By: Thomas E. Smith (
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Everything is Programmatic

Why, what’s happening?

Programatic Marketing
Well…Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Audience Maximization, Identity Management, Data Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Omni Channel, Digital Transformation, Smart Content Marketing, Geo Fencing, Micro Moments, Mobile First…I could go on but you get the point.

Programmatic Marketing.  I certainly hope most of our readers, smart marketers all, know what programmatic marketing is at this point.  How many do it well though?  This will need to change quickly this year, particularly for B2B companies, if you intend to keep up.

A brief history…

Programmatic began in the mid-nineties with banner ads being traded directly between partners.  With the proliferation of ‘for commerce’ websites, simple one to one advertising deals were replaced by ad serving companies, like DoubleClick, that distributed ads across the web.  This evolved quickly and exponentially in the late 90’s/early 00’s to include ad networks, SSP’s, DSP’s, DMP’s, Trading Desks, etc. all while Google masterfully made and kept manageable this incredible explosion of data and technology, even while developing its own display ad network, AdSense in 2003, not to mention AdWords. Brands were enabled to reach, pretty much, the whole worldwide web with programmatic digital advertising.

Video advertising followed in the mid 00’s with YouTube, while Facebook concurrently began delivering ads against the social profiles of their users.  At each turn where the web became more complex, new technologies emerged to manage the data and media landscape to continue to allow advertisers to reach their audiences effectively.

That’s all oversimplified, of course, but what emerged is a “programmatic” marketplace and ecosystem for buying and selling digital display ads and paid search based on the market automation of real time auctions/bidding.

I get Display and Search, so what else is “programmatic?”

Email is enjoying its second coming.  Email marketing “floated all boats” for 5-8 years while digital was in its nascent stage.  Email marketing, a victim of its own success, was taken for granted and abused and took some hits because of its misuse.  When done well, however, email is always a superb media.  You can test in real time, throttle, trigger, cadence, and personalize email.  You can react in real time to conversion rates, pricing, inventory, etc.

Programmatic technology is now being used to personalize email messaging based on the behavior of website visitors.  It is a great way to get customers that visit a brand’s site pushed further into the funnel.  Using programmatic in email means you leverage the same data for display advertising as email to make the content more relevant.

Companies like LiveIntent have taken email further by creating their own programmatic marketplace, monetizing real estate in publishers’ emails to render ads programmatically to synergistic advertising partners. Results here are far superior to traditional display according to LiveIntent.

Even “good old” Direct Mail is becoming programmatic.  The same principles apply; the event trigger is the real-time online behavior, this tailors the campaign (mail piece) content, the mailing address is validated in real time, dynamic digital printing/delivery of the mail piece, and then moving on to response analysis.  While not quite “real-time” the same digital data; sessions, clicks, browse and cart behavior, etc. are informing “programmatic direct mail.”  Companies like Pebble Post, Navistone, and 4Cite are reporting response rates to these targeted audiences that far surpass those of their offline targeted counterparts.  Direct mail, while not real time, can be targeted, printed, and delivered in 2-3 days now completing the loop quickly.

What’s next?

New opportunities for programmatic are on the rise. Holdouts, such as LinkedIn, have begun to offer easier options for targeting audiences. Smaller publishers will begin matching the targeting capabilities of the bigger companies.  This, combined with more accessible and friendly tools, means programmatic will become democratized and programmatic literacy more essential for marketers.

Some reports suggest that programmatic will account for >80% of all advertising by 2019, so that makes this year, 2018 the year to prepare. We now enjoy the data and technology to have automated advertisements run and adjust dynamically across the internet. This includes display, email, direct mail, smart TVs, Pandora, Facebook, Google and myriad other media/channels. These ads can use artificial intelligence to fine-tune themselves based on what works and what doesn’t.

The robots might scare you, but you need to embrace the future, it needs your help!

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