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The Road to Programmatic

Programmatic advertising continues to be at the centre of discussions and events across the advertising industry. From Advertising Week in London and Interact in Berlin to the Festival of Creativity in Cannes, it has never been far from the headlines. With strong growth of 70.5% in 2014 to a value of €3.65bn this is no surprise.  Programmatic has risen from being delegated by client-side marketers to the specialist media traders working on their advertising, to having a central role in every online brand strategy.

It should also be noted that investment in programmatic is set to continue to increase significantly with over 90% of all stakeholders surveyed in the IAB Europe Attitudes towards Programmatic Advertising research citing an increase in investment or revenue over the next 12 months. Indeed, 4 in 10 expect an increase of more than 31%.

However, the transition or ‘road to programmatic’ is not without its challenges. Programmatic is still inherently complex for many, as the digital advertising world is far more fragmented than search or social. The move from buying media to buying audience is a conceptual shift and the scale and speed of data and transactions involved can be mind-boggling. Capitalising on the opportunity to engage a potential consumer, before they declare intent and where and when it is relevant to do so, requires advertisers to rethink the way they use digital advertising and for most that requires a rethink of the operational model.

Whilst advertisers, agencies and publishers alike are making significant investments in programmatic technology, assets and human capital there is still much learning, education and testing to be done, and an approach which involves strategic, revenue and operational goals will be key. Together with our members we published the Road to Programmatic White Paper which aims to help with this education and outlines some key areas for consideration.

Getting to grips with the various models being executed in the industry all requiring different levels of expertise and involvement required of the different stakeholders for each approach is the first step on the road to programmatic. A fundamental understanding of the target audience and how to use audience data with programmatic tools to develop successful strategies, be they with either brand or performance objectives is also key. As we well know, both companies and consumers benefit when relevant advertising and content is delivered at the right time, in the right place and to the right person. Ultimately the real value of programmatic is reached when it enables insight, collaboration and results and serves as a strategic tool for the future.

Concretely, though, what are the check boxes that need to be ticked for a smoother transition to programmatic? We’d say they revolve around the following key aspects we chose to include in the white paper mentioned above:

  • Decision tree to evaluate whether programmatic is suited to your business and which operational model is appropriate?
  • Operational models to outline how each model works and which combination may be the most appropriate fit for your business
  • Toolkit selection to understand which partners are appropriate for your business
  • Inventory and sourcing methods to consider the various types of media inventory available and how they can be accessed programmatically
  • Data to understand where data comes from, how it is being used and what issues this raises for those considering programmatic models.
  • Other strategic considerations such as quality, viewability and programmatic mobile and video

Helping elevate understanding in the industry is an ongoing process which generates and encompasses riveting materials, such as the recently launched Programmatic library comprised of buy-side and sell-side case studies, an invaluable repository of practical applications of programmatic advertising.

About the author

Marie-Clare Puffettt | IAB Europe

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