“Efficiency is the name of the game,” said Matt Prohaska, CEO and principal of Prohaska Consulting, speaking about programmatic buying at the World Congress in New York City on Monday. Prohaska turned the discussion over to a panel of experts that explored the future of programmatic.

There are two major aspects of programmatic advertising, said Jeremy Crandall, senior vice president of operations and client services at Adroit Digital. Automated programmatic, which includes real-time bidding (RTB), is the side heard more often.

“To me, programmatic is like a BLT sandwich,” she said. “RTB is the bacon.”

The other aspect is data-driven programmatic, in which buyers leverage data to make informed decisions about which ad impressions to buy.

Crandall explained the different modes of programmatic buying and selling. Open RTB leverages ads not sold by a direct salesperson. These ads are are remnant impressions and the transactions take less than 100 milliseconds.

“It really is a many-to-many marketplace,” she said.

Crandall described private marketplace (PMP) transactions as a walled garden, in which select buyers are invited to participate and usually involves price floors. PMP is not as impersonal as RTB, Crandall said. Sharing data makes a significant difference in efficacy of the buy.

“It is really those relationships that still matter a lot,” she said.

Chris O’Hara, vice president of strategic accounts at Krux Digital, gave insight from the data management platform (DMP) side of the programmatic equation.

O’Hara outlined the evolution of publisher ad sales as moving from publisher direct, to ad network 1.0, to the introduction of the DSP era. We are currently in the DMP area, one of “programmatic direct,” O’Hara said.

We are moving toward an era of total automation across channels. Efficient automation, where publishers retain more revenue and advertisers get increased reach for budget, is part of that future.

“This is the wave of the future; it’s happening and it’s super exciting,” O’Hara said.

Jon Usry, director of digital platforms at Dallas Morning News Media, shared his company’s strategic approach to the current and future states of programmatic.

When programmatic first entered the market, the reaction from publishers was one of fear, as buyers were perceived to have the advantage and the quality of these ads seemed low.

This is not the case now, Ursy said. Programmatic is seen as an opportunity rather than a threat.

“Certainly, a lot of things have changed significantly,” he said.

Dallas Morning News made the strategic decision to build or purchase digital marketing solutions as programmatic grew in influence.

The current state of programmatic is a level playing field, Ursy said. The company hold regular meetings about how to leverage programmatic. They explore all options, he said: “There might be certain situations where we want programmatic to be competing with direct sells.”

Developing a strong plan for programmatic is important to the company. Programmatic media spend is set to double in the U.S. alone, Ursy said.

Usry shared where The Dallas Morning News is focusing as they develop their future programmatic strategy:

  1. Establishing programmatic as a core competency.

  2. Selecting the right technology partners.

  3. Embracing a culture of testing and learn.

  4. Hiring the right talent.

As data continues to grow and marketers get better tools, Usry says programmatic has a positive future: “For the future of programmatic, I think it looks promising for all parties.”