May 3, 2017
Programmatic advertising is the automated process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange, connecting advertisers and publishers. This process uses artificial intelligence technologies and real-time bidding for inventory across mobile, display, video and social channels.
Programmatic media buying has rapidly transformed the purchasing of advertising. Digiday reports that 45 percent of brands now buy programmatic. There are several reasons why programmatic advertising has dramatically risen over the past few years. Programmatic is scalable, efficient, and cost effective. While those may be accurate generalizations, they aren’t the only attributes that matter when buying ads. Two major concerns should be brand safety and fraud. While there are big benefits to programmatic, it’s not the best solution to every ad buy.
There are several areas where programmatic buying could face challenges. Does programmatic leave room for human ingenuity? While ad-tech is playing a much bigger role, human involvement isn’t going away in the advertising world.
“In digital, a lot of us have turned ourselves over to machines. Tech is a tool that people use. If you were in a self-driving car you’d grab the wheel when you saw an accident coming,” Anthony Katsur, president of Sonobi, said to Advertising Age.
Buying digital advertisements in the context of a broader campaign is more of an art than a science. Anyone who has done it, knows this. And while the economics of buying ads in-house on an exchange is appealing, do you really know what you are buying? Is that a risk really worth taking on behalf of your brand client? Just ask the hundreds of brands who recently pulled out of YouTube which side of the argument they want to be on going forward. The recent brand safety saga has forced many marketers to examine where their money is spent via programmatic and, in most cases, pull away from it.
There are two ways bad ad placements can damage your brand. The first one is through hate sites, adult content, etc. The second is based on criteria that’s specific to your brand. If you’re a travel company marketing family-friendly vacations, you don’t want your ads to appear on totalfratmove.com.
Programmatic can also be susceptible to fraud. Fraud is anything from non-human traffic, to potentially having no chance of being seen. There are a few ways that fraudulent websites “hide” ads. The first is “ad stacking,” which is hiding ads behind other ads. In this case, the website is generating multiple impressions for a single page view, but only the top ad is actually visible. Similarly, publishers can hide ads in un-viewable perimeters. Ad fraud is a huge problem, having cost over $7 billion in losses in 2016. Ad placement matters, and right now programmatic can’t tell you where, or even if, your ad will ever be seen.
Another thing to consider is the massive scope of publishers that programmatic advertising can place your advertisements on. As of a few weeks ago, JPMorgan Chase advertisements were appearing on nearly 400,000 websites each month. This has become the standard for companies that use automated buying tools. Now, JPMorgan has limited its programmatic advertising to about 5,000, pre-approved websites.
Despite the drastic cut, the company is seeing little change in the cost of impressions or the visibility of its ads on the internet. It would appear there is still room for human interaction. This is causing marketers to become skeptical of using automated technology to place their brands on millions of sites. Do you really need to advertise on hundred of thousands of sites to obtain the correct “reach?” If you limit displaying your ads strictly on premium sites, you can not only ensure your reach, but your quality of viewership as well.
The majority of global publishers are primarily focused on selling ad spaces via traditional channels, and only offering the remaining inventory to the programmatic landscape. Basically, you’re getting the publisher’s leftovers, otherwise known as remnant inventory. Rarely will you get access to their premium placements, which they hold back for their direct partners or for themselves.
If you simply want to buy cheap remnant inventory that may never be seen by a human eye or may run next to some questionable content, we aren’t your partner. Giant Media is a full-service video advertising distribution provider. Our use of premium publishers combined with our best-in-class targeting stack help us ensure you are reaching the right audience in the right place at the right time.
At Giant Media we offer a three-layer brand safety net which virtually guarantees 100% brand safety. We only work with premium sites and give our advertisers campaign whitelists to approve before the campaign launches. In addition, we employ an “always-on” integration with MOAT, the industry-leading 3rd party ad placement verification company. Our third level of brand safety is sentiment analysis powered by IBM Watson. In short, Watson is built on artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing. It indexes and analyzes potential ad placements across our network, and can determine the exact sentiment of the content on the page. In the case of negative sentiment, we will not make that ad placement. Watson understands linguistic distinctions and will place, or not place, ads accordingly.
Continue to embrace programmatic buying for all the efficiency in reach and targeting that it brings, although be conscious of the risks. While there is obviously much to gain from programmatic ad buying, this does not diminish the need for marketers to be on top of their media strategy and media buying – all the time.