Think of traditional advertising in terms of the Titanic; great in theory, but struggles to adapt (or in the very literal sense – turn) as required. The iceberg in this analogy is modern life; the emergence of AI, Machine Learning and Data all demanding our attention, and the lifeboats? Well, that’s programmatic coming to the rescue, taking all stakeholders to safety! All joking aside, this is where we are right now; the battle between mindsets – the traditional vs the technological.

Our environment is evolving faster than we can keep up with, but that isn’t an excuse to stand still and be overly cautious in our approach. If anything, we need to stay agile and adapt as the situation and the ever-changing advertising landscape demands. For most that starts with understanding the very nature of ad-tech and the value behind what programmatic can offer.

It’s no longer about simply driving traffic anymore. Programmatic provides the means in which to attract and delight both advertisers and the end user alike. It powers the creative forces to think outside of the box to produce custom and innovative high impact formats, which encourages interaction beyond just simple viewability metrics. In short, effectiveness today is measured in engagement.

Changing mindsets requires more than just words, however, it takes a real commitment from the top of the food chain. Management still favor the traditional over the technological, considering it a less risky alternative, but ironically this is the very thing that will hinder their progress in the long run.

The battle to stay relevant won’t dissipate over time, it will only get harder, which is why we need to collectively move forward and embrace the new ad-tech available. The leaps being made in the fields of automation, AI and Machine Learning cannot be ignored in the value they offer, taking businesses to the next level of measurement, analytics and better monetization as a result.

Critics are quick to jump on any data ‘scandals’ that emerge as an excuse to stay rooted in the past, which only further plays into the misinterpretation of the industry at large. That was one of the biggest things we wanted to address with our ‘Programmatic Matters’ event, using it as a platform to go back to the basics of ad-tech, realigning perceptions and dispelling the myths that have plagued us for so long.

Events like this serve to put everyone back on a level playing field, which then allows for the discussion to open up and look at even broader topics, like data, for example. This is a buzzword that will seemingly never lose its status, but the conversation is also stuck on repeat. Instead of focusing on the abundance of data that we have, we need to shift our thinking to how we use this data in the most effective way possible.

It’s not only from the publisher side either, we should look at this from all perspectives, considering the advertisers and data providers as well, examining what infrastructure is in place, and what is the mindset of each of these stakeholders. The goal may be the same – showing the value of this data – but the approach may vary. What is certain, however, is by investing in the right infrastructure to extract key insights and fuel effective measurement, we’re able to shape this data into content that delivers and answers to the bottom line.

Yet, understanding how to leverage this data in the most efficient way requires a range of different strategies and tools – online alone isn’t enough, it needs to be complemented with offline capabilities too. AI and algorithms may be increasingly shaping our platforms, but they still need the human factor to drive forward the chosen tech, whether that be ad-tech, mar-tech or a combination of both. This blend of ‘MAdTech’ is becoming more significant as a tool to fuel effectiveness overall, as it works together to automate the entire data collection process that will then match, target, and segment data more efficiently by blending CRM data with DMPs. The result is a rich and holistic data offering for marketers – an extremely valuable commodity, I’m sure you’ll agree.

At the end of the day, education remains the biggest challenge we face. People – be it in agencies, client-side or the market as a whole – have difficulties understanding the sole purpose of ad-tech and its simplicity in the advertising world. It’s efficiencies are becoming more widely acknowledged, but ultimately it’s the mindset that people adopt, which feeds into the overall perception that needs to shift.

The traditional way of thinking no longer applies in today’s tech-driven landscape – it’s just not sustainable long-term. Now is the time to change course, navigate new territory and embrace the next age of technology-driven advertising. For those that don’t, the alternative is pretty stark; sink or swim – it’s up to you.

Written by Nader Bitar
Deputy General Manager