What’s all the fuss about programmatic ad buying?

Many marketers are sick of hearing the term “programmatic buying” by now, but it’s still a hot topic in the industry. Programmatic buying is touted as one the most efficient ways to buy online media, both in terms of cost and time. However, there are questions about its value, as cautioned in this WSJ CMO Today article from June 2014.

Programmatic buying is an automated way to plan, buy and optimize online display ad campaigns. Settings for the campaign are automatically adjusted based on a marketer’s budget and goals.  Real-time-bidding (RTB) is one way to buy ads programmatically, but the term “programmatic buying” encompasses the full spectrum of technologies that allow for campaign automation and optimization.

Some of the benefits of programmatic buying for marketers include:

  • It can be less expensive. Technology will automatically optimize ads based on performance goals set by marketers. The waste is cut out and so is costly manual labor.
  • It’s time-saving. No more hours staring at spreadsheets and manually pulling levers to manage campaign optimization—this is all done through technology.

So where’s the controversy? Well, for one, many marketers still don’t understand what programmatic buying is and why it’s valuable, as reported by CMO Today in March 2014. Some marketers associate the term “programmatic buying” with low-cost, auction-based inventory that means your ads will end up in the worst placements (ad placements are cheaply bought, but never seen). With new technologies emerging every day, programmatic buying is much more than just auction-based RTB. Marketers can now buy guaranteed impressions from specific publishers, and even layer in behavioral or demographic data to target the ideal audience.

Image source: blogs.wsj.com
Image source: blogs.wsj.com

Another challenge is that programmatic buying can leave marketers in the dark about where their ads are placed.  This is a big issue for brands who wish to be associated only with specific websites and publishers (and more importantly, who wish not to be associated with others). The lack of transparency has some brand advertisers wary.

Regardless of the controversy, it’s clear that programmatic buying is top-of-mind for many marketers. Check out some further reading below:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

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