It’s one of the key buzzwords in digital marketing of 2014, but when the Association of National Advertisers surveyed 153 marketers earlier this year, only 26% said they knew what programmatic buying was and had actually used it. With programmatic buying looking to take off, education on its capabilities and restrictions is key to getting on board. Here we take a look at some of the common misconceptions around programmatic advertising.
SO WHAT IS PROGRAMMATIC ADVERTISING?
Programmatic simply means automated. While current digital marketing practices can fall under the programmatic umbrella, basically put, programmatic advertising just means any ad purchase that’s processed through a machine rather than a human. Think of it like the change from phoning up a hotel reception or travel agent to book a hotel room, now you can reserve your space without another human getting involved; programmatic buying does the same thing for digital advertising. By using technology to plan and purchase media you can remove a lot of guesswork and target the right person with the right message at exactly the right time.
PROGRAMMATIC BUYING IS THE SAME REAL-TIME BIDDING
One, very common, misconception about programmatic advertising is that it is the same thing as real-time bidding. While real-time bidding does fall under the programmatic heading, it’s like the first generation version. Programmatic advertising is helping quality publishers to grow, despite fears that its use will simply push prices down. As a process, it’s working so well that television and movies delivered over the internet are moving towards programmatic buying, with Hulu and ABC offering programmatic buying solutions to advertisers. This isn’t a bottom-dollar approach, and will allow greater control over what’s served where than real-time bidding.
IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE
Due to its very nature, programmatic advertising can help reduce costs, despite the multiple technical vendors required to enable targeting and/or verification, all of whom will require payment. By cutting out complex tasks, reducing the requirement for people to be involved, costs can actually be cut, leaving you more money to spend on your campaigns. While it’s unlikely that 100% of all digital advertising will ever be served via programmatic buying, simply because of the need for seasonal events that will require different approaches, in the future it’s expected that the majority of everyday advertising will.
FRAUDULENT PUBLISHERS ARE EVERYWHERE
Fraudulent serving of ads is an on-going problem within the digital advertising industry. It’s become enough of an issue that the Internet Advertising Bureau, working with larger advertisers, redefined industry standards to help tackle the problem. While the majority of fraudulent publishers do use programmatic advertising practices to help disguise their activities, the digital-ad industry is working hard to overcoming the problem and, in the meantime, quality publishers are seeing a rise in purchases, including through programmatic buying techniques.
PREMIUM PUBLISHERS ARE NOT EMBRACING PROGRAMMATIC PURCHASING
It may be a slow trickle, but more premium publishers are looking at and starting to embrace programmatic techniques. Large-scale publishers, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have set private ad exchanges as a way to test the waters. Online television and movie subscription site, Hulu, has also started a private ad exchange, offering programmatic buying to advertisers. Private deals are becoming a little more common, allowing advertisers to purchase inventory like home-page takeovers for a guaranteed number of impressions, all while at a fixed price.