2015: Rethinking Programmatic

angelakinsella-demandBy guest author Angela Kinsella, Demand Media 

Programmatic has had many names – and has taken many shapes in the form of bottom-of-the-funnel and open-exchange real-time bidding (RTB)-based buying. It has been molded, massaged, repurposed, redefined, and retooled by publishers, vendors, advertisers, agencies, data management platforms (DMPs), and demand side platforms (DSPs). In some cases, programmatic has been seen as a bad word – almost worthy of a whisper, a lowered voice, or a closed conference room door.

The ad-tech world was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of new acronyms that signified us losing our jobs – being replaced by machines and “artificial intelligence.” Automation foretold the ad-apocalypse.

Rest assured that none of the above is true. What the last few years have told us is that programmatic will open doors to a new world of media planning in which operations are more streamlined than ever – giving our smartest media buyers and analysts more room to think strategically.

This is what programmatic is. Programmatic is simply the means of execution.

Programmatic is the method by which we transact. It does not mean that the inventory is commoditized, diluted, or any less valuable. It does not mean that we’re racing to the bottom of the funnel toward response initiatives. It means quite the opposite; taking high-touch, high-impact, premium, audience-driven executions and delivering them via the bidding ecosystem.

Programmatic is exciting because it is a vehicle. Used correctly, programmatic can act as a springboard driving more informed, efficient, and turnkey buying. Programmatic is a people-driven process that requires ad operations knowledge, technical expertise, sales, and business strategy. People are far from obsolete.

The smartest minds can navigate the programmatic buying landscape by taking the following steps:

1. Taste Test.

This may seem simple, but one of the biggest challenges surrounding programmatic is a disconnect with what programmatic means and what it can mean for a brand. We begin with an evaluation of the client’s aptitude. Have they done programmatic campaigns before? How do they define programmatic? What worked? What didn’t? How does programmatic fit into their overall digital strategy? What value do they think it brings to their client? How is success measured?

2. Plan Before Executing.

We think before we jump. We start by clarifying roles, reporting, confirming the frequency with which we’ll communicate. As operations become increasingly complex, it is crucial that all team members are on the same page. Taking this a step further, assuming as complex an execution as possible, we would strive to lay out the cast of characters and components, which would be included in the campaign.

This may include looping in the client’s DMP, discussing attribution, audience strategies, viewability, transparency, placements, demand-side platform and server-side platform connectivity, targeting, pricing, and the like. Make sure that you’re aligned and know how exactly how to troubleshoot and optimize.

3. Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.

Working together, we will assess what works and what doesn’t and quickly pivot to address any challenges – or conversely, successes that we may want to maximize. This generally involves a review of the data, conversion lists, optimizations of audience, and any unique client KPIs to make sure that the campaign is being maximized.

Programmatic is about surfacing data and insights and using that information to fuel and enable the buying process. Done right, programmatic is simply the means of execution.


Angela Kinsella serves as director, Business Development at Demand Media. She is responsible for premium programmatic sales, operations, product development and technology assessments for Demand360, a suite of premium programmatic solutions developed by Demand Media, a digital content and media company. In Spring 2014, Kinsella oversaw the launch of Demand360 who’s mission is to connect people with brands, and brands with people by enabling marketers to connect and engage with audiences across platforms and devices. 

demand360-logo* Sponsored content in collaboration with Demand360. Views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect ClickZ’s opinions.

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