not pushing harder to adopt the discipline and laying the blame at the door of their marketing services providers.

Marketers often refer to their media agencies when asked about programmatic as if it’s something they feel they do not need to worry about. While they know they know they need it, many marketers are flummoxed by what it actually is. It paints a worrying picture for campaigns running amid the clamour for tighter targeting and ad fraud concerns.

Mercedes-Benz felt the impact of this after it was revealed it had paid for ads impressions that were fraudulently generated.

The whole point of programmatic is about beating the hell out the rate card and driving efficiencies. And marketers need to get better at understanding its role within the mix or risk losing touch with their rivals. Procter & Gamble and Unilever are building their own trading desks to facilitate the shift while Mondelez and Nissan are forging closer links to vendors such as Tubemogul. gain more control over where ads are placed and enhance brand safety.

The level of transparency around automated trading varies among programmatic offerings and is an area marketers should be looking to control. It is a problem recognised by ISBA, which has partnered with real time advertising experts Infectious Media to create a best practice guide on programmatic for marketers.

Persuading an established industry to make this paradigm shift isn’t easy but there are encouraging signs for the future. Programmatic accounts for 28 per cent of UK digital display ad sales, around £500m, and is predicted to account for nearly half in 2014, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau first ever report on the size of the UK programmatic ad market.

This year will be one of progress, in which marketers will be pressured to think deeper about programmatic and make it a key part of their media plans. What will be really interesting to see is whether they continue to trust agencies and vendors to  develop their strategies or are more willing to take full ownership. Those that do, will be the ones to navigate the real-time programmatic landscape much more smarter.

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