Wayne Morgan, the digital director of Archant (UK) gave a practical view on what programmatic advertising is at the second day of the INMA European Media Conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Before too long, 70% of online advertising will come from “programmatic” – that is, automated advertising sales. Programmatic advertising is precision publishing, Morgan said. But content is at the heart of programmatic advertising; if publishers want to launch beautiful campaigns, they need great content.

Marketers care less about publishers, publications, and media brands. What they do care about are potential customers. Without an audience, these campaigns don’t work.

Publishers haven’t been able to compete digitally. But display advertising is growing twice as fast as paid search, which is a good thing for publishers. Programmatic is much better at showing ROI and driving retention. 

Nonetheless, there are problems with this model. Fraud and viewability are big problems with programmatic. Many ads are frauds, and advertisers have no idea where their ads will be shown.

Data is the key to a successful campaign. To target local demographics, we can’t serve any ads where we don’t have pixels running, Morgan said. Without data, campaigns will not be strong enough, and content is a superb data builder.

In terms of inventory, Morgan noted the following:

  • It is very expensive to build.

  • Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

  • Buyers care less about publishers’ inventory.

  • It is challenging to manage and forecast.

  • Daily, weekly, and monthly unique hits matter.

  • Programmatic CPMs are a race to bottom.

However, it’s worth noting the following about audience:

  • Ads can be used more than once.

  • One-page impression could lead to hundreds of ad impressions.

  • Larger audience segments can be built over time.

  • Daily, weekly, and monthly unique views are historic.

Advertising and editorial teams must work toward a common goal. Audience segment is the new circulation. Content is the shepherd of data, Morgan says.

So what is programmatic? It’s good old-fashioned publishing, meaning it’s the right content for the right audience and the right advertiser. It just uses a little bit of technology to deliver it, Morgan said.