I’ve been immersed in programmatic media for pretty much my professional career. Whether in advertising, in-game ads, search, or other areas, I’ve spent a lot of time automating and implementing [technological] pipes into the advertising industry.
I am becoming more bullish than ever on the overall idea of programmatic media. Let me test out a few proof statements with you and comment below with your thoughts.
1. When technological progress is not about the technology, it gets adopted by the masses. From 2008-2012, so much of the conversation was about the features of every DSP, DMP, Exchange, Workflow and other solutions within the programmatic media industry. One day we’d hear that one DSP was better than another because of a feature but 30 days later, it would change. I feel like today, we’re not focused on those respective features any longer… we’re focused on the overall business and vision of the companies because we know that the features already exist within them. I feel like the “Cold War” of DSP’s is over and now we’re into the “business building” phase.
2. Innovation is happening further from the center.
Again, from 2008-2012, almost every company in the programmatic space was centered around building bidders and pipes… for good reason. Now that we’ve saturated that specific part of the programmatic stack, we’re now seeing innovation occur further away from the bidder. Companies like Bionic, Centro, and others are helping marketers purchase programmatically but not necessarily highlighting the programmatic execution. The execution of programmatic does not matter to most, even though it’s occurring in the background.
Also of note here are the programmatic-DNA companies popping up. Pre-programmatic-DNA companies were technology organizations that had to pivot and add programmatic technologies to their offering or risk being disrupted (i.e. ValueClick). Now we’re seeing pure programmatic-DNA companies who are operating from the ground up, completely programmatically and recognizing efficiency and effectiveness gains.
3. Open Innovation in Programmatic
More often than not, the first industry constituents to solve a problem are private companies with closed ecosystems. We’ve seen at least one example of the evolution of this into an open ecosystem now with the emergence of RTBKit, a github based project that allows anyone to download the infrastructure of a bidder, the central tool to purchasing impressions in a world of real-time media.
4. 5-20% of Paid [Digital] Media
Agencies and their respective holding companies are talking about how they expect to see their programmatic spend grow to 5-20% of their overall paid digital media. I believe that this number is low, especially on the lower-side of this number. I believe that vendors are using programmatic ways of procuring media and most agencies are not aware of this… so realistically, the number will be higher. It will be telling if/when AppNexus goes public, to see the amount of gross dollars moving thru their exchange as it’ll help us understand the total dollar volume of this industry.
5. Programmatic Media is Designed for Accountability
Gone are the days of Wannamaker’s famous quote. If you are still using the above quote to defend your media plan, then you might as well start packing up your agency or CMO-job. Programmatic media is designed to be accountable from the ground up, fully measured and every opportunity to be attributed. With Chief Marketing Officer’s having to justify every $1 they invest in media in the market, they need to purchase accountable media. Note, I am not saying in any way that creativity is going away, I’m purely saying that the container for programmatic media is completely accountable so this is a win-win for the ecosystem.
Lastly, I’m bullish on programmatic media because we’re going outside of media for the programmatic conversation. Uber, airbnb, eBay, Zurvu, and many other platforms are programmatic. In some of the investment circles that I’m in, we’re discussing the businesses outside of advertising that are being transformed programmatically. This, at least to me, is very exciting.