In 2015 the big story for programmatic is brand, not performance

Industry leaders agreed today that creativity and brand marketing will dominate the conversation about programmatic advertising this year but education for brands needed to step-up a gear.

Dominic Grounsell: leads panel of programmatic experts for Ad Week Europe
Dominic Grounsell: leads panel of programmatic experts for Ad Week Europe

The ‘Programmatic: problem or panacea?’ session at Ad Week Europe today resulted in a unanimous call for the industry to excite brand marketers and creative agencies, otherwise conversation about the industry’s latest obsession will hit a stalemate.

Brands are not as into the tech as most of the people in this room. We need better education and clearer language to excite brands, rather than terrifying them

Speaking at the session was Travelex global marketing director Dominic Grounsell, former Universal Pictures VP Dawn Paine, outgoing AOL MD Noel Penzer and Louisa Wong, commercial director of Dentsu-Aegis’ Amnet.

Both Grounsell and Paine, speaking from a brand-side point of view on the topic, led calls for better education and brand-side staffing, so that marketers were better equipped to take control of their stake in programmatic.

We need better education and clearer language

Paine said, "Brands are not as into the tech as most of the people in this room. We need better education and clearer language to excite brands, rather than terrifying them."

Grounsell led an impassioned argument for brands staking a claim in their own data and strategies but said the challenge was knowing how to staff internal marketing departments for this and future changes.

Grounsell said he was struggling to entice more data-led and analytic minds into marketing roles, which have traditionally been staffed by high-level strategic thinkers. When challenged whether agencies can provide a buffer to this skills gap he said, "No, we want our own analysis and I trust our own data. The agency is a black box, I can’t understand the algorithm."

As soon as the creative agencies start engaging in this space, we can start seeing some contextual and relevant advertising examples that are creative. Until then we are stuck in the same the same dialogue

But despite this, Dentsu-Aegis’ Wong said this wasn’t happening in the UK with many brands because the market was unscalable, compared with the US, Italy and China. She said the latter three markets were ripe for creative, interesting executions using automation because better collaboration between key players was happening, creating better data for brands to use.

Brands need to make sense of their data

In place of such industry collaboration, she followed Grounsell’s call for internal understanding of data and called for brands to "first make sense of their first party data, otherwise they won’t understand how to play with the Facebooks or the Amazons of this world."

The lack of creative agency on the panel didn’t help matters with one of Paine’s key challenges. She commented, "The creative opportunity is an untapped opportunity. As soon as the creative agencies start engaging in this space, we can start seeing some contextual and relevant advertising examples that are creative. Until then we are stuck in the same the same dialogue."

Noel Penzer, who is due to join Time Out soon, took on the role of the media owner and discussed how AOL used data from an editorial standpoint. He sided with Grounsell on the staff understanding of data issue, arguing that editorial teams in particular were tougher to prove the worth of making decisions based on data insights to.

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