Two months after jumping into the programmatic video world, I had a revelation.
It's this: there is no safe place to hide if you want to be an effective provider of advertising software – and that's exactly the way it should be. When it's done right, programmatic buying is an exercise in total accountability. Fees are fully transparent, so there are no padded margins. Advertisers are in control over where an ad runs, so there is no bundling of inventory. Finally and most powerfully, marketers can see real-time data on whether they are hitting their goals, so you are accountable every day.
To thrive in this environment, you must constantly innovate and excel at educating already-savvy clients on what works. This requires a different way of approaching things – you have to step outside your comfort zone (I'm told that is where the magic happens), especially if you come from a traditional media background.
I've worked in video, technology, media and branding for more than a decade. In that time, my focus has always been to try to improve the way digital delivers for advertisers. In many ways, this is no different – but automated buying sure is changing what it looks like.
Programmatic buying is now transforming advertising at a relentless pace. It's also quickly becoming a victim of its own success, attracting bucket-loads of misinformed commentary. For many, it simply means automation of the media buying process, but its potential is so much more.
There are many benefits to programmatic – the removal of the manual buying process, the supply of data to inform strategic decisions, a single platform to harmonise creative and media strategy, and the ability to target spend and pricing right down to the micro-transaction level. It's bigger than streamlining buying or reducing waste. It's about customising your message to every viewer based on who they are or where they live, making advertising more relevant and less intrusive.
After moving to TubeMogul from NewsLifeMedia, I met dozens of programmatic traders and asked basic questions. What do they care about? What is working and what needs to be improved? I was surprised by the diversity of their answers; there is no simple roadmap anymore – everything is custom, and strategy is different for every brand.
I anticipate we will see more sophistication and maturity in the creation of specific campaign objectives over the next few years. For example, a savvy digital video campaign could include a mix of guaranteed and non-guaranteed impressions, a blend of video channels (desktop, mobile, in-banner, social, TV), a range of duration lengths (such as15 second, 30 second, and long-form video ads), different creative for each city and much more.
Despite all of these changes, the fundamental ambition for the brand and its agency partner is the same as it has always been: get the right ad to the right person at the right time (at the right price). What's different is that programmatic buying is making this more of a reality than it ever has been.