3 Basics of Programmatic Advertising

Advertising trends come and go, but one that’s here to stay is programmatic advertising — the practice of using technology to automate advertising processes.

In fact, programmatic marketing is expected to more than double to $20.4 billion by 2016.

But there are many moving parts, and it can be a tricky topic. Here are a few things to know that will help you form a basis for thinking about programmatic advertising.

1. It sounds more complicated than it is.

Sure, there are a lot of moving parts and technology involved in programmatic advertising. But the concept itself is simple. Digiday defines it as “using machines to buy ads.”

Everything that’s involved in advertising — things like determining an ideal placement for your target audience, submitting a purchase order, message testing, estimating how many people actually saw the ad — can be done by technology and often instantaneously.

display-lumascape-1-638There are lots of players involved: ad networks, ad exchanges, data providers (shout-out to my former employer), demand-side platforms, reporting systems… they all have a hand in making successful digital advertising easier on humans.

The “LumaScape” shown at right is an example of how complex it can be.

But programmatic doesn’t need to utilize all of those pieces. If you’re buying (or selling) advertising through a computer interface, you’re involved.

2. It’s moving further into the advertising ecosystem.

Until recently, programmatic buying was something that was limited to computer- or mobile-based digital advertising. Not anymore.

Take TV as an example. We’re already using technology that’s able to reach consumers based not on estimates of how well certain shows rate with their demographic, but on whatever their cable box happens to be tuned to.

This requires more real-time technology than simply placing an advertising buy for a set of shows ahead of time. It brings a whole new programmatic system to TV advertising (or you could look at it as bringing a whole new channel of advertising to the programmatic ecosystem).

3. It’s not replacing humans.

It’s always both exciting and nerve-wracking to hear about people’s job functions being automated. Fortunately, the strategy behind media planning and buying still remains, and it’s more necessary than ever to measure and re-group based on campaign results.

When an ad campaign is running in the background, it can be easy to “set it and forget it.” Dedicating humans to the task of monitoring, reporting, and adjusting fire can address that mentality and help ensure that nobody feels like programmatic advertising is running them out of a job.

Every day there’s a new company bringing more to the table, enhancing what’s available with programmatic.

What excites you or makes you question the effectiveness of programmatic marketing?


A Twitter Chat Q&A with Mike Schaffer

Businesses and customers; celebrities and fans; politicians and constituents. Each of these groups shares the desire to communicate in real-time with their base, though it’s clear that some do it better than others.

President Barack Obama, for example, and his team have embraced social media as a way to reach Americans through avenues like Twitter town hall meetings and live YouTube Q&A.

Tweeta-256After all, people on these platforms are talking about him — over 2.6 million Tweets with the hashtag #SOTU were sent during the 2015 State of the Union address — so it makes sense to join in.

But what about when you’re not the president of the United States? When you’re a small nonprofit, a local bakery, or a new college graduate trying to make a name for yourself in your chosen industry? Engaging your audience on social media may not be as obvious, but there are steps you can take to find success.

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Pace-of-Play Rules and Social Media

Even as the snow is falling outside, we baseball fans finally have Opening Day in sight!

This year, Major League Baseball games may seem a little different; there are new rules being implemented that aim to speed up the pace of the game.

I got to thinking what pace-of-play rules might look like in other situations.

What if everyone picking through the bin of avocados at Trader Joe’s had just 20 seconds to examine their options before being forced to move on? What if when customer service keeps you on hold for more than 10 minutes, you get a credit to your cable bill?

What if brands only had 60 seconds to craft a social media post before it would automatically be pushed online?

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Emerging Media Meets Emerging Technology

I waited for years to watch a Harry Potter movie.harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone_ver5_xlg

As a huge fan of the books, I held out as long as I could before I “gave in” on seeing the films. I had my own mental picture of the characters, the scenery, the fantastical animals and magical foods, and I didn’t want that ruined by someone else’s vision.

Once I did see the movies, I grew to appreciate both the similarities and differences between their production and my own.

But for people with visual disabilities, imagination often drives their entire understanding of media. Try listening to the TV show Modern Family without seeing Sofia Vergara or Ed O’Neill, or hearing the twisting plot of the movie Up without all the characters’ delightful facial expressions and colors.

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“Innovation takes a little getting used to.”

That’s the tagline from this year’s BMW i3 Super Bowl ad, shown above, which takes us on a flashback to 1994. Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel are sharing, for what seems to be the first time, an email address with which viewers can contact the Today Show. They’re figuring out how to verbalize “that mark, the little ‘a’ with the ring around it,” which leads Bryant to ask, “What is Internet anyway?” There were only 10,000 websites in 1994 — can you blame them for their confusion?

I received this comment on my first blog post:

I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase “new media” while re-watching an episode of the first season of the West Wing last week. Definitely had a different meaning back then (think 24-hour cable networks as opposed to nightly news). It was weird hearing the phrase in a pre-social media context.

It IS weird. That’s innovation.

Another first-season episode of The West Wing brings about a similar thought at how far the media has come. One evening at work, the White House press secretary comments that a story about a document will likely break in the papers the next day. When a colleague asks how she knows, she says that she saw the document posted on the Internet.

Just 15 years ago, content on the Internet wasn’t news yet. News websites had only been around for a couple of years, and the Internet wasn’t the first or even second place that consumers turned for information. How backwards does that sound today, when thanks to emerging media like Twitter, news is already old by the time you read it in the morning paper?

And what innovative changes might come in the next 20 years to make us look back on 2015’s amazing communications technology and consider it old-fashioned?

How Would John Stamos Pay?

You finally made it to the front of the endless Starbucks line and…. realize you forgot your wallet. (Darn!) Do you scrounge in your pockets for change? Resign yourself to a caffeine-free day? Or do you shrug and whip out your cell phone to pay with your Starbucks app?

For over 12 million Americans, the answer is C. In fact, Starbucks estimates that about 16% of in-store transactions are made with their mobile application — nearly $1 billion in 2013.

Starbucks was certainly one of the first-movers in the world of mobile payments — their app is more than four years old. The ability to load gift cards directly onto the app (and not have to carry them around), combined with in-app coupons and other exclusive offers, made it a no-brainer for customers to download and utilize and it has continued to gain popularity.

Today, there are multiple kinds of mobile payments. One is remote payments through a mobile device (such as paying for an Uber ride). Another is made in-store at the register with the device linked to a credit card or bank account. Apple Pay, launched in October, is currently bringing these payments further into the mainstream. In total, mobile payments are expected to triple from their current levels by 2019.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — most of this growth is coming from “kids these days”, right?

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A Missed IMC Opportunity?

Like most of America last night, I watched Left Shark dancing the Super Bowl.

And like most marketing professionals, I was mainly watching for the ads. (Although those last 90 seconds of the game, ahhhhh!!) I’m not going to dissect each advertisement here, but I will say that I noticed a definite trend towards what some will call sappy and some will call social responsibility.

One of those ads was the “Like a Girl” spot from Always, which focused on overcoming the negative stereotype of incompetence that many girls face as they go through puberty.

The advertisement gave me pause and made me want to check out the brand for more information on the campaign. With a homemade jalapeño popper in one hand, I grabbed my iPhone with the other. There was plenty of conversation around the hashtag #LikeAGirl on Twitter, mostly positive at that.

Not what I expected to see on the Always site after their Super Bowl ad aired.

Not what I expected to see on the Always site after their Super Bowl ad aired.

Then I went to Always’ website. (The ad didn’t direct to a URL, so I just went to the homepage.) Their mobile site had not been updated for the game. Not only was #LikeAGirl not featured on the homepage, but the site took quite a while to load. Interestingly, a study of 2014 Super Bowl advertisers found the average load time for a corporate website on a mobile device to be 20 seconds during the game — 5 times higher than the standard user expectation of 4 seconds.

I already had the fact that this was an interesting case study in mind, so I kept with it, but for an average consumer, after 10 seconds, their eyes and mind are back on the game. After a few clicks, I found the campaign on the Always site. “Tweet the amazing things you do #LikeAGirl now,” said the small text. “We’ll pick our favorite tweets and display them on our website.” But… they were nowhere to be found.

Now, it may be that the brand really wanted to focus on creating a social media conversation, which would explain the lack of a URL as a call-to-action. But not everyone is social media savvy — only 16% of Americans older than age 12 use Twitter and 58% use Facebook. So how are they participating in the conversation or learning more about the initiative, if the hashtag #LikeAGirl doesn’t make sense to them? And moreso, why was Always not live-updating the site during the game with a few of the hundreds of thousands of tweets that were pouring in? A corporate website that doesn’t reflect a current multi-million dollar campaign is an opportunity lost.

That said, the campaign itself is performing well, even if its connection with Always has been lost (and some may say that disconnect is the hallmark of a true social cause campaign). Other brands are jumping onto #LikeAGirl, including the WWE and the United States Air Force:

While Always could have done more with their corporate web presence during the game, it seems like they’re achieving their goal of continuing conversation about the topic. I’ll be curious to see if #LikeAGirl continues to trend in the days and weeks to come, and how Always keeps their own brand inserted into the conversation.

What do you think will happen?