With every digital evolution, as far back as the first ad networks of the late 90s, new technology has been developed to manage it. Programmatic is one more evolution, and it's much more personal than you might think.
Just a few years ago, programmatic was little more than a trendy experiment in the capabilities of artificial intelligence. Now, it's framing the way the ad buys happen across multiple platforms where people consume the news media, from desktop to mobile.
It might seem like an impersonal approach to advertising. That's the knee-jerk reaction when ones and zeroes join the human conversation. In practice, programmatic helps support a much more personalized experience for the ad consumer. Not only that, programmatic can't really thrive without the human element. It's a winning situation for everyone involved.
Like Most Technology, Programmatic was Born of a Need for Something Better
The earliest digital ad buys were fairly basic. Banner ads were bought and sold across the comparatively small number of websites that existed in the 90s. That changed quickly as website numbers exploded, users multiplied, and ads became more and more difficult to control.
Enter the advertising network.
Ad networks, says eConsultancy, were the first real answer to taming the rapidly growing savage beast of the web. But as technology tends to do, that solution to buying and selling ad space was short-lived as website volume and web users continued to grow.
Enter King Google.
The turn of the new century brought with it a new advertising solution: Google AdWords. Already beginning to revolutionize the search engine landscape, Google's advertising angle capitalized on what they did best: extract and analyze data.
AdWords could be called the beginning of the programmatic revolution. Programmatic certainly has its roots firmly planted in Google's analytical garden. Instead of the manual tasks of buying and selling ads, Google enabled automatic ad delivery ''while the user was searching,'' says eConsultancy. It tamed the beast again, but only for a while.
Now, the tide is turning once again. Programmatic isn't just an experiment. Now that it has proven results, the wrinkles are being ironed out to fine-tune this newish automation for a better and more personalized experience.
Advertising Sales is Starting to Come Around
In the beginning, programmatic and sales seemed to be at odds. Sales didn't like the idea of automation, and why should they? There's a historical fear of AI overtaking the work that humans do. But just as robots haven't eliminated the need for humans, programmatic isn't primed to eliminate the human element from ad sales.
If anything, the two were virtually born to complement each other.
Paul Gubbins, programmatic advertising guru, explains at Mobile Marketing Magazine, that the adversarial stance that sales has taken toward AI isn't just unnecessary. It limits the possibilities of both humans and automation.
Gubbins explains that there has been a distinct separation between direct sales and programmatic sales:
''This was a logical partition as the IO guys and girls traded on their relationships and the programmatic whiz kids their ability to speak jargon at speed to their ATD counterparts.''
But now, a ''new type of sales force'' is forming, he explains. Sales is gaining a better understanding of the benefits of programmatic, and programmatic is growing more efficient at providing the data that lets sales perform more efficiently.
As long as newspapers and advertisers are owned by people and consumers are people as well, advertising and ad sales will need the human element. ''People buy from people,'' Gubbins says. Technology just helps it work more efficiently with a better experience for everyone involved.
Programmatic Uses Technology to Create Something Personal
Ad blockers have been the bane of the digital news publishing industry since their inception. With ad revenue more challenging to capture, ad blockers created genuine pain as they stomped down a profitable advertising angle.
Paywalls haven't fared much better. People have such a distaste for buying access. After all, the Internet has historically been free.
What's working? A personalized advertising experience. And programmatic ad buys can provide it. Imagine that tidbit of irony.
Technology doesn't harm the personalized experience, it enhances it. The very data that's extracted and analyzed enables a millisecond-quick ad buy decision that places a favorable ad in front of the right eyes at the right time.
Take, for example, job boards. Using a programmatic model, employers can make automatic ad buys, newspapers can place precision-perfect job ads instantly, and the end-user gets a better experience where ads are tolerated because they're relevant.
Win, win, and also win.
Data-driven ad buys seem incredibly high tech because they are. But the technology that they use lets marketing and sales invest more heavily in creating a better product.
Recommended ads aren't a nuisance when they're relevant. Instead, they get a higher click-through rate. Ad space value isn't a shot in the dark when data defines both the unique viewer characteristics and the likelihood of better ad performance. When everything aligns, revenue that keeps the newspaper in business has a new foundation to grow until the next new revolution comes along.
If all of this talk about programmatic advertising sets your mind spinning, we have answers that can smooth the wrinkles and pave the way.