Programmatic: There are no stupid questions

Posted by Guest On February 13, 2017

I first came across the term “programmatic” in 2014, working at Philips global HQ in digital innovation. I shared a conference platform where I talked about hackathons, MVPs and bringing an agile approach to marketing. The guy I shared the platform with talked about programmatic. He was a former colleague from Capital Radio, then head of sales of a company called The Exchange Lab. They were one of the first programmatic companies I came across (and were acquired by GroupM in 2016).


He talked a lot about the automation of buying, throwing in acronyms like DSP, RTB and multi-platform solutions. I got the automation piece, but that was about it. The rest didn’t really make too much sense to me.

So, at the lunch break, he grabbed a white board at lunch and he started to draw out a flow diagram, hoping to explain it in ways I could understand.

programmatic advertising infographic
Source: Smart Insights:

Then I got it. Well, mostly. At least I could discuss it in terms I understood, and explain it in that way to those who didn’t understand it. I got back to Philips HQ and spoke to my media colleagues who talked about tests they had tried for the company. They were getting very excited about the data, specifically, excited about efficiency and targeting.

That was my intro to programmatic. And that’s really all it took: Someone to sit down and put it into simple terms, framing it in a way I could understand and take action on. It was that simplification that was key to my understanding, and which helped me see the benefits and begin to trust in the process.

The next time I came across Programmatic was at Southern Cross Austero, when we were closing the deal with Triton to launch A2X, the first Australian audio programmatic platform. That meant I needed to understand the process and technology in more detail.

There were plenty of executive conversations where explanations and definitions became important. I felt there was some confusion in the marketplace about programmatic in general. Some said it was “a race to the bottom”, “a place to put your unsold inventory”. Others opined about the amazing benefits. We went out there with a positive, data-led message: “Get the right message to the right consumer at the right price.”

Because at its most basic, that’s what programmatic is all about, regardless of how well you need to or want to understand what it is. It is an efficient and automated process for getting the right creative to the right person, at the right time, and at the right price (or at least within agreed cost thresholds).

At IAB, I continue to learn from the programmatic experts around me. I believe we need to do more to educate the market on programmatic – and we will be doing just that. Programmatic Summit 2017 (March 2nd in Sydney) is just one of the ways we are attempting to boost the education around programmatic and make it accessible for all.

I urge newbies and novices to go and explore the topic. Remember, there are no stupid questions. If the techie experts can’t simplify the topic, keep at them until they do. Because they can, they just sometimes forget that not everyone in digital is a programmatic expert.

Fundamentally, we need to understand what programmatic looks like in a consumer business.

It’s about business goals, marketing objectives, people and technology: I’m confident we’ll see that, whether it’s from those doing it, like Coles, Motorola and Intel (all speaking at Programmatic Summit 2017) or those tech companies enabling it.

Digital is about lifelong learning, and programmatic is no different. We need to keep the conversation out of the weeds. The techies who understand programmatic can explain the technical detail.

If you see yourself somewhere along the line on my programmatic journey, then it would benefit you to attend Programmatic Summit 2017, and listen to the numerous experts who are going to unpack the jargon and expertise into terms you can understand. (You can see the agenda here.)

I will be opening the conference, and IAB chair Nicole Sheffield, Managing Director at News DNA, will close the event. In between there are host of expert speakers including:

• Julie Keshmiry, Global Media Director, Intel Corporation
• Beth Reilly, Head of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Motorola Mobility
• Dylan McBride, Director, AppNexus
• Adam Story, General Manager, Flybuys, Loyalty and CRM, Coles
• Timothy Whitfield, Technical Director, GroupM
• Rhys Williams, Head of Media Technology Solution, DoubleClick AU/NZ
• Michael Twomey, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of People-Based Marketing, Signal
• Scott Ries, Technical Director of Platforms, Sizmek
• Dr. Nico Neumann, Senior Research Analyst for Programmatic Strategy and Analytics, UniSA
• Cat Prestipino, Marketing Director, JAPAC, Adroll
• Stephane de Blic, Commercial Director, Integral Ad Science

Programmatic Summit 2017 will simplify programmatic into more easily understood terms and inspire you in its use by showcasing the best of the industry and the best campaigns.

IAB Members get a 15% discount on individual tickets. But book now, as seats are selling fast.