With programmatic mechanisms now rapidly expanding beyond display and video inventory into native, digital audio, digital out-of-home, and even linear TV inventory, the need to stay abreast of these new tools sets is greater than ever. As with any evolution of technology, there are opportunities, challenges, and limitations, and there appears to be a wide disparity between those who “get it” and those who don’t. The volume of news and jargon around “programmatic” concepts is so vast it can be overwhelming to some while appearing overstated to others.
IAB provides comprehensive, broadly accessible programmatic training to educate the marketplace around programmatic processes, tools, and strategic capabilities. We sat down with Ben Dick, Director, Data & Ad Effectiveness, IAB who manages the IAB’s programmatic and attribution initiatives to discuss what he and the Data Center of Excellence are focusing on.
1) What is the current state of the programmatic marketplace?
Marketplace activity is as strong as it’s ever been. 2015 was the first year that discretionary investment in programmatically monetized inventory surpassed reserve buying across a few key areas, including display, video, native, social, and even “sponsorship” activity. Today, in 2017, many are estimating that more than 70% of digital display, video and mobile ad dollars will flow through programmatic pipes. While there is most definitely still a place for reserve buying on media plans, execution and optimization across automated platforms is very much the “new normal” for digital strategists.
2) Who needs to be trained and educated around programmatic and what does that mean for employers?
Everybody. Because of the central role that automated tools are playing across buying and selling, everyone in the strategic development process (clients, research teams, media strategists, analytics teams) as well as participants in the broader digital supply chain (operations, product, sales) need to be, at bare minimum, conversant with the tools and capabilities that programmatic affords.
And it’s not just the hands-on practitioners. Support staff are affected as well. For example, programmatic concepts are bleeding into how finance teams manage reconciliation and billing. These folks need to understand the new pricing, cost models, and platforms of record for this media delivery. HR teams need to recruit talent in a completely different way and identify skill sets from more technical backgrounds. The C-suite needs to acknowledge the operational changes programmatic processes necessitate as well as the investments needed to secure top talent.
3) What types of programs has IAB created to meet the industry’s need for programmatic education and professional development?
Right now, IAB offers a full-day, in-person class called Programmatic 360: Automation Decoded at locations around the country, open to both buyers and sellers. This class covers all steps of the media process including stages of selling and buying, SSPs, DSPs, “Programmatic Guaranteed”, a deep dive into the tech stack, and much more.
Additionally, the IAB Learning & Development team has been working diligently to develop deeper interactive, online curriculum around advanced buy- and sell-side concepts to help expand the program.
4) What do buyers and sellers need to know about programmatic tools and capabilities to be successful?
If I had to highlight one thing, it’s that successful programmatic strategists think of their jobs more as the application of data and software to “guide a conversation” with consumers, rather than using it to find and target them at right moment with the right creative.
The word “conversation” implies that there’s a feedback loop or exchange between advertiser and consumer, which is often forgotten. Programmatic tools allow for always-on, real time consumer addressability across their devices. This data travels both ways, and allows consumers to provide an intimate portrait of their preferences relative to your product. This enables advertisers to constantly evolve their approach to ensure their messaging is as relevant as possible while telling a compelling story. This often translates into cost efficiencies and improved campaign ROAS (Return On Advertising Spending)