Programmatic trading: a new era for the digital advertising industry

TRP: Is this technology the future for the digital advertising industry?

PO: It will be part of the future for digital advertising. Innovation, good technology, audience data and quality content are key to developing the digital advertising industry. As consumers are constantly looking for ways to increase their buying power, more than ever advertisers need to be cleverer in how they communicate.

With a world of knowledge at their fingertips consumers are continually becoming more efficient and clued up, so reducing the time it takes them to find a brand's product/service will only be achieved through further technological advancements and creative thinking on how to use this technology to improve desired results

TRP: How do you think this platform will develop over the next few years?

PO: I see more of advertising budgets being spent on direct response objectives, but now brand objectives too. For example, buyers will look to purchase larger formats, rich media, video inventory across all devices, specifically mobile (which has been a larger contributor to programmatic growth). As a result, brand measurement will increase with a focus on reach against demographics and/or lift in brand awareness.

Also, there is a greater focus to purchase based on quality content and viewability across both video and display. Furthermore, I think the use of new datasets will become more interesting as brands are now leveraging their CRM data beyond email campaigns and into programmatic display capabilities including measurement of ROAS. Overall, more capabilities are becoming a reality within programmatic buying and these capabilities are getting closer to in-house solutions for Brand Trading Desks.

TRP: What are the main challenges associated with programmatic trading? And how can agencies overcome these challenges?

PO: Programmatic buying is by no means a perfect solution and there are challenges associated with it. Automated buying always brings up the issue of brand control and viewabilty – how do you stop your ad sitting next to an inappropriate article or how do you know if your ad even has the opportunity to be seen? These are concerns that have sat with purchasers of display and video inventory for some time so it is not exclusive to programmatic buying. Uncertainty can be reduced, however, with various steps that include testing new technology, careful planning, and accurate reporting supported by clear objectives.

TRP: How are ad impressions from programmatic trading measured? How are brands ensuring that their advertising spend is not wasted?

PO: Programmatic ad campaigns have been traditionally measured by metrics such as CPA (cost per action), CPC (cost per click) and CTR (click through rates), although I don't agree with the last two metrics since most people online do not click on display/video ads.

For those advertisers who are running campaigns with brand objectives they will look at reach among their target audience, change in brand awareness, intent and consideration which can be validated by third-party reports. Also, brand safety metrics can be measured which includes ads served within appropriate content or approved sites along with viewability for both video and display.

TRP: How is programmatic trading addressing the industry concerns about digital ad viewability?

PO: Media owners, agencies, and trade bodies such as the IAB are continuously educating the market on viewable impressions. There are many helpful guidelines and workshops to help educate and address some concerns. Also new technology has been developed over the years to allow advertisers, agencies and media owners to measure and action viewability across any given programmatic campaign and web property for both video and display. These steps have also started happening for mobile and tablet devices as they continue to drive growth for digital advertising.

Recently, more advertisers are looking for partners to trade with based on viewable display and video ad impressions. From my experience, one in five clients will ask about trading based on viewability. There is more work to do within this topic (i.e. more education, improved actionable insights, consistency in measurement, and so forth), but for programmatic and non-programmatic trading the industry has made progress towards addressing viewability concerns which is a good thing.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.