Programmatic advertising is one of the most buzzed-about marketing techniques today. And why not? It’s a marketer’s dream: machine-learning technology that automates ad buys and optimizes campaign results better and faster than any human could ever hope to match.
Despite its promise, many marketers hesitate to make the switch to programmatic advertising because they fear loss of control, ad fraud, and even job redundancy. Below we’ll debunk the biggest concerns and obstacles to programmatic adoption and share key advice to successfully transitioning to machine learning optimization.
1. It’s confusing: Despite its popularity, there’s still a lot of confusion about programmatic. In fact, recent research from ANA/Forrester found that most marketers don’t understand programmatic advertising enough to run a campaign. Let’s look at the basics. Programmatic is just a fancy name to describe an automated method for buying media using computers.
Some solutions are fairly basic and are just human rules being executed by machines, whereas others are significantly more advanced and use machine-learning technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI). These smart machines are able to make decisions about media buys based on all the campaigns they have run before, sifting and parsing billions of data points to identify the best combinations and targets to meet established KPIs.
Theoretically, humans can do this, too, but realistically, we aren’t designed to manage and analyze vast amounts of data. In the name of efficiency alone, programmatic buying just makes more sense. Additionally, machine-learning technologies continually learn and build on what’s working, exponentially increasing the reach and success of a campaign.
2. It lacks transparency: One of the biggest complaints marketers have about traditional programmatic is the lack of control and transparency. This concern stems largely from agency owned and managed programmatic services in which the marketer hands over a budget and the agency manages all facets of the campaign. In these scenarios, marketers feel they are relinquishing all control and have no way of knowing exactly how their budgets are allocated, where their ads are being served, or what’s happening to their data.
These are valid concerns, but the beauty of programmatic is that it’s easy to use for even the most inexperienced marketer. Advertisers who want more control can easily manage and implement their own programmatic campaigns using SaaS-based programmatic services, which allow them to manage their data and budget allocation and often deliver better ROI.
3. It leads to ad fraud: On the contrary, programmatic actually reduces ad fraud. AI tools use sophisticated algorithms to constantly learn from every activity and transaction. This means that for every media buy that doesn’t deliver the required results, the program automatically avoids future purchases with that publisher. That alone helps to eliminate ad fraud.
However, AI tools can also be “taught” to look for and avoid fraudulent sites in the first place. By analyzing impressions, clicks, conversions, relevant customer data, behavior based on IP addresses, and many other factors, AI tools are able to quickly spot fraud and blacklist those and similar sites to prevent future fraudulent media buys.
4. It will threaten my job: There are countless examples of machines taking over human jobs, but the idea that AI-powered programmatic technologies might do the same is far-fetched.
To achieve programmatic success, human and machine must work together. For instance, the identification of campaign goals and parameters, target audiences and KPIs all require human input.
On the other hand, machine-learning programmatic technology is an invaluable asset for marketers. It does all the heavy lifting and frees up marketing’s valuable human resources to focus on other priorities, such as creative, communications, and other non-advertising activities. In this way human and machine can co-exist as partners, with each managing critical elements of the campaign and supporting the role and success of the other. Programmatic works best when it becomes an extension of your marketing team.
Marketers today are tasked with delivering more and better results, across multiple platforms, with smaller budgets. It’s no wonder automated technologies that reduce time and effort are overtaking traditionally manual tasks. Programmatic advertising delivers efficiency in spades, helping marketers get to their goals faster than manual optimization and with fewer wasted dollars.
If you’ve been hesitant to make the leap from manual to programmatic campaign optimization, don’t be. Programmatic platforms, while powered by intelligent technology, are simple to use and are intended to make your job easier, not redundant, enabling you to put your uniquely human expertise to best use to achieve your overall marketing goals.