Ever since the late 1980s and an iconic TV series called “Max Headroom“, we’ve been waiting for this. In the series, set “20 minutes into the future”, TV advertising was sold through the equivalent of a stock market, with advertising costs rising or falling based on ratings (and the traders’ perceptions thereof). Although the trading at the time was by way of a stock market populated by shouting, clamoring human beings, it was only a small step to see that process translated into electronic trading.
Finally, 27 years and 20 minutes later, the future has arrived (if not yet for TV buying, then certainly for web-based advertising).
Google brought us part of the way into this retro future, with its computerized bidding algorithms for search advertising. In recent times, we’ve seen the rise of an automation-driven discipline typically called programmatic marketing.
So what exactly is programmatic marketing?
Wikipedia has an opinion, of course.
“In digital marketing, programmatic marketing campaigns are automatically triggered by any type of event and deployed according to a set of rules applied by software and algorithms. Human skills are still needed in programmatic campaigns as the campaigns and rules are planned beforehand and established by marketers.
The most common forms of programmatic marketing on digital channels are:
- Programmatic buying via RTB and ad exchanges
- Programmatic site retargeting
- Shopping cart abandonment email campaigns
- Dynamic creative optimization (DCO)
- Product recommendation”
And AdWeek has put together a useful explanatory document entitled “Programmatic Buying For Dummies“.
If it helps, just think of programmatic marketing as robots taking over media buying [NB For all those programmatic sales androids reading this, check your semantic definitions of the word “humor”]
Killer Robots? What Killer Robots?
Programmatic marketing has already gained traction in the marketing arena, but its merits aren’t widely grasped. A survey conducted by the US Association of National Advertisers and Forrester shows that marketers still have a relatively poor understanding of programmatic marketing and its function.
The survey found that:
- 29% of surveyed marketers had heard of programmatic marketing but didn’t have a clear understanding of it
- 26% said they understand the concept but need to learn more about how to apply it to campaigns; and
- 12% were completely unaware of programmatic buying
We’re not going to pretend that programmatic marketing is going to magically become all-powerful in 2015, but we expect the hype to soar.
Devote some time to learning about programmatic marketing, its merits and its weaknesses. You’ll then be in a much better position to consider its suitability for your business when the inevitable sales forces (or the robots) come calling.