Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The future of advertising: a programmatic-powered ecosystem

Programmatic will rise “like a phoenix from the flames” if the industry adopts the spirit and letter of new privacy laws, according to Tanya Field, Co-Founder of Novatiq.

She says that programmatic’s reputation has been damaged over recent years because of concerns over metrics, middle-men and more. Yet the technology behind it is sound and can thrive in a cookie-less world, should publishers and marketers pivot to a ‘quality over quantity’ strategy.

She is not alone in her optimism. Programmatic has been built from a convenient way of selling surplus inventory into the beast it is today: Zenith predicts that in the USA, Canada, the UK and Denmark it will account for more than 80% of digital media trading this year.

And in recent years, it has transcended from desktop alone to play in new and emerging channels such as TV, audio and out of home, where, traditionally, advertisers are appealing to more than one on one.

Says Helen Miall, Chief Marketing Officer of VIOOH: “Programmatic trading in Out of Home (OOH) is relatively new, but it is likely to be an accelerant to its recovery, enabling the medium to transform and thrive in the digital age. Programmatic means OOH advertising is still able to deliver on one of its biggest benefits – the ability to run hugely impactful ads on premium digital sites – but with increased relevance, flexibility and value.”

The coronavirus has hit hard, but does give the opportunity for a reset in the industry. For Otilia Otlacan, Head of Operations at AAX Media, impact hit hardest in April and May – driven by a dip in ad spending.

She says though that now: “Along with our supply and demand partners, we have a great opportunity to monetize a unique and hard-to-reach audience (ad-blocking users) and the main challenge that we think we’ll face is the phasing out of third-party cookies.”

About time, says Field, who believes that the future lies in a programmatic-powered ecosystem built on anonymous and authenticated users alike. And now is the time to probe the benefits that programmatic can offer, whilst shedding the misconceptions that have increasingly been associated with it.

Life after third-party cookies

She says that the browser and regulatory changes around consumer privacy will make for a better internet for advertisers, publishers and users. In such a scenario the programmatic technology will help give programmatic a new life in that it can provide more personalised messages. “It’s not a personal interaction but if programmatic is done right then it is an individual interaction. And that has to be better than the ‘interruption’ of today.”

Field continues that the loss of third-party tracking cookies as a result of regulatory and browser changes should not interfere with programmatic’s potential, suggesting that “this is the mechanics, methodology and process”. “You change the dynamic a bit but you don’t have to change the methodology, that ability to sell in real time, in a space that is optimised for that user at that time. It really is the maturing of an industry.”

Maturity, too, comes from new channels and integrating them, as Miall concurs. Value, over volume, they all say.

Says Miall: “We’re seeing a lot of success with campaigns that plan with the nuances of each channel in mind. The merits of being able to utilise high impact, premium OOH inventory to create awareness or intrigue whilst also activating the campaign in a smart way using programmatic trading and event-based triggers, can work extremely successfully when optimised with a one-to-one medium such as mobile.

“The ability to analyse and optimise to individual OOH screen level mid-campaign, and see its impact on metrics such as footfall, in-store and online purchases, means that with programmatic, OOH can now truly be considered as both a branding and performance channel.”

For Otlacan, the focus must be on trust and transparency. She says: “What we fear is a continued and possibly increasing confusion regarding user privacy regulations across various territories.”

One of the biggest challenges for publishers is that the majority of advertising spend will continue to flow to the biggest players including Google, Facebook and Amazon. Premium and independent publishers must continue to sell the value of their content, as well as depend on their external data partnerships.

However, perhaps the biggest opportunity for publishers particularly is in how the rules play to their first-party data. By being able to leverage their first-party data and trade it programmatically, they find themselves on the cusp of a new, privacy-compliant and customer-friendly era. For everyone but the middleman, it seems, programmatic technologies will help drive a new era of consumer-centric advertising.