Four things the programmatic world needs to wake up to
A view from Lewis Sherlock

Four things the programmatic world needs to wake up to

Programmatic is now an industry in its own right. Given its rapid growth, there’s naturally more to be discovered and honed to deliver the ease that it promises. But with GDPR fast approaching, how will programmatic technologies maintain the scale that the industry demands with unprecedented data regulation?

This is one of many questions Oath tackled at an event this week, with experts from IAB, Telegraph, and MediaCom. Covering off four major topics, below are some of the focal points that the programmatic world should think about.

Mobile – what’s next?

Mobile accounts for almost £4bn of UK marketing spend. But with the majority spent on digital, there is still a need to captivate the minds and budgets of marketers, looking for the ‘next big thing’ to reach consumers on the go. Three-quarters of HuffPost traffic comes from mobile and, Tom Jackson, head of mobile at Oath said it’s only set to rise. So while it’s a running joke that ‘every year is the year of mobile’, this time, it really is.

Now the average person has two devices on them at any given time, location inevitably plays a big role in marketing plans. Jide Sobo, at MEC and Zee Ahmed at Axonix explained that programmatic means that you can reach consumers at any given consumer touch point - whether outside a store, at home watching TV or on their commute.

There’s no question that it can be effective, however, it has to be executed in the right way as for consumers it could be seen as ‘creepy’. It needs to bring value to the consumer. The challenge is that every consumer is different and the only way of targeting them accurately, is by getting to know them. 

Stop chasing the single customer view, focus on just the consumer

Confusion often shrouds the topic of a single customer view but it’s always something advertisers want to achieve. The biggest headache in doing this is attaining the right data from the various partners and publishers that make up the consumer journey.

Mary Keane Dawson, chief executive of newly-launched blockchain-based media agency Truth (TMG) argued that this isn't the year of the single customer view. Rather, it's the year of the consumer. We need to stop treating people like data and making wild assumptions about their identities and preferences. Ultimately, we need to find a better way to build a clearer view of the customer.

GDPR was heralded as the very trigger that the industry needs to get this clarity of identifying exactly who consumers are as individuals.

The new regulation means that customers will be more willing to give more accurate data. It will eradicate bad habits of general targeting and ensure that advertisers are more focused on understanding the individual, using customer interactions in a much smarter and valuable way.

Is GDPR a threat or a blessing?

GDPR is going to change things within the media and marketing industry but it won’t kill programmatic said Alex Timbs, head of data and attributiob international at Oath.

It’s an opportunity to ‘strip out the bullshit’ and this can only help programmatic to be more accurate.

Data that is sourced ethically is more meaningful and those that don’t have proprietary data, it’s an opportunity to review current plans and work with partners that do know your audience.

Programmatic with a human lens

Programmatic has had its fair share of negative press this year. The biggest issue has been the YouTube brand safety scandal that broke in March. As the industry matures, it’s the accountability of the entire industry to upskill and invest in technologies that can navigate the nuances of brand safety to create better advertising experiences.

The Telegraph spoke about how it is focused on bringing more programmatic experts in-house - contrary to popular belief that programmatic is taking away jobs. It’s this human filter that allows marketers to question why they’re doing something through programmatic and whether it’s the best way to reach the consumer.

Yes, we’re at a programmatic event, but not everything should be automated. Panellists explained that it’s important not to just go along with the crowd. Just like consumers, campaigns are different and there’s no one size fits all. Marketers must question the purpose of a campaign and learn from other successes and failures.

My takeaway from the event is that good programmatic is holistic and cohesive. But to achieve this we need to start viewing it as part of a bigger picture, not the picture!

Lewis Sherlock is head of demand platforms EMEA at Oath.