Will programmatic experts please stay out? I repeat, will programmatic experts please stay out?

If you’ve read my first article, you would know that me getting into media and advertising was not planned; it just happened. And boy do I love things that “just” happen.

The first time I heard the word “programmatic”, I cringed. I imagined a white board with endless logarithm equations and functions of a given number X, an infinite set of alphabets trying to find the b while associating it to a chart… yeah, no. Not my cup of tea.

The first thing they tell you when they try to explain what programmatic advertising is “don’t worry, it sounded Chinese to me too at first”First being the key word here, it took me around 4 to 5 months to really connect all the dots (trust me, they’re a lot). You know that game where you need to guess the number based on the previous number that is based on the pre-previous number (if you’re confused, check out the image at the top)? Yeah, multiply the back-and-forth by I don’t know, your age maybe and you will get the number of times I had to read and connect, read and connect, read and connect. So I’m really not surprised if many people still have misconceptions about the programmatic world.

You see, myths tend to follow us. Who doesn’t love a good myth? I repeat, good myths, not the “men are better in math than women” kind of myths, and definitely not the “programmatic only offers low-quality unsold ad inventory” because that’s just one really, really bad myth. Unfortunately, this one has been carried over from the early days of digital advertising, at a time where yes, there was a lot of low-quality ad inventory that got listed on ad exchanges and networks (ah the amount of times I had to read about the difference between the two), but things change. In fact, programmatic has become the de facto choice for both publishers and advertisers because it helps optimize inventory listing and buying: publishers get access to data analytics that help them optimize the pricing for the ad inventory and advertisers get to leverage the same data analytics feature of programmatic to make sure they get the best return for their ad purchases, all while using the data that was initially segmented by demographics or interests in order to find the holy grail that is the right person, at the right place and at the right time. Wait sorry, Chinese subtitles were on. Ok, let’s repeat.

Let’s say you want to spend the weekend at a hotel and want to decide which one. You find the first hotel you like and you give them a call.

You: Hello, I want a room with a sea view, an international breakfast and access to pool.

Hotel A: Sure sir, we have the exact room you’re looking for. It will be for $Y a night.

You: I’m sorry but this is above budget, do you have anything for less? Something around $X a night?

Hotel A: We do have one available but we don’t serve breakfast.

You: Sorry, that won’t work. Thanks for your time. Bye

That was way above budget! Let’s try hotel B.

You: Hello, I want a room with a sea view, an international breakfast and access to pool.

Hotel B: Sorry sir, we have a room with international breakfast and access to pool but no sea view, just city.

You: Can’t you find something with a sea view?

Hotel B: Sorry sir, they’re all fully booked.

You: Thanks for your time. Bye

Ok, one more or I’m done.

You: Hello, I want a room with a sea view, an international breakfast and access to pool.

Hotel C: Sure Sir, we actually do have one ready. It will be for $W a night.

You: Great! (that’s cheaper than I thought too). Please book it.

Needless to say that programmatically, this would have taken less than one second (The Flash who?) to match the right buyer with the right seller, all while disregarding irrelevant and mismatched audiences and jumping right into the audience that ticks all the boxes. In this case jumping right into Hotel C because A does not match the seller’s price and B does not match the buyer’s request. So it’s really a game of mix and match!

Also, think about it. If programmatic is really as bad as the myth says it is, it wouldn’t be hitting 70% to 90% of digital spends across the world. No? Yes? No?

Let me know!

By SARA ADDAM, Senior Programmatic Product Executive – MMPWW