Big Brother vs. Programmatic Buying

Ever felt like someone’s watching you? We might not see you or know your name but we know your friends on Facebook, the car you’ve been researching and even where you live!

If you’re anything like me, despite working in the digital world and being introduced to all different types of technology, I still get a little freaked out about how ‘Big Brother’ display marketing can be. I had a client recently tell me their typical customer gets completely freaked out by retargeting, they simply can’t fathom how the ads they are seeing reflect the product they almost nearly bought.

Well meet Programmatic Buying, the latest Artificial Intelligence technology that combines real data with real time experiences to target users with a high level of propensity to purchase and engage with an advertiser. In a nutshell, Programmatic Buying is about buying the user based on what they are interested in, rather than just what page they are visiting. Here we look deeper in the intelligence of Programmatic Buying.

Programmatic Buying is defined as the act of:

• Bidding on advertising inventory

• In real time

• For the opportunity to…

  • show one specific ad
  • To one consumer
  • In one specific context

Let’s break this down. Firstly, we can look at how we bid on inventory space, when a user visits a web page with space for a display ad the publisher of the page puts up the ad impression for auction in an ad marketplace. The auction is held among advertisers interested in the opportunity to serve an ad to that user. Dozens of advertisers may simultaneously compete but only one of them will win the right to serve an ad to the user.

Although Real Time Bidding and Programmatic Buying are commonly used interchangeably they are not the same thing. RTB (real time bidding) is an element of Programmatic and has been around for many years. It was previously a great ad tech advancement but the Programmatic Buying has changed the media buying to include the ability to bid for advertising space in Real time within 50 milliseconds of the user opening the page.

The outcome of the auction is to gain an opportunity to show one specific ad, to one specific user, in one specific context. I guess to understand the full extent of the powers of Programmatic Buying we need to understand how we would normally buy one specific user. Previously we would identify a potential customer by looking at just five to ten attributes like age, gender, income, geography, education, mind-set, and interests, but Programmatic bidding goes one step further and uses complicated algorithms to understand patterns of behaviour as the user moves through various touch points including the advertisers website, Facebook, blogs and mobile apps. Then overlaid with demographic, geographic, behaviour and 1st and 3rd party data, Programmatic Buying brings all these fragments, up to literally millions of data points, into one place to develop a strategy that can be applied to all to all audiences to find highly responsive users.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Not only does Programmatic Buying find highly responsive users but also in one specific context. It allows advertisers to buy individual impressions rather than bulk buy large volumes of impressions in one place. In doing this Programmatic Buying reduces the amount of budget wastage for an advertiser’s campaign and empowers advertisers to move from broad buys to very fine granular buys.

What is the future for Programmatic Buying?

Forrester believes that Programmatic Buying will ultimately capture the bulk of all digital advertising spending. Programmatic Buying is not solely or limited to Display advertising but can also be used for Social, Mobile, Video and soon TV. Combining all types of media to one central point to create a unified view of the customer and their interaction with the advertisers brand is the future for digital marketing. With the extension of Programmatic Buying on TV, in the near future audiences will see truly relevant content during the ads break to match their behaviour online and interact with brands on a whole new level – Big Brother is definitely watching you!