Programmatic – Online, TV and Beyond?

I once worked as a media planner in an small digital agency in Central London (queue fairy tale intro…). I’ve been speaking to ex-colleagues who still work in the advertising and media world recently to catch up on all of the interesting things that have changed. Chief among these is programmatic or ‘real time’ advertising, and the flip side of the remaining intransigence or resistance of the TV market to allow itself to be infiltrated by this invidious new practice.

I know first hand the massive inefficiencies and vested interests at play in the ‘traditional’ media planning and buying process, where lunches, personal relationships, buying commission and the surreal practicalities of panel-based viewing as attribution mechanism, would only occasionally be interrupted by excel or the econometrics department when wheeled in with a chart. (This is intentionally facetious and exaggerated, and yet….). At the same time I’ve heard first hand at how suitably robust and acceptable indirect attribution can and is being produced between budget and spots (advertising on TV) and response (primarily digital or online in terms of ecommerce or customer acquisition).

What isn’t there yet is any ability to link the individual – the ‘user’ or ‘customer’ – across channels or media in a suitably seamless manner. This much anyway is familiar to me in my Sports Alliance role.

I’m writing this explicitly not as any market expert, but in the example this represents for the application of machine or software-driven decision making in a large and yet still immature market area or space. Particularly one dominated by the online web giants – Facebook, Yahoo, Google – and the resources they have invested in for their own ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and how this is or will be integrated to their product or application stack.

The RTB exchange system, and its continuing evolution to become a fully-fledged trading floor with supporting mechanics for futures/options, is here to stay, thank god. I’ve seen some of the numbers from friends for the number of transactions or queries per second the market as it currently stands can process or accommodate and its impressive, or at least it is to me anyway.

What I’m less sure about is how ‘intelligent’ the system is in its ability to predict the desired event (click) or allocate or optimise resource (advertising, of different formats, and budget related). I’ll come back to this later.

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