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Word Up ‘Programmatic’ is Advertisers Choice as 2014 Marketing Word of the YearFor the first time, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has asked its members to vote on the marketing word of the year.

What word received the most votes? Drum roll, please… The word is: “Programmatic.”

It’s partly because it’s the buzz word of the marketing world at the moment. Of course, it’s also because many marketers think it’s a word — and a concept — that’s giving them headaches.

“A key insight from the ANA/Forrester white paper “Media Buying’s Evolution Challenges Marketers” is that despite the proliferation of new programmatic buying technologies and vendors, programmatic buying isn’t well understood by marketers, with more than half the marketers surveyed confessed they don’t understand programmatic buying well enough to use it to buy and manage campaigns,” the ANA explains.

Programmatic buying and selling of advertising, real-time bidding, automation, and the buying and selling of digital media is changing rapidly. Approximately 20 percent of all digital advertising is sold by one machine talking to another machine—and growing rapidly, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

But “there is significant confusion in the marketplace over terminology regarding programmatic, RTB, programmatic direct, programmatic premium, and other terms being used interchangeably,” explains the IAB

The issues? The lack of clear technical standards to guarantee efficacy across platforms; the too limited transparency and the proliferation of programmatic vendors; and the organizational challenges for publishers, marketers, agencies, and brands.

When advertisers watch their marketing be sold programmatically, the loss of insight and control over ad placement is upsetting — that is, after all, the traditional bailiwick of great agency work. On the other hand, programmatic is touted as the best way to match advertisers with sites where their ads can get targeted visibility for the lowest cost.

The upshot? The word will be further defined in the coming year. Unless brands and marketers get more comfortable with both the concept and the ROI, the word is vulnerable to new — maybe flattering, maybe not — definitions.

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