Digital advertising thoughts from the minds at MediaNet

Although the word ‘programmatic’ is now commonplace, there are still many myths surrounding programmatic.  Here’s why you shouldn’t believe all the claims you may hear:

  1. Programmatic equals RTB – The term “RTB” hit mainstream before the word “Programmatic”, and people continue to use the terms Programmatic and RTB interchangeably, while in fact, they are two different things.  Programmatic refers to the automated transactions of the buying and selling of ad space.  While, RTB – standing for Real Time Bidding – refers to the auction-based buying method that can occur within the marketplace.  The confusion may lie in the fact that RTB is automated and therefore, programmatic.  However, automated ad buying including reserved deals can be programmatic, but not take place in an auction environment, therefore, it is not RTB.
  2. Programmatic means bad inventory – It is a common misconception that the programmatic marketplace is only filled with low-quality remnant inventory.  However, this is not the case!  Almost all premium publishers are part of the programmatic ecosystem and have some or all of their ad inventory available.  It is rare these days to find a top publisher who has not gone programmatic.  Some publishers have also established private marketplaces, so that they can put safety restrictions on who can purchase their inventory or limit what type of inventory is available.  For additional security measures, buyers can layer on viewability targeting or brand safety filters, and purchase in private marketplaces so they know whom (and where)  exactly they are buying from.
  3. Programmatic means little to no transparency – Programmatic provides a slew of transparency options.  In fact, as a buyer, you can choose to only buy inventory from publishers who disclose the domain and/or full path URL of where your ads were served. From the publisher’s perspective as well, there is greater transparency.  With the adoption of Deal ID, publishers can be certain about who is buying their ad inventory and what brands are being advertised with full disclosure.  Ad serving analytics have also gotten much more dynamic, with rich insights to placement details. The doors have certainly opened on transparency at a much greater level.
  4. Programmatic will replace humans – The telephone never replaced face to face meetings, and self-checkout counters did not replace cashiers, programmatic will not replace people.  The world of advertising very much requires humans to design and develop ad creative, to launch a campaign, to sign on agreements, and most important of all, it requires us to think on our feet. Creativity is very human in itself, and no automated ad assembly can create something visually crafted by a graphic designer.  Machines can have predictive algorithms, but they cannot replace human emotions or insight.
  5. Programmatic makes every impression the same – While to some degree auction-based buying can help to level the playing field: it gives small brands an equal chance at purchasing ad inventory as the bigger brands, there are still differences in inventory quality.  Not all ad placements or publishers are equal in quality, not all marketplaces have the same inventory available, and not all publishers are 100% programmatic.

There are definitely still nuances within ad technology, and it takes some know-how to navigate.  The good news is, as programmatic grows more common place, more publishers will take part and buyers will equally follow, leading to a healthy ecosystem that will benefit both parties.