Debunked: Four issues with programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is coming at us fast.

It’s already the de facto method of buying and selling ads online, the world of print media is starting to adopt it, and it’s entering traditional methods of trading out-of-home advertising spaces too. Even the direct mail industry is experimenting with it.

The future of ad buying is going to be dominated by programmatic. But many marketers just don’t understand it.

But suffering from an overuse of jargon within the industry, a general complexity surrounding the subject, and limited understanding of how programmatic actually works, it’s not hard to see why many marketers take a step back.

There are issues with programmatic, true. But these issues are less to do with the system of programmatic advertising, and more to do with people’s perceptions of it.

As part of the ADBL Dot Native’s masterclass in programmatic advertising, Trevor Miranda, lead trainer at programmatic specialists MediaMath, explains what he considers the biggest issues with programmatic advertising, and why in truth, they aren’t really issues.


Programmatic issue one: It lacks transparency

“Ad networks were generally known for their lack of transparency, and it was from that lack of transparency that ad exchanges were born,” Trevor explains. Here, Trevor cites two prominent examples – tracking where an advert has served, and the cost of serving it.

“Some exchanges do mask URLs. However, a lot of exchanges show actual URLs for where the ad will serve or has served.

“Another issue with transparency is the amount of fees that can add up when buying programmatically… It’s not only important to know what platform costs you have, but what costs are associated with any data providers you use, any private marketplace deals you may run and any other service that could incur a fee.”

While many perceive a lack of transparency, often that is no longer the case. And if the issue is that an exchange is not transparent enough for you, find one that is.

Programmatic issue two: Low-quality inventory

Agreeing to pay for adverts without seeing where they will be displayed can be fearsome for many. Even more so if you have the perceived issue of programmatic being associated with low quality ad spaces.

“While this may have been true at one point in time, more and more publishers are selling premium inventory programmatically,” says Trevor.

“The rise of private marketplace direct and automated guaranteed deals has allowed publishers to sell some of their more premium inventory in an automated fashion through technological exchanges.

“In essence, buying premium inventory is becoming more and more like buying and selling products via an online retailer.”

Programmatic issue three: It’s just for lower-funnel conversions

According to Trevor, programmatic is often an underused tool that has a great deal more potential for marketers.

“Most people associate programmatic with messaging to consumers who have already expressed interest in a product or brand, through retargeting.

“However, we find that in practice, there is so much potential in exploring the other aspects of the funnel – all the way to the top, with branding.

“Programmatic can tie together every single touchpoint across your journey – while also assigning specific measurements to each as consumers journey down the funnel.”

Programmatic issue four: It’s just for display

While many incorrectly see programmatic as solely for display advertising, according to Trevor it’s set to revolutionise the way we market.

“Oddly enough, one of the very first ‘programmatic’ forms of marketing could be considered to be search engine marketing – wherein marketers bid on specific keywords to be associated with paid search results.

“This model later transitioned naturally to the world of display advertising, as ad banners were easy to disseminate across multiple publishers all at the same time.

“But as we see standardisation of technology across screens, we see that other formats, screens and channels also adapt well to automation: video, mobile, and social. As technology improves our ability to execute these types of campaigns at scale, so does our ability to optimise these interactions in real time.Trevor Miranda explains the biggest issues with programmatic advertising, and why they're not really issues

“Programmatic is not just for display—we will see it grow exponentially into all areas of marketing.”

You can complete the ADBL Dot Native masterclass in programmatic advertising for free and prove it with a free badge for your LinkedIn profile. Claim your free seven days access to Dot Native (no credit or debit cards needed).


Stephanie Khan

Posted February 17, 2016